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[dupe] Bribes to Get into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New? (nytimes.com)
165 points by resalisbury on Mar 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 147 comments

This is why, to me, the entire debate about affirmative action at elite colleges is a complete red herring. The amount of kids, regardless of race, who can be considered "deserving" of a spot has been reduced more so by legacy admissions and these bribes than by any effort of individual institutions to even out racial or gender demographics.

If you're building a picture in your head, you can check it against actual numbers here:


Thanks for the numbers. This confirms some suspicions but also refutes others: not a lot of legacy kids at Harvard, but their parents are still largely wealthy and mostly White / Asian.

I think a greater amount of legacy candidates typically apply early acceptance, which throws off the pure percentages. Presumably, candidates with large donor backing apply early, but schools typically give these applicants a bump for the inherent commitment.

I've recently thought another interesting study would be to look at admittance rates for NYC prep schools. I have friends right now paying crazy amounts of money for even pre-school. Part of the argument is the acceptance rates into elite colleges. I recently wondered how many of these kids are going because of large donations, which artificially inflates the stats for prospective parents who plan to get their kids into college on merit.

These universities don't have the prestige without the legacy admissions (and alumni donors).

There are tons of universities, but it's hard to say anyone "deserves" a spot over someone's family who helped build it.

Then why do European universities, many of them very prestigious and much, much older than American ones, base their admission on grades and tests?

Given that in most European countries (I think, it'd definitely the case in Germany) tuition isn't a thing either, one can reasonably conclude that admission to an elite university is linked to academic prowess, at least to a higher degree than American universities.

I went to an elite university (can't deny that I'm a bit proud of that), and except maybe for the possible of highly limited stipendia, neither I nor my parents would have had any money to make that happen otherwise.

Have to admit my American ignorance here, but outside of music schools I cannot think of any major elite universities outside of maybe oxford and Cambridge? I’m curious if Europeans could name a few Ivy League American universities? Maybe I’m the uncultured exception, but I don’t think most Americans even talk about foreign universities (I have no doubt to our own disadvantage)

You might not have heard about European universities (though maybe that's just because they tend to be named by city, so ETH Zürich, Paris etc. doesn't stick as a university name like "Harvard" and "Yale" do), but you probably have heard from people at those universities: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Werner Heisenberg, Nils Bohr, ...

I didn't pick contemporary names because the closer you get to today, the less likely you are to know such names unless you are specifically interested into their specific field. You can look them up, though.

No doubt American universities are not less prestigious, but to think that nothing of relevance happens outside of the US, well... You might have heard of CERN at least. ;)

Don't underestimate the impact of US cultural imperialism. We've probably all seem shows or movies where some kid wants to get into Yale or Harvard. How many European movies do people see in the US?

I think another factor is that the admission system is different. I only know about Germany, but you don't have to apply in the same way at a university and your grades from school are what matters there isn't some additional test like GRE or SAT. So it plays less of a role culturally and has thus less opportunity to be a topic at all in shows and movies even if Americans were to drown in European media.

In fact, when making this post - max planck institute and cern so on came to mind, but was not confident it was a schools vs research Institute ? Certainly there is no shortage of great minds from universities around the world, it’s just they don’t seem to nearly have the US BRAND awareness

* edit: on second thought i suppose I am not adequately equipped to talk about global brand awareness as it originally stated. Curious how other countries see collegiate prestige outside of their own or if US colleges have some extra factor?

Imperial college, LSE, Groningen, Moscow Univ, Utrech

How is a school prestigious by allowing undeserving[1] rich kids in?

[1] In the sense that they're not academically or athletically at the top of the heap.

I have to confess that I have never understood why athletics is considered necessary at academic institutions, so it is even less understandable why athletics is considered during admissions.

It brings in alumni, who bring in money.

You can answer that question by playing semantics - copying from a dictionary, 'prestige' is having 'standing or estimation in the eyes of people'.

Most of the prestigious people I can name aren't prestigious because of their academic achievement, that is for sure - so it isn't obvious why an academic institution should be prestigious full stop. They all teach a similar syllabus, and most professors are remarkably talented. Harvard is prestigious because the students that go to Harvard are well connected, not because Harvard is imparting some superior secret sauce to its students. The selling point is the network of other people who are important, eg, the children of the sort of people who went to Harvard.

