Roofies, Dropping Out and Kung Pao Bullies: What to Worry about Instead of Early Decision Decisions

‘Tis the season to find out whether you can slack off for the rest of high school. Congrats to those who got in, condolences to those who have to fill out 18 more apps, and good luck to those who are still waiting.

But this year there are more serious issues to reckon with. For starters, it’s the perfect moment in history to ponder if you want your child to go to college at all. If she’s a girl, she might be roofied. If he’s a boy, he might join an evil, misogynist organization. MBA students might end up with a professor who bullies the local Chinese takeout joint. And then, there’s the existential dilemma of whether your $300k might be better spent on a condo in Cabo.


I wish Rolling Stone had stuck to reporting about the Grateful Dead instead of switching to gang rape. Their piece about the violent attack by seven fraternity brothers of a 19-year old freshman at UVA was one of the most disturbing I’ve ever read, going into vivid detail about what could have been the most horrific campus crime in the history of college. Fratty peer pressure and alcohol make people do horrible things, but enough to turn seven boat-shoed bros into a brutal band of criminals? Even worse, could this unspeakable act have been part of a pledging ritual?

Turns out that Rolling Stone gathered no facts and retracted their story, which at first felt like a relief because it was too depressing to believe that the incident really occured. But if the UVA ‘narrative’ (I’m so sick of that word) was indeed fabricated, this was a blow across the board – to future victims, to universities, to the profession of journalism – and especially to fraternities. (Yes, there really are some good kids in these much-maligned brotherhoods – I can vouch for that.)

It will be interesting to see how this event affects the number of applications to UVA. In spite of Rolling Stone’s backpedaling, will neurotic parents want their daughters – or sons – applying there now? Or anywhere, for that matter. Even frat-averse campuses like Wesleyan and Yale are experiencing sexual misconduct epidemics.

So we’re back to the dark ages of rape awareness, when everybody automatically blamed the pretty girl in the tight sweater. “I put her story through the ringer, as much as I could,” said writer of the RS story, who never even bothered to contact the alleged perpetrators.


In a bizarre backlash, which feels particularly surreal to anyone who lived through the free love era, colleges now define rape to include consensual sex if the female is inebriated.  In 2012, when a young woman felt remorseful six months after sleeping with her friend at Michigan, she pressed charges at U-M. The accused ended up being suspended and suing the university. There are similar stories at non-fratty Occidental and Vassar. So, parents, while you’re worrying up your daughters, you might think about locking up your sons as well.

The next big college-related news is less disturbing, but almost as shocking.


When a Harvard Business School professor was overcharged by $1 for each of his four dishes, he sent pages and pages of scathing emails and eventually filed a complaint against a mom-and-pop Chinese takeout for quoting outdated prices on its website. This escalated in such an outrageous way that the emails resembled the parody leaked ones written by The Neurotic Parent to the Tiger Mom. At first the professor defended his actions, and eventually apologized when pressured by students. Makes you want your kid to stay away from business and major in (gulp) art history.

And then, there’s this:


In the documentary Ivory Tower, filmmaker Andrew Rossi questions the cost, value and methods of higher education. The doc is smart, comprehensive and provocative (quite the opposite of CNN, who produced it). Rossi visits the usual suspects, but also wanders down the alt road, including to Deep Springs College, where kids discuss Kant while slaughtering pigs. There’s also a visit to Peter Thiel’s program, which pays kids $100k to drop out of college and get to work instead, because a degree has “little more than snob value.” I have noticed that most people who dis college attended the Ivies, but are self-effacing about it (I was so unhappy at Princeton) and the filmmaker is no exception. Rossi has degrees from both Yale and Harvard.

Does this all mean parents should give up micromanaging their little hothouse flowers? Maybe it’s not a bad idea to just bypass college insanity and expense and go straight to Craigslist. I have heard there are plenty of opportunities in the fact-checking department of Rolling Stone.

Prayer for Early Decision

Today is D-day for many top schools. Here is a powerful, non-denominational prayer to be recited while opening emails, logging on to online portals, or dealing with with envelopes announcing Early Decision news. It is also effective for Early Action (EA) and Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) decisions.

