There, I said it. I honestly don't care where my son goes to college. He's only 13, so we have a few years before we even have to consider it, but I need to say it now. I need to say it because of the madness I see around me. I need to say it because more and more students are stressed to the breaking point. I need to say it because there are parents willing to pay $2 million to ensure their sons get into Harvard. I need to say it because we as a society have moved away from what is best for our children to simply what is best. And it has to stop.
I know people who went to Ivy League schools who are quite successful; I know others who are miserable. I have friends who went to community colleges and are living the dream and others who never went to college, yet have fat bank accounts. The simple lesson is this: A so-called top tier school is not the key to a happy life. So why, then, are so many parents and educators pushing today's students to the edge? Why the push for straight A's? The push for higher test scores? The push for more and more extracurricular activities? All this pushing lands many of today's students at colleges that just are not the right fit for them. By sending a student to a college based on reputation alone, you're forgetting the most important part: the students themselves.
As my bio above will tell you, I am the owner of a tutoring agency. But before you accuse me of contributing to the madness, take a look at my letter to the New York Times in response to an article about tutoring agencies:
When I speak to parents about a tutor for their child, I tell them my goal is twofold: yes, higher grades and test scores are great, but my primary goal is a calm and confident student who doesn't dread school because of the pressures placed upon him. And as I so often find, once students feel better about what they can do and believe they can do it, the good grades will follow.
I strongly believe this, both as a business owner and a mother. A calm and confident student will get so much more out of an education. Learning should be a joy, not a stress-filled struggle, and a parent that believes only the very best will do doesn't really have the very best in mind for their children.
I might not get rich by running my agency this way, but I don't care. Just like I don't care where my son goes to college. Wherever he ends up, I want him to learn, to grow, to be happy and productive. If that means the local community college, so be it. I want him to be confident and inquisitive and proud. I want him to thrive and not get weighed down under pressure. I don't want him to spend four, perhaps unhappy years at an institution that was chosen based on reputation alone. I care very much about his future and well being. But I'm convinced the road there does not necessarily have to be covered in ivy.