THIS IS NEWS? YOU SERIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong

The latest hot scandal that rich people pay to get their kids into college is not news. It wasn’t news in 1963 when I started college. Literally, everyone knew that if you had the money to make a major donation (building new edifice on campus could get all your kids into school), you’d get your kid in, even if he or she was an illiterate moron.

Hofstra University Playhouse

This has probably been true as long as there have been colleges and universities that needed money, new dormitories, a law school extension, a new chemistry laboratory or gymnasium. If you can give them the money, they’d not only put your kid in school and make sure he or she graduated, they’d name the building after you and give you an honorary degree too.

So this whole big scandal is essentially taking a longstanding tradition and “making it news.”

It isn’t news. It isn’t newsworthy.

It has been going on for generations and as soon as this story gets old, it won’t be news and it will be “back to business.” Private universities — public ones too — urgently need funds. They never have enough from tuition and are always hitting up grads for money. I’ve been tempted to try to delete my name from the list of graduates of my school just to get them to stop asking for donations. It’s not that I have anything against Hofstra. More like I don’t have any money to give them.

Photo: B. Kraft

The fancier the school, the more they are searching for donations. Big donations. Universities would not survive without donations from wealthy graduates. Do I think it’s fair that the rich can buy their kids’ education? No, but “fair” is not what our world is. If this is the most unfair thing going down, I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s a lot worse stuff happening than this.

So this shocking news isn’t shocking and it isn’t news. I’m personally finding it extremely annoying. Some District Attorney decided he was going to make a story out of something everyone knew about.

Hofstra wasn’t as fancy when I attended.

Did the offspring of the wealthy seriously limit the number of intelligent kids getting into college?

Oh, come on.

The number of rich kids getting a free ride is very small compared to the number of kids getting a free ride by scholarship or for sports. That’s why schools are so eager to take in foreign students. Unlike American students, they actually pay full tuition. American kids get grants, scholarships, and as much assistance as they can generate.

Foreigners actually pay the whole fee.

43 thoughts on “THIS IS NEWS? YOU SERIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Yes, this has been happening on the scale you mention (new building = admission) for many years. I think the shocking part of this one is the personal bribery involving a middle-man — parent pays middle-man to bribe coach to admit student to athletic endeavor the student has no aptitude or even interest for. Or parent pays middle-man to pay somebody to take the SAT test in the student’s name. Middle-man was the clear winner of millions of dollars to admit non-students (one even said in a video that she wasn’t interested in school) to limited space at well-known campuses. Due to action of parents, students learn to “get ahead” by cheating — is this a value we want to encourage?

    Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s an international problem. Parents are determined to push their kids into doing what they want them to do, even when the kids are completely disinterested. If you don’t have money, there’s a lot of nagging and angry arguments about it, but in the end, if the kid doesn’t want to, that is the end of it. When you have a mountain of money, there’s always “Hey, I bought a Law School so you could go here. You are GOING!” And so is your bodyguard.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Working in student aid, I saw LOTS of it! For a while the parents were called “helicopter parents,” though I think that term is no longer used. In many cases, the parents were reliving their desires or their most “fun” experiences through the kids. Often, though, it’s a desire for the kids to do well in life — they would mostly do just fine with simple guidance from the parents rather than the nagging and greed that this story represents.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You can’t force kids to be what you would have like to be. You can’t make them be what you SHOULD have been — or think you should have been. It doesn’t work. You can force them to study something, but you can’t make them become a great lawyer, or a fulfilled doctor if it isn’t in them. You can get them into school, but you can’t make them succeed, either.

              I was lucky. I just said NO and kept saying NO. Unlike my sister and brother. I was a pretty tough kid.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Exactly! I hope they allow the kids who graduated to go on and live their lives — they earned the degrees through hard work, and should be allowed the rewards of that work. For those who weren’t interested in school or shouldn’t have been admitted, I hope the ones who shouldn’t have been admittted will be expelled — they can earn their way back with a couple of successful years in Community Colleges.


    1. Slmret, I think you’re right about children/young people who absorb cheating as “Okay” to make their mark in the world. It scars them and those who follow. It’s a very old story with “legs”. You might cue Claude Rain’s immortal “I’m shocked” as he collects his gambling rewards in “Casablanca”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This “breaking news” scandal has been around for centuries. It was fodder for old movies and discussed by people during my college days more than half a century ago. I recall my friends and me just nodding our heads and saying some version of “whatever”. Our gang was consumed with ambition to suceed in broadcast journalism so we did due diligence to learn basics and pursue our dreams.


