Desperate Mothers

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

"Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin among dozens charged in alleged college cheating scam."

UPDATE: The actors, of course, got more public attention than the other defendants, though on reflection I regret giving into that (despite the post title that it gave me); CNBC has the list, which includes, among others, "Gamal 'Aziz' Abdelaziz, 62, of Las Vegas, former president and executive director of Wynn Macau resort" and "Gordon Caplan, 52, of Greenwich, Conn., co-chairman of an international law firm Wilkie Farr."

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107 responses to “Desperate Mothers

  1. Full Big House

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    2. Sorry, rich, elite, celebrity mothers don’t go to prison. A few more greenbacks in all the right places and they walk.

  2. Why is either case (cheating on college entrance exams, or hiring “coaches” to get “athletes” admitted, a matter of criminal law?

    Send little Bobby and little Susie to mid-tier state university, and let them flunk out on their own schedule.

    1. If you look at the actual allegations, they’re a bit more extreme that you imply. This wasn’t just sneaking in a crib sheet or writing the answers on your arm. Actually taking a test on behalf of someone else would be fraud pretty much everywhere. And paying someone else to commit fraud for you is criminal.

      I agree that little Bobby and Susie are probably innocent – or at least, largely ineligible for criminal prosecution. I think there is no defense for the adults who created these companies with the deliberate intent of selling fraud services. I have mixed opinions about the viability of attempting to prosecute the adult parents who bought those services.

      1. ” Actually taking a test on behalf of someone else would be fraud pretty much everywhere”

        It’s academic fraud. Colleges know how to handle academic fraud, and it isn’t by calling in the cops.

        The elements of fraud:
        a false representation of fact. an element of fraud.
        knowledge of the falsity by party making false representation. an element of fraud.
        intent to deceive the party by making false representation. an element of fraud.
        reasonable reliance by the innocent party. an element of fraud.
        actual loss suffered by the innocent party.

        I see 4 of the 5 in this case.

        1. Since it touches not just on academic performance but also on academic entrance and therefore to possible federal grant applications, it’s a bit more than just academic fraud.

          Interesting point about whether the universities can satisfy the element of actual loss, though. I know they have argued that in other cases of fraud during entrance applications. I do not know if they won or even how they defended those arguments.

          1. I know someone who went to federal prison for mail fraud, based on misreporting income for grants and federal student aid that the person’s kids obtained.

            1. “I know someone who went to federal prison for mail fraud, based on misreporting income for grants and federal student aid that the person’s kids obtained.”

              When there’s actual money that was fraudulently obtained, then element five is met. When what was obtained is the hypothetical money that (eventually) becoming a graduate of a competitive-entry college delivers, that element is a LOT harder to prove.

              The person with standing is the guy at the top of the “not admitted” list, and even he’s lacking standing if the plan fails, and the cheater didn’t get admitted in the first place.

              1. More likely the person with standing would be a female athlete at the top of the “not admitted” list.

                1. I would think the university would have standing on the basis that they have reasons to want the best students and the best athletes and the fraud reduced their ability to do so.

          2. “Since it touches not just on academic performance but also on academic entrance and therefore to possible federal grant applications,”

            The people who are named are JUST a bit over the income limits for federal grants.

            It’s academic fraud, which is covered by the school’s honor code (or whatever the school chooses to call it). The penalties for academic fraud include expulsion from the university and ineligibility to enroll.

            Cheating on exams is the least like criminal fraud. Fuding data in published research is far more serious, and plagiarism is far more common.

        2. Some of the activity was directed at admissions to state schools. Maybe that could trigger criminal prosecution for misuse of state resources or something in that vein. Or just fraud against the state.

        3. There a similarly bizarre case right now involving NCAA(!) violations. IIRC, the FBI wiretaped conversations between college coaches and shoe companies to funnel money to player’s families. It’s purportedly a fraud case, but trying to exactly define who did the defrauding is hard.