We don't give people standing or estimation from academic or athletic ability except in extreme edge cases (much more extreme than college admission). There is a strong correlation between intelligence and prestige, but that is because smart people make decisions that earn them prestige more than because academic ability is prestigious.

Because riches and prestige are often found in the same family, so a school or company with an aggregation of such families' progeny is able to reflect some of their shine.

Not saying it's a morally correct, but that's 's how (American) society works. We aren't good at predicting a child's success so we fall back on historical (familial) data.

I really don't get how that can reasonably be considered a better predictor of a successful university degree than previous grades and application tests, without some serious mental gymnastics.

It's not that hard. Assume Richie Rich and Freckles Friendly are innately equally good students.

Freckles almost certainly has additional stressors in his life, since he maintains his scholarship(s), works outside of class, frets over his student loans, and has to be careful how he spends what little cash he has.

In contrast, Richie has a pretty carefree existence which he likely spends developing relationships with other rich kids. He can study if he needs to, pay for private tutors, etc.

Plus, from the perspective of University The Business™, Richie is more likely to inherit wealth and business opportunities that make him more likely to donate to the school in the future; he's a better investment than Freckles.

> Freckles almost certainly has additional stressors in his life, since he maintains his scholarship(s), works outside of class, frets over his student loans, and has to be careful how he spends what little cash he has.

Right. But that's part of the point, is it not? Those factors were almost a non-issue for me in Germany. Having no tuition, I had to work part-time to pay for rent, food, and recreational activities, but that wasn't nearly stressful or time consuming enough to impact my studies (or even my social life).

As such, "student loans" are also not really a thing in Germany. I did take a loan of a few thousand Euros towards the end of my studies, in order to be able to focus on my degree without a job and still have a roof over my head, but I was able to repay all of it very quickly as soon as I entered the workforce.

Meaning, those disadvantages for non-affluent people at ivy league universities are entirely self-created, and very likely have the net effect of promoting students who are innately worse but financially better off to success.

A huge value of attending writ elite US universities lies in the network you get to build. While it's nice to have future Nobell Price laureates in your network it's also nice to have heirs to bring late family fortunes that also might already bring very good family connections to the table.

"The daughter of [so-and-so famous person] attends here" is a huge draw. Think of Harvard and its ilk as finishing schools and networking groups.

FWIW, he did say legacy, specifically.

Why would what someone’s family did change anything about if a student deserves anything?

That is why it stings for poor or working class Asians and non-Jewish Whites...you don't get the affirmative action or legacy leg up...

How do Jews get a leg up from affirmative action and legacies when the application doesn't ask for your religion (any more) and there were quotas in the past to limit the number of Jewish students?

To be fair, whether there is affirmative action or bias or not, characteristic names give a lot away for this religious-ethnic group, as with other groups.

I could be wrong, but I don't think Jews get much of an affirmative action boost either.

This is about anti-Jewish discrimination specifically. This is pro meritocracy. Not affirmative action.

That article on first reading appears to be a balanced and well-argued article, but it concerns me that other articles on that site appear to be literally concerned with Holocaust denial and are generally israel-obsessed; alongside other far right wing and outlandish conspiracy theories. Therefore I'm sceptical and would wish to fact check further.

See https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Unz_Review

Good link, thank you.

I suspect you've never heard of the "Jewish Quota" that capped the number of Jews allowed in various schools: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_quota

I have heard of that but what does that have to do with anything now?

It isn't an active policy of any of Ivy League schools anymore ..

Nor is affirmative action for Jews but you brought that up.

Oi. What's with the antisemitism?

Uh...that wasn't antisemetic...when talking about Ivy league representation, Jews are disproportionately represented which is why I distinguished between "Jewish Whites" and Non-Jewish Whites...

Bigger question: Why bring race up at all, then? Class has demonstrably larger effect.

The 1% are very disproportionately represented in the Ivy League, too.

