The college admissions bribery scandal reminded me of a story I once heard from someone who had exposure to the inner workings at prestigious universities. They shared that top administrators were (re-)introduced from time-to-time to multi-millionaire alumni who wanted to get “involved.”
And, whenever this happened, the odds were high that this alumnus had a kid who was 16 years old – in perfect time to influence admissions a year later when it would be illegal to do so. Of course, at top universities, 2 million wouldn’t get you in. It would just mean you get the marginal decision in your favor.
And, as the New York Times lays out, you can guarantee you are in the playing field by shelling out another 1.5 million for a 5 year package from “Ivy Coach.” The Ivy Coach program guides kids from the 8th grade on the best ways to stand out via extracurriculars while also coaching them intensively on SATs.
Of course, bribery takes all this to a new, amusing or dark (depending on your point of view), level. The SB Nation article I linked to had a few powerful quotes. My favorite was –
When talking about the case, Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said, “We’re not talking about donating a building … we’re talking about fraud,” a statement that validates one way that rich people openly game the admissions system. What makes the acts fraudulent, apparently, is that the defendants tried to buy admissions in a way that is not allowed, not that they tried to buy admissions in the first place.
Privilege is powerful.