Why Your Brilliant Child Didn’t Get into the Ivies

Late last week, decisions from top colleges were delivered electronically to stressed-out high school seniors. By early evening, more than 90% of those who had applied to the eight Ivy League schools plus their partners-in-prestige, Stanford and MIT, had received a gently worded “Good luck elsewhere.” Or, even worse, “waitlist status,” which means sending a deposit check to a fourth choice institution, procuring a letter of recommendation from Nelson Mandela and spending the summer in limbo. These new Ivy rejects are far from slackers. They’re incredible kids with impressive resumes — 2,350+ SATs, straight As in their 16 APs, debate champions, flute soloists and MVPs. Parents who have been dreaming of an Ivy education for their kids since conception are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what went wrong. So, why didn’t your child get in?

1. She’s a girl. Fact: Female applicants are, plain and simple, better students. (I’m not sexist — check the statistics!) And girls are more apt to take ownership of the “process.” They require less adult help, making their applications seem more authentic… and heightening the competition.

2. Your child is a BWRK (bright, well-rounded kid). These days, colleges want a well-rounded class instead. Lopsided kids are beloved… Renaissance children? Not so much. It’s a lot easier for an admissions officer to convince the rest of the committee to admit a trapeze artist than a yearbook editor.

3. Your child’s application stinks of privilege. You had the best of intentions when you sent your son or daughter to Oxford last July to read the classics. But guess what? The colleges, who eventually are happy to accept your $200,000, aren’t thrilled about $11,000 summer programs, even the life-changing ones. Outward Bound now looks dubious as well — it used to be about achieving clarity through eating bark, but now could be a euphemism for “troubled teen.” And forget those service opportunities in Central America — the whole isthmus is now frowned upon.

4. A lame essay. Admissions officers are sick of reading essays about the challenges of building a latrine in Guatemala (see above) or how “I found the people of (insert name of developing country) to be exactly the same as in my home town of Greenwich, CT.”

5. Not enough leadership. Although team players are in demand in the real world, colleges seek those with a Machiavellian spirit. Colleges are also fans of “rigor,” but they are averse to “robots” who studied so hard that they’re now boring and obedient.

6. Not enough research experience. If I were a college professor, the last thing I would want is a messy, smelly high school student hanging around my lab. But the kids who get to do this win out.

7. The whole process is random and arbitrary. The admissions people, who say they consider each applicant “holistically” and pay no attention to who needs financial aid, are actually sitting in a room eating pizza and throwing darts. So find solace in the fact that they’ve rejected your brilliant child for no good reason at all. What now? Send in your deposit to a great non-Ivy (there are many) and never look back. And if your own alma mater dissed your kid, you can take out your anger by burning your sweatshirts and tearing the license plate holder off your car.

6 Ways to Pay for College…Other than Becoming a Porn Star

Congrats to the all the seniors who finally have results. Readers have reported their kids’ acceptances to Harvard, Stanford, U-T Austin, Michigan, NYU, Evergreen, Northeastern, Wesleyan, Emory, BU, USC and even across the pond at St. Andrews and Oxford. And those are just the earlies and the ones who bothered to notify us.

Of course, for many students, getting into college is a piece of cake compared to paying for college. Some schools now charge $60,000 a year. And although most offer generous scholarships and financial aid packages, members of the middle class often find themselves in a FAFSA-resistant grey area.

One 18-year freshman has figured out a way to pay her tuition without going into debt. Instead of getting a loan or working as a barista, she is acting in adult films. The feminist/republican/libertarian/women studies major (never before have all those words been strung together) claimed that if her top-ten college had offered “…. the proper financial resources, I wouldn’t have done porn.” She finds porn empowering, she says, even though she was choked, kicked around, held down and spat upon in the very first scene she shot.

Belle Knox, the freshman porn star (no mere actors, everybody is a “star” in porn), created her stage name by combining the Beauty and the Beast Disney character with the alleged murderer Amanda Knox. After a classmate recognized “Belle” and word spread on campus, she chose to go public and now is the number-one googled teen on the internet, with more searches than the Pope or Justin Bieber. She has a publicist, 50,000 twitter followers, a paid internship at PornHub and a new line of sex toys, including molded replicas of her vagina. As a result of her self-launched media circus, she has had to endure hateful tweet-threats and public judgments about her decision. (Much of the hate evolved from the revelation that she was offered a full scholarship to Vanderbilt, which negated the logic about needing to do porn to pay tuition.)

But, never mind: Belle is on her way to a orgasmic full-ride for her tuition, and maybe even enough for law school, if the admissions committees forget to Google her.

Of course, the XXX world is not for everyone – in fact, there are still some old school feminists around who are disgusted by all this and long for the days of protesting swimsuit competitions in beauty contests. Even the new breed of “sex positive” feminists, who proudly call themselves sluts, prefer escorting and pole dancing because its easier to keep those off resumes and future country club applications. But for Belle, the toothpaste is now out of the tube and the vagina molds will live on in cyber perpetuity.

Luckily, not every student has to resort to porn. There are options that don’t require defending oneself to the ladies on the View. For the more modest, here are some other high-paying alternatives:

1) HAND MODEL – Belle has said that she earns ~$2000 per porn video, which sounds ridiculously low for exposure to all that dubious saliva…and beyond. Instead, she might think about a less exhausting hand modeling gig involving dazzling rings or classy tennis bracelets, paying up $10k a day. Bonus: unlimited no-chip manicures.

