Ever since the college admissions bribery scandal broke in March, I’ve wanted to write a column about my thoughts, but whenever I’d sit down to do that, I’d see yet another article about the whys and wherefores. I’d think, “What else can be said about it?”
Still, I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I had a Delta Zeta sorority reunion in April, the event triggered additional thoughts — thoughts of a talented group of gals who attended Georgia State University in the ‘70s.
We met at Bistro Niko in Buckhead for a lunch that stretched to three hours. We shared old pictures and reminisced about who was whose big or little sister and the charity fundraisers we’d organized like dance marathons. And, of course, we caught up on children, grandchildren, husbands and the careers we’d pursued.
As you might expect from a group of women who graduated in the ’70s, there were several nurses, teachers and accountants. There were also plenty who’d pursued careers in other fields — a CFO, an HR director, a banker, two RE agents and more. One who couldn’t join us that day had started her career as a math teacher and gone on to be president of BellSouth Carolinas. I find all of this darned impressive for a group who earned their degrees from a school that wasn’t considered prestigious or top tier.
Who knows how we all ended up at an urban school that had neither dorms nor sorority houses — only sorority rooms. I attended GSU because my parents didn’t have the money to send me to college, much less to bribe my way in. I felt fortunate when my dad slipped me the occasional $20 for gas.
I lived at home, as did most of us, and commuted downtown daily. To pay my first year’s tuition, I took out a student loan and worked 15 hours a week at an office job. The $152/quarter tuition seemed like lots of money back then, and I socked away my hourly wages so I could pay that and get by without borrowing more.
Lest you think sororities are purely frivolous, we all had to achieve a certain grade point average to get initiated into the sorority. Managing our chapter, our charity fundraisers, and other events taught us organization skills and gave us a taste of responsibility. Several of us went on to graduate school.
I cracked up when I was reminded that I’d been the treasurer one year. Math has never been my forte. Lucky for me, the gal who went on to become a CFO was my assistant. I was also the pledge trainer, an experience that may have had something to do with me becoming a leadership trainer and coach later in life. What I do know is that my college experience laid a strong foundation for my career.
My question? What is going on these days that makes getting into a particular school so important — so important that parents would bribe their children’s way in? Is it a sense of entitlement? Is it having more money than sense? My bigger question: Had the scheme succeeded, would any of these children have ended up that much more successful than my sorority sisters? Somehow, I can’t believe they would have. What do you think?