How NOT To Cheat When Getting Your Kid Into A Great School

Over this past week, one of the largest cheating scandals in history got cracked wide open uncovering bribery and other illegal acts committed by celebrity stars such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.  This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and opens up the real investigations into how much parents ‘donate’ in order to help their children get the edge to get into the school of their choice.

It does beg the question about whether it’s our children that are feeling the peer pressure about getting into college or is it us the parents who are feeling the peer pressure to compete with our neighbors, our co-workers, and our college friends.  Do you as the parent feel less self-worth when that banner in the front of the neighborhood gets put up for everyone to see or when your friends post where their kid is going to school on Facebook?

I’m actually amazed by how people are surprised that this kind of stuff goes on where people ‘cheat’ their way to helping their kids get into a better school.  Even after this scandal, there will be families who donate tens of thousands of dollars to the college football programs to get their name on the side of a building or to help fund a new program at the school.  But of course, are you surprised that college is big business?  Today, more than 100 universities and colleges have more than $1 billion in endowment money and growing.  These very schools are supposed to be not for profit organizations and schools like Stanford that owns more than $8 billion dollars in real estate literally pays zero dollars in real estate tax.  Yet, they have a coach on a football team that makes a seven-figure income.  Does anybody that works for a non-profit need a million-dollar income, or at that point should they really be what they are which is a for-profit organization?

Uncovered amongst this mess are tutors who charge $1,000 an hour to help kids who have everything but the SAT or ACT score to get into that Harvard or Yale University.  This has become a big business as well.  For many years, the SAT’s have become an obsession for parents and high school students even though in the game of life you couldn’t remember a single question you took on the exam.  So, how do you help your child get into a great college and NOT cheat their way to the top?

College Isn’t For Everybody- Remember, a four-year bachelor’s degree isn’t the right path for every kid. Today, the biggest gap we have in America is in the blue-collar world, not the white-collar world.  Were you astonished the last time a plumber or an appliance repair person was at your house for 45 minutes and you got a bill for $129?  Trade and vocational schools can cost about $30,000 for two years, and the jobs can offer high earning potential immediately after graduation.  Not to mention that you get to earn money for two years while the student going to the four-year college will be spending two more years for the cost of college.  We need to encourage more of this as being a welder, a diesel mechanic, or an electrician are all excellent jobs.  Some other kids may just be better off going to work and finding their way of developing in life through real-life work experience rather than being away from home at college.  And, other kids who truly have the entrepreneurial gene would be better off if you invested in their business rather than encouraging them to attend Saturday tailgating for the big football game.  

Is There Really A Bad College? – Everyone who has a graduating high school student or a child in college has had the conversation about a good school vs. ‘I won’t make any comment at all’ school. Locally in Georgia, if you tell someone your child got into the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, or Emory, you’ll hear someone say, “What A Great School!”  However, if you mention one of the other large public colleges or universities in the same conversation, then you’ll hear some dialogue where someone says, “I hear that they have some interesting programs.”  Nobody will ever admit that their kid is going to a ‘bad’ college because every college or university usually has some major or niche program that they excel at currently. A great example is that Kennesaw State University was the very first university in the state of Georgia to have an actual degree in Entrepreneurship. Even the University of Georgia only has a certificate for entrepreneurship, but not an actual bachelor’s degree. 

There is actually a great website link at www.payscale.com/college-roi where you can see the return on investment for many schools across the United States.  Even in Georgia where the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are often compared as two of the best schools to get into, there isn’t much comparison when it comes to 20-year net return on investment.

Teach Your Kids That The Game Of Life Is Much Harder Than The Game Of College –

I had a friend who once told me he would never, ever send his kids to private school. Never. Then, immediately after his kids started pre-school and kindergarten, he started to pay close to $20,000 a year for private school talking about how those schools would give his kids a much better upbringing and a much better edge in life.

What a crock! I went to a public high school that was ranked in the bottom 1/3rd of all high schools in the state of New Jersey and we had students who got into Harvard, Penn, Princeton, UVA, Georgetown, Cornell, Boston College, and many other prestigious schools.  More importantly, the school you go to doesn’t dictate how far you get in life.  The college or university you attend might (and I say might) crack the door open on the first job you get, but after that, it’s up to you.  There are so many factors that will dictate how successful you become in your chosen endeavor including your work ethic, your attitude, your discipline, your self-improvement, and much more.  Ultimately, you make in life what you want of yourself, not where you went to school.

The age-old adage says that cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.  It couldn’t be truer than seeing this latest college scandal come to the forefront.  Let’s make sure we are teaching all of our children the right things in life and how to be the best person they can be at whatever they choose to be in life.

About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

Read More About Ted Here

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

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