In this week’s higher ed cheating scandal, we saw the combination of access and expectation the rich have grown to expect. Part of what was scandalous, was how organized and efficient the bribery and system-rigging seemed, and how freaked out even those at the top are about having their offspring also end up there. Here are families of real wealth and connection who nonetheless paid to break the law in the hopes of opening doors for their children.
This episode actually reinforced the supremacy of these select institutions. It says that these places are so important that even celebrities will cheat to get their kids in. It cements the brand these schools continually promote, that they are the only places. There’s no doubt that we learned about this week one of many schemes — legal, barely legal, and entirely illegal — to get around the velvet rope and straight into these only places.
We have such fear for our future, and about our children’s ability to prosper in the strange new economy that many hang everything on colleges and universities. And not just any college or university, but the top ones — as measured how? U.S. News and World Reports or some other ranking? Or is it some more amorphous reputation whispered in corridors of power?