From legacy admissions, recruited athletes, and so-called ‘development’ candidates (applicants whose parents have made a sizeable donation), there are countless ways to legally bypass the standard admissions process. Yale is not an exception.
My name is Grace Jin and I am a Yalie. Attending Yale College, for all of its opportunity and glory, is to engage in a space of immeasurable privilege. I attend the same university as Olympic medalists, members of Forbes 30 Under 30, Oscar winners, and teenagers with a litany of endless accomplishments. But amongst my classmates are the children of foreign Presidents, multi-generational legacy students, billionaires, and A-list celebrities.
Whether these students deserve to be here is a question constantly plaguing Yale campus. But even before this week’s college admissions scandal, one thing was clear: the admissions playground has never been a meritocracy. From legacy admissions, recruited athletes, and so-called ‘development’ candidates (applicants whose parents have made a sizeable donation), there are countless ways to legally bypass the standard admissions process.
Arguably, the standard admissions process similarly benefits the economically advantaged: from paying for college counselors to strategically applying to the right schools, private tutors for standardized testing, and more. By cheating the system, rich parents were able to tap into a few more illegal alternatives: stand-in children to boost standardized testing scores, falsifying recruited athlete status by bribing coaches and photoshopping athletic profiles.
At Yale, the culprit was a former Women’s Soccer coach, who resigned inexplicably last year and was one of the FBI’s cooperating witnesses to help uncover the scandal. He notably took a $400,000 bribe to falsify an applicant as a women’s soccer recruit, despite knowing the applicant had never played soccer.
The backlash was immediate, concentrated against the defendants in the public eye, actresses Lori Loughlin, her daughter, Youtube personality Olivia Jade, and actress Felicity Huffman. Public outrage was clear to see: many called on Olivia and the other children that benefitted from crime to drop out, and called for the arrest of parents, coaches and of course, the agent Rick Singer (who enabled the parents to cheat through a faux charity).
Yale’s ‘actual cost’ : $60,000 + $400,000
On campus; however, the response was largely through humor. Internet memes sprouted up immediately, flaming Yale’s ‘actual cost’ as $60,000 + $400,000, or caricaturing rich parents throwing money at closed gates, screaming “Let me in!”.
Others shared their disappointment, but rarely was anyone on Yale campus surprised. Though none of us were aware of the crime that had transpired, the common theme seemed to be that learning of the news, we all had a classmate, suitemate, even friend come to mind– someone who could’ve been in that same position, where their wealthy parents paid their way in.
As details continue to unravel, it’s difficult to blame Yale, or other universities, as corrupt institutions (though Yale administrators have been quick to divert blame, illustrating that Yale and our reputation are victims of an ex-soccer coach’s corruption).
Perhaps, this was an isolated issue of individual corruption, but it certainly hits on a topic of sensitivity: receiving admission into highly selective colleges is expensive, ridiculously difficult, and shrouded in secrecy. Though outright crime is hopefully an isolated issue, it’s hard to argue that privilege-biased admissions is anything new.