Christian Leaders and Educators Weigh in on Admissions Bribery Scam

New Haven, USA – May 4, 2015: Yale University campus on April 4, 2015. It is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701

A high-profile college admissions cheating scam, evangelical pastors and educators say, should remind students and parents to trust God for their future rather than attempting to manipulate circumstances.

“It’s really an idol” to equate success in life with admission to an elite college, said Mark Coppenger, a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor who has done campus ministry at Northwestern University and earned a doctor of philosophy from Vanderbilt University.

“It’s nice when you can carry a certain prestigious [label] around,” Coppenger told Baptist Press. “But if you think it’s a go/no-go in life, then you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that with the cost and the ideology of a lot of these prestigious schools, you may come out more damaged and frustrated than if you had gone to a smaller, less prestigious school and had great people to invest in your life.”

Fifty people were charged with federal crimes March 12 for allegedly paying some $25 million in bribes to get their children into colleges like Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, Wake Forest and the University of Southern California, according to media reports. The scheme allegedly involved cheating on standardized tests and paying coaches of low-profile sports like crew and water polo to falsely identify high school students as recruits.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents have been charged, according to the Associated Press, including attorneys and Hollywood actresses.

Raymond Yip, a pastor near Stanford, said “there is a lot of pressure placed on students in the Bay Area to perform and achieve.” Many parents who cannot buy admission at elite colleges still “push their children to achieve it through an overload of academics and achievements.”

“But this seems to come at a cost,” said Yip, English language pastor at New Community Baptist Church in Mountain View, Calif. “The pressure is too much, to the point where students cannot handle it, and [some] end up taking their lives.”

Students who get into elite schools, Yip said, sometimes continue to “make success an idol.”

“A child that was once active and engaged in worship of God at church will most likely stop attending church because of the school achievement, and even leave the faith altogether because it has become less ‘relevant,'” Yip told BP via email. “I have seen it happen to some members of my church.”

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Source: Baptist Press