The Real Trouble With Teens Getting Others to Take Their SATs

multiple choice testSo, I know the obvious reaction a parent should have to this story is one along the lines of, "What bad teenagers!" or "Where did their mothers go wrong?" 

But my first thought when hearing about the six Long Island high school students who paid 19-year-old college student Sam Eshaghoff thousands of dollars to take their SATs for them was, "How much freaking pressure were these kids under??"

The students registered for the SATs at different high schools so their faces wouldn't be recognized, then paid Eshaghoff between $1,500 and $2,500 each to take the tests.

Uh, that's a lotta cash for a teenager. How desperate to do well on their SATs were they?

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I'm not saying that what these teens did was right. And I'm sure they regret their actions, especially now that they're facing misdemeanor charges. Eshaghoff, for his part, could get up to four years in prison. What a waste of college years for an intelligent kid (the scores he got for his SAT customers ranged between 2140 and 2220).

But I do think this incident should serve more as a red flag to parents than a cautionary tale to students. Of course cheating is a bad idea. However, so is putting such an insane amount of pressure on your kids to succeed that they'd rather fork over an entire summer's salary scooping ice cream or babysitting than risk disappointing you.

The sad thing is, these teens ended up really disappointing their parents, far more than they would have if they'd gotten merely average (gasp!) scores on their SATs. And the academic records that mattered so much are now irreversibly tainted.

Then again, so is the entire academic system in this country. So who's really to blame?

Do you think we put too much pressure on our kids to succeed?

 

Image via Alberto G./Flickr

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