When I was in high school, I attended a few speech and debate tournaments at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. It was magical! I knew the prestige of the university and was in awe at the opportunity to walk the infamous halls, sit in the desks of past and present scholars, and listen to the teachings of reputable professors. On some of those trips it snowed, making the university campus look picture perfect. I wondered what it would be like to even say, “I went to Hahvahd.” So, I bought a sweatshirt, bid adieu to the historic 18th century architecture and spent my next year filling out applications to in-state universities.
This week, authorities unveiled a scandal that wealthy and well-known parents were going to great [unethical and illegal] lengths (read: paying upwards of six to seven figures) to get their children into prestigious universities such as Yale, USC, Georgetown, Stanford and more through the following means:
- Bribing coaches to get athletic scholarships despite not having played that particular sport – even going as far as staging and photoshopping sport photos and altering application information such as height and weight.
- Paying for other students to take the ACT and SAT in place of their own child.
- Getting their children tested for special needs and telling the kids to “be stupid” to be able to take the ACT and SAT in a private room alone, with assistance or with extended time.
- Bribing admissions officials.
- Forging applications.
- Using the cover of donating money to a made-up non-profit organization to funnel funds used for bribery.
And my first thought is, why? Is it for status? Is it for prestige? Is it because they truly think that those colleges offer the best and greatest opportunities for their kids? What example are the parents setting for their child?
We mama bears fight for our kids. We want the best for our kids and will go to battle for them. We will do what it takes to get them the best education, the best therapies, the best doctors, the best sports teams and coaches, the best experiences and opportunities.
With that in mind, to what lengths would you go to help your kids get into a good college?
I reached out to a few fellow Lafayette Moms Blog contributors to hear their thoughts:
“They are doing their kids a disservice. I will help [my kids] complete their application – i.e. give them their SSN and make sure they checked the correct boxes, and proof read an essay if they ask me to.” – Amy
“A college education is important, but it’s not for everyone. Forcing a child into college when their aptitude is elsewhere is so harmful to their mental health and communicates such an awful message society that you are worthless and less than without a college degree.” – Amanda
There are several different groups of people affected here: (a) the students who worked hard to get into these colleges only to have their spot taken by a student with a parent with a large pocketbook, (b) the child who thought that they got into college on their own merit only to find out that their parents paid their way, and (c) the daughter or son who was in the know who have bypassed hard work and effort to get to the top.
And here’s the thing: the overwhelming response from the world was, “I’m not surprised.” ::sigh::
If we want to help our kids, there are better ways to do it – especially if you have the pocketbook and privilege to get your child to the top, you must teach them better. Effort, hard work, persistence, diligence, self-control – these life skills far outweigh a degree from an Ivy League college.
Here are some healthy ways to support our kids through their formative years as they prepare for life post-graduation whether that be college, trade school, serving in the military or joining the work force.
- Be involved in their education. Meet with teachers, follow up with assignments, monitor grades and test scores, ask them about school, volunteer in the classroom, etc.
- Find a tutor to help them improve in academic areas where they may be struggling or where they lack confidence.
- If you see that your child is a gifted athlete or musician, find the best coach or teacher around.
- Find camps and after school programs that help develop and foster their interests.
- Help them research their options for the future: colleges, majors, job opportunities, etc.
- Pay attention. Listen to your kids. Watch what they are doing. Get to know their friends and who their biggest influencers are. The most valuable thing you can give to your kids is yourself.
I may have worked hard enough to earn a spot at Harvard – in speech and debate, that is – but I worked just as hard to get my acceptance letter to LSU thanks to my parents, teachers, advisors and mentors who encouraged me to reach my full potential.