Words by Gabriela Figueroa
Illustrations by Gabriela Figueroa and Katie Herchenroeder
If the recent college admissions scandal did not come as a shock, then it could just be a confirmation that there may never be justice when it comes to competing against the wealthy. After the scandal, which involved 33 parents paying College Counseling Consultant William Singer to falsify students’ SAT and ACT test scores and even photoshopping their faces onto the bodies of real athletes, people are now questioning the validity of thousands of other students dedicated to making the most of their degrees.
This scandal came as a huge disappointment for students like Kayla Viteri, a junior at City College majoring in English. Hard work comes as her only option since she must pay out of pocket for school. She says, “I have busted my ass with my mom to get into CUNY and earn my degree!”
Transferring from St. Francis College, a private college in Brooklyn, Viteri says she could no longer afford the tuition and chose to enroll into a CUNY college. After hearing that actress Lori Loughlin, one of the parents involved in the scandal, had paid for her daughter to get into USC without any true credentials, Kayla added, “It’s like, ‘wow you’re just throwing your privilege in my face.’”
Maguire Associates, a research-basedconsulting firm that serves educational institutions, conducted a survey to observe how well colleges prepare their students for the workforce and what employers look for when hiring these individuals. Overall, employers are not so much caught up in a student’s GPA, major, or achievements as much as they are in their experience within the companies’ field of work. Considering the ease with which the children of the parents caught in the scandal were able to get into universities, there comes another suspicion of how easily they can pass off working in high-ranking companies as an intern, as opposed to the hard working students who have full time jobs, an internship, and take on 14 to 20 credits a semester.
According to the study, “extracurricular activities, like professional clubs, athletics and service, are valued more than GPA…” to employers. When money can bogusly raise a student’s achievements, the future of other students is in jeopardy, if not already destroyed.
Autumn Rodriguez, coming into CCNY with the credits of a sophomore, has the Excelsior scholarship, which requires her to take 15 credits a semester, totaling to 30 a year, on top of keeping up with extracurricular activities. Given that students that have their seat in school from bribery, rather than merit, she added, “I don’t think that’s fair when that’s the spot that they’re taking, when other people actually do the work.”
Another part of the application process to remember is that not all jobs are the same, and some employers have different requirements. For example, those going to work in healthcare do not need as much experience as they need good academic standing and high GPAs. For biology major Leslie Tavares, the lengths that parents took to get their child into top universities was frustrating. “Even if your child does get into these schools, they won’t know what’s going on,” she says.
Aside from students that have their parents’ financial help at all, there is also a large part of college hopefuls that have absolutely no aid. Especially for those whose parents are immigrants from another country, there are countless obstacles – such as the language barrier, the cost of tutoring for exams such as the GRE, and multiple applications – which often require a lot of time from parents.
In the wake of the scandal, it is now a waiting game for thousands of other students who have earned their degrees. They can now only rely on their achievements, and, according to The New York Times’s article “Honest Applicants Await College Admissions Results,” students feel as though their hard work may not even be sufficient. In other words, they do not feel “authentic” enough – despite their towering achievements.
When asked how much value a degree has in finding the right candidate, employers found that the proof is beyond that of the education. In their words, “it prepares the individuals for the workforce by teaching them responsibility, strong work ethic, writing and computer skills.” This point is a key difference in looking at those who have put in the effort and those that have not.