American Universities Are in Crisis

Elite universities are once again looking for social conformists rather than disrupters.

George Friedman |March 19, 2019

Last week, dozens of wealthy parents were charged for allegedly paying a firm to cheat on college entrance exams or bribe officials to get their children accepted into elite colleges. The number of people involved in the scam is small, so the case itself has proved little except that all human institutions can be corrupted. But there’s a broader point that must be considered. This case is an indicator of a profound crisis at American universities. I know that profound crises have become a dime a dozen, manufactured by people like me with writing deadlines, but I ask you to bear with me.

We live in a knowledge-based economy. Our universities are the social institutions designed to produce and educate the next generation that will participate in that economy. But the best universities do more than this. They teach those outside elite circles the manners and customs of power. They allow them to meet others who will form the networks of authority that are indispensable to society. If

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