Varsity Blues Scandal Negatively Impacts Student Morale
For low-income high school students, this round of college applications is especially stressful.
The fall 2019 batch of college applicants will mark the first group of collegiate hopefuls since the admissions scandal this past spring. The scandal was dubbed ‘Operation Varsity Blues,’ and it was revealed that wealthy parents across 11 universities had bribed their children’s way into the elite schools. According to a recent article from Reuters, this has had a heavy affect on the kids who fall at the other end of that spectrum, ranging from more pressure to prove themselves to being outright discouraging.
“This just makes it feel like even if I do this, it won’t work,” said senior Saffronia Traore-Rogers, who is trying to get into Dartmouth University. “It keeps me in a constant loop of anxiety.”
A study from the Pew Research Center emphasized this inequity, stating that, between 1999 and 2016, though impoverished undergraduate admissions increased by 8%, at elite universities it only increased 3%. At the same universities, admissions of wealthy students increased by 4%.
The article interviewed multiple low-income students and college advisers, all of whom repeated the same sentiments about the scandal causing them to question just how fair the process really is. Several of these students are involved in an eight year program run by Henry Street Settlement to help first generation students get into college.
One student interviewed, Christine Bascombe, said that, despite her dedicating “nearly every waking hour” to getting into Cornell University at just 16 years old, the scandal has impacted how she feels about getting into college. She said she and students like her “feel even more powerless when you realize that these people are committing fraud to get into the schools you want to get into.”
Not for lack of trying. Bascombe gave up her passion, theatre, to instead take another math class that would make her transcript more appealing and attends the academically-focused Williamsburg Charter High School.
Those interviewed by reportedly feel outraged at just how skewed the admissions system was revealed to be, with monetary bribes coming to the forefront, but have known for a long time that the system was unfair. Anthony Abraham Jack, a Harvard professor and the recent author of a New York Times article about impoverished students, stated that the scandal revealed “what we all expected, but we were never able to observe.”
Still, there is a change in the air, with many universities involved promising again to renew their efforts towards inclusion and vowing to right their wrongs.
Read the full report here.