As plea deals are struck and sentencing is debated for a number of high-profile parents, including actors Lori Loughlin, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, the infamous “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal continues to be a hot topic. At the core of the case are allegations of cheating on exams like the SATs and ACTs, falsifying transcripts and lying about participation in sports and extracurriculars — all to give high schoolers an edge in the college admissions process.
Public opinion has been divided, with many crying outrage while others say that these types of activities are just the kind of thing “good” parents do to help their kids. What does your family think? Talk about the scandal and the issues at stake with these dinner conversation starters:
- Why do you think people are tempted to cheat?
- Have you ever thought about trying to present yourself as someone you’re not so that you could benefit, such as in a social situation, in an interview or elsewhere? Why did you consider it? What did you ultimately choose to do?
- Do you think what these parents did was just “helping” their kids, or did it cross a line? Is it ever okay to try to use power and influence to give someone an advantage over others?
- If you found out that you had been given an opportunity that you didn’t actually earn, how would you feel?
- Some people have noted that the parents’ actions in this case seem to come from social pressure to have their kids attend schools that fit into a certain image. Do you think that’s true? Have you noticed any kind of pressure or emphasis on the “right” schools and programs among your peers? Do you feel pressured to achieve at a certain level or get into a certain kind of school?
- In what other ways do you experience or notice pressure to conform to a particular image or standard? What are some ways in which you and others around you are choosing not to conform, and what is that like for you?