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Opinion: The SAT Is A Rich Man’s Game

Abusing holes in standarized testing
Photo by Catherine Stautz
Sophomores Brian Rosen (left) and Kainoa Nonnemacher (right), study for the SAT they are scheduled to take in two years. Both felt overwhelmed by the amount of information that was placed in front of them.

In March of 2019, the news had broken that 53 successful tycoons, including “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid a large sum of money to a college counselor named Rick Singer, to secure their already fortunate children spots at top universities. 

Singer started off coaching students to prepare for the college admission process. He later went on to open many different college test prep centers, where he would offer both the side and back door services to families he knew were wealthy, as opposed to the front door.

The front door college admission is the normal way to get into a school. The side door is a more shady option where clients pay a decent sum of money to assure admission. The back door service is where clients would pay a great quantity of money to a school, in a form of a donation. This too would guarantee a student’s admission into a top university, but would not look as suspicious. 

Singer became the main operator in the scandal now notoriously known as Operation Varsity Blues. Colleges included in the scandal were: Georgetown University, Stanford University, University of California Los Angeles, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Yale University and Cornell University. 

While the wealthy parents who were allegedly scamming the college system have now been tried and their children have been declined by universities, their punishment remained quite light for their actions.

The Netflix original documentary, “Operation Varsity Blues,” explores the shady decisions and vast sums of money rich parents devoted to get their child into a top university. Since most colleges require an SAT score and heavily look upon it, these parents found a way to cheat on it. It was eye-opening to see how easily they cheated on the SAT most people spend about two years preparing for. All they had to do was make sure their child got extra time accommodations so they could take the test individually with one “supervisor”. The supervisor would be a man paid to correct the answers and send them to the colleges. 

As a hard-working student, this news was hard to swallow. I know the extent high schoolers will put themselves through just to get recognized by the college of their dreams. I watched my dedicated brother prepare and stress for the SAT for about two years. It is not acceptable for wealthy children who “just want the college experience,” to not take the test themselves to determine their future.

Though the idea of the SAT sounds like a great way for colleges to look at student’s test-taking skills differently on a wide scale, the test on a whole is not fair. Devoted academic students who thrive in the classroom might do poorly on the SAT. If colleges heavily look upon the lousy grade, it will not reflect the student’s true potential. Not to mention, everyone applying to a college that year, is getting looked at by the same College Board. This is and should not be the most efficient way to see someone’s worth because students come from all different types of learning environments. Of course, it is expected for students who go to prestigious high schools to do better on the test than those who don’t. Since the SAT works like this, it gives the already entitled child the advantage. 

It makes my blood boil to think that a student like Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade wrongfully got into USC just so she could have a typical college experience. If one has ever watched the beauty gurus’ vlogs, they will know she was always on vacation vlogging during high school. Not to mention she would constantly complain about school. Jade reportedly said she didn’t even want to go to school, but was only there for the partying experience. For this reason, people were angry she had gotten into an elite school without working academically like most students do who attend USC. She took the spot of a student who should have rightfully had Jade’s in the first place. Unfortunately, this student was either waitlisted or completely denied their position. This should never be the case. 

If it was genuinely that easy for these parents to cheat the SAT by bribing others to play along in their deceitful act, there have to be many more who participated in the action throughout the years without being caught. There could be so many different cases that will never be rightfully talked about. Even though 53 people were charged in this particular college bribery scandal, more likely than not, others have played the college admission game cold-hearted, through the “side” or “back door.” If the SAT continues, there needs to be a reassurance for students of security, honor code, and punishment ensuring that actual high school students are taking the test, instead of paid middle-aged men. With more colleges phasing out the SAT and ACT, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify studying for two years to partake in a rigged system.