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The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - BostonCard - 10-17-2020

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/squash-lacrosse-niche-sports-ivy-league-admissions/616474/

Provocative piece by The Atlantic about “niche” sports like squash, crew, and lacrosse, that are being used by wealthy (mostly white) parents as a way to give their kids a leg up on Ivy League admissions. Perhaps not coincidentally, these is a lot of overlap with the sports Stanford cut. I was disappointed at the time, but the more I have read since then, the more I come to the reluctant realization that it was probably the right move.

Cool pictures in the article as well.

BC


lex24 - lex24 - 10-17-2020

“Being who you are is not enough. It might be enough in Kansas. But not here.”

And people wonder why many have nothing but disdain for the “elite”. The problem isn’t sports.  It’s parents that believe if their kid doesn’t go to an elite University they will be a failure.  Not the kids, the parents.  I mean how embarrassing to answer the “where is your son/daughter going to college” with - Foothill.  Is there any wonder that today’s kids suffer more from anxiety and depression. 

I made plenty of mistakes as a parent.  But neurotically pushing my kids to do x,y and Z so they could get into a top tier Univ wasn’t one of them.  Both my kids went to solid schools. One private.  One out of State (after first going to community college - which was the best thing that happened to her educationally).  Somehow both are managing just fine.

And lest you think I’m being  overly harsh - I was one of those that at one time was “embarrassed” at those cocktail parties when my eldest was going to a CC.  SHAME ON ME.

Also, I’m not talking about parents that have kids that truly love the sports they’re playing and sacrifice much so that their kids can play it.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - Phogge - 10-17-2020

Agree Lex. One son was a Banana Slug and he enjoyed it immensely. The other was the king of a small school in Westchester County and he is now elite. In the non profit world. Both are solid citizens and productive and never had parental stress to deal with.

A successful life has little to do with being elite. I have come across a bunch of elite azzholes in my profession.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - Mick - 10-17-2020

As parents, we all want what's best for our child.  And we want our children to be happy, and successful at life.  A successful life can come from a lot of different educational backgrounds, and trying to squeeze a child into a hole that isn't meant for them does both the parent and child a disservice.

My parents were a very strange blend of "get good grades and go to a good college" and "we won't lift a finger to help you beyond that admonition."  They sent me to a terrible high school that closed six years after I graduated.  I only applied to two colleges, Stanford and Santa Clara.  Got into SCU with honors.  Didn't get into Stanford.  Choice was easy.  And SCU was, frankly, not remotely difficult.

I've regretted attending SCU in the past.  Am I satisfied with how my life has turned out?  Enough.  But I wonder what might have been, had I tried for a school with a bigger reputation.  I've had a successful career, but I've missed out on a few of the highest level opportunities.  And I know, very well, the people who received those opportunities and now occupy those roles, and they went to the big name schools.  And...well, let's just say that I understand why the turnover is high in those jobs.

So, I learned the lesson.  Merit counts, to a point.  I encouraged both of my my kids to try hard in grade and high school.  Got them help when they needed it.  Sent them to good schools.  I would have been absolutely delighted had they been accepted at a mid-level UC, to be frank.  And unaccountably, all three of their cousins are happy at USC... ;).  I told both my kids that if they wanted to attend SCU or a UC or a CSU, I would have been fine with that and I meant it.  I still mean it.  

I understand the impetus behind wanting to do what's best for one's child.  I understand that different parents will go to different lengths.  My parents didn't do a damn thing, though to be fair, they didn't attend college...although my maternal grandfather went to Cal, and my paternal grandparents went to Stanford.  

Parenting is like a lot of activities.  It's really easy to do poorly and really hard to do well.  Finding that perfect blend is a challenge.


RE: lex24 - 82lsju - 10-17-2020

(10-17-2020, 05:01 PM)lex24 Wrote:  “Being who you are is not enough. It might be enough in Kansas. But not here.”

And people wonder why many have nothing but disdain for the “elite”. The problem isn’t sports.  It’s parents that believe if their kid doesn’t go to an elite University they will be a failure.  Not the kids, the parents.  I mean how embarrassing to answer the “where is your son/daughter going to college” with - Foothill.  Is there any wonder that today’s kids suffer more from anxiety and depression. 

I made plenty of mistakes as a parent.  But neurotically pushing my kids to do x,y and Z so they could get into a top tier Univ wasn’t one of them.  Both my kids went to solid schools. One private.  One out of State (after first going to community college - which was the best thing that happened to her educationally).  Somehow both are managing just fine.

And lest you think I’m being  overly harsh - I was one of those that at one time was “embarrassed” at those cocktail parties when my eldest was going to a CC.  SHAME ON ME.

Also, I’m not talking about parents that have kids that truly love the sports they’re playing and sacrifice much so that their kids can play it.

in the Bay Area, and other "elite places around the world", competitive parenting is probably the most intense sport ever....