  2. News drama – stay tuned. I always understood the wealthy donating and their kids being accepted that you describe. These issues including paying someone to take a test, or change answers, or lie about athletic experience, and bribing folks seem to be a step above. Will any one of these cheats and liars spend a day in jail? I can imagine some community service and a fine after all this drama is over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, past experience shows the wealthy avoid prison by playing “the price is right”. Those who are convicted usually go to plush minimum “Club Fed” institutions. I recall lawyers bragging about how their rich clients never worried about their dirty deeds.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This hasn’t been a “secret” ever, as far as I know. Anyone who has been at a university, even as a visitor, knows. Where do all those bronze plaques originate? You think they might be “donors”? And all those students who automatically get in because mom or dad was there first? And lawyers who get into the firm because mom or dad was there first? Judges and lawyers and all kinds of “important” jobs go to the kids of those who did it before and we all know it. Always have known it.

      So now it’s news? I suppose now it’s news because they got lazy and hired a third party to do the dirty work because in this case mom or dad wasn’t there first, so they had to pay a middleman. their mistake was not having offered to build a new dorm or lab or gym. Then they wouldn’t have needed to hire someone else.


    2. Woolly, you’re right. I wager lots of ‘Joe Average’ folks are just smirking at the sound and fury of this “breaking news” College Bribery scandal. I think news people practice their serious look before going on camera. I used to have to brace myself from smiling before going on camera with these stories. I’m sure I had a “tell” that my friends and frequent viewers noticed. I used to tell the TV news “suits” it was a sham – but I frequently was overuled. Sometimes I’d do the story straight-faced and then offer my “smile” as I delivered my last line and signed off. The suits were always furious about me editorializing. Whatever.


      1. How about the students going into deep hock with loans so they can attend college? Parents who mortgage the house to help their kids get college education? They have to be seriously pissed. But as we say, it’s an old, old story just getting some new light. The new baseball season is lurking. Get ready for shocking revelations about star athletes taking short cuts to make the big show and succeed.


    1. Well, it helps if your kid isn’t a complete waste of time as a student. If they had more or less “normal” grades, there’s ALWAYS a school that will take them. Hell. For a long, long time, NYU would take anyone. If you didn’t flunk out after the first year, you got to stay. All you needed was to be breathing and have enough money for tuition. I assume this was about getting into “the right schools.” Very overrated, by the way.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Did the kids even WANT to go to these colleges? Because only parents have been arrested. The kids don’t seem to give a rat’s ass.

          There’s ALWAYS a college who will take ANY student who graduated high school. It may not be the best school, but there’s always a school. Do decent work and you can transfer to a better one if you actually care enough to be bothered. I think this isn’t about cheating students. It’s about cheating PARENTS.

          Liked by 2 people

                1. My parents were happy about me going to college. I was the first in the family. they weren’t thrilled About the pursuit of radio and television. They thought there were too many “shady”people who would lead me down the wrong path. They wanted me to become a lawyer, something respectable. Since I was paying my own way—working during the day, classes at night — they backed off.

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. I’ve witnessed this first hand so I’m sure it happens everywhere. No it doesn’t make it right, but then again, the university is going to accept the student with moneyed connections, it’s how they stay afloat or am I wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope. That’s how they keep the doors open. Colleges and universities without major donors are shutting down. A LOT of smaller schools have been closing because they don’t have the money. You can’t have it both ways. You want the small schools to stay open? Then you need to let them accept big donations or they will quite simply close. And yeah, a few not-so-qualified students will wind up in the student body, but there will BE a school.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Maintaining a college is expensive. Buildings cost money. Heating and air-conditioning, grounds, cafeterias and clearing away snow and plowing parking lots … and paying the staff and administration etc. ad nauseum. Tuition doesn’t come close to paying for all that. Old, fancy universities have had a lot of big donors from many years going back a long way, so they are in better shape than smaller schools with fewer high-powered donors on the rolls. The smaller schools don’t get the big money or the high powered organizations feeding them funds and these days, many of them are shutting their doors. They just can’t keep going.

            It’s an ugly cycle and I can’t entirely blame them for being desperate enough to not look too closely at where the money is coming from. Desperation and panic aren’t inclined to making an organization careful about where the funds come from.

            There’s no end in sight, either. If you want the quality staff, they want to be paid and without the quality teachers, you don’t get the applications and the foreign students from families with a lot of money who will donate a lot of money and help continue the cycle.

            I am not sure the really IS an answer.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. True — and the larger the campus the more the need for faculty, one of the highest cost overhead items. The more high-powered the faculty, the higher the salary demands. It is a vicious cycle, and the colleges often are pricing themselves out of business with their overhead, real or manufactured.


            1. I don’t see an end to the cycle. I wish I did. I don’t see professors asking for less or retirements funding going down … or for that matter, the cost of maintaining building diminishing. Or even fewer people wanted university educations. So on and on it spins and we spin with it.


    1. Yes, I know, but it’s also been going on one way or the other for dozens of years. The faces have changed, but it’s the same story. As long as colleges are too expensive for most people to afford and donations are what make colleges survive — and rich people are those with the money to give the colleges the money to keep them alive, it won’t ever end. There IS no answer.

      Liked by 1 person

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