>... and it was like, the kids though, and it was funny 'cause the kids will call me and say, "Maybe I should do that again. I did pretty well and if I took it again, I'll do better even" Right? And they just have no idea that they didn't even get the score that they thought they got.
Can you even imagine what those people are going through?
One day you are a USC/Harvard/Stanford grad. The next day you are a fraud. And not only that, you are revealed to the entire world to be dumb as a box of rocks, just totally naked and shamed. And you had no clue. Your closest family members spent tens of thousands of dollars fooling you, committing very serious crimes on your behalf, and all the while, lying to you about your intelligence and work ethic.
For those people, it must feel like The Truman Show or an episode of The Twilight Zone. It's totally unreal.
I saw similar fabrications growing up as I attended one of the wealthiest high schools in the country. The top 10 of my graduating class got complete scholarships the most expensive schools in the country and the parents were willing to do anything to the school faculty to make sure their child had a higher class rank.
(source: https://youtu.be/lveMkZc-NRE, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/style/olivia-jade-giannul...)
There is an old saying "It isn't what you know its who you know". Ray Dalio says that line of thinking is disastrous. Its all about personality and experience. You put the right people in the proper places and its golden, and you can qualify those results (and who are the right people) with data.
Seriously, I was staying at the Trump hotel in Chicago (before Trump ran for president -- before I ever gave much thought about Donald Trump). Anyway, there was a looping video on the TV and she was inviting guests to stay at any one of their other Trump hotels around "North America and Canada." It was at that moment I realized that she thought North America was some kind of Northern area of America. I no longer wonder how she got into Wharton.
Who is "she"?
Lori Laughlin's daughter was probably a pretty poor student. Apparently she paid upwards of $500k to get in via the student athlete route, even though she's not an athlete. She's apparently a fairly well known Youtube/Instagram blogger who has made posts about not even wanting to be in college.
If you're not smart enough to fill out a form - imagine how you'll go during study.
As opposed to the SAT fakers where you can get into college and skate on by for a couple semesters / years without getting kicked out.
I also don’t get how the coaches didn’t think that they would get caught. Don’t they have to publish lists of students athletes? Presumably with the USC one the only way they got in was via a recommendation from the rowing coach.
And then you wonder if the people behind these fraudulent entrance schemes might have considered it worthwhile to leverage their position further by holding it over the parents/students in future.
Would they stoop so low?
And now? I mean, it all blew up in their faces. All their best intentions made everything just so much more horrible for their children. They'll never wash this off.
My lord, not even Aristophanes himself could write a tragedy on this scale.
EDIT: And the parents were laughing with their fixer at the deception that they pulled on their kids! They were laughing at the naivete of their very children that they fooled. I can't even begin to process what was going through those parents' minds. What were they thinking?!
Did they? Or did they do it out of vanity that their children need to look like they are the best?
I'd guess they did it for their own self image. Imagine being rich and famous, and your kid is too stupid to get into a good college, that would be embarrassing.
I wouldn't go that far. If I ever interacted with these unaware children, I would go out of my way to not hold it against them. They did nothing wrong.
The most expensive, sure, but the best? Celebrities are often no more qualified to select quality outside of their field—and education is rarely the field of any celebrity in our society—than any random person picked off be street, and they are a lot higher value target for charlatans. Sure, they may have staff who nominally assist them, but even if the staff are skilled and would be useful if they were vigorously loyal, they, in some cases, can be corruptly influenced just like university staff can.
What makes you think they wrote their own application?
It's not really that far off the general experience of being an American, what with all the stolen land, stolen labor, and stolen research, the history of which apparently no one seems to know about, let alone work into their fundamental understanding of what our country is and how it came to be.
To some degree, the notion that it's "totally unreal" speaks to how thoroughly failed most Americans have been by both history education and our common mythos.
Anybody who does these kind of things does it because of positive feed back loops training over years. So they have a fair bit of clue. It's just the incentive ladder works that way.
Corruption exists because people want to be corrupt.
My mother did well in the Masters program at Stanford and I would have likely gotten in if she donated a couple million dollars but she didn’t and I didn’t (despite getting an invitation a year after accepting enrollment at another university).
It’s not like we ever had that type of money, but if we did I wouldn’t have wanted that.
It seems like they’re targeting this more obvious version of bribery but not digging in and targeting the systemic issue of affluent people buying their children’s spot in college.
I really don’t think it’s much harder to prove that an underperforming student who got in because their parents donated a couple million (or tens of millions of) dollars took the place of a more qualified candidate. Maybe I’m wrong...
In this case, we're talking about bribery of specific employees to act against the interests of their employer. That's simply corruption.
They might be equally non-meritocratic, but they're definitely not equally dishonest or equally socially harmful.
However, the daughter was rejected outright due to a multitude of factors. She wasn't violent, or addicted, or lazy. Nothing like that. She just wasn't ahead of the other applicants.
Well, you can imagine that the parents were none too enthused. All the love they had for that college, those dreams for their daughter, gone. There were phone calls and in person visits. Still, the daughter was not what they were looking for.
