Give Our Children Back Their Childhood

We, and I do mean all of us, are conspiring to create a generation of stressed out, crippled children.  Yes, you the parents who expect so little of your children except for performance in school, yes you, secondary school people who brag to realtors and board members how many of our kids got into Ivies or the such.  There is one group, though, who can do the most to change this.  The raising of the bar in terms of expectations from students in college admissions is the most pernicious trend in all of child rearing.

Yes, more pernicious than the over-controlling and over-meddling parents who see their children as frail waifs with no resilience.  Yes, more than the Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, test prep, college admissions test community.  That line, that one line, is controlling so much of our children:  “the most important thing we look at is the rigor of the senior year schedule.”  And why, pray tell, do the colleges do this?  Because they can, and it is an easy form of adolescent boot camp to separate the wheat from the chaff.  So my plea:  4 is enough.  The most selective colleges need to be loud and clear that 4 major courses at the terminal level is enough.  Let kids know that there will not be any advantage in terms of admissions beyond this and act on it.  I know it feels wrong.  I know that if you can mold children into little adults with your expectations, you will do so.  But, sadly, they are not little adults; they are children in the process to adulthood.  I think the college admissions community has to take a long hard look at what they are creating, or if not creating, contributing mightily to: a generation of kids so self-conscious and so stressed out that they are incapable of engaging in the growth needs of adolescence.  So write me off line, letting me know that you are at least talking about this at your colleges.  We have seen the growth of positive movements in our profession, from the actions people like Lloyd Thacker and organizations like FairTest.  Let’s make this the next one.  Let’s have a public site where colleges can pledge that “4 is enough.”  Give our children back their childhood.

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Author: Scott White

I am a nationally recognized expert on college admissions, having worked in schools and colleges for 35 years. I have been regularly quoted in major publications including the NY Times, the LA Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine and others. I am widely published on various aspects of the college admissions process and present at state and national conferences on a variety of college admissions related topics. I have worked in college admissions as well as independent day and boarding schools. The last 25 years I have worked in public schools, 14 as a school counselor and then as a Director of Guidance at elite, suburban public schools including Montclair High School, Westfield High School and Morristown High School. I am now an independent college counselor for SW College Consulting in Montclair. I can be contacted as swcollegeconsulting@gmail.com or 973-919-6798.

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