Are elite colleges really a ‘golden ticket’ to a successful life?

More than two dozen wealthy parents — among them high-powered CEOs and the actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — went to expensive and illegal lengths to secure attendance at elite colleges for their own children.

The drastic measures the parents took indicate how much they coveted that symbol of success. But the federal case alleging parents paid to inflate their children’s standardized test scores and bribed college coaches to guarantee their kids a spot also reveals the arbitrary nature of that symbol of success.

Though the allegations are illegal and extreme, they aren’t the first to illustrate that what it takes to get into many colleges often has little to do with merit.

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