San Diego

‘Discouraging and Disheartening': Local Students React to College Admissions Scandal

Fifty people, including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, have been accused of fraud and conspiracy to facilitate students getting into top universities

As news broke of an alleged far-reaching bribery scheme that hoisted students into high-profile and ivy-league universities, one San Diego high school student called it “discouraging and disheartening” as he continues to work hard toward college himself.

Jorge Santana, 16, attends Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista with the hopes of getting into a good college next year.

“People cheating the system and getting a fast pass just isn’t fair at all,” Santana told NBC 7. “It’s very discouraging and disheartening because I know so many students who sacrifice so much time and energy.”

Santana studies hours throughout his school week and weekend in preparation for the SAT. He also does community service and track.

“It’s kind of a sacrifice,” Santana said. “I go to practice every day, and it’s like, a two-hour practice, so there’s a lot of time to work on it.”

In the alleged college admissions scam, some students were reportedly labeled as recruited athletes when they were not – with some going as far as to photoshopping their faces onto stock sports images.

The University of San Diego was named in a college admissions cheating scandal. NBC 7's Mari Payton has more on two San Diegans charged in the matter.

“There’s this certain accomplishment feeling you get from putting in the hard work and letting the results show for themselves rather than cheating for it,” Santana told NBC 7. “You do what you got to do – legitimately, of course.”

Mark Walters tutors Santana and used to work at a local university. He told NBC 7 he wasn’t surprised by the news at all.

“When you have something this high stakes, with such high rewards, and you have a class of people in this country and internationally who are accustomed to buying their way into things they didn’t otherwise earn, this happens,” said Walters.

Walters said he believes this kind of activity happens more than most people realize.

This sentiment was echoed on campus at the University of San Diego, as NBC 7’s Danny Freeman spoke with college students following the complaint that named USD directly -- though there is no indication that the university itself was involved.

USD said it is cooperating with the Department of Justice’s investigation, and it has no reason to believe that any members of their admissions team or current coaching staff knew about the alleged wrongdoing.

Other colleges named include Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, Yale, University of Texas, University of Southern California, and Wake Forest.

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