The current College Admissions Scandal hit the media and all of us hard this last couple of weeks. Parents from well-to-do families paid for so called “coaching” services to gain admission for their children into prestigious colleges and universities. Some people were in pure shock, and others claimed “well, are you really surprised? If they buy the building and put the name on it, isn’t that the same?” I am somewhere in between, but for one core reason: this was not a “coaching” business. There was no “coaching” and development. This was just illegal activity under the pretense of coaching that allowed for parent egos to ruin their children’s future.
The media seemed to agree that the only faces that should be used front and center were those of two moms, and while the feminist in me wants to scream “that’s not fair,” I honestly doubt that this would have received the publicity it did, if it wasn’t a “Desperate Housewife” and a beloved aunt from “Full House” that were implicated. So, I am glad that we are talking about this topic, but are we having the right conversation?
Are we asking why the parents felt the need to cheat their kids way to a “prestigious” degree?
Are we asking what the parents could have done with that money for their kids, to hire tutors and teachers to actually teach them practical skills or invest it elsewhere for their children’s future?
From now on, many of these students will be branded as cheats. Even if they go to another school (including a community college), their past will go with them. Even if they earn any further recognition in life, the assumption may often be “I bet your mommy/daddy, got this for you too.” And that’s sad. I cannot imagine what these parents were thinking when they wanted to fake photos, a learning disorder diagnoses or anything in between.
It seems to me that they needed to validate their parenting egos. They needed to ensure they appeared as a good mom/dad, which they believed would have been achieved by their kids going to a top institution.
They were mistaken. Their constant search for more, better, higher led not only to their downfall, but that of their kids. They ruined their kids’ future.
The sad part is the parents and children involved in this scandal could have benefited from actual college coaching. The coaching could help parents and students figure out what they should really focus on. And if academics is not their passion, a coach could help them find a path by way of a vocational school, starting up a business, or just traveling for a few years until they “figure themselves out.” All of the families involved in this scandal had the financial means to pursue any of these options.
I am not asking anyone to feel bad for people who did illegal activities. I am asking all of us to learn from this.
Let’s accept that most of us are average at most things. The majority of us will not be top in our class, top scoring athletes or prize winning ….well, anything.
Let’s accept that each person’s passion and purpose will differ, and instead of trying to “fit in” and “fight our way to the top,” let’s just start with self acceptance.
Then, let’s accept our kids. As they are. Not as we want them to be.
Need a test to know if you are going overboard with your parent ego…Here are two questions:
Are you trying to commit an illegal act to get your child into a “prestigious institution?” If so, STOP it and go to speak with a therapist. There is likely some issue that needs to be resolved.
IF that’s too obvious, try this second less obvious question:
Are you pushing your kid to play a sport/instrument he/she does not want to play so you can feel good? Reflect and be honest. If yes, it’s time to stop that and to have a conversation with your child and possibly a therapist, saving your kids years’ worth of therapy to come.
The truth is these kids and any other kid could have amazing futures in their own right, with lower scores, vocational school, a community college degree or maybe even no college at all. All it takes is a little creativity, lots of dedication and actual work. We all have something in us that just takes some hardwork, and I hope parents can let go of their egos and trust their children to shape their own futures.
Aleksandra (Aleks) Stefanovska is a management consultant, admissions coach and a mom of two kids. Aleks is also a little annoyed that we as society stress our kids instead of give them tools to succeed while CELEBRATING their accomplishments and learning from failures, hence her website www.PainFreeToCollege.com. While a 4-year university may not be for everyone, the skills the college admissions teaches are life skills she wants everyone to know. She shares those tips on her website and in her upcoming book: “Pain Free To College: A step-by-step guide for life and admissions success”. Follow her on Facebook or talk to her on Twitter.
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