A Stanford Law School professor, Ralph Richard Banks, recently penned an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times that has since come under fire. In his piece, entitled “Donating money to help your child get into college isn’t wrong,” Banks argues, “Universities should not be relieved of their obligation to enhance educational opportunity for meritorious students from all segments of society. That’s ultimately the standard by which selective universities should be evaluated: not how many privileged students receive admissions preference, but instead how many students from disadvantaged and racial minority backgrounds they serve.” Amen!
Parents Who Donate to Colleges and Parents Ensnared in Varsity Blues Scandal Are Not One and the Same
We agree with the assessment of Professor Banks. We know. We know. You’re outraged that we agree with him. Well, in the kindest way possible, get over yourself. First, let’s not confuse parents donating money — no matter how significant the sums — to their alma maters with the egregious acts committed by the parents ensnared in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal: bribing individuals at these schools (unbeknownst to the schools), faking athletic credentials, paying people off to help their children cheat on the SAT/ACT, etc. But why should folks who donate libraries and athletic fields, professor endowments and dining halls be lumped in with the despicable parents who went to unlawful lengths to help their children earn admission to schools like USC, Stanford, and others? They shouldn’t be. In fact, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling made a point in his initial press conference about the Varsity Blues scandal to distinguish the actions of these parents who broke the law from law-abiding parents who generously donate to colleges.
Major Donors Facilitate Admission of Low-Income, First Generation College Students Who Also Often Happen to Be URMs
In a perfect world, sure, the college admissions process would be based strictly on merit and money would not be a factor. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world in which affluent parents can find a great SAT/ACT tutor to help their child master the super important college entrance exam. We live in a world in which affluent parents can pay for great piano teachers, math tutors, and, yes, pricey private college counselors. We live in a world in which the donations of high net-worth alumni enable these very universities to offer admission to so many low-income students — students who are often underrepresented minorities, students who are often the first in their families to attend college. And these generous donors — even if they know there might be some quid pro quo down the line — should be applauded, not chastised. Would you rather they spend their money at Hermès?
Critics of Major Donors to Colleges Are Foolish on Their High Horses
So to the folks who attacked Professor Banks in their absurd letters to the editor in response to his perfectly reasonable op-ed, please do not deride parents who lawfully make donations to colleges, donations that foster the American dreams of diverse families across this land who, without these donations, would not be able to send their children to these elite universities. Our universities are infinitely better for having these students on their campuses. And our college campuses are infinitely better for these donations.
Save Your Breath, Ivy Coach’s Parents Don’t Need to Donate
And before the Negative Nancies out there fill up our Comments section with nonsensical arguments like, “Oh Ivy Coach, you’re only writing all this because your wealthy clients donate money to colleges…it serves your interest,” feel free to think that. We can’t remember the last client of Ivy Coach’s that made a significant donation to a university. And why? Because they don’t need to. The parents of our students don’t need to donate large sums to help their children earn admission. If they insisted on making such a donation, we wouldn’t advise them against it but it simply is not necessary for our clients. With our expert college counseling, they simply don’t need to build athletic fields and dining halls. But that doesn’t mean we’ll chastise those that do. Mic drop.