Letter to the Editor: College scandals

Devan Shepard

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Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have been in the news recently, as they have been connected with the largest college cheating scandal of all time.  They, along with 50 other wealthy parents, were accused of bribing SAT proctors, coaches and even having their kids faces being photoshopped onto the heads of actual athletes. These measures were taken to ensure that their children could land a spot in top tier colleges. They now not only risk serious prison time, but also are currently being sued for $500 billion and the potential loss of their careers. 

Many in the media have taken this moment to focus on the nepotism and entitlement of the wealthy class. Aunt Becky and Desperate Housewives memes have also been circulating on social media for days now. However, I want to focus on something else for a minute. There are many things that stand out for me in this situation. The first being that these parents did one of the worst things a parent could do: try and plan their own children’s lives. Lori Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, actually had a successful YouTube channel that was making her money, and she seemed to enjoy doing it. There is a now an infamous video going around where she stated that she did not even care about school. While she did apologize for that comment, I do believe she was being honest in her response. It has to be said that not everyone has to go to college to be successful or happy with life. 

I was briefly reminded of my own high school experiences as well. I went to a magnet school, and it was known as one of the two smart magnet schools available in the district. While I enjoyed my time there for the most part, and had amazing experiences that I cherish, one thing that bothered me was the snobbish behavior a lot of the student body had. I really noticed it my senior year of high school. Senior year, I, like most high school seniors, was confused about my life and where I wanted to go after high school. I was looking at the big state schools like FSU, UF or UCF, but deep down I knew I was not mature enough to go to those schools. So, I decided to go to FSCJ, the local community college here in Jacksonville. One day, early December, I was sitting at a table in one of my morning classes. We were talking about what college we were going to go to and when it got to me, I said FSCJ. I still remember the look and comments some people gave me, which basically summed up, were that I was wasting my time going there, or that I should have went to a neighborhood school if I was going to go to a community college. I was also shocked at how much pressure my fellow classmates were under. I remember one girl crying at lunch because she had disappointed her parents by not getting into their number one college choice for her, even though she had still gotten into a good school. I was perplexed as to why another boy was depressed about his 4.0 GPA, until I found out his father told him he would never get into an Ivy League with such an average score like that. 

This brings me to the next topic, I noticed this scandal showed how little faith these parents had in their own kids. I wonder how many small, liberal arts colleges these kids got into on their own merit and were only forced to go to the elite schools based on their parents. I wonder how many times they too, almost had nervous breakdowns because of the harsh criticisms and expectations of their parents. I wonder if they were even happy at these institutions. I wonder if some of my old classmates are happy at their institutions. For me, even though it was some adjustment, I am happy I started at a community college where I could learn and grow at a less intense pace. I have now transferred here to UNF and I, for the most part, am content because I made these decisions on my own and on my own merit. That is the biggest crime of all, that these parents took that away from their own kids.

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