It was no surprise to read the latest news of wealthy people bribing their children’s ways into prestigious schools.

Based on what I read, these people allegedly paid college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on tests. Some university athletic coaches and administrators were even paid to choose certain applicants as athletic recruits – even when they didn’t play that particular sport – thereby admitting these kids in place of qualified students.

A handful of schools were named, but I think we all know this happens everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any kids who were cheated out of being admitted to Yale, but I have kids nonetheless and I think it’s time we stopped pretending that hard work and mettle are all one needs to succeed anymore.

I have an English degree and while I am happy to have it, it has not netted me any big advantages in life, and my student loan payoff date is when I’m 62 years old. The whole university institution is crumbling, and it seems as if the universities are even starting to infect some of the community colleges available to our kids.

My daughter recently checked in to the dental hygiene program at Northwest in Oxford only to find out it only offers a 2x2 program these days. What that means is, after two years, she will not have her associate’s degree. Instead, she will be sent to finish up a bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, but a bachelor’s degree is not necessary to be a dental hygienist. From the ones I’ve asked, that extra two years doesn’t increase your salary; it just increases the profits for the schools.

From the time I was born, I was told I would go to college, and that it was necessary to have a fulfilled life and steady income, but that hasn’t proven true for me or millions of other Americans. Maybe it’s time we rewrite the dialogue and start talking about trade programs more often.

I keep seeing these memes on social media touting trade programs, but are people really talking to their children about them? I never did until my daughter enrolled at Ole Miss a couple of years ago and discovered that what she was studying would allow her to do zilch. For those of us who were raised to believe that college was necessary, I think there is a little guilt in suggesting that our babies go through a technical program, and that’s a shame.

The wealthy are always going to be able to give their kids an advantage...tutors, the best of everything and sometimes even paying their way through tests. What can average people do for their kids to give them a good start? We can give them our time and our love. We can be honest with them but, beyond that, I’m open to suggestions.

Emily Paul is the general manager of the Monroe Journal. She can be reached at emily.tubb@journalinc.com.

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