The Power of Wealth in Higher Education

Ryen Cinski ‘22

Opinions Editor

 “I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.” This is what Olivia Jade, YouTube star and daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, had to say about her college career at the University of Southern California. USC is a prestigious college located in California and boasts an acceptance rate of about 13 percent, as recently reported in 2018. USC News reported that 64,000 students applied in 2018, and that they accepted only 8,200. Within this mix of 8,200 bright and hardworking students stood Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Giannulli. The two sisters were accepted into USC due to a bribe from their famous parents that totaled about $500,000. The girls were accepted as “crew recruits” even though neither of them had ever participated in crew. Olivia must have an inkling of passion for boats though, because for spring break she vacationed on USC’s Board of Trustees chairman Rick Caruso’s yacht in the Bahamas! This case is one of many that have been revealed in the 2019 College Admissions Bribery Scandal, causing mass outrage.

Attending a good college or university is a dream that lives within teenagers across the world. Each day there are high school students studying for hours, losing sleep due to stress, and participating in numerous clubs and athletics, all so that they can go to college. Many of these coveted, upper-tier colleges are highly selective and require a rigorous high school curriculum with numerous extras on the side. Holy Cross students: we worked so hard to get here, so how would you feel if you didn’t get in because someone’s parents paid thousands of dollars so that they could steal your spot? Holy Cross athletes: you have dedicated yourself to your sport, so how would you feel if a rich kid’s face was photoshopped onto a game day picture of you? Yes, these were the two services offered to the rich by William Rick Singer, the CEO in charge of this heinous scandal. (1) A third party took the ACT or SAT in place of the student, and a high score was earned. (2) Connections with Division 1 coaches were used to obtain fake recruitments.

When news of the scandal broke, many students and parents felt both rage and heartbreak. Although many of us could’ve guessed that things like this were happening, we never had to see or hear of the harsh reality taking place behind the scenes. How can we possibly promote academic integrity and value of higher education when “the best” colleges and universities have let in undeserving children of the wealthy? What is there to say to the students of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexualities, and credentials? How sad is it that wealth can overshadow determination and achievement? Not being accepted to the college of your dreams after dedicating countless hours to being who they asked you to be– all to the hands of someone who just wants to vlog the parties and tailgates. All to someone who doesn’t care about furthering their education.

Sadly, Lori Loughlin is not the only person of immense wealth that has been accused of paying for these services. As of right now, 33 other parents have been accused of being a part of the 2019 College Admissions Bribery Scandal, also referred to as Operation Varsity Blues. Some schools involved are USC, UCLA, Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, Wake Forest, UT Austin, and possibly more. These are places that have always been held to such high standards, places where the dreams and futures of many young hopefuls resided.

I am lucky to be the daughter of two hard working and extremely loving, supportive parents. I’ve dreamed of attending Holy Cross since I was 15 years old. I took numerous AP and honors level courses, played volleyball year-round, participated in numerous clubs and worked in retail. I’ve spent most of my life building up my resume and trying to be who colleges needed me to be. But I am lucky. Compared to many people my age, I had it easy. I worked hard to get where I am but there are so many students who worked ten times harder. To think that they, along with myself, fell victim to the power of wealth in higher education hurts. We need to now ask ourselves one question: Where do we go from here?

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