I’m sharing a series of seven thoughts from the Making Caring Common report, “Turning the Tide II” that addresses character in college admissions. This is specifically for parents.
 Keep the focus on your teen.
“In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts.”
 Follow your ethical GPS.
My father-in-law, a career navigator with the Air Force, learned how to navigate his plane using the stars. The stars!
When earning the orienteering merit badge in the Boy Scouts, I learned how to read a map using a compass.
Today, we ask our smartphone to pull up a map app. And if we have enough battery power and activate the location feature, our phone uses GPS satellites, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks to estimate our location.
Without using the stars, a compass, or GPS, how are you navigating your teenager(s) through the college admissions process? You shouldn't have to estimate where your ethics are located. Unfortunately, choosing a college can lead parents and teenagers to ignore their moral compass.
Sometimes, that is what pressure produces.
“The college admissions process often tests both parents’ and teens’ ethical character.”
That statement was written before the 2019 Varsity Blues Scandal – where high profile personalities had been falsifying applications and paying to get in “back door” of certain colleges. They drifted from true north. (Read more about Desperate College Admissions here.)
The participants tarnished their name. We understand that “a good name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1) but we don’t always follow through.
As you know, inflating resumes and including activities or awards to give our “child an edge in admissions” is unethical and undermines the role and goal of parenting. We need to remain consistent with our ethics and integrity.
And we should always be checking what our children are reflecting. Proverbs 20:7 reads that “a righteous man who walks in his integrity—how blessed are his sons after him.”
Unfortunately, the easiest way parents can interfere is through the essay process. Writing essays changes the voice from theirs to yours.
Fortunately, essay readers know when the voice of an essay does not match the voice of the students’ application and high school grades. They know when a parent or professional essay writer has written the essay. And some use software programs to identify plagiarism.
The authors write that parents should be willing to ask themselves “hard, fundamental questions about who [they] want to be and what [they] want to model for [their] children.”
Here are five recommendations from the Making Common Caring Team:
1. Remember your priorities. Consider at every stage of the process whether getting into a particular college is really more important than compromising your teen’s or your own integrity.
2. Ask for feedback. Talk to someone you really respect and trust to find out if you are too involved in your teen’s college application process.
3. Work through ethical dilemmas together. Ask your teen if they think cheating or misrepresenting themselves in a college application is okay. How will you respond when the truth comes out and are potential kicked out of college?
4. Set a positive example. Talk to teens about why authenticity and honesty are critical.
5. Find out what motivates your teen. Explore with teens why they might feel pressured to cheat or misrepresent themselves—do they feel ashamed or fear shaming you?—and think through with them what role you might play in reducing that pressure.
So parents, are we willing to compromise our integrity for our kids admission into college?
We cannot afford what that would cost.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.