Admissions Fraud About Using Children as Status Symbols


Every parent lives, or has lived, with kids that badger them for brand name goods, citing that “all their friends” have whatever item they are demanding.  

It might be that instead of the Levi jeans for $50, they want the Guess jeans costing $100. Maybe it’s the skates or sneakers that must have the Nike logo. 

The grand slam is a brand-new vehicle when they turn 16. Most parents don’t cave to the pressure, although they may give in if it is a special occasion gift. It’s the way parents teach their kids the difference between wants and needs and the practically of life.

I did say most parents, but not all. There are those indulgent parents that give into every demand and see that their kids have the best that money can buy. I have often wondered whether these parents use their kids as status symbols for their own financial successes. 

Sadly, many of those kids grow up with a sense of entitlement and lack of work ethic and responsibility. They may never know the satisfaction a person can feel when they achieve or earn something from their own labour.

Again, most parents will do whatever they can to help their children achieve success. If it’s through sport, it may mean early morning trips to an arena, gym or venue hosting the activity. It might mean selling tickets, cookies or some other product for a fundraiser. It might be the painful homework process or finding extra help with academics if they are struggling.  

However, there are some parents who try to use their influence and pull strings to get their kids ahead of another kid, often at another kid’s expense.

The recent scandal in the United States about illegally “buying” admission to elite universities speaks to the extremes people will go to, to add a brand-name school to their kids’ lacklustre resumes. This has little to do with education, and everything to do with status. These unmotivated kids who enter through the back door will get little educational value to serve them in the long term.   

One back door student posted a video on Facebook stating she didn’t really care about school; she just wanted to experience the pep rallies, game days and the parties. I’m sure neither she nor her parents gave a thought to the hardworking, worthy student whose admission was lost to her hedonistic ambitions.  

Chances are if those students can’t pass the SAT aptitude tests, especially after private tutoring, they will flounder when competing with students who earned their admissions to the school. Either that or the parents will pay to have exams and course papers written for them, thus re-enforcing the views that an education isn’t important and cheating is okay.  

I wonder how those values will serve them in the real world. (Hmm, maybe they will become a narcissistic President of the United States and threaten the schools with lawsuits if their history is released.)

What is more important than the infamous lives of the rich and famous is that we, as a society, quit believing that these elite schools only accept and produce the best of the best. In both Canada and the United States, there are a multitude of very good universities and post-secondary institutions that will provide students with a good education and prepare them for their futures. 

Every school, at every level, is only as good as the people who work there. We should let our kids know that attending a trade or technical school is also a good thing that can lead to a satisfying career and a comfortable lifestyle. We should quit pushing our kids to be what we want them to be and encourage and guide them to be what they want to be.  

I don’t know what happens to the students who obtained, or are working towards, a degree at a school where their admission was garnered through fraud. There was a time when cheating in any way could have you expelled from the school. For those who knew what was happening and participated in the fraud, I would like to see these schools expel them or rescind their degrees.  

But there are students who didn’t know what their parents did, so should the sins of the father/mother be visited upon the son/ daughter? I dare say some will be terribly embarrassed, and possibly ridiculed by other students, when the information is fully disclosed. Does this whole scandal cast a pall on all students who hold degrees from these elite schools? Will future employers look at a graduate and ask whether they earned the degree or bought it?            

The saddest thing about this whole episode is that one day these back door students will realize this wasn’t about their parents generously buying them the best education available, but rather that their parents lacked confidence in them being good enough to achieve the admission on merit.