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"Varsity Blues" Merely an Extreme Example

Susan Shor

Posted on March 13, 2019 15:03

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While most parents do not break the law, many are doing everything they can to give their children the edge in the competitive world of college admissions.

The college admissions scandal is shameful, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s simply an extreme example of what many parents with means do to give their children a leg up in the college admissions game. I am not innocent in this arena, either. You see, I am a tutor and sometimes that entails being paid to help students do better on the SAT or ACT, tests which many believe are biased against at-risk students to begin with. 

A whole industry revolves around “giving students the best chance of getting into the right school for them.” From guiding students to the correct classes to take in high school, never mind which high school (or middle school or elementary school) to attend, all the way through to private college admissions advisors who help students tailor their high school “resumes,” write/edit their application essays, and guide them toward which school to apply to. Some of these advisors have relationships with admissions officers as well. 

None of this is illegal. Even at my public high school, we have SAT prep classes and a college prep class in which students spend a semester writing their application essays and getting feedback from teachers on how to improve them. I trust that our teachers are not crossing the line, but where is the line between guiding questions and leading questions? 

I struggle with the dichotomy between students whose parents have the resources to give them the leg up and those who don’t. How can you tell a parent that they shouldn’t help their child (without breaking the law, of course)? However, the whole system seems rigged; the competition is ridiculous and students are getting the message that if they don’t go to an elite college, their lives will never recover. This is not only wrong, but it perpetuates—worse, it constantly ramps up—the need to do more, be better, join another club, take another AP class, have your parents use their influence, whatever it takes to get where you think you need to be. 

The college admissions process, perhaps our entire education system, echoes our seemingly ever-increasing gap between haves and have-nots. The only way to even the odds a little is to fix what ails our society as a whole. Call me crazy, and I am known for banging my head against brick walls, but I have hope that we will.

Susan Shor

Posted on March 13, 2019 15:03

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Source: The Advocate

Louisiana colleges and universities are among those targeted for an initiative designed to make higher education institutions...

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