          1. That case isn’t hard. The players and the payers conspired to defraud the NCAA and it’s member schools, which have agreed to rules for intercollegiate games, which rules included “no payments to players for playing sports” (paraphrased, obviously)

            1. The players weren’t charged.

              1. Unindicted co-conspirators.

            2. And, it’s not obvious anything was misrepresented to the school. That is, the school initiated / participated in the fraud.

              1. Let’s assume you’re correct, and Baskeball State University was in on the deal. The other team(s) weren’t in on the deal.

            3. If A and B agree to a rule, and C violates it, how is C defrauding A or B?

              1. Wrong framing, David.

                If A and B and C all agree to a rule, and then C unilaterally decides not to be bound by that rule, they are defrauding A and B when they continue to act as if they’re adhering to the rule.

                If a university wants to pay recruits, they can… if they withdraw from the NCAA first. Paying them under the table is fraud against all the teams that don’t cheat.

                1. (1) That’s not actually what defrauding means.
                  (2) No, it was the right framing. It wasn’t just universities being charged. Agents and sneaker executives, none of whom are members of the NCAA, were also charged.

        4. But they aren’t being sued common law fraud, which is what you describe. They are being charged with mail fraud, and the elements for that are laid out by statute:

          1. Intent,
          2. A “scheme or artifice to defraud” or the obtaining of property by fraud; and,
          3. A mail or wire communication.

          The described scheme seems to satisfy all of those elements, assuming that either a letter of admission or an actual college degree counts as “property.”

          Fraud as a tort, which you describe, requires a showing of loss to prove standing. When the government is charging someone with a crime, they don’t need to make that same showing.

          1. “The described scheme seems to satisfy all of those elements, assuming that either a letter of admission or an actual college degree counts as “property.””

            Sure, assuming that all the elements are met leads to the conclusion that all the elements are met.

            The problem again is, all the elements but one are clearly met.

            “Fraud as a tort, which you describe, requires a showing of loss to prove standing. When the government is charging someone with a crime, they don’t need to make that same showing.”

            It’s literally the element you’re “assuming” away.

        5. All five elements are there when you take into account that most college is partially subsidized either by the state or by an endowment, or both. The people being defrauded are those responsible for managing the endowment or state resources. Their responsibility is to use those resources to “buy” high academic or athletic performers.

          This cheating scandal is similar to someone scamming charitable foundations by claiming to be a cancer patient or wounded veteran.

          1. Unless you remember that you have to prove that something of value was taken from someone who “should” have had it, and given to someone who “shouldn’t”.
            So, to prove this element, you’re going to have to establish that none of the kids involved would have possibly been admitted without the cheating. Good luck with that.

            Treating it like academic fraud creates the appropriate result, and costs the taxpayer approximately nothing. So I’m sticking with that response.

            1. I believe you’re looking at it wrong. The thing of value isn’t the admission decision and the victim is not other would-be students.

              The thing of value would be instruction that was subsidized by an endowment or a state, and possibly other tangible things like scholarships, health-care and counseling services, etc. The victim is the university. The things of value were obtained from the university through fraud.

              “So, to prove this element, you’re going to have to establish that none of the kids involved would have possibly been admitted without the cheating.”

              When someone lies on a loan application, I don’t believe the prosecutors need to prove that not one person ever got a loan with a similar income and assets. The bank’s testimony that they relied on the false information to grant the loan is probably enough to get a conviction.

              1. “The thing of value would be instruction that was subsidized by an endowment or a state, and possibly other tangible things like scholarships, health-care and counseling services, etc.”

                Right. And if the kid could have gotten in without cheating, then none of those things were taken from anyone, and taking a thing of value is one of the elements of fraud. The prosecutor has to prove all the elements of fraud to get a conviction, therefore the prosecutor has to prove that the kids at issue in this case could not have gotten in on their own.

