Here's a delicious scandal with a lot of the ingredients to give it legs; except sex, unfortunately. Last week the story broke that the whelps of prominent and wealthy individuals gained admission of big-name universities by fraudulent means: being given extra time on standardized tests, by having ringers take the test in their place, or even having their answers changed by test administrators! Also, some coaches were bribed to claim that key applicants had athletic talents but who never played the sport in question. Toss in a few actresses, and you get a heaping brew of schadenfreude.
Parents of these college aspirants paid big bucks for having this done. In some cases, as much as half a million dollars! Among the institutions named were USC, Stanford, Yale, Wake Forest, assorted California institutions, and others to be named.
I will admit a certain relief that Auburn was not named among the negligent institutions. We have vexations enough. And Shoals Community College, University of Alabama at Huntsville, or Athens State University were unnamed. As a matter of fact, there were zero opportunities for the lazy pattern of Alabama bashing so beloved by some people from elsewhere.
But, anyway, the universities involved apparently were lax in applying admissions criteria. And are due to get their lumps for this laxity. Well, university administrators and coaches do not take vows of poverty.
What to do with the students who gained admission through false means? Here we have the hoary old question: "What did he/she know; and when did she/he know it?" Were the students unaware of these back door advantages attached to their applications? Or were they unwitting dupes in this process?
It ain't easy.
And many universities have a finite number of spots in their freshman class. If under qualified candidates are let in, more deserving ones are necessarily passed over.
And what about the students whose patents took these extralegal means to ensure their being enrolled? Isn't there having done so a sign that their parents though little about their abilities to function on their own. Talk about a blow to their egos!
But there's the $64 question: what sort of bump goes with finishing at a more prestigious institution? It depends on what is going on. For example, I'm sure I'd be more likely to be hired if my degree read M.I.T. rather than Auburn. There's the admittance to hiring networks and contacts that goes with attendance at certain institutions. (Look at the curriculum vitae of the Supreme Court justices, for example.) And a big-name institution endeavors to capitalize on its brand* as much as possible.
*A common term used by people in academic recruitment and promotions. Think of the scent of burned cowhide.