Is a college education really worth all this?

So, Lori and Felicity got busted.

Why is this story such big news? Because they broke the law? Or because they’re rich and famous?

Were the parents involved in this recent scandal thinking they were justified in their actions?

All Parents Want to Help Their Children

Before you answer that with some knee-jerk reaction, think about other Hollywood parents who set their children up for success.

What about actor/director Ron Howard, whose daughter Bryce Dallas Howard is also now an actress? (And by the way, Ron’s father was an actor too.)

What about legend Meryl Streep, whose daughter Mamie Gummer is carving out an acting career of her own?

Or what about Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter Dakota Johnson who, with two star parents behind her, managed to land a lead role in the Fifty Shades movie series?

Finally, there’s Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter, who followed directly in her father’s footsteps as a director.

No one would accuse Ron Howard or Meryl Streep of breaking any laws simply because their children took up their line of work. But is it fair that they had access to the most influential people in the business while plenty of other talented children did not? Francis Ford Coppola was able to open doors that would have remained closed to others. If he didn’t literally open those doors himself, his last named worked to crack them just a bit.

In fact, some children of famous parents get so much flack for the advantages they receive, they decide to go by a different name to avoid the situation. They want to prove they can make it on their own. Still, they had an advantage just by having success modeled for them, and by knowing who’s who — the in’s and out’s of the business.

Having an Advantage vs. Breaking the Law

Clearly, there is a difference between children who, if they choose, are able to steal a bit of their parent’s spotlight when they want to shine, and those parents that will lie, cheat and steal to look like they were, for instance, a major component of a successful water polo team.

Every parent wants to give their kids some kind of advantage in life. Or, help them overcome a disadvantage. If we’re worth anything as parents, we all do this. We all want to see the best for our children. This is what parenting is all about.

You may be thinking, what about people who study or work hard? Well, you could argue that their parents gave them good genes (intelligence, or a strong back), or raised them properly.

Perhaps the advantage your parents were able to give you was a sense of discipline and a strong work ethic. Maybe your parents were only able to give you encouragement to follow your dreams.

What if YOU had money and fame to help your children? Would you hold back?

We’re born equal, but we all find an advantage and a way to use it.

It is it bad to take advantage of something you may have?

We’ve lost our minds over Higher Education

The real issue here is this frenzy over having a college degree from what the parent perceives to be an elite university. That’s what made these parents so desperate that they were willing to stick their necks, and their wallets, out on the line. Now they’ve been arrested, after becoming targets of a major FBI investigation.

Did their children really need a college degree from a fancy institution with an impressive name? What makes that college so fancy? The history? Are they learning anything there that they couldn’t learn at a public university, or backpacking through Europe, for that matter? Or is it about the connections and networking?

These prestigious universities certainly have a dog in the fight — they’d like to keep the parents fighting over admissions (and paying the outrageous tuitions!) How’s that for a college scam? What exactly are these colleges providing for our money? And how are we to prove that they haven’t delivered what we’ve paid for? If a university takes your money, but you aren’t satisfied with your experience, can you get a refund?

For some children, from the moment they are conceived to their high school graduation, parents are planning their whole lives! This includes getting them into the most premier preschool, all the way to pushing them into an ivy league college. And for what? Does an ivy league degree, or any degree at all, guarantee success? Or does it have more to do with the individual?

As CEO of SPAN Enterprises, I myself have hired employees with advanced degrees who did not work out, while other employees without any advanced degree have performed well because they had the right attitude and worked hard.

We need to get real about what a college degree has to offer. We need to look at other options.

Someone can take up a trade or skill through on-the-job training, formerly known as an apprenticeship, and earn a comfortable living, with no student loan debt. Yet we don’t allow them access to certain social circles because they don’t have a college degree.

Do we need to continue to get our young people in debt before they are able to legally purchase alcohol? In previous generations, young people got a job with dreams of buying a home. Young men and women today are entering the workforce under a mountain of student loan debt that is equal to or surpasses a typical mortgage payment. How are they to have hope?

Not everyone is cut out to go to college, and yet they can still be successful. Realizing this may have kept the 50 or so people charged in the “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal out of jail.