How Crazed Parents Scammed Their Kids Into College
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How Crazed Parents Scammed Their Kids Into College

The college admissions process has
become so competitive families are increasingly trying to game the system. You’ve probably heard about the Varsity Blues scandal. Two famous actresses
caught up in what prosecutors are calling the largest college admissions
scam ever. They stand accused of paying millions in bribes to get their kids
into elite colleges. Even staging photos for students who never even play the
sport. But that’s just one example. There were also the college counselors who were bullied to the point of quitting, and the wealthy parents who schemed to
get their kids financial aid. So they’re giving up guardianship of their kids in declaring them legally independent. Giving them a better shot at qualifying
for need-based financial aid. Why is there so much hysteria around these few institutions and what can be done about it? The Ivy League epitomizes elitism. Why are we so obsessed with it anyway? America has a way of idealizing and
idolizing these institutions that are kind of hallmarks of success. Probably a
poor barometer but a barometer nonetheless is looking at movies
throughout history where people are going to Harvard or Princeton or Yale. Hollywood has long portrayed Ivy League schools in a golden light. So has the president. “Then they said,
‘well they went to Ivy League college.’ So did I go to Ivy League college.” Most of Congress and all of these kind of very elite spaces a lot of graduates of
Harvard and Yale and Princeton are there No one is certain exactly where the term
Ivy League comes from. Ivy may refer to the Roman numeral for four when four of
the original colleges formed a sports league. Today the league consists of
eight schools that boast historical significance with seven of them founded
before the American Revolution. These schools cultivate selectivity and a
reputation of prestige that people want to be a part of. Each year it seems that they break a record for the number of applications that they’ve gotten but they’ve
maintained the same amount of seats. As the demand increases the gall with which people will will go to some of these underhanded methods to get their
children into these colleges has only increased. Take the curious case of
Sidwell Friends—a top school in DC. School officials repeatedly warned
parents to stop all kinds of bad behavior: verbally assaulting college
counselors, recording their conversations, and calling them from blocked numbers,
even circulating rumors about students. Two out of three of the college
counselors left their jobs this year. I think the people who are most likely to
do this are people who are overly stressed and and and believe
delusionally that their kids simply have to, not want to, but have to
go to this college or that university and if they believe that that the
regular levers of power and of leverage that they have aren’t adequate then they
start doing all sorts of things like undermining other children or bribing
proctor’s. To add to the stress of fierce competition, higher education has become
so unaffordable for millions of Americans even the wealthy feel the pinch. But low income people are hit the hardest. Students from the the top
quintile attend college at three times the rate of students from the lowest
quintile of earning families. It’s just a remarkable statistic, and it becomes even more insult to injury when you add on to the fact that students or parents are
either cheating their way into an institution or trying to find ways to
pay for an institution that were meant for those students who have already had
a hard enough time getting there. Schools have not gotten ahead of this
behavior so far. A place like Harvard with 37 billion dollar endowment could stand to enroll a few more students to kind of cut back on some of that
selectivity. As long as highly selective institutions remain as selective as they
are people will try to scam to get into them. There could also be less focus on getting in and more on actually
graduating. One of the issues with the hysteria around the college admissions
process is that it treats the entry into college as success rather than the back
end of college as success so if we’re thinking more about completion and
graduation rates than we are about admissions that’s probably the way that
we kind of reframed this whole conversation. Parents could also try to
dampen their fascination with these institutions. Elite colleges aren’t the
only pathway into elite careers. That’s not to say that a student can’t be
successful if they go to Texas State University where LBJ went to school. It’s
not to say that students can’t be successful if they attend University of
Houston like Elizabeth Warren did. Society probably shouldn’t be looking at
higher education as much as a zero-sum game as the stepping stone. I don’t want them to think that the most important outcome of high school is where you go
to college. I want them to have the approach that the most important outcome
of high school and adolescents is really crafting developing nurturing the brain
that you’re gonna have for the rest of you’re life. Hey it’s Adam. I’m a staff
writer at the Atlantic. Thank you so much for watching this video if you liked
what you saw subscribe to our YouTube channel and also my Twitter @AdamHSays.

About James Carlton

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63 thoughts on “How Crazed Parents Scammed Their Kids Into College

  1. Hi everyone! I'm Adam. Hope you enjoyed the episode. What questions do you have about college admissions scandals or higher education? Post your comments below and I’ll be around to answer them throughout the day!

  2. It may not be the kids fault, but all of them should lose their college degrees and the ones still in college should be expelled!

  3. There Are Many More Successful People From "Non-Ivy League" Schools Than From Them!!–Graduating From One These First Schools Of Higher Learning ONLY Open The Door.–It's What One Does Afterwards With Their Advanced Education. The Cost Of Schooling Doesn't Make That Particular School Better Than Any Other.–Just Stating The Facts As I See Them…!!

  4. Great story, Adam! I am not even American but I asked myself the same question: why can't people see a way foward outside Ivy League universities? Thanks for the balanced view on this issue.

