Go with a smile!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

College admissions Scandal

I used not to wonder about this, but some of the things are getting less and less important. When I was in my younger adulthood maybe I was too concerned about things that maybe didn’t matter. Maybe I was just having a scattershot approach to all sorts of random knowledge. Maybe I was just following sports to kill time. Maybe I was just watching too many movies and not caring. Maybe I was just blogging. It’s surprising how many things you do and at the end of the day the rewards are just fleeting.

There was an admissions scandal going on. People were bribing their way to get their kids into good colleges.

I got into Snowy Hill relatively easily. OK, it’s never easy to get into Snowy Hill and I had to do a few things and prove to people that I’m remarkable. But it wasn’t as hard - I almost got in by accident. All our school lives, we were told that we had to excel. That we had to have a good ECA record. This got me half the way up the hill. Then I remember being told that JC2 was one of the most crucial years of your life. Which was really good advice. Getting good grades for my “A”s, and then applying to college in the States. Getting into some, not getting into some. And then somehow bundling up my experience and my ECAs and managing to convince at least one scholarship committee that I was worth the hassle.

Perhaps there was a more level playing field then. Of course there are important things like hard work and talent. Those two things have always been indispensable to get ahead. But these days, it seems as though you’d need a little something extra.

You needed to have somebody to tell you how to be more focused. There was quite a bit of a gap in this regard. At times I could tell my parents were really focused on my getting good grades, and pushing me towards a few of the ECAs that they had selected for me: music, swimming, etc. At other times - and this is something that I can say with the benefit of hindsight - they really were blind to some of the things that my school had to offer. Like there wasn’t any co-ordination between the two parts. Especially given that I didn’t handle becoming a teenager very well, and they didn’t either.

After getting into college, it seemed to me that somebody had switched the rules. But actually it was more like I hadn’t really mastered a few rules that I really really needed. No matter, it seemed good enough to show that I had done well in my first 20 years in life, it opened a few doors for me.

These days, though it seems impossible that I’d have gotten into Snowy Hill that easily. There was some luck involved. My involvement in music - that was because my parents sent me to music classes, and I discovered that I had some aptitude. I had some ability in mathematics. Then my involvement in the literary arts was my own thing. By the time my college applications came around, I had checked quite a few boxes, although, to be honest, there was that bit more of promising potential than actual fleshed out possibilities.

I am really grateful that when I was younger, I could just follow my passion and it would lead somewhere. That I mostly did what I wanted to do by “doing well” and it led to good things - Snowy Hill, mostly. But I was probably fortunate or not fortunate. Of the 3 universities I really wanted, maybe I had a less than 50% chance of getting into them - I got into exactly one of them, Snowy Hill. Maybe these were the ways the odds worked out. I hadn’t really given much thought into what lay beyond my “A” levels, was never coached in essay applications. The one thing that went well for me was that I was in a JC that was successful in sending kids to good universities, and that I had impressed my teachers enough that they were willing to write letters for me. Considering what a hassle it was to get my letters during my second college application, I can imagine what a wonderful thing it was.

It was therefore very humbling to arrive in Snowy Hill and find that it was full of people who had worked all their lives to get there. I had spent all my focus on my own grades and exams and college applications were literally an afterthought, and for some reason, it just ended up that one of the biggest problems in my life was solved for me like that.

That brings me to the college admissions cheating scandal. It’s just terrible that college has become such a racket. Admission rates are going down. Tuition is going up. It’s getting tougher and tougher to get into a reasonably good college. There have been admissions fraud cases in the past. They may not have been prosecuted, and some overseas students may have sought to get into the door via the sneaky way. This is one of the first times we’ve had Americans caught red handed inflating their kids’ CVs to get involved in this stuff.

You can go read the news and get all the gory details about how they cheated and how they had all their CVs inflated, but when it comes down to it, it’s really that things have gotten so crazy in this arena of late that you’ve had to resort to this. It’s really sad that this is America, and if nothing else, it still could say with some pride that the universities were the best in the world, and people are doing this.


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