The terrible truth of college applications

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ART BY JOSEPH MENDOZA
By CLAIRE LAW
STAFF WRITER

  After four years of studying hard, pulling all-nighters and getting involved in extracurriculars, you receive the devastating words of “Sorry to inform…”

  With each coming year, the college admission process is becoming more competitive. As a matter of fact, wealthier students pay for tutoring, education counselors and even donate money to their dream university. However, even after spending all of that money, it never guarantees them an acceptance.

  As most people know, universities have very limited spots in their freshman classes. In 2017, Harvard College received nearly 40,000 applications, but admitted 2,056 students into its freshman class and in 2018, only 4.59% of the applicants were admitted into the school. Furthermore, the requirements for entrance to prestigious universities has increased dramatically within the last several decades. Applicants are suspected to sustain near-perfect grade point averages, score in the top percentile on standardized tests, possess leadership positions within extracurricular activities, and still somehow stand out from many other qualified applicants who have also spent all four years of high school preparing their applications for their dream school. Most universities do not increase their class size from year to year, so each admission is precious and to guarantee a spot, people have pushed themselves to do anything they can to get accepted; no matter how unethical. 

    Many people assume that to secure a spot into a university, students would have to maintain at least around a 3.75  grade point average (GPA). Universities such as University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) expect applicants to maintain around a 3.89 GPA.  Despite that, it is also important to be involved in things at school such as clubs and sports while also showing how you are different from everybody else fighting for the same spot to your dream college.

  Additionally, it is believed that each student’s  acceptance rate into the school they have chosen is primarily based off of your Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores.  The SAT and other standardized tests were originally designed for this as well, aiming to separate students from the crowd. Yet as the years progressed, an increasing  number of students are scoring high and the SAT is now an actual measure for college preparedness. However, throughout the history of the SAT, studies have always shown a strong correlation between high scores and wealth because privileged families can afford proper preparation materials, expensive tutors and other advantages.

  According to the Washington Post, despite adjustments to the SAT,  it is still highly correlated with income and parental education level. For example, a student with a parent who achieved a graduate degree will score higher on the SAT than a student with a parent who only achieved a high school diploma. 

  The continuation of standardized testing representing wealth and privilege instead of college preparedness calls the  percentage of reaching the American dream into question. How can students expect to emerge from poverty when they do not have access to resources and tutors? This is not to say that students born into low-income, first-generation cannot succeed in the college admissions process, but their support system is lacking compared to those of wealthier students.

  Regardless of the students working hard and putting in their own work to get into their dream school, many scandals about fraud entry to colleges have occurred during this past year, many regarding students coming from more privileged families. 

  According to The New York Times, a teenage girl who has previously  never played soccer magically became a star recruit at Yale. How much did it cost for her parents? $2.1 million. Another similar scenario is when a student with no experience in rowing attained a spot in the USC crew team after a photograph of another person was submitted as evidence. To make this all happen, her parents spent at least $200,000.

  Essentially, hearing about the recent college entry scandals is just bizarre. Personally, I cannot believe that families would take advantage of their money in a terrible way instead of making better use of it. For example, using the money to hire a tutor instead of pressuring people to get their children accepted into their dream school.

   All in all, if each applicant registered the same way, students will not need to jump through all of these obstacles so that they can just receive a rejection letter. To resolve the problems of college admission scandals, it is not only time to call out the problems occurring with college admissions, but also to push people to actually fix the issues that desperately need to be solved. 

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