A couple of interesting questions:

1. Is being Jewish a race or a religion?

2. Being Jewish is also strongly correlated to class. 44% of Jews earn 100K+. Thats compared to ~20% for Christian, 19% Catholic, 20% Islam. (Interestingly Hindus are close at 36%).

Source: http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/income-dis...

Is that how the system works? I'm not American, but it seems like race does get factored in. Or am I just sorely mistaken?

From the article: "It may be legal to pledge $2.5 million to Harvard just as your son is applying — which is what Jared Kushner’s father did for him — and illegal to bribe a coach to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but how much of a difference is there, really? Both elevate money over accomplishment."

The first is for the benefit of all the other students in the form of reduced tuition grants, a new library, lab equipment etc. The other is for the benefit of the bribe taker. There are lots of situations that elevate X over accomplishment, but this seems like one with actual benefit on a large scale. That said, I hope they all get punished for it.

I dont think a monetary donation means a new lab or a library for all students to use that otherwise would have not been built. these universities have excess budget and easily afford to carry out new construction and procurement as planned regardless of donations. Im sure if the said parent had not donated the 2.5 million dollars, not a single thing would have been different for the students. not one.

>> I'm sure if the said parent had not donated the 2.5 million dollars, not a single thing would have been different for the students. Not one.

That's definitely false. Most universities tie annual endowment spending to total endowment size. Just because you can't directly tie the dollars to a specific project, doesn't mean it didn't contribute to the general student body's quality of education.

What are you talking about, of course sourcing new endowments allows them to build more things/provide more services/etc. Approximately half of Yale's operating budget comes from revenue generated by its hospital system (which is a whole 'nother contentious issue, but besides the point). The other half largely comes from drawing a "safe amount" on it's endowment principal, i.e., small enough to be sustainable in the long term without depleting the fund. A relatively small part comes from tuition. Obviously, increasing the endowment (be it $2.5MM or $250MM at a time) increases the amount that can be put towards budgeting in the future -- enabling, for example, the University to grow its student body (which Yale is currently doing) while maintaining the ability to privately subsidize student tuition.

People who claim that top schools have excess budget have no idea how expensive it is to run them. Pledges are a total ok way of funding scholarships and other benefits for the student community on those schools. One "stupid rich" student enabling "smart poor" ones.

If the bribe taker donated all of the money to charity, would that make it any less unethical for the University/basketball coach? A bribe is a bribe, and the spot that was taken in the University could have and should have gone to someone more deserving.

>If the bribe taker donated all of the money to charity, would that make it any less unethical for the University/basketball coach

Yes, it would. That wouldn't make it ethical or legal of course.

This is a classical "ends justify means" argument. Though most people won't admit it, I think it's a valid argument, but requires a rather perverse value system.

If the money goes towards scholarships for the deserving but poor its a good trade. Less so if it ends up in the pockets of corrupt paper pushers.

And if I had to bet I would put money on the money not 'trickling down' as we would hope.

About 65% of students at Yale receive need-based financial aid from the University. Students coming from households making less than $65k don't pay anything at all for tuition/room/board. So clearly some of that endowment money is "trickling down".

Source: https://finaid.yale.edu/costs-affordability/affordability

At the university of Whatshisface, tuition is $10^12/semester, and everyone receives $(10^12-10^3)/semester in needs-based financial aid. I assure you that I have a karmatic license to do anything I want - after all, summed across all students I give more than the GDP of many small countries.

Right... From the stats from Yale linked above, the median net cost after financial aid is $12.5k. That's a lot less than I paid to go to a public university.

As for a "license to do anything", it's not clear what exactly you're complaining about here? They get some money through non-merit based admissions, sure, and then use the money to build nice things for students, and to help cover most students' tuitions. The point of this thread is that there's a difference between private schools accepting donations for this purpose, vs. corrupt individuals accepting bribes. The latter case benefits only the unmeritious student and the corrupt individual, and not the university has a whole.

I wonder how that compares, demographically, to the proportion of students receiving need-based financial aid and full-rides at my alma mater (an HBCU with a substantially smaller endowment).

Financial aid at ivy league schools is extremely generous in large part due to their huge endowments.

