By Douglas Freeman
The Situation: You Are in Big Trouble
The Felicity Huffman Varsity Blues Scandal has been deemed by many as just another case of the wealthy gaming the system and sticking it to the little guy. Our oh-so-quick to judge social media mob has quickly labeled this incident as “yet another example of our inequality laden society.” I wouldn’t go so far, on that count. I actually think that more than anything else, this is a caring mother who would do anything (and it turns out she really did do whatever it takes) to get her child into the best top school possible.
Part of this manic urge particularly “motherly mania,” is driven by the affluent sphere of high school society that places far too much emphasis on grades as a driver of future opportunity and success. The dirty little secret in life is that grades, for the most part, have absolutely nothing to do with successful life outcomes. Top Schools, however, have a lot to do with success in life, which is why Felicity wanted to get her “crappy student” kid into a top school.
The Real Rule of Thumb
Let’s get to the game plan of getting your kid into a top-notch school, regardless of homeless or billionaire status; this game plan is good for anybody. Break the “Manic Mommy Mindset” of thinking that there is only 1 time in life to get into a top school! WRONG.
The Top School Rule
The number one reality is that getting into a top school is not a one-shot deal! You get lots and lots of opportunities to get in. You will eventually get in! This is the reality. And nobody cares if you get into a top-notch school at 18 years old or at 38 years old. Either way, you got in!
I am going to document every single time you have a chance of getting into a top school:
- As a Senior in high school (everybody knows this one)
- As a transfer student from another school (that can be either a community college or 4-year school) You can get into Columbia as a transfer student from Bronx Community College!
- As a visiting student from another school (that’s right you can be a North Dakota State University student and spend a whole year at Harvard if you want to!
- As a student in the Extension School of a top school (what’s that), most top schools have a continuing education wing that is called their Extension School. Places like UC Berkeley and Harvard have those specific schools and you can take courses like any other student!
- After college, you can apply to a top Grad School (MA program, Law, Ph.D., Medicine, Government, Education, Public Health, Architecture, Urban Planning, etc.).
- It gets better. In some cases, some professional programs accept students with strong work and life experience, for those who did not complete a 4-year degree. That’s right, you could have just a GED and get into an MBA program (and a good one)! Just Google it.
- As you get older, top schools will start to market and recruit you with no knowledge of your work accomplishments. These are called executive certificate and degree programs. Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Brown, UPenn, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, and MIT will bombard your Facebook page and ask you to please submit your resume for a pre-review (i.e. we will tell you how to apply and get into our programs, just talk to our counselors before you apply). These are fully accredited degrees that you get from your late 20s onward. Yes, they are expensive, but they have scholarships and loan programs so that anybody can pay for them. (If you are homeless and are accepted and have a social security number, you can pay for the program.)
There you have it, Felicity. This advice is free of charge. I wish you had met me before you met that guy that charged you $500k and got you in trouble with the FBI. I think you are a well-meaning parent, but perhaps, you lack true parenting skills, because now you really are not a good role model to your child. And that is perhaps the worst indictment you can ever receive in this world.
Your Parent in Crime — (That’s not good word selection)
Doug, CEO, Virtcom Consulting