DR. WALLACE: I am a senior in high school and in the process of applying to many selected colleges. I'm a good student and want to attend a great college so that I can get a good education and ultimately, a good job when I graduate. But now with this huge college admission scandal going on across our country, I'm worried I won't get into a good school based on my own merits. My parents have only modest jobs, and I can tell you they don't earn the big money some of these Hollywood families have apparently been paying to get some of their kids into choice colleges.
Am I right to be worried about this? I would never ask my parents to pay a bribe or to try to cheat for me on my SAT test, and I'm happy to tell you that they would never do that anyway, as they are always lecturing me on morals and character. I used to think they were old-fashioned, but now, I'm pretty proud of my parents. Yet, I remain worried. Is my anxiety justified? — No scandal here, via email
NO SCANDAL: This topic has brought more questions and feedback than any other topic in the past year. We selected your letter as it encapsulates the thinking of many on this topic. First of all, we have a justice system here in America whereby all parties are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Having said that, there does appear to be a lot suspicious smoke here, and as the old saying goes, "Where there's smoke, there's likely fire." So, at this point, let the legal process play out and ultimately, we will learn how deep and widespread this issue has been.
Sadly, if violations are in fact found here, including cheating and granting admission to some selected students on false merits, then indeed other students in previous years in situations such as the one you are in now have also been at a disadvantage. For every student fraudulently admitted to a prestigious college with limited enrollment in the past, an excellent student with no such malfeasance attached to their request for admission was denied due to the limited available enrollment spots.
Fortunately, this situation now has the cleansing power of bright light shining hard upon it, and there is no doubt that big changes are in store at universities across the nation — not just the ones mentioned in the sensational stories we've all seen so far in the news. I expect the affected colleges will clean house quickly and even others not mentioned will also carefully go through a deep review of their own internal admissions processes. These changes will likely lead to a more level playing field for all students going forward from here. Sadly, the past is likely quite tainted, and I expect a flurry of lawsuits to follow accordingly, along with criminal prosecution of individuals who are deemed responsible for the horrendous situations at each affected university. To answer your question: I think you should proceed now without anxiety, as your ethics are not in question and your application(s) now will have a better chance for a successful outcome than they would have had you been a senior in high school last year.
YOUNG COUPLE ENJOYS A HAPPY MARRIAGE
DR. WALLACE: I read your column about the 19-year-old boy married to the 16-year-old girl. I hope it works out for them, but I agree with you regarding young marriages. Your advice to wait until the girl was 18 and out of high school was excellent advice.
My husband was 18, and I was 16 when we married, and that was 7 years ago. We had our problems, but we loved each other very much. I don't regret marrying him, but when I think of the many things that I missed in high school, including the prom and graduation, I sometimes wish we had waited a few more years. I'm sure we would have stayed together, and I would have truly enjoyed the life experiences I missed due to being married so young.
We are looking forward to our 3-year-old daughter going to school dances, proms, graduation parties and, hopefully, college, before she says, "I do." — Anonymous mom, Talladega, Alabama
ANONYMOUS MOM: Thanks for sharing your experience with us. You are living proof that young marriages can succeed but that there is a price to pay in the ways you outlined. The important thing is that you have a happy, successful marriage and the blessing of a wonderful young daughter. For that, I am delighted to send my congratulations to you and your husband.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.