It was reported on Monday by Awoko that numerous students at the University of Sierra Leone campuses were able to attend their universities because of documents they falsified in order to enroll in the Universities.
While I don’t condone lying and deceiving to get what you want at all, I understand the pressure and the concern that might drive someone to do this.
Back in the United States, much like here, University is seen as a stepping stone to the “real world.” It’s pounded in our heads from primary school that if we want to get a good job or make a lot of money it’s vital for us to go to College.
The last two years of High School revolve around College, with tests, applications and nervous waiting as students wait to see what University they may be able to attend.
For some, it’s none. Many people don’t get into the University they hope for and instead go to a Technical School, Community College or Apprenticeship Program. This isn’t necessarily a bad way to go. I have friends who have done all three that currently have jobs and much more money than I do. They also avoided student loans, something I was unable to accomplish. Currently, I find myself US $17,000 in debt. However, I still believe I made the right choice to go to College. I mean, I’m in Sierra Leone right now! None of my friends can say that.
When I applied to the University of Washington (UW), I figured I had about a 20 percent chance of getting in. That number probably would’ve jumped to 90 percent if I had falsified my transcript and given myself better grades.
I didn’t think I would make it. I applied to a few other Universities all over the country, from the University of North Dakota to the University of Southern California (my dream school that I had no chance of getting into without some Administrative help).
I’m still not sure how I got into the UW, but I’ve thanked God every day since. Sometimes I think it was because of my application essay, but then I go back and read it and figure it had to be something else.
In all honesty, it was probably the fact that I already had a job at a local newspaper, and was very focused and determined on being a world-renowned journalist, and then President of the United States. Do you really want to deny a potential future U.S. President admission to your school? I was banking on the UW saying “no” to that question, and they did.
My four years at the UW have been the best of my life. I’ve met some of my best friends, gotten to spend three months in Rome and another three in Freetown and had numerous adventures that aren’t exactly publishable, but were a lot of fun. So I see why students would do this. I understand the pressure from friends and family to go to University. It’s seen as the way to a better life here, just like it is in America.
Unfortunately, Colleges are selective of who they give these opportunities to. They demand the best which, in turn, forces students to work hard in primary and secondary schools so that they have the chance to attend University.
This isn’t a perfect system. Some people don’t realize until it’s too late that they want to go to University, and may not be able to get their grades up in time.
Other students just don’t like school. They don’t like anything about it. Going, working, homework, tests all make school the last place in the world that some people want to be.
The fact is, University will always be selective, and as long as that’s the case, there will always be people on the cusp of getting in, that do things like this to ensure they’re admitted into College.
It’s like this all over the world. In America’s elite schools, like Harvard and Yale Universities, a lot of people feel that much of the admissions process is based on who you know. If your father went to Harvard, and your grandfather went to Harvard, and your great-grandfather went to Harvard, you’re probably going to go to Harvard.
Many people, who some call “jaded” and others call “realistic,” believe that in the United States if you have money you can get anything you want, including a top-notch education. I believe that’s true to a point, but once you’re admitted into Yale you still have a lot of work to do before you can get a degree.
Unless you pay off your Professors (which I like to think would never happen at any (University ever) you’re still going to have to do the work, and still earn the degree.
That’s where things get tricky now in Salone. Maybe the students lied to get into the school, but they showed that while they were at the University they could handle the rigor and demands of their College courses. They lied and cheated and deceived to get into the University, but then they did their work. I presume they took the same classes as legitimate students where they wrote the same papers and took the same exams.
I agree that something needs to be done to fix this problem, and those who fooled the system and got what some may see as an illegitimate degree need to be punished somehow, but is taking the degree they spent years of their life and probably most of their money trying to get really the best solution? If the general public knew this was going on, I think everybody would have tried it. I know I would have. If there was a way to sneak into the University of Southern California I probably would have strongly considered it. And once I got there, I would have worked harder than any other student at the school to prove I belonged. The students who sneak into college were probably more motivated than many of their fellow peers. I have to think they had a chip on their shoulder, sitting in class telling themselves they belong and can do anything the other students can do.
This probably led to some good work. It probably led to learning and development. Isn’t that the point of University? So why take that away and jeopardize their current careers? Whether under false pretenses or not, they worked hard. Why not instead use those who falsified documents to prevent it from happening again? Work out a deal where if they go through how they were able to sneak in and detail each element of the process they can keep their degrees. Use their information to keep something like this.