In the end, things have gone alright for everyone. The building still has their names on it, though the donations have ceased. The daughter is doing just fine at the school she is now at. The college is dealing with it's own issues just as it ever was.
Though there may be corruption at many universities and colleges, there are still a fair number of places where merit and fair decisions still reign. I'd look to those schools for the graduates to hire. Integrity is still in high demand, just as it will ever be.
My Alma-mater gave me access to leaders, hiring and referral opportunities, and even a life long partner with similar ambitions. I can probably name a good long list of of people I can call and get a a little help from now if I was in a bit of a pinch or need a little perspective.
Granted, I went to a smallish regional state school. The experience there, or at, say, Small Liberal Arts College, may be very different from Big State Engineering or Pressure Cooker Elite U.
Sometimes though, we need instruments to do science, so that's another major purpose for undergrad work. Occasionally. But if the undergrads decided to all take online courses one day, it would sure help the grad get work done.
Probably? Personally my first semester at uni was depressingly dull other than the novelty and the subjects (well, mostly dull there too but the future semesters looked interesting and I was programming for the first time). By chance I was walking through a club recruitment event when a single person stopped to talk to me and tried to convince me to join and come to a meeting that night. They got my email too. Well, I didn't go to the meeting but a few days later an email showed up saying the first practice will be tomorrow. I figured why not, I'm not doing anything, and showed up. I stuck with it for four years, taking on duties over time until I was president, it was most of my social life (e.g parties, hanging out) and I made most of my friends through it, shifted my lifestyle from videogames and procrastination to working out, having fun with sport and mastering it, having flow/mushin consistently, and getting work done ASAP, and other considerations.
I've never felt the desire to donate to my old college, but certainly I already have donated to my old club and have considered doing more for it. I assume folks with very good experiences were part of some sort of organization: my high school friends that stuck together in college without branching out had a good time but was overall meh.
Sorry to hear that. What are some ways to cheat school? (waste of time)
Edit: apart from catching on your reading (listening) and scrolling on hackernews.
They provide a service, and they charge money for it. The university operates as a business. I don't donate to Wal-Mart, so why would I donate to University X?
Why wouldn't you instead endow a scholarship for students of your favorite college? Instead of giving cash to Wal-Mart, buy prepaid Wal-Mart gift cards, and pass them out to fellow customers. The university doesn't need your donations. It is fully capable of building its own buildings outright, begging for state funding, or at least issuing bonds backed by future tuition. If someone is so keen on having a building with their name on it, perhaps they should instead construct some off-campus student apartments, and make some nice signs in the same general style as the university signage.
Many people do. They also give money to improve football facilities, bring speakers to campus, and endow a chaired professor position.
> I don't donate to Wal-Mart, so why would I donate to University X?
Because a university is a nonprofit that exists only for the purpose of improving the world. (Not necessarily the employees, who work there as a job, but it's why universities exist.)
You probably don't see a lot of donations to the University of Phoenix or other for-profit universities.
For something like fifteen years of my life I owed well over a hundred thousand dollars of non-bankruptable debt because of the fees this "non-profit" charged.
A "non-profit" university exists for many, many reasons. Giving the dean a million dollar salary is one of those reasons. Student education is likely third or fourth on the list.
It is a tax status (actually, a group of them), but the name has substantive meaning, since to qualify for any of them there must be no one with a claim on the entity’s accumulated earnings.
> That actual charitable causes happen to be non-profit is a coincidence.
It's not a coincidence, it's an actual legal defining characteristic of the kind of nonprofit to which donations are tax deductible.
When it's time for my children, I want the organization that will be teaching them about professional and ethical conduct in the real world to not only not be corrupt, but also demonstrably free of all prejudicial biases in the applications process.
Which is to say, I want my children to be assigned a randomized identifier and their personally identifiable information anonymized, before their application is given to an admissions officer, so that irrelevant qualifications like the amount of money parent alumni have given to the organization are not and cannot be used for an admit/no-admit decision.
I'm fine with your kid getting a 2nd-floor room in the posh dormitory, and first bite at class scheduling. You can pay for additional conveniences, but not to deny someone else an opportunity earned by their own hard work.
If my kids aren't going to get preferential status then there is no reason to be a sponsor of that institution over any other.
Given that your top comment is, "I don't understand why people donate to Universities," I'm not sure that you're in a great position to say that others shouldn't receive priority admission. If everyone did what you did then our University system would collapse.
Actually, in the US, at the vast majority of universities, the primary job of faculty involves teaching, extension/outreach, and forms of service like mentoring students. Most universities have research expectations, but that is not how faculty spend their time.
> and tuition doesn't pay for research.
This is a STEM-oriented view. In a lot of fields the primary cost of research is faculty time, and it is often paid by tuition.
While I don't doubt there are colleges out there that primarily function of tuition, I'm fairly confident that the schools that the GP was talking about which take in millions of donations, are not funded by tuition - STEM or not. Endowments are practically tax-free hedgefunds. There are several liberal arts colleges in boston with billion+ endowments - where the return alone on the endowment rivals the total revenue from students (assuming they were all paying the full 50k, which they likely aren't).
