As a parent of a future college applicant, I have been guilty at times of saying to her, “Why don’t you try out for (fill in the blank), or how about taking this (blank) class, or why don’t you join this (blank) club? It will look good on your college resume.”
In fact, Jennifer, the applicant in question, even teases me about this; she never misses an opportunity to say with more than a touch of irony, “Won’t this look great on my college application?” However, to her credit, she is firmly committed to doing the activities that truly interest her and not because being on the badminton team will make a good topic for her college essay.
So when Steve happened upon an article titled “How to get your kid into the Ivy League,” he knew it would strike a chord for me. We went through the college application process for the second time a year ago and this year, I am rejoicing that I don’t have to go through it for another three years. I still get a knot in my stomach when I remember how upset our daughter was the day she got the letter from the school she had her heart set on. She was expecting a lot of dough in scholarship money but instead, they tossed her a crumb.
BTW, her college selection story has a happy ending. She ended up going to a college that is actually a much better fit for her and that really wanted her there as demonstrated by the number of zeros on their Award Letter to her.
But back to the article, it was excerpted from a book called Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College by Andrew Ferguson. As part of researching his book, Ferguson attended a meeting in Connecticut led by a college planner who charges $40,000 to help parents get their kids into a college that will give them a bumper sticker that they will be proud to sport on the family’s Porsche Cayenne.
The article is really well written; it’s funny, self-deprecating and painful because I can see myself in the highly competitive moms that he describes. True, we’re not competing in the same league as these “high-net-worth individuals” who attended the meeting…after all, we’re in the 15% tax bracket and our kids go to public school in Petaluma, but the parental ambition isn’t that different.
I can’t wait to read the whole book. It got glowing reviews from people as diverse as Christopher Buckley, Tom Wolfe and William Bennett both for the way it’s written and his thorough research.
I want to read his book to find out what Mr. Ferguson learned after living through his son’s college application experience. I already know it’s a confusing, cryptic, sometimes unfair, and stressful process. I’m hoping he’s got some good news about it.