Status Admissions Open Thread: Easter Island Educational Institutions

Opening up post-secondary education to aspiring youth of modest means (as with the land-grant college system) was one of the factors that enabled America’s prosperity boom in the late 1800s… which lead, tragically, to the first Gilded Age. The current retrofitting of our most prestigious educational institutions into ‘daycare centers for adolescents maturing enough to take their nepotism slot at daddy’s business’ is the equivalent of cutting down every tree on the islands to build giant totem figures. It’s good for the elite minority who improve their all-important social status, but not for the survival of society as a whole.

One must have a college degree to get a decent job today; and the value of a degree from one of the top colleges can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of one’s career. Getting the most ‘prestigious’ degree possible becomes a Red Queen’s Race…

Looping back to the Trump Crime Cartel…

58 replies
  1. 1
    Keith P. says:

    The college admissions scandal was exposed *decades* ago, in a documentary called “Back to School”.. I highly – *highly* – recommend blocking off some time to see the horrible picture it also paints of college drinking and how cheating has even polluted the sport of competitive diving.

  2. 2
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Beto is trending world wide

  3. 3

    @Keith P.:

    Also the benefits of having history taught by someone who’s not a raging screaming ex-preacher.


  4. 4
  5. 5

    @Keith P.:

    Never let Kurt Vonnegut write your term paper on Vonnegut.

  6. 6
    BQuimby says:

    These entitled kids already have it made…and, to be sure, there are a TON of excellent colleges/universities that may not be as prestigious, but offer a seriously good education, esp if a student applies themselves. But, if everything is always handed to you despite being undeserving, what is the point of even ‘wasting’ such illegal subterfuge like this to students so under par? Because of appearances and labels? Snort – some of these parents are impossibly shallow and should be prosecuted and shamed. One thing to want the best for your kid, another thing to steal it. Would make a comment about “setting an example” but such grossly entitled people care little about, ya know, integrity & stuff. Cannot remember where I read it – but someone wrote that Admissions were most angry that someone cut them out of the grift…an outright donation to a school is OK, but having a a go-between taking a cut is really galling. And a tax deduction to boot! I freaking cannot even used an expired yogurt coupon at Walgreens without being denied.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Coming soon, a market devoted to trading in admissions futures. //

  8. 8
    Keith P. says:

    @PaulWartenberg: Yeah, how much did that little gig cost Mr Melon? Or the damn building that he bought just to get himself in to a non-Ivy school?

  9. 9
    trollhattan says:

    Found out today Singer made his bones in Sacramento, more or less legitimately(?) as a college prep coach then decamped for Orange County where the real money is. Understandable considering Sac State ain’t that hard to get into and there are only so many rich tomato haulers with teens.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:


    Why would anyone want to buy expired yogurt?



  11. 11
    lamh36 says:

    4m4 minutes ago
    Son defends parents caught in college admissions scandal while smoking blunt … via @nypost

  12. 12
    NotMax says:

    Mark your calendars. March 13, 2019. The day Anne Laurie cowed Cole.


  13. 13
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie @ Top:

    One must have a college degree to get a decent job today; and the value of a degree from one of the top colleges can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of one’s career.

    In other words, almost as much as the student debt you’ll run up getting one – unless Mom and Dad are footing the bill.

  14. 14
    Sab says:

    My siater started out in grad school at Harvard. They told her 1) since you are on track to get one of our illustrious Ph.Ds we will give you a Masters without you actually having to write a Masters thesis because you are at Harvard, and also because you must know two languages for your advance degree (French and Mandarin) but we want you to learn a third one, and for some obscure reason Japanese which is very useful for your degree isn’t one of our options we think you should learn German which is useless to your degree.

    So she transferred to a respectable university out west which said ” You have a masters without writing a thesis? We have standards here. Write your thesis and then we will take you seriously. We only take you seriously based on your potential. Your Harvard Masters is a joke.

  15. 15
    lamh36 says:

    SMH…isn’t the time up for Meghan “do you know who my daddy was” McCain’s cling to fame?

    11m11 minutes ago
    What are you talking about you IDIOT. The point is a family legacy shouldn’t afford you special admittance privileges. Are you really this stupid?

  16. 16
    Khead says:

    @Keith P.:

    In all fairness to Mr Melon here, was a really big check.

  17. 17
    Anne Laurie says:

    @JGabriel: That’s the “tragedy” behind this whole sorry farce — the indicted parents could afford half a mill, maybe a mill-plus, but *not* the kind of ten-mill donation that got J-Kush into Harvard (allowing for inflation).

