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Crazy about college

Crazy about college

Crazy about college
March 15
10:59 2019

My children are now half-way through their college life and I still remember the smell of anguish in my household when we were waiting for those college admission letters. Getting admitted to ‘good’ schools was always a pressing issue for me. I was totally caught up in the rat race of getting my kids admitted to the best schools I could afford. Or I should say, to the best schools that I could afford with the help of scholarships.

The SAT and ACT tests were no more than a sad show of how we measure the worth of a person by how many answers they can get ‘right’ on a one-shot test. Knowing that, I decided to play the game and put both my children through SAT prepping classes. They also sat for the test at least three times, on top of the official sitting the school provided at no cost.

After all that, and with time, I learned that the worth of a student was not so much linked to their ‘smarts’ or intellectual abilities but to the commitment they had to get a higher education. It didn’t matter how much I wanted them to succeed in a specific college as to how much they wanted to succeed at it. But I guess I, as a parent, was trying to do what was best for them.

I felt my children were somewhat privileged because they had me pushing them to pursue a nice college education. They were also privileged because when they were born, I had opened a college savings account that I slowly fed through their lives to a meager total that would barely pay for a year or so of tuition. They were privileged because I pushed them to take hard classes in high school to get them prepared for what was coming. I felt somewhat sorry for their friends, whose parents were completely clueless on the process and would let them ‘deal with’ the whole college situation.

I have always been a person that sets a high bar on everything I do. I like to push myself to the limits of my abilities. And I don’t expect any less from my kids. I have imposed my dream of them getting a higher education and I have been criticized for doing it. I still don’t know if it will bear its fruit, but I will keep pushing. I didn’t realize that parents could do crazy things for this. That is why when I read all about the massive scam of how a handful of rich kids managed to be admitted to high profile schools, I was in shock.

These rich and influential parents (definitely richer and more privileged than me or anyone I personally know), were paying proctors to correct answers on their kids’ SATs. They paid athletic coaches and forged athletic credentials and profiles to score an admission letter from coveted schools.

I understand the urge these parents had to ‘help’ their kids. The same anguish that made me push my kids to retake the SAT an insane amount of times might be comparable to the urge of these parents to pay for a forged score. In the end, we are all trying to do what we think is best for our kids. We are all missing the big picture: It is the kid’s motivation what will ultimately amount to success in college and in their careers. No amount of pushing, bribing, or forcing will do. Apparently most of these poor ‘rich’ kids didn’t know what their parents were doing. But I’m not sure about that. If you are admitted to a college-level team of a sport you never played competitively, you must know something is wrong.

The exposing of this scam has been a blessing to our society. Hopefully, rich parents will take note of the scandal and shame other fellow parents are going through. Rich kids will learn that there must be personal effort in the equation of success. Smart kids who work hard and still don’t get admitted to those schools will know that they are worth it, but the game is somewhat rigged against them. The schools will reevaluate how they admit students. And in the end, it will make us reflect on our values. What we achieve matters, but how we achieve it matters more.


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