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March 14 2019

Are Colleges Innocent Victims in the Admissions Scandal?

by Charlotte Hays

Quote of the Day:

"To be honest, I’m not worried about the moral issue here,” said Caplan, who was paying $75,000 for this fraud alone. “I’m worried about the — if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

--Gordon Caplan, who is currently on leave from the white shoe firm of Wilkie Farr in New York

 

There appear to be a lot of filthy rich parents who share Caplan's perspective on "the moral issue."

Their own educations, and perhaps their own parents, apparently skimped on the lessons about not cheating.

Colleges thus far are presenting themselves as victims. A terrific editorial in the Wall Street Journal  argues that they are not entirely innocent.

They have allowed themselves to become primarily status symbols rather than institutions that educate people. In the process, they have watered down standards that would have in the past made it difficult for kids admitted on false test scores to thrive and get a degree.

The editors write:

The college fraud ring is also a sign of the cultural times. Some of the children involved appear not to have known their parents were paying bribes to get them into college. That suggests the scandal is about obsessive parents who view elite schools as a status symbol and networking opportunity, not merely a path to upward mobility or achievement.

The schools know this and make prestige a large part of the product they’re peddling. You’d think that kids admitted on false pretenses with junk test scores wouldn’t flourish at top schools. No one seems to have worried about that. What does that say about the supposedly rigorous academics at these schools?

The universities don’t seem to appreciate that they’re risking political backlash. Republicans are already eager to go after the academy for its free-speech follies and high costs. Universities are especially vulnerable since so much of their business model relies on student loans and other federal subsidies. They will have to clean up their own houses or face political intervention that could get uglier than even these fraud indictments.

The editors also note that progressives will  use the scandal to say that the system is rigged against less affluent people and thus we need more racial preferences and funds for people who cannot pay their way through these expensive schools.

But government incursions into the college loan field contributed to making these schools so expensive that nobody in this day can work her way through college. Nor are more preferences the solution.

Maybe a return to the notion that colleges are to educate people, not to only to credential them, is part of the solution. The editors write:

It isn’t enough to be intelligent or creative, but to stand out students now have to be a world-class fencer or have started a charity that does clean-water microfinance in Africa.

Talented high-school students marinate in a pressure cooker of activities and achievements that does little to stimulate intellectual development.

The scandal will also be used to promote an even more standardless approach to admissions: 

Progressives will also use the episode to claim that standardized tests can no longer be trusted. The SAT isn’t a perfect test but is perhaps the last semi-objective measure of student aptitude. High schools have inflated grades to the point of meaninglessness.

 I heard somebody say on a news show that this scandal might be the thing that will bursts the education bubble.

Yes,the reckoning is long overdue.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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