  5. It's better to be poor to apply to an ivy league than it is to be middle class – you get free tuition if your parents don't make enough money. But everyone else is left scrambling over the rest.

    I just went to a UC and saved tons. Those who go to CalStates saved even more

  6. I think it's more about exclusivity and social capital than anything else. Rewarding those with merit becomes an after thought. I've always been against the idea of Ivy League schools and personally chose not to apply to any on principal. I would encourage any gifted person to avoid those schools and save that money for more productive and meaningful pursuits while attending a reputable state institution (although those are starting to look like elite private schools as well).

    I think it's poetic justice that these kids who are now going to these elite schools may face scrutiny for how they got in or were able to afford it. 43% of Harvard admits for example are on athletic scholarship or legacy. You bet I'd be suspicious of an Ivy league grad.

  7. I can't believe parents are trying to give up guardianship to get their kids' financial aid! Feels insulting to people like me who were actually in the foster care system & grew up without their parents.

  8. The best point made, is the hype around getting accepted into these college- scamming, studying, and bullying their way in. but can students actually graduate with a degree???

  9. Crazed is the wrong word in this instance. It implies no intent and actions devoid of rational thought. On the contrary, deliberate and purposeful actions were taken by these parents. It was more diabolical than born of mental illness. You should change the title!

  10. Can the failure of colleges be turn into class action ? They present them selves as an avenue to financial success. Obviously misleading

  11. You should also do a video on how "Ivy League Fever" makes universities hire only Ivy League graduates as professors, making the already oversaturated PhD market even worse.

  12. Pressuring your kid to go to school. Telling them you won't support their education at the last minute. Then lying about and denying your behavior is also pretty fucked up and abusive …

  13. Crazed? They didn't even think twice about it since buying your place in society is simply accepted as the way of life in our country. The only crazy part is they were actually punished.

  14. When governments come in to villages with their ivy league and public schools to train up & educate up the fellowvillagers to be efficient at generating more money for their self empowering systems of fellow man control.
    And we we are taught to willingly participate in capitalism.
    That's when the masses ensure their own slavery.
    By the toil and sweat of their own brow.
          When governments come in with their ivy league and public schools to educate the fellow villagers to be efficient at generating money. The climate changes a little more & The Earth's natural Provisions systems and self-regenerating balance – dies a little further.
    It's not so much climate change that we need to worry about.
    It's the educated in & trained in – money generation systems which are the catalist for & the cause of climate change which we need to worry about.
    Free of charge food and building materials are supplied by Nature.
    Mankind's plastic lifestyle requires much more over-complicated investment.
    It might even go so far as to cost us humanities existence on the face of the Earth.
    Although  God's Great Nature does have a way of self-correcting – if infestations start taking over natural systems – "too excess".
    Maybe that's why Somwhat automatic "Population Corrections" tend to eventually happen, through the introduction of Wars by way of the superior intellect of an Over-lording Capitalistic Leader led hierarchy of the wealthy type of mankind's –  capitalistic  societies.
    Which keep depleting and poisoning the natural provision systems which used to be the all encompassing wealth and health of all of Humanity on the face of this Earth.
    Instead of mass population Leaders; there used to be wise and and experienced knowledge-sharing fellow villagers providing guidance for Fellow-villager populations.
    But then money powerd leaders came in and imposed their overloading money powered methods which empower the capitalists with the money power to purchase all the Weaponery to put an end to those fellow villager type people.
    And as they did.
     It was then the world started heading "climatically" – for where it is now – in a handbasket – of money-making populations.
    It may not be too late to get things back in balance but we would need to give up the money powerd way of life – ((and all the corporations produced THINGS and money powered lifestyles)) which keep everyone enslaved to serving in the Elites money generation systems – which are designed to keep us all addicted to the convience of believing in money –  for conveniently providing all our needs in life.
    Turns out such a belief and such a convenience wasn't so convenient at all.
    Once you see the big picture & the dismal worldwide future results.
    Now that we have the internet and websites we can collaborate and volunteer to help each other have enough food and shelter materials without need for big corporations which enslave us to money generation systems.
    Find fellow villager on FB to find out how.
    I've started the website but it needs more volunteers to succeed in proving that it's not "quite yet" too late.
    In this video it's revealed,
        How an intellect and money worshipping mankind has duped his lesser over educated fellow man into slaving their lives away for the elites money generation systems which Ensure their own slavery to such systems – by the toil and sweat of their own brow.

  15. for Adam it makes sense to worship human intellect for increasing intellect and wealth for more money -even if it inadvertently destroys our Earth's natural provision system in the long run.
    It's time to have a peaceful revolt against the over education systems which train up the masses to be efficient little capitalist drones addicted to all the things that corporations keep selling the masses over and over again

  16. Liberal Universities that proclaim white privilege and social justice are just projecting upon the less fortunate. Meritocracy for students.

