Op-Ed: The College Application Process is Rigged in More Ways Than One

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By: Margot Amouyal

“I am so stressed about college,” I utter to my twin sister, Ella, as I submit my final college application. I close the computer, rant about the process, and move on.

However, my entire conception of the college process changed yesterday. I was speaking with my older sister, Emily Amouyal, about college admissions. Emily is currently a Junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Criminology. She recently took a sociology class and said it completely changed her conception of the college process. She said the class taught her that it makes sense she attends an ivy-league school.

I responded, “Really? Ivy-league schools have single-digit acceptance rates. They are nearly impossible to be accepted to. It doesn’t make sense that anyone attends them.”

Emily agreed but continued that being born into an upper-middle-class family has awarded her privileges that make an ivy-league education more attainable. 

This conversation completely transformed my conception of the entire college admissions process. She’s right, I have never even had to question if I would attend college in my life; of course, I would. That is an immense privilege I carry. 

Headlines have recently featured the college admissions scandal. An ultra-wealthy group of elite Americans – by the likes of famous actresses and actors – paid their kids way in college. The scandal has sparked discussion about the role of money in college admissions. In a sense, the entire scandal has become symbolic of the disparaging wealth inequality that has infiltrated American higher education. 

However, the issue of in-equality within college admissions extends beyond big-donor money; the issue lies in our own homes, our own families, our own lives. We also need to take ownership of the role we play in furthering the system of wealth-inequality in higher education.

Many of us would never steal or bribe a University faculty to gain entry to college; however, we would pay thousands of dollars for standardized test tutoring. We would never fake athletic recruitment profiles, but we would pay for fancy summer camps, athletic coaches, or a private school education.

We “ethically play the system”, but I would argue it is not ethical. It is extremely unjust that people with the money to afford it can push their children towards success. It is very unfair that we as a society have an entire tutoring system – virtually paying smarter people – to help us with our homework.

The college admissions process is rigged beyond mass atrocities and scandals. The entire issue of wealth injustice is entrenched in every feature of our lives; it starts at birth.

To repair the college process, we first need to repair society. We first need to fix the broken American education system which relies too heavily on taxation to further education; we first need to fix the criminal justice system; we first need to make amends between democrats and replications to pass effective legislation. 

If we want to give the future generation a starting chance at life, we can’t expect them to catch up at age 17. We need to meet them at age 1. 

In conclusion, I urge you to consider the ways the college admissions process is rigged beyond the scandal. 

While it can be uncomfortable, I also encourage you to re-evaluate your privilege when applying to college. 

The system is rigged in more ways than one. 

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