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  • Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: Why This Is Your Time to Shine

    | Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: This Is Your Time to Shine | Adebisi Adebowale

    Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life. – Shakuntala Devi

    Estimated time to read: 6 minutes


    I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the news of the latest college scam involving high rollers (from actresses to big wigs in Silicon Valley to athletic coaches at top universities) since the day the news broke a couple of weeks ago. But the reality of knowing things like this happen day after day doesn’t make it any less painful and disgusting to know that people feel entitled enough to scam authorities of any level – namely here, the education system. Oftentimes people say, there’s no love like a mother’s love or parents will do anything for their children, but does that include helping your child cheat his or her way through the most pivotal time in their educational career and personal development? The time he or she should be thinking on his or her own … the time when they are truly coming into him- or herself … taking the lessons learned over the past 17 or 18 years prior and learning how to fly according to their own terms as deemed what’s in their best interest? And yet some of the parents involved in the college scam – code named Operation Varsity Blues by investigative authorities – plead not guilty in Monday’s court hearing held in Boston, Massachusetts. It makes me think then – who’s to blame? Because whether or not we like to play the blame game or point fingers, people are responsible here – and it’s not just one person.

    | Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: This Is Your Time to Shine | Adebisi Adebowale

    This intricate web of lies, forgery, and superimposition took many people to conceive, conceal, and achieve the “unparalleled achievements” for over 600 students within 8 years of scams. People who are mothers, fathers, educators, coaches, entrepreneurs, and all sorts of people in between plotted and executed this scheme. There may have been a ringer leader – William Rick Singer, the owner and founder of the college admissions consultancy Edge College & Career Network and the nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation – but each and every other person involved also had a choice to make – to do right or to do bad; to go right or to go left; to go up or to go down. And each of those parents, coaches, and test administrators chose what they wanted to do. Because I’d like to believe there were even more people exposed to the systematic scam who chose to do well by not only themselves, but also for their children who are, more or less, watching their actions, even if the “children admitted into these schools were unaware of what their parents did to get them into these top universities.”

    | Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: This Is Your Time to Shine | Adebisi Adebowale

    It begs one to stop and consider who exactly was being protected in this? Is it possible parents had their child’s best interest in mind when they thought it was a good idea to have someone else sit in for their children for the college entrance exam or pretending their child was a star athlete when they are not even athletic? Or was it simply white privilege and elitism gushing out, exposing what has been underlying in the minds and hearts of people everywhere – that only a certain type of people belong in elite universities?

    There is no doubt in my mind students who are more deserving, hard-working, but of lesser socio-economic “value” were not bumped out to make room for the children of the rich and the famous. After all colleges have a process of tagging students who are high-profile/high-scoring and making room for them over those students who are untagged before college decision letters are mailed out. It makes wonder, where exactly do the majority of students of color lay between these two disparities?

    | Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: This Is Your Time to Shine | Adebisi AdebowaleNeedless to say, I’m a huge advocate of students of color applying and enrolling into PWIs (Predominately White Institutions) because they need our representation and evidence that students of various races are equally qualified to have a seat at any table they choose. I also believe that our students need to always be readily equipped to have a seat at those tables. That means parents should be actively engaged in what their children are learning in school and understand the level in which their children should be performing at. It also means investing early into adequate (and legitimate) tools and systems to support and substantiate the education in the classroom that will take them to the next level. That’s why I created my signature course – Cash for College – for college-bound students of color through my company Upliftology™. It’s my goal to see more students graduate college debt-free, yes … but even more so, I want to see more children educated and equipped to learn from life what it has to teach them.

    What are you thoughts about the college scam and its impacts on our children and how they view college education?

    | Decoding Operation Varsity Blues: This Is Your Time to Shine | Adebisi Adebowale

    I’m wearing an African map sweater I designed and was brought to life by The House of Faye. Contact her directly to order yours.


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