It isn’t fair that students who deserved a place on these teams were bypassed for students who never intended to play. It isn’t right that SAT or ACT scores were skewed and misrepresented, bumping some deserving students down below the cut-off line. Society works for everyone when the rules are enforced for everyone. Still, there has come out of this a particular narrative that these kids are the lucky ones. I disagree. The entitled students involved here are really on the losing end of the long game.
At least some of the so-called "lucky" students in the cheating scandal didn't really want the education their parents seemed to want for them. Do we believe for a moment that their mere presence on campus will somehow change their trajectory in life? No.
No, the REAL lucky students work hard for their education, and they work hard at their education. Perhaps they are the ones who actually DID qualify - through the slog of hard work and years of dedication - to represent a school on one of those teams, and now they spend hours rowing, shooting, striving, pushing to do their best both academically and in their sport. Or, maybe their parents said, “We love you to the moon and back, but we are barely making it here. We will support you any way we can, but we can’t pay for all of your college." Yes, the REAL lucky ones work. They work on teams, they work in academics, they work part-time. They get full-time jobs or internships during the summer. The REAL lucky ones go to community college and fight for the classes they need and work on homework late into the night and fall asleep on the bus on the way home because they are working so hard. They assist professors and they tutor friends. They carefully weigh the student loans they take; they write dozens of essays for hundreds of scholarship applications; they eat ramen in dorm rooms; they walk to work. They have the support of networks of family and friends cheering them on.
I was reminded of all this in a conversation with one of these “lucky” students this past week. He told me, “If I have a group project? I want to work with someone who is working hard at school, and doing other things like holding a part-time job, and tutoring a younger sibling. I want someone who knows how to work, who wants it. ” Yes, the real lucky students are the students other students want to work with. They are the students companies want to hire. They are the students who are not just getting a degree, they are getting an education. They are preparing for life. The ones that work hard to claim the education they actually want, they are learning to fight hard for life. They are learning that what is worth having is worth striving for.
They are learning skills and attitudes and work habits that will serve them throughout life, not just in a career but also in their families, their cities and towns, their faith communities.
So, yes, I’m angry that the educational system has been tilted in favor of the rich once again. It is wrong and it is a symptom of a network of elitism that has existed since time immemorial. It isn’t right, but I don’t envy them. I don’t wish that entitlement or that experience on anyone. These entitled kids have been set up for a life without any understanding of how to work hard and push through to success.
I don’t believe for a minute that they are the lucky ones. Don't you believe it either.