How about completely blind job admissions, school admissions, etc.

No names, no race, no age, etc. Just raw test scores. Test them against problem solving skills objectively, etc.

That's how college admissions in most asian countries work.

You're get a roll number, you write a test, a list gets published that ranks all the roll numbers, sometimes with scores. Colleges offer admissions to anyone who scored between ranks 1-N. At more elite schools N is small (e.g. 100), but in lower ranking schools N is large (e.g. 100000+).

Affirmative action is practiced by having different Ns for different disadvantaged groups (i.e if you are a lower caste, N=1000, but for general admissions, N=100)

The downsides of this system are that it still fails to eliminate economic biases (i.e a student from a well to do family can hire tutors who help them test prep better) and that it's impossible for the school to control the makeup of a class - e.g in a year I was in school, a new test prep school opened up in a city and students from that school scored significantly higher than others in the admissions test. So, about 50% of the incoming class were students who went to that test prep school.

At least in East Asia, this also results in a highly test-optimized education system. This can result in multiple negative side effects, such as test anxiety, stifled creativity, and elevated suicide rates among students. Most East Asian countries have considered revising their educational systems. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2149978/insi...

I mean this still disadvantages poorer people, who don't have money to fund their kids' preparations for exams. The point of holistic admissions is to try to factor things like that in.

Goodheart's law.

Besides what employer wants to hire someone based just on their intelligence scores? If someone is an uncooperative egoist prick I don't think many companies will want to hire them no matter their test scores.

Pure test prioritization also encourages rote learning and optimizing for the test, which is not great for creativity.

Did you read the article? The fixer just paid the folks administering the test to let someone else take it, or to let them fix the answers after the fact. Also, agree with the person who mentioned Goodhart's Law.

Then you eliminate high schools like the one I went to where, we spent 10s of hours in labs per week to be competitive for college. How are you going to incorporate electrical engineering or materials science into a standardized exam and meaningfully compare our results to our peers?

Do you really think these schools would have the same prestige and endowments if money and connections didn't get peole in?

People want the prestige and connections of a legacy/endowment driven school, but don't seem to realize that it comes with legacy admissions.

The wealthy have the income to test prep for high scores. The poor don’t necessarily have the time or money to focus as much on test prep as the rich. Your method may exclude a population of the poor.

Meritocracy for thee, but not for me.

As the upper echelons continue to cordon off segments of the economy and education for just themselves, will the "Bootstraps and Personal Responsibility" mythology finally start to die out?

I think most people put meritocracy and aristocracy on opposite ends of a continuum, in terms of strictly applied denotation. But in practice in America, they're two sides to the same coin because the aristocrats define what is meritorious and judge who has it, including ensuring their friends and family get access by lowering ladders. That's how meritocracy is a trap, because it inevitably ends up corrupting itself.

This scandal tells me is that a bunch of rich people are sad that the ordinary methods of a gamed system already highly in their favor isn't good enough for them. The privilege they have isn't enough, they needed different and additional ladders to get even more, as if this is innovation and is itself merit, that's how brazen it was.

Bill McGlashan, CEO of TPG private equity, was indicted in this scandal, charged with both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and recruitment scheme. As reported, even his son's exam answers would be changed (corrected) without his knowledge. How would meritocracy before this scandal have evaluated McGlashan? I think rather highly considering his actions and work with Bono, etc. And yet here he is saying that system isn't good enough for him and his son, he had to corrupt it, to get what he really wanted. It's a stunning indictment of the meritocracy we actually have.

We are in the process of building up a new aristocracy. This process has repeated itself over all of history.

Hell yea, look at our presidents, we got legacy admissions for the biggest job in America.

It would be nice if somebody like Truman got elected. Somebody who had real experience how the regular citizen lives.

You're right.

Now, if only we could agree on what the "regular citizen's" life looks like.

a) It's probably a woman, since they're the majority of the population and have a distinctly different life experience to men

b) It's probably someone who lives in a city, since that was 80% of Americans in the 2010 census.

I would be happy if that person didn’t come from an Ivy League school and whose parents aren’t multimillionaires.

Honestly they probably can't do worse.

