As kids anxiously wait for their decisions, parents become more and more crazed. This year’s anxiety is not about whether their children will get in. Instead parents are panicking about the existential dilemma of whether college is even worth it at all in the long run, especially for kids whose passions are Philosophy or Anthropology.
Here’s what readers are asking:
Q: Now that liberal arts are dead and STEM rules, which books will my college freshman NOT be reading?
The Iliad, The Idiot, As I Lay Dying, King Lear, To the Lighthouse, Beyond Good and Evil, Great Expectations, The Stranger, Wuthering Heights, The Bell Jar, 100 Years of Solitude and Portrait of a Lady. But no worries: To get into a decent college, most kids had to read the SparkNotes for all of the above in high school. And they WILL all read Freakanomics, Outliers and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Q: I hear that college textbooks are now digital. Do dorm rooms still have bookcases?
Yes, but your freshman will ask what they are for. When you tell him, he will roll his eyes. He will then arrange his XBox and his baseball cap collection on the shelves, leaving room for his copy of Outliers.
Q: My son wanted to apply to (top midwestern school) as an engineering major. But he was afraid that Engineering is too hard to get into, so he has applied as a Canadian Studies major. Will that help?
A: Sadly, everybody else came up with the same strategy this year and Canadian Studies has become the new hot field of study. But it is a good bet to apply for one of the other 164 majors which people think will result in limited job choices or low-paying careers. In fact, anything other than Econ, Biomedical Engineering and Comp Sci should be less competitive.
Q: Will my daughter have a greater chance of getting into MIT if she’s a girl, even though she only scored a 2230 on the SAT?
A: Yes, if she has also built a time travel machine.
Q: Is it possible to catch the flu twice in a semester, even with a flu shot?
A: Yes – two different strains of flus are going around. Pre-med students understand this. Literature majors, not so much, unless they’re reading The Plague, by Camus.
Q; Do kids home for winter break really sleep until 2pm, even if that translates to 5pm their time?
A: Make that 3pm.
Q: Hypothetically, my son arrives back in his off-campus house at 2am after winter break. The alarm goes off because the landlord set it. My son doesn’t know the code. His roommates are not home. If he calls me (after trying to reach the landlord) and I suggest that he cut the wires, is that helicoptering?
A: No, as long as starts a fundraising campaign on Venmo to pay for the new device.
Q: If my daughter is required to receive college credit for her internship, does that mean we have to pay the college $5000 for a summer session so that she can be a legal unpaid worker?
Q: What’s this about people getting angry at liberal arts majors who take out college loans? Is there a movement to prevent middle class kids from studying History and Classics? Is it the common belief that liberal arts graduates won’t be able to find jobs, unlike STEM majors, who are boring in museums, but awesome with 3D printers and genomes?
A: Wish you had studied English so you could write a clearer question. Sorry, I don’t have time to answer. I need to finish my graduate school application for Actuarial Studies.