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Should Higher-Ed Admissions Be Federally Regulated?

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Circumventing a merit-based academic system to send undeserving children to elite universities is a transactional activity some of the uberly wealthy secretly engage in.

It worked for years until they were found a few weeks ago.

A securities-fraud investigation by the FBI on an L.A. financial exec led to a tip that blew open the largest college admission scandal ever two weeks ago.

If the FBI was willing to get involved, should they be involved in every case of its kind?

That’s the question we asked when we surveyed 2000 students across 350 different US colleges and universities.

Here is what we learned from them.

Liberals are 94% more likely to want college admissions to be federally regulated than Republicans

Bar graph showing democrats on college campuses are 94% more likely than republicans to want to college admissions process federally regulated
Republicans on campus in large part want to see the college admissions process remain free of involvement from third-parties or the state.

Schools should be held up to specific standards and those standards should be uniform throughout the country. This will help avoid (or at least lessen) scandals like these and help preserve the integrity of academic institutions. Schools should be treated as such, and not as a means of business.” - 1st year female from University of California - Berkeley

Liberals are 94% more likely than conservatives to want greater federal control over the college admissions process.

A scandal of this magnitude disillusioned many college students.

The idea of academic institutions operating on the highest standards of merit is eroding. As the veneer of academe recedes, the appearance of a private entity becomes more apparent.

How does an academic institution uphold the highest standards of merit while operating as a private entity? This is what some Liberals don’t believe can be reconciled.

And that’s precisely how a scandal of this sort occurs. Actors within a private institution operating with lax capitalist sensibilities, skirting the responsibility of behaving in the honest manner expected of them for profit.

Federal involvement in college admissions would, in theory, provide greater oversight over the admissions process and potentially reduce self-serving individuals involved. But this prescription isn’t without its critics.

Governmental overreach in private affairs isn’t something either side of the political spectrum want. If government creep starts here, where will it look to next?

In any case, Liberals want to maintain an even playing field, especially where it concerns institutions that serve as a passage to greater opportunities. There are already barriers to entry into college, but one thing is sure: the wealthy shouldn’t be able to buy their way in.

After all, college acceptances are zero-sum; that is, one person’s gain is another’s loss.

It flies in the face of the families that had structured their entire parenting lives to afford college for their children and the student that had to work throughout high school while maintaining acceptable grades.

A parent who buys their child a line-skip into college puts at stake not only students who would’ve otherwise been accepted but also the prestige and integrity of a school when the value of merit is forfeited in exchange for profit.

On average, 63% of college students think college admissions bribery happens at their school

Survey by OneClass shows 63% of college students think some form of bribery happens in their college admissions process
The majority of students on college campuses believe side-doors are available in their school's admissions process.

I believe that with private institutes like the universities that were involved in the scandal there should be some more regulations based on entrance exams and authenticity of those exams and athletic scholars. There are a lot of people who work extremely hard to Ace the entrance exams without the use of bribery. The regulations are already extremely strict for those universities but I believe there should be a system that is able to make decisions based on those restrictions that does not involve third party organizations at all.” - 2nd year, female from Metropolitan State University

The idea of private establishments operating with the spirit of meritocracy is unraveling. Students are distrusting when it comes to the integrity of their school’s admissions.

This college admission scandal exposed only those who were caught and those involved. But what about those who didn’t get found out? Just how deep is this underworld of bribery and fraudulent activity affecting colleges across the nation?

It’s easy to believe college admissions bribery is a widespread activity. Wealthier classmates can arouse suspicion if their peers don’t think their intellectual prowess isn’t comparable to those who were admitted to the school. But of course, that would be unfair.

But students are no strangers to what privileges wealth can afford. If money can’t lubricate the admission of a child to an elite university, there wouldn’t be any commotion about privilege. That’s why the majority of students believe college admissions bribery happens at their school.

Most students perceive colleges as a for-profit business rather than an academic institution

survey by OneClass showing students perceived universities and colleges more as academic institutions than for-profit businesses before the college admissions scandal
Before college admissions scandal snapshot of college students' perception of college's image leaning more towards an academic institution.
survey by OneClass showing students perceived universities and colleges more as for profit business than academic institutions after the college admissions scandal

After college admissions scandal snapshot of college students' perception of college's image leaning towards a for-profit business

"Without a dimension of income based bias, universities would cease to function the way they do. Schools must balance the academic integrity of the school with the growing need for adequate funding."
- 1st year, male from Colgate University

Previously college students saw their school more as an academic establishment more than they saw it as a for-profit business. After news of the scandal broke out, this perception reversed.

College students faced the reality of 850 students being admitted through “side-doors” at various elite universities and it quickly dawned on everyone that this must happen at their school in some capacity.

Looking past the ridicule this author faced for suggesting the college admissions scandal shouldn't be a crime, the larger point the author was trying to make was the scandal shouldn’t have been a federal crime, because it was bribery and fraud against private institutions, rather than to the state.

At the end of the day, it made good business sense on paper for those involved in the scandal before they were caught. The involved individuals profited more than they would have if they didn’t engage in it.

If these academic institutions weren’t identified as providing ‘honest services’ by the state, these transactions would have been business as usual.

Business is what drives for-profit businesses, after all.


Based on survey data collected from 2000 US college students across 349 different schools. 514 males and 1486 females participated in the survey. Students were engaged on social platforms. 1498 identified as first-year students, 225 as second-year, 121 as third-year, 101 as fourth-year and 14 as 5th year or grad. This survey was conducted from March 18th to March 22nd.

Author – Jerry Zheng: jerry @ oneclass . com

Other surveys done by author:

What Conservative Students Face on Your Campus

57.4% Will Opt-Out of College Student Newspaper Fee in Ontario

Why You Should Be Worried About JUULs on Campus


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