Updated: Aug 29
‘Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal’ – Since this Netflix documentary came out last week, people have been constantly discussing the implications it has had on student-athletes. While some people are busy focusing on the honor of being a student-athlete, I want to focus on why such an incident took place in the first place.
March 2019 – US News Channels Blew Up
It was March 12, 2019, and I was hooked onto the news channels and news apps to find out what really went down with these colleges. Working with student-athletes and college coaches, this was a major incident for us to witness. An incident that even scared parents away from communicating with college coaches. I happened to be in the US in the same month this news broke out, meeting over 50 college coaches from some of the top colleges. Every meeting had the same discussion – College Admissions Scandal. However, after meeting so many college coaches and admissions officers, I regained my faith in the US Education system and I realized that there were just some ‘bad apples’ in a big crowd of honest and ethical college coaches.
Back Door Entry versus Side Door Entry
For those who didn’t watch the show, or didn’t understand this concept clearly, I just want to take a moment to explain this:
Back Door Entry – This is when someone (parents mostly) contributes a significant amount of money to a college as an endowment in the hope to get their child admitted into that college. It is not really a transaction, but it can be clearly planned and executed between the two parties – the family and the college. Now this is unethical at some level, but unfortunately, it’s not illegal.
Side Door Entry – This is when someone bribes the coach in order to receive a recruitment spot for their child on a college athletic team. Each college coach can support a certain number of recruits which automatically makes their admission a 100 times easier, so once the student has a recruitment spot from the coach, they are basically in. This is what the March 2019 College Scandal was all about (and the SAT/ACT cheating of course). This is unethical and also illegal.
I had never heard of a side-door entry until I read about the College Scandal in 2019. However, as I entered the admissions counseling industry a few years ago, I was exposed to the back door entry. It wasn’t something I stood up for, and frankly, it was an extremely uncomfortable experience. Even though it was totally legal, I still didn’t think it was right for students to gain an admission like this. Anyhow, I’m happy to say that those incidents are all in the past. After putting those unpleasant experiences behind me, I now take great joy in saying that these are not practices which we have ever indulged in at NexTrack Consulting, and I am certain that we never will. If parents need consultants to open these ‘doors’ for their children, NexTrack is not the company for you.
Now let’s ask ourselves a very important question…
Why Do These Doors Exist?
Well…because colleges demand money? Heck no!
We have all created this culture! Our society, our community, our parents, our teachers, and worst of all, social media. The sheer obsession with going to a top ranked brand name school has led to this. We have given so much power to these top ranked colleges. We all know this saying – ‘Parents want the best for their children’. But did parents forget what was really best for their children? Or did they not actually address this question? I can’t tell, I am not a parent. What I can tell is that each college is a tremendous place for learning. Each college provides you with a unique life experience that sets you up for a better future. And students, who told you that the only way to succeed in life is to have a top college degree? Do better ranked colleges not set you up for a better future? Yes, of course they do. Your chances of success will definitely be higher, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot succeed if you don’t have a brand name college behind you.
So, where does that leave you?
Find Your Fit, But Don’t Forcefully Fit Something Where It Doesn’t Belong
Every college counselor around the world says this – Find Your Fit! But what does this really mean? Finding your fit is not only about exploring the courses that are offered and whether the mission of the college is in line with yours. In fact, if you really think about it, those things will all be similar across all colleges. Finding your fit is really about finding a college where your preferences and level fits. It can be your academic level or your athletic level, or both. You have to make sure that you’re going to a college which will set you up for success, not failure. You still have to aspire for the best. Set high goals – I’m a big fan of that. But if you’ve reached your potential, start looking for colleges that fit that potential and colleges which appreciate you for who you are. Don’t go looking for these side doors and back doors, trying to force your way into a college where you may not fit and succeed.
The sad part is that very often students don’t even know what their parents are up to, simply because “Parents know what’s best for their child.” But I guarantee you this, if you asked those students whether they would want to get into those colleges through these side and back doors, most of them would say a big fat NO!
Just to be clear, I am not here to criticize parents. I actually sympathize with parents when it comes to this. It is actually the world we live in which creates this pressure on parents as well. It’s really not their fault. But parents, you are the wise ones. You are the smart ones. Truly ask yourselves, what is best for your child?
Students, Please, Just Relax!
Social media has played a huge role in building immense pressure on students across the world. One student gets into Harvard and posts on their Instagram story, and others face rejections and resent their fellow classmate. Where are the days where we enjoyed each other’s successes? Students, if you face a rejection from your dream school, please know that it’s not the end of the world. You too will find a college. A very good college. It may not necessarily be as popular or as high ranked as your friend’s, but it will still be a place of education and growth. So, please keep your head held high and be proud of yourself if you just get to go to college, you’re luckier than a lot of people out there!
Let’s make sure that we take something meaningful away from this Netflix documentary and the 2019 scandal. This documentary was not made for your entertainment. It was made to change your perspective on college admissions and what you want for your children. Reevaluate your goals and what college admissions success means to you.
And for those of you who know me personally, you must know this – I did not go to a top brand name college, and I think I turned out just fine. Have faith in yourself, learn as much as you can as you move through life, and keep working hard. Everything will turn out just fine!