If I were a high school junior or senior, I’d throw in the towel. How many opposing perspectives do we expect kids to comprehend when it comes to college admissions? Many, if not most teens, are subject to years of perseveration about the importance of college; many families spend a small fortune to bolster the chances of getting into a “good” school. The confusion of this pursuit has been obvious for decades. But still, we seem intent on convincing ourselves of that truth over and over again. Consider Frank Bruni’s new book. “Where You Go Is Not Who’ll You Be.” Bruni is a columnist for the New York Times, and thus has a big platform for this message. I appreciate his insights, but am shocked at how this is treated as a “provocative new idea” by media. Give us a break!
Here in New England, your college pedigree is a lifelong signifier of class and status. I regret that, but I believe it’s not likely to change soon. I feel badly for young people who recognize the shallowness of this situation, yet are confronted with a system that sometimes seems too big and pervasive to change. If we really want kids to think differently about colleges, we adults need to think differently about what college means. Authors like Bruni shouldn’t blame the college admissions obsession on kids, damn it! How about a book written for middle-class, New England parents? It could be called “Your Children Are Not Investments, They’re People: How to Stop Depriving Our Kids of Dignity by Making Their Brand More Important Than Their Souls.”