DUBLIN (KPIX 5) — A nationwide college admissions scandal has left professors and students discouraged about the “pay-to-play” mentality taking over the admissions process at the nation’s top universities.

“This reminds me of pay-to-play gone haywire,” said Matthew Atencio, an author and professor at Cal State University East Bay. Atencio said he was surprised at the extent of the scandal and how deep it runs within the admissions systems at elite schools.

“We aren’t thinking about the ethics or broader social implications of this kind of mentality, but is about cultivating my own individual child and, in this case, it’s gone nuts,” he said.

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One high school student said aiming to get into their dream university is “getting harder and harder every year.” Students work hard, get good grades, do community service and extracurricular activities only to be shorted by a system that was essentially rigged.

Students told KPIX 5 that they felt defeated knowing that their extra work–like hiring tutors and putting in hours toward AP classes to earn the edge–may not be enough.

“It’s just not fair. Something needs to be done. It’s not right ,” one student said.

“There is a lot of pressure on me,” said another.

“This kind of scandal, I think, really makes us take pause and think about how do we get away from the pay-to-play model that we really have, and how a lot of people get left behind in that kind of mindset,” said Atencio.

Some students said they felt sorry for the children who got into universities based on their parents’ involvement in the scandal. Some also said they will look at their own upcoming acceptances through a new lens, knowing they got in through their own merit.

Juliette Goodrich

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