I’ve witnessed this far too many times: parents and educators trying to keep kids in line with threats about college admissions. For example, some parents might say: “don’t use bad words in the group text, you might not get into college.”
Here are a few good reasons not to do this:
1) It isn’t true: 99% percent of the dumb things kids do wouldn’t rise to the attention of admissions officers: silly selfies, bad words in group texts, being annoying, inappropriate, or over-disclosing. We may wish for our kids to eschew these behaviors, but it is lying if we say these relatively minor missteps will keep them out of college.
2) It isn’t so important: Getting into a highly selective college is no guarantee of a great life/career. Attending a less selective college, trade school or community college could be part of a path to a great life/career.
3) It is not the point: We should teach our kids not cheat in school, not to be unkind on social media, and not to make cruel jokes because we want them to be an ethical person and a trustworthy friend. Not because we don’t want them to get caught.
My article “It’s Not Just About College Admissions, Teaching Kids To Live Well Even When No One is Watching” is in Washington Post’s On Parenting section.