Since the news broke March 12, there has been constant updates on the shocking allegations of famous Hollywood actors and actresses, like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, being exposed for using their fame and money to secure their children spots in top universities around the country.
The University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Stanford, Yale and USC are all among schools now being sued by students who claim they were denied a fair opportunity during the admissions process and have had their degrees devalued by the recent allegations. Laughlin and Huffman were both taken into custody with bail set as high as $1 million and are now facing jail time and public ridicule and backlash. Loughlin has lost her movie deal with the Hallmark channel, and her daughter, Oliva Jade, a popular internet personality, has received backlash from the companies that she partners with as well, in addition to deciding not to return to USC in the fall.
The constant media coverage around the “Varsity Blues” scandal has led many to speak out on how shocked they are as to how something this corrupt and immoral could have been going on for so long in higher education. However, kids from disadvantaged backgrounds that know all too well how difficult it is to make it into college are shocked by how many people didn’t know this was going on all along.
We like to believe that anyone can get into college if they work hard enough in high school — and of course, if they take out enough student loans. But it isn’t as simple as getting a need-based or academic scholarship for the kids not lucky enough to have a celebrity parent.
Students from wealthier backgrounds live in areas where they have access to the best schools. Their parents, famous or not, can afford to sign them up for ACT prep, private tutors, etc. They can afford to play a sport at the club level, and pay for all of the equipment that comes with it, not to mention they have the luxury of time to practice without having to work one or two jobs to help their family put food on the table. It isn’t as simple and unbiased as universities would like to claim it is.
These celebrities using their power to go to this extreme is just one more step into something that has essentially already been happening in higher education this entire time. We need to stop pretending like these individuals are the exception to the rule and not just an extreme end of what is really a bigger problem. University selection and education will never truly be equal and accepting until we work on making our primary and secondary schools equal and accepting, no matter what neighborhood they might be serving.
Until then, American youth will constantly be running a race with some kids starting 30 seconds behind others, and some already crossing the finish line without even having to run.