While for some, the college admission scandal that made headlines early last week feels like old news, it’s still something that I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’d intended to share my thoughts on the scandal last Friday, but the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand and the missiles falling in Tel Aviv pushed the scandal aside. The violence that rocked the world last week served as a modern-day reminder that Haman – whose name was blotted out by groggers in our sanctuary as we read the Megillah during this week’s Purim celebration – is still very much alive.
In the Torah, we’re taught: Justice, justice shall you pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20)
As my family prepares to take our first trip to visit colleges for my daughter next week, the actions of those who have cheated, lied and bought their children spots at some of our top universities troubles me deeply. But, it’s not just the actions of these parents and those who worked with them that’s bothering me. The intensity of the college admission process, the courses we can enroll our children in to get their test scores higher, the prestigious coaches who can help us and our child design every aspect of the college admission packets – they’re all available legally to those of us who can afford them. But what about those who can’t?
I’m NOT obsessed with my kids’ SAT scores – but yes, I enrolled them in extremely well-respected programs that have helped them understand the test and boost their skills. But what about those parents who can’t do this?
My children are in a school that has a tremendous staff of people that guide them and us as parents through the complicated college admissions process. Without the guidance of these amazing folks, we would be lost. What about all the parents and students who are lost in the process and have no one to help them?
Yes, the criminal aspects of this scandal is reprehensible. But, the scandal shines a much needed light on the very broken college admissions process that drives those who have the ability to do anything and everything they can to get their kids into the best schools possible. Most do it legally. But, I question the morality and ethics of a system that seems to benefit kids whose parents are able to invest a lot of resources into grooming their children for the college admissions process. And I also question a system that pushes families to invest significant dollars into college preparation before they invest (or take out loans) to pay for a college degree and, in many cases, advanced degrees.
“Justice, justice shall you pursue.” Clearly, the scales of justice are way off balance when it comes to the college admissions process. I’m not really certain how to balance these scales. But, I believe that the admission scandal can begin much needed discussions, studies and investigations that can perhaps make fairness an integral part of the college admissions process.