Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new phase in the sudden reckoning for universities is likely to be the outrageous — but totally legal — practices benefiting the wealthy and wired.

Driving the news: This week's revelation — about the corrupt use of bribes to improperly tap coaches' slots designed to help athletic applicants — exposed a "side door." There are also long known "back doors" that deny spots to hardworking, gifted students without money or connections.

Why it matters: The scandal is what's perfectly legal and customary.

Axios' Felix Salmon points out that beyond an education or credential, what students buy from fancy universities is social context, an invisible class signifier.

  • So the beneficiaries are the parents as well as the students.

A few of the legal ways college admissions are rigged for the wealthy:

  • The best-known is the preference and attention that go to parents who give massive donations and endowments before their kids apply — "development admits," in university jargon. As the N.Y. Times' Frank Bruni wrote: "It may be legal to pledge $2.5 million to Harvard just as your son is applying ... and illegal to bribe a coach, ... but ... [b]oth elevate money over accomplishment."
  • Another path that hurts would-be first-generation students at fancy schools is favoritism for potential legacy students — sons and daughters of alumni. Documents revealed in a lawsuit against Harvard last fall showed that "longstanding connections, sometimes built over generations," were among the "advantages enjoyed primarily by white applicants," per the Boston Globe.
  • Rich people hire ACT, SAT specialty tutors, and pay for their kid to take it until they nail it. Legal but not available unless you can bankroll it. 
  • Tax loopholes that help rich people are enablers of massive donations.

Be smart: Frank Bruni wrote a book about college admissions mania with the very accurate title, "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be." He tells Axios:

  • "Many, many college presidents are mortified, and some even worry about critics using this scandal to question the tax-exempt status of private colleges and universities." (Go deeper in this column.)
  • Bruni said it's possible some donors "giving for only high-minded reasons" will "see their alma maters more darkly than they did." But "the reckoning will come only if admissions reform puts the efficacy of those donations in doubt."
  • "Here's one wrinkle that ... complicates the narrative. But we need to acknowledge that some of these mammoth donations, even while tendered for selfish reasons, add to a pool of money that enables these most selective schools to be need-blind when it comes to the low-income students they do admit."

Help Axios tell the #UToo story: If you have a window into a shady college practice, share it on social media with #UToo, and we'll follow up. You can also email us at utoo@axios.com.

Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
27 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

How smartphone cameras became the best cameras

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For years, the smartphone has been the most convenient camera, and in recent years it has also become the easiest and most versatile camera. But this year's high-end smartphones have taken things to a new level — capturing images that would be either tough or impossible even with a high-end digital camera.

Between the lines: Traditional cameras have the advantage of bigger sensors and better lenses, but smartphone cameras are rivaling and even surpassing them by tapping computational power.

The rise of vegan food in unexpected places

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vegan cuisine is popping up in two places it wasn't present before: fine dining and fast food.

Why it matters: The single biggest way an individual can reduce their carbon footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Now, the popularization of meatless meals could help curb meat consumption in the U.S.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
56 mins ago - Health

Experts predict an easier COVID winter this year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This winter probably won't bring another crushing COVID wave, experts say.

Why it matters: Last winter was the deadliest phase of the pandemic, and many Americans are braced for cold weather to once again usher in a surge in cases and deaths. But there are good reasons to think this year won't be nearly as bad.