Because endowing a scholarship is setting up a charity and donating to a University (the kind anyone donates to, at any rate—no one is endowing chairs at the University of Phoenix) is giving to an existing charity; the two probably have similar tax, feeling of giving back, and status/ego benefits, but the former is more work.
As charities, universities massage their financials to make themselves look better. They set the tuition rate. They determine the scholarship amounts. They bring in dollar-denominated donations, but the actual "charity" they provide is a nebulous value for the amount of additional knowledge and education the student would have been otherwise unable to acquire without paying more out of their own pocket in tuition. The university decides what that is worth anyway. They move $50k from one pocket to another, and then say they gave away $50k worth of education.
A private scholarship charity can't play those games, because the costs of education are set by someone else.
If you are perfect at setting up and managing a charity, perhaps, but then if you are concerned with education, and what something perfectly aligned with your values, may mean you need to set up a university, not a scholarship fund.
> whereas the highest paid employees of the existing "charity" are probably the president and the men's football coach
You assume that this conflicts with, rather than reflects, the interests and values of the kind of people who donate money to the universities. I think that if you explored the issue you would find that it is not the case, and particularly that the variation in whether or not that is true at any particular university correlates very neatly with the values of the people who donate to the university. (As far as causal explanations, I would assume that there is a two-way feedback loop; donors who value football will make a school more likely to pay the football coach well which will attract more donations from people who value football and less from those who do not, etc.)
> A private scholarship charity can't play those games
Yes, but that's just another way of saying that a private scholarship charity has a lot less control of what actually gets delivered as education than a university.
Not sure that's a reason to support the former over the latter, though, especially when the choice is taking the additional effort and cost to set up the former; its just another way of saying "less bang for the buck".
Now, you can argue that incentives sometimes get messed up, but that is the case for ALL charities/non-profits.
It is possible to set up a non-profit business such that the money that comes in goes out through different ports than the ownership outflow pipe. A typical setup for a corrupt non-profit is for managers of the business to earn above-market salaries, and to own for-profit businesses that "compete" for service contracts with the non-profit entity.
For example, Jack Grift establishes a non-profit charity for orphan children with fantods. He works the circuit and manages to fund it to the tune of $1M per year. He leases a nice office space in a building owned by Jack Grift AAA Office Space, and contracts with Jack Grift Janitorial Services to empty the trash can, and sets the charity's salary for CEO at $250k/year, and Chief Revenue Officer at $100k/year, plus a bonus of 5% of incoming donations. Jack, of course, holds both positions. He gets $250k as CEO, $150k as CRO, $100k as his own landlord, and $50k for taking out his own trash. He rolls $440k into uncapturable overhead, marketing, and fundraising efforts, and still has $10k left to supply orphans with copies of both Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.
The finances of universities are even more obfuscated, but it is undeniable that some university employees have the power to spend the organization's money for their own personal benefit. Catered faculty luncheons. Campus beautification in and around personal offices. Settlements from the university to forestall civil suits based on personal indiscretions. Premium parking spaces. These expenditures may, in fact, be justified by the mission of the university, but it is impossible for me to audit any given university's accounting books to make that determination for myself before deciding whether I want to give them more money than they demand on their invoices.
There are a lot of outflow pipes for business revenues. Non-profits only close one of them.
This is a little overgenerous.
> In this case, we're talking about bribery of specific employees to act against the interests of their employer. That's simply corruption.
Perhaps. What crime is it?
I went and looked at the charges that were filed, here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admis...
(Kudos to patch.com for actually including a link to the charges in their coverage. Middle finger to the Washington Post.)
Charges are divided into three groups, which appear to correspond to different roles in the bribery. At the top are four people "charged by information". William Singer and Mark Riddell are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. (And some other charges.) Based on the media coverage, this is because some payments in the bribery system took the form of donations to a nonprofit operated by Riddell, and this is tax fraud. (One of those other charges is "conspiracy to defraud the United States".) Rudy Meredith is charged with wire fraud, the catchall crime that everyone in the country is guilty of. John Vandemoer is charged with racketeering.
The second group, "charged by indictment", are all charged with racketeering, except for David Sidoo who is charged with mail and wire fraud. I don't know what these people are supposed to have done. I'd like to think that a racketeering charge requires the organization you're involved with to have committed a crime; that would imply that what they're really charged with is helping the sham charity commit tax fraud.
The third group, "charged by complaint", are the parents. One and all they are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
It doesn't look to me like paying an admissions officer to admit your child is a crime at all. Similarly, bribing a maitre'd to seat you more quickly is bribing a specific employee to act against the interests of his employer, but it's not a crime. Taking the bribe might or might not be a crime. All of the charges here that involve a crime relate to using a sham nonprofit for tax benefits.
I have not had a chance yet to look properly at the case, but I'd assumed the "fraud" charges are for precisely the act of paying an admissions officer to admit a child. Do you have reason to think that's not the case?
