U.S. college admissions scandal puts selection process for Canadian schools under microscope

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The faculty bribery scandal is spurring dialogue in regards to the methods by which cash greases the wheels of the U.S. admissions course of – and whereas most acknowledge there are fewer shortcuts to securing a spot in Canadian colleges, advocates say the system is slanted to provide well-off college students a leg up.

American authorities have accused dozens of individuals of participating in a $25-million bribery scheme by which dad and mom allegedly paid to make sure their youngsters’s enrollment in elite colleges. Among the many dad and mom charged are Vancouver businessman David Sidoo, who has pleaded not responsible, and TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

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The choice course of at Canadian colleges is closely weighted in direction of highschool report playing cards, leaving much less wiggle room for the kind of chicanery being alleged within the U.S., an admissions advisor says.

“The aggressive panorama could be very totally different in the USA,” stated Robert Astroff, president of Astroff Consultants, which helps college students put together for his or her post-secondary research. “There’s a lot much less alternative to sport the system in Canada.”

Canada doesn’t have standardized admissions assessments just like the SAT or ACT, which a few of these charged within the U.S. are accused of falsifying, stated Astroff.

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Prosecutors additionally allege that oldsters bribed school coaches to recruit their youngsters. Within the U.S., varsity sports activities are extremely monetized, Astroff stated, so extra emphasis is positioned on athletics than in Canada.

There are a number of different elements that may contribute to a pupil’s possibilities of getting right into a U.S. college, he stated: private essays, letters of reference, class rankings and relationships with alumni.

In Canada, the admissions standards are much less subjective, he stated, and an applicant’s acceptance typically comes down as to if their highschool grades meet the minimal necessities.

U.S. colleges are sorted right into a “tiered” system by which there’s an enormous gulf between going to an Ivy League college and a group school, Astroff famous. There’s far much less differentiation amongst Canadian universities, so the choice course of just isn’t almost as cutthroat, he stated.

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Admissions officers at Canadian universities additionally careworn these cross-border distinctions.

Curtis Michaelis, admissions and recruitment co-ordinator at Mount Allison College in Sackville, N.B., stated the U.S. college students he works with are sometimes shocked at how “clear” the Canadian system is.

Richard Levin, govt director of enrollment companies and registrar on the College of Toronto, stated most applications settle for 50 to 60 per cent of candidates, whereas acceptance charges at prestigious U.S. colleges may be as little as 5 – 6 per cent.

“It displays the truth that we’ve got bigger public universities with a giant breadth of applications which can be usually fairly accessible,” he stated.


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In keeping with a 2017 report by Statistics Canada, the post-secondary enrollment charge of 19-year-old Canadians elevated from 52.6 per cent in 2001 to 63.eight per cent in 2014 – with the most important positive aspects being made amongst youth from lower-income households.

However Eloise Tan, analysis program director of Ontario-based advocacy group Individuals for Schooling, stated colleges and policy-makers shouldn’t be so fast to pat themselves on the again.

“It’s not nearly specific paying or bribery to get your child into college,” stated Tan. “There’s different advantages to having the next earnings, that the information exhibits these college students are simply extra prone to go to high school.”

Tan pointed to a report launched earlier this month by the provincially funded Larger Schooling High quality Council of Ontario suggesting that top college college students who come from households the place neither mum or dad has a post-secondary diploma are 33 per cent much less prone to earn one themselves in comparison with friends whose dad and mom accomplished a college or school program.


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College students from lower-income households had been additionally much less prone to pursue increased schooling than friends from extra privileged backgrounds, the report discovered.

Tan stated dad and mom are more and more spending cash on tutors to spice up their youngsters’s marks, however many college students can’t afford these helps. And as Ontario educators battle for assets, she stated youth from higher-income households usually tend to attend colleges which have the fundraising to supply extracurricular actions.

College students from lower-income households are additionally much less prone to have entry to steering counsellors, she stated, and if their dad and mom don’t have post-secondary levels, the appliance course of can appear overwhelming.

“(The disadvantages) are virtually invisible, however we’d like to ensure they don’t stay invisible,” stated Tan.


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Even when universities attempt to degree the taking part in discipline, they don’t all the time get it proper, stated one researcher with the College of British Columbia.

Emily Truong-Cheung, a PhD pupil in sociology, stated UBC modified its admission course of in 2012 in an effort to diversify its pupil inhabitants. As an alternative of simply taking a look at grades, it asks candidates about extracurricular actions and volunteer work.

She interviewed 25 candidates and located that whereas upper-class youth have the time and assets for volunteering, journey and extracurriculars, working-class college students typically spend their further time learning and dealing to help their households.

“They had been very embarrassed – ‘I don’t need to write about working at McDonald’s. That’s not spectacular.’ ”

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Working-class college students additionally felt conflicted about answering a query on overcoming adversity, she stated. They needed to indicate they’d triumphed towards the percentages, however additionally they questioned what it needed to do with their potential success at UBC.

The College of British Columbia stated in a press release the varsity scores each facet of an utility, so directors can “empirically” measure the place each candidate falls relative to the pool of potential college students.

Truong-Cheung stated she didn’t assume the college ought to abandon the brand new course of, but it surely ought to handle the considerations of working-class college students. She appreciates that the U.S. scandal has opened a dialog about class inequality in Canadian universities, she added.

“I believe what admission processes try to say is: We wish one of the best. However what this information has proven is that one of the best appears rather a lot like somebody who has a number of assets.”

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