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Our students respond to the college admissions scandal

Appalled and dismayed by the recent college admissions scandal? We are too. This news has stirred us to anger and renewed our steadfast commitment to supporting students who work hard to gain access to higher education without wealth, fame, privilege, or even family members who can support them with guidance and advice.

As a counterpart to the stories of inequity circulating in the news, we want to take a moment to elevate the voices of our first-generation college students. We reached out to several of our scholars for their perspectives, and they have spoken out with resilience and determination to uplift each other and create social change. Here’s what they had to say:

“[The scandal] does frustrate me because [the college] application process has been quite stressful for me and I know that even if I do get in where I want to, I might not be able to go if it’s too expensive.

If I were to talk to someone [like me] applying to college, I would probably say to keep going despite this. Since we already start at a disadvantaged position, situations like this will keep happening. The only thing we can do about it is work hard until you get where you deserve to be. You’re going to have to work five times as hard as most people, but in the end you’ll reap the benefits of your actions.

– Sachi, Brighton High School, Class of 2018



Being a first-generation and low-income college student with immigrant parents from Vietnam, I have always struggled with imposter syndrome and continuously have to think about how to fund my higher education. These students who ‘bribed’ their way into a university do not truly understand the obstacles and barriers that many students, including myself, had to overcome in order to pave ways for our communities.

If you are a first-generation college student reading this I want you to know that you are seen, your hard work is recognized, and you rightfully earned your spot on your college campus and never let anyone tell you otherwise! Your potential, resilience, and stories shine and set you apart.”

– Vicky, UC Berkeley, Class of 2019



“I felt upset about the scandal because it was a manifestation of the barriers that actively work to disadvantage students of color from accessing a high quality education. If these schools are serious about creating an environment to recruit and retain first generation students, they need to be culturally sensitive and address issues of bribery.

Additionally, they need to readily welcome input from first generation students. It would make a huge difference to create a center for first generation students and hire counselors and staff from similar backgrounds to help students navigate these spaces.”

– Gloria, Yale University, Class of 2016


If this college admissions scandal has you fired up, we invite you to take action and join us in championing first-generation college students!

You can be part of the solution.

1) Spread our message of support to first-generation college students everywhere and let them know they are valued and that they belong.

2) Email us with your own message of support and remind our students that their voices matter.

3) Mentor a high school student through the college application process by registering as a College Coach for the 2019-2020 academic year.

How Leanna is Painting Her Way to College

One of the very first times that Leanna came to ScholarMatch, she learned about Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college on the East Coast that immediately sparked her interest. After speaking to the Wesleyan college representative visiting ScholarMatch and conducting more research on the university, Leanna knew she had discovered the college of her dreams.

With less than 2 weeks to submit her early decision application, Leanna pored herself into her Wesleyan application: she visited ScholarMatch daily and, with the support of ScholarMatch staff and volunteers, refined multiple college essays, found ways to improve her overall application, and applied for financial aid.

Several weeks after submitting her application, Leanna received an early decision acceptance to Wesleyan University! 🎓

Leanna is excited to interview for a spot in ScholarMatch’s College to Career program, where she would receive a college scholarship and mentorship from a caring College Advisor!

Currently, Leanna is saving money to pay for additional college expenses through her business, Paints by Leanna, where she uses her artistic craft to transform ordinary Hydro Flasks into unique pieces of art! 

Leanna is ecstatic to begin her freshman year at Wesleyan, where she intends to major in International Business (it’s quite a fitting major, if you ask us!).

You can support Leanna and students just like her who are about to begin college in the fall: Show support for Leanna’s artwork, or donate to fund a ScholarMatch student scholarship!

Watermark Conference for Women Recap

ScholarMatch is excited to announce a dynamic new partnership with the Watermark Conference for Women. Each year since 2015, the conference has brought together thousands of women in Silicon Valley for networking, professional development workshops, and electric keynote addresses.

The partnership encompasses 4 years of scholarship funding for ScholarMatch college students, Jialin Lu and Ella Li, as well as the promotion of ScholarMatch volunteer opportunities among conference attendees and sponsors. We’re delighted to share that as of today, more than 50 of these folks have signed up as college coaches for our Destination College program.

Plus, as part of the partnership, Ella and Jialin had the chance to attend the conference last month and make an appearance on the same stage that featured civil rights activist Gloria Steinem, research professor and writer Brené Brown, and professional tennis player Serena Williams. Wow!

ScholarMatch, Jialin, and Ella, are so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continued partnership!

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