College Admission Scandal Highlights Parental Desperation

College Admission Scandal Highlights Parental Desperation

All parents want their children to do better in life than them, be it professionally or personally.

There was a time when ensuring that their child chooses a respectable and gainful profession was the ultimate goal of parents. The scope of this goal has now increased to encompass their child getting admitted into a selective elite college that will not only provide rigorous educational training but also provide opportunities that will give their children a leg up in the ladder of success.

Most parents will do whatever they can to help their child succeed. For some parents, this translates into them tutoring their children, hiring tutors for them, enrolling their kids in esoteric extra-curricular activities to help them stand out from others. Basically take steps that will help their children become high achievers. For others, it means taking short-cuts by bribing doctors to falsely give a disability certificate allowing their child to get more time when taking the standardized tests, give donations extraordinaire to the university endowment fund to help their child get admitted, bribe school officials and test proctors to fix their children’s SAT/ACT scores, create fake certificates of achievement, fabricate photographs and under false pretenses get their children admitted into their university of choice.

My first introduction to University of Southern California was in the TV show “Liv and Maddie” which my daughter watches. In it, the main character Maddie has a goal to get a basketball scholarship at USC, a highly selective private research university. I chanced upon it again via the news reports last week that the USC athletic coaches have been charged with accepting bribes to get unqualified students admitted to their university as part of the sports quota. Besides USC, among others, elite colleges such as Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, University of Texas and University of California Los Angeles are also involved in this college admission scandal.

33 parents and 17 school and collegiate officials have been charged by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with:

  • Paying and accepting bribes
  • Tampering with the SAT and ACT test scores and
  • Fabricating sports credentials for the student applicants when they had minimal or none.

The list of parents charged includes business leaders, actors and other wealthy individuals who have paid hundreds and thousands of dollars to Rick Singer, who under the garb of his college admissions counseling company “The Key”, masterminded the scam and was responsible for coordinating the payments and admissions of his clients. The “privileged” kids were admitted in the sports quota for these universities that typically demand higher grades/scores, but accept lower ones in standardized tests and academics if a student is a distinguished athlete.

This college admission scandal, sadly, highlights the utter helplessness and desperation of parents to do anything to make their child get into a top tier college and per their outlook, succeed. These parents, by resorting to unethical means, forget what their ultimate responsibility towards their children is and what the ultimate goal of education is.

People need to be educated so that they can make intelligent moral choices. – Gary L. Francione

The goal of education is to raise good human beings of sound character and moral values who will also be successful. Parents who have both these goals, help their children succeed by helping them prepare better for the tests by training hard for it and in the process building their character. Whereas others, who are focussed only on the being successful part, will resort to any wrong doing to help their children get ahead.

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. – C. S. Lewis

By their unscrupulous acts, these parents are showing their children that hard-work and effort can be circumvented. That you can buy almost anything if you have money for it. That you are not responsible for your own success. An attitude not conducive to raising good human beings and good citizens. An attitude that will rob their children of their actual potential, their true calling, their sense of achievement and ultimately their sense of self. An attitude that no one will thank them for – neither their children nor the educational institution they wish their children to be part of.

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