“Fair” seems like a four-letter word in America, these days.

In the past 100 years, attending a college or university has gone from being a place to study theology and law to an expensive means to an end to an almost-guaranteed rite for the modern graduating high school senior. Almost 20 million students attended college or university in the fall of 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But do these students really want to go?

When I was a teacher in a good private high school, I knew that most of my students liked the idea of college, but it was their parents who wanted them to go to the best colleges. Students felt torn, but parents felt like their son or daughter owed them. With the recent scandal of TV stars bribing the top schools to accept their kids, one can see that this obsession with higher education isn’t coming from the kids; it’s the helicopter parents and the colleges with such odd standards to get in.      

According to StraighterLine.com, “more than 30 percent of students drop out in their first year [of college]. Of that percentage, 75 percent are required to take remedial courses, and 60 percent have no financial support from parents or other relatives.” Schools are demanding students to be perfect, and parents feel the pressure, too, yet the positive results aren’t there.

Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives and Lori Loughlin of Fuller House were caught and arrested in a recent FBI investigation called “Varsity Blues” that detailed the lengths to which rich entitled parents were willing to go to get their children into schools like UCLA, USC, Yale Georgetown, Stanford, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University.

Huffman is suspected of paying $15,000 to a fake charity to have her daughter’s SAT scores altered. Loughlin was accused of bribing a crew coach to put her daughter on a list of recruits to lower the acceptance requirements. What exactly do SATs or sport accomplishments say about a student’s academic abilities of studying and handling their newfound freedom? Hard workers aren’t always great test takers or athletes. Yet those are the standards created to get in.

Interestingly, it appears the kids were unaware, but Loughlin’s daughter Oliva Jade Giannulli may have needed all the help she got to get into USC. She went on social media, before attending USC, talking about her plans to party and fit school in if she had time. When her parents were arrested, she was partying on a boat with USC’s Board of Trustees’ Chairman.

We all know that the rich find a way to get what they want. Middleclass Democrats and Republicans alike see the exploits of those in the Hollywood and Washington, D.C., systems. What makes this scandal so rotten is that it hurt the people who helped build their careers. The everyday, regular, hard-working Americans who paid to see their movies, watch their shows and follow their social media accounts.

The other irony is that these celebrity parents show how bad they want to see their kids be accepted to the top schools. They can’t live off their own accomplishments, wanting to have their kids be the next step in building the pedestal they perch themselves on the top of. After watching Hollywood damn the rich for their excess, this scandal hits home too hard. No one is content.

“There has been a tremendous amount of news coverage and expressed feelings by politicians and Hollywood celebrities themselves about income inequality, higher taxes on the rich and redistribution of wealth,” said Susan Tellem, a senior partner at Tellem Grody PR. “Because of these recent discussions, it is likely that Hollywood figures may be judged more harshly then, say, five or 10 years ago.”

A former Oakland school teacher, Jennifer Kay Toy, has a lawsuit filed stating this bad behavior cost her son his future, too. “Joshua and I believed that he’d had a fair chance just like all other applicants but did not make the cut for some undisclosed reason.” “Fair” seems like a four-letter word in America, these days.

Maybe what we can take away from this is that while Jennifer Kay Toy seems desperate to help her son, so did the wealthy with their own. Maybe the real villains here are the schools and their admission processes that create such desperation.