Give a college administrator a few thousand dollars to get your kid in and it’s a bribe. Give a college $2.5 million to get your kid in and it’s business as usual for the super rich. (Hi, Jared.)— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 12, 2019
Thinking about all the black, brown, & low-income students who arrive at college & who are made to feel as if they don't deserve to be there, while so many wealthy students have their parents essentially buy their way into these schools & rarely experience the same skepticism.— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) March 12, 2019
The crux of the college scandal:— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) March 12, 2019
Many rich Americans are no longer content with the generalized rigging of America in their favor.
They want extra, private, bottle-service, bespoke rigging, over and above the unfair advantages they're forced to share with other rich people.
Like Harrison Frist and Al Gore III, thousands of wealthy, well-connected applicants slide into elite colleges each year with little regard to merit or diversity. They benefit instead from what I call the preferences of privilege. Although how-to-get-into college books, college night recruiters, and college administrators ignore or downplay their importance, the preferences of privilege aren’t just pivotal in close calls. They routinely allow an academically weak applicant to leap over a strong one and can represent an admissions boost equivalent to hundreds of SAT points at Ivy League schools and other elite colleges. The children of wealth and influence occupy so many slots that the admissions odds against middle-class and working-class students with outstanding records are even longer than the colleges acknowledge. . . .Even as admission has become increasingly competitive in recent years, premier universities still extend preference to alumni children. Children whose parents have given big money in the past or are likely to pony up upon admission are ushered to the lead of the line. At nearly all top universities, the fund-raising office furnishes admissions with a list of these “development cases,” who are often accepted even if they rank near the bottom of their high school classes or have SAT scores 300-400 points below some rejected applicants. University presidents generally have a right-hand man, from Joel Fleishman at Duke to the late David Zucconi at Brown, whose role, whatever his title, is to gratify key donors and alumni, including facilitating the admission of their children.
My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision. “There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said in an email . . . that “the allegation” that Charles Kushner’s gift to Harvard was related to Jared’s admission “is and always has been false.”