Lori Falce: Parents in college scandal cheated kids out of failure
I screwed up a lot in middle school. And high school. And college.
I rolled my eyes with disgust at the things my mother didn’t understand. I had a moral objection to homework. If there was a way to work a shortcut, I probably tried it. I did a lot of things that I regret.
But I made my own mistakes. My mother didn’t make them for me. I didn’t benefit from her intervention or suffer because of her interference.
And that’s why I feel bad for the kids involved in the college admission scandal.
Oh, I feel worse for the anonymous, nameless middle-class or poor kids who were cheated — and damn, were they cheated — out of an opportunity to try things and achieve things and fail on their own when Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and a slew of people with too much money to hear the word “No” decided to make their own rules to get their kids into college.
But these uber-rich sons and daughters have been cheated, too. Their parents have stolen something important from them. These kids will grow older, because all the Botox and silicone in the world can’t stop time. What they won’t do is grow up.
I was 18 when a Fashion Bug credit card taught me the difference between having money and having debt. I was 19 when fringe off the glorious denim jacket I bought with that card got my best friend fired when it was found in his work car. I was 20 when I left home and got my own apartment. I was still 20 when I got evicted.
Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, is a social media influencer who had no interest in school but did want to go to USC for “game days and partying.” Various websites estimate her personal net worth — aside from her $100 million designer dad Mossimo Giannulli and $6 million “Full House” mom — at $300,000, mostly fueled by $800 per day in YouTube revenue. She is 19.
My failures taught me things. I won’t say I didn’t make the same mistakes twice, but I tried not to, and eventually, like riding a bike, I stopped skinning my knees because I stopped falling so often and learned to ride farther and faster without someone holding me up and without training wheels.
I feel bad for these baby billionaires because they won’t know what that’s like. Not only will their parents not let them fail, they won’t let them be average. Rather than letting them know the simple heartbreak of settling for a safety school, the parents paid up to $200,000 to get them into schools the kids didn’t care about attending.
I want my son to succeed. I want him to go to the school he wants, or to find the career that makes him happy.
But the greatest gift I can give him isn’t a bribe. It’s the freedom to fail on his own and try again until he makes it.
Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org.