‘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.
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS:
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.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, UNTIL THEY SUE YOU:
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.
HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PROF THREATENS LEGAL ACTION BECAUSE OF $4 KUNG PAO CHICKEN ERROR
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:
FORGET COLLEGE – LEARN TO CODE ONLINE INSTEAD
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.