This college admissions scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. In the next few weeks and months, coaches, college advisors, admissions officers, proctors, parents and students will be charged and prosecuted for illegally and unethically opening the doors to admitting unqualified and undeserving students to the most elite colleges in the country. Maybe there’s a silver lining here: While this unconscionable news swept the nation, maybe we should change the college admissions rubric to focus on academic merit.
When colleges admit athletes with substandard GPAs, it lowers the caliber of the incoming freshmen class. It also opens the door to fraudulent actions like claiming to be the MVP of a sport – even when the student doesn’t even play the sport.
When colleges give preferential treatment to legacies (students whose parents are alumni with deep pockets), it brings entitlement and lowers the quality of the student body.
When colleges consider SAT or ACT scores, it entices parents and students to cheat. Some get accommodations that allow for 50% to 100% more time on the exams claiming that their children have learning disabilities when they don’t. Others pay someone to take the SATs/ACTs posing as their children. And now, prosecutors claim that some proctors have actually changed the answer sheets for students to guarantee a higher score on the exams.
Colleges are under pressure to reconsider their admissions rubrics. So what do they really want? They want students who are interesting, curious, and innovative. I find that students who do projects learn important skills and lessons that will help them thrive in college and career. It’s no longer necessary to play 3 sports, several instruments, and start 10 clubs – besides this would be a ridiculous time commitment that often interferes with grades and time to explore ideas.
I hope that this despicable charade of entitlement shines new light on what college is, and should be, all about: a place to cultivate ideas and explore career options with fellow students who were accepted based on their true merit, not on how much money their parents paid to cheat the system.