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Insight’s Response to the College Admissions Cheating Scandal

Many people reached out to us at Insight because of our work in the admissions industry, particularly admissions consulting, to ask us our thoughts on the recent college admissions cheating scandal


First, let me start by saying that not all consultants follow unethical and/or illegal practices. Most actually care about impacting the lives of teens and helping them to make good decisions especially in the crazy and complex world of college admissions. Our motto is Apply to College, Prepare for Life, because that is what we see ourselves doing. William Singer doesn’t represent us or the industry as a whole. In fact, so many people and colleges are doing such GOOD work to make the process more equitable, to invite in students that are so capable but don’t have the resources to understand the process, and to make this entire rite of passage less daunting and stress inducing.


We have never and would never condone any of this kind of illicit or illegal behavior. It doesn’t align with our values and our goals for our clients. While I have often disagreed with it, I have always taught my families that it is best to understand the landscape and then work within it. The process is not a pure meritocracy. This is not new or news.


Why did these families (of substantial means) have to go the illegal route? I don’t know. But I do know they didn’t have to. They were not driven by desperation or a lack of options. Their kids could have gotten into college on their own merits and hard work. Rather these families taught them that they could not.


But parents – is this who you want to raise your children to be? What are these kids being taught about life and how to succeed? What about what they are being taught about their own self-worth? Their parents don’t trust them to take the SAT. Their parents don’t even trust them to try. Their parents don’t think they can succeed on their own. Their parents needed to fake mental illness, at a time when actual mental illness for teens is at an all-time high, in order to get extra time on a test. These parents and others involved are not teaching kids the essential skills to actually be successful in life. We talk often about non-cognitive factors in our office: grit, care for others, ability to overcome adversity, awareness of other cultures and religions, etc. These are essential skills for life.


College acceptance is not the end goal. It is not the point at which parents are relieved of their parental duties. It is a milestone. One that should be worked towards. One that should be celebrated.


While this is a scandal that tarnishes the admissions process, let’s not be naive about it. I often say that the admissions process is going to one day buckle under the pressure. But in the meantime, it is our teens that are buckling under the pressure. So rather than letting this be sensational news that will diminish in the coming months, let us use it as an opportunity to talk to our teens about the process and expectations and values. Let us use this as an opportunity to evaluate what this process actually signifies for you and your family. Your parental worth does not ride on their acceptance letters. And more importantly, how they engage on campus, how they pursue their opportunities in college, the relationships they will form, the experiences they will have – all of these will shape their future so much more than on which campus this happens.


This week, I spoke with NBC Bay Area and NPR KQED about the scandal. NBC Bay Area also attended our 20th Anniversary seminar and spoke with our counseling team, you can watch that interview here. Insight Counselor Sarah de Sousa also spoke on the radio show “Good Morning Monterey Bay” and gave some great advice on how families can stay true to themselves. 


If you have any questions about the scandal, please reach out to your counselor to discuss it further or email our co-founder Ajit Jain at ajit@insight-education.net


All the best, 
Purvi Mody on behalf of the Insight Team

Co-founder and Head of Counseling 

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