> bribing a maitre'd to seat you more quickly is bribing a specific employee to act against the interests of his employer, but it's not a crime
It's petty enough you wouldn't expect anyone to be prosecuted over it, but are you sure it's not a crime?
> It's petty enough you wouldn't expect anyone to be prosecuted over it, but are you sure it's not a crime?
It looks like the legal status of commercial bribery (no involvement of a public official) in the United States, while often illegal, is not always clear-cut: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_bribery
When the mails are used in the course, the federal offenses that appear to be involved from the charges in this case are “mail fraud” and “honest services mail fraud”; the bribing of the officials would probably also be criminal frauds (against the university) under State law.
> It doesn't look to me like paying an admissions officer to admit your child is a crime at all.
Then why are people being charged with (or pleading guilty to) criminal fraud (or patterns of racketeering activity where the concrete racketeering activity includes criminal frauds) for doing that, conspiring to do it, or facilitating other people doing it? Yes, the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction over mere fraud, so it's the use of the mail that is key to the federal charges on this case, but the basis of the charges here (other than the money laundering and tax fraud related to concealing the quantity and source of the profits from the main scheme) are all about bribing school and test administrators.
There are portions of what schools are doing here which are perfectly normal. There are portions which may not be (I imagine public funding may preclude certain admittance options, but I'm not sure). If the school is willing to put up with now the public perceives these actions and how it affects their business (because it is a business), then that's their decision.
My intent was to demonstrate that whatever is going on is hush hush for a reason, and not comparable to a legitimate transaction where a private business owner chooses to sell a product or service to someone at whatever price the two agree upon.
I would say that every donation carries with it the possibility of some benefit to the donator, no matter who does it. There's always the public relations or social benefit or being seen as "doing a good thing". Without this benefit, some amount charity might go away. Does it matter that people or organizations give because they see benefit to themselves in it? I think not, and I think the tax law is set up specifically to turn a blind eye to this. In that respect, it's not fraud at all, it's how the system is designed to work to promote charitable giving.
Also, since to my understanding most of this "advertising" for donations which results in naming a building is to individuals, it also depends on how you classify advertising. Is establishing a legacy for yourself so you're looked on favorably after you're dead advertising? We generally don't call it as such, but even it is, so what? Does is promote more good or harm to society in general? That's the only metric we should measure it by.
What if it's a hospital or clinic in an area? Are those people being stolen from or left worse off for it being possible in their area because someone gets their name there?
I can't help but feel you're being both far too pedantic in wanting to prosecute a crime that doesn't seem to actually hurt anyone (and actually benefits large groups and communities), and also completely misidentifying it as a crime when it's allowed by tax law.
I mean, at least part of the purpose of the law is to encourage people to give their wealth for the good of society by encouraging additional benefits (write-offs) in addition to the benefits that have always existed (recognition), so all I see here is a system functioning as designed, for the good of all. I'm not sure how you're seeing some great miscarriage of justice here.
The simplest argument, however, is that the purpose of taxes is to provide the services that a society wants, theoretically indicated by the way it votes. The services and products that the taxes buy should benefit everyone in the nation. If the country has a budget of $x and needs to levy a tax of $y (obviously must be calibrated to ability of one to pay), then why are we allowing adjustments to this?
Why open up the door to abuse? If you want to donate, then donate, what difference does that make to the money needed for government expenditures? The fact that we would even need a donation to a hospital is indicative of a broken system.
The end result of the tax deduction is that we have abuses, and we now have to spend more resources to police the abuses. And the only way to stop the abuses is to close the loophole that allows it.
All of the complexity of the tax laws simply enable more and more corruption. We should be aiming for transparency and simplicity, and instead we end up playing this "steal or be stolen from" game where you try to suck more out of it (but don't make it obvious) than you put in. How does donating millions to Harvard or an art museum benefit society? And even if it did, why would we want to give up our democracy's power to democratically spend the tax receipts the way we want, and instead give that power to a single person to spend however they want?
The reason you're having trouble identifying who is hurt in this case is because very, very few are, but the people who benefit are generally a large group.
In the worst case of the story in question, if someone donated a large amount to a school and their child was given preferential treatment, the loser is possibly a child whose spot is taken, but the beneficiaries are all the other students of the school, and possibly an additional amount of future (or current) students that would not have been able to attend, if those funds are used to allow more applicants.
> The simplest argument, however, is that the purpose of taxes is to provide the services that a society wants
This is a tax program used to incentivize trade of non-traditional goods, and trade generally benefits all involved. What we have are people that are not benefiting society in a way they could (people saving money that's not being put to use in the economy, but specifically more so than needed to safeguard their safety or way of life), and a program to incentivize them to use it in exchange for goods they desire (recognition, genuine altruism) but might need a push to pursue. That push is the government subsidization of the transaction to some degree.
As subsidies go, encouraging wealthy individuals to give money to causes that have to prove they aren't doing it for profit is probably my favorite. Sure, it can be abused by unscrupulous individuals or organizations on both ends, but I'm confident the social good achieved (over people just hoarding wealth longer) far outweighs the negatives.
