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Buying a Top Education

I was rather shocked this morning when I read the story about a crime ring involved in getting kids into the best schools. While I knew that having letter of references from alumnus was helpful to getting into the top schools, I was rather surprised that people were going to this level of bribery.

According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department on Tuesday charged 50 people — including two television stars — with being part of a long-running bribery scheme to get privileged children with lackluster grades into big-name colleges and universities.


I remember clearly when my daughter was working to get her ACT test scores up to get into her first choice school. We did hire a tutor that turned out to be of no help. My daughter knew that she didn’t have the highest grades but going to a top school was not her goal. She got into her second choice school and she had a great experience. It did help her get her first job as the hiring manager’s daughter was an alum of the same school.


Having worked in the Silicon Valley I was regularly around graduates from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Stanford, Berkeley and such. I have strong opinions about the capabilities of the alumnus from these schools whether the were undergraduates or had master’s degree. Yes, if you were a male looking to make it to the executive level it helped. But I’ve fired as many ivy league graduates as I have from other colleges. I always found talent, at least in marketing, wasn’t based on the school you attended.


Yes, I wanted my daughter to go to a good school. I guess it is an ego thing as it reflects on us as parents more than your kid’s smarts.


But the reason that this story makes me mad is that all of us want our kids to go to the best school and we tried to help our children do everything they could to make it happen. But it didn’t involve cheating. What sort of standard is that to set for your kids? Is that a reflection of so many of the problems in this country? The lack of values and ethics. How will our kids emulate the right behavior if we don’t practice it? And what about the kids who deserved to go to the top schools. Those who worked hard and had the grades and did extra activities but whose parents couldn’t afford to pay for a bribe? They didn’t get the spot they deserved.


I’ve been talking with a lot of my female friends who like me work to raise money for scholarships for women. We debate whether the scholarships should be grades based (typically, high grade students will get some financial support) or need based (I lean toward need-based because these kids typically have no one to help them and a college education will make a substantial difference in their lives.)


Several of the kids whose parents have been indicted have been interviewed or old YouTube videos they made have been pulled up. One of them said it was nice to be in college but making a daily YouTube video was more important. This girl’s parents paid more than $500,000 to get her and her sister into USC. I wonder what their grades are? And I wonder, if like President Trump, they will work to make sure those grades are never released. I think mommy and daddy may have wasted their money. And now they are going to pay for it. Nice to know that sometimes what goes around comes around.