Reflections on College Admissions Cheating

The cheating scandal on admissions is truly unfair to other student applicants.  But it is far from the only unfairness in the entire scope of inequality and university qualifications and admissions in our country.  Fortunately, in progressive states like California, some of those economic factors can be bypassed, and admissions to our public universities are not biased by your parents’ donor status, legacies, or importance.

There is such economic inequality in our society, that I actually find it hard to blame people in the system from succumbing to bribes that are equal to or many factors in excess of their salaries.  People in the system are hired and promoted for their competence.  Being saintly enough to resist all temptations is not a requirement for most jobs.  I put all the blame on those doing the bribing.  The students themselves are in some cases kept from knowing what is being done by their parents.  Those that do know may think that this is just the way the world works.

I wrote an article on how racial discrimination was not irrelevant in the whole preparation of students, and their admission to the university.  This was in reply to Trump and other conservatives who would have us believe that we were beyond discrimination.  In short, these factors apply economically, and are legacy admissions, prep schools, test preparation classes and fees, tutoring, lack of advanced placement classes, lack of guidance councilors, the need to work, the need for money to have pay-to-play extracurricular activities, lack of funds for music lessons, expensive sports or educational camps, lack of travel experiences, books, anxiety free neighborhoods, scientific or artistic toys, swimming pools, and etc.

If a student with all of these advantages cannot make it into some top university, they are really not interested in academic studies, and won’t do well in the university anyway, nor will they be happy there.  Nor do they need the training to increase their employability, as poor students do.  There may be a lot more of their parents desire for prestige in their child’s college, than the real need or desire of the student.

Anyway, those are my first thoughts, without knowing real details for the 35 students so far being examined.  Nor knowing how many other students were involved.  

It certainly wouldn’t be fair for me to point out that we have now gone through two years where the leader of our government, and through that our society, has told 9,000 lies while President.  He has also covered up all truth about his past, including his college qualifying grades and SAT scores, as well as his college grades.  Other than telling us that “others” think he may have been at the top of his class, despite not being on a dean’s list, or in an honors society, his colleagues describe him as an average student.  It wouldn’t be fair for me to point out that this might have misled students and their parents to thinking that cons were now the key to getting ahead in our society.  

Nor would it be fair of me to mention the well known fact that Trump’s son-in-law and one of his key advisors, White House Innovations Director Jared Kushner, just happened to get into Harvard when his father contributed $2.5 million to the same university.  In Harvard’s defense, it should be pointed out that Jared did not replace another student, but raised funds to support all of the other students.  The cheaters should have just tried donating directly to the University of their choice by, say, creating a scholarship, which could have supported another Barack Obama.

While Yale has about 6,000 undergraduates, and Harvard 7,000, UC Irvine has 29,000 undergraduate students.  UC Berkeley has 30,500 undergraduates, UCLA 31,000, and UCSD 28,000.  Many of our Professors were educated at elite universities and at UC campuses.  The education for students is largely the same, but depends on the individual students’ efforts to take advantage of it.  There are so many advanced jobs around the country, that going to Harvard or Yale is not necessary to fulfill your dreams.


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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