The College Take Down

I was certainly an involved parent from day one navigating how to be present, teach good lessons and morals, and give our kids the freedom to make their own choices.  I wanted to raise our kids very different yet certainly some similarities on how I was raised.

The college admissions scandal that was announced this past week has been a constant conversation with many people since it broke. On one hand mind blowing but on the other hand not shocking.  Not only is it a sign of the times it is an evolution that began when you could apply to 30 colleges with a click a finger. When you wrap that into a generation of wealthy hand holding hovering parents well here’s what happens.

Obviously it is about the parents. First question is what are they teaching their kids? Life can be bought, if you aren’t hanging in that elite university where supposedly the best and brightest students in our country attend then you are a loser and will never be a success, oh the life of wealth and the life of Riley is oh so powerful, morally sound and belongs to us. Kind of like our current President.

Between the blame game from the White House, to the rise of hate groups who need to blame others for their shortcomings and place in the world, to avoiding taxes (the college donations were in a non-profit slush fund for tax deductions), the golden sidewalks of Hudson Yards, paying for sex to people who have trafficked undocumented immigrants for cash then this college thing is just the icing on the cake.  When does this type of elitist behavior end? Have we peaked yet?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Pranay Srinivasan

    There’s a storm coming – the wealth divide will consume all semblance of nuance when 40 wealthy people are tarred as the face of the American dream – paves the way for convenient socialist rhetoric

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. Pointsandfigures

      But the wealth divide is not as easy to solve as just putting in a tax or some public policy. It’s always been with humans. I think the key is that the opportunity to try and get ahead today is mixed and not evenly distributed. Some of that is due to a breakdown of the public school system nationwide and some of it is due to other factors. For example, raising minimum wage creates a climate where kids can’t get an entry level job to learn the value of work.

  2. LE

    Many things amazed me about the college scandal. But the thing that I found most interesting was how parents would apparently brag to other parents about using the perp ‘William Rick Singer’. After all he apparently did a good enough job that people referred him business. So what does this mean? Well for one thing it didn’t bother the parents that they were committing a crime. Second they didn’t feel that it (and this is important) deprecated their child in any way to admit that they got into a good school as a result of this scheme. So if they referred Singer to others they were actually bragging about it. You would think that it would give them more ‘cache’ if people thought their kid got in on merit. And that they would hide the fact that they got in with his help? Right? But they didn’t. The idea that nobody would find out in the end is also quite amazing in itself.But here is the thing that you have to realize is actually the driver about getting into a good school. With someone rich maybe it’s not about job opportunities. After all if you have plenty of money there are ways that you can buy your child a job or opportunities in the right places with your connections and your friends. Plus they have you to fall back on and you would tend to help them anyway. So I don’t feel it’s a ‘earn a good living’ concern as a driver of the behavior here.What is it then? It’s being around (for lack of a better way to put it) ‘the right people’.Now the ‘right type of people’ may sound off the shelf to be very elitist and imply the wrong thing. But it shouldn’t. In many cases there is a vast difference between the general school body at an elite school or even private school than a less elite (or public one). Sure that isn’t always the case. But it is still a factor. And it doesn’t even matter if ‘all of them got there on merit’ or not. You put enough people together of a certain type and the dynamics change greatly.I say this as someone who went to a private school (was my idea by the way) and an Ivy League college (ditto). The student body was for sure 100% more serious and school oriented at both places than the public high school that I transferred from (that my sisters attended and stayed at for social reasons) or the less elite private college that I transferred from to Wharton. There really was no comparison. It was an entirely different learning environment.

  3. LE

    Not only is it a sign of the times it is an evolution that began when you could apply to 30 colleges with a click a finger.The other ‘roots’ of the evil are a) College rankings ala US News and World Report and b) The media.Why the media? Because the media has decided to elevate in their writings certain schools in a way that brands them and therefore deprecates others.How many times are Ivy Schools (or say MIT/Stanford) mentioned vs. a typical school. If someone went to an Ivy (either famous or infamous) or otherwise notable school the school is always talked about. Even if the person didn’t graduate and dropped out. If the school isn’t notable it is typically not a topic to include in writing or an article unless the angle somehow is a horacio alger one that furthers the pov of the writer. So you know dropping out of Harvard ranks higher than graduating from a 2nd tier school and is viewed (in writing) as some kind of branding.One other thing. This idea that colleges are some kind of public trust and have to only admit kids who are ‘best qualified’ to attend is in itself wrong. College obviously allow all sorts of people to attend for various arbitrary reasons. Assuming they can do the work. Does not on the surface appear to be an issue in any way if a college decided to admit the child of a celebrity for the sole purpose of bringing attention to that college and cache to the rest of the student body. Many examples but one that comes to mind is that Brooke Shields went to Princeton and that was after she was well into here acting career.