> All of the complexity of the tax laws simply enable more and more corruption.
Non-profit deductions are simple. You'll have to do much more to convince me that a few anecdotal misuses outweigh what I see as one of the major causes of redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to the less wealthy over many decades.
The pragmatic approach is to attempt to measure who is hurt and by how much, and who is helped and by how much, before making an ultimate decision on whether this is good or bad. I doubt keying off anecdotal media stories about misuse of a tax law will yield better results than that.
> So, to recap, paying someone to steal my car is bad, but paying me to give you my car is fine. Got it.
It feels like having a purely merit based population of students would create a very stagnant and dull environment.
'This university sucks! Everyone here is a nerd.'
OK, you probably did not mean it that way but I can't resist having a little fun with this. If all you want to do is shake things up, why not just draft random working class people via lottery? For extra amusement, make them go even if they don't want to. True, we would not learn anything about the perspective of the super wealthy, but they already have billboards and TV stations to inform us of their opinions.
Yes, there's a system available to the masses that the super-rich are bypassing using their wealth. The same is true of anyone who flies by private jet, or anyone with private health insurance in a country where the vast majority of the population uses the public health system. Are these things "corrupt"? What's different here?
If there's no dishonesty and nobody is harmed, what's the moral issue? Why are universities, unique among all society's institutions, required to operate as perfect meritocracies?
Short answer: The difference lies in the transfer of wealth to the next generation and our meritocratic values.
As a society, we have a value system that we implicitly adhere to. At least in the US, meritocracy is big part of our value system.
We believe that if you work just as hard and contribute just as much as your neighbor, you deserve to enjoy the same quality of life.
So, let's look at some examples:
Example A) Person A works his/her ass off and becomes rich off the fruits of his labor. He then spends his riches on private jets and private health insurance.
Does this conflict with our meritocratic values? No. He deserves a higher quality of life because he worked his ass off.
Example B) Person A then purchases access to an elite university for his child, who as a direct result, enjoys a better life than his poorer peer who works just as hard.
Does this conflict with our meritocratic values? Yes. His child didn't deserve their higher quality of life because they didn't work their ass for it.
You don't have to agree with meritocratic values, but it explains the difference.
One of the reasons people want to go to these schools is because they have lots of resources. If you ban wealthy parents and alumni from donating, the school wont be outstanding, so the University has good reason to accept these.
"charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational"
Obviously a university is scientific and literary, and a college is educational.
Actually, they are publicly subsidized (by tax deductibility of donations made to them) because they are private charities.
Undergrads are pretty much irrelevant to major research institutions (e.g. my undergraduate alma mater MIT spends only about 16% of its budget on undergrads who are actually subsidized -- tuition is about 14% of revenue). Grad students are what matter and apart from the B school they are mostly paid (barely) to attend.
Research, including scientific research, does happen at institutions that aren't "research universities."
I think it's a corollary of their misguided "money is speech" interpretation of the 1st amendment. A university admissions bribery case is unlikely to benefit from such 1st amendment arguments.
>>It may not be meritocratic, but it's not corrupt
Its just dampening the effects a little, but its the same though. Donating X, just means the person who bought in the donation gets promoted or gets awarded some bonus or gets rewards by their employer(university). Instead of receiving the bribe directly.
This is a classic trick from corruption handbooks used by ace corrupt people.
When you trade something for something which could be wrong, only stupid people directly do it through exchange of money. Clever people trade through favors and indirect profit/help. They also call this lobbying in places like politics. In many other places they call these things incentives, commissions, brokerage or whatever.
This is really one of those classic problems with defining corruption. Books and stories can always be cooked in a way to make anything look good.
I agree that the practice of university donations in exchange for college admission is neither legally corrupt nor dishonest.
However, it is still wrong according to our societal values.
That is, we have a value system that we implicitly adhere to and meritocracy is big part of our value system.
At least in the states, we believe that if you work just as hard and contribute just as much as your neighbor, you deserve to enjoy the same quality of life.
When parents purchase access to an elite university for their child, they are conferring an advantage to their child over the child's peers that is unearned and unfair.
Elite college admissions is a zero sum game. There are only a certain number of spots available and purchasing a spot for a kid who slacked off in school necessarily takes the same opportunity away from a more deserving kid.
Sometimes, alumni give to their alma mater for charitable reasons! And some USC grads do better than some Yale grads, I'm sure.
But maybe the IRS should try to brush back the most conspicuous cases of donating to receive admission. I'm seeing stories of admissions officers being pretty open about it at Ivy League schools.
Maybe not in the 1800s, but doing that today violates any number of published school policies. It likely also violates several laws, especially if the school receives state/federal funding (they all do). Violating published policies, circumventing established admission systems, and denying a spot for a qualified candidate in order to accommodate a wealthy donor, that is the definition of corruption.
A few, most famously Hillsdale, refuse government money in order to protect their civil liberties (including as race-agnostic admission procedures, for better or for worse).
