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How the Cheating Scandal Affects Your Child

The recent revelation of a nationwide college cheating scandal created by William Rick Singer has raised significant questions about the advantages that the extremely wealthy obtain throughout the college application process. Even without breaking the law in such a flagrant way as Mr. Singer, many wealthy individuals pave the way for admission into elite universities through “institutional advancement,” which often amounts to writing a large check in exchange for special dispensation given to their child’s application. This scandal has thrown into sharp relief the insider avenues to college admission success that are not enjoyed by the average applicant.

Despite the advantages these children enjoyed, their parents erred more than just breaking the law when they gave them an unearned ticket to a prominent college. Essential College Coaches has written about the Bulldozer Parent who removes any obstacle from their child’s life, and how these parents are actually harming their child by eliminating experiences that allow the child to build self-reliance and introspection. The parents involved in the cheating scandal are the ultimate example of a Bulldozer Parent: they are literally paying many times the cost of a college education to sidestep any hardship (or even mild disappointment) that their child might encounter. Singer’s company catered to parents: the parents were the client and they made decisions about their child’s future that the child was often completely unware of. Essential College Coaches’ founding mission is in direct opposition to Mr. Singer’s service. Our clients are the students rather than the parents: in order to effectively serve our clients, we need our students to be personally involved and excited for their futures.

Another related and substantial difference between ECC and Singer is that all of our clients have significant concerns about paying for their child’s education regardless of financial background. This concern is and vital to choosing the right college for the individual student. Unlike the parents involved in the cheating scam, our clients do not choose one college that seems impressive without input from their student. Our goal is to find the right college for each student, but this is rarely the college that seems the most prestigious and has the right name. Rather, we involve students from the beginning of their high school careers in creating a list of criteria most important to them, such as size, geographic location, cost, merit scholarships, extra-curricular activities, campus life, and prominent programs and majors. The motivation to achieve must be with the student rather than the parent.

Ultimately, the parents in the cheating scandal are doing their children no favors. Those children have experienced no hardship or struggle, and they find success comes easily with little effort. When they finally confront something difficult in their lives, however, they will be adults with none of the emotional tools necessary to get past the challenge. Applying to college is difficult by nature, and Essential College Coaches involves the students in this difficult process to ensure that they will be equipped to handle anything the real world throws at them. Our students spend time throughout high school getting to know themselves, their interests and future plans in order to identify the school that can serve their needs. The right college may not be the one that has the best name, but it is the one that the student has spent time and effort considering, visiting, and working towards because that college is the one where the student will feel most comfortable working towards their life goals.

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