March 14, 2019

Sorry Kids—I won’t be Buying your way into College.


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I have to admit, I was pretty shocked over the whole Lori Loughlin/Felicity Huffman scandal.

Who would have ever thought two wealthy, successful Hollywood actresses would get themselves involved in a college entrance exam cheating scheme?

I understand the deep desire to help our kids. We all want the best for our children—we want to help them achieve their goals in life, we hate seeing them struggle, and God forbid we let them fail.

But buying their way into college does more damage to them than any one of these other things will ever do. From the onset of their adult years, we’re setting them up to expect that they will never have to deal with the very thing life is about: handling rejection. And then learning to pick themselves up and try again.

I may sound like an insensitive, hard-ass mom, but truth be told, I want my kids to hear the word “no” a lot. I want them to be told they aren’t good enough at something so they find that fire within them to prove the person wrong. I want them to work hard to achieve something and not always get the very thing they’ve worked hard for.

I want them to know that life is sometimes hard and not always fair. I want them to see that I can’t protect them from every single disappointment and heartache. I want them to have grit and integrity and know that they can’t buy their way to success or happiness.

Why? Because that’s life.

How many things have we all worked hard for, then had it never materialize?

How many jobs did we not get, not because we didn’t have the experience or great recommendations from past employers (aka “grades” and recommendations college applications require), but because there was someone else who had something “extra” they wanted?

How many boys will reject my daughter for no reason other than “he’s just not that into her?” How many women will tell my son they think he’s “such a nice guy” but she’s in love with someone else?

These little disappointments, much like not getting into the college of our choice, are all a part of life. We don’t always get the job, or the girl, or the promotion, or the opportunities we want—no matter how much we may deserve it.

And we certainly don’t get these things if we don’t earn them fairly.

Sending someone in our child’s place to take their college entrance exams is the equivalent of telling them that getting what they want is more important than personal integrity. It teaches our kids that having the financial means to pay someone off allows them more opportunities than someone who isn’t as fortunate to have deep pockets to solve their problems.

We’re teaching them, before sending them off on their own, that if they’re ever afraid they can’t do something, it’s perfectly okay to lie, cheat, or give up trying to do it the right way so they don’t fail.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I consider failing to be one of life’s greatest teachers. Who of us hasn’t failed at something only to discover it was because there was a better way or a better path for us? Failed relationships, failed businesses, even our failed attempts at parenting teach us about resilience, picking ourselves back up, and trying it all over again.

I’m a mom. Believe me—I get the desperation of wanting to do everything and anything to help my children be the best that they can be. I too want my own children to have every opportunity in life. But maybe instead of buying their way into a school, we should consider allowing our children the opportunity to experience firsthand that life isn’t always about getting what we want.

Sometimes it’s better to teach them that life is simply about making the best of what we get.

And trusting that the thing we got will take us to the places we’re meant to go, teach us the things we need to learn about ourselves, and set us off on a course that may be even more magical than the one we intended.


author: Dina Strada

Image: CNN/YouTube

Image: @walkthetalkshow/instagram

Editor: Naomi Boshari

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Jo Jansen Mar 16, 2019 11:43am

I totally agree with this. My daughter was raised with the opposite of helicopter parenting: free to run, to play, to explore her own passions with an element of safety of course, but without constant supervision. She had no patience with peer pressure. Her response to her first real relationship going south was to take a full year of not dating anyone. At the age of 19 quite a decision! She moved across the country, lived by herself, had all kinds of adventures, really explored what she wanted out of life. She’s married now, to a wonderful guy, has built herself an excellent career, lives next door to me and has become someone whom I respect and admire. I believe that allowing her to make mistakes and learn from them, with unconditional love and support from both her parents, gave her the chance to become her best self.

Joe Cyr Mar 16, 2019 11:06am

Great article Dina! I originally thought it was going to be about thrusting our kids into the student debt crisis as some bizarre means of strengthening their resolve. I’m so glad that this wasn’t the case.
Your points are valid and as a father of two daughters, they will certainly hear no if they choose anything other than an in-state college. If they aren’t cut out for it, or think college is a party, they’ll be going to work. At least until they embrace the need for grit and integrity as you so eloquently stated.

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Dina Strada

Dina Strada is an L.A.-based Event Planner, author, and Intuitive Coach specializing in relationships, healing and empowering women.

A former featured author and top writer for Elephant Journal, her work has also appeared in multiple online publications including Huff Post, Thought Catalogue, Elite Daily, The Good Men Project, Your Tango, Medium, Chopra, Simply Women, Rebelle Society, Tiny Buddha, and Thrive Global. Download her FREE GUIDE on Breaking Unhealthy Relationship Patterns, check out her online course BREAKUP BOOTCAMP: HEAL, MOVE FORWARD & STOP OBSESSING OVER YOUR EX   or subscribe to receive weekly relationship tips on her website