                ” The bank’s testimony that they relied on the false information to grant the loan is probably enough to get a conviction.”

                Because if it wasn’t, a smart prosecution would have taken a plea bargain, or dropped the case. (When you consider the conviction rate in American courts, you can assume it’s high because things are heavily biased against defendants, or you can assume it’s high because prosecutors dump loser cases long before they turn into acquittals.)

                1. Oh, I think the prosecutor will have a pretty easy time of it…

                  “So, it says here you originally got an 800 on your SAT the first time. Then via your fraudulent scam, you got a 1400 on your SAT the second time. How many kids with 800 SAT scores get into this particular college? None, you say, without any unique situation that you don’t have?”

                  1. “I think the prosecutor will have a pretty easy time of it…”

                    Are you forgetting that the defense gets a turn, too? (they would have objected to the question you framed and wouldn’t have let Bobby answer it.)

                    GW Bush got into Harvard and Yale. You think he was rocking 2400 SATs?

        6. Quote: “Colleges know how to handle academic fraud, and it isn’t by calling in the cops. ”
          No it is by demanding large contributions, under the table. The real fraud that will get prosecuted is the tax write offs. Tax fraud actually carries a penalty. Yet don’t be surprised that the penalty will only be a fine, and at the most a suspended sentence. No one is going to prison over this fraud. Money will buy privilege once again.

          1. “No it is by demanding large contributions, under the table.”

            No, it is by giving a failing grade for the course, or kicking the offender out of school.

            1. Sure, and I believe that, and in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. You must live in a perfect world. to bad the rest of us don’t. I am talking about what is, you are talking about what is, you are talking about what should be, but what should be won’t happen.

      2. Little Bobby and Susie were very likely 18 when they matriculated, accepting the fruits of fraudulent behaviors they might have actuallly participated in, such as submitting test results they knew they didn’t produce on their own.
        So yes, they too are criminal.

        1. “So yes, they too are criminal.”

          Look upthread for the guy who assumes his conclusion and then proceeds accordingly; you’re doing it too.

    2. “hiring “coaches” to get “athletes” admitted”

      That’s funny, how you morph “bribe” into “hire.” Bribery is against the law in the US in virtually all cases, public and private, where there is corrupt intent.

      The test taking or changing of text scores by proctors and administrators is fraud.

      Pretty simple, I think.

      1. “That’s funny, how you morph ‘bribe’ into ‘hire.’

        That’s you doing that. The actual allegation doesn’t involve bribery of the hired “coaches”.

        1. “The actual allegation doesn’t involve bribery of the hired “coaches”.”

          Paying a coach to claim that applicants are athletes when they’re actually not? How is that not bribery?

          1. Everybody’s an athlete. Some are better than others in particular sporting endeavors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

            1. Hopefully your tongue was planted firmly in cheek when you wrote that.

        2. Yes, it does. Here’s the fist paragraph form the NPR story:

          “Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged along with nearly 50 other people Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said.”

          Since when can the parent of a prospective student “hire” a coach?

          How and why you just make stuff up is beyond me.

          1. “Since when can the parent of a prospective student “hire” a coach?”

            Um… since at least before I was born? They can hire tutors, too (shocking for you, I’m sure).

            Why on earth would you (or anyone) think that parents CAN’T hire coaches?

            A demonstration: I want to get my kid OUT of college. I’ll give you a buck if you teach her how to be stupid.
            Now, if you take me up on the offer, I’ll have hired a coach.

    3. I was wondering myself how this became literally a federal case. Abusing a 501c3 non-profit and cheating on your taxes declaring what was a bribe to be a charitable deduction, yeah, certainly a federal case. But, just cheating on tests and lying to gain admission to a university? Seems like that is stretching RICO and similar laws. Wouldn’t surprise me if this ends with the COA or even the SC doing the dirty work finding that a large bulk of these charges are not violations of federal law.

