College Vs. Coachella

The dean of college admissions at a top west coast high school recently posted the following as her Facebook status:

I’m tired of hearing from parents that their kids cannot go visit a college, a college they are considering going to in the fall, because they’re going to Coachella. Am I the only one thinking priorities are out of whack?

Moments later, the director of admissions at a leading west coast university commented:

Not with AC/DC heading it up

This provided food for thought for the neurotic parent. Kids these days have clear priorities. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is simply not to be skipped, even if it means missing an accepted student weekend, postponing the ACTs or blowing off a ceremony to pick up a MacArthur Genius Grant. So perhaps, if students are more passionate about three hot, smelly days in the desert than collecting degrees, parents should pay attention – they may be onto something.

Let’s look at the benefits of attending Coachella instead of going to college at all:

1. Cost – College can currently cost $240,000, more if you include airfare, study abroad fees, twin XL bedding and four years of North Face at retail prices. Even if you splurge for VIP admission at Coachella and take an Uber round trip, you can still put a couple hundred grand in the bank.

2. No Pretentious Essays or Unfair Exams – Coachella attendees do not have to play the stressful admission game. Students of all abilities can get in…as long as they have the foresight to sign up in January or the resourcefulness to sort through the scams on Craigslist.

3. Bragging Rights – Parents can still impress their friends with their kids’ accomplishments. A mom stopped by today and told me that her son had gained acceptance to several Coachella parties, including one that included Victoria Secret’s leading model, Miley Cyrus’s sister and Justin Bieber…before he got expelled.

4. Schedule – No annoying early classes. Bands never begin playing until after lunch.

5. Weather – Many prestigious universities are situated in places with truly dreadful weather. At Coachella, your child will be comfortable shirtless or in a Forever 21 sports bra during the day and a hoodie at night. And when s/he loses that hoodie, there just might be a cool Barbour in the Lost and Found to replace it.

6. Greek Life – No elitist sororities or misogynistic fraternities at Coachella. This means no worries about rushing or pledging rituals. Unless you’re Drake – then you might have to make out with Madonna.

7. Sensible Style – None of the preppy obnoxiousness you find on most college campuses. No shorts with whales on them. Instead, to look cool, all you have to do is snack on a giant slice of watermelon while wearing a Boho chic sundress.

8. Meal Plan – No awkward auditions for exclusive eating clubs. Instead anