Image from ABC News

Image from ABC News

It’s about concern

It is startling to learn someone developed such a clever scheme to get young adults into elite universities, and that they sought out and involved individuals at all levels of the application and admissions process. So much deception and so much paying for favors … It’s really disappointing to think that someone would perpetuate such an unfair scheme and get away with it. But he didn’t.

So why would these parents go to such lengths to insure their kid(s) gets into some of the most elite institutions, despite the moral and legal implications? If we had a chance to speak to any of the parents, they would tell us they did it for their kids. They did it out of concern for the future of their children. They might even be implying they went above and beyond the norm to insure their child had nothing but the best education. Attending an elite institution does impact one’s financial and social future (there is some research that supports that claim). Think about it, if we all had access to that much money and that many connections, would we use them to get our children into one of these elite institutions? Would you use your power out of a concern for your child’s future? The key word here is concern. At The Values Institute we define concern as demonstrating interest in the well-being of others. The parents could make the argument that’s just what they did. But was it really about the well-being of their child or the well-being of their own interests, their reputation? The opposite of concern is being focused on oneself, showing no commitment to understand others and their experience. Was there any time taken by the parents to understand the child’s experience? Were questions asked about their talents, their values, their desire and aptitude for higher education? The critical questions and demonstration of concern are: Where is the child in their life’s journey and what would most help them take the next step toward discovering who they are? Who could they become and what can they contribute to the world?

Concern lived out in a complete manner means not projecting our desires onto someone else, even our kids, but rather taking the time to understand them and their situation first before we start offering up advice or making decisions on their behalf. What kind of future does a child have if their parents make all their important decisions for them and bulldoze every obstacle out of their kid’s way? Deep concern is a normal part of parenting; cheating is not.

– Len Hightower - Managing Director, The Values Institute