Monday, April 30, 2007

The Upper-Middle Class Have More Options Than Harvard

There is a fine piece in the New York Times about all the amazing smart kids desperate for Harvard who won't get in. The author, a Harvard alumnus and interviewer, does not lament that his kids are not determined to get into Harvard as he, a blue-collar kid, was at their age. For him, an elite college was the one way up. For his kids, who start out in the upper-middle class, they have many more options than he did -- because they know that there a many paths to success.


Anonymous said...

Never did I expect to think of the 1970s as blissful. They were in some respects, I suppose. My memories are similar to the author's, showing up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with four sharpened 2A pencils, a large pink eraser, and not a clue what to expect from the SAT I was about to take. Our family received confirmation later on of a score somewhere near 1500, a meaningless number to me in the collegiate sweepstakes, but which the guidance counselor said would suffice for a place at University of Pennsylvania. He was right, but I was too busy thinking about horseback eventing to have gotten accepted without his insistence that I sign in all the appropriate spaces. Now I'd be competing with those for whom the chutes have been cleaned and greased since before they were born. I'd have no time for all those leafy afternoons in a Bucks County countryside. Reflecting on the changes in my own childrens' generation, I realise nothing could have prepared us for what has occurred anyway. The world is but a bauble for the young these days; compared with my experience at least. My children left American high school via a jet for Europe, and an entirely baffling system of qualifications. Regardless, they thrive. What would have been a remote dream for me is now the stuff of their everyday existence. My daughter has pronounced the University of Edinburgh, among the top ten in Great Britain, not to her standards in foreign language and she will move on next year to Universitat Autonoma Barcelona, where the curriculum is more "real" she tells me, to study all her courses, including European Law, in Spanish and Catalan. My energetic son fortunately was advised that Cairo might be the wrong choice for Americans of the highly verbal variety, so he chose Prague to continue studies in Journalism -- second on the list but quite a vibrant atmosphere they say. Meanwhile, I'm having a second cup of tea.

Gruntled said...

I think the 1970s were, in the words of "Doonesbury," a kidney-stone of a decade. I was taking the SAT in relative innocence a county away from you in Pennsylvania. And now my kids have options I never contemplated for their education. But, as the Times author wrote, our kids have these options now because we pursued hot-shot education then.