[3/19/19] – Students in Media: Nationwide College Admissions Scandal

Each week, these lectures look to the world-at-large to cover issues and topics that help to bring the most significant news to you. However, this news is not always expressly related to you. While celebrity news, or war and strife abroad are engaging, they likely don’t pertain to your daily life. This week takes a greater nod to you, the student, by covering the recent concerns of the college admissions scandal. Here we zoom in by exploring what the issue means for race in colleges, how the college system is biased to the wealthy, and why exactly these scandals have rubbed Americans the wrong way.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Students in Media: Nationwide College Admissions Scandal



“Why the college cheating scandal probably won’t bring any change”

Daniel Golden is the author of The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates. Golden joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss why he’s most concerned about the rise of independent college counselors and how universities are ruled by wealthy parents.


“If you don’t buy into the notion that rich people are disproportionately smarter than the average person, then there are a lot of things that you would consider pretty fishy,” says Ivory Toldson, president of Quality Education for Minorities. That people become wealthy because they have worked hard “is a deception that is pervasive in our society,” he adds.





Writing: Please write about your experience of wealth, entering college, and the role your family played in your college entrance.

Debate: Is it bad to give preference to those whose relatives have attended a university? Why or why not?

Poll: Should those who were admitted to universities not entirely on the merit of their talents (from the scandal) now be removed from those universities?

Yes, No, Unsure

Short Answer: Aside from talent or wealth, what other things do you think play a part in being admitted to a university? Use examples from the readings or come up with your own.


Current Events Quiz

Two articles this week mention affluent students having “legacy preference.” What is this?

  • Colleges giving preference to people who are famous
  • Colleges giving preference to the wealthy
  • Colleges giving preference to children of parents who attended that college
  • Colleges giving preference to those who donate the most

It has been argued that giving admissions bias to those who are wealthy also gives bias to those who are:

  • White
  • White or Asian
  • From the East Coast
  • Related to professors and college faculty

Due to archaic accreditation standards, a “publish or perish” mindset, and tenure guaranteeing professors positions regardless of their continued quality, universities today lack:

  • Organization
  • A future
  • A plan
  • Accountability

In addition to legacy preference, wealthy students can also benefit from being able to afford to repeatedly:

  • Retake entrance exams
  • Meet with college deans
  • Visit their parents
  • Pay off sports coaches

Beyond discussing wealth or celebrities, Forbes discusses how this story can open up a discussion of:

  • How to incorporate more people of different races
  • How to make university admission more talent-oriented
  • How to monitor applications from wealthy students
  • How to keep celebrities out of universities


Photo credit: California Department of Transportation

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