Totally unqualified students were admitted to our most intellectually rigorous universities based on bribes…

… yet none of the unqualified admittees had any difficulty in doing the required coursework or graduating, perhaps with honors.

“College bribery scandal: students sue elite schools in class action” (Guardian) says that second-rate students went to Yale and Stanford, for example, but there is no mention of them encountering any struggles with the academics.


20 thoughts on “Totally unqualified students were admitted to our most intellectually rigorous universities based on bribes…

  1. It does have the tendency to lead someone to think that the most important thing is getting through the admissions process so that everything else can be accomplished one way or the other. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that was true. Wealthy people are generally not most intelligent than others, they just have had circumstances that were especially advantageous and took a great interest in them.

  2. Hey Philip, What’s the evidence that “yet none of the unqualified admittees had any difficulty in doing the required coursework or graduating, perhaps with honors”? “… but there is no mention of them encountering any struggles with the academics.” is that evidence? Why would the Guardian have access to those student’s academic records?

  3. I went for my first college interview at Carnegie Mellon and drove for hours and hours thinking it would be a cakewalk, and then found my way to the Admissions office through cobblestones but I was informed (and agreed, and did feel a bit crestfallen) that I wasn’t a good fit for the school. Horrible! My heart almost stopped! But I didn’t die.

    The interviewer who questioned me (and vice versa) wasn’t unpleasant but he was very direct and after a few subtle back and forth suchlike stuff, he told me in no uncertain terms (he was correct): I didn’t know why precisely I was there, and he wanted to hear from people who knew why they were there and could articulate that precisely.

    I didn’t have much else to respectfully say. It was awkward for a few seconds. I thanked him for his time and that that was fine. Tough shit, but fine. I understood his meaning and he was right even though I felt as though I’d been punched in the stomach afterward, his was the better judgment.

    We need more people in this country like the guy who interviewed me at Carnegie Mellon. He wasn’t afraid to tell me I wasn’t what he was looking for, and it sucked to hear that, but it was OK. That was his job.

    I’d much rather people have to go through what I went through to find out they’re not a very good fit for the school than pretend they’re something special.

  4. If they can afford admission, they can afford good grades. Can you imagine telling you kid, “Hey, you are not smart enough to get along on your own, so I will buy your way in.” I would never do that to a kid.

  5. It’s very difficult to flunk out of an American university once you’ve been accepted now, and that goes all the way to the top, believe you me.

    • It’s common in the software industry to interview a person with a degree AND previous jobs and still watch them fail to answer sub-entry-level coding problems or basic knowledge questions. So at least for software engineering: yes, people regularly graduate without sufficient learning.

      I got the impression from my physical engineering friends in school that the (non-school) licensing PE exam was more feared than the tests in their classes, so I’d conjecture that there’s some room for the physical engineering majors to be unqualified as well.

      But if you’re rich enough to buy your way in, why would you go into engineering?

  6. Here’s a report that one of the students in question was perhaps not the most dedicated of scholars:
    ‘Giannulli took criticism last year for a vlog in which she said she didn’t “really care about school,” and was interested in attending college only for “game days, partying.”‘

    “Loughlin and her spouse are accused of agreeing to pay $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters designated as recruits for the USC crew team — though neither child had participated in the sport.

    Reports said earlier this week that Olivia Jade, a popular beauty and lifestyle YouTuber, was spending spring break in the Bahamas on a yacht belonging to USC Board of Trustees chairman Rick Caruso when her parents were accused of involvement in the college admissions scheme.”

  7. Remember this story from 14 years ago?

    ”Wal-Mart heiress Elizabeth Paige Laurie, accused of paying a fellow college student $20,000 to do her homework, has returned her USC degree, officials said.
    ”…Laurie’s freshman-year roommate, Elena Martinez, told the ABC newsmagazine “20/20″ that she had written term papers and done assignments for the heiress for 3 1/2 years.”

    1) Elizabeth’s parents had previously paid $25,000,000 to put her name on a sports arena at the same school.
    2) Martinez, who did the work for Elizabeth’s degree, never got a degree of her own. Martinez had to drop out because she couldn’t afford tuition.

    • Thanks, Paul. I hadn’t heard about that at the time. What a scam. The university pockets the $25 million and then gets to sell the naming rights for the sports arena to some other rich family or company.

  8. Every college in the country has been “recruiting female athletes” to fill Title IX requirements for at least 20 years. They are in trouble with so many male scholarships versus few female scholarships. Back when my daughter was recruited for rowing crew. She was a good athlete but not those sports. Several colleges ask her to meet the crew coach to see if she could fill a Title IX need. It was strange how they were trying to get women into the various programs.

    And USC was one of those schools. Conditions at USC (University of Spoiled Children) were unusual. The USC freshman dorm was a former Hyatt suite hotels. Two kids per suite and bathroom and living room. Talk about pampered……

  9. “none of the unqualified admittees had any difficulty in doing the required coursework or graduating, perhaps with honors.”

    Wasn’t there an episode a few years ago where massive numbers of strivers had been cheating on some Harvard course? I assume they as a punishment had to take an extra class on how Harvard actually works. “Put down your laptops and recording devices and go sign up for the social activities. Don’t worry about it, you will get an A.”

  10. @Tom indeed:

    And then there’s the plucky kid from rural Delaware, so-called Harvard faker, who was indicted for stealing $10,000s in needs-based scholarship aid, after submitting bogus transfer application. He claimed to have gotten straight A’s at MIT freshman year, had falsified SATs/AP College Board test scores, etc.. Never mind that MIT is Pass/Fail freshman year (although an aerospace engineering MIT ’84 alumnus told me that a transcript with letter grades was available if one asked). Wheeler never attended MIT. My son was in an English class with him, and noted that Wheeler spoke in circles nonsensically. His handsome looks made him popular with the co-eds (my son knew women who’d gone out with him). Plagarism got him through the humanities coursework until he was expelled, around the time Wheeler was in running to head to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.

  11. Maybe there is Nobel Prize level work that was done for money by a third party. I recall anecdotes that back in USSR some PhDs that became unemployable due to their desire to leave USSR were writing PhD thesis for crony Soviet functionaries and other thieves, and financially those PhDs were better off than when they toiled in military laboratories or worked in colleges.

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