There are many unfortunate truths about the scandal:
(1) Inequality for the wealthy
(2) Some people cheat
(3) Getting jobs/gaining admission is not always a meritocracy
But… is there anyone over 30, who looks at the above as truths that are no more revealing than saying that the Earth has water?
The surprise, in fact, is that such revelations are not prevalent in the US. My colleagues in other nations will discuss far more overt inequality. Being born to the “right family” in many parts of the world automatically places you above those who are not. In America, we have an illusion that this is not true and – I know this will surprise people – but we do a pretty good job of ensuring that hardworking, talented people can have social mobility.
With that large qualifier, let me point to another obvious statement: for many students and parents, college equals personal brand. Should it be so? Of course not. But it is. For most anyone from our leafy Connecticut suburbs, the single most distinct and common descriptor for an 18-22 year old is where the person goes to college. Think about meeting or introducing anyone in that age range. Invariably, the person’s college will be part of the discussion. The person might be a serious musician or rock climber or something else that is far more revealing about his/her personality but you might not know such facts until interacting with the person a second or third or fourth time.
College = Personal Brand. It is what it is.