Did Aunt Becky Make It Easier For You To Get Into College?

It’s been a few months since news of the massive college admissions scandal broke and threw a number of high-profile celebrities into the wrong kind of spotlight.  So far, 14 parents have pleaded guilty and face likely jail time (including Felicity Huffman), and the mastermind behind the whole facade, William ‘Rick’ Singer, will probably spend decades in jail for accepting over $25 million to help kids cheat their way into colleges. Crazy!

But what does this really mean for everyday kids who are currently applying or will soon be applying to college? If you’re a high-school senior working hard to prepare for one last shot at an ACT or furiously perfecting your college essays, did this scandal affect you at all? Janet Napolitano, the president of UCLA, actually hopes so. 

In an interview with the New York Times, President Napolitano describes the changes UCLA has undergone since the scandal broke, including a “two-step verification of the student’s eligibility and qualifications” when it comes to athletes. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I can’t even sign into Spotify without a two-step verification, but a college like UCLA is just now implementing two-step verification before it gives away admission spots and hundreds of thousands of scholarship dollars to unqualified students?”  And you’re totally right. One thing this scandal has made clear is the shocking lack of oversight at colleges across the country. Rick Singer had been running the same scams for decades, and the only reason he was finally caught was because a former client ratted him out to avoid jail time on a completely separate charge.  

It’s depressing to think about how many other Rick Singers and Aunt Beckys have surely been exploiting the same college loopholes throughout the years. But the heart of the issue is not how easy it is to fake a rowing scholarship but how easy it seems to be for an unqualified student of means to take the spot of a deserving but less wealthy student. 

Thankfully, President Napolitano realizes how important this is and says that UCLA is making changes to “mitigate against the undue effect of privilege and have policies that foster accessibility and affordability.”  For example, if students come from families that make less than $80,000 a year, their tuition is free.  

As shocking and frustrating as this admissions scandal has been, transparency is always valuable. Colleges know that students, parents, and even the legal system are watching them closely.  None of these colleges want to look stupid or get taken advantage of again, so it’s likely that many universities are re-evaluating their entire admissions process just like UCLA is. At the end of the day, this transparency should make it easier, not harder, for the everyday, hard-working students to get into schools.