A guy donates an engineering complex, and every engineering student on that campus gets to take advantage of said complex and its resources. Guy donates a new business school building and every student on that campus can take advantage of said building and its resources. In exchange, the university lets in two girls, their daughters or whatever, who might want to major in Art History and French, and coincidentally will likely be inheriting a few hundred million to upwards of a billion dollars in the future. (Future donors.)
It's a fair trade. I'm not wealthy on that level, but if I were calling the shots at a university I'd make that trade every time.
It sounds like you agree, then? It should be public.
It's left unsaid because it's better for the brand to pretend that this isn't a thing and that just because your parents gave money or because your parents are famous doesn't mean they'll let you in.
if you have to ask for price ... :)
I were calling the shots at a university
I'd make that trade every time.
But would you be proud enough of the policy to publicise it and your price list?
Because I'd do it, but I'd also be embarrassed I was doing it.
Also, in the interest of truth-in-advertising, shouldn't the institutions that practice this not have to rename themselves from "university" or "college" to "degree supermarket"?
Donating for improvement that affects others is one thing, but donating for a quid pro quo might affect this.
In other words, is the concept of creating barriers to entry, limiting competition, not unreasonable? In any market, economists say that is anticompetitive, and should even be illegal.
Are people paying for education? Or for epaulets?
So let's talk about this "materially improving things for other students" in an honest context of what this is.
We are already far past the point on using exam scores as a basis for admissions. Many of the Ivies, famously say every year that they could fill their incoming class with students with perfect scores and perfect GPAs many times over forcing these schools to consider other factors. The US DoE says there are 16.9m undergrads, assuming ~4m are freshmen, the top 1% is 40,000 students. The Harvard freshman class size is 2000 students. At this point its only natural, according to the "market", that people would be paying for slots.
If you believe the primary purpose of a university is to educate and certify, that is indeed "not much". But if you believe that the education is secondary, and the actual primary purpose is to cultivate a social network of influential graduates and dropouts, and to act as gatekeeper to future opportunities, then that bribe is better than a perfect SAT score.
That kid will end up with seed money or angel investments from mommy and daddy, and will be able to hire some former classmates right out of the gate, and they might build a unicorn, which will forever be tagged with "founded and built by a team of University X graduates".
In that sense, no one is robbing anybody of a spot. There are genius spots, and rich idiot spots, and the only problem is getting a few from each pile into the same rooms, with a reason to talk about their futures. One way is to coerce the rich kid into studying (or cheating) their coursework by paying off the genius kid. Management training.
Buying a basketball team and hiring a coach in order to win is legal. Paying one player to lose a game is not legal.
I understand the legality and the law is the law, but let's cut the c*ap, both sides are cheating. The poorer side gets caught because they don't have the money needed to bribe the University, they have just enough to bribe its employees.
As far as I can tell, saying "get really good test scores or pay us a million dollars to get in" is not illegal.
There's a reason no university simple states a price on their admissions page
Front Door: Student performance (scholastic and academic)
Back Door: Family donations
Side Door: What this article is about. Part of the ruse was faking athletic credentials to get into a more likely of admissions candidates (athletes have an advantage, apparently).
So in this case, they lied.
My local college was a blessing to me. It provided me an education, a safe atmosphere, and most of all, confidence. It changed me for the better. I'd like to donate to the college if I were in the position to do so, and because I had such a great experience, I'd encourage my child (don't have one, yet) to go.
It this wrong of me?
how do you guard against it? Do you ban kids from
enrolling in or applying to colleges in which
their parent's (or close relative) has donated to?
Obviously, people's opinion on that will depend on their opinion on things like admissions essays and extracurricular activities; anything like "I learned a good work ethic helping my father with his senate campaign" will have to go.
Blind grading after admission would be sensible too, for the same reasons. Although perhaps difficult in subjects where individual students' work was identifiable even without their name.
But, generally, your point is correct. In this case, there was an explicit pay-off/bribe/fraud committed. In the case of the super-wealthy, there's a large donation and a wink-wink/handshake.
This is very different from buying entrance to a university. Universities are allowed to admit on any criteria that they want (with a few exceptions). They are private organizations.
When you "donate" $1.2m to a "consultancy" you're just committing fraud. Nobody benefits except your kid and the "consultancy." It's much easier to prove that this transaction is fraudulent.
So in this case the government is going after fraudsters because the government isn't getting paid, and neither is the school. I'd be willing to bet that the government would have continued looking the other way if a) the wealthy had paid taxes on their bribe or b) there was some indisputable asset one could point to and say "there's my donation!"
It's the opposite actually; if you're giving money to the development office then you're enabling more qualified students to attend the school.
That’s why college only costs 50k per year when it costs 150k to provide that service to you.
"Donating" to the owner to to exactly the same thing is considered good business.
Seeing this makes my blood boil. Not only is it essentially an open secret that the admissions process actively discriminates against Asians and other high-achieving ethnic groups--and gives a massive leg up to legacies, children of donors, etc.--these people thought they were good enough, by virtue of their wealth, to bribe and cheat their way into these top universities (and some of them, honestly, shouldn't even need cheating to get into!)
