Tough love or Craigslist?

May 21,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman( )
From time to time, I search Craigslist for writing gigs. This research isn’t so much to find jobs for me personally; it’s more of a way for me to keep tabs on whether the competition (to my company) is looking for talent (and what they’re looking for). Today, I found the following post (all spelling, punctuation and grammatical issues are hers, not mine):

“Grandma, seeking a person for a part time two day position to help write information for college applications for a High school student (grandaughter). Student writes well but in dire need to research and help to submit scholarship information and sometimes applications asap to meet deadlines.”

At first I was kind of offended – mostly because Granny’s only offering $15/hour. If the writer/researcher does a good job, her precious (lazy?) granddaughter may earn a full-ride scholarship potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. How about you pay $15/hour plus 10% of whatever scholarship money is earned as a result of the efforts? Then, we can really start talking.

Okay, seriously, my first reaction was to laugh. Grandma is hiring writers to get her kid into college and help her earn scholarships? Granted, it’s been a while since I had to fill out the ol’ college applications, but I’m reasonably certain the admissions officers would have frowned on my using someone else’s work for my essay. (Yes, even if that work was just “research.” Yeah, right. Read between the lines.)

I assume the little princess forgot about/ignored some fast-approaching deadlines, and is now looking for Grandma to bail her out. I know there may be 1,000 reasons why she is in such “dire need,” but since Grandma didn’t spell those out – I have no choice but to mock. I have no choice but to laugh. And, I have no choice other than to be completely appalled.

I know K-Man isn’t even three, but I’ve given lots of thought to the whole “tough love” concept. I don’t think it’s out of the norm for any parent to think about these things. I’ve read about parents who let their kids stay in jail when they could easily bail out their poor offspring. I’ve read about parents who disavowed their kids after repeated problems with drugs (and repeated attempts to help their kids). The choice of “to enable or not to enable” is one that is particularly troubling, as it pulls so deeply on both the heart and the head.

Grandma is clearly enabling (or at least appears to be doing so, based on the admittedly limited information presented). What would be the best course of action to take? While I’m a bit of a deadline whore and was always good about having my essays/papers/whatever written on time, I don’t think K-Man will ever be in the position of the granddaughter. That being said, if he were – I think he’d just have to do the best he could under the circumstances. There is a lesson that needs to be learned. (And its not that Craigslist can bail you out of any jam.)

Perhaps it’s harsh, but maybe little sweetie doesn’t get to go to Harvard this year. Maybe she has to go to the local state school or junior college. Just maybe she’s going to have to suck it up for a year while she learns an unbelievable lesson in responsibility. And maybe such a lesson will result in one of the all-time great essays in college admissions/transfer history. (Someday, when she runs for president, she can thank her Grandmother for not meddling in her college application process and teaching her one of the greatest lessons of her life.)

Or maybe I’m just totally overreacting to Grandma’s efforts and reading way too much into what might very well be a completely innocent overture on Grandma’s part. I know she simply wants the best for her granddaughter. I understand that. I hope her granddaughter gets into the college of her choice and chases her every dream and achieves her every goal.

I just hope she turns to Craigslist to find her roommate, apartment, or some used books at school, not as a means to get accepted.