A great college admissions scandal was discovered when it was revealed that wealthy and influential families were using bribes and faked test scores to get their kids into prestigious schools to which they were not entitled.
Here are five reasons why the college admissions scandal neither surprised nor upset me.
Cheaters rarely prosper
If the kids’ parents had to fake their test scores to get them into college, as they did in this college admissions scandal, are they going to cheat on their exams and write their term papers for them, too? Will they do the work for them after they graduate.
Grit is one of the most important indicators for success in life. A child of parents who would bribe and cheat to get them into college likely has not lived the kind of life that would put obstacles in their way that would teach much needed grit.
College is becoming increasingly irrelevant
From soft skills to financial literacy to basic coding ability, higher education is failing to teach students the vital skills that they will need to be successful in the future. Cheating to get into college in 2019 is like cutting in line for a ride that was just shut down.
Ask 10 college graduates of any age, and 7-9 of them will tell you that they have never used their degree in any meaningful way. Other than specific fields which require particular academic skill such as science and education, most areas of endeavor require far more soft skills, adaptability, and grit than degrees from fancy institutions for success.
While some schools are starting to come around, most are completely failing to teach students the most fundamental skills that they will require in any business. Skills like networking, persuasion, telling fact from fiction online, and understanding the macro trends in our economy are never taught to most students.
We already knew it was happening
If you did not thinking that rich people were using their resources to get their kids into the schools of their choice, then you may be new to this planet. Whether it’s donating money to name a building or legacy admissions or simply hiring the best tutors, test prep people, and writing coaches, rich parents have always used their money to game the system.
If anyone should be particularly aggrieved, it is the families who donated millions to guarantee their kids a spot who are now discovering that other families were able to manipulate the system for orders of magnitude less.
Elite schools don’t deliver the value they promise
I had occasion to give a ride to a Yale student from France recently. She was a senior at an Ivy League university for which she is paying about $50,000 to attend. She said that almost none of her professors showed any great interest in the classes that they were teaching. Overall, she was very disappointed in the quality of her education.
Yale. That’s one of the big ones. On the other hand, if you speak to many community college students and students at local institutions, they have a much more positive experience. Their teachers are there to teach, rather than teaching as a condition of being able to do research. The students are there to learn. The environment is more conducive to productive education.
This does not mean that all upper tier colleges disappoint and all community colleges deliver, but the fact is that entry into an elite institution isn’t a golden ticket.
The “easy way” is harder than you think
When you are born rich, and your parents spoon feed you “success,” what’s next. The bar is set high, the expectations are extraordinary, and you have not been provided with crucial skills that most other kids develop naturally. In one way, the true victims of this college admissions scandal are the students who got in because of it.
They are being sent unprepared into an world in which they cannot succeed. Even if they do, they will know their success will be meaningless, based on lies and cheating. How can they ever have pride in anything they achieve when the foundation is so thoroughly rotten?
Am I outraged about the college admissions scandal? Not really. Certainly not as outraged as I am about the fact that millions of people in our country are carrying six-figures of debt for worthless degrees that they got because college has been oversold to a whole generation. Not as outraged as I am that our entire economy is not creaking under trillions of dollars of student debt. Definitely not as outraged as I am at how many potential brilliant inventors and entrepreneurs have remained trapped in jobs they hate so they can service this worthless debt.
So, yeah, I’m outraged. Just not about this.
Michael Whitehouse coaches entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in all the important skills that their expensive higher education didn’t think important enough to include in the curriculum.