The college admissions scandal shows how US meritocracy is a sham
We already knew that elite higher education in the US skews rich. Most Ivy League colleges admit more students from families in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution than from the bottom 60 per cent. The American college system, for all its international lustre, is a machine for reproducing inequality. This week we were told that wealthy Americans, neurotic about getting their children into a top-drawer college, have turned to crime.
The Massachusetts US attorney and the FBI indicted 50 people for allegedly participating in a $25m cash-for-college scandal, involving bribes for athletic coaches, faked test scores, and doctored résumés. The children of the accused parents were presented as nationally ranked athletes in tennis (Georgetown), pole-vaulting and rowing (University of Southern California), women’s soccer (Yale), and sailing (Stanford); but these “sailors” didn’t know a tiller from a toolbox. In some cases, photographs of athletes were Photoshopped to look like the applicants.