by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
All this money, celebrity power, and effort has drawn a lot of sudden scrutiny, but it raises the question: What do these parents think they are buying for their children?
As a professor, I like to think they are buying an education. We promise that if you give us four years, we’ll expose you to ideas and ways of thinking that will enrich the rest of your life.
Yet in these cases, that seems a stretch. Families with generational wealth and influential connections are virtually guaranteed that their children will have the success others have to work for.
Even families who play entirely by the rules of the college admissions game are looking for prestige that money supposedly can’t buy. An education might be nice, but they want a credential, a line in a bio that enhances their children’s capacity to accomplish something on their own. This despite the irony of needing their parents’ help. …
… It’s ironic as well in the Loughlin/Huffman scandal, and in the countless undiscovered instances of parents cutting corners on behalf of their children, because cheating undermines the very prestige these parents are trying to buy. The University of Southern California and Georgetown, two schools at the heart of the scandal, have taken criticism for what many see as academic corruption. And Kushner’s high-profile Harvard entrance calls into question the academic prestige of a degree even from there.