Sunday, April 08, 2007

Of Looking Beyond The Elite...

I read this NYTimes piece last week and I was sort of struck by it, but did not dwell upon it too much. It dealt with the lives of well off, rich young girls as they balanced advanced courses, extracurricular activities and how despite it all they were not sure they could get in to their "A-list" colleges.
These were girls who took multiple Advanced Placement classes while playing multiple sports and musical instruments, winning top prizes, starring in plays, helping the homeless and achieving fluency in one or two foreign languages. More amazing still: despite all this incredible accomplishment, they weren’t guaranteed access to their first-choice colleges.
My heart should break for them no? As much as I admired what they were doing I was uncomfortable and could not quite place it. And then I looked at the blog Eschaton which some of us refer to as our "Political Crack Den" and Atrios picked on something too. But like he says it was best crystallized by the person "Hannah". Perspective indeed, for there are a lot of people like Hannah around. If you read her post copied below you know what it means.

After reading the various posts, I am surprised that only a few people realized that what this all boils down to is money. All your talk about pressure and the role of women in modern society is completely secondary to the fact that these girls come from upper middle class families and can afford to do all these things. Indeed, “what about” the other amazing girls, who can’t afford to be super-achievers?

I am originally from a small town in Michigan but now am a junior at a college in Manhattan. I was not blessed with the funds to pursue an unlimited amount of extra-curricular activities, nor did I attend a public school loaded with opportunities. I am pleased with my choice of university and it took a lot of hard work to get here (on scholarship), but there is no possible way I could have gotten into an Ivy League school or any of the other schools these girls consider “the best.” Although I admire their dedication, they seem like the kind of “perfect” girls I loathed in high school. I’ll break it down this way: while perfect girls got to attend youth group, play tennis, take AP classes (my school only offered two), be in the student government, plan proms and get straight A’s, since the age of 15 I had to balance a full-time job with classes and a disruptive, sometimes violent family life. I have always been an advanced reader and writer and I believe my “passion” is what, ultimately, got me into college, but I had neither the time, money or resources to match these girls’ standards. And since moving to New York, I have realized that compared to the VAST majority of girls (and boys) in the world, I had it easy. Frankly, upon reading that one of the girls only (gasp!) got into Smith, it took all my strength not to laugh. It was a great article, but perhaps the Times should write a few stories about those amazing girls who aren’t lucky enough to get into Smith. Thankfully I’m no longer a senior in high school and I don’t have to watch scores of personality-challenged, lily-white rich kids ship off to Harvard like calves to the slaughter. I’m proud that I not only worked hard in high school, but managed to maintain a sense of myself. So now I can concentrate on what I want to do, even though I’m not at a brand-name university.

— Posted by Hannah


Dan said...

There's so much competition these days, aye Jay? It wasn't like this when we were growing up. At least not for me. (But look at how I turned out.)

I feel sorry for kids today, I really do.

Happy Easter or Passover!

Aditi said...

Well I mean its hardly the end of the world that they are unable to get into the school they want. There are many who can barely afford to goto college...
I dunno.. maybe i just dont see it as a big deal

Asha said...

Trisha is in Early college by her merit and is taking 7 AP's by the end of next year,all by her own choice!!
All through elementary and middle school,she whined and whined bcos she used to get very bored, but never heard that whining at all since she went to Early college and took advanced courses.
No she is not applying for any Harvard and Yale ,will be right here in NC and will be working here as well.
She is not interested at all in sports but in Violin,volunteers in local regional hospital,already has 120hrs in her pocket!Her dream is to get in to Med school.Will she?! Hope so but who knows!!!If she does get a Med degree,her job is secure already in her dad's clinic.Can you believe that?!So easy for these kids compared to us!!!
Yes, my son is whining right now in middle school!!;P

Shitrint said...

all i know about the education in America is that its very very expensive in college and there's a lotta pressure if one's seeking to get into a coveted institute.
my cousin's got more than one job and is studying thru a loan...that just makes me think im lucky in a way.

Thailand Gal said...

I agree with Dan. Being a kid these days would be far too difficult ~ at least here. There's too much competition, too much for sale.. too much of everything.

It all boils down to money at the root. Sometimes having a lot of money may not be the blessing it seems on the surface.



meno said...

As a person with a daughter getting close to going off to college, this is creepy, but i see it all the time.
I just want her to get a reasonable education and have a good and happy life. i don't give a damn if she goes to a fancy A-list college.
This is not the attitude of many of the other parents around me.

david santos said...

Thanks for you work and have a good weekend. Happy Easter.

Carrie said...

Sounds like Hannah knows whats up.