By Sophia Lesseos
It’s 3 a.m. and the grinding of coffee beans and hissing of the milk steamer fills the air as Oscar Salazar begins his early morning.
Four different types of tea steaming, three scoops of pike coffee into the brewer and two tired eyes in the back of the store staring at a study guide for a test he won’t see for another 15 hours.
Pouring coffee by day and being a COC student at night has made his life a full-time roller coaster.
After graduating from high school in 2010, Salazar never gave up on his dream of earning a college degree. Having to help support his family, he has dropped out of school three times in the past nine years. In order to pay bills for the ones he loves, including his dog, Bentley, he always has had a full-time job, sometimes several jobs to make ends meet.
After the long battle of juggling school and work, Salazar is graduating with his Kinesiology associate’s degree and transferring to a university in the fall.
“I’ve always wanted to be a physical therapist,” said Salazar. “Sports medicine and the way the human body works has always fascinated me.”
The 27-year-old is bouncing around between university applications with ease, but some students might not be as confident with their application status this fall, because of “Operation Varsity Blues,” the latest college admission scandal.
“I’ve applied to several ivy league schools and still haven’t heard back from them,” said Ryan Johnson, COC psychology major. “I hope my application is good enough.”
In “Operation Varsity Blues,” universities were accepting students whose parents paid for fake tests and phony resumes in order to get accepted into ivy league universities. At least one student that was involved in the admissions scandal was accepted into Yale University, an Ivy league school with a 6% acceptance rate. According to the New Haven Register, two students at Stanford University have filed a class-action lawsuit against eight of the universities involved in the bribery scandal.
So, can we blame universities for the $25 million college bribery case?
“Well, I think the good news is that scandal as it were, sort of blew the lid on that activity,” said Eric Harnish, the public information officer at COC. “I think colleges that had problems will clean those problems up. And so if anything, it will help improve the process.”
College of the Canyons offers students over 20 different transfer programs “guaranteeing” a seat at a California State University, but what about the students trying to get into Ivy League schools?
“The transfer center and our counselors here excel at helping students get where they want to go,” said Harnish.
With the graduating class at COC being the largest it has ever been at over 2,400 students, quite a few are transferring to their “dream schools.”
“My mother and brother have both gone to CSUN and it was almost expected for me to go there as well,” said Savannah Doss, accounting and business major at COC.
She has been preparing her whole life to go to California State University, Northridge, but heard about the admissions scandal and got worried.
“My best friend got accepted before me and the scandal was all over the news. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to CSUN until next year,” said Doss. “I went to speak to the counselors once a week for a month straight to check on my status.”
While Doss did end up getting into the school, the recent scandal didn’t just bring up worry in transfer students, college students all over were frustrated with what was happening.
“I’ve put in so much time studying and keeping my grades high, but it can mean nothing because some other student’s parents can donate some undisclosed amount of money and potentially take my spot,” said David Duronslet, a biological science major at Santa Ana Community College. “Even if we both are admitted, knowing that I have one extra person to fight over classes with, is putting me at an extra disadvantage.”
Duronslet will be transferring to the University of California, Davis in the fall of 2019.
“These schools want people of the highest caliber but that insane level of competition essentially grooms young students into being highly competitive and aggressive when it comes to education,” said Ranil Ganlath, electrical engineering major at UC Davis. “That’s one of the biggest mistakes that eventually leads to a person “burning out” in college. The issue is that society these needs emphasizes that in order to “be somebody” you need to go to college. That is entirely not true. Colleges simply take advantage of that by increasing their tuition and letting more and more people in.”
College of the Canyons has been helping its students feel safe in transferring to Universities with its transfer center. But, even students who are continuing as a COC student next semester had some strong feelings about this crime.
“I thought it’s ridiculous what money can and will let most people do,” said Ryan Propper, a COC filmmaking major. “I don’t believe this is how school should be run. And it is frustrating because money allows a lot of people things that others work had for and that’s not how it should be.”
“Operation Varsity Blues” caused a hysteria with the Ivy League schools throughout the United States and made this the largest college admissions cheating scandal in history.
College of the Canyons doesn’t want its students to fear, and want their students to know that they have support in the transfer process when speaking to the counselors and going to the transfer office.
“I think that it has brought renewed scrutiny to the college admissions process,” said Harnish. “Colleges that had problems will clean those problems up. If anything, it will help improve the process and, hopefully, lead to more students getting more opportunities to get into those highly desirable schools. What students need to keep in mind is that coming to College of the Canyons does give you an advantage in terms of transferring.”