    Even B-list TV stars and hedge fund operators can’t afford to buy their way into the Ivys “legitimately”!

  18. 18
    randy khan says:

    Jared paid retail because his dad went directly to Harvard. The people who did this decided they would try to pay wholesale by finding people who could be convinced to take less than the schools would have taken. (Although in at least one case, it might have been cheaper to make a big donation.)

  19. 19
    lamh36 says:

    5h5 hours ago
    .@sunny: How mediocre must you be to have all the advantages in life and still have to cheat?


    I love that Sunny is bringing up the part of this thing about the way these folks used college atlethic culture to get their way in.

    I totally feel her when she talks about being a mother of a student athlete who watches how hard her son works at his sports and school…and to read bout how these parents used photoshopt to superimpose their faces on the bodies of folks like “her kid” how it really pissed her off.

    I did finally see someone talk about this aspect on MTP (Arnie Duncan, PBO Sec of Ed)

  20. 20
    joel hanes says:

    One must have a college degree to get a decent job today

    Plumbers, electricians, and good carpenters would like a word here.

  21. 21
    Brickley Paiste says:

    @dr. bloor: golf clap

  22. 22
    FlyingToaster says:

    @joel hanes: Which is an associates degree plus an apprenticeship, many places. Specifically because you’re likely to be running (or partner in) a business, and need some training in basic accounting, communications, and computers. It’s all too easy to go broke and end up working for Mr. Sparky, otherwise.

  23. 23
    Brickley Paiste says:

    @joel hanes:

    Yeah, I know lost of guys at my gun club who work in the trades, drive a 70K pickup, and shoot a $10,000 shotgun.

  24. 24
    smintheus says:

    a school environment that both implicitly & explicitly tells you that you only got in because of an undeserving hand-out

    This exists because elite schools allow the rich kids to establish the school ethos. Ever since forever they have made a big show of looking down on other students who are poorer than them. They’re especially hostile toward poorer students who are obviously smarter than them. Their goal is to make it clear that the school is about people like them, not about academic “merit” or whatever the poors might think they have. They act it out daily, and because they learned in their prep schools how to work as a group to establish a school environment, the poorer students at college individually isolated cannot (or often feel they cannot) create a more powerful counter-ethos to push back against the coordinated condescension of the rich they’re facing.

    You work any campus student job that involves public contact, and you immediately realize that you’re subject to all manner of nastiness and attempted humiliations by the rich kids. Because that’s all they got, and it’s one of their purposes in being at the school to reaffirm their dominance of it.

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JGabriel: Many if not most private colleges have aid packages that allow anyone who was admitted to attended without incurring massive debt.

  26. 26
    Lyrebird says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t think it’s most, but I think Harvard and some other ultra selective schools do that. Whoever they admit, they support according to the FAFSA determined need level or something like that. Unfortunately, quite a few middle and lower tier private colleges have aid packages, yes, but I do worry about some students I have met going tens of thousands of dollars in hock without good plans to get out.

    The bribery scandal is sordid. On one hand, I feel really badly for the young adults who didn’t know their parents were pulling this crap. On the other hand, I am so thrilled that the public at large is catching up to the long-true fact of who some of the not-so-qualified students are.

  27. 27
    Brickley Paiste says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yeah my sister who attended a school that has a very good football team undergrad and Berkeley for her Ph.D, incurred more debt than I did attending two Ivies and Stanford.

    And her H.S. transcript shames my pathetic effort.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lyrebird: I went to a good but not world famous LAC. When I was there, many years ago, that was the school’s policy and based, on remarks by the school’s president at my last reunion, it still is. Some of the prestige of private schools is based on their sticker price, but only the truly loaded pay that price.

  29. 29
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    [. . .] which lead led, tragically, to the first Gilded Age.

    Probably a typo, but I’ve been seeing this a lot lately–the misspelling of the past tense led. I don’t know if it’s some weird confluence of autocorrect and voice-to-text or “Lead can be pronounced two ways, so what the hell.”

  30. 30
    Jinchi says:

    meanwhile somebody’s parents donate a building & no one bats an eye.

    I think the point is that they literally think they own the place.

  31. 31
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Keith P.:

    Rodney Dangerfield was a fearless muckraker. We shall not see his like again. RIP.

  32. 32
    Jinchi says:

    @lamh36: Wow, Meghan McCain looks like she’s ready to explode during that clip.

