Why Did Celebrities Pay Bribes Instead of Paying for Tutors?

The college admissions scandal involved various side-door strategies to gain acceptance, but it is puzzling that well-heeled celebrities chose to pay bribes instead of paying for tutors. Applying for college is a stressful endeavor that starts from the time the student enters high school as a freshman although the actual application paperwork is not processed until the students start their last year in high school. High school counselors advise that the entire high school journey is a prelude to college. Students are advised to make smart decisions about which courses to take, which extracurricular pursuits to spend time on and to maintain exemplary academic records to increase the chances of admission to highly selective colleges.

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Pathways to Elite College Admission

The most prestigious colleges have the lowest acceptance rates because they receive a tremendous number of applications every year. Expect to compete with some of the most academically gifted students with sterling records of achievement in athletics and community involvement. Ivy league schools and other top-tier universities also require the SAT or ACT, which presents another level of competitive jockeying for high school students driven to gain admittance to their dream college.

To put the competitive pressure into perspective, these are the acceptance rates at some of the schools mentioned in the admissions scandal based on data from U.S. News & World Reports: 4.59 percent for Harvard, 6.31 percent for Yale, 4.3 percent for Stanford, 17.7 percent for University of Southern California and 14.1 percent for UCLA. Elite colleges have their pick of graduating seniors with the best GPAs and highest SAT/ACT scores.

Admissions counselors explain that they assess applications based on achievement, character strengths and suitability to their specific teaching style and campus life. The college application essay is reportedly used as a gauge of one’s ability to articulate life experiences.

Admissions for Athletic Achievement

Another pathway for admission to one’s dream college would be through outstanding achievement as an athlete in a sport that the university supports. Full or partial scholarships may be awarded to recruits for football, basketball, baseball and swimming standouts. Some of the elite colleges also recruit for golf, tennis, lacrosse, polo and rowing. College coaches are given a quota of slots reserved for athletic admissions, but these recruits should meet certain academic standards as well.

Legacy Admissions

Students who have family members that are alumni of their dream college have an edge of other applicants. This group of admits are referred to as legacy admissions because of family connections. Little is known about legacy admission policies of elite colleges, but generous donations to college development funds by alumni can boost one’s chances significantly according to a report from National Public Radio.

Side-door Strategies for Admission

Unscrupulous college admission consultants identified side-door strategies that could be exploited to facilitate the acceptance of students who cannot compete with high achievers. Unfortunately, some parents with the means have taken this route to admission rather than hiring tutors to prepare their college-bound kids for the rigors of college life. Working with tutors should start during the students’ freshman year. Hire tutors for extra guidance and support in core courses where they need help. Hire tutors for test preparation, which should begin during the sophomore year as students prepare to take the PSAT.

Bribery may be a last-ditch effort to get in when legacy admissions and athletic recruitment are not viable options. Celebrities pay bribes instead of hiring tutors when they fail to start college prep early enough or when their children do not put in the effort to excel in high school. Bribery and side-door strategies are ill-advised and illegal as several celebrity parents are finding out just now.