After Celeb Admissions Scandal, How Does UC Ensure a Fair Process?

The recent admissions scandals that have been playing out across the nation hone in on the importance of a fair selection process at colleges and universities across the country, including UC.

Since the news of celebrities and wealthy individuals bribing their children into universities first erupted across the media, the U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts has charged 50 people with involvement in unfair college admittance.

“Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, the most famous celebrity involved, is facing possible jail time and the reputations of the participating universities are damaged. But what are the ramifications for colleges that play by the rules?

“The recent scandal has plagued the admissions industry for sure,” said Jeffrey Gates, senior vice president for student life and enrollment management.

Gates said that UC is affected by the cheating that has been happening across the U.S.  

“I have seen firsthand how a college degree positively impacts families, not just my own,” Gates said. “So when there are scandals in the news with celebrities it clouds the amazing work of my colleagues here at UC and across the globe who work tirelessly to assist families in making the right collegiate decision for their family.”

Utica College has policies in place to prevent any type of unfairness in selecting students. Gates said that the multi-step process sets up a system of “checks and balances.”

“The admissions team at UC is very cognizant of the application review and selection process,” Gates said.

The admissions office has a multi-step process that begins with enrollment operations and includes an admissions counselor for a specific recruitment territory and reviews by the executive director of admissions and from the senior vice president.

Separate acceptance letters are signed by two people, Executive Director Jessica Nelson and the senior vice president.

According to Gates, the philosophy of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is to admit students who represent a broad range of talents, abilities, and promise for academic and personal success.

“In addition, we seek students who enhance the educational experiences for all students including those who will foster a culture of respect, diversity, success and service to our community,” Gates said.

Students offered admission to Utica College are selected through a holistic review of application materials. According to Gates, no single factor will determine admissibility.

“Each application is reviewed on the basis of academic preparation and the potential for academic and personal success,” Gates said. “There’s no need for unfairness in a holistic process.”

For Gates, ensuring fair access to education at Utica College is personal.

“I have devoted my career to assisting families in their quest for higher education,” Gates said. “I am a first-generation college student and believe in the transformative power of higher education.”

Gates encourages students and families to look beyond the major guidebooks when comparing colleges. He said it is most important for students to find a college that has the academic choices they want most; one that is affordable after all sources of financial aid; one that has the support system that is desired and one where they feel comfortable when they visit.

“Comfort should be near the top of that list as students who are not comfortable or those ‘who don’t feel it’ will not perform well academically — to me that’s most important,” Gates said.  

The admissions scandals and ramifications continue to evolve. How the dynamics of the scandal will shape the selection process at universities is yet to be fully determined.

Gates said that hype for the best universities is the main reason parents are willing to cheat to ensure their child is accepted into a prestigious college.

“People do get caught up in the ‘best,’” Gates said. “I talk with families all of the time regarding fit and experience. There is truly a college out there for everyone.”

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