Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Affirmative Action for the Rich and Powerful

3/25/19 Guardian prints an anonymous article:
What happens after rich kids bribe their way into college? I teach them
A professor at an elite US school says an influx of unskilled and entitled students is monopolizing faculty time: ‘They will eat you alive’
If you think corruption in elite US college admissions is bad, what happens once those students are in the classroom is even worse.
I know, because I teach at an elite American university – one of the oldest and best-known, which rejects about 90% of applicants each year for the small number of places it can offer to undergraduates.
In this setting, where teaching quality is at a premium and students expect faculty to give them extensive personal attention, the presence of unqualified students admitted through corrupt practices is an unmitigated disaster for education and research. While such students have long been present in the form of legacy admits, top sports recruits and the kids of multimillion-dollar donors, the latest scandal represents a new tier of Americans elbowing their way into elite universities: unqualified students from families too poor to fund new buildings, but rich enough to pay six-figure bribes to coaches and admissions advisers. This increase in the proportion of students who can’t do the work that elite universities expect of them has – at least to me and my colleagues – begun to create a palpable strain on the system, threatening the quality of education and research we are expected to deliver.
What is interesting is to discover that I attended an "elite" university, University of Southern California:
Exhibit A from the recent admissions corruption scandal is “social media celebrity” Olivia Jade Gianulli, whose parents bought her a place at the University of Southern California, and who announced last August to her huge YouTube following that “I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend. But I do want the experience of, like, game days, partying … I don’t really care about school.” 
A longstanding criticism of affirmative action is that by admitting students who are not up to the university's standards, they are increasing the risk that those students will drop out, where they might have graduated from a school with a less demanding set of peers.  The example often used is UC Berkeley vs. San Jose State University.  Of course, that assumes a student who is trying but is simply less intelligent or a victim of the low-grade public schools in many poor neighborhoods.  But Olivia Jade Gianulli (who I have never heard of before) is admitting that she is not even going to try, wasting space for a poor kid with a fine high school education (like mine, Santa Monica High School). 


  1. Well, I guess we are fellow alumni!

    I obtained my Master of Science in Systems Management from USC's Institute for Safety and Systems Management in 1988. I was in Germany at the time -- the ISSM maintained the systems management program and a couple others at military bases world wide. I think it was during my courses that USC decided to divest itself of the world-wide program -- because it didn't fit their "strategic vision" -- but keep the ISSM and degree program alive at the California campus. Later they shut down the ISSM altogether, for the same reason. So I administratively became an alumnus of the Viterbi School of Engineering...or so all the letters hitting me up for money tell me!

  2. My brother went to UC Berkley, my eldest sister University of Pacific and UC Irvine, my younger sister Texas A&M. They all had the grades for entrance and my parents could afford the cost. But when it was my time my younger sister was a sophomore at A&M, and though I could qualify for a number of schools, I didn't want to put my parents through the expense of two out of state tuitions. So I sacrificed and went to the nearby Cal State. In many ways it was a mistake but I made it through, eventually found work and have somethings I am proud of accomplishing.

    But I cared about my parents future, as they cared about me. I worked to get published, they didn't help me in that. I worked and got my job at Douglas Aircraft and showed I had enough skill to warrant being kept by Boeing for 11 years. As you note, these parents are buying their kids a place in universities in which the kids have no idea what they are doing there.

    Years ago I watched as Ellen D gave a child by the name of Justin Bieber a Fisker Karma so he could eventually drive around in eco friendly style. The car was eventually totaled and Bieber is now an Adult on the road to a mental break down.

  3. I graduated from SC and from SC medical school but attended back in the 50s and 60s.

    It was not that hard too get in and it was not that expensive for a private U. The law school and the business school had real advantages in "networking" in the local community. The law school was the first law school in soCal and most judges were SC grads, too. The medical school was excellent but not considered high prestige.

    The idiots that run the Board of Trustees (Yes, I mean you Rick Caruso) are destroying the U. They fired the Dean of the Business school for no reason I could see. With all the scandals, you'd think they would tolerate a popular Dean.

  4. There is a group that staffs a booth at the various Highland Games and Scottish festivals here in California (perhaps elsewhere, too, I cannot say). You can join for a modest annual fee, they sell kilts, caps, shot glasses and other stuff in their clan pattern and with the clan emblem.

    Perhaps there is an opportunity for someone to acccomodate Olivia Jade Gianulli's desire to experience the less scholastic aspects of post-secondary education that figure so prominently in movies, TV and books.
    a fraternity/sorority, I Tappa Kegga, perhaps, or Summa Cum Lager. Or maybe the fraternity name from Animal House. Something that can give them the Greek experience without the need for tuition. Or maybe Ms Jade knows all about being Greeked already.