  33. 33
    danielx says:


    Considering their parents’ income and net worth, I can’t feel TOO sorry for them.

  34. 34
    Doug R says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Rodney Dangerfield was a fearless muckraker. We shall not see his like again. RIP.

    Apparently Rodney did most of that “triple Lindy” himself. Note that it’s several shots.

  35. 35
    MoxieM says:

    @joel hanes: My nephew is an extraordinarily good auto mechanic. I don’t think that his BA in Psychology helps much under the lift, but his liberal education has enriched his life and shaped his abilities as a thinking member of his and the wider community.
    [An argument for education for its own sake here, not professional training. Also descendant of a long, long line of teachers, professors and what have you.]

  36. 36
    Dan B says:

    @Steeplejack (phone): Thanks! It’s a tic of mine but when I read lead in a sentence like this my inner ear says leeeed, not lead / led. I immediately think of camels being difficult to led and how you cannot have lead a horse to water and make him / her to watter… English is a crewel master and a polyglot harlot.

    Enuf! Would I have been better off if my parents had fallen for the pitch of an Esperanto true belieber we encountered at Taliesen East? So konphuzing!! It boggles the mind, or at least mi mynd, how violating grammer and pronunciation variations can throw us off.

  37. 37

    @Steeplejack (phone): Rodney’s headstone says, “There goes the neighborhood”.

  38. 38
    Duane says:

    Proper funding of public colleges and much higher tax rates for those with money to cheat with. They go hand in hand. Assholes aren’t happy with their tax cuts, they want to buy whatever’s left.

  39. 39
    lynno says:

    Time to use some tech. Cameras used at check in. A start to make harder to cheat.

  40. 40
    Jay Noble says:

    @NotMax: Does yogurt really have an expiration date?

  41. 41
    Kent says:

    I’ve got one daughter in college at an SEC school and two more who will get there in 2 and 5 years. Likely gonna be state schools for them too.

    If I was in a position to make hiring decisions at any large organization these days I would for sure give a severe preference to high achievers from state schools. You just can’t trust what you are getting from the Ivies anymore. To big of a risk you might get a Kushner or Ivanka.

  42. 42
    Kent says:


    They already do that. My daughter took the SAT couple years ago. Her drivers license and photo were scanned into her test admissions ticket and they verified her photo ID and paperwork. You don’t walk into the room without drivers license or passport that matches the photo and name they have on file with your application and test ticket. And yes, there are cameras. They have the black light machines to make sure the ID is not fake.

    In other words, when you walk in they scan your test ticket and your file and photo pop up on their computer screen. They then match what they see on the screen to the ID that you are handing them. Perhaps you could fraudulently take the test for your identical twin. But it would be exceptionally difficult to hire a ringer to take it in your place

  43. 43
    Gemina13 says:

    It’s kinda funny. I had a 980 SAT score, but my PSATs were also pretty high. I’d been on the Honor Roll two years in a row, had a solid B average, took AP English and History classes, was active in music and art as well as a church youth group, and earned a perfect score on my AP English exam. One of the schools that sent me an acceptance letter? USC. I disliked the idea of going to a big university, though, and chose Whittier College, which is a perfectly acceptable, small, private institution.

    My point is that you can often boost mediocre test scores with other things – academic achievement is more than just filling out a Scantron with the right multiple-choice answers. And yet these kids had people doing everything for them – filling out the application, plumping up their “resumes,” writing entrance essays, etc. It’s no wonder our country is fucked – these are the fruits of parents who have been running the show for the last 20 years, and if their offspring are this bad, what does it say for them?

  44. 44
    sukabi says:

    @Jinchi: no, that’s her look all the time. Pretty sure since marrying virgin Ben she’s been inundated with rw bullshit and is terribly ‘frustrated’ as s3x is only for procreating.

    She was always an entitled brat, but she’s gotten stupider and more “entitled” in the last year or so.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:


    Someone on Twitter posted a page from the indictment of the Kimmels (presumably not related to the talk show host). They did apparently do all of this stuff without his knowledge, because there’s a transcript in the indictment where the mother says that her kid asked her why a track coach was trying to talk to him at orientation. The kid had no clue that he had been admitted as part of the track team and had never participated in track in his life.

    That kid will be best served to get as far away from his parents as possible. That’s some seriously sociopathic shit.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:


    From the stories, it sounds like this guy had figured out how to bribe a couple of SAT test proctors, which is why the “kids” always took their test at the same centers, even if it meant they supposedly flew from Newport Beach, CA to Houston to take the test.

