“To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of honesty.” John Ruskin
So how often does an education-related news story overshadow headlines the likes of a massive terrorist attack and plane crashes–and for several subsequent days? As an educator, and more specifically as an SAT Prep teacher, I have been both fascinated and horrified by the coverage of the now infamous “college admissions scandal” that has dominated the media since Friday.
In case you’ve missed it (like maybe you’ve been in a coma), here’s a quick recap from US News:
“FIFTY PEOPLE, INCLUDING NCAA Division I coaches, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy parents, were charged Tuesday with bribery and fraud in connection with a sweeping college admissions scandal, according to documents unsealed in federal court in Boston. The case – the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice – exposes a long-running racketeering scheme dating back to 2011, in which parents paid an admissions consultant a combined $25 million to help students cheat on college entrance exams and to get them into elite colleges and universities as recruited athletes when in reality they were not athletes.”
My most recent SAT Prep class just wrapped up last Thursday evening… the night before news of the college admissions scandal broke.
That evening I had said farewell and best wishes to a hard-working group of high school sophomores and juniors with whom I had spent two nights a week for five weeks, intensely focusing on skills and strategies to help them score well on the Reading, Writing & Language, and Essay sections of the SAT. For the multiple choice parts of the SAT, we had spent hours and hours analyzing question types and reviewing reading, writing, grammar, and style skills and concepts, learning how to use logic, metacognition, and actual content knowledge and understanding to respond to SAT questions. For the essay, we reviewed the basics of rhetorical analysis argument writing and practiced, and practiced, and practiced writing SAT-style essays. (Click here to download the SAT Essay Structure handout I use with my students for free.)
As with previous SAT Prep classes I have taught, those students worked their tails off soaking in all they possibly could from my tutoring with the hope that when their SAT test date comes, they will have successfully prepared to the extent that they will be able to do their very best on the high-stakes test that will, for most, determine which college they will be able to attend.
My students work hard for any success they achieve on the SAT, and they are not alone. Most students do some preparation for the SAT (or the ACT). Many students self-study (on-line or with test prep books) and a few are lucky enough for their parents to be able to afford for them to take an SAT prep class with a tutor. But, apparently, there is a tiny bit of a small percentage of a very few parents/students who seek admission to college based on what they can PAY rather than what they can DO.
What can we learn from the college admissions scandal?
Though the college admissions scandal caught us all by surprise when it broke last week, no one should be surprised that this type of activity is attempted by people to whom money matters more than an education, to whom appearances matter more than character, and to whom status matters more than integrity.
So what can we learn from this?
If this news had broken before me SAT Prep class had ended, these are points I would have wanted to discuss with my students:
*Realize that just because these students “got in” to college, without hard work, they never would have achieved success in their classes, much less have earned a degree–money can’t buy everything.
*Just having money (and in this case, lots of money) does not insure happiness. These parents could have “bought” any tangible object for their children–and likely they had already bought their children every THING they had wanted. They should have been happy and content already if money insured their happiness. Instead, what they wanted to buy (and were ultimately unsuccessful at buying) was a RESULT…an education and the experience of attaining that education, intangibles that cannot be purchased with money. Though college classes do cost money, the RESULTS are intangibles that must be purchased with time, work, attention, and effort.
*Take pride in your academic achievements and continue to strive for excellence. Consider what people who are less able are willing to do to achieve what your hard work has already done for you.
To help hard-working students achieve on the SAT, the Never Stop Learning Channel posts numerous SAT prep video lessons. Click here for the complete playlist.
Click here to view Never Stop Learning’s popular video lesson on SAT Essay Structure: