OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - High school students say they study hard to get into college.When they learned about the college admissions scheme involving wealthy parents who pay bribes for admission of their own children, they expressed disappointment. They say those parents are cheating the system.
At College Track, a nonprofit in Oakland and other cities across the country, the students pride themselves for working at this college completion program.
Students tell KTVU they fight to overcome obstacles.
They say every college admission given to a person who didn't earn it is a spot stolen from those who've worked hard to get admitted.
"Every week, I do the regular class course and I do individual prepping so I can get a good score so I can get into college," says Essence Burroughs, a 16-year-old high school junior.
Inside a building at Jack London Square in Oakland, College Track helps high school students from low income families find a path to success in higher education.
It's a free 10-year program that offers tutoring, counselling and test preparations to help students go to college and get a degree.
Many students are striving to be the first in their family to get a college education...
They say news that celebrities are bribing college officials and coaches to get their children admitted to prestigious schools is disheartening.
"I could be acing all my math classes and English classes. For someone to take my spot, that's really de-motivating," says Juan Jose, a 16 year old high school junior.
"It's a slap in the face to the people who work hard 'cause we don't have the opportunity. We have to stay late at night, do homework o study for things. I just don't feel that it's fair," says Essence.
Students say they come here for tutoring three times a week, sometimes more, to try to make sure they get good grades and high test scores.
They say the parents involved in the bribery scheme are cheating
"It makes me angry because right now I have to work hard," says Berenize Padilla Ortiz, a 16-year-old high school student.
"When people have the money to pay for their kids and cheat through all the requirements for college , it just puts me at a higher disadvantage," says Omari Kingsbury, a 17-year-old high school student.
The site director for College Track in Oakland says the revelation of a bribery scheme is a reality check, that the playing field isn't always even.
"This is one of the hardest lessons they'll learn. They're young. It's good that they learn it now. They'll learn how to get past it and defeat it," says Paul Fields, College Track site director.
Advisors and counsellors say this scandal is a teaching moment. In the end, hard work and honesty do pay off.