Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Chosen Few

This is the season when high school seniors find out who got in and who got injured; college admissions is a full contact sport and not for the faint of heart.  For the past two weeks, I've been hearing reports from both the happy and heartbroken in this take-no-prisoners game and I was reminded of T. S. Eliot's modernist epic poem, The Waste Land, because it begins this way ....

"April is the cruelest month ..."   The poem is 434 lines long, so I won't inflict the entire thing upon you in this blog.  (I love this poem and spent a full year studying it - not because I had to - just because I loved it.)

There are legions of disappointed high school seniors who would agree that April is the cruelest month.

I read the open letter from Suzy Lee Weiss printed last week in the WSJ and titled ...."To all the colleges that rejected me ...."

More interesting than the writer's sprightly message to the Ivy League schools that rejected her were the reactions from casual readers.  Some were deeply offended, some thought it hilarious, and some were alarmed.  I had almost no reaction to it because I have seen so many similar essays and articles in the past.  I remember racing over the lines in the article and thinking, 'yada, yada, yada.....'    The young lady does not cover any new territory.  She merely shines a light on the same old-same old.   If we hate what we see it because we hate it (in fact) or is it because it is true?  I do not know.

I do know that gaining admission to a very competitive four year college is a vulgar game where the stakes are high.  I would never pretend otherwise. Still, I play it.  I do this because in the past 5-10 years I have witnessed a huge national decline in well-paid middle class jobs.  Median American wages are stagnant and I think they are going to stay that way.  There is a shocking concentration of wealth at the top (America's richest 1% now possess almost as much net wealth as the bottom 95% combined.)  And it is only getting worse.  I do not begrudge the 1% their millions.  Kudos to them.  Also, I do not think that money can solve all of one's problems.  But, as I tell my kids, money will solve all of the problem caused by not having money. And, God will take care of the rest, if you let Him.

This article on the $$ value of an Ivy League education is a good read:

Here is a quote from it:  "Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are among the most expensive universities in the country, yet their graduates are among the five colleges with the least student debt.  This is the case primarily because grads of these institutions find good jobs and make enough money to pay their loans back.  In other words, degrees from these institutions are terrific values in the long run, even if they cost a pretty penny upfront."

I do believe that a degree from a very good university will keep paying off years down the road.  Additionally, these institutions are pipelines to power.  Don't we, as Christians, want to see more Godly men and women at the very highest echelons of society?

Schools with admission rates below 15% are not for everyone.  But, regardless of your student's aptitude, I urge you to reach for the best possible school within his/her reach.

My husband and I have four kids to get into college.  The first one made it through the eye of the needle.  Most importantly, he is happy.  He loves UPenn.    Next year, we'll see if my daughter's dreams will come true.   Regardless of where she goes to college, my husband and I know she will thrive.  She knows what hard works feels like and she is not afraid of it.  And, most importantly, she loves to learn.  Still.

So, although it occasionally distasteful,  I will keep plugging away, planning and seeking out unique experiences and opportunities, looking for ways to challenge.  And I will fall asleep and awaken each day with a prayer of thanks on my lips.

Final thoughts from  The Waste Land ....

And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.