Some folks clearly would be chagrined. Indeed, the whole business of admissions is touchy and what can pass for scandal in modern media has surrounded the University of Illinois in recent months. My old paper, the Chicago Tribune, disclosed that certain applicants were clearly admitted to the university as a result of odious "clout"; namely familial and other ties to trustees, politicians and various different species of citizens with influence (including Tony Rezko, the jailed real estate developer and onetime chum of a then-rising Illinois politician, Barack Obama).
There was a separate list of such insider applicants. Emails and phone conversations went public and, in the end, there were a bunch of resignations, including that of the university president.
There's a rich journalistic tradition of milking one's own expose and, here, the paper provided a daily dairy, apparently convinced that a higher education Watergate had been discovered. There were dozens of stories, many self-reverential, with editorials calling for the heads of much of the university hierarchy and board of trustees (most of whom split, though at least two didn't succumb to public relations pressure, refusing to quit and will remain).
Now, part of me felt like Claude Rains' Captain Renault in "Casablanca" ("I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"). If I stop to think about all that happens in our lives as a direct function of whom we know, I'd be thinking a very long time. I probably could dine at Chicago's Alinea (deemed America's best restaurant by the dying bastion of fine dining, Gourmet magazine) if I only had a buck for each of my friends' kids whom I've helped get either summer or full-time employment, never knowing how they rated against competitors. More often than not, I'm happy to put in a good word with somebody relevant whom I know.
I suspect that a Tribune editor or two, now outraged over the University of Illinois, might have to confess to a child or other relative having been accepted into a position due to the editor's own network of chums. Stop. I know that to be a fact.
At the same time, one is miffed when the shoe's on the other foot; when you, personally, or a spouse or child is seemingly aced out of an opportunity by somebody who appears inferior but has "connections." In Illinois, for more than 100 years members of the General Assembly have had the right to actually give out full scholarships to the state's public universities (the original theory had to do with assuring some statewide, geographical equity in admissions). In some cases, those tuition waivers go to kids of donors and of those who've worked on a politician's campaigns.
In Chicago, principals at nine elite, so-called "selective enrollment" public high schools can choose five percent of the slots. That is a function of a belief that there should be room for talented and unusual kids who just don't test well. A federal investigation is underway, apparently based on the suspicion that there's a gulf between the theory and actual practice.