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - Spiny_Norman - 10-17-2020

The sport that does not fit this description is wrestling. Since 2006, 44% of Stanford wrestlers have been 1st generation college or low income students.




RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - Phogge - 10-17-2020

Was a big WCW fan. Not many rocket scientists in the cage.


lex24 - lex24 - 10-17-2020

(10-17-2020, 07:52 PM)Spiny_Norman Wrote:  The sport that does not fit this description is wrestling. Since 2006, 44% of Stanford wrestlers have been 1st generation college or low income students.


Interesting.  In a way, not surprising.  The ultimate blue collar sport. Man those guys train hard.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - gailtate - 10-18-2020

'Parenting is like a lot of activities.  It's really easy to do poorly and really hard to do well.  Finding that perfect blend is a challenge."

Well put. My in-laws raised their two daughters basically the same way. My wife was (and is) a superstar. Her sister? A tragedy on two legs.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - qwerty49 - 10-18-2020

I'm glad I was applying for college more than 50 years ago and not today.  I would guess the population of the country has doubled since then and how much have spaces in top schools increased in the same period?  The one frequent remark I heard at my last Stanford class reunion was how we didn't think we could be admitted today.

Growing up in the Bay Area back in the day, the academic pecking order was pretty much Stanford, then Berkeley, then the other UC's, the Cal St schools (with SJSU first), then Foothill.  There were some outliers that tended mostly to reflect family or religious ties.  But the Bay Area then was just as provincial as anywhere else.  During my 4 years in HS, we sent at least 12 to Stanford and only 1 to an Ivy. 

Back in the day, I'm sure my Stanford undergraduate degree initially opened a lot more doors, and especially in the Bay Area.  It looked good on a resume applying for a job at Hewlett-Packard, especially when Bill and Dave were still alive and roaming the bullpens on Page Mill Rd.  But as we all know, there's a lot to be done after you get to that open door.  So I look at it as an entry point and not much more.

When my daughter was applying for college, I really did have to pause to think if $200-250K would be worth it for a Stanford degree.  She didn't get in, but she went to Berkeley (as did my dad) and had a great experience there.  

Through the years I've observed a lot of helicopter parents and have a lot of mixed feelings about that.  They all want the best for their kids but so many of them just don't get it.  They see grades as the only metric and forget that top schools have the pick of the litter and that well-rounded students win the tie-breaker every time.  

Being old school, I myself don't get it when I meet a student and they are majoring in "business."  Just always seemed to me that undergrad years are the perfect time and opportunity to expand and explore your knowledge in different directions.  (When I later went back for an MBA, the business majors had a head start in the fundamental accounting and finance courses, but that was about it.)


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - Nan3cy - 10-18-2020

(10-18-2020, 09:18 AM)qwerty49 Wrote:  Being old school, I myself don't get it when I meet a student and they are majoring in "business."  Just always seemed to me that undergrad years are the perfect time and opportunity to expand and explore your knowledge in different directions.  (When I later went back for an MBA, the business majors had a head start in the fundamental accounting and finance courses, but that was about it.)

Maybe the high point of my years at the GSB was when I managed to exempt from financial accounting, based on my one financial accounting class at SJSU. A friend of mine, with his CPA, had to take the class...

I’d like to know what the admissions percentages for Stanford and the Ivies would be if kids these days applied to three or four schools (as most of us did back in the day) rather than the dozen or so that seems to be the usual now.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - fullmetal - 10-21-2020

In a country where healthcare is tied to jobs/job security, I think it's understandable that parents want their kids to have the best chance to land the best jobs available.  There are stories of top-tier university alumni who don't have jobs or stability, and that's not a good thing in this day and age where the social safety net isn't robust.  

The other motivation for parents shoving their kids upward is bragging rights/status.

Rowing is a strange sport to include here.  Nothing beats hard work in rowing, and rowing is miserable enough on its own that there's no way kids would stay with it if they didn't value the experience.  Squash...that's a game.  Technique, hand-eye coordination, strategy -- all part of their game.  Rowing?  Train hard, row your fastest.  Doesn't matter what the other crew is doing.  Just do your best and let the chips fall where they may.


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - BostonCard - 10-21-2020

I don't think it is about what the sport requires for competition so much as how popular the sport is, and whether it is being used by upper middle class to give their kids an advantage in admissions.

BC


RE: The desperation of the late-stage meritocracy - fullmetal - 10-21-2020

Fair point.  Rowing is not popular at high school level in the USA for many reasons, and it's much more difficult for the upper-middle class to use to their advantage, primarily because evaluating a recruit is fairly easy: fitness scores, eyeball test for technical prowess (plus race results), and coach recommendations + intangibles gleaned from visit.  It's not a game; speed and fitness are measurable for each person. Also, the competition at the top level of recruiting involves going up against junior national team or junior worlds talent from other countries too, so coaches have an easily identifiable recruiting pool that obviates the need to sift through the second quartile of domestic talent, so to speak.

(If your coach is on the take, well that's a different story altogether.)