College Admissions Scandals and Intense Competition

The college admissions scandal will not be leaving the news any time soon. Any parent with a child in high school understands the pressure our students are under to excel on exams and gain admittance into reputable universities.

This pressure is brought upon them not only by teachers but by parents and too often themselves. I believe this is why this scandal has hit a nerve for so many Americans. Any parent of a hardworking student or athlete was infuriated by the stories of unqualified and undeserving high schoolers allotted slots in prestigious colleges through cheating and bribes.

The actress Lori Loughlin is charged with paying $500,000 to guarantee her daughters’ admission into the University of Southern California. According to an article in the school’s student newspaper, the Daily Trojan, USC had received 66,000 freshman applications for the 2019 admission cycle. The acceptance rate was only 11%, the lowest in the schools’ history. Ms. Loughlin believes she had done what any parent with her financial means would have done. When put that way, it sounds less egregious but at what point did she, and all the other accused parents think it was all right to commit a crime to ensure their child’s success? Her arrogance, coupled with her daughter’s cringe-worthy YouTube videos are all but ensuring a long legal battle ahead. Ms. Loughlin is undoubtedly not the only parent accused, but unfortunately for her, she happens to be one of the most famous.

Rick Singer is the supposed mastermind behind the scandal and the disgraced owner of the company The Key. His company helped wealthy students score better on required ACTs and SATSs by assisting them to cheat on exams. The scandal goes beyond fraudulent test scores. Singer is also accused of working with crooked athletic coaches. At several esteemed universities, ineligible students gained acceptance based on fraudulent athletic claims. The students themselves are now accused of participating in the crimes. Why has the importance of college acceptance grown to the level where measures such as these are occurring?

I spoke with the author, and former television reporter ML Rosynek who wrote an essay called “A Mom’s View: College Bribery Scandal Shows the Parent’s Dilemma – When to Step In & When to Let Kids, Succeed, or Fail, on Their Own.” Rosynek is a single mother of three teenage boys, the eldest in his senior year of high school. In her debut book “Crossed Up,” Rosynek covers the importance of letting kids be kids through sports and creating life-long memories. As mothers, we talked about how much of that has changed for our children; the pressure our children are under and how the fierce competition between children has intensified. Rosynek lives outside of San Antonio, Texas where she assures me the game is just as intense as it is locally. She writes about how our children feel that the parents have zero ideas as to what they are going through. They may be right; most parents do not remember this aggressive competition between students and friends.

Rosynek’s eldest son is a gifted student, with applications in to top tiered Ivy League schools. As proud as she is of her son, she admitted to being scared, knowing how difficult it was going to be without a famous last name or Ivy League legacy. It pained her to watch as he waited for these offers to arrive. I can only imagine her pride when he accepted Harvard’s offer. Rosynek’s son is living proof that dedication, hard work, and truthfulness will still award a student their due place in America’s best academic institutions.