Part of the way it survives is by setting up the system so that just enough people survive the gauntlet of meritocracy. They're held up as demonstration examples. Pointing out 16 self-made billionaires, for example, leads people to think it's common enough that it might happen for them, too.

An additional twist is that some of those who make it are the ones helping extant powers maintain their grip. WhatsApp and Oracle come to mind.

My company foolishly donated data to Stanford for nearly a decade.

We asked them for an 'in kind' license to OpenNLP and were basically completely rebuffed. They're taking in money hand over fist.

We need to stop thinking of these as universities anymore. They're cash cows...

Do you mean https://github.com/stanfordnlp/CoreNLP ?

Why would you expect them to relicense GPL libre software to you? What does "in kind" mean?

They mention on their site that they can give it to you under a commercial license. In order to contribute to it, you should follow their CLA: https://github.com/stanfordnlp/CoreNLP/blob/master/CONTRIBUT... which transfers copyright to them.

> What does "in kind" mean?

in-kind (adj): consisting of something (such as goods or commodities) other than money


He's asking, how do you give a good as a gift or payment that is public, free, and open?

It's like asking for an "in kind" license to the Declaration of Independence, it just makes no sense.

A donation is only a donation if you don't expect anything in return.

Tax their endowments.

To be fair, if you were donating data then you shouldn't exactly be expecting something in return. If there was an expectation then someone on your end didn't do their job or something on the Stanford end changed.

What do you mean a license for OpenNLP?

Probably a license to keep their changes private.


A smaller subset of this problem is paying people to take standardized tests for you. I graduated from an ivy and had a couple peers who got a perfect score on their SAT's but could only speak broken English. If you're willing to pay someone to cheat on standardized tests, I'm not surprised you're willing to bribe someone to gain admissions also.

You can totally get a perfect score in the SATs and have bad spoken English. Having trouble speaking a language is only loosely correlated to being able to understand written language, especially when it’s language of tests. People who have gone through learning a second language seriously get this.

The SATs are also stupidly easy compared to entrance exams in any other place on the planet. If you are gifted and study seriously for a week you can get yourself a very good score no problem

I’m sure that there are cheaters, but if your reference is “bad spoken English” that’s not at all conclusive

I know you are referring to Chinese students. But the reality is that SAT and GRE are stupidly easy, especially math. Almost every Chinese student I know achieved full score in GRE math, and yes, more than half of them spoke broken English.

I'm in no way implying my anecdata is conclusive, but I'm mainly suspicious of the verbal scores. And, if the verbal section of the SAT is stupidly easy, I guess I'm stupid, shucks :(.

It doesn't have to be bribing others to take the exam for you. I heard that they write down the questions they got asked during the Verbal part of the exam and collect them so other students can memorize them and get good scores. It's been happening for quite a long time actually, a professor of mine told me the same when he went to school in the 80s or so.

On a side note, the notion that a private company conducts all these tests for profit in order for students to get admission into schools quite bizarre and laughable to say the least.

Counter anecdote: college roommate who grew up the bulk of his life in mainland China had major problems with spoken English but his written English was fantastic. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I used to have a lot of friends in the MIT admissions office. They felt tremendous pride working at a school that didn't give precedence to legacy admits or children of donors (the quote I remember was "if you give a building, when your son or daughter is turned down for admittance you get a phone call from a Vice President telling you the news" instead of just a form letter).

Do you expect them to tell you that they are taking bribes to admit certain students?

Just reinforces my belief that an ivy league degree is much more an indicator of socioeconomic class than it is intelligence or aptitude.

As of 2013, the median grade at Harvard was an A-. The mode was an A. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/...

Anecdotally, I have heard of places that refuse to hire Harvard grads for this reason.

Agree. Anecdotally, I had a sales manager who graduated from Harvard. He was literally no different from any corporate manager I've ever had and just parroted whatever unattainable goals trickled down from the top, providing no clear way to meet said goals

I have worked with people from MIT media lab. I didn't notice them being better than any other engineer. The VCs loved them though and talked pretty much only to them when they visited.

