Author on why the college cheating scam probably won’t bring much change

Bribery, cheating on entrance exams and faking athletic achievements are some of the methods wealthy parents used to get their children into some of the nation’s top colleges in a shocking scandal revealed earlier this week.

But Daniel Golden, author of the 2006 book “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” argues that the playing field hasn’t been even for years. He also doesn’t believe the scandal, which swept up Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley CEOs, will “fundamentally” change anything about the college admissions process.

“Colleges are too fearful to offend the wealthy people who donate money,” Golden told “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”

Golden does anticipate some small changes like increased scrutiny of athletic recruits and students recommended by independent counselors. But ultimately, he feels like those are minor tweaks to a system that is massively weighted in favor of those who have means.

William Singer, the CEO of the college prep company at the center of the scandal, pleaded guilty Tuesday to running the biggest college admissions scam federal prosecutors have ever seen. Golden said it’s the rise of independent counselors like Singer who concern him most.

“When I wrote my book, this was just starting, but now it’s a growing and completely unregulated industry,” Golden said. “They get around the traditional guidance counselor at the high school whose job is to find the best fit for each student and instead they’re only beholden to the wealthy parents. Some of them are very nice and responsible people, but the incentives are wrongly arranged and that’s ripe for abuse as in this case.”

The universities that have been wrapped up in the scandal, which include the University of Southern California, Harvard and Yale, have said they’re victims, too. Golden sees it a little differently.

“I don’t see them as victims. I mean, they may have been deceived in this case. But overall, they developed and they perpetuate a system that’s tilted toward the wealthy and made this kind of corruption possible,” he said.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face to these kids who are trying to get in on their own, legitimately, on hard work and achievement,” he said. “And it’s also a reminder of the point in my book that so many students benefit from preferences for the wealthy. What I call the preferences of privilege. Like legacy preference for children of alumni. Development preference for candidates recommended by the fundraising office and so on.”

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