As the news broke that, among many other prominent names, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were arrested in relation to a scheme to get their teenagers into college, every station covered it as if rich people buying their way into colleges was…well…news.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in the midst of my eldest child applying to colleges. She worked hard, made it through a particularly tough year, and now has to sit back and wait until mid-April to find out whether or not she’s been accepted. It’s unfair that a rich parent could pay a fee to avoid waiting—because let me tell you, my daughter is planning to go to a state school (that happens to have a particularly excellent Special Education program), but even waiting for that decision, which we’re pretty confident in, is torture. If I had $20,000 in disposable income, I’d spend it to find out their decision today instead of checking the mail daily even though I know she won’t get anything for months.
But even if I were rich, it wouldn’t occur to me to cheat to get her in. She worked hard for her SAT scores, hard on her AP exams, and hard just to make it through high school in one piece. She wrote her own essay, as did her peers, and they sent those essays to each other in rounds, looking for critique–putting themselves out there again and again while someone overlooked some of their incredibly personal stories to help them shine just right.
So yeah, I’m angry that someone who has that kind of money can cheat the system, so that kids who “don’t really care about college” (as stated by Lori Loughlin’s daughter) don’t have to work hard to get in.
When we talk about free education for all, this is what we mean: an opportunity for high school students to level the playing field.
But believe it or not, it’s not the rich parents who are the problem here. Rich parents have been cheating the system forever, and all this did was bring that out into the public eye. No, the problem is the system itself. The system where private schools make money a priority and where you can buy your way in. Where a new wing is donated and a kid with a low GPA average gets into Harvard. The one where athletics become big business. And the one where kids who don’t care about getting into school can have mom and dad cheat for them, while kids who are less fortunate have to actually do the work to get into even the least expensive four year university.
This is why free higher education is a must for our country. When we talk about free education for all, this is what we mean: an opportunity for high school students to level the playing field. If middle and lower class students had the same opportunity upper class students do, without having to work ten times as hard, maybe we could change the dynamics of our current society and make it less of a caste system. Maybe privilege wouldn’t be the sole determinant in ease of the college admissions process, and less privileged students wouldn’t have to compete as hard for fewer spots.
Look, I have nothing against wanting the best for your child. Who doesn’t? But every parent should have that opportunity. Every parent should be able to provide the best education for their child without adding on the tagline “that money can buy.”
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— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
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