College Admissions: Bribery vs. Donations


Ailin Atasoy, Staff Writer

Every year, students around the world pull all-nighters, break down in frustration or feel an overwhelming amount of stress. This level of anxiety is said to be at the same level as those who were sent to mental health facilities only a hundred years ago. Millions of juniors and seniors are connected through the ultimate bond of grinding towards college. So when I heard Felicity Huffman and her husband, William H. Macy, say that “their children were under tremendous stress”, I was in disbelief. They didn’t seem to realize or consider the amount of work less privileged kids are putting in.

Actually, my initial reaction was that I felt terrible for those kids who discovered that their parents didn’t believe in them. I think this is indicative of another issue amongst American culture, where parents prioritize their child’s confidence, even though that might rob the child of the opportunity to learn from some of their shortcomings. My second thought was the irony behind the events. For that amount of money to be spent on buying fake scores is a waste, because even a fraction of it would’ve ensured enough tutors to last for years. The irony is that parents like Lori Loughlin are trying to pad up their children’s resume so that in the future, their children will be considered “educated” and taken seriously; now the whole world knows what she already knew—that if her children ever do become successful, it wasn’t in the least bit because of their own virtues.

Most of the backlash against these parents comes because the public believes what they did is immoral and unfair, which makes sense because their cheating and bribery is against the law. But what about those who are legally paying their way into the school? One of the most notable figures on this list would be Jared Kushner, whose father donated millions to Harvard University every time his son applied. Because his father wasn’t even a graduate of Harvard, this instance seems to be more obviously a bribe.

In another example, Dr. Dre recently tweeted how proud he was of his daughter for getting into USC without “jail time”, an obvious dig at the celebrities indicted due to the college admissions scandal. However, only a few years ago, he donated $70 million to the school. Both the act of bribing and donating money to the school is essentially the same thing. Money is given to a school and they consider your children more favorably. It is just that bribing is explicitly given to one individual instead of a school. Despite the legality of his actions, it still appears that there is an unfair advantage to the wealthy.

Still, colleges need money. The reason many schools are seen as “top schools” is because of their large endowment, which provides more financial aid, quality resources, and research opportunities. Also, these schools are private businesses—they’re allowed to accept one student in of a class of over a thousand to be there despite lack of merit, especially if it helps gain several million dollars which could provide many low-income accepted students to attend. Are we really going to create a system that discourages people from donating money? If we look at this situation with this point of view, we can see the argument for donations.

I think this boils down to choosing the lesser of two evils. Explicit bribery where parents pay individuals money to fake scores and profiles, such as it was in the case of Richard Singer, should be prohibited. However, we should allow donations to be made to the school because not only are admission officers less susceptible to bribery, but it would also help many students in need at the risk of allowing only a few students a year entrance to a private university.

Graphic courtesy of USATODAY.COM