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'It takes away from other students': Families upset over college cheating scandal

Avery Smith wants to play football and become a sports analyst. It's frustrating to him that some people are accused of paying their way to get into college.

TAMPA, Fla. — When news broke that celebrities and wealthy parents paid large sums of money to help get their children into elite colleges, local students who say they’re doing everything the honest way reacted with serious frustration.

"It takes away from other students who work really hard, probably a lot harder than the student who had their parent pay to get into college,” says 14-year-old Avery Smith of South Tampa. 

"Your parents' money can't get you everywhere.”

RELATED: Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among many charged in college admissions cheating case

Smith is an 8th-grade student at Wilson Middle School who aspires to play football and to become a sports analyst. He says he realizes he needs his education to get there.

"Working hard for your education, for me, it's not just something for my parents or for my dad, it's something for myself," Smith said. "That's really important to me."

Although Smith excels in academics, from time-to-time he needs a little help. He uses a tutoring app that offers on-demand services to help improve his skills.

“All of our tutors are trained to help guide and work with the student through the problem, versus just giving them those answers,” said Sarah Walters, Director of Educational Partnerships for tútit. “And…educators, I'm sure all over are really upset with the news today because as I mentioned, there are so many resources and tools available to students."

Walters said her company’s goal is to help students develop through hard work and guidance, never through unearned privilege. 

“Do the right thing. Nobody is above working hard. You work hard and you get rewarded, and it’s satisfying that way,” Walters said. “I can’t imagine any kid [whose] parents paid for them to get into an institution would feel good about themselves knowing that they did not try their best.”

Parents also said the national scandal involving dozens of parents now facing charges for allegedly using bribes to help get their children into top universities also makes it tough for those trying to instill a strong work ethic into their kids.

“It's not hard to do the right thing when it comes to educating your kid,” Amy Smith said. “We have technology at our fingertips. These people, especially, can certainly afford to hire a tutor or whatever they need, they have access to. 

"So, it’s frustrating as a parent who isn’t in that position and still can do the right thing.”

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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