Parents: Tell your kids to find a college they love


Jacob Posner, Editor in Chief

Unrealistic anxieties to succeed, forced overwork, lack of enjoyment — and, suddenly, a world of opportunity. Those were my feelings before and after my parents told me I should find the school that fits me best.

There’s a lot of pressure to get into a really good school after U-High. Many  of our parents went to very competitive schools, many of our parents pressure us into going to hyper-competitive schools, and many of our seniors will go to very good schools. Even for those students whose parents don’t explicitly tell them they must attend one of the highest-ranked colleges, pressure remains. To work against this unnecessary pressure, parents need to sit down with their kids and tell them to find the school that fits them best.

My parents both went to Yale University for undergraduate degrees. They never told me I had to go to Yale, but before they told me I should find a college that fits me best, I felt an unending pressure to accomplish.

I have never had a free period — except for biology freshman year, but that was only for fall and winter quarters. I expected myself to try everything, and then I stuck with more than I could handle: eight of mostly the hardest classes along with journalism, theater, an outside orchestra and an independent study. While it might be different for others, this was too much for me.

After my parents told me I should find the college that fits me best, I slowly allowed myself to quit activities I didn’t enjoy and just contributed stress — an independent study and two clubs. Next year, I’m taking fewer classes, and only ones that I’m interested in.

It felt like I was in an educational arms race. If I got a 95 percent on a test and a classmate got a 97 percent, I felt a subconscious, illogical urge to do better. I wouldn’t feel satisfied, but that I needed to get a higher grade.

Instead of enjoying study and finding projects outside of school, I felt like I was burdened with endless work.

I didn’t have enough time to delve into projects — simply reading a book, working through math problems, English papers, German projects.

Furthermore, there’s a feeling around Lab that it should be easy to get into the top schools in the U.S. because so many of our seniors go to highly competitive institutions. But it’s not.

It’s getting harder and harder to get into elite colleges. “In addition to the sheer number of applicants applying, the expectations for candidates have increased,” Angela Dunnham, a college admissions counselor at InGenius Prep, said in a Business Insider article.

We need to rethink success. It’s not about where you ago, but finding a subject and falling in love with it. That can be done at any of the top 100, 200, 300 schools.

If you’re a parent, tell your kid to find the college they love — if you’re a kid, heed my experiences and slow down.