2) PENNY STOCK SALES - This worked for the Wolf. More regulated now, and the last of the Quaaludes have expired, so it’s all legal.

3) FREELANCE CEMETERY PLOT BROKER – Hot new field: Substantial profits in the resale/flipping of grave sites. Boomers are aging fast and are happy to do business with perky teens.

4) NATIONAL ENQUIRER TIPSTER -  Hang out with celebs. Earn up to $50,000 for sharing info about twerks and other indiscretions. That’s right, nearly a year’s tuition for just one hot tip.

5) FASHION BLOGGER/IT GIRL – Belle would need a makeover and design counseling for this alternative, but cutting edge fashion blogs have become goldmines for many young women. Leads to the app and the book deal…and this is a book your parents can proudly display on the coffee table.

6) SAT TUTOR – $1100 a session to travel to the Hamptons, arguably less than a porn scene, but with a much lower risk of chlamydia.

Disclaimer: The Neurotic Parent normally doesn’t cover tabloid stories. But today’s post, albeit juicy and sensational, relates to the politics of financial aid, plus current dialogs in sociology, economics, neo-feminism as well as crotch replica marketing. And with some luck, it will result in increased traffic to this site, as well as more book sales. I hereby promise to donate a portion of the profits to media-hungry sex workers.

SAT Word of the Day: Overhaul

Although the College Board claims to be a nonprofit company, it still clearly worries about market share. So it comes as no surprise that the new SAT is morphing into its unsophisticated midwestern cousin, the kinder, gentler ACT, which has been trending big time in urban areas on the coasts.

The proposed new version of the SAT, launching in 2016, strives to become more “relevant” by eliminating obscure vocab, ending the penalty for guessing, making the essay optional, allowing computers, and using founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence for reading comprehension.

The College Board is also teaming with Khan Academy to offer free prep online and focusing on “Command of Evidence” (whatever that is) “…found in a wide range of sources, including informational graphics”

Here is a graphic used on the SAT site to illustrate that the new exam will have “problems grounded in a real-world context…with informational graphics.” If spiky Europe is an indication of what is to come, these new graphics should be a blast to interpret.

Sadly, this could be too little too late. These changes will cause even more kids to gravitate to the tried and true ACT, without having to worry about whether about their SAT tutors updating their flashcards.

The Neurotic Parent Institute has just released findings of a study showing that if the SAT really wants to re-engage test-takers, it will have to alter its exam by truly making it more relevant in the following ways:

- Change the start time to 1pm, the hour that most teenagers wake up

- Offer free Red Bull and Frappuccinos – granola bars are so 20th century

- Grant extended time for anyone with anxiety caused by parental helicoptering, overscheduling or Instagram inferiority issues

- Allow unlimited texting and Googling during the exam – essential research skills for college students

- Incorporate advanced hashtag usage into the #grammarandpunctation section.

- Bring back the iconic analogies, the only fun part of the exam – These were deemed culturally biased because of the notorious regatta: oarsman comparison, but most college hopefuls now know all about crew, thanks to the Winklevosses.

- Employ angel investors as proctors – If you can pitch them a good idea, you get to skip college altogether and go straight to running your own start-up.

So sharpen your #2s, ninth graders. Here’s to relevance in test taking.

Report from Readers: College Tour ’14 and Beyond

Q: What’s the latest buzz from the college tours?

A: (from SFD – Smart, funny dad, a reader on the road) “During a tour of a top Midwestern University we passed the undergrad business building. The guide remarked that a Personal Finance Class was very popular among Seniors – ‘because it helps you plan your retirement.”‘

The reader’s FB friends could not see what was so terrible about planning for retirement while still a teen. SFD’s response to his friends: “I see college as a time to forge identity, dream, try on values and attitudes and there seems to be so little of that now. It’s all bottom line and branding. I guess what I have more trouble with is that this was highlighted on the tour as a ploy to hook in parents….I guess I also think that there’s plenty of time to think about retirement once you’ve started to actually work full time.”

The pressure is on. Now it’s not enough to angst about that (prestigious) first job before even starting college, but also retirement. Yikes.

Q: What is the hot school this year?

A: (according to a financial aid expert) U of Virginia. Their mission is to expand their out-of-state contingency, but that expansion has so far yielded mostly rejections.

Q: Any memes you care to share? Maybe one that shows why growing up is not such a bad thing, why all this college insanity is still better than middle school:


Q: What’s the next must-have product for helicopter parents?

A: The teen version of this near-implant baby monitor:

Perfect for freshman spring break!


A House Divided – #SuperBowl

Somewhat of a relief not to have to prepare chili. But, sadly, as a bona fide second-year EN, I’m so out of touch that I don’t even know who my kids are rooting for. Just texted both and got these responses:

CJ: I want broncos

GC: Go Seahawks

This made me realize that I no longer know the names of their friends, their teachers, their favorite restaurants (or bars!). I don’t know which movies they’ve seen, who their crushes are or what they’re wearing.

The everyday details have vanished. Parenting is now about about advising which airline credit card to apply for.

So…I don’t have a team and I don’t have my team. But this is not going to be one of those introspective, sappy, pathetic Empty Nester posts about tearing up as I walk past their rooms, where their All-Stars jackets still hang in the closets.

I never even cared about the Super Bowl anyway. For eighteen or so years, I just pretended to like it so I could have something in common with my children, the way you pretend to be interested in your boss’s dinner stories. And I do quite like love opera singers, controversial commercials (though NOT Dylan using poetry to peddle Chryslers) and Flea. So bring it on: Let’s kick off this new chapter.