If Elite Colleges Want to Address the College Admissions Bribery Scandal — Accept More Low- and Middle-Income Strivers
By Cynthia Rivera Weissblum President and CEO of the Edwin Gould Foundation
The admission scandal is a stain on the reputation of our top universities. If these institutions want to change their admission policies, they should double down on their outreach to Strivers.
I am referring to America’s Strivers — the talented and prepared low-and middle-income students who played by the rules, sacrificed their Saturdays studying, navigated the inhospitable college knowledge pathway without the help of savvy family members. These are the young people who pestered their high school college advisors who were swamped with 500 students to advise. Some of them actually schooled their parents and younger siblings on the intricacies of college going and financial aid. These hardworking young people, along with the tireless teachers, counselors and staff of nonprofits across the country challenge the narrative — zip code determines destiny.
The commitment of these students is evident. In every major city in our great nation there are organizations, professionals and volunteer mentors who are offering Strivers a legitimate opportunity to level the playing field — rigorous academic preparation, college knowledge and support to navigate the path to college graduation. These organizations are doing what decent affluent and resourced families do for their children — guide and support.
These students are easy to find at high schools and organizations across the country. They are the Scholars at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, the Fellows at Opportunity Network and TEAK, and the students served by Breakthrough Collaborative, Legal Outreach, Posse, Prep for Prep, A Better Chance, LEDA, Oliver Scholars, College Track and so many more.
It is up to elite colleges and universities to open the doors and admit these deserving students in greater numbers. They are knocking at the front door prepared, voracious and ready to succeed. Wake up and let them in, let a true meritocracy reign.
Cynthia Rivera Weissblum is the President and CEO of the Edwin Gould Foundation (EGF) and leads the EGF Accelerator, a residential incubator addressing equity in education. Her career at universities, nonprofits and in government and philanthropy has been dedicated to Strivers.