The latest college cheating scandal has already caught more than 50 adults red-handed, including coaches, test administrators, CEOs and Hollywood celebrities – not to mention embarrassing the heck out of elite universities like Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, USC and UCLA.
That academic cheating goes on isn’t exactly breaking news. Awhile back The Educational Testing Service and Ad Council even launched a campaign to discourage it with the tagline, “Cheating is a personal foul.” With “increased competitiveness for admission into universities and graduate schools,” The Academic Cheating Fact Sheet said, cheating is “seen by many students as a means to a profitable end.”
But what if your parents are wealthy and do the cheating for you by paying for higher test scores like “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman – who paid $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation so their daughter could take part in the college entrance-exam cheating scam, according to court documents.
Or what if they scheme to invent athletic achievements to get you into a top school, like “Fuller House” actress Lori Loughlin, who is accused of agreeing to pay $500,000 in bribes to have her two daughters designated as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team despite that fact that neither child participated in the sport.
You don’t even have to work to get that top SAT score or the position of crew captain. It’s purchased for you, like a new iPhone. Just ring it up on Mastercard…ka-ching.
All looks “profitable” – until you get caught by the Department of Justice.
But would your kids really want you to do that for them? Why not ask them and use this as a natural “teachable moment” to highlight the importance of true self-worth and the value of hard work?
Just throw this out at the dinner table: “I’d love your opinion on something. I just saw a shocking news story about some really rich people who paid a lot of money to get their kids into the right college. We’re not rich, but I’m wondering: If we were and I did that for the two of you, how would you feel about it?”
Wait for it. If you have two kids, their responses will predictably be as different as night and day.
Kid 1: “I’d be upset and hurt. You don’t believe in me very much, do you? I mean, you paid somebody because you didn’t think I could get in myself by studying and working hard.”
Kid 2 shrugs: “If I could get into a big school like that as a done deal, without sweating over an application or a test, cool! What’s bad about that?”
Kid 1 fires back: “You didn’t get into the school, Dumbo. Mom got you into it by paying somebody. You telling me you’d feel good about that?”
Kid 2: (Silence).
Kid 1: “And you’d get caught, because you’re stupid. Even if you didn’t, you could never keep up with the work at a college you didn’t deserve to get in.”
Look at that. With no lecture from you, your older son has just solidified his belief in the self-reward of working hard, and your younger daughter got a wake-up call about the real world.
No one feels truly good about undeserved rewards being handed to them (especially if lies are involved). That’s why I always tell parents, “You never do your kids any favor by snow-plowing their roads in life.” No one can buy you self-respect. You have to earn it yourself.
Simply stated, no one feels truly good about undeserved rewards being handed to them (especially if lies are involved). That’s why I always tell parents, “You never do your kids any favor by snow-plowing their roads in life.”
No one can buy you self-respect. You have to earn it yourself.
If you were one of those two actress moms, imagine explaining what you did to your daughter(s) over the dinner table: “Honey, I thought you weren’t smart enough/talented enough to get into that school, so I was just trying to help…”
Then imagine your daughter’s expression as she realizes: Not only will I be denied admission to the school I bragged about getting in to my friends, but my academic track record is ruined for life.
As I wrote in a previous op-ed, parents if you think you’re doing those things for your kid, take a good look in the mirror. You’re selfish. All those things you’re doing…well, you’re not really doing them for your kid. You’re doing them for you, because the thought of your kid being unhappy, struggling, failing, and not being able to compete with their peers drives you crazy.
But here’s the irony. Doing anything for your kid that he could do for himself actually accomplishes the opposite of what you truly want. It ruins your child’s chance for success in life because it weakens their resolve, kills their resilience, tears down their self-concept, and diminishes their desire to do anything in life on their own.
Now that’ll put a major cramp in a parent-child relationship.