The College Admissions Scandal: Is It Relevant to SAS?

Every senior knows the heart thudding feeling of seeing “your portal has been updated” appear in their inbox. When the portal in question happens to be from your first choice college, your heart may feel like it’s about to leap straight out of your throat. You might turn on Photo Booth in hopes that you film the moment your entire future changes for the better. Or, you might be left with a video of yourself experiencing crushing rejection for the first time.

But you have to brush yourself off, and move on. After all, when you paid your application fee you were promised a fair and just admission process. Maybe you could have studied harder for that final, or added one more extracurricular. But it doesn’t matter. When it comes down to it, you got the same equal chance to be admitted as everyone else in the world.

Or did you? In March of 2019, international news organizations started publishing damning exposés detailing the fraud and bribery allegedly surrounding the college admissions process.

Who are these people who can afford to “donate” millions for a tuition that should be a fraction of that price?

“Fans” of Lori Loughlin with signs that say “Lori Pls Pay My Tuition.”
Source: Inside Edition

High profile celebrities like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were among the fifty charged, creating a vast amount of public interest in the scandal. While all of this coming to surface will help “drain the swamp” of university admissions, it also highlights how truly messed up the college rat race is. Think about it. For every 1,000 people who litter, maybe 5 will get a ticket. For every 50 who get arrested for bribery, there’s undoubtedly hundreds more who haven’t gotten caught. This begs the question—who are these people who can afford to “donate” millions for a tuition that should be a fraction of that price?

Standardized testing that is trusted to be “standard.”

To answer that, we should look directly at our own community. While I’m not suggesting that SAS parents are involved when it comes to “greasing the wheels” in their children’s college application process, it’s not a stretch to see how prevalent that kind of wealth is around us. According to SAS’s annual statistical review, 54% of parents pay full tuition and fees without any corporate support. With the price tag of an SAS education sitting comfortably around the $50,000 mark, it’s evident that excess wealth is common within our expat community. SAS isn’t the only affluent, private school in the world. If you had a kid with decent grades and money to burn, what’s stopping you from making a “donation” in your family name?

“I have to wonder how long my university will be looked at like this because of a scandal that I wasn’t involved in.” —Senior Alley McIntosh

The only thing we can tell ourselves is hopefully “The Eagle Way” applies just as much to the parent community as it does to the students. Morals and ambition run high among the student population, with over 60% of the high school’s GPA sitting comfortably above the 3.7 mark. Service club participation also involves the majority of students, resulting in the formula for the highest chance of acceptance at some of the United State’s most prestigious schools. SAS students are notorious for being driven, and this hard working attitude seems to be paid off with each class inevitably boasting admission to top universities like Harvard, MIT, Dartmouth, and USC without extra financial “assistance.”

Georgetown University, one of the elite colleges caught in the scandal

However, it’s not to say the college admissions scandal happening across the globe hasn’t come without consequences for our own students who should be celebrating the product of their hard work. Senior Alley McIntosh, admitted to USC’s class of 2023, had this to say: “I was out getting bubble tea one day, wearing my college sweatshirt, and someone asked, “how much did your parents pay for that,” and while I knew they were joking, I have to wonder how long my university will be looked at like this because of a scandal that I wasn’t involved in.”

The repercussions of a few parents’ overinflated egos are tainting renowned universities’ decade old reputations. Like the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the barrel. What was promised to be a fair and impartial process has been exposed to be anything but, causing a disadvantage for thousands of qualified students like Alley. With many of our accredited graduating class heading off to schools implicated in the scandal, there is only one question going forward: how long are the consequences going to last?

Author: Christina McDougall

SAS senior Christina McDougall, aspiring to be the next Amy Poehler, spends her free time doing nothing to reach that goal. While judging people based on how they use "you're" vs "your" on social media, she also likes chicken nuggets, being half Australian, and getting into fights with 12 year olds on Twitter. She can be contacted at

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