I’ve been listening to the radio news, and once again, I’m appalled. Yesterday, the morning host interviewed the author of a new book about applying for college. I won’t provide the book title, or the author’s name. Heaven knows, when one is trying to sell a book, one becomes reluctant to badmouth anyone else trying to do so. But, other than the affability and humor of the author, nothing in the report made me think the book would be worth reading at all.
The book describes the author’s efforts to help his child apply for college. That caught my interested. It lost me when I discovered that the author had paid someone $40,000 to coach his son through the application process.
Let me dwell on that a moment: the family paid someone a year’s college tuition to help the boy get into college!
The price alone completely disconnected my interest. I don’t have that much to spend on such a process, should I ever be tempted to do so. Further, it bothers me that people offer this preparation service, and that other people pay for it.
This indicates that a certain percentage of our nation’s college students aren’t there through their own ability to apply for college—to plan, organize, and execute the process. These people paid someone else to do what they really should be able to do themselves if they ever expect to make anything of themselves in life.
This wouldn’t be so bad if all of these efforts were directed at entrance to a top tier college and university. Paying for privilege and placement may actually be valid experience for those students who intend to pursue careers in our nation’s political arena. But the author’s son sought and eventually gained acceptance to the type of college that, without benefit of any additional descriptors from the author (at least in the interview) is a “party college.”
None of this impresses me. Aly’s unschooling prepared her for high standardized tests scores, not some high-paid “handler.” We worked together as a family to coordinate her application process, relying on our own skills, initiative, and information-gathering abilities. As a result, she got accepted to the college of her choice. In the rank of college selectivity, I believe it would fall toward the less-selective end of the scale, but prestige from exclusivity didn’t appeal to her. The college’s teaching philosophy, curriculum, location, and facilities did. She’s been accepted to the college of her dreams, just like the author’s son. We just didn’t pay $40,000 to have someone else shepherd her in.
I confess, I did urge Aly to apply to Harvard, just to see if she could get accepted. She declined.
“I don’t want to go to the east coast for school,” she reasoned, “so asking to attend without intending to accept seems dishonest.” I wonder what a hired handler would have said to that? And, in light of the alternative represented in the appalling interview, her concern for honesty in applications seems to indicate she’s going to do well in life.