In the wake of last week’s college admissions scandal, I have received many questions about how something like this could happen —- Who creates fake photos to say their kid is an athlete so they can get a scholarship for rowing? Who is dumb enough to text about their nefarious behavior? The other comment I have been hearing is that “This has been happening forever…what’s the big deal now?”
There are so many places to start a discussion about what has happened, however I think one of the first places to start is with what does this mean for the students that have been admitted into schools that they did not get into on their own merit. The obvious answer is that they should all be asked to leave their respective schools. These kids have been humiliated publicly by their parents not just because of their parents’ deceptive behavior, but because they clearly did not have enough faith in their own children to get into these schools. These parents were so focused on getting their children into the “right” schools rather than the schools that fit them best. The pressure for parents/students to go to the “right” schools is absurd. What are the “right” schools? The Ivys? USC? Georgetown? Maybe, but that all depends on the student. The standard of care should be the “right fit” for the student, not what’s “right” according to the parents.
I see students and parents all the time struggling through the college process wondering where they should go, what they should be looking for in a school and wonder if they will be able to afford these schools even if their children do get in. The key to a student’s success is finding the school that is best suited to them which includes discussions about location, class size, what majors are offered, how the curriculum is setup and what the social life looks like. For example, if the majority of a college’s social life revolves around the Greek system and your kid isn’t the joiner type, consider schools that have a smaller Greek system and just as many independent kids. If your kid is like most kids and don’t know what they want to study, maybe he/she should go to a school that has a core curriculum that allows him/her to declare a major their sophomore year. Students are more likely to succeed in a college where they find their “fit” academically and socially. What the parents of Operation Varsity Blues didn’t realize or still don’t realize is that they are actually setting their children up for failure by making them fit into a school that they could not get into on their own merit. Couple that with teaching their child that hard work (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter isn’t going to create responsible, accountable citizens.
There is a university or college out there for everyone. Giving children a fighting chance at being successful in college and beyond depends on the student’s ability, not parents’ money. Unfortunately, this scandal is only the tip of the iceberg – the fall out is just beginning.