Honey, colleges are looking for well rounded kids! Are you sure you want to give up foreign language? And music, you need music. Don’t tell me you are giving up sports! And what about clubs?
Seems familiar? Those are today’s helicopter parents or Tiger Mums and Lion dads living their children’s life. I feel quite sorry for those currently in high school. A gifted athlete is expected to ace chemistry/physics, study nothing but AP Calculus BC as a senior, be proficient in at least one musical instrument, engage in clubs, volunteer regularly and maintain great grades. Oh I forgot speech, drama, debate and a lot more.
At around this time last year we were one of the parents whose kids were receiving those self explanatory envelopes from colleges- slim and small with apologetic best wishes or big and thick with congratulatory acceptance. The husband and I were driving the daughter and her friends to a school engagement. Now I am sure all will agree that listening to conversation in the car does not classify as eavesdropping so we couldn’t help but hear the animated discussion going on. ‘Oh I got accepted into some and rejected from a few’, ‘yet to hear from my dream college’, ‘really, you got into Berkeley’! ‘Oh, she walked into USC on a full ride and he has been recruited by Cal Tech’. ‘Her parents must have done something really right for her to be accepted into so many colleges’! Huh. Parents?
Since when did college become about parents? To cut the long four years of high school short, the kids are vying to be that well rounded, grounded child so much so that childhood is long forgotten and eventually lost. Politically correct behavior overrides honesty and innocence and by the time they are ready to fly the nest there is an acute case of apathy, cynicism and saturation- only to begin the next race of employment by the best.
The car conversation set me thinking about the lack of simple random chats about anything and everything beyond the focus of school, grades, clubs internships and college. There seems to be an underlying sense of rivalry, partly evident and partly hidden laced with jokes and general leg pulling and this is not limited to the teens. Mind it, parents are not too far behind, in fact in some cases they are the leaders of the pack generating and nurturing the current mindset.
There is a constant endeavor to build, develop, accentuate, elaborate, augment, enhance that resume, that long, exhaustive resume beginning as a naive teenager, consistently showcasing a well rounded hard working child with excellent GPA combined with super SAT/ACT scores along with excellent essays, an array of extra curricular activities in addition to magnificent community service and eye catching internships. Phew! Is that what high school is now about? A child excelling in one particular aspect is compelled to embrace much more without actual inclination or enthusiasm just to showcase a balance. Is a nice kid with average aspirations, simple ambitions and zero aggression a misfit in today’s world? Will the quiet kid get beaten at school, college, job interviews by the illustrative one?
What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of the well rounded child against a child following a singular self chosen path?
Picture courtesy: http://www.andertoons.com & www.toothlessstoops.com