Dear Crabby, Should Parents Help Their Kids Get Into College?

Dear Crabby,

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the college admissions bribery scandal (aka Operation Varsity Blues). It seems like the wealthy and influential have been doing some variation of this for decades, so why is it a big deal now? And what lengths would you go to get your kids into college? Can’t wait to hear what you think!

Thanks,
Cal Berkeley

Dear Mr. Berkeley,

You’d have to been living under a rock to not know about this. At first I was so confused when our daughter said she was so sad about Aunt Becky. Mostly because we don’t have a Becky in our family. Then I learned she actually meant actress Lori Loughlin who was plays Aunt Becky, first on “Full House” and more recently on “Fuller House.” Apparently, Auntie B is as wholesome as apple pie on the show (and in Hallmark movies) so she’s not supposed to be caught up in something so sordid. Ahhh. Reality can sure be a bummer. You’re also right when you say it’s not uncommon for folks with a little extra cash to pay for a new building or library wing to ensure little Johnny or Susie can walk the hallowed halls of higher learning. However, those payoffs are generally viewed as legitimate donations. Take for example Dr. Dre. First of all, he’s not actually a doctor, but rather a music mogul (not that I’ve ever heard of him) whose real name is Andre Young. About six years ago he and his buddy Jimmy Iovine donated $70 million to establish the University of Southern California (USC) Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for the Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Whew. Is that a mouthful or what? Fast forward to last month when his daughter – surprise – gets accepted into USC and of course they take to social media to pat themselves on the back with how she got in on her own merit… uh-huh. Listen. She may be whip-smart, but once people started connecting all the dots, well let’s just say the post has since been deleted. My point is whether you agree or not, doing it that way is viewed as being above board, which is in contrast with what Loughlin and her hubby and the others named in the scandal have done. In the latter situation, answers were changed on standardized tests or a fake sports scholarship were given to kids who had never even played.

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Now what may surprise you is that I feel sorry for these kids. Well, most of them. Because in a way, whether the money was donated or a bribe was offered, it’s kind of like the parents are saying, “You’re good, but not quite good enough, so I bought us a bit of insurance to make sure you get in.” And I say most of these kids because you know there are some who absolutely expect to be able to trade in of the family name or their parent’s success. These are the kids who have absolutely no desire to be functioning, let alone contributing members of society. This whole thing reminds me of a story I once heard. Whether it’s true or not I couldn’t tell you, but it gets the point across.

A son is graduating high school. He wants to be a farmer, but his dad who has spent his life working in a factory wants his son to have it better and become a doctor. So, the son goes off to college and then medical school. At graduation his dad is beaming at all his son has accomplished. The son walks up to his dad, hands him his diploma and asks, “Now can I go be a farmer?” Ouch. The degrees were never for the son because they weren’t what he wanted. The same applies to this bribery scandal. From what I’ve read one of Aunt Becky’s daughters had zero interest in college because she was busy building her beauty brand. The kid even had endorsements. But her parents never went to college, so she and her sister were going. Now that this scandal has broke, not only has she lost her endorsements, but she’ll probably drop out of school. Even if she didn’t drop out, USC would have probably shown her the door. In fact, all USC applicants connected to the cheating scam are being given the ‘it’s not us, it’s you speech.’ While it sounds like some of the other schools will let already admitted students stay after the school is satisfied said students knew nothing about the payoff. You asked what lengths I would go to get my children into college. Well, my last name isn’t Rockefeller which means I have no money and no big name to throw around. Instead I supported my kids and got them help when they needed it. Otherwise it was up to them to hustle to find scholarships, write their application essays, etc. After all, they were the ones going to college, not me.

As for all the folks caught up in this mess, they were in court on Wednesday, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more details as this thing plays out like a bad movie of the week.

Hope that answers your question.

Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at DearCrabby@rochestermedia.com.

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