I've worked my tail off for the past four years (if not more) to weasel my way past the racially biased admissions office, and now I see this--brazen corruption from the elite whose egos ride on their trust-fund children's college acceptances.
After my personal experience and now this, I've come to a conclusion: the college admissions process in the US is fundamentally broken. This case isn't just an aberration--it's a pattern.
I shudder to imagine just what my children will have to go through.
Things have been known to improve as well to decline. Don't let your anger make you pessimistic, experience will supply you with plenty of occasions for that later.
Now if you linked to something like https://sub.media/ or https://itsgoingdown.org/ I'd understand...
US Attorney re the Huffman/Loughlin (among others) college scam: "We're not talking about donating a building...we're talking about fraud."
Says quite a lot, doesn’t it.
A) a private university can set any criteria they want for admissions.
B) a private, federally accredited, university can set different criteria of admission for different people
C) If a parent donates large amount of money directly to the school, and their children get accept with lower criteria -- it is perfectly ok.
Are there conditions, that would not make this line of thinking not ok ?
Is donating 'sexual favors' ok ?
Should the same principles be applied for job promotions in private corporations ?
Is it ok to do similar differential treatment, for different students, for their grades throughout the study, and not just initial admission?
What does it mean to be an 'accredited university'? Does accreditation implies any form of fairness?
Is that legally enforceable ?
Will the deans of those universities be responsible for lax rules, eg.. looking the other way?
… aren't those kinds of behaviors, that are then breading the 'financial services execs that 'look the other way' and caused financial crisis of '08?
So when Harvard professor whose salary comes from grants lectures a donor's child, who didn't get the grades to be there in the first place, it raises a question, if the arrangement makes sense.
> Is donating 'sexual favors' ok ?
Prostitution is currently illegal and I'm sure this against the most colleges code of conducts. I really can't imagine a possible future where this becomes a problem. "Come to HigherEdUniv, we accept an SAT score of 1400 or 1200 and a blow job".
> Should the same principles be applied for job promotions in private corporations ?
Sexual favors? No this is currently illegal and falls under sexual harassment / prostitution.
Giving a lot of money to a corporation for a promotion. This seems like pretty straightforward yes, companies exchange money for control all the time. YCombinator is founded on it.
Giving a lot of money to a boss without the agreement of the company for a promotion. This is shady but I've never seen or heard of this happen in the U.S. Normal corporate governance seems to take care of this issue.
> Is it ok to do similar differential treatment, for different students, for their grades throughout the study, and not just initial admission?
From a legal standpoint sure this seems ok. How long would a university exist if they did this, not very long.
> … aren't those kinds of behaviors, that are then breading the 'financial services execs that 'look the other way' and caused financial crisis of '08?
Completely different problem and set of behaviors. These types of scams involve only a handful of people and have very little impact on society. Financial crises happen pretty often and affect everyone in the U.S.
It becomes a government and criminal matter when those same private institutions benefit from government regulations, such as loan guarantees, that are not available to other private institutions.
I wonder why they are only mentioning the “wealthy parents” in this article over the corrupt administrators that enabled them?
* Entrance exams in the US are created by one of several private entities (College Board, International Baccalaureate, ACT) and administered by the local secondary schools.
True. Usually the norm is that wealthy people are exempt from prosecution. I am sure whoever pursued this will get a lot of angry calls from powerful people.
Well, it's not like there's truth in advertising:
"We partner with your son or daughter to identify their strengths, unlock their potential, choose the right college, position themselves for admission, and outline a course of study and extracurricular experiences to lead to a life of success." -- http://www.thekeyworldwide.com/
Their legal bills could easily surpass the amount of money exchanged to get their kids into these schools.
>The student’s parents paid $1.2 million in bribes, officials said.
Probably not. They can afford lawyers to defend them and negotiate plea deals and settlements.
*while also believing that, given the opportunity, I would choose to play it fair.
In practice, most of the defendants would be likely to get under 5 years assuming this is their first offense, don’t commit further crimes, etc.
Matt Levine today framed it rather neatly as a property crime, in that the dodgy charity guy and the coaches stole those selective admissions slots from the universities and sold them on to the parents. (Those parents of course being fully aware that other people would be taking test on their kids' behalf, so they are hardly victims.)
If you could get into USC with a ~1000 SAT score like Huffman's daughter, would you even want to go? I wouldn't. It is shortchanging the achievement, and really missing the point of what admission to such a university represents.
The reality is that the college you attend, especially for undergrad, has relatively little bearing on your life as a whole. If you're in the GPA/SAT range to get into Stanford, but end up attending UC Irvine instead, you'll be just fine. You might even graduate with less debt and at the top of your class. On the other hand, if your parents bail you out and buy your way into Stanford when you're not qualified, it sets you up for a life of disappointment. You'll likely struggle to keep up with classmates, and won't know what it feels like to achieve on your own. It teaches reliance on mommy and daddy rather than reliance on yourself, which is not a sustainable approach to life when you get into the real world.
