[ExI] elite college bribery scandal

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 00:37:15 UTC 2019

On Mar 18, 2019, at 5:10 PM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:
> Quoting Bill Wallace:
>> Long before this latest craze, Harvard etc. was the place to go to meet people.  It doesn't matter what your grades are.  You will meet the elite who will run politics, business, and who knows what else.  Joining the elite clubs gives you ins for life if you are accepted.  
>> Even at lower levels, where you got your MBA or doctorate is a bragging right thing.  You won't be asked what you did your dissertation on - you will be asked what university you went to.  
>> The only way to beat this system for the individual is to be a genius. Nobody cared where Einstein got educated.
> This is pretty much the way things are. My question is thus: is this way things ought to be? The reason I ask is that America seems to be a plutocratic republic with delusions of being an egalitarian meritocracy. I am not entirely against the idea of a plutocracy, but if so, then why the pretense toward meritocracy? Is it so that elites privileged from birth can pat themselves on the back for walking to the finish line of a very unfair race? Is it to keep the proles thinking that they are one promotion or innovation away from the big leagues? Is it a deliberate scam to sell student loans? Or some pathological form of self-deception?
> And going off of Caplan's premises, if we have it within our technological reach to make educational dimplomas and degrees honest signals of academic achievement rather than signals of wealth and privilege, should we implement that technology? Would it make a difference?
> Stuart LaForge

I believe Caplan is saying the degree from a top school doesn’t signal wealth and privilege. (Why would it? It’s obvious that some people can buy their way into a top school, but showing off one’s portfolio would easily display wealth and one can display privilege by having a Park Avenue address. Instead, his claim is that it signals you’ll be a good worker — better than the graduate of a lesser school (because it’s harder to get into a top school) and better than the person who didn’t graduate or didn’t go at all. And he thinks would be employers are looking for smart and reliable workers — not just smart. If it were the latter, then they could simply use IQ or even SAT scores as much as degrees.

I’m not sure about Bill W.’s point about using college as networking. I’d like to see some data on that rather than the homespun wisdom. Here if the networking thesis is true, I’d expect the guy who want to Harvard but dropped after after his third year (didn’t get the degree) to have almost as much of a network — to have met and forged contacts with almost as many people as the graduate. Yet the diploma-holder seems definitely to do better in the job market than the guy who spent almost as time there but didn’t get the diploma.


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