By now, you are likely familiar with the college cheating scandal that has engulfed many top tier universities across the country. Labeled “Operation Varsity Blues” by federal investigators, many wealthy parents were caught paying large sums of money to a man named Rick Singer, who ran a complex scheme that:
- Allowed underachieving high school students to cheat on their SAT exams to get higher scores; and
- Bribed college administrators and coaches to fraudulently provide athletic admissions to unqualified students who had never even played the sport.
This scandal has swept up many wealthy and successful executives, attorneys, and even notable actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Unfortunately, this scandal also raises uncomfortable questions about privilege and reinforces the notion that some parents are willing to lie and cheat to enable undeserving children to get ahead.
While most of us clearly live a different type of life than the parents who hired Rick Singer, this should serve as a cautionary tale to the many parents dream of their children making it into a good college, receiving a higher education, and using that degree to achieve a fulfilling career.
- With this in mind, teach your children the value of hard work. Show them through your own actions and your work ethic. Encourage them to study and teach them that their grades can take them toward their college goals. Further, as they become teenagers, help them pursue age-appropriate jobs and internships.
- Live with integrity and don’t enable bad behavior. Several years ago, there was a teenager who killed several people while driving drunk. His criminal defense presented a psychologist who testified that the boy suffered from “affluenza” and that he did not understand right from wrong because he was so wealthy and coddled. Understand the line between supporting your children and holding them accountable.
- Stay involved. Talk with your children’s teachers in any areas where they are struggling. Seek ideas, tutoring, or available resources to help your child improve in those areas. Look into SAT preparation courses and practice books to give them confidence when they take the exam. Visit colleges with them and challenge them to participate in extracurricular activities and volunteerism.
- Make sure your child is communicating with the school guidance counselor so that he or she is aware of all the steps necessary to take the SAT, to find colleges that fit your child’s goals, to arrange college visits, and to understand application requirements and deadlines.