Study: College and Beyond

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Submitted by powayseller on August 26, 2006 - 3:24pm

Gearing your kids to get an Ivy acceptance turns them into robots. How happy I am we gave up competitive soccer; my 13-yr-old son is busy all day making movies on his computer, being creative.

You don't get creative by molding yourself into a statistic and doing adult-led activities. Everytime your kid plays a sport, he is following adult instruction. Is this ever balanced by him playing a pick-up game with friends? My son is often called to meet his friends at the park to play flag football. I love that! They create the game, they actually have fun playing because they are not worried about performing for the coach or the parents. They make the rules, solve their problems, and finish the adventure with a swim party at a friend's house.

We need more creativity, not followers. Read the new book "The Overachievers", written by NYT Bestselling author of Pledged, Alexandra Robbins.

And don't worry about his athletic prowess. He went on a one hour run with his dad, 9-yr-old brother, and dog on the mountain trails behind our house today. He asked to join the gym, and loves it there. Although he is a year younger than everyone else because he skipped a grade, he was the 2nd fastest runner in 8th grade.

My younger son, the 9 yr old, just subscribed to Gourmet magazine, and created a signature dish for us Wed night. This is the life I am so proud to have created for my kids. They love to learn, create, express, explore. Parents who push the Ivy league and overscheduling agenda have a high risk of turning their kids into grade-grubbing cheats (it's all in that book I mentioned). Now I know how we got those Enron boys; they are like those overachieving high schoolers, who think the end justifies the means. Anything to win, to get ahead.

All that Ivy league stuff is so overrated. An Ivy league degree doesn't improve your income, and trying to attain admission destroys a teen's development in high school, taking the focus development of creativity and intelligence, and a joy of learning, to creating a resume to meet the perceived expectations of a college admission counselor. Perceived is the key word; the book makes it clear, from admissions counselor interviews, that they don't look for the things that people think. They care little about your experiences, but very much about how you experience and interpret your world.

Submitted by JES on August 26, 2006 - 3:32pm.

Law schools are even worse than undergrad. The only things that matter for admissions are what college you went to, what your GPA was, and what your LSAT scores were. Harvard will except a guy who graduated from Duke with a 3.8 over an Army lieutenant who graduated from SDSU with a 3.1 and commanded 100 soldiers for a year in Iraq and was wounded in action.

Submitted by powayseller on August 26, 2006 - 5:15pm.

Yeah, my brother was hired by the #2 law firm in the country, on Wall Street, because he had a law degree from the Univ. of Michigan and wrote for their Law Review and clerked for a Supreme Court judge. If he had graduated from the ASU law school, he never would have been interviewed. But he ended up hating it and left. So in the end, it didn't matter that he went there. My friend in Phoenix went there too, and is a stay-at-home mom. So it didn't matter for her either. Her husband went to a regular law school and works for himself, billing at $300/hour.

My husband has an engineering degree from Univ of Nebr at Lincoln, and he is in the top 5% of salary for his occupation, so that several promotion job offers he received had to be turned down, because he would earn less money. He is maxxed out, and nobody cares he has only a bachelors degree. He has the character, intelligence, creativity, and he can sell the company based on his honest good work.

A survey of the Fortune 500 CEOs found that more than half went to little known public schools.

For these reasons, I don't see the emphasis on getting approval from an Ivy league admissions counselor.

Seek approval from yourself. Develop your creativity, work ethic, flexibility, morals, relationships, spiritual life, humility, and service to God and others.

Submitted by FormerOwner on August 26, 2006 - 5:21pm.

I think what you're really paying for with an Ivy League school is that you're buying into the social network. That's about it. If you want to play that game, it will probably pay off. If you're not willing to play the game, going to a school like that probably isn't worth it.

Submitted by speaker on August 26, 2006 - 5:22pm.

I have spoken with many parents who have their kids running ragged 7 days a week doing after school stuff:
music lessons, sports, etc.

These parents have their reasons but most of them push their kids into these after school activities because they are padding their "resume" early so that they will be primed for college admittance.

Everytime I hear a parent lament about how busy they are because of their kids activities I always ask:
"Do they enjoy it?".

It's such a simple question and yet the answers I receive are so obtuse and complicated.

