How Crazed Parents Scammed Their Kids Into College

The college admissions process has
become so competitive families are increasingly trying to game the system. You’ve probably heard about the Varsity Blues scandal. Two famous actresses
caught up in what prosecutors are calling the largest college admissions
scam ever. They stand accused of paying millions in bribes to get their kids
into elite colleges. Even staging photos for students who never even play the
sport. But that’s just one example. There were also the college counselors who were bullied to the point of quitting, and the wealthy parents who schemed to
get their kids financial aid. So they’re giving up guardianship of their kids in declaring them legally independent. Giving them a better shot at qualifying
for need-based financial aid. Why is there so much hysteria around these few institutions and what can be done about it? The Ivy League epitomizes elitism. Why are we so obsessed with it anyway? America has a way of idealizing and
idolizing these institutions that are kind of hallmarks of success. Probably a
poor barometer but a barometer nonetheless is looking at movies
throughout history where people are going to Harvard or Princeton or Yale. Hollywood has long portrayed Ivy League schools in a golden light. So has the president. “Then they said,
‘well they went to Ivy League college.’ So did I go to Ivy League college.” Most of Congress and all of these kind of very elite spaces a lot of graduates of
Harvard and Yale and Princeton are there No one is certain exactly where the term
Ivy League comes from. Ivy may refer to the Roman numeral for four when four of
the original colleges formed a sports league. Today the league consists of
eight schools that boast historical significance with seven of them founded
before the American Revolution. These schools cultivate selectivity and a
reputation of prestige that people want to be a part of. Each year it seems that they break a record for the number of applications that they’ve gotten but they’ve
maintained the same amount of seats. As the demand increases the gall with which people will will go to some of these underhanded methods to get their
children into these colleges has only increased. Take the curious case of
Sidwell Friends—a top school in DC. School officials repeatedly warned
parents to stop all kinds of bad behavior: verbally assaulting college
counselors, recording their conversations, and calling them from blocked numbers,
even circulating rumors about students. Two out of three of the college
counselors left their jobs this year. I think the people who are most likely to
do this are people who are overly stressed and and and believe
delusionally that their kids simply have to, not want to, but have to
go to this college or that university and if they believe that that the
regular levers of power and of leverage that they have aren’t adequate then they
start doing all sorts of things like undermining other children or bribing
proctor’s. To add to the stress of fierce competition, higher education has become
so unaffordable for millions of Americans even the wealthy feel the pinch. But low income people are hit the hardest. Students from the the top
quintile attend college at three times the rate of students from the lowest
quintile of earning families. It’s just a remarkable statistic, and it becomes even more insult to injury when you add on to the fact that students or parents are
either cheating their way into an institution or trying to find ways to
pay for an institution that were meant for those students who have already had
a hard enough time getting there. Schools have not gotten ahead of this
behavior so far. A place like Harvard with 37 billion dollar endowment could stand to enroll a few more students to kind of cut back on some of that
selectivity. As long as highly selective institutions remain as selective as they
are people will try to scam to get into them. There could also be less focus on getting in and more on actually
graduating. One of the issues with the hysteria around the college admissions
process is that it treats the entry into college as success rather than the back
end of college as success so if we’re thinking more about completion and
graduation rates than we are about admissions that’s probably the way that
we kind of reframed this whole conversation. Parents could also try to
dampen their fascination with these institutions. Elite colleges aren’t the
only pathway into elite careers. That’s not to say that a student can’t be
successful if they go to Texas State University where LBJ went to school. It’s
not to say that students can’t be successful if they attend University of
Houston like Elizabeth Warren did. Society probably shouldn’t be looking at
higher education as much as a zero-sum game as the stepping stone. I don’t want them to think that the most important outcome of high school is where you go
to college. I want them to have the approach that the most important outcome
of high school and adolescents is really crafting developing nurturing the brain
that you’re gonna have for the rest of you’re life. Hey it’s Adam. I’m a staff
writer at the Atlantic. Thank you so much for watching this video if you liked
what you saw subscribe to our YouTube channel and also my Twitter @AdamHSays.