I have never had a week quite like the one that just recently passed. This week was the week where college acceptance buzz emanated throughout the universe and everyone was either in a frenzy of congratulations or bitterness. I told only my closest friends where I had been accepted, and while I don't feel like the effort to disclose that information needs to be exerted, I try and remain grounded and humble and refuse from proclaiming my accomplishments to the world. A lot of cynicism, gossip, and resentment has come my way. My parents have been hunted down by friends and colleagues asking what their magic "formula" was that got me into college. They ask questions about what their son or daughter needs to do or do not do to be accepted into their college of choice. They assume my poor parents have concaucted some rare recipe for success and I am the final product. But, to be quite honest, my parents didn't do a thing except support whatever I wanted to do in my life. Never once did they even ask about grades or my extracurricular activities. What I have done with my time was all me, it was always what I wanted to do and I didn't care if anybody else liked it or not. That is why it frustrates me when I increasingly witness "bulldozing" parents
"who determinedly clear a path for their child and shove aside any obstacle they perceive in the way"
-Craig Lambert in an article in this month's issue of Harvard Magazine
While students today are busier than ever, the demand of early-onset involvement in college resume oriented activities is phenomenal.
Busy parents book them into things constantly—violin lessons, ballet lessons, swimming teams. ... Dingman [dean of freshmen] notes that, “Starting at an earlier age, students feel that their free time should be taken up with purposeful activities...
Home life has changed in ways that would seem to undercut children’s development of autonomy. There was a time when children did their own homework. Now parents routinely “help” them with assignments ... Youngsters formerly played sports and games with other children on a sandlot or pickup basis, not in leagues organized, coached, and officiated by adults ... Once, college applicants typically wrote their own applications, including the essays; today, an army of high-paid consultants, coaches, and editors is available to orchestrate and massage the admissions effort.
It saddens me that parents are so insanely focused on their children's achievements. A lot of kids would never be able to handle the rigor of such planning, and why is that now a parent's most important job? Why can't they grow up themselves and accept the fact that maybe their children just aren't meant to follow their chosen path. Why can't they just want their children's happiness first and foremost above their own ambitions? The college acceptance experience is turning more and more into a game. Whoever can find the strategies, tricks, maneuvers, or cheat their way through are the winners. Now, I am so incredibly grateful to be surrounded with a group of such self-driven and responsible students. I really am. When I meet other kids who are going amazing places in their lives because they made it that way themselves, I gain so much respect for them. But, the Bulldozing generation is steadily creeping and I wait with hesitance to see the self-motivated kids become a rare breed.