The College Admissions Scandal Is a PR Opportunity for Conservatives

Six months ago, Operation Varsity Blues — the college admissions scandal — rocked the elite college world. Dozens of arrests led to over 20 guilty pleas and the exposure of an illegal bribery racket which has put a black mark on so-called “elite” schools.

Court appearances are keeping the admissions scandal in the limelight. Conservatives who want to break the liberal lockstep at many schools should do everything possible to keep the headlines loud and frequent.

Three-pronged attack

Conservatives are already adept at two lines of attack. One of them has been made popular by groups like Young America’s Foundation. They bring conservative speakers to campus, sometimes creating sympathy even among mainstream left-leaning commentators. Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray, and others create made-for-viral-video moments which showcase the worst of leftist intolerance.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and legal organizations take a different strategy. ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom has won over 400 victories for free speech on campuses nationwide. Its method of attack is to merely uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rights students – even those who are conservative – have on college campuses. This infiltration of conservative values is important to challenge faculty, staff, administration, and students who would otherwise be exposed solely to left-leaning points of view.

Operation Varsity Blues provides a third prong to break the psychology embedded by the college system – that expensive schools are a must to succeed, that going tens of thousands of dollars into debt is worth it. Expensive tuition often goes to unnecessary, liberal-agenda administrative overhead which has nothing to do with a valuable college education.

This strategy is about more than just opposing the agendas often seen at highly-funded state and private schools. It is about reminding Americans of the vast number of viable options available to high school seniors.

Affordable options abound

I wrote about the benefit of community colleges for The Baltimore Sun last week. These under-appreciated “junior” colleges can be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than their four-year state and private alternatives. Investing a fraction of the difference can be the financial foundation for today’s teenager to have a multi-million-dollar retirement.

Apprenticeships are also incredibly valuable. Jennifer Lannon is the Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based owner of Jen’s Plumbing & Heating. She has apprenticed under her father while co-founding and running the business with him.

Trades, the military, starting a business, or joining a family company are viable options for high school seniors. Military service and entrepreneurship may be dismissed by many guidance counselors and college administrators for young people, but they are invaluable, outside-of-the-box alternatives to massive debt for increasingly less-valuable degrees.

A major PR opportunity

Americans can agree or disagree about a particular political or moral issue or person. Only lawbreakers will defend illegal bribing of colleges to get rich kids in the door ahead of the average person. This creates a tremendous opportunity for conservatives to remind Americans that many options are viable and valuable as part of a comprehensive approach to a teenager’s future. A one-size-fits-all, debt-driven, liberal agenda college bubble isn’t for everyone.

Opportunities to show the problems of today’s college system will come and go. Operation Varsity Blues has created a public relations opportunitywhich conservatives should not let pass them by.