LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Now to the college admissions scandal. This past week, the FBI charged 50 people in the scheme that allegedly enabled wealthy students to cheat their way into prestigious schools across the country. So we asked recent college applicants to reflect on how much support they received during the admissions process. Here are a few of their stories.
TAYLOR FUENTES: Hi. My name is Taylor Fuentes (ph). I went to the University of San Diego - graduated in 2015. I was applying. And, at the time, money was really tight. So we had to move into a two-bedroom apartment with other family members. There were about six of us. I didn't have access to a consistent computer. I didn't have a printer. Other students' parents could afford application fees. They had a copier at home that they could use to send forms and things like that. And they could even ask their parents for firsthand advice. A part of me, when I was first applying to universities, wanted to believe that it was completely merit-based. But I knew that other students would have a lot more advantages. And so I knew right from the beginning that I was disadvantaged in that way. But a part of me still hoped that I had done enough to prove that, you know, I had a place there.
DYLAN MANDERLINK: Hi. My name is Dylan Manderlink (ph). I graduated Emerson College in Boston in 2014. I did live in a middle-class family. However, during the time of college applications, my parents were going through a pretty messy divorce. And within that, our financial status was fluctuating a lot. And so the financial aid process for me was very nerve-wracking and anxiety-ridden. I couldn't really afford to go to, like, SAT camp. That was a really big thing. Like, circumstances like that - I just felt like I didn't really have that support or that opportunity.
SAJA OZMENT: Hi. I'm Saja Ozment (ph). And I'm a Minnesota high school student. So I thought that the application process would be easy because, like, I'm an only child. And I've - I'm kind of used to, like, doing things on my own. And a lot of the stuff that I do talk about in my essays are really personal. And I think that's a thing that is also common, like, with first-gen students and low income. They feel the need to, like, talk about really personal things in order for, like, an admissions counselor to, like, admit them. Not every student has private tutors, and they're able to participate in hundreds of activities. I think that education should be more equitable.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Students reflecting on their own application process.
(SOUNDBITE OF SQUARE PEG ROUND HOLE'S "A-FRAME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.