Note to Parents: College Cheating Scandal Among the Rich & Elite

As a Career Coach and Adviser many students I work with apply to schools their parents want them to attend. That is not how it should be. Your child will become successful regardless of the university they attend so long as they put in the work.


If you don't know about the current college cheating scandal, you can find extensive details on CNN. Thus far, 50 people (33 parents) have been charged including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. 

In having discussions with colleagues, clients, and peers I found many believe the allegations are no different from parents who donate money to build libraries or dorm halls. Inevitably resulting in their children gaining admission to top tier universities. A few people mentioned they would do the crime themselves if they were a member of the rich and elite. They also were unsure why the crime was considered illegal, believing the rich are to be considered and treated separate from the the majority. On the other hand some, such as myself, find the crimes egregious and a prime example of a certain kind of privilege.  


I am conflicted. 

As a public health professional I am indifferent. The allegations are un-alarming. Lukewarm, at best. In every aspect of life wealthy people (some not all) are able to cut corners, lie, cheat and excel as a result. I am tempted to address the array of 'privileges' among the accused, but I will refrain from doing so as this blog post is meant to educate and not form drastic conclusions. 


As a Career Coach and Adviser I am disheartened. I know many students who work extremely hard to gain admission to top tier universities like USC, Stanford, and Yale. Previous clients of Career Savage traded fun for ACT/SAT prep courses and Career Savage sessions. 


Yes, a majority of my work is with college students and graduates. However, I do work with many high school seniors as they work their way through the college application process. I want people, especially parents, to understand a few things as it relates to this case: 


1) The College Admissions Cheating Scandal ring leader (Rick Singer) instructed parents to have their children "act stupid" to gain access to more time on their SAT/ACT exams


All academic institutions (elementary, middle school, high school, college, and graduate school) allow for students with learning disabilities to have extra time on exams and assignments. Collegeboard as well as the AAMC allow the same rights to those students. Over the years people have tried to defraud the system, faking learning disabilities to reap benefits. Parents please understand that the students who are truly affected will experience that much more difficulty when trying to claim the accommodations they rightfully deserve. Understand they are already at an academic disadvantage and the extra time allows for equity. 


2) Rick Singer rewrote some students college admissions essay


I take pride in the fact that I challenge my high school students and college graduates. When you work with Career Savage you will become a better writer. I make all my clients think and only help their words come to life. The essay that accompanies the application is meant to give the admissions committee an honest and deeper look into who the applicant is and how they can benefit from attending the university. Your child will spend the next 4 years of their life in this new environment. Writing the admissions essay for them simply to appease the admissions committee hurts no one but the applicant. The applicant may end up at the university and realize this was never the right place for them all along. Why do you think people transfer? Allow your child to write their own words on why they want to attend the university and let the admissions committee do their job on determining if your child will excel within that environment or not. 


3) Olivia Jade, daughter of Lori Loughlin, took to YouTube saying she doesn't like or care about school. 


Parents, you know your children better than anyone else. You may want your child to go to college but that may not be what they want for themselves. You can force them but forcing someone into school does not mean they will put their education in to practice. Nor does it mean they will go the extra mile to form networking opportunities for themselves. Olivia Jade is a prime example of a child who'd prefer not attending classes but rather enjoying the social aspects of higher education. Here at Career Savage, I mention there are many ways to become successful outside of having a college degree. If you are willing to work hard you will become successful. There are only so many slots at universities. Gift your child the freedom of self expression and allow other children who dream of college the opportunity your child never really wanted. 


4) Students cheated on SAT/ACT exams. One students score went up 400 points soaring into the 90th percentile 


Career Savage does not tolerate cheating. Mainly because, whats the point? It is understood that standardized testing seldom measures true intelligence which is what entices the wealthy or anyone for that matter to cheat. Many students do go to college and cheat their way to receiving their degree. Sounds great right? A 4.0 in hand with a Bachelors in Business. Wrong. Realize that the REAL world, a REAL job, knows when an employee is cutting corners. When the employer realizes you actually posses no technical knowledge you'll be cut loose. I know parents want the best for their children but when you introduce cheating as an option for progression you aren't really doing the best by your child are you? Your child is bigger and brighter than any entrance exam. Their SAT/ACT test scores do not defy their human existence. Besides, when it comes time to enter the workforce or become an entrepreneur no one is asking "What did you score on the SAT?"


Overall I think its important for parents to understand the name of your child's school is NOT everything!

The admissions process is stressful enough. Students should be allowed to attend whichever university they feel suits their personality and aspirations best. As a Career Coach and Adviser many students I work with apply to schools their parents want them to attend. That is not how it should be. Your child will become successful regardless of the university they attend so long as they put in the work.


I attended the University of New Haven. A small private school in New Haven, Connecticut. As a graduate of a small college I must emphasize I have worked as an equal, and sometimes superior, with Harvard, Yale, USC, UCLA, Boston University among other college graduates. You never know which school will gift your child a phenomenal future. They will be okay regardless of the school they attend. Take a deep breath and work through the anxieties of the admissions process. If your child meets the requirements to attend a top tier university I congratulate them on their academic achievements. Otherwise, let the admissions process run its course and let your child work for their acceptance the old fashioned way and let them decide what school they want to attend.


For help during the college application process check the Career Savage price list page. Career Savage will work with students through the application process helping them fill out the application properly, crafting responses to essay prompts, and helping the student decide which university best suits their career passions. 


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