      1. It’s not RICO. It’s mail and wire fraud.

        1. If it IS mail and wire fraud.

    4. It’s called “Mail Fraud” and “Wire Fraud”.

      If you look at the criminal complaint, it’s pretty clear.

  3. And fathers, including ? allegedly? Wilkie Farr chairman Gordon Caplan. I hate linking to ATL, but the transcript’s of his conversations with a government informant are crazy: https://tinyurl.com/y67j8gg9

  4. We all want good things for our children and are willing to sacrifice to help them. But shoving them into a high status college where they will fail, is not going to do that.

    It is also one more confirmation that college sports are a swamp that need to be drained. The “scholarships” and prefered admissions for sports need to be stopped. Put all that money to work actually lowering the cost of education for all and the world will be a better place.

    1. “lowering the cost of education”

      That is of no interest at all to college administrators.

      At the top D1 schools, football and alumni pay for all the sports. No sports, no alumni contributions so nothing for “lowering the cost of education”

      1. “That is of no interest at all to college administrators.”

        More significantly, it’s just incorrect. Students get free tuition because the school makes money from their labor. They’re underpaid, not overpaid.

        “At the top D1 schools, football and alumni pay for all the sports.”

        How did you overlook basketball, in particular, at this exact time of the year? (There are a few sports at a few institutions that are profitable… women’s basketball at UConn and Stanford, soccer at the University of Portland, baseball at Oregon State University, track and field at University of Oregon.)

        1. Basketball revenues are not in the same league as football but yes, there are a few colleges where basketball supports other sports.

          1. There’s also quite a few where football doesn’t cover it’s own expenses.

          2. I used to get very angry about how much money the Athletic Director and Football Coach at my alma mater made. I went to Ohio State. Then I realized that the athletic director was managing a 200 million dollar operation, and the football (and basketball) programs fund the entire dang athletic department and every other sport.

            I grew up a little.

            1. I went to a different OSU. The football team endured 30 consecutive losing seasons. And the football coach was still one of the 5 highest-paid public employees in the state.

              1. I’ll bet your coach was the #2 highest paid behind U of O head football coach.

    2. ” shoving them into a high status college where they will fail, is not going to do that.”

      The hard part is getting in, not staying in. Poor (meaning bad, not lacking wealth) students get a “gentlemen’s C”, as long as they can afford to keep paying the tuition.

  5. “There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy…” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

    Geez, the socialists are really infesting the government these days. Of course fraud is bad and should be prosecuted, but at least as far as private education is concerned, there is certainly nothing wrong with the wealthy buying better education.

    1. 12,
      That’s a pretty uncharitable reading of what Lelling said. Isn’t it more likely that he meant, “There can’t be a separate system for the rich, where people use their money to cheat and unfairly game the system.”

      I know that there is a sizeable group of people who think that it’s unfair for the rich to pay for SAT prep courses, etc. That is a different debate…I’m all for allowing rich people to give their kids every (legal!!!) opportunity they can. But that is not the issue here. It’s out-and-out cheating. And my read is that it is *that* issue that Lelling was talking about.

      1. Then why didn’t he say that? Why make it about wealth at all, when it’s about fraud?

        1. 500,000 to USC might not be enough but if it was $5 million, I guarantee Laughlin’s daughters would have been admitted. No indictments either.

          [Nothing wrong with it either, USC is a private school.]

          So Lelling is wrong.

          1. And Lelling also said “We’re not talking about donating a building..” so he acknowledges that he is just puffing smoke.

          2. According to one source it costs $70,000 for a year at USC. The tuition alone is over $50,000. So I doubt $500,000 would be enough.

            1. I thought the going rate for ‘deans preferred list’ candidates was a donation of ~4 years tuition… in addition to the actual payment of the MSRP tuition, of course.

        2. From the set of defendants, and from the bribes alleged, it looks like it took wealthy people to pay for this kinda fraud.

