Since the college admissions scandal hit the press, it seems to be all that anyone’s talked about. Most people, whether they have children or not have strong opinions about this story, mostly because it is yet another example of the wealthy using their power and influence to rig a system and gain an advantage over everyone else. However, in what could be a teachable moment for parents, the lesson seems to have gotten lost and in many cases totally ignored. Based on conversations that I’ve recently had with parents who were trying to help their children obtain jobs, I was taken aback by some of their comments. I would have thought that in the wake of this scandal, parents would be more cautious in considering the optics of both their actions and their requests.
Truth be told, when it comes to helping and protecting our children, most parents would go through extraordinary lengths to do so, even if it meant violating their own moral code. Just to give you an example, with the scandal still at the top of the news cycle, several parents told me that they had advised their children to lie on interviews and applications, especially when the answers to the questions were subjective and not fact based.
For years, I have watched parents do whatever necessary in order to ensure their children be admitted into the right schools. I have seen parents write college essays and at times do their children’s homework - I wouldn’t put it past those parents to have also paid for good SAT scores. I have also seen parents call in whatever favor is owed to them no matter how unsavory it may have seemed. While doing all of this for their children, I am fairly certain that no parent stops for a moment to even consider whether or not their child is actually qualified or deserving. I am also fairly certain that most parents never even consider whether their actions are fair, ethical or at times even legal.
When it comes to one’s own children, especially in a dire or desperate situation, parents often lose their sense of rational judgment which then may impair their moral compass. I am not for a moment suggesting that I wouldn’t do the same, but I raise this in order to give parents pause before passing judgement on any other parents. In regards to this scandal, every parent with whom I spoke was very quick to condemn when I know for a fact that their own practices pushed the bounds of their ethical integrity.
Furthermore, from what I have observed, the advice that many parents offer their children isn’t always the best advice. Below are a few tips in response to some of what I recently heard:
1. Make your children do their own legwork – Parents often ask me if I could help their children obtain a job. I am always glad to help and tell the parents to have their children call me directly. Many times, I do not hear from the kids.
As a manager in a highly coveted industry, I would never hire a candidate whose parent calls me on their behalf. If they can’t make a call themselves then what will they be like as employee? This practice reflects poorly on them by showing a lack of maturity and professionalism.
2. Don’t push your child into a role that may not be suited for them just so they have a job - I can understand that parents may want their children to begin their careers but pushing them into a role that doesn’t necessarily suite them isn’t good advice. Often times people will become pigeon-holed into a role or career that they don’t even like. When you’ve gone too far down the path it will become harder to make a switch later. It is much better for your child to take the time early in their career to find a job that aligns with their interests. Besides, your kid won’t succeed in a job they aren’t passionate about.
3. Always encourage and display an ethical standard. In other words don’t tell your child to lie, cheat or steal their way into a job. It’s just plain wrong and it will set them on course to continue to bend the rules. This sense of entitlement often leads to misconduct on the job – not necessarily grand larceny but as I’ve frequently seen, misconduct such as expense fraud which is still a fire-able offense.