So 50 very wealthy people did everything from pay test takers to bribe coaches to fake athletic records to get their kids into college. Are we shocked—shocked?
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that this scandal is just a grotesque extreme of business as usual. Rich kids get to attend better high schools, get all kinds of test prep help, have helicopter parents who edit college essays, are able to cut in line because their parents can pay full tuition, do not have to hold part-time jobs, can take gap year enrichments, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Not to mention what’s delicately termed ‘legacy admissions’.
All this reflects the toxic intermingling of the positional advantages of social class with the ever more corporate college business model. Have a look at this brilliant Prospect classic by Chuck Collins on all the ways rich kids get a leg up.
And don’t get me started on how college enrollment-management departments game the US News rankings to get the largest number of full-tuition kids with the highest board scores.
It’s an old story. Some long-dead German radical termed this “the social reproduction of class.” And the more corrupt the elite and the more unequal the society, the worse it is.
If we are scandalized, it’s time to address the deeper corruption. As Michael Kinsley famously observed, the real scandal is what’s legal.