The real scandal

By Tim Donaldson

The real scandal is, or at least ought to be, that grade inflation and credentialing are alive and well in our world. A thinking observer should say “OK, so Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin could buy their kids into Stanford or Harvard, but how could unqualified kids survive there?” Sadly, admission IS the game when it comes to top schools. The rest is, in two words from Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, “grade inflation.” For decades the top schools give students grades they don’t earn so as to guarantee their path on. Bork went so far as to give students their earned grade and the higher grade the administration pushed him to give. College is, every aspiring young person is told, a “passport to privilege.” A great education can be had there and many students at top schools do get their money’s worth, but it doesn’t have to be hard. If you avoid the hard sciences, engineering, math, and the like, it is largely an exercise in regurgitating liberal fluff.

Gordon Gecko, in Wall Street, famously said greed is good, but pay more attention to his rant about how Harvard MBAs are “dog shit”, and he would take a hungry city college kid any day of the week. I personally attended seven different institutions of higher education on my path to three degrees, and the differences in ranking and esteem amongst them did not have anything to do with the quality of education to had. You can get an excellent education at Harvard. You can also get an excellent education at Weber State. Your peers might typically be more serious at Westminster College than at Sacramento City College, but not necessarily. At a highly competitive law school, the parking pass was $2,000 a year and I sat next to a kid the first day who introduced himself with “the third” at the end of his name. At a lower level night law school (where I transferred out of personal financial necessity) I sat next to a man who by day was a police officer. Same textbooks, same professors, same difficulty, same bar exam at the end.

Private schools on the east coast are infamous for hefty donations and tuition required for kindergarteners and other absurdities. People in Washington tell me large donations are made to colleges just to help your child’s chances, no guarantees. The “Jewish quotas” of a century ago are met by “Asian quotas” of today- see the Supreme Court cases about how California schools are factoring in “personality” and systematically rating Asians low in that category. “Legacy” admissions for students whose parents and grandparents are alumni are alive and well. Many Ivies have touted that all students from families with a household income under $100,000 will attend tuition-free, which is not that impressive given that they do not admit many of those.

It doesn’t matter that much. America is a country of B students who drop out and start companies. The world is run by the B students, who pay the A students well and the C students poorly. There are commuter schools where young adults go before or after work, and schools where rich kids fornicate in the dorms all day. They are all colleges. At the end of the day, you can’t let college interfere with your education.

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