Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

College Bribery Scandal: Is the Idea of Meritocracy Shattered?

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Image credit: University of Southern California (USC)

Experts and writers discuss the ways wealthy parents pay their children’s way up the ladder of education and success.

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University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

The college admissions scandal was definitely the head scratcher of the week.

Not because cheating is surprising, or that the government might prosecute cheaters, but the fact that so many people with extreme wealth, whose lives are patterned around unbridled access and privilege, would commit acts so desperate to gain elite college admission for their children.

Why did they need it? Or more precisely, why did they feel as though they need it?

Further, what does this tell us about the idea of a meritocracy in the United States? That’s the notion that, for the most part, people are earning what they work for. 

Matthew Stewart is an author who recently wrote a piece in The Atlantic about the college admissions scandal titled, “The Moral Center of Meritocracy Collapses.”

John Boshoven is a counselor for Continuing Education at Community School in Ann Arbor. Boshoven counsels high school students daily in considering possible colleges and finding the right fit. He is a Past Director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and Past President of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC). 

Bryan Walsh is a journalist and former TIME Magazine editor. He is also a Princeton alum who interviewed prospective students for Princeton until he became so disgusted by the culture of legacy and money that he quit. He recently wrote a piece that appeared on Medium about the experience.

Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan and is a former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She talks about the legal implications of the scandal.

Stewart, Boshoven, Walsh, and McQuade join Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.

Click the audio player above to listen to this conversation.

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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