The prayer was designed for laptop, desktop and mobile device users, but also works for Georgetown’s old-fashioned snail mail. It may be recited aloud at home or silently in the subway, on the squash court, or while working with orphans in Ethiopia:

As I confront the most life-changing email/online portal/envelope I will ever encounter, I beseech the Almighty Early One to look over me and protect me from posting something braggy or smug or nasty on Facebook. If accepted, grant me the strength to immediately compose a gushing thank you note and send it along with an Amazon gift card to my history teacher, who exaggerated my brilliance in her recommendation and made me sound like a freaking genius for winning a debate about GMOs. If deferred, give me the focus to complete the 26 other apps, with supplements I haven’t yet downloaded. And, O Early One, if denied, consider giving me a White Lie Waiver, allowing me to tell people “I decided at the last minute to apply Regular, and besides, I want to take a gap year anyway to continue my research with sea turtles.”

Obama Girls’ Cyberbully Claims a Perfect Score on the ACT

Elizabeth Lauten, who resigned today after reprimanding Sasha and Malia Obama on Facebook, has used her LinkedIn profile to share her standardized test scores from the year 2000. The former GOP communications director, who attended East Carolina University, claims to have scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and 1580 out of 1600 on the SAT. ECU reports its current average ACT score as 21-24, and its combined English and Math SAT as 1035 out of 1600, with an averages of 1000 out of 1600 in the year Lauten applied.

The website lists SAT/ACT scores as the number one item that doesn’t “belong on your LinkedIn profile.” Lauten also lists 13 Greek and Latin courses she took in college.


Should Elon Musk Write my Kid’s Letter of Rec?

November is the optimal time of year for college angst. Parents of first year college students have queries about their kids who are either not communicating at all (boys) or texting/skyping 25+ times a day about the untidy habits of their roommates (girls).  Parents of high school juniors are debating when to begin testing and whether it’s better to get a B- in an honors class or an A- in a non-honors class. And, it goes without saying that parents of high school seniors are certified basket cases.

So it comes as no surprise that the Neurotic Parent has been bombarded with questions:

FROM PARENTS OF FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS (they’re not called freshman anymore, too sexist):

Q: I had a fight with a member of the staff of Bed, Bath and Beyond in West LA. Will they take it out on me and put aside the wrong items for my daughter in the Somerville, MA store?

A: Worse than that. They will send part of your daughter’s order to two different stores in Boston, 45 minutes away.  (true story)

Q: Our son is off to a well-known hipster school. But as hard as we’ve tried, we cannot interest him in indie music or marijuana. Will he fit in?

A: Good question. Have you thought about packing a giant bong to use as a pencil holder? Special order at BB&B.

Q: My daughter has changed my level of friendship on Facebook. I am now just a “limited friend,” which means I can no longer see photos in which she’s been tagged.  But she has awarded “full friend status” to our housekeeper, Imelda. It’s not fair!

A: This has become such a common issue, that the Neurotic Parent has started a new service. For a small fee, I will get my housekeeper to friend Imelda and report back.



Q: Why is everyone suddenly interested in Chapman University?

A: Haven’t you heard?  As of 2013, Chapman has become the new USC. And Irvine has become the new Venice.

Q: My son is a legacy at (name of Ivy) and has almost all his ducks lined up. He has a GPA of 4.6. He has a letter of recommendation from Elon Musk. And he has participated in a marathon while blindfolded, so he could empathize with his sightless companions. The only piece of the equation that is missing is his SAT critical reading score, and he has already taken the exam three times. Should he take the ACT? And if so, can you recommend a good tutor?

A: No way! I am saving the good tutor for MY lawyer’s son (who is doing a blindfolded triathlon).



Q: We just found out that my daughter will have a better chance of getting into a top school if she goes to a giant, gang-ridden public high school. But we have already coughed up $240,000 for private school.  Can we get our money back?

A: I feel your pain. For a small fee, the Neurotic Parent can now arrange for a gnarly gang to threaten students at your idyllic, rarefied private school. That should provide enough adversity for a tearjerker essay.  (And if that fails, a sudden-onset shellfish allergy might do the trick.)