live better

my despair {& hope} over the college admissions scandal

By March 15, 2019 March 19th, 2019 5 Comments

This admissions scandal highlights a problem that’s been going on a for a long time – and it makes me so so angry.

You know that quote? “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”

As a mom of one graduate and another graduating this year, this admissions cheating and deception hits very close to home.

I am well aware that I, myself, write from a position of privilege. I have had opportunities that few in the world have had simply because I was born in America. I’m white. I come from a middle class family who valued education and could help me pay for it. I went to an incredible college-bound high school.

But I’ll tell you what. I had parents who were fairly hands-off. I wrote my own essays. I didn’t have the advantage of “knowing people in high places.” My parents weren’t in the position to donate heavily to the alumni fund. No one wrote my essays. The chips fell where they did. I was wait-listed at my first choice school. I still went to college – and realized a few things along the way. No one was going to make life happen for me.

Thank you, parents, for not making it too easy.

As my son waits on his last school today, my heart aches a little bit – what will it be?  The chips will fall and he will deal.

The extent to how far we will go for our children can be a very slippery slope. I want so very very badly for all of my children “to succeed!” and I sometimes do too much for them, forgetting that the struggle is GOOD.

And, as my wise mother says – “they are COMPLETELY missing the point of what an education really is.”

Photoshopping faces onto legit athlete’s faces (this scandal also highlights the great value of athletics over, say, an amazing violinist or, say, a student who does an extraordinary amount of community service…) bribing SAT and ACT proctors…

This is WRONG.

So it’s all bad. It’s really really bad. As I try to see the big picture of this landscape, I’m thinking of what this scandal is really highlighting: the great anxiety we have over getting into “the right college” and how we apparently are not willing to let our children “fail.”

Those who can pay, often do. And it continues to create an incredibly unfair advantage. It’s immoral. It’s deceitful and goes way beyond even writing your kid’s college essay, bombarding the admissions department, or securing a top-notch recommendation from an influential person.

So the richer get richer b/c they get into the “best” schools and make higher wages out of school. Class distinctions grow wider. For minorities, for non-athletes, for low-income students, for kids working really really hard, for those with great character but no “outstanding thing” – are put at an even more of a disadvantage.

I read this today: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Matthew 16:26.

Said slightly differently:

“What goes around comes around.”

“We will all get our just reward.”

But in the meantime, how about this: what kind of world do we want to live in?

What kind of life do we really want to create for our children?

Don’t mistake making your children’s life EASIER as a good thing. Stop the comparing! Don’t be so concerned with creating an exceptional child that you forget you already have one.

Let’s be better. Let’s BE GOOD. I think we live at a time where it takes a considerable amount of bravery to be good. Have courage to do the right thing when it seems like there’s no reward for it. There is. We will get our just reward. We will keep our souls.




    • Mary Nelson says:

      They miss the point. It is not about an impressive degree paper. It’s about the learning, the education. Jefferson said that a democracy requires a moral, educated people.

  • Kim says:

    This scandal says far too much that is so sad about our current state of affairs. In parenting and privilege and education. Trying so hard to teach my kiddos to work and to be invested in their work. And then again to be happy with the things they choose to be invested in because they are already good kids. It takes a considerable amount of bravery to be good. That needs to be hanging on my walls somewhere.

  • Nina says:

    All well said. I can’t stop thinking about it all. I’d add that the desperation to get the “right” name school also convinces people to put themselves in a lifetime of debt for the same false belief that the right degree is the key to everything. It’s not worth cheating and it’s not worth going into debt either.

  • Julia Tomiak says:

    I love this line: “Don’t be so concerned with creating an exceptional child that you forget you already have one.” Very well said, Amy. How can we teach the value of hard work when hard work isn’t valued.
    I hope your boy heard good news. My boy didn’t get into his top choice last year either. And he is incredibly, ridiculously happy where he landed. I hope yours will be too.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.