The recent indictment and arrest of 50 people, including celebrities and business leaders, for racketeering, fraud, and money laundering may have shocked people across the United States. I certainly was bombarded with questions from friends and family about my thoughts on the crimes committed by parents, college coaches, College Board administrators, and by others. While this particular case is far from over, and I'm sure that new outrageous details will emerge as the criminal proceedings continue, Operation Varsity Blues already offers all of us some valuable lessons and important insights into the state of higher education in the U.S. today. Here are the 3 most significant things that we all should take away from this scandal:
Operation Varsity Blues is horrific, but it's important to understand how and why such egregious behavior could occur. While 50 people may have been arrested and charged with committing crimes, far more of us have been guilty of buying into the myth that greater selectivity must mean a better education or college experience. In a way, this fever for elite schools has been fed by parental and student misconceptions, with colleges and universities only stoking that fire for their own benefit. True change will only come when we all stop perpetuating this false belief that getting into elite schools is the key to future happiness and success. Instead, let's focus our energies on identifying the schools that will support each student's individual academic, social, emotional, and financial success. A good place to start is by making sure that we all encourage ethical behavior in our actions and our words. It may be a cliche but it's true: honesty is the best policy.
Maruta Z. Vitols is an independent college consultant in the metro-Boston area. When not helping students achieve their dreams, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, exploring new places with her husband, and doing yoga.