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OPINION

College Industrial Complex's Left-Wing Lies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Families saving for college and encouraging their kids to aim for the top are getting scammed by the left-wing college industrial complex. Colleges distort and outright lie about who gets accepted, education quality and what it costs. If they were selling auto loans and used the same deceptive tactics, they'd be in jail.

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Columbia University announced last Wednesday that it is permanently eliminating SAT and ACT test scores as part of the undergraduate admissions process -- the first Ivy League school to go permanently test-optional. Columbia issued a slippery statement about making admissions "nuanced" and "respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences." Truth is, Columbia is ditching merit for diversity. Without admitting it, Columbia has replaced an academic mission -- providing a rigorous education to a group of prepared students -- with a new one: social engineering.

Expect other colleges to follow. Elon Musk commented Saturday that "very few Americans seem to realize the severity of the situation."

President Joe Biden made equity the mission of all federal agencies. On March 1, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona blasted the higher education industry's "unhealthy obsession with selectivity" and urged a focus on "upward mobility."

That's politics. But parents making the biggest investment of their lives, except buying a home, ought to know what they're paying for: a rigorous classroom experience for their youngster, or a bit part in a social experiment.

Colleges don't want the public to discern what's going on. That's why they're railing against U.S. News & World Report rankings, published annually. The rankings factor in, among other things, test scores, graduation rates (after six years), how much debt students have when they leave, class size and faculty credentials -- precisely the facts families need.

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Nearly all colleges made SAT and ACT tests optional during the pandemic. And most institutions are sticking with that temporary policy for the current year. Not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which already reinstated testing. Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill explains that it's "not all about who comes in the door but also who goes out." A quarter of students admitted to MIT in the fall of 2020 scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT, and none scored below 700. Schmill recalled that a decade earlier, when MIT admitted students with a wider range of scores, fewer made it to graduation.

The American Civil Liberties Union slams ACT and SAT tests as "unjustifiable barriers for historically underrepresented students of color." The issue is more complicated. The tests have been screened to prevent bias. But high schools in areas serving Black and Hispanic students tend to be lower quality and offer fewer advanced placement courses, leaving students unprepared.

Sadly, most colleges are more interested in being politically correct than ensuring their student body can do the work.

They're also apprehensive about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, due in June, that is expected to curtail or outlaw considering race in admissions. In lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, test scores were used as evidence showing how these universities rejected high-scoring Asian and white applicants to promote diversity. After the June ruling, many institutions will likely eliminate testing to get rid of any evidence of racial favoritism. Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law predicts that institutions will find ways to prefer minorities "that can't be documented as violating the Constitution."

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A majority of Americans consider it wrong to favor any racial group in admissions. But right versus wrong be damned. The left-wing higher education establishment will likely find ways to do it, and worse, cover it up.

Race isn't the only thing colleges lie about.

The U.S. Education Department's College Scoreboard lists colleges' graduation rates. But check the fine print. Graduation is defined as earning a diploma within eight years. Who has time or money for that?

A staggering 91% of colleges misrepresent their costs, according to a Government Accountability Office investigation.

Columbia confessed it falsified class sizes and faculty credentials to U.S. News & World Report.

Despite nonstop virtue signaling, the higher education establishment is anything but virtuous. Americans need to stand up to these liars.

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