Your child’s been accepted to an Ivy League school. You’re excited. Although children from Podunk have been accepted to college, none had a scholarship that actually allowed them to attend. But as a poor protective parent your next thought probably is, "How will my child cope in a ‘mixed’ environment?"
Your child doesn’t know that many 18 year olds have cars, let alone Beemers. Poor parents often don’t feel comfortable discussing these delicate matters with their children. Consultants such as Ostrander International’s Poverty Assessment and Training Program can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. Therefore you may try to tell yourself that this isn’t something you have to worry about.
You should. For the poor child, college is not a safe place. Rich kids will be afraid your child will steal their stuff. That’s what their families and consultants like Ostrander’s Wealth Protection Program taught them. Rich kids will also be afraid your child will rape them.
School officials advise poor parents that are concerned about false accusations to ask to see the campus police log. If the most common 911 call is "girl got pregnant to steal my family’s money" it could be a red flag. But Sylvia Spears, dean of Dartmouth, cautions that a high number of reports doesn’t necessarily mean poor parents should be wary. Many of the alleged golddiggers are from middle class families. In some cases the super-rich level these types of accusations at the merely rich. Spears does agree however that any relationship where the woman is older than the man should be regarded with suspicion.
Ostrander tells its poor clients that the biggest threat they face is the belief that they are just like anyone else. This is particularly a problem for minority students, though poor children of mixed race are almost as vulnerable. If your child don’t realize she is different she is a target for college pranks, such as being taken to an expensive restaurant where she can’t pay the bill. Other kids may think that because your child is from the ghetto she is used to being beaten up, and she may not care.
If your child isn’t forewarned, she will inevitably fall into the trap of falling in love with a wealthier student. This will lead to threatening calls from the family. Usually there will be a report to the police, and often an angry confrontation with the family’s "people." Ostrander has a psychologist and a self-defense instructor on staff. Outrageously expensive though it may be it’s often better to spend student loan money on these services upfront, rather than being caught after the fact with a child who is an emotional wreck.
Finally, poor parents should be alert to computer scams. Poor children often don’t own a computer, and may not understand the need to keep their passwords safe. When it comes to the Nigerian email scam, even though the your child has less money to lose, the risk may be higher due to her increased level of desperation.
Protect but don’t be over-protective. Parents of the very wealthy often resort to paying for a security detail to keep their child safe from yours. Encourage your daughter to use the buddy system if she must leave her dorm room. If she sees men with earphones it’s best to go back inside. The worst thing you as a parent can do is show up at the school yourself. Your child will have to learn to live in a rich man’s world eventually.