Zero hours spent in anguish about children’s college admissions

Indianapolis parents considered outliers among most parents of their generation

These are the headlines I imagine will soon appear once I publish this groundbreaking treatise on parenting college-aged children. Because I lost not one minute of sleep wondering how or where my kids would get into college.

Paying for it? Many, many sleepless nights.

But no, in the fall of my twin daughters’ senior year of high school, they decided Ball State University would do just fine. They thought they might want to be nurses. We visited the campus—very pretty, unlike its host city—and once they were accepted, I thought our college choice odyssey had ended. Then, that spring, they called an audible and decided they wanted to be business majors at Purdue University. They applied and were accepted.

Game over. Boiler up.

My son flat-out hated school, and though he had the academic chops for it, he decided after one year at IUPUI he would table the whole college thing for a while. At one time he wanted to go to his sisters’ alma mater, be in a fraternity and experience college as a member of a partying and tailgating brotherhood, but he knew that borrowed money was the price of admission, and that is not a recipe for building wealth. Which is his ultimate goal.

So when the news broke Tuesday about Operation Varsity Blues, the faces of which belong to two high-profile celebrities, I rolled my eyes at the utter stupidity of these parents indulging in such a narcissistic, self-serving and selfish undertaking.

Let’s dissect this: If you can afford to take part in such a nefarious scheme, you’re already rich. If you have even half a brain, you’ve no doubt set up your children with an adequate trust fund to see them through to their dotage, so regardless of what they study at whatever university, they’re not going to starve. This isn’t about them. It’s about you. It’s about how to best brand your image as the proud parents of a graduate of a prestigious university.

I graduated from what my middle class world considers a prestigious university. I have a degree in education from Penn State University, and I’m proud of my degree. What I’m most proud of, though, is that I put myself through college by working full time (and with the necessary addition of student loans).

Had I known then what I know now, I would have attended a much smaller and more affordable state run college where the tuition and cost of living weren’t so high. I wasn’t graduating with an engineering degree, I was graduating with an education degree—a degree I could have earned at one of the many teachers’ colleges in my home state of Pennsylvania. Then maybe I wouldn’t have had to borrow so much money to get where I wanted to be.

In the past two days, I’ve read posts from people defending these parents. “They love their children.” I call BS. No one loves their children more than my husband and I love ours. We love them so much that while we supported them as much as we could financially, we raised them to be independent. Maybe the way they’ve turned out is more of a product of our inability to pave their way financially, who knows? Sure worked for me.

There is no defense of this. While many say that this has been going on forever, it wasn’t okay then and it’s not okay now. It’s fine to pay your kids’ way through college if you can afford it. It’s not acceptable to make fraudulent charitable donations that you write off on your taxes, game the system by having your child labeled with a learning disability to get extra time on their SATs / ACTs, or photoshop their faces onto stock images of successful high school athletes to fabricate their athletic endeavors.

The best gift you can give your children is an ability to rely on themselves and the gifts you’ve bestowed upon them as loving parents. Love them, support them spiritually, emotionally, and, if the need arises, financially. If you’ve done your job well, your adult children should be able to function as awesome human beings quite nicely all by themselves.

Honestly, I didn’t come up with this on my own. There’s really nothing groundbreaking about this, it’s just common sense.

Sleep tight.