It is my hope that Mrs. speaker and I can lead by example so that the little speakers will be motivated to do things on their own.

"End of line."

Submitted by ybc on August 26, 2006 - 8:34pm.

PS, well said. If I have kids someday, that'll be how I will do it.

Submitted by PerryChase on August 26, 2006 - 10:16pm.

If I had children, I’d want the best education for them. That means the best colleges. Why go for second best?

Living in California, I’d want my kids to be fluent in Spanish. There’s also sports such as soccer and acquiring healthy habits such as eating well. I’d also want them to learn Chinese and spend summers in Asia (China will be a great power and Chinese will be as important as English). They would attend university in Europe, followed by an internship in China, then go on to graduate school on the East Coast. Of course, a well-educated person should speak French and play the piano. Children should be taught good etiquette so they can hold their silverware properly and write proper thank-you letters to relatives. They should also have a good understanding of the arts and history. I believe that a world-aware person is a well-rounded person. Not easy being my children, huh? (I’m only 1/2 kidding) :)

That being said, can we have everything that we want? No. So we all we can do is try our best.

Submitted by greekfire on August 26, 2006 - 10:57pm.

Perry, I have to point out the oximoron in your post. You mentioned that your child had to learn French and in the same breath you said that they needed to learn proper etiquette. Pick one of the can't have both. :-)

Submitted by PD on August 27, 2006 - 7:29am.

I agree with many of the things posted here. However, sports can be an extremely important part of a child’s development. I was deeply involved in sports growing up and my experiences were very important in making me who I am today. I learned about hard work, how to be part of team, acting like a loser makes you one, never give up, how to be a good winner and loser, etc. My friends in sports all tended to be very good kids who got good grades and were not interested in partying (using alcohol and drugs). Some received sports scholarships, gaining financial assistance that helped their lower middle class families send them to college (some also received academic scholarships).

Sport also strengthens the body, making kids healthier. I see a lot of little dough balls running around these days who could use a lot more physical activity.

I have noticed that most of the people who denigrate sport as useless are the ones who did not participate themselves.

Submitted by rankandfile on August 27, 2006 - 8:16am.
Submitted by mydogsarelazy on August 27, 2006 - 9:45am.

Hello Powayseller,

I think it is great that you are encouraging your sons to be creative.

When I was in Jr. High and High School I was drawing animated cartoons, giving puppets shows and eventually building my own dune buggy. I was very hands on and creative.

When I got to college (went to Stanford) I just kept on going in that vein, and declared an art major. My parents and I fought quite a bit about this, but eventually they realized I was serious. Because I loved my major so much I was very motivated and graduated with Distinction. I was one of two painting majors in my entire class.

I went on to get an MFA in Painting, and have had a great, very happy career as an artist and as a Community College art professor.

My stepson recently graduated with an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA, but what got him through school -- and also got him scholarship money -- was that he excelled in dance. That took a lot of confidence on his part, as boys take a lot of ribbing if they dance, but he just didn't listen.

You might enjoy this book: The Rise of the Creative Class

Not a real estate professional, just someone who follows the market

Submitted by carlislematthew on August 27, 2006 - 10:08am.

Harvard will except a guy who graduated from Duke with a 3.8 over an Army lieutenant who graduated from SDSU with a 3.1 and commanded 100 soldiers for a year in Iraq and was wounded in action.

Well, they'll actually include the LSAT very heavily in their calculations too.

Regarding your Army lieutenant example, assuming that the LSAT is as "ok" as his GPA, then it would seem he/she wouldn't make a good lawyer. Why *should* Harvard accept that candidate? What does his honorable service for the country have to do with his ability to become a lawyer?

Submitted by ybc on August 27, 2006 - 10:38am.

PC: "Not easy being my children, huh?" I feel sorry for those kids already!:-)

Actually, the best should be what's the best for the kid, not what the best defined by conventions. I observed many little ones, that it's remarkable how early their personality and intelligence start to show! But they're talented in different ways. You may have someone who's more into reading than sports; in that case, you can still encourage the kid to participate in sports, but more importantly you'll need to find the right means to let him/her develop intellectually, because that is that kid's forte, at least for a while. The same is true if the kid shows strong interest/talent for something else (sports, music, arts, people skills). I think that a kid who's forced to "develop" according to conventions and parents' wishes might be miserable. On the other hand, I also believe that kids are incredibly capable of learning and are resilient, so if they get the right type of loving attention, then they'll do very well. Of course, opportunities to learn spanish, french, Chinese, travel, etc, will just help to open their minds more...

