9 Reasons to Talk your Kid OUT of Applying to the Ivy League

Today I’m re-running an article I previously wrote on the subject of Ivy League admission. The reason? Harvard University has made a surprising, disheartening decision that significantly impacts its students’ ability to save money on the education it provides. You’ll read about the Harvard decision–and what you can do about it– in the red text below.

Parents, you feel a lot of pressure to get your kids into a “good” college after high school. An “Ivy League” university would be ideal! But is all the work and stress really worth it?

Probably not, honestly.

William Deresiewicz, former Yale professor and author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life has a fascinating take on this question.

In his controversial New Republic article, Deresiewicz tells parents that Ivy League schools are overrated — that they’d be better off sending their kids elsewhere.

Here are the top 9 most jolting things I got out of Deresiewicz’s article:

Ivy League

1. The intense competition to get into an elite school can hobble a child for life.

“These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood,” Deresiewicz writes. “But the reality is very different . . . . Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

2. Constant focus on elite, Ivy League education can result in soul-crushing levels of insecurity, anxiety, and fear for students.

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In Just 5 Minutes — Change Your Future Grandchildren’s Lives

grandchildren

Last year, I climbed a mountain in Zion National Park.

My husband, the avid hiker, gave me a set of hiking poles and these instructions: “When you start to feel exhausted,” he said, “just concentrate on your next step. Where’s the next, best place to put your foot? Carefully put your foot there, and before you know it you’ll be at the top.”

Many of us get through parenting in this exact same way.

Exhausted, we survive day-to-day by focusing on the bare minimum required next step in our parenting journey. Just getting through until bedtime, or until Saturday’s soccer game, or until the next school break. We limit our thinking to the immediate, the urgent, and the short-term—because that feels productive. It feels like we’re getting somewhere.

In truth, taking just 5 minutes to look at the long view can be exhilarating.

When I was climbing that mountain in Zion, the moments that took my breath away happened when I stopped, lifted my head, and looked out over miles of sheer cliffs and valleys, all the way to the misty distant horizon.

Taking 5 minutes to look toward the parenting horizon can be both exhilarating and transformative.

For 5 minutes right now, think, “What could we as a family do this year, that could impact our descendants 100 years from now?”

Is there something you could do now related to education, to money and debt, or to moral and spiritual development, that could pay off for generations to come?

Our culture is currently plagued and limited by a short-term thinking mindset. You don’t have to be.

Ari Wallach, in this powerful TED Talk, urges us all to transform our children’s and grandchildren’s futures by breaking free of the 3-5 year “short-termism” that, he says, “permeates every nook and cranny of our cultural reality.” Wallach calls us all to practice “longpath” thinking that asks this important question: “To what end?”

What is the purpose in what we’re doing? Where are we going with this?

How will these decisions we’re making today impact our family 100 years from now?

What could we do this year that could pay off in huge ways…for generations?

Carefully consider these words, which I consider to be the most important in Wallach’s TED Talk: 

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3 Reasons Rested, Relaxed Teens Are More Successful

Mary’s father entered the library through heavy glass doors and started looking through the stacks for his daughter. He finally found her, bleary-eyed and exhausted, surrounded by books, notebooks, a laptop, and a half cup of cold coffee. “Honey, it’s late,” he said gently. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Mary said, sounding beaten and tired.

Mary put her head in her hands. Full days in the toughest classes at school followed by afternoons and evenings crammed with activities “designed to impress” pushed her studying into late hours most nights of the week. The pace was frantic and the pressure intense, but Mary kept at it because of the carrot at the end of the stick. If she could just keep up this brutal pace for a few more years, she’d be able to get into a “good school.” That would automatically lead to a “good job,” and the money from that “good job” would lead to happiness and success.

At least that’s how the plan was supposed to work.

just relax

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