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Fri, Oct. 18

Bluhm: Entering an elite college has become a sad mess
Around the Bluhmin' Town

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

College admission? The rigorous process of entering an elite college has become a sad mess. When college “consultant” and con man Rick Singer cooked up the multi-million dollar scheme to cheat on admissions tests and bribe coaches, it resulted in wealthy parents getting their under-qualified kids in the country’s most prestigious colleges, like Yale, Stanford or Georgetown.

The scheme was complicated in its depth and scope. Just pay off proctors to fudge test results. Fabricate credentials. Make up a “personal life story” of heart-wrenching fiction (wealthy kids claiming to be poor). Photoshop all sorts of athletic poses to demonstrate that your kid can “make the team.” Pretend your child has “learning disabilities” to qualify for extra testing time. Oh, and make sure everyone gets paid off with big bucks. Cheating isn’t cheap!

Some folks are outraged. Others have been skeptical all along. How is it that the wealthy, famous and “well-connected” parents seem to always have the smartest children? Do “intelligence genes” run in the family of the “beautiful people?” Evidently not.

The master-mind behind the “side-door” college cheating scandal claims that wealthy clients want guarantees that their well-heeled kids will go to the best colleges. No failures allowed! Imagine the disappointment and as one parent claimed, “suicidal causing horror” of little Johnny not being accepted to Harvard? It would put “a stain” on the entire family! Geez, this is more like a movie script than real-life. Life imitating art?

Americans like fairness. We believe in equality. Study! Hard work gets results. Honesty is respected. We want our kids to succeed . . . but not at all costs. It runs against our core beliefs when we feel the system was rigged, the higher institutions we honored were in on the game, when other worthy students were turned away while the rich kids were taking their spots.

Wealth brings privilege. It always has. We know that children of movie stars have a greater chance of becoming famous than, we, the “ordinary.” And kids often tend to inherit family businesses. Nothing wrong with that. That’s the icing on the cake, to be able to “help” your children and family achieve success. We’ve earned that right. But cheating, bribing, lying, fabricating, paying and then bragging about the “hard-won” achievement of your (ungrateful) child is a road too far.

A recent national poll reveals that by more than 3-1, those surveyed believe that college admissions favor the wealthy and well-connected in an unfair way. Money talks and can buy a whole lot of diplomas. Graduating from the most highly respected schools can be a pathway to prominent jobs and powerful positions.

Well maybe the college scandal is a good thing. It puts a spotlight on a topic that has been largely ignored, yet widely suspected. Our kids deserve better. We want to believe, and have it demonstrated, that anyone can get into any college based on their merits, not their parents’ money.

Here’s a fresh idea. Want to spend money on helping the kids get into college? Hire a tutor! It’s legal.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.

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