Monday, April 15, 2013

The REALITY BITE of Ivy League Schools

The fact is that approximately 30,000 kids will apply to EACH of the eight Ivy League schools out of the over 8 million applicants to colleges/universities nation wide. The New York Times recently published this table (see link below) to illustrate the fact that many Ivy League schools are  lowering their acceptance rates, so that fewer prospective students will be making it in at all. Translation, better plan to have multiple back ups and perhaps temper the dream of Ivy League splendor!

So, why the push, push, push from parents to apply to Ivy League schools? I am not sure I understand it myself, although I do try. What I see, more often then not, is a lot of kids being pushed to exceed, excel and extend themselves beyond what a good deal of them are even capable of achieving on their own. And this push is coming at such young ages. Do we really know the full affect all this will have on them in the future? This constant need to push comes at a cost that most may be unwilling to recognize.

Now, this is not to say that all parents push unnecessarily. And let's face it some kids are performing far below what they are capable of achieving, so a push in the right direction might be just the thing for them! No indeed. Most parents do allow their children the space to decide for themselves, with guidance from them when needed, about collegiate goals.

Interestingly enough, I had the chance to  "hang" and befriend a VERY privileged group of young people in my late teens and early twenties who I met while working/living on Nantucket Island one summer. We kept in touch with one another for many long years after our summer of fun and frolic. I can truly say this group, for the most part, had a predetermined path to follow, that affected not only their collegiate life, but their career choice as well. All was laid out very succinctly by their parents. This is still the case for many of the children I see who reside in the  affluent area where I currently live as well. These kids had little to no say in their life so long ago, with regard to schooling/career,  and still don't today.

If given the chance, watch the poignant movie Robin Williams did many years ago called "Dead Poets Society." It is heartrending what one young man faces from his father when he tries to be who is meant to be and not what his father NEEDS him to be. The end result of this push from a parent and refusal to see their child for who they are ends in a most horrible and entirely preventable way. And yes, while it is indeed, a contrived Hollywood production, it does not fall far from the truth in terms of the single-minded need for some parents to make their children be who they need them to be and not who the children need to become for themselves. 

The fact remains that 25,000 to 40,000 kids typically apply to EACH of the top eight schools and roughly 6 percent "get in." And even SADDER is that this acceptance is no guarantee that a job will be had upon graduation or that they will be happy with their career choice.  How wonderful to say to all "My child is going to Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, etc....." BUT at WHAT cost?

Not all who seek the Ivy League are pushed though, and that is most important to mention. There are many kids who do strive for this perceived oasis of  academic excellence all on their own. So, for them the goal is personal and that truly makes it a worthy reach. But for many who want to reach for the brass ring,  the fact is they have a VERY small chance of ever "breaking in." Reality check for them is to have plenty of  back up colleges! It will BE OK, TRULY!

It takes a brave parent to let your child be who they are meant to be.

It is true that jobs are fewer and hard to find, and will be even tougher and more competitive as time goes on.  Those that have the ability to think outside the box, and create a job where none exists will do well. We need more square pegs in round holes and parents with the              courage to allow those differences to shine!!! There are PLENTY of people who succeed in life with a non Ivy League School education, or a non traditional way of approaching schooling.

Let them be happy and BE KIDS, first! It all ends too soon as it is, and that is a reality that no Ivy League School can stop!


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