I am shocked, shocked I tell you! Shocked to find the children of wealth and privilege are getting into universities that cater to the wealthy and privileged by means other than sheer merit. I'm shocked that this is somehow a big deal. And I'm having a certain amount of difficulty figuring out how this is […]

I am shocked, shocked I tell you! Shocked to find the children of wealth and privilege are getting into universities that cater to the wealthy and privileged by means other than sheer merit.

I'm shocked that this is somehow a big deal. And I'm having a certain amount of difficulty figuring out how this is different from the way it's always been, literally for centuries.

I graduated from a college which for years accepted barely literate students who could play football well. A system that worked swimmingly until one year four were convicted of gang rape, one for dealing cocaine, and one player shot another " a twofer.

We used to say Oklahoma had an honor squad on the football team. 'Yes Your Honor. No Your Honor.'

I will confess this was not an elite university so I didn't run into students with the same last name as those on any buildings, but my those sorority sisters were snobby about how much their dues cost mommy and daddy.

So OK, evidently this was a little different. Wealthy parents including some well-known actors paid large sums of money to fixers who arranged to have their not-too-bright offspring classified as athletes in sports they never played, faked minority status, and sometimes got ringers to sit for exams for them.

(By the way, anyone remember that's what got Teddy Kennedy kicked out of Harvard?)

Elizabeth Warren is shocked and dismayed.

The question that arises is, for heaven's sake why?

The sums mentioned are sometimes in the millions! If they were so concerned about their children's future why didn't they just set up a trust fund?

And did they ever think of what happens after their kids get into a top university? Wouldn't they flunk out if they were unqualified?

To the first question, it's not about qualifying their children for a high-paying profession. It's about the prestige of the degree and the people they'll meet while putting in the time.

As for the second, elite universities have always had provisions for legacies, the children of alumni to gut their way through to a degree with a not too strenuous course of study.

Brooke Shields, not just a pretty actress but descended from Italian royalty on her mother's side, graduated from Princeton without ever taking a course in classics, history, economics, math, or a laboratory science.

Grade inflation in the Ivy League is a badly kept secret. If you're not in hard science, medicine, or law you can coast through with a GPA around an A minus.

Previous generations accepted that legacies might coast through with a 'gentleman's C' but these days evidently they have to maintain the illusion that all their graduates are brilliant as well as well-connected.

There are to my knowledge only two top universities in which you have to be certifiably brilliant and work your tail off to graduate, CalTech and MIT. Because they are still dedicated to training scientists and engineers, not future members of the ruling class.

If you're not in that league, and not many of us are, you are far better off attending a small town state university.

And that's the other scandal in higher education. Graduates of small universities in the Midwest with student bodies in the hundreds or low thousands are matriculating with manageable debt and job offers on or even before graduation.

The irony is, Harvard for example is so rich they don't need to charge tuition at all. They could accept only the most brilliant students of any background and hold them to high standards. But perhaps that's not what they want.