By now, you probably have learned of the College Admissions scandal that has erupted,with dozens of arrests made involving very wealthy people paying millions of dollars in a college admissions scam. At its basic core, the scheme involved enormous amounts of money funneled through an elaborate system,concocted by one William Rick Singer. It was designed to facilitate easy entrance for the sons and daughters of wealth families into some of the nations most prestigious Schools such as Yale University, Stanford University and The University of Southern California. On top of this,we now know the corruption extends to School Administration Officials as well as Coaching Staff in some or all of these schools. For those of us who struggled and worked hard to get into College and University this sad tale is a reminder of the old adage – it is not what you know, it is who you know. But it does not have to be this way. In my case it was just plain old hard work.
I will take you back to a time in my life. We were dirt poor growing up. A family farm with ten cows, some chickens , pigs and a few acres of land that produced enough vegetables to feed a family of nine. No running water- it was pumped by hand. No bathroom- just an outhouse. A clothes line strung between two trees was used to dry our laundry. And a cook stove heated by wood that was constantly in use to feed this large and growing family. Money was in short supply and every nickle and dime was saved to buy only the necessities of life. As children we were put to work at an early age with absolutely no compensation. You could say we worked for our keep.
By the time I was thirteen years old I was strong enough to branch out and do some extra chores. My Grandfather , also a farmer, hired me one day to pitch cow manure. That’s right cow manure! He paid me ten cents an hour and at the end of the day I pocketed a whopping 50 cents. I was tickled to death. Finally, I had some coin to jingle in my pocket and boy was I one happy camper. As the years progressed so to did the hours of labor and my allowance was increased to $10 for the week. Of course, I would be remiss to mention by this time I had reached the age of 18 years,the minimum age for alcohol consumption. A case of beer cost $4, which left very little for spending money. By this time, I was learning the value of money. It was hard to earn and easy to spend!
After years of toil and good fortune our family economic status had improved. We owned two farms rich in fertile land, a large brick home, several dozen pedigree dairy cattle, lots of farm machinery and indoor plumbing. So, one would think that my parents would be financially able to finance their kids higher education. You would be wrong. You see my parents only had grade ten education and married at the age of sixteen. While they supported higher education they also felt it was best for their kids to earn their way through school, with the aid of Provincial Government Student loans. Their motto was simple. You earn it!
I understand, but working on the farm since age nine every day- seven days a week; keeping up school grades and doing sports meant little time for earning extra money to pay for college tuition let alone housing costs. This left me in a bitter frame of mind toward my parents.
Truth be known, I actually did not want to go to college. I wanted to be a farmer. By now, my Father was tired of farming . He was only forty years of age. In most family run farming operations, a son transitions and takes over the operation with the aid of the father. In this case, my Dad simply decided that he was going to head into another business venture. Son, you are on your own. So, that’s exactly what I did. I went to University and there I managed to balance academics with doing several jobs. This allowed me to finish my Degree in Economics. Happy with this accomplishment, I ventured out into the Business World to learn the ropes in the Financial Services Industry.
As the years went by and I worked my way successfully up the corporate ladder, I realized that my father had taught me a valuable lesson. If he had handed me a silver spoon, in this case a fully paid education, my expectations that someone else should foot the bill would have taken root. He wanted to instill in me the value of hard work and that nothing in life should come easy. You want it…you earn it.
The College scandal we are now witnessing in America is a case in point of a class of privileged young people who were never taught this valuable lesson – if it is going to be, it is up to me. I am so glad my father instilled into me a strong work ethic. It was instrumental in my achieving a College education.
After all is said and done – I WORKED DAMN HARD FOR MINE!