Some wealthy do indeed use their money to make it easier for their children to get into elite colleges. We've known this since the college admissions scandal broke. And now we know some of the details. It’s not pretty. Buying your way in was an established practice. In the clear light of day, it looks real bad.
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At the University of Southern California, there was a clear relationship between the amount of money a parent had, and the likelihood of their youngster being accepted to the college. Court papers reveal spreadsheets, color-coded to track "special interest applicants."
For example, VIP students were tagged by how much the parent might donate. One said “father is a surgeon," "previously donated $25,000.” Another said the parent had "given $2 million already." Another: "$1 million pledge."
Youngsters often got in through the backdoor of athletics, even though the potential student was less than proficient in the sport they got in for.
"Good enough to shag balls for the tennis team," said one email.
A walk-on water polo player was a “high-level prospect with $1.5 million potential.”
Academic credentials, or lack of them, were not a problem. One student, whose test scores were "well below the standard,” came from a family that had "helped build the foundation for many USC projects.”
You get the point.
For a very long time, academia covered it up. I'm not surprised. We turned a blind eye to preferential treatment, perhaps because we wanted to keep the option open for ourselves.
But what a mess. Some youngsters who got in are tarred with the scandal brush. The youngsters who didn't get in feel cheated. Poorer people feel it’s grossly unfair. And the academic reputations of the colleges involved take a big hit.
There is no easy solution here. But the sunlight now illuminating this scandal, is surely the best disinfectant.