In most cases yes. But when we're talking about elite colleges, it has significant bearing. Living in the dorm with a future CEO may be helpful in your future job search, and if you go to an elite college, you have a much better chance of having done that.
Going to Stanford or Berkeley or MIT or UW and doing CS there will mean that when you graduate, a whole lot of hiring managers will see that you attended the same college they did and give you an automatic boost.
And if you go to USC film school, you're pretty much guaranteed to know someone who will one day be very successful in the film industry and will help you get jobs or connections to have your own projects produced. Heck, the school does that for you.
So yeah, in most cases it doesn't matter, but in some very specific cases it does.
I went to Stanford. I love my undergrad. But I also have faced plenty of rejection and adversity on the way and since graduating. What matters is how you respond to that rejection, which is what the struggle to earn admission reflects. Having your parents bail you out means you will never learn those lessons.
But I'm more curious as to the people that can't get into Stanford and have to go to lesser schools like I did - what exactly are we to do? It's pretty clear that our outcomes are not going to be as good by any means, and it seems like political correctness limits any discussion of that.
I didn't get into Stanford (or anything like that, best I did was UNC in-state) - what exactly are my options here? It seems to me what you just said only applies to my intellectual superiors who are choosing between Stanford and UC Irvine, not the people that go to UC Irvine or Santa Cruz or Merced because they couldn't get into Berkeley or Stanford (who make up the majority of the country).
The fact is that people have this weird idea that college doesn't matter come from a position of immense privilege that someone like me doesn't even have the capacity to fathom. Of course it matters - being a Cardinal is a life-long thing, but being a member of the Wolfpack is more of a temporary embarrassment at best.
Maybe, but getting into an elite college is a very strong signal that can act as a multiplier for every other character trait.
Having drive and intelligence is great. Having drive and intelligence, and getting into Stanford, is life-changing.
Many people are happy to take advantage of these unfair "bumps" that happen to be in their favor. Simply look at elite school admission rates by race and LSAT/GMAT/SAT/ACT scores ...you'll notice that it is a lot easier to get in if you're Black or Latino compared to Asian or White...Maybe they feel like they don't deserve it, maybe they do, who really knows?
> ...which is not a sustainable approach to life when you get into the real world.
The real world if full of unfair advantages metered out by race/gender/alma matter/cultural background/etc...Some people are fine taking advantage of it and some aren't...In the Navy they have something informally called the "Filipino Mafia" which basically means that there is an overrepresentation of Filipinos that kind of control things and give out good deals to fellow Filipinos...as a Filipino I sure as hell took advantage of this...I got the good assignments and the poor White kid with no racial support system in the Navy got stuck swabbing the deck...that is just how it goes...There are "good old boys" clubs, there are "diversity hires", as well as many other kinds of unfair, unjust, and undeserved rewards. That is the real world, racial groups sticking together, genders sticking together, rich people sticking together, etc...
I think a lot of people (arguably the majority of people) view a degree as a piece of paper you need for a job. What you learn doesn't matter as much as having a high GPA from the right school and getting a job.
I think if you polled parents, it'd be a split of those willing to do fake scores, bribe officials, whatever it takes to give their kid a leg up.
An officially sanctioned form of this is retaking standardized tests and super-scoring. For those who can afford it, you can retake the test as many times as it takes to get the score you "deserve." If you can't get the right score in one sitting, you can cherry pick the best scores from the 4 or 5 times you took the test.
It defeats the whole purpose of a standardized test. It no longer a random sample of an estimate of a student's knowledge/ability. It's how well did you prepare. How much did you spend on tutors. How many times can you afford to take it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that SAT scores are all bullshit, especially for top schools.
The issue you raise with standardized testing could be addressed by subsidizing the cost for low income students or making the test free. The wealthy girl in the article apparently couldn’t get a good enough score regardless of how many times she could take the test. Personally I think we need some form of standardized testing because it’s the only standardized measurement tool that exists.
Maybe they don't think they're cheating. Maybe they've just grown up thinking they deserve whatever they can buy.
So if you have Private universities, those with means will find ways to game the system. And they will gain opportunity inequality over those that do not have the means.
Stated differently, having unequal education institutions means that those that are richer will always be at an advantage to getting in the better institutions and long term contribute to opportunity inequality.
"Authorities charged more than people, like actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, March 12 with being part of a long-running college admittance scam. (Allie Caren, Justin Scuiletti/The Washington Post)"
It seems to be saying that actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are more than people.
One of the HN comments quotes "The Justice Department on Tuesday charged more than 30 wealthy people — including two television stars". The article currently begins with "The Justice Department on Tuesday charged 50 people — including two television stars". I suppose it must have been edited—and, based on the caption I see, there must be less scrutiny that goes into edits than into the original.
Most programmers think we are in a meritocratic society and we all got to our positions based solely on raw ability, including me. Probably we are full of it. :-) I'm from a small town in the south, but my dad worked as an engineer at IBM. No doubt I was helped because I was around engineers, we talked about the world, and I knew I could probably make it there too. And he had money to help me in college.