As someone who settled for an Army issued GED in place of a real diploma from Fresno High School (I was awarded an honorary diploma years later), and who squandered numerous opportunities at higher education, I occupy a unique vantage point to watch the unfolding college admissions scandal.

A little background would be helpful.

Portrait of Fresno veterans advocate Jim Doyle

Opinion

Jim Doyle

I spent the majority of my high school years screwing around, ditching classes, and looking for the next good time. I actually went through the graduation ceremony in June 1967 but was told I had to attend Summer School for six weeks to finish what I had neglected to finish in the three previous years.

Summer School. You mean like, school, in summer? What’re you, nuts? You don’t go to school in summer unless you received an empty diploma case, and were a few credits short of the minimum number of credits for graduation. So, what did I do? I partied like it was 1999 and ignored the chance to get a real high school diploma.

Long Road to My GED

Long story short, in late Fall of ’67 I asked the Army to call me for service and they obliged, ordering me to report to the Armed Forces Examination and Entrance Station in the 1900 block of “H” Street on 18 January 1968. Me and about 600 other guys.

Photo of Royce High at Fresno High School

Royce Hall at Fresno High School. (Fresno Unified School District)

I actually went through the graduation ceremony in June 1967 but was told I had to attend Summer School for six weeks to finish what I had neglected to finish in the three previous years.

While in the Army I took the required “remedial” courses with other recruits and passed the battery of General Education Equivalence tests. I am considered equivalent to a high school graduate. I even include it on my business cards, Jim Doyle, Hs.E.

After leaving the Army I was a little restless, my legs and brain were in constant motion, taking me in and out of Fresno City College, staying long enough to make the GI Bill check last through the next few hours of class until the next check. It was a repeat of high school, but with ashtrays, as the saying went.

‘Stay in School or End Up Like Me’

What does all this matter in relation to the college admissions scandal?

It means I put a high value on education because I pissed away every formal educational opportunity I had.

While I was in Vietnam, every letter I wrote to my younger brother included a statement to the effect of, “keep your ass in school or you’ll end up like me…”.

He took me so seriously, 50 years later he is still in school. Oh sure, he’s a Ph.D. professor preeminent in his field but really, 50 years? His success puts me in the position of being able to claim, “If not for me. …”

Our son followed a similar path, graduating from Fresno State and then doing his post-grad work at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he taught Political Science for several years before moving into IT.

Photo of Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy

Felicity Huffman, left, and her husband, William H. Macy. Huffman and another Hollywood celebrity, Lori Loughlin, were charged along with nearly 50 other people Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP File)

Hard Work Was Their Ticket to College

Both my brother and son got into college the old-fashioned way, like the overwhelming majority of college students, hard work. Mommy and Daddy did what they could, free room and board and a lot of support and encouragement. Brother and son both worked their fingers to the bone, saved what they could, and earned their own way through school.

Parents paid tens of thousands of dollars for bogus athletic histories, honked-up SAT exams, and who knows what else to push their kids to the front of the line, ahead of kids who were likely more qualified, and eager to get an education, not just a slot in a fixed lottery, a charade.

Now we learn about hundreds of families, some very prominent, who have been gaming the system by working with groups who enhance their kids’ chances of getting into the Ivy League or other elite universities by lying and cheating.

Parents paid tens of thousands of dollars for bogus athletic histories, honked-up SAT exams, and who knows what else to push their kids to the front of the line, ahead of kids who were likely more qualified, and eager to get an education, not just a slot in a fixed lottery, a charade.

The scat hasn’t even begun to hit the old fan yet.

More Celebrities and Coaches Will Be Exposed

Sure, there will likely be more celebrity names involved, and more coaches and administrators will be given the ax, along with the latest crop of enhanced application students.

What about the board rooms across the country?

Given the incestuous nature and the networking that is part and parcel of higher education, it is not beyond possibility that many of these phony students obtained jobs in prestigious firms in every sector of the economy because of their networking connections.

Human Resource directors should be scouring their files to find out if they hired any graduates whose college applications were a pack of lies and whose real SAT score was room temperature.

Given the incestuous nature and the networking that is part and parcel of higher education, it is not beyond possibility that many of these phony students obtained jobs in prestigious firms in every sector of the economy because of their networking connections.

How many of these horrible people are in the public sector, assessing our taxes, making our laws, and affecting the everyday lives of our neighbors?

Careers Built on Lies

And how many of these kids didn’t have a clue their parents were doing manipulating the system, and have to face the daunting task of learning how to row, play soccer or lacrosse, swim? How many of them have the ability to function at the level of a Yale or USC or Wake Forest if the only way they would be accepted was to submit a spurious application?

Surely there must be a few who knew full well what was happening and went blithely along, secure in the knowledge they were entitled to special treatment, because that’s all they’ve known their entire lives.

The most disgusting reality in this whole story is, if they lied to get into school, they must lie about everything else in life to cover it up.

About the Author

Jim Doyle of Fresno is a freelance writer and veterans advocate. He wrote this for GV Wire.

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