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College Admissions Scandal

Editor’s Letter

In this month’s issue, we share with you how a liberal arts education can prepare students for jobs that do not exist now. In this era of artificial intelligence, what students learn at university now could be obsolete by the time they graduate, so how do you ready students for such new jobs?

We also spoke to some researchers and find out several career pathways that science PhD students can consider after graduating. Often, many PhD-holders feel their next step is to do years of postdoc, but there are many routes outside of academia which their skills can come in useful. The article shares some ways to successfully transition between academia and industry in the life science sector.

A good college degree is an investment of future success for many people, with better job prospects after graduation. Some even continue beyond their undergraduate studies to pursue advanced degrees, and PhDs. But nobody wants to spend years studying for a qualification only to find out their credentials hold no value.

At this point, most of us would have heard of the recent U.S. college admissions scandal. Current scandals like this causes distrust in the education system.

If you somehow missed the news, here’s the brief – In March 2019, U.S. federal prosecutors charged 50 people who were part of the admissions bribery scandal. Parents of college applicants were accused of paying more than US$25 million between 2011 and 2018 to William Rick Singer, a college admissions counsellor and organiser of the scheme, to help applicants secure spots at Yale, Stanford and other top schools. The money was used to inflate student academic scores, fake athletic credentials and bribe college officials.

The huge advantage wealthy children have, as they buy their way into college, has outraged many, and caused university students to file lawsuits against their own schools.

This college admission scandal hurts the credibility of educational institutions and the qualifications they confer.

The scandal not only affects college admissions; there are many broad repercussions. For instance, internships. Internships awarded by industry leaders are becoming increasingly important for students seeking advanced graduate education or lucrative corporate research employment.

Therefore, should the practice of hiring interns come under similar scrutiny, it is important for companies to show that they adopt a meritocratic approach in selecting their candidates. This can help to preserve the current system of hiring based on merits, which will not only help to strengthen the credentials of the interns they hire, but reflect well on the company.

A good example of a company that has relied on the meritocratic approach when hiring for its competitive summer internship program is U.S. biotech firm, Alpha Genesis Primate Research Center. Alpha Genesis president and CEO Greg Westergaard says they review the integrity of the system annually, to ensure a fair and level playing field is made available for all. “We take this responsibility very seriously when awarding these highly coveted and potentially career-changing positions.”

Students and working adults alike must hope that the meritocratic system stays so that the credentials that they have worked hard to earn, mean something. Because if qualifications can be bought, then we will need to find a new way to hire qualified people.

Lim Guan Yu