In the college admissions scandal that is currently unfolding, it is alleged that socially prominent people paid bribes to state schools like UCLA and Texas to facilitate acceptance of their children. Gaining admission to top-tier universities is a high-stakes endeavor for students and their families. Selective universities such as UCLA and the University of Texas system are known for their rigorous programs of study, outstanding faculty, and academic prestige. Attending any of these schools is a ticket to a productive career and a lifetime of solid connections. It is not surprising that parents would consider bribing someone who would be in a position to guarantee admission.

College Preparations

Preparing for college admission takes all of four years in high school, but the most driven students and their families begin preparations in middle school. For those vying for a slot in Ivy league schools and similarly selective colleges, the path to their dream college calls for taking as many advanced courses as possible, which may include Advanced Placement classes, International Baccalaureate courses or dual enrollment in a collaborative high school-college program. The AP track calls for end-of-year subject-level testing, and scoring the equivalent of a 5 may mean exemptions from taking these courses in college.

Earning top scores in the SAT and ACT are considered some of the traditional measures of college readiness. Most of the top universities still require SAT or ACT scores, using these scores as a filter for the best candidates. UCLA does not require these test scores but encourages applicants to submit their scores anyway. The University of Texas requires either SAT or ACT records and caution that competitive scores, generally the top 13 percent of all test takers, will be considered for admission. Aside from high GPAs and test scores, candidates for admission will also have to demonstrate involvement in non-academic activities such as sports and community projects.

Athletic Recruitment

High school athletes may be recruited for admission on their sports ability and the merits of their record as part of winning teams. Universities often reserve a number of slots for outstanding athletes to develop and maintain their prestige as a powerhouse in college sports, including basketball, baseball, football, swimming, and others. Gaining admission through these programs is highly competitive as there are only a few slots available every year for, and coaches can recruit from a nationwide pool.

Jumping the College Admissions Queue

Most college-bound students willingly go through the paces to ensure the best academic records, top test scores and exemplary involvement in extracurricular activities. However, admission is a numbers game and a highly competitive one at that. It is not surprising that some families may seek to gain an advantage through nontraditional and non-legal ways, including bribing college officials involved in admissions.

The overall admit rate for UCLA for the class of 2022 was 14.1 percent in spite of accepting a record number of freshmen compared to previous years according to a report from the Office of Admissions. UCLA has pushed for preferential admissions for in-state residents with outstanding academic and college testing records. The University of Texas has a similar policy of favoring in-state applicants with exemplary records.

Bribery is the wrong approach to the college admission process especially when state schools have policies in place that already favor local residents. Some misguided people resort to paying bribes to state schools like UCLA and Texas to ensure admission of their students when they have clearly failed to meet the competitive standards. These practices may have legal ramifications for all parties involved and should be avoided at all costs.

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