The Corner


The Magic Talisman of a Degree from One of the Best Schools

Cast member Lori Loughlin poses at the premiere for Netflix’s Fuller House at The Grove in Los Angeles, Calif. February 16, 2016. (Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS)

In response to How to Buy Your Way into the Ivies


The Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin college-bribery scandal is one of those stories that look weird when you see the first headline, stranger when you read the details, and utterly otherworldly when you think about it.

For example, Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli posted a video in which she said she was only interested in attending college for the parties: “I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend but I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all,” she said. “But I do want the experience of like game days, partying . . . I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

Giannulli is one of those child-of-a-celebrity “social-media influencers” whom we’ve never heard of but who is apparently popular with some younger online social-media demographic.

How pervasive is the mentality that everyone needs to go to college? Apparently so pervasive that even celebrity parents believe their “social-media influencer” children need four years at a good school. “Look, honey, you’ll never be the next Kim Kardashian without at least an undergrad degree, and maybe grad school.”

These kids already had the giant advantage of wealthy parents! Their parents were wealthy and/or famous or both! Did these parents believe their children wouldn’t achieve their dreams if they had gone to one of the top 50 or 100 schools in U.S. News & World Report rankings instead of one in the top 25? Was the option of applying to a lesser school really that unbearable to these families?

These children apparently could not have gotten into these schools on their own merits. Do these schools have such a reputation for “if you’re in, you’re passing” that these wealthy parents felt confident that their kids would get acceptable grades, once enrolled? Is there some sort of special “parents are wealthy” grade curve or degree program with a lighter workload and easier requirements?

Are degrees from Georgetown, Stanford, Yale, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, the University of Texas, and Wake Forest so worthwhile that it was worth engaging in this elaborate illegal scheme? What does that say about the nation’s employers? What does that say about the value of lesser-known colleges and universities?

In recent years, it’s become somewhat more fashionable to say “college isn’t for everyone,” although I notice you don’t often hear it followed by, “and that’s why I don’t want my children to go to college.” I suspect the more accurate sentiment is, “college isn’t for everyone; someone else’s kids shouldn’t bother applying, but I still think of it as the entry ticket to white-collar work, so I’m making sure my kid gets in, no matter what.”

Today the FBI special agent in charge denounced a “culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for students.” This is the sort of thing that ought to make everyone reevaluate whether they put too much faith in a degree from a top school . . . but it probably won’t. The reputation of the ivory tower has endured a lot.

Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More