College Admissions Scandal in the News

News coverage of the recently revealed U.S. college admissions scandal continues. CNN (3/13) reported that dozens of wealthy parents bribed William Singer, a college consultant, to "take the test on behalf of students or to correct their answers" and "bribed college coaches to help admit the students into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their abilities."

To me, the saddest part of this story is the focus on college acceptance as an end to itself. It's this focus that makes ever more demands of our children, asking them to demonstrate excellence in all areas of life, and continually raising the bar on what "excellence" means. This is harmful to their mental health.

Yes, we should have high standards for our students. But there must be balance in everything, and when students make a good effort, what they achieve must be good enough. While worrying about our children's future financial security is natural, I believe that having character qualities such as grit and resilience will better serve our children than a degree from a prestigious university. As parents, we must love our children unconditionally.

I've often quoted Frank Sachs, former president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, who said, “college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won." The HIS College Counseling mission statement is to help our students be admitted to institutions where they can thrive in an environment that challenges them to grow academically and personally. I find that when the focus is on higher education as a place for self-discovery and growth, a lot of the fear and desperation tied to college admissions dissipates.