The College Admission Scam shows how destructive it is for a student’s character and sense of self.

As I read about the recent college admissions scam, my thoughts went to the kids whose parents were participants in this behavior and what they knew of it—or were they even asked about it?

Thank goodness, in my 28 years, first as a Harvard Interviewer and later as an independent college consultant,  I haven't encountered such parents. But the message these parent’s actions deliver is so counter to the way I was trained by Bill Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard. We want students with top numbers of course, but we also want them to have a well developed sense of ethics, students with character—honesty, kindness, consideration for others, and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, I wonder how the children of these parents involved in this college admissions scandal, can ever emerge from this with their character intact, or was character development even part of their early training? If not, how very sad.

When I first meet a student who comes for college counseling, I begin with who they are as a person, and together we look for their strongest character trait with accompanying examples of it in action, then how to use it in any college interviews and also as their application’s personal statement essay. This is the way to distinguish themselves from other applicants, and in this process, they will have been the deciding factor—not their parent’s money for how they got into an elite college.

 I notice a different attitude once we have begun to do this work—more confidence, less fear of the process of getting into college. And the confidence builds as time passes. Even they notice that they feel very competent and confident to handle visiting colleges, introducing themselves to professors, admissions officers—anyone they meet when they are touring the colleges.

All I can hope is that something changes for these kids mixed up in this college admissions scam, and that they find people who will give them another example of how adults with character conduct themselves, and use that information to guide their life choices.