As March draws to a close, the final batch of high school seniors are receiving their college acceptance letters. But given this year's record-low admission rates, many more students are forced to find ways to cope with their thinner envelopes.
The odds of getting into some of the most prestigious colleges are shrinking. Many of the Ivy League institutions finished sending their admissions decisions late Thursday and all the top colleges except Brown and Columbia are reporting historically low acceptance percentages.
What surprises (and depresses) me is another report by the The Choice Blog of the New York Times revealing that more and more high school students are starting the college mill much earlier, in hopes of jumping the curve. Many seniors clutching their dream college rejection letters now wonder whether their demise was a result of a late college formula. "If only I had started earlier, planned earlier, known earlier," they think now.
Suddenly, high school is no longer an experimental time for the creative and carefree. Many parents have told me that their high school years were much more relaxed, much more mellow. But now with increasing student debt and higher barriers to entry, the education system has become a burden. It's a system where students are squeezed through selectively permeable holes until some finally emerge victorious, but enervated.
A recent New York Magazine feature of the nursery school rat race has distressed me the most. We might as well execute an IQ test on babies as they emerge from the womb. Say to each child, "Please fold a crane" and subtract points from their 'college cards' when they can't. Same way colleges grant points to minority students or leadership positions.
Grab the points as early as possible, never fall behind. Of course, a passion is possible. You can love to dance, just enter competitions to show colleges. You can love to paint, but please enter contests or create a portfolio along the way. You can absolutely love a sport, because that can definitely guarantee your college acceptance. Just get the extra points, because you'll obviously need them.