Jack Hough explains for Barron’s why the recent college admissions bribery scandal bothers him less than other stories linked to higher education.

My personal outrage meter ought to be registering an eight out of 10 over this case, but it’s stuck at 4.5. The problem is I recently uncovered some other scandalous college facts as part of a sweeping investigation using Google for nearly an hour. Among them:

  • New York University charges $6,500 for Calculus I. That’s tuition and fees, not books, residence, and a Vespa scooter. The rules of calculus were laid down more than 300 years ago by two guys in wigs. You can learn everything for free on YouTube. So where does all this pricing power come from? Hold that thought.

It’s not just math, and it’s not just NYU. The sticker price for the average private four-year college is now over $50,000 a year, including room and board. Do you know what else $200,000 in cash can buy a 22-year-old? A $3 million retirement, if the money is invested at about a 6% year return until age 68.

  • Stanford University let in 4.3% of applicants last year. It ranks among the top U.S. schools. The number of applicants has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but yearly enrollment has barely budged.

That’s remarkable, because those 30 years have witnessed the birth of the web, which has enabled all sorts of once-tiny enterprises, especially right down the road from Stanford in Silicon Valley, to connect with vast numbers of users. …

  • … The financial payoff of a college degree is looking shaky. I know: The average college graduate earns significantly more than the average nongraduate. But that income premium has dropped for students born in the 1980s, and even more important, the wealth premium for those students has fallen off a cliff, according to a recently published study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.