    1. BN

      Not sure why you are calling out Brooke Shields or why you think she didn’t deserve her place @ Princeton. She did attend a top private school at the time. It’s clear by listening to her she’s intelligent and articulate. Is it that far fetched she can be beautiful as well? I don’t have a dog in this race other than girl code. Until it actually comes out with irrefutable proof.. she graduated with honors period full stop.

      1. LE

        Brooke is actually a better example than I even knew I was using. Her parents were not only well off but they were accomplished and socialites as well:Father:…Mother:…As such she had a clear advantage both in getting into a private school (paying for it or even knowing to go there) and then college and/or an acting career.Acting and fame is somewhat similar in a way to attending a top college. There are many people that are qualified to do the work or have that career. But the top college can’t possibly admit all of them. And in no way does everyone with talent become a star or even close. Many things are arbitrary rather than pure merit. So it’s not a matter of choosing people who potentially might ‘graduate will honors period full stop’. The top college looks at other reasons to admit people. And one of those reasons is other factors such as family, fame and so on. This is not a secret.What makes you think that I think that Brooke is not smart? I didn’t say that at all. And why do you think that I believe that women that are beautiful can’t be smart? My wife is a Physician and is super attractive as well.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Agree. She is extremely smart

  4. awaldstein

    Nope not peaked at all in my opinion.Not surprised as well. All these abuses when you separate the privilege of money from the systems that are needed to level the playing field.As far as I’m concerned this tidal wave of bad behavior from lobbies, from power brokers, from the ultra wealthy will continue to be unmasked.I’m not perfect in any degree. I’ve worked and do work hard to take care of my own. This shit that people do is honestly beyond me.

  5. Anne Libby

    I think we have a ways to go. The story about the composition of the incoming class at Stuyvesant depresses me.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Me too

  6. DeborahJane

    Not peaked….and won’t be near the summit until we have a new president IMHO….he espouses many of these abuses of power and wealth…of racism, sexism, antisemitism…and social media just pushes it along…not sure how we get out of this morass.

  7. Meg Simon

    ever think about running for office? I’d vote for you.

  8. Pointsandfigures

    This scandal couldn’t have been a surprise to you.My kids came to me in 2007-08 and asked me to get them “extended time”. We had a long talk about it and we didn’t do it. I knew families that did. They paid for a diagnosis and their child got extended time on tests because of a “test anxiety” or some bullshit reason. It irked me but, hey, I wasn’t going to play by those rules because where you go to college doesn’t determine success. I went to three in four years, one a community college.To generalize, almost all the families involved in this are wealthy and white and they live in cities and wealthy suburbs.At lower levels like selective high school in Chicago often it’s not what you know but who you know to get in. We desperately need competition in grades JK-12 and the only way we will get it is charter schools and vouchers. Give power to the parents and let them be free to choose where their child goes to school. Give power to entrepreneurs to innovate in education.Flip side is businesses have to stop with the credentialing of everyone. Just because you have a sheepskin from Harvard doesn’t make you able to execute. Harvard kids fail just as much as kids from Directional Directional State U. Of course, if you look at VC funds most of the partners attended four schools; Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Wharton… maybe another kind of diversity is in order.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I saw the same thing and was disgusted by it. Longer time for not all that need it

      1. jlix

        Rampant at my daughter’s NYC private school and the administration was completely complicit– they provided a list of therapists who would provide this “service”! when we switched to public there were a heart breaking number of kids who DID need the time but their parents did not have the means for a private therapist or the ability to deal with the insane red tape at the DOE.

        1. Gotham Gal

          It is so beyond unacceptable and amazing that people do it. It goes under the heading “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.

  9. jason wright

    Money can’t buy you love, but too many people have come to believe that it can buy just about everything else, and so why not education? It’s become just another industry, churning out ‘product’, serving up success, and making a tidy profit out of it. The last days of Rome?