Courtesy of Jackson Institute

As the admissions scandal continues to unfold, a former University administrator and a group advocating for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students have expressed concerns about how the scandal may affect current FGLI students and potential applicants.

Celebrities’ names dominated headlines related to the scandal that saw one for-profit college consultant take in $25 million overall and a former Yale soccer coach accept a bribe of $400,000 to facilitate the admission of a Yale applicant. But many believe that there is a more important group that the scandal damages which flew under the radar — FGLI students.

Nationally, some students are arguing that FGLI students’ voices have not been sufficiently represented in the conversation about the scandal.

Daniel Nissani, co-author of a letter entitled “Our Voice Matters” which offers a conglomeration of FGLI students’ perspectives about the admissions scandal, told the News that he co-wrote the letter to give such students the opportunity to have their voices heard in the scandal, as he noticed that many pundits were trying to speak for them. He added that many first-generation students were “part frustrated and part vindicated” by the scandal.

“We’ve known for decades that the system is broken, and this scandal gives explicit examples of how and why,” the letter reads. “Even without huge bribes involved, we are well aware of how the system favors those with the means to get ahead. Through tutors, specialized courses, support for extracurriculars, skewed district funding, and institutional oppression, we have seen time and again that the system — one we all want to believe is objective — inherently bends to the influence of money.”

In a March 13 opinion piece published on the website of CNN, former Dean of Admissions of the Yale Law School Asha Rangappa wrote that she worried about potential FGLI applicants being dissuaded from applying to colleges like Yale “believing that the deck is already stacked against them.”

Rangappa told the News that, based on her experience recruiting for the Law School, she found that many FGLI students had misperceptions about elite universities like Yale. She highlighted that though many elite universities give generous amounts of financial aid, students without family members who go to college may not know that.

“I worry that this scandal might confirm this belief for them, and make them discount their chances of getting in before they even apply,” she said.

She noted that though she did not necessarily think the scandal would cause application numbers from FGLI students to drop, she worried that it could make “diamonds in the rough” — “incredibly talented students who, without some encouragement, might not have otherwise applied to the top schools” — opt out of applying to Yale.

Still, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News that his office is “confident that high-achieving students from all backgrounds will continue to be drawn to Yale for its exceptional academic opportunities, diverse and supportive residential colleges, and unsurpassed financial aid.” He added that his Office actively works to counter the “misperception” that Yale is not affordable to lower- and middle-income families and prospective applicants and encourages them to apply.

FGLI students who talked with the News agreed with Quinlan’s sentiment.

Kelvin Brobbey ’21, an FGLI student, said that if he were applying today, the scandal would not affect his decision. He said that the scandal only involved a “a small fraction of applicants” and added that he had “faith” in Yale’s admissions process.

Another FGLI Yalie, Gabriella Blatt ’21, said that she had “mixed feelings” when asked if the scandal would have affected her decision to apply if she were still in high school.

“I feel like if I was applying today — in the position I was in high school [which was] looking for a way out — this wouldn’t deter me from applying, it’d just make me extremely sad that I had to work hard my entire life to even consider applying while someone had an application manufactured for them,” she said.

The Yale College class of 2022 is the most socio-economically diverse class ever admitted to the University, with 20 percent of first years receiving federal Pell Grants for low-income students and 18 percent being the first in their families to attend college.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu