College admission scandal reveals moral breakdown in US

By Lance Crayon Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/5 21:38:40

When a high school student applies for college, affordability plays a significant role. Among wealthy families for whom money is no object, there are no boundaries. Academic qualifications do not factor into the equation. It's more of a process than a trend, and one that has been in place since the first higher-learning institution was founded.

When the college admissions scandal Operation Varsity Blues first made headlines earlier this year, it was a dream story for any news publication. It had all of the elements of engaging television drama. Wealth, fame, bribery, the FBI and the Ivy League, as the saying goes, "it writes itself."

When cheating scandals make headlines, the stories usually involve students and a few school employees. With the Varsity Blues story, this time, it was the parents who had been caught cheating. So far, 51 adults, ranging from CEO's to school coaches and athletic directors have been indicted for receiving bribes, falsifying academic records, and cheating on college entrance examinations like the SAT and ACT.  

Wealthy parents were teaching their children how to cheat, and again, that's nothing new. In one incident, a parent fabricated their child's college application that included a photoshopped image of their daughter playing water polo.

Scandals like this have been exposed in the past in books and magazine feature stories. In 2005, the book The Price of Admission revealed how wealthy families ensured their children were gained entrance into top universities.

Details were revealed on how US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House aid Jared Kushner was accepted into Harvard. His father, Charles Kushner, a real-estate mogul, ­donated $2.5 million to the Ivy League school in 1998. Two years later, Jared applied to school and was accepted. Unfortunately, such stories have had little impact or influence or college admissions at top-tier universities.  

Cheating happens at all socio-economic levels. When a member of the lower class is caught, it isn't quite as newsworthy about a Chinese billionaire giving a school $6.5 million so his daughter can attend. As entertaining as the stories, they're quickly forgotten have little impact on the issues they reveal or address.

Edward M. Kennedy, the late Massachusetts senator and youngest brother to former US President John F. Kennedy, was expelled from Harvard for two years for cheating. The incident didn't hurt his career. In December 2008, he was awarded an honorary degree from the institution.

In the wake of the Varsity Blues scandal, a smaller one emerged that has received scant attention. In the state of Illinois, since 2018, it was discovered that parents were illegally relinquishing custody of their teenaged children so they could apply for government aid to attend a state school.  

If US colleges were serious about preventing the wealthy from buying their child's way into their universities, then they would do something about it. Schools would need to strip past graduates of their academic credentials if it was found their parents paid a bribe or two for them to get accepted. That is never going to happen.

Integrity, honesty, and credibility are middle- and lower-class characteristics that money can't buy and hold little appeal to those whose parents can replace such notions with money. Again, there's nothing new to see here.

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