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Opinion

Prospective students’ wallets supercede academic ability

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April 2, 2009

While leafing through the New York Times looking for an article for an assignment, I came across one entitled “Paying in full as the ticket into colleges.”

The article explained that instead of looking at applicants’ grades from high school, the activities they were involved in and their entrance essays, colleges are now looking at whether or not they have a fat wallet when deciding on who gets accepted and who gets rejected. 

Since colleges are getting fewer endowments and getting more applicants who need more financial aid, they are beginning to look toward and accept those applicants who are wealthier.

On top of that, the colleges that say they admit students regardless of financial need are continuing to find ways to increase the number of students who will be able to pay full tuition by taking more students from waiting lists or transfer lists, as well as admitting more foreign students who are able to pay full cost.

Even though colleges aren’t making cuts in the financial aid budgets, they are beginning to look at how many financially-needy students they can afford, now that more are applying for financial aid and will most likely need more down the road.

While I do understand that funds are short and times are rough, this article made me angry, shocked, and made me question the morals and ethics of colleges and universities. 

To replace talented, low income applicants with less talented, richer applicants is extremely unjust and immoral to say the least.

But sadly, it has been done with celebrities and others who belong to well-known families. George W. Bush, to name one, is a perfect example. Going to Yale obviously did him absolutely no good; his spot could’ve been filled with a more mentally-equipped student.

Colleges and universities represent the future, possibilities and opportunities. To take that all away, in a sense, by rejecting those with a lower income, downgrades the reputation of colleges, universities and their administration.

It also makes me wonder, if that’s going to be the case, why bother working so hard in high school to get the good grades? Why bother working so hard in AP classes to get extra credits in a college you may not even get into? Why go the extra mile and make extra efforts in extra-curricular activities that would look good on a college application? I know that colleges and universities aren’t going to look just at how much money an applicant has, as they do have reputations to uphold, but the questions are still there.

AP classes, mentoring, tutoring, taking a few college classes on the side, working hard, getting good grades; to what point do they start to not matter to the administration of colleges? If that’s going to be the case, are high school students going to continue to have the work ethic in hopes of getting into the college of their dreams? The U.S. is known for freedom, possibilities, hopes and dreams for the future. If this keeps up, I don’t think it’s still going to look that way to young, hopeful high school graduates. 

Christie Lauer is a student at UW-River Falls.