  47. 47
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Sab: They probably picked this up from Oxbridge where Bachelor degrees were upgraded to Masters.

    It used to cost 10 guineas, not sure of the current rate (if still happening).

  48. 48
    SFAW says:

    I expect better of you. Besides, shitty jokes are MY territory, pal.

  49. 49
    bg says:

    @Sab: This is the norm in many, many PhD programs. In some you also get an M.Phil as well.

  50. 50
    different-church-lady says:

    the value of a degree from one of the top colleges can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of one’s career.

    It’s MUCH worse than that. These “back door” and “side door” admissions put incompetent people in positions of power over the rest of us. It’s not just financially unfair, it’s destructive to society.

  51. 51
    SFAW says:


    It’s MUCH worse than that. These “back door” and “side door” admissions put incompetent people in positions of power over the rest of us. It’s not just financially unfair, it’s destructive to society.

    Don’t be ridiculous. It was Shitgibbon’s standout performance at Wharton that allowed him to build a string of business “successes” unparalleled in the annals of … something. Which allowed the most successfullest businessman EVER!!!! to win the 2016 Election by something like 30 million votes (when you count only “real” Americans).

    ETA: What’s left of my brain tried to strangle itself while I was writing that. Jury’s still out re: whether it was successful.

  52. 52
    SFAW says:


    She was always an entitled brat, but she’s gotten stupider and more “entitled” in the last year or so.

    So now her Entitled-o-meter goes to 11?

  53. 53
    Robert Bowsher says:

    @Kent: Yes. The ACT was given exactly the same way. My daughter needed a photo ID to register for the test, and a photo ID to take the test.

    This to Mnemosyne: I thought I read that they had their very own test center. They could follow the procedures to the letter, but the test proctor could play games with the test after all the kids have left. The proctor’s not going to get caught by the boss, because the boss was in on it too. Plus the crooks could make beer money by just being a legitimate testing center – IIRC, the tests are $50 or so apiece.

  54. 54
    artem1s says:

    In defense of fundraising professionals, I would like to point out that perhaps the outrage over not getting the donation is not what you are interpreting it to be. Charitable giving law is designed to prevent the donor from directly benefiting from a donation. So while the uber rich can endow a chair or get naming rights to a building, they cannot exchange their gift for a promise of employment, spot on the board, or a scholarship. Doesn’t mean that legacy admission doesn’t happen, but the reality is the university is under no legal obligation to give any kid a spot or scholarship no matter how much money is donated. Their outrage may be legitimate. A great deal of work goes into making sure that donor intent is both satisfied and is not in conflict with charitable giving laws. Fundraising departments and admission departments have little contact with one another to make sure these types of quid pro quo arrangements never happen. Most fundraisers adhere to AFP’s ethical guidelines even if the President or Board of Trustees does not. Private student info and applicant info can’t be released to anyone – even the fundraising office – it’s a violation of FERPA. The fundraisers’ anger may be directed at the lack of oversight of admissions offices, and rightly.

  55. 55
    Luthe says:

    @Sab: I am continually amused my BA required a thesis* and my Master’s did not. But then again, my Master’s is in urban planning, which dances the line between “professional degree” and “social science,” so a Master’s thesis would have been a waste of the time we needed to learn things like GIS and how to read a pro forma. There was a “professional report” requirement, though. I met mine using a report I wrote before I even got in to grad school.

    *most Bryn Mawr majors require theses and my department is famous for requiring some of the longest ones on campus

  56. 56
    MCA1 says:

    @artem1s: Thanks for that background. I think some people are missing the trees for the forest here in their outrage. Very, very few of the new freshmen on any given campus in any given year are there because of a check their parents stroked. We all point to the Kushner situation and the mythical “new wing” of some academic building, but those cases are exceedingly rare. If it happens once every couple of years at a school, it’s so far on the margins as to be vanishing in effect on the overall student body’s academic quality.

    The purpose of institutions of higher education, large scale charitable giving, legacy admissions (which, from what I understand, is mostly a dead practice these days), social hierarchies and how campus culture breaks down or reinforces them, all of that is fertile ground for much discussion. As is the much bigger original sin of American education, which has nothing to do with colleges but rather the funding of lower level schools through local property taxes. But this scandal isn’t really about any of that.

    In fact, the existence of this wide ranging fraud is in many ways evidence of the fact that the system does, by and large, reward merit over privilege. These people’s kids were not finding their way in the front door, despite having the field tilted their direction through resource allocation their entire lives, because they just weren’t qualified. That’s in general good news. It’s not perfect by any means, but this episode is not an indictment of universities, per se.