    2. [Ned Beatty] I don’t think you appreciate how large of a check it was. [/Ned Beatty]

      1. That’s right, Dean Martin.

    3. at least as far as private education is concerned, there is certainly nothing wrong with the wealthy buying better education.

      Except considering what a ‘better education’ actually buys (hint: not education), there is something wrong. Maybe not something we can regulate, but the rich buying opportunities for their kids should be minimized if we want to keep even the illusion of a meritocracy.

      1. ” the rich buying opportunities for their kids should be minimized if we want to keep even the illusion of a meritocracy.”

        The reason you’re not getting traction is that a substantial portion of the population believes that being wealthy is meritorious.

        1. Which is why people are comfortable calling people like the Trumps and Kardashians “self-made”.

        2. But these days they seem ashamed to say it. Progress!

      2. “Except considering what a ‘better education’ actually buys (hint: not education), ”

        Then I guess we should stop making these institutional eligible for federal grants and tax breaks, eh?

        ” the rich buying opportunities for their kids should be minimized if we want to keep even the illusion of a meritocracy.”

        This depends on what sort of opportunities we’re talking about, but of course if someone has the ability to buy their kids access to resources that improve their abilities in math, communications, understanding of different cultures, etc. then the kid still has real advantages over kids that don’t, even if you don’t think that that’s fair.

        Also, there’s a paradox around the notion of meritocracy. If the meritorious (however you define that) get more stuff than the less meritorious, what happens when they choose to give some of that stuff away?

  6. Why punish them? They’re just shining a light on what university truly is. They’re just overpriced finishing schools. The true exchange in value for the student is the social connections the school provides while the school gets to inculcate societal values (currently rabid leftwing social justice dogma) and make the student into a working cog of this system. In a social circle should it be more important that Susie’s family wined and dined with yours for generations or that she got 1400/1600 on her SATs?

    The window dressing of objective knowledge and classes and the like varies insignificantly from ivy league to community college and you can easily learn just as well watching Magic School Bus.

    1. Why punish them? Because they conspired to commit fraud.

      1. The true fraud is mainstream universities pretending that they’re seekers of truth and a necessary gateway to useful profitable skills rather than a social network and indoctrination center.

        1. Considering that mainstream universities aren’t at issue in this case, you mostly sound like “sour grapes! Sour grapes!”

          1. There was an occupy guy being arrested for pooping on a bank. As he was being lead away, he changed ‘the banks pooped on us! The banks pooped on us.’

            I’m reminded of that story.

        2. Education-disdaining right-wing malcontents are among my favorite disaffected faux libertarians.

          1. We don’t disdain education. We disdain liberal “education” which purports to “teach” that global warming is due to human activity, that there is no connection between race and intelligence, and that it’s “normal” and “healthy” to want to stick one’s penis into another man’s butt.

          2. “Education-disdaining right-wing malcontents are among my favorite disaffected faux libertarians.”

            That’s no way to talk about Sarcastro!

  7. Actually, what is really interesting about the list is that it is all essentially east and west coast, California on the west and NY/Conn/Mass on the east. Basically, other than a couple of people in Vegas, nothing outside of the coasts. Anyone wanna take the other side of the bet that they all vote D?

    1. Look them up on opensecrets.com. Of the 24 I found that contributed and had a reasonably distinctive name, 16 contributed solely to Democrats and 4 contributed mostly to Democrats, while 3 contributed solely to Republicans and 1 contributed mostly to Republicans.

      1. But the Dems and libs are the party of the poor and nonelitism and also the party of science and reason doncha know?

        1. I guess things have changed since Reagan did all that whining about liberal elites. Was it when the R’s elected a Yalie?

    2. You think this proves something about D’s and R’s?

      Come on.

      1. Republicans prefer to send their children to the likes of Biola, Wheaton, Liberty, Hillsdale, and Ouachita Baptist, which tend not to find their way onto lists of selective schools. No need to bribe anyone to get into a fourth-tier school.

