By Hallie Busta
- Legislation put forward in the California State Assembly by five Democratic lawmakers seeks to level the playing field for college admissions in the state just weeks after an alleged nationwide bribery scheme rocked the world of higher education.
- Among the proposals are requiring at least three administrators — including the school’s chief executive — to sign off on special admissions, banning preferential admissions for relatives of donors or alumni, studying the usefulness of SAT and ACT tests, and requiring some private college admissions consultants to register with the state.
- In interviews with The Chronicle of Higher Education, admissions experts were wary of some proposals, noting the potential trade-off between millions of dollars in donations and a seat. However, experts favored other policies, such as requiring multiple approvals for special cases. California’s move could prompt similar action by other states, according to The Chronicle.
Although the alleged scheme by a college admissions consultant and a few dozen parents to buy seats for their children at elite universities relied on largely illegal means, it pointed out areas in the admissions process ripe for exploitation. Among them is the lower-friction process through which special admissions such as student-athletes and the children of donors are considered. It also put fresh light on the legal means by which wealth can buy advantage.
By adding more and higher-profile checks on special admissions and banning preferential treatment of donor and alumni relatives, the California legislators hope to make something like this harder to pull off in the future.
“This legislative package of college admissions reforms will ensure that there are adequate checks and balances to catch fraudsters, but more importantly to protect the sanctity of the admissions process,” said Kevin McCarty, one of the lawmakers putting forward the legislation, in a statement. (Separately, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, has said he plans to propose federal legislation ending tax breaks for donations made to… (continue reading)