    I think there are two primary factors at work here in the milieu in which the people rolled up in this live (I’m adjacent to that milieu – I live in it though I’m not floating on cash sufficient to allow me to pay a $50k bribe like at least half of my zipcode could). And they work to exacerbate one another. The first is simple status anxiety and the very Gen X and Millenial impulse of tying up your own self-value in your children’s achievements. The second is simple demographics. There are over 50% more high school graduates annually today than there were a generation ago. There are not, however (shocker!), more top 10 schools, and very few selective colleges or universities have grown significantly in that time period. Opportunity to get to those schools and endowment resources to make it affordable for those below the upper middle class have expanded greatly in that time, too. It’s not perfect yet, but need blind admissions is a thing. I mean, Michael Bloomberg just donated enough money to Johns Hopkins that they could probably waive all tuition for half the undergrads.

    So, increased competition, a failure of the population to fully absorb the fact that getting into Michigan today is as impressive as getting into Dartmouth was 25 years ago, combined with a pathological level of importance being placed by adults on which stickers they get to put on the back of their Range Rover, is the real driver of this fraud.

  57. 57
    MCA1 says:

    @lamh36: Totally. My rage meter went way up when I started reading about the fake athletics part of this. I sort of laugh at the sheer lunacy of it, in 2019. I can go online and see every USTA tournament match the kids in the draw of my son’s tennis tournaments played over the last year, and I can see their local and regional rankings going back several years. I just went on my state’s high school athletic association website recently to see what sort of times another of my kids should be aiming for in a 5k to make certain benchmarks in cross country, and you could look up her school’s results in every sectional, regional and state meet from the last 15 years. The sheer gall/idiocy of these people thinking they could just fabricate a sports career for their non-athletic children and get away with it in the internet age is astonishing. As is the apparent utter lack of diligence from some of the admissions officers when the crew coach or sailing coach or whatever it is comes to them saying “I really need this kid on my team, despite the fact that they’ll be a walk-on.” Go look them up, for crying out loud! It takes 5 minutes.

    But for some reason, the cheating to create an athletic history somehow seems to piss me off even more than cheating to bump up test scores. Maybe because it doesn’t sound like these people were doctoring up GPA’s and actual academic transcripts, and test scores have some randomness to them and aren’t as indicative of effort and hard work over years? Thinking about how hard my own kids and others I know work at their athletic pursuits, and the effort they put into balancing the rest of their lives, in the ultra-competitive, focus on one sport by they time you’re 12 or you’ll get weeded out long before varsity tryouts world we’ve created for them, though, and then to think these m’fers tried to fabricate all of that work? Hoo, baby, blood pressure rising. That’s all to say nothing of the time and emotional investment of parents in helping steer their kids through the challenges presented in the simple hope of getting to play a sport in high school or beyond.

  58. 58
    ns says:

    As someone who HATES cheating with a mortal passion and also earns a living preparing generally (but not exclusively) nouveau riche adolescents for admission to respected if not elite schools, I have to say that I’m tired of all the narrative piling on. Most of my students are freaking awesome, and you’d be surprised how well the admissions committees at private schools do at separating the douchenozzles from the sincere. There’s always a few puzzling cases that get in or get shut out, but I’m not that impressed by a handful of SAT cheats and corrupt coaches, as much as I cheer their getting busted. The reason we don’t have a meritocracy is because we neglect investing in children throughout their development, not because Harvard will give 50/1000 slots to people who build buildings. Too many smart jocks, dumb scions, and materialistic work-a-tronics get in, true, but the problem is not that a few slots go to less deserving candidates, but that the value of such a slot is so high to begin with.

    The vast majority of the students admitted to elite private schools are deserving candidates. Using test scores to weed out dumb rich kids — indeed, the very reason the SAT was created — is all fine and good, but these same elite colleges don’t want to turn admissions into an algorithm because they want to maintain affirmative action policies. The most elite schools can also afford to have need-blind admissions policies and several have dialed back how much of an aid package is in the form of student debt.

    Having said that, I’ve had several alumni at elite schools report being turned off by the networking game and the presence of socially exclusionary globetrotters who aren’t interested in making friends with students who can’t drop coin for a weekend trip, and that those students aren’t so intellectually curious either. Which is to say, upper-middle class students might be almost as grossed out by the elite as downscale progressives.

Comments are closed.