  8. I’ve long wondered why parents with the wherewithal just don’t bribe members of the admissions committee. Those individuals are relatively anonymous and my impression is that the members of the admissions committee at Amherst or Georgetown or Dartmouth aren’t exactly raking in the big bucks. Why not approach one or two and offer them say, $50K to move the kid up the admissions ladder. They could even doctor the package that the committee considers to make the kids credentials more attractive. It seems to be a more direct approach. For all I know, it already happens.

    A more direct approach: why don’t the elite universities sell off some…say 5%… of their admissions slots….perhaps $500K buys an admission. Be above-board about it. There are plenty of parents who would pay the money, and the money could fund five scholarships for the needy but deserving applicants.

    1. The question of who “deserves” to get into a competitive-entry school is challenging. For example, if student A took all easy classes and pulled a 4.0, and student B took way more difficult classes and pulled a 3.9, which is better? What about the kid who got a 4.0 because the school district isn’t very good and doesn’t even HAVE difficult classes? Do you give preference for legacy applications, because they’re following mom or dad’s footprints, or do you discount legacies, because maybe someone else should get a chance?

      Whatever system you choose will produce people unhappy with the choice, because they (or their kids) didn’t get in. A couple of centuries ago, the Chinese solved the problem by having EXTENSIVE standardized testing, that required more than a few weekend classes before junior year to pass. This, of course, offends people who do not like for their lives to be determined by a bureaucracy.

  9. Affirmative action for thee, but not for me?

  10. I would throw the book at these people. I would look at defrauding the federal government if they filled out financial aid forms. In establishing restitution quantities, i would also consider, at full value, the lifetime value of the people they attempted to displace, the goodwill value of the schools’ reputations, and other factors. I wouldn’t be unhappy with a decades-long sentence and a restitution bill that takes all their assets.

    I would definitely go after the parents. And I would not only go after the children if I had evidence of complicity, I would look for it, and carefully. If much younger poor children can be tried as adults for selling small amounts of marijuana or shoplifting, these rich high school senors can be tried as adults too.

    I would take away these people’s parental rights. Their children are better off being wards of the state than being associated with them. If poor people can have their rights stripped for spanking their children too hard, rich people can have them for pulling something like this.

    If I were denied admission to the schools for the year I would sue these parents, and the schools too, and try to get any money that doesn’t go into the criminal sentence. I wouldn’t let the schools get away with disclaiming responsibility either.

    The fact that many commentators here aren’t taking this seriously speaks volumes about why the have-nots are so angry at the haves. No wonder people are mad as hell.

  11. Also, if they talked with people about this from their houses, if they used their cars to drive, if they used a bank account, I would seize the houses, cars, and bank accounts. This is criminal asset forfeiture. The concerns about civil asset forfeiture aren’t relevant.

    You have to take off the kid gloves. You have to treat the rich like serious criminals when they commit serious crimes. Otherwise you can’t claim to be a government, you’re just a mafia protecting the rich and extorting the poor, that happens to do its work through legalistic-seeming ceremonies.

  12. Were the college officials charged with anything, or just the parents?

    Do the charges – if true – have an actual legal basis? I ask because I’m not simply going to trust the prosecutors on this issue.

    1. Oh, I see, honest services fraud, well, that’s OK then.

    2. Maybe you could read some news accounts of this. It’s all pretty clear. Start with the WBUR article.

      1. Yeah, I got it. Honest services fraud. The unobjectionable legal theory which doesn’t in any way provide showboating federal officials with a way to handle issues better handled on the state level.

        1. The scheme involves parents who live in one state using consultants who live in a second state to bribe university officials in a third state and a testing company based in a fourth state, to deprive someone living in a fifth state of an education, using mails and wires (aka the Internet) to do it. How isn’t this classic interstate commerce even by a very narrow, traditional definition?

