Entornointeligente.com / Stanford was out of the question for me.
My grades were borderline and my parents didnât make enough money to bribe anyone.
Advertisement But even in my working-class family and at my less-than-stellar public high school, you had basically three choices: Enlist in the military, work at one of the local factories or go straight to college.
The Vietnam War was waning and the mills required hard labor. I know because I worked in one of them one summer and realized why everyone in my town had said loud and clear that if youâre not cut out for honest work and callused hands, go to college.
So I did. First to a community college, then to San Jose State University. My first semester, I wrote a check for $90. Not for a class. For the semester.
Today, the prices have gone up a bit.
And the competition, too. Especially at the high-falutinâ campuses.
College is still a good bet for most, if not all, young folks. But the process of choosing and getting into school is nothing like it was in my day, and by that, I donât mean things have gotten better.
The college entrance scandal is an extreme example of how parents have bought into a high-pressure culture of expectation that might be more harmful than helpful, especially for those who put more weight on a fancy diploma than a life of meaning.
But even beyond the shameful details of the scandal , we need to take a closer look at what weâre putting our kids through, in some cases to burnish our own bragging rights rather than our childrenâs self-interest.
If youâre a kid on a college track in high school today, the pressure is more intense than ever. I speak as someone with sons who are 40 and 38 and a daughter who is 15. Like a lot of other parents are probably doing now, I worry about ways I may have been guilty of buying into the blind drive for a fancy diploma more than I should have, even if I never would have considered buying my kidâs way into college.
But we have a good chance now to stop and take a look at this monster weâve created.
The whole purpose in life for teens should be to have a well-rounded high school experience and begin to figure out who they are and how to think, not to become slaves to the college admissions grind. But todayâs kids are pushed, prodded and repeatedly tested, and itâs usually knowledge they are graded on, not wisdom, maturity or curiosity.
We ask our kids: How many advanced, or AP courses, are you taking? How many are your friends taking? And they worry: If they donât get straight As, or score 1,400 or better on the SAT, are they doomed to never set foot on the prestigious campuses theyâve been conditioned to strive for?
“Weâre in this arms race to be the best, and itâs a zero sum game in which youâve got to be successful because there are winners and losers,” said Tim Klein, a former high school counselor who thinks too many students — pushed by parents — value the status of certain schools over the purpose of going to college.
“A âBâ in chemistry is not just a âBâ in chemistry. Youâve just sealed your fate because youâre not getting into the college that deems you successful,” said Klein, who runs Project Wayfinder, which advocates for purpose-based education in high schools.
Advertisement “Weâre seeing this whole mental health crisis and I think a lot of it is because thereâs so much pressure on kids to go through an unbelievable amount of work to get into these elite colleges,” Klein said.
Klein said Wayfinder, inspired in part by Bill Damonâs research at Stanford Universityâs Center on Adolescence, is about a focus on integrity, civic engagement and helping students figure out what they want to do with their lives rather than what they think theyâre expected to do.
Thatâs not to detract from students who know exactly where they want to go to college and what they want to do — students who work their tails off to achieve their goals.
More power to them.
But Klein said those who go after the fanciest diplomas arenât necessarily happier or more successful than those who donât.
“I really donât think the school you go to matters. I think that has limited value,” said Klein. “The reasons you go to college are a much better indication of success than whatever name is on the college sign.”
The college entrance cheating scandal is an example of blind ambition at its most grotesque. Well-heeled parents — including CEOs and celebrities — are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their kidsâ SATs rigged and to cover the cost of bribing their way into USC, UCLA, Stanford, Yale, Georgetown and other schools.
Sometimes you see parents behaving so badly, you think to yourself that they should be arrested.
Well, now they have been.
And can the Trojans get through a semester without a reminder that the word “scandal” starts with SC?
Now itâs a honcho in the athletic department, Donna Heimel, whoâs accused of taking $1.3 million in bribes to get two dozen non-athletes into USC under the guise of athletic prowess. Apparently, itâs possible to never have been on a boat other than a yacht and get into USC by pretending to be a crew recruit.
But putting those vulgarities aside, what are the lessons for the rest of us?
For starters, there are more than 4,000 colleges in the United States, and every one of them has great teachers and something to offer.
As Klein noted, we need to ask students not where they want to go to college, but why.
What are their strengths; what are their weaknesses; what do they think are the biggest problems in the world and in their communities?
And how would they define what it means to live a life of purpose?
Full coverage: Dozens charged in connection with college admissions scheme »
LINK ORIGINAL: Latimes