Try mit csail, or some other depts. Some undergrads in particular made me feel rather stupid :)

Grade inflation is a relic of the Vietnam war era where grades were systematically inflated to keep people from the draft. Also happened uniformly across top tier schools and its hard to do a rollback (especially at one institution only).

It's a bizarre situation. In grad school, at least where I went (no place elite), a 'C' was a failing grade, because we were supposed to be doing outstanding work by virtue of being in grad school. I suppose elite schools could argue analogously. "Being here means your work is top drawer". Personally I'd solve the problem by giving written evaluations, which is what my undergrad school did. Useful, nuanced information.

Similar situation for me, if you were getting anything lower than a B you probably couldn’t hack the coursework.

Consequence of paid, for-profit education - they want their grads to get high paying jobs. C-grade alumni with a shit job doesn’t make a great donor.

> As of 2013, the median grade at Harvard was an A-.

What do you conclude from this?

> Anecdotally, I have heard of places that refuse to hire Harvard grads for this reason.

That does sound anecdotal.

If everyone is receiving an A, that indicates that everyone receives As regardless of merit.

If the median is A-, that means more than half the students are not getting an A. If we accept that Harvard does have some of the best students, well at least best at getting good grades, since that is at least partially how they get in, why shouldn't they have better grades on average? To do otherwise would seem unfair to the students, since people are often judged on grades by people who don't have any perspective as to what a given grade means at a given institution. It would not be surprising if getting an A at Harvard is still substantially harder on an absolute basis than getting an A at a much lesser school that has a much lower average.

Or it means that everyone works their ass off.

Or that they went to high schools that prepared them well.

Depends on how they grade. I went to Purdue and pretty much every math and CS class was bell curved around a C and D's aren't passing grades which was pretty brutal and a very effective form of weeding out people since a portion of each class is forced to retake it. Hence why Purdue frequently rates as one of the hardest grading colleges.

Much easier to get into then the ivy leagues though.

> a very effective form of weeding out people since a portion of each class is forced to retake it

This seems really pointless.

I don't know. Purdue is much easier to get into then IVY league schools and yet ranks better in CS than 3/8 of the IVY league, tied with one, and really isn't far below than the other 4 according to US News [0]. Based on my assumption that Purdue is highly rated because people who graduate were the top X% of students and others were weeded out or re-took classes to learn the material better, would you rather have the filtering/weeding_out for "better" students be done at the high_school->college choice level like the IVY leagues which are highly selective but grade inflate or the people who graduate from college learning the material you probably require for the job where grading is tough?

[0]: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-sch...

This is a graduate school ranking based on a survey and fairly meaningless due to how it's done:

Specialty rankings of doctoral science programs are based solely on nominations by department heads and directors of graduate studies at peer schools. These respondents ranked up to 10 programs in each area. Those with the most votes appear in the rankings tables.

This biases the result towards top regional schools, whose peers rate them highly over well-known schools that are otherwise great, but have weaker CS programs than its best peers. Either way, this has no real relevance in terms of comparing the quality of those who complete their undergraduate programs. The selection effect dominates all other factors here and almost no school has separate admissions for computer science (not aware of any in fact other than CMU) which means to the extent most people rank them, it is roughly in order of the overall prestige of the undergraduate program in general. I mean University of Wisconsin - Madison is a great school, but on average, you won't find their graduates to be quite as good as Harvard or Yale grads.

I wouldn't look at the school? A 10-minute convo tells you more than an average that you have no context for.

I'm not a recruiter so take this with a grain of salt, but I believe school/GPA is highly used for screening resumes for new grads. AFAIK, top companies get a ridiculous amount of resumes and they need some way to prioritize them without spending 10 minute conversations with each and every person that applies.

Can any recruiter comment here on school/GPA importance on resumes for newly grads?

Wait is non calibrated scoring the norm now? When I was in school (a terribly long time ago) classes were judged by the people that took the classes. That is the % were based in the people that took the tests.

You mean curved? It depends on the class I think?

And what if like, you end up with a difference between A and B being 2%.

Then you had a bad time & you commiserate over drinks?

Basically every class I had in college was graded amongst your cohort. Is that odd?

> Then you had a bad time & you commiserate over drinks?