  17. Donald Trump was admitted as a student to the Wharton School of Business because his brother knew an employee that worked in the attendance office. Wealthy parents make huge donations to Ivy League Universities so their children will be accepted as student which also takes a place away from a student that earn a high grande point average in high school and middle school that earned high ACT and SAT test scores.
    Also 40% of students that obtain a college degree find employment that doesn't require the degree they obtained.
    With the Varsity Blues College Admission Scandal many of the parents worked for huge corporations in upper management jobs that required them to have a college degree.
    Those parents knew they was lacking good morals trying to cheat their children's way in to an elite university.
    William Rick Singer had 3 college admission consulting businesses since 1992 and was considered to be shady in the 1990s.

  18. I’d be interested in seeing the different ways that students get into college, that are scammy, but are not usually considered to be a scam. For example, boarding school students whose parents donate to universities the year before their kids are applying to increase their chances of getting in and how colleges will often accept these students but make them take a gap year in order to maintain high GPA and SAT score averages on paper. Also just the way that Ivy League schools and elite boarding schools have such a close relationship and are essentially a funnel into each other.

  19. There is a waste in this system. While the Ivy League universities are in the world top ten, the academic productivity (papers and dissertations) of the US is very low. Switzerland scores the highest production has only one university in the top 25. Somehow this system of elite universities is not very efficient.

  20. I disagree with the contention of the education editor that students of low socioeconomic status attend at low rates due to some kind of systemic or structural bias in the admissions process. In fact, those students are highly favored for receiving financial aid from universities and government. In addition, in the US, any high school student who graduates can go to a community college if desired. And that’s the key variable to explain this graph. Students of low socioeconomic status don’t go to university because they don’t desire to go. They also oftentimes can’t hack the workload because primary and high school administrators and teachers passed all of them with low, or even no, standards. And accommodating these ill-prepared students is only dropping standards even further at US universities as these students can only pass classes and undertake majors of dubious academic rigor. Grade inflation is rampant.

    To reframe the issue as the reporter suggests by looking at graduation rates as symbolic markers of success will lead, like it has in high schools, to all students passing in order to look good statistically on paper. This is the problem in the US when journalists with zero real experience in the field are the ones actually setting the agenda. The journalistic class as it exists now needs to be eliminated, and thankfully they are contracting rapidly.

  21. We don't have that much elitism regarding universities in Germany. Most universities are on a similar level of quality and therefore it doesn't matter where you went to university.

  22. I hadn't seen my parents since I was a middle schooler, but I wasn't allowed financial aide because they were still claiming me on their taxes. This system is so disgustingly broken.

  23. @4:45 I went to Texas State University like LBJ and the only thing I learned was how to drink during Wurstfest, Czhilispiel, Sigma Chi fight night, Nephews and The Green Parrot.

  24. A broader question is whether the scams these people pull extend well beyond college admissions?

    It would be little surprise to find much of their wealth springs from dubious ethics if not downright illegalities. Ascribing much virtue to the wealthy is a poor practice.

  25. Monetary discrimination is wrong. The more a person is educated, the more they contribute to society. It should be considered an investment in humanity….and free to all.

  26. lolollol my interpretation of the title was more or less how parents scammed their kids (via persistent pressure/persuasion/ultimatums) into indentured servitude via student loan debt for a meaningless degree that offers them no tangible experience to enter the work force in their field of study (obviously generalizing – calm your tits)

  27. I completely understand your points around the necessity of not abusing systems for lower privileged people, but the counter to that is not lowering admissions standards, it's actually doing background checks, forcing these colleges to use the abysmally high tuition fees for actual good. Colleges need to be selective so the people in those colleges can thrive in an environment with people who are at their level. Think about it this way: colleges are not for education; they aren't for getting a degree; they are especially not for people who already have plans, connections, and possibly a business. Instead, colleges are for connections. Taking away the selectivity from colleges removes the chance to gather up GENERALLY qualified individuals to make connections. Honestly, assuming you had extensive knowledge in a particular area, would you rather work in said area with randomly assorted people who may or may not be qualified or with individuals who were preselected to be generally more your level? Obvious decision there. It depends how you think about it; there are two sides to every "solution." Sorry for ranting but I find it important for people to think more openly.

  28. The online world is a great place to spawn new stereotypes. Stereotypes like these, ones that affect the physical world, can critically damage the harmony human society has taken centuries to slowly create and burn it into ash.

  29. You don’t even need to go got college to be successful, if you just want an education your better off attending a Community College. You can’t bet your life success on just college alone.

  30. this happens in my country too. in the end it is less than 1% of kids from low income family to go into university. some parents are just determine to get their way into finiancial aids and their kids into uni even if the kids do not meet the requirement.

  31. Only thing that's going to come of this expose is that "royalty" parents will have to figure out how to get around any pesky, new regulations. But that's what lawyers are for. Laughlin will be hailed as a martyr among her group when she gets out of luxury prison (those that allow you to pay for your "imprisonment" in a motel with a 12' chain link fence, and you repay your debt to society through making 2 or 3 lanyards a day, and your fellow inmates are all wealthy and/or connected persons).

  32. My mom in the future: omg ur growing up sooo fast i don’t want u to go to college
    Me: u want me to learn…. right?

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