There was a great article in the NY Times on the concept of “leadership” in college admissions. It should be required reading for high school and admissions counselors, to get us to think about how the expectations of college admissions are harming our children through perverse and distorted incentives.
The article is at Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.
It made me think of a student I had, as sincere as any I have worked with, who would spend hours working at an animal shelter each week, walking the dogs, cleaning their cages, feeding them. She told me she had loved animals since she was a little girl. I asked if she did the volunteer work because she loved doing it or because she felt it was important for college applications. There was a moment of silence, a sad look and a mournful “I really don’t know”. It was one of the saddest moments in my 35 year career. This poor kid was robbed of the pleasure and pride of doing what she loved because of the nagging insincerity of “College”. Our college admissions process is breeding a generation of self-involved and self-aggrandizing children for whom ennui becomes the defining characteristic of their adulthood.