The dynamics are a lot more complicated than you make it seem.

> Basically every class I had in college was graded amongst your cohort. Is that odd?

I've also had classes that were graded on a curve. But that doesn't fully capture the dynamics.

it might indicate that the course is not designed well and fails to provide gradient among students.

If this is the case across the school, then perhaps the entire school curricula is not designed well.

Yes. You pay for the network, the education is free and optional.

However: I have worked with a handful of Harvard MBA graduates and . . . they were the smartest people I have ever worked with, and I have worked with a lot of people.

The best engineer I ever worked with went to a tiny religious university that didn’t have an official CS Major. There are smart people everywhere. He is also a super cool dude, and TBQH a lot of Harvard grads I’ve worked with have been... hmmm... “less than cool”

If we are doing anecdotes the job I had that was predominantly sourced from Harvard was full of bad employees. I work hard at not trying to extrapolate from that small sample size.

MBAs or just grads?

MBAs. Though to be fair there was nothing about that gig that made sense for a business degree. It was a cs research position. [edited]

The only cool Harvard kids dropped out

The dim ones don't have to work.

Of course.

Or drive.

It's exciting that the national conversation is finally becoming directed at classism.

American society functions on bribery, and anyone that thinks otherwise simply has their eyes closed.

"Contributing" to a congressman is literally giving them money so they make decisions favorable to you. That is identical to me giving a policeman $50 to look the other way.

Unlimited campaign contributions is just newspeak for "legal bribery".

Your "legal bribery" is another's first amendment right to support someone else's candidacy. Or so I was once told.

Of course. In America money is speech, another indicator that the entire society is built around the idea that money can get you what you want.

I personally know some that have paid 100k+ to get into ivy league school

Out of all my classmates that went to really prestigious schools, like 20% were genuinely a cut above the rest. The other 80% just gamed everything, taking easier AP classes to boost GPA, random "resume" building activities, these folks just left a sour impression on me.

The discussion about 'who deserves a spot at a prestigious university x' misses the issue. Acceptance at one of these universities is not based on who is the most intelligent, hardworking, or accomplished. These universities, just like any other institutions, have their own goals and agenda. They accept you not because you deserve it or you have earned it, but because accepting you promotes the kind of ideals that these institutions espouse (e.g. money, but could also be racial diversity). Inferring someone's intelligence based on their university, therefore, is highly unreliable at best.

The question that always occurs to me when these kinds of discussions come up is why there is such a huge disparity between educational institutions in this country in the first place. If schools were funded to meet a certain level of performance, instead of based on who was attending or on past performance - like the military is funded - maybe that would be a step in the right direction.

Couple of reasons.. class sizes, access to cutting edge technology and research and professors. Undergrad is probably more uniform except for some degree requirements etc... at a smaller school you may get more hand holding or at least a concerned advisor. At a bigger school that may be impossible. Not to mention your peer group.

If the goal is to graduate alumni which will donate the largest amounts, then a large donation up-front from a well-connected individual is one such filter which achieves that goal without delay.

I'm sad to say that I know one of these students that had it arranged for them through what might have been this service.

It is sad to think that for every one of these students that got in this way, another deserving applicant got denied.

Is it really surprising that the upper class is isolating itself from the rest, as the gap gets bigger and bigger in time? That happens in all areas of life, school included. The admission system of many universities just makes this very easy.

What does this mean for the future of fake sports that no one watches or cares about that exist purely to help students from a certain class get into prestige schools?

This seems inevitable to me when your university is funded by private money and donations.

Its called a "return on investment". You don't 'donate' millions of dollars, and have a building named after you out of love for education.

You do it for your name, your legacy, and to guarantee spots for your family.

The article isn't about this. It's about literal bribes.

And "Donations" like what I describe aren't bribes?

This is only slightly different classes of bribes. They both are bribes.

> slightly different

This is ridiculous. One benefits lots of students, one benefits just your kid.

The whole plot seems pretty stupid to me. I mean if I am a college admissions official for Yale and I see an application with an essay about what the real story of growing up as William H Macy's kid is - the kid is getting in regardless of how stupid a standardised test makes them appear to be.

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