The college admissions process has become so competitive, families are increasingly trying to game the system.
You've probably heard about the Varsity Blues scandal.
Two famous actresses caught up in what prosecutors are calling the largest college admissions scam ever.
They stand accused of paying millions in bribes to get their kids into elite colleges.
Even staging photos for students who never even played the sport.
But that's just one example.
There were also the college counselors who were bullied to the point of quitting, and the wealthy parents who schemed to get their kids financial aid.
So they're giving up guardianship of their kids in declaring them legally independent.
Giving them a better shot at qualifying for need-based financial aid.
Why is there so much hysteria around these few institutions, and what can be done about it?
The Ivy League epitomizes elitism.
Why are we so obsessed with it anyway?
America has a way of idealizing and idolizing these institutions that are kind of hallmarks of success.
Probably a poor barometer, but a barometer nonetheless is looking at movies throughout history where people are going to Harvard or Princeton or Yale.
Hollywood has long portrayed Ivy League schools in a golden light.
Harvard isn't for everyone.
So has the president.
Then they said, well they went to Ivy League college, so did I go to Ivy League college.
Most of Congress and all of these kind of very elite spaces, a lot of graduates of Harvard and Yale and Princeton are there.
No one is certain exactly where the term Ivy League comes from.
Ivy may refer to the Roman numeral for four when four of the original colleges formed a sports league.
Today the league consists of eight schools that boast historical significance, with seven of them founded before the American Revolution.
These schools cultivate selectivity and a reputation of prestige that people want to be a part of.
They have been selected carefully.
Each year it seems that they break a record for the number of applications that they've gotten, but they've maintained the same amount of seats.
As the demand increases the gall with which people will go to some of these underhanded methods to get their children into these colleges has only increased.
Take the curious case of Sidwell Friends—a top school in DC.
School officials repeatedly warned parents to stop all kinds of bad behavior:
verbally assaulting college counselors, recording their conversations, and calling them from blocked numbers, even circulating rumors about students.
Two out of three of the college counselors left their jobs this year.
I think the people who are most likely to do this are people who are overly stressed and believe delusionally that their kids simply have to, not want to, but have to go to this college or that university.
And if they believe that the regular levers of power and of leverage that they have aren't adequate, then they start to doing all sort of things like undermining other children or bribing proctors.
To add to the stress of fierce competition, higher education has become so unaffordable for millions of Americans, even the wealthy feel the pinch.
But low income people are hit the hardest.
Students from the the top quintile attend college at three times the rate of students from the lowest quintile of earning families.
It's just a remarkable statistic, and it becomes even more insult to injury when you add on to the fact that students or parents are either cheating their way into an institution or trying to find ways to pay for an institution that were meant for those students who have already had a hard enough time getting there.
Schools have not gotten ahead of this behavior so far.
A place like Harvard with a 37 billion dollar endowment could stand to enroll a few more students to kind of cut back on some of that selectivity.
As long as highly selective institutions remain as selective as they are, people will try to scam to get into them.
There could also be less focus on getting in and more on actually graduating.
One of the issues with the hysteria around the college admissions process is that it treats the entry into college as success rather than the back end of college as success.
So if we're thinking more about completion and graduation rates than we are about admissions, that's probably the way that we kind of reframed this whole conversation.
Parents could also try to dampen their fascination with these institutions.
Elite colleges aren't the only pathway into elite careers.
That's not to say that a student can't be successful if they go to Texas State University where LBJ went to school.
It's not to say that students can't be successful if they attend University of Houston like Elizabeth Warren did.
Society probably shouldn't be looking at higher education as much as a zero-sum game as a stepping stone.
I don't want them to think that the most important outcome of high school is where you go to college.
I want them to have the approach that the most important outcome of high school and adolescence is really crafting, developing, nurturing the brain that you're gonna have for the rest of your life.
Hey it's Adam.
I'm a staff writer at the Atlantic.
Thank you so much for watching this video, if you liked what you saw subscribe to our YouTube channel and also my Twitter @AdamHSays.