University Admissions: Integrity, Ethics and Finding the Right Fit

2018_2019_Common_App_001As an educator, advisor and parent, the recent college admissions scandal has left me angry and frustrated. The actions of this small, yet powerful group of individuals, has sullied the principled work of admissions and advising professionals, who are truly motivated by the interests, aspirations, and actual qualifications of the individual student.

At the same time, it has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the philosophy and practices of academic advising at LCC. These are some of my thoughts:

Fit is more important than brand

True, Harvard is an amazing university, but is it the right university for YOUR child?

We have worked hard to develop a comprehensive academic advising program that gives students an opportunity to research and explore their university options in conjunction with personal introspection: “What do I like? What am I good at? What kind of university experience do I want?”

We want students to think about the purpose of their first degree, to look for opportunities that will enrich their university experience and their lives, and to define their unique needs, wants and wishes. Our job is then to help them find the universities that meet their criteria, and are places where they can learn, grow and thrive.

An engaged and dynamic student in high school is likely to be an engaged and dynamic college student, regardless of the institution. They don’t have to be at an Ivy League school or a US college to excel, develop a personal network or lay the groundwork for a strong career. Leveraging the university experience is all about the student, how he or she creates and seizes opportunities and takes risks. That is what makes the university experience extraordinary and that, in essence, can happen when the student finds the school and program that fits them best.

Integrity matters

I understand the emotional need to give children what they want and pave the way to their dreams and goals. But, speaking as a parent, I also want my kids to appreciate their efforts and be proud of their OWN accomplishments. I want them to recognize and respect that not everything will come to them without some level of determination, focus and hard work. They will also fail, and come to learn that things won’t always work out as they expect or would like. Those will be teachable moments and that is how they will evolve and discover who they truly are.

The parents who allegedly bought a place for their children at university did them a tremendous disservice. They took away their children’s agency and the opportunity to learn about themselves and benefit from some valuable life lessons as part of both the application and university experiences.

Buying a ticket to an elite college robs kids of that experience. The students who were unaware that their parents manipulated the admissions process may lose their place at the university or college in which they are enrolled and are likely facing self-doubt, questioning the achievements and efforts that they thought earned them their spot. How demoralizing to realize that, in the eyes of their parents, they were not able to succeed on their own merits.

Today’s youth experience enough stress as it is. Life online always appears better, shinier and happier. Everything is compared against a standard that has probably been Photoshopped, glamourized or embellished. They would be much better served if we were to teach them to be proud of who they are, to appreciate that they are growing, learning and changing, and to take the time and space they need to figure things out for themselves. Our role, ultimately, is to listen, guide and provide support through the successes and failures. – Kim Tulloch, Pre-University Program Coordinator & Director of University Advising

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