College admission controversy stirs reaction from local UT students

Local News
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Although one of the biggest college admission scandals in U.S. history doesn’t involve the University of Tennessee, many UT students have thoughts on the claims. 

James Hughes is working toward his goal of becoming a high school history teacher. He said he chose that path because he wants to make a “grassroots difference” in the lives of high schoolers by being a thorough and patient educator. 

Hughes also chose the orange and white because so many of his relatives are UT graduates. He remembered being nervous when he applied, thinking his grade point average might not get him in the door because he said it wasn’t that special.

“I made sure that I applied here early because I wasn’t sure they’d let me in,” he said.

He also remembers the excitement of getting an acceptance letter.

He called the claims of buys and lies at other major and prestigious universities unfair and believes it could be harmful to the student because they’re not learning the value in earning what they get in life as he did.

“They’re just getting a quick ticket into a school that they probably aren’t even prepared for,” he added. 

Alex Owens had an above-average grade point average and ACT super score going into UT, but he wanted to score a higher on the standardized test in order to pay for college. While he was working for more scholarships, others were paying for admission.

“I had to work to get to this point and a lot of people associated with that scandal didn’t. It ruins the integrity of the schools, the standardized, and one it’s not fair,” Owens said. 

Owens’ girlfriend, Allie Clouse, went to a smaller high school. She says roughly 10 in her graduating class were accepted to UT, which was one of the largest for her school. She said it was a big source of pride to her and her family. To ensure she’d get in and have enough scholarship money to get her to graduation day, she took part in an ACT prep service and retook her ACT multiple times.

“I stressed about it a lot. I did a lot of work to get here and to have someone fake being an athlete for a college and pay for test scores, it’s not fair and not true and it’s not really a good representation of that person,” she said. 

Kari Alldredge, UTK vice provost for enrollment management, sent the following statement:

UT is not involved in the recent federal investigation involving bribes and payments in exchange for admission to selective colleges, nor do we participate in the behaviors cited in the scam. We are committed to serving all students and work to ensure we provide an equitable process for all applicants. Our undergraduate admission review process is competitive and holistic with a focus on academic preparation and student success. We take into account an applicant’s GPA, standardized test scores, academic rigor, personal essays or statements, as well as extra-curricular activities, leadership and community engagement among other factors.

All UT admission requirements can be found at https://admissions.utk.edu/high-school.

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