You don’t have to be rich to be too involved in college admission

Dr. , who once was on the selection battleground at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaks a truth that many people don’t want to acknowledge in the wake of the scandal this week that the rich and famous are buying their kids’ way into elite schools: You don’t have to be rich and famous to be over-invested in the college selection process.

It’s easy — and appropriate — to focus on the people charged this week — not so easy to look in the mirror and ask if we wouldn’t do the same thing if we had the resources, or whether we’re engaged in the process with the same attitude if not the same resources.

In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, Crowley says he was never bribed to advocate for a student. But he knows the kids of wealthy donors ended up at MIT and it probably wasn’t a coincidence.

The reality is, the money generated by admitting wealthy students often serves to subsidize the financial aid of those less fortunate. If one squints, one might see here a karmic balance enabling many students to attend a college they otherwise could never afford.

Admissions is painful for everyone involved. Even though I oversaw the selection process at MIT, we rejected many kids whose applications I had fallen in love with. We admitted by committee, after all, and I was but one voice in a roomful of many colleagues. I always got attached, and decisions we made still sting me to this day.

There are more kids who want to get into elite colleges than there are spaces for them, of course.

But Crowley invites us to think — especially at this time of the year — how much of our college selection process is more about us and less about our kids.

The best advice I can give you, Mom and Dad, is to remember that it’s really not about you. Nor is it about others’ perceptions of your family. This mentality only feeds the beast that is contemporary college admissions, and when you embrace it, you risk bringing an unhealthy stress into your household.

Your kid is tremendous and resilient and smart and creative, and she will go to a wonderful school that’s just right for her, not you.

Take a deep breath, don’t write your kid’s essays, and please never call an admissions office and pretend to be your child. We know it’s you, and we sometimes make little notes when you do so.

Related: My Thoughts On College Choices & Admission (Minnesota Prairie Roots)

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