All right, I will stop. This topic belongs to PS. Although I once dreamed about being a kindergarten teacher...

Submitted by JES on August 27, 2006 - 2:30pm.

In my example, let's assume that the Army Lt. got the same score on the LSAT as the kid who graduated from Duke. They will still take the Duke grad because his index number will be much higher, and his GPA was much better, and he went to Duke. Human beings are not permitted to mature and improve after college according to their entrance theories, and any leadership experience, service to this country and exposure to international cultures only count in the essay which really doesn't matter much.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather have the Army Lt. defending me in the courtroom, and I would place alot of trust and respect in him as well purely based on his service. I also believe that we should offer him a shot. This is the problem with law school admissions these days. It is a numbers game and many people who would make fantastic lawyers are excluded because they may have screwed up in college, or didn't plan their life out at age 17. And by the way, make sure you graduate with a degree in something they consider useful - they will hold it against you if you major in art, landscape arhitecture etc.

Submitted by deadzone on August 27, 2006 - 2:52pm.

Fluency in other languages is one of the most overrated ideas that our culture is hung up on. Ignorant people are always saying that our kids should learn Spanish because that is going to be necessary in the US with all the immigrants, that is ridiculous.

For one thing, all immigrants are speaking English by the second generation. More importantly, unless you are a contruction foreman or landscaping business owner you really don't have to know Spanish and you never will. Anyway, we are most interested in professional jobs that require college degrees, you will never need to speak Spanish in this environment.

English is not only the common language in the US but it is accepted as the international language of business. When Japanese businessmen are meeting with Chinese or Korean businessmen, for example, they are most likely talking in English.

That being said, learning Spanish or other languages is a great component of the general liberal arts education. Learning and being functional in another language is also fun if you happen to do a lot of world traveling. But unless you plan to work in Mexico or another Spanish speaking country, you will NEVER have to know Spanish to communicate. Ditto for Mandarin.

By the way, I speak Spanish and have never had to speak it here in San Diego. It is fun to be able to speak Spanish when I go to Mexico, or to watch Spanish TV but it is certainly not a skill that is necessary for most careers.

Submitted by JES on August 27, 2006 - 8:13pm.

I took German in college, lived over there a semester, and have yet to use it in my professional life. I even worked for two years for a German company and travelled to Munich 4 times! Spanish would have been more practical. It really depends on what you want to do with your career, but as far as a language you can't go wrong with, I vote Spanish. If you want to work for the FBI or in military intelligence, you should take Mandarin, Arabic or Korean. We shouldn't be encouraging our kids to take German and French since they are really of no use except in niche areas these days, and personal enjoyment of course. Assuming we want our kids to learn what is useful.

Submitted by PerryChase on August 27, 2006 - 4:28pm.

It’s absolutely not true that you don’t need language skills to succeed in career. If you’re going to be an executive for a company in China, you’re better off speaking Chinese. If you want to work in Mexico, you’ll be better received if you speak Spanish; plus you’ll be happier in your new home.

It all comes down to money. In USA, corporations don’t have Spanish menu options for nothing. They don’t spend millions staffing Spanish speaking call centers or develop software interfaces in Spanish if they don’t generate incremental revenue.

Personally, whenever I use an ATM, self-serve register, or call center, I always use the Spanish option. I can assure you that when the managers sit down to review their sales data, they look at how many customers chose the Spanish option. The more people choose the Spanish option, the more Spanish speaking staff companies will have to hire (better for Spanish speaking job seekers). Lowes has a call center that you can call to get service in a number of languages. That’s the kind of customer service that’s necessary to succeed in this globalized world.

What if a manager is called upon to head an office in China? He won’t be very happy nor will he do very well in that society if he doesn’t speak the language. Guess who will have no problem relocating to China if the company chooses to move its research center to Shanghai? What if you want to start a company serving Spanish speaking immigrants?