          Moreover there’s a lot of federal education money involved, to the schools, students through financial aid and loan guarantees, etc. This is bribery and fraud to obtain federal money these people aren’t entitled to.

          This isn’t like growing a potted plant in your own house. In addition to meeting the formal definition of federal jurisdiction even by pre-Wickard v. Filburn standands, these crimes have real national impact. They have real victims, who live in different states from the perpetrators.

          1. Also, this isn’t honest services fraud. Claiming you’re a team captain at a sport you didn’t play, getting a doctor to fake a disability, having stooges take your SATs for you, that’s all old-fashioned, traditional fraud.

            And bribing the coaches is old-fashioned, traditional bribery.

            These are all crimes of a sort that people – at least people who can’t afford high-priced lawyers paid to convince people otherwise – can easily understand are crimes.

            1. Hmmm…I focused on the actors in the first of the linked article, but I see that the other article mentions other charges.

              “Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on “Full House,” is facing the same felony charge — conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud….

              “Huffman, an Academy Award nominee, has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court paperwork filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts. She was arrested without incident at her home, the FBI said.”

  13. Thornton Mellon could not be reached for comment.
    (I saw the Dean Martin comment: H/T to you)

  14. What I find funny is that in 2019 with higher education imploding and the value of a degree from an “elite” institution at an all time low is that the upper classes still care so much about educational pedigree. I get that it mattered more say 20 years ago, but today, do most companies care if you have a degree from Harvard, Stanford, etc.? I know some firms pride themselves on only taking associates from top schools but your average faceless huge corporation could care less. Frankly I have talked to hiring managers that will pass on Harvard, Yale, etc. saying that those candidates will demand too much money either because they have an inflated sense of self worth or they need a higher income to service student loan debt. I think his words were “it doesn’t take a degree from Yale to put together a powerpoint about the new benefits package”.

    1. The value proposition is largely in the contacts you make with other people who are scions of wealthy and powerful families.

      1. I did have one parent tell me her son needed to go to Harvard and join certain social groups because it was “networking for life” in that he would make friends for his lifetime by doing so. From that perspective I get it. The elites work in a small sub-community of society in much different ways then say Joe Schmoe at Public U. would ever realize. But, you would also think the elites would carve out their institutions to be more self-selecting instead of relying upon say the Ivy League to do it for them. That is something that I never really understood.

        1. Unfortunately for the woman and her son it doesn’t work that way. The super-rich and connected go to the elite schools because of family tradition etc., but that’s just the first tier of the segregation process. At Princeton, for instance, there is Ivy Club where all the really rich end up, and they keep to themselves. So her not so rich and unconnected son has basically zero chance of “networking for life” just by getting into Harvard or whatever.

          1. Nah. It’s harder to get into the right circles unless you have sufficient wealth to command attention, but the people who have wealth but not ability need SOMEONE to actually take care of things, and will consider people who have the ability to demonstrate an ability to get into a highly selective school. Somebody with equal ability but no contacts is more likely to get left out in the cold… so they wind up working for somebody who hires based on ability rather than by connections. Government, and public corporations, and educational institutions (although these aren’t immune to selection by top-school-credentials… look at where the law profs when to school, and federal judges.)

            1. You get your ticket punched by virtue of going to an elite school and that can get you better job/further education opportunities. But you won’t get “networking for life” with the rich and powerful.

              1. ” that can get you better job/further education opportunities. But you won’t get “networking for life””

                The networking is how you get the better job/ further opportunities.

  15. When the story showed up on Google News, there were headlines from six sources. Five of them named the two actors in the headline.

  16. The Above the Law story that someone here linked to mentioned, but did not emphasize, a much more common form of fraud–students claiming a bogus learning disability in order to be allowed more time on tests. Years ago I decided to try to design my tests so that most students finished early, partly in order not to support a form of legalized cheating that I had no other way of dealing with.

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