One of the reasons I got into the higher ed racket (besides the fact that it suits my peculiar skill set) was because it was a way to make sure the Spawn would have at least one college she could attend without a brutal price tag. Of course, since man proposes but God disposes, her current direction is sending her toward Flagship U down the road in Real City. That’s okay — it’s a state school and we’ll manage.
But even had she wanted to attend one of the schools in our tuition-exchange consortium, the schools typically would have been places much like Mondoville: small, non-elite institutions that may not be well known outside their regions, if at all. Not terribly selective, but at least making an effort to nod to the liberal arts in most cases.
And that’s fine as well — the Spawn isn’t one of those kids who calculates her GPA and class rank on the way back to her desk after receiving a graded paper. She’s smart, funny, insightful, and inclined to pursue her own interests, even at the expense of more widely recognized achievements — not unlike her dad or mine, both of whom seem have done pretty well. She’ll be a good fit at Flagship, I think, and would be a good fit at the smaller schools I mentioned. I think these are environments in which the Spawn will be able to be herself, where she won’t be groomed to be an Alpha-Plus.
There doesn’t seem to be much room for folks like the Spawn (or her dad, or his) in places like the Ivies these days — but what does that mean, and what happens to the kids who do fill up the classes at those schools? At The New Republic, William Deresiewicz has some thoughts. Essentially, he suggests, those kids are ground into sausage. Now I like sausage, but whether it’s a link or a patty, it’s going to look and taste like sausage, rather than whatever cuts of meat made up the raw materials. Considering what urban legend says goes into sausage, that may not be bad, but when it’s your kid, you don’t necessarily want him or her to take a turn for the wurst.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to friend and colleague Susan Epting, via Facebook.