The more languages you speak, the more options you’ll have in the future.

If you speak Spanish you should use it to your advantage -- differentiate yourself from non-Spanish speakers. That’s your competitive advantage, in your career and in life. In my view, if you can bring-in more revenue for the company, you should be paid more than English-only speakers. For example, if you can develop software (or write an instruction manual) in English and Spanish, then you’re obviously worth more than an otherwise equally qualified English-only employee.

Submitted by Chrispy on August 27, 2006 - 5:06pm.

One of the best reasons to learn another language is to get out of the mindset that we are the center of the world. It's not just the language learned - it's also the customs of another populace that are invaluable.

Submitted by powayseller on August 27, 2006 - 7:12pm.

mydogsarelazy, you've fostered much creativity in your home. That's really great. Now, about that long URL, that doubled the width of the entire thread... (Pretty please, use Links)

Interesting perspective, PD on sports. My entire family is very toned and in shape, but are not on any teams right now. Competitive sports is not the only way to get fit. My son did 3 years of competitive soccer starting at age 7, but he is one of the 80% of kids who drops out of team sports by age 13.

I have to say, the number of times he laughed and felt happy playing soccer is probably counted on one hand. But running with his dog, playing flag football with his friends, swimming laps with his sister, all cause laughter and squeals of delight.

Personally, I think competitive sports are great only if the child is asking to do it. In any case, every child needs physical activity, whether a dance class or just riding his bike around town.

It's very interesting that many parents sign up their kids for sports teams, thinking the child is learning team spirit. From what I see, "team" sports are less about being a group, than about competing against each other. The best players in the team get the most playing time, while the others sit out. Like in band, where you compete against your classmates for the best chair, you're constantly trying to be better than your mates, to get more recognition, more playing time, more approval of coach and parents.

While team sports are satisfying for kids who like to compete in this way, they do not nurture a feeling of comraderie and teamwork in the sense that I consider important. Real teamwork is found in building something together, like the house my kids built on a recent mission trip, or my daughter's participation in her church youth group, or my son's movie making.

At what age should kids start competing, and getting ready for the adult world? At what age should a tree's support post be removed? With a tree, you don't remove the post to encourage the tree to be independent and strong against the wind, but wait until it has developed sufficient strength to go it alone. Kids get plenty of competition in their lives, so I find it valuable to give them opportunities to work in tandem, in harmony. If everything they do is a competition, where in their lives is the joy of just doing, learning, being?

So while I like competitive sports, I think they take up too much time in our culture, and are not sufficiently balanced by doing sports for sports' sake. A middle schooler should have no more than 3 days per week in a competitive sport, including games on weekends, and spend the other 4 days doing a sport for pure enjoyment: bike ride with mom, running with dog, basketball with friends, swimming, etc. This way, the child is not constantly led by adults, and trying to get their approval.

Submitted by deadzone on August 27, 2006 - 7:52pm.

Spanish speakers in the U.S. are a dime a dozen so being bilengual here is simply not a competitive advantage. If financial gain is the only goal, you are much better served spending your energy on an advanced degree, MBA, etc. The only jobs that really require Spanish speaking are retail jobs in areas heavily populated by illegal immigrants. None of these types of jobs are relevant to this discussion.

The real advantges to learn other languages are to gain an appreciation for other cultures and countries, particularly if you learn as part of an immersion program or study abroad program.

However, the people who say that Americans will have to know Spanish to function in the future are full of BS. That is purely an urban myth.

Submitted by PD on August 27, 2006 - 8:08pm.

I certainly do not agree with parents who force their children to participate in certain sports or put a lot of pressure on them. Parents should try to find a sport or sports that their child really enjoys. Not all sports, teams or coaches are cut-throat. There are also a lot of sports out there outside of baseball and soccer.

From seventh grade onward, I practiced at least three hours of sports every day after school, all year long. It did not hurt me one bit. In fact, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I loved my sports, I loved competing, I built great friendships and I learned a lot of valuable life lessons. My grades never suffered and neither did the grades of my friends.

Thank you Title 9!

Submitted by ybc on August 27, 2006 - 9:55pm.

Knowing other languages definitely helps one to appreciate other cultures. I studied Japanese on my own in high school, and then took some classes in college. Although I never used it, and almost forgot it completely, I appreciate Japanese' thinking patterns a lot more because I once studied its language. For example, being an Asian and being a woman, I try not to speak anything in Japanese (not that my Japanese is that good) in business settings because I might actually be taken less seriously. (I know of such stories). In other settings, I was told that my accent was actually quite good and was questioned whether I was ethnic Japanese. So there goes the dilemma -- people might mistake me as an overseas Japanese who didn't learn her native language!

While I agree with JES that knowing another language is not necessary in one's professional career, it can be very helpful. When I travel in China, I can tell what those Chinese executives were really saying/thinking much better than my American collegues who soly relies on translation. Plus, it's just a lot more fun. People are a lot more expressive when they speak in their native languages, and it's more interesting to get to know them in their native languages.

Whatever the case, kids learn languages much faster than adults, so why not!

Submitted by sdduuuude on August 27, 2006 - 11:26pm.

"All that Ivy league stuff is so overrated."

I think this comment could only come from someone who has never been in an Ivy League school, or any top-notch private college.

You have pointed out the worst of such institutions, which is likely inspired by movies such as "Risky Business" and "Legally Blonde." Such evil competitiveness exists, but it is not as prominent as Hollywood likes to show.

I'm not Ivy League, but the institution I attended is considered on par with such. I agree with your position on not driving children to be overly competitive, but since you don't even know what "all that Ivy League stuff" is, I suggest you not belittle it.

There are so many positives in that environment, I can't begin to explain. For example, I learned how to properly analyze markets.

Submitted by CardiffBaseball on August 28, 2006 - 2:16pm.

My kids both play travel baseball, and I'd love for them to quit. I make it quite clear that they can quit at any time but they don't want to. I have absolutely said no long exotic trips for baseball tournaments.

A kid who truly wants to be a great ball-player would need to treat learning great mechanics much the same way a classical pianist toils over the keyboard. I don't think my kids are going to be Pros, so I am questioning why should they go through all that.

However I have stopped short of quiting for them (by simply no longer writing checks). I think it's their decision at this point.

Submitted by ybc on August 28, 2006 - 8:27pm.


"I'm not Ivy League, but the institution I attended is considered on par with such." ... " There are so many positives in that environment, I can't begin to explain".

If you don't mind me asking, which school, and what do you the best about these schools? professors? Students? career placement opportunities?

Submitted by sdduuuude on August 28, 2006 - 8:32pm.

The best thing was the students I met.

This was a graduate program. Coming from a state undergrad school, I thought I was pretty smart.

Meeting them made me understand what smart and successful really meant.

Submitted by ybc on August 28, 2006 - 11:18pm.

sdduuuude, thanks for that. From my own experience, I'd agree that it's the student body that make a school what it is. But don't you think that the fact that you went to a state undergrad then went on to the better (I assume) grad school says that it's OK to go to a state undergrad? I always believe that it's a kid's own internal motivation matters the most. If a kid goes to Ivy League only to fulfill his/her parents' wishes or because that's what's believed to be the best, then he or she didn't have a chance to develop what truly motivates him/her. That, to me, is a sad thing. Otherwise, of course, going to an Ivy League school can be great.

Submitted by sdduuuude on August 28, 2006 - 11:35pm.

"that it's OK to go to a state undergrad"
Sure. It is also OK to go to Ivy League undergrad.

Certainly, an intense undergrad experience wasn't for me. But, I'm not sure discouraging kids from going to great schools is the right approach.

Submitted by ybc on August 29, 2006 - 12:48am.

I don't think that I'd discouraging kids from going to a good school. I just think that it's not necessary to put a lot of pressure on a kid to go to a top school. Kids who follow a path that's defined for them may not be as well balanced as kids who actively pursue what they truly value. It seems nowdays that middle class parents might have put too much emphasis on kids going to a top school -- that's the impression that I got from reading articles. I went to top schools in China and in the US, and I got to know many very smart people. So I value the education that one gets from good schools. But I've also met very smart and motivated people who've attended average schools -- hence my conclusion that college / grad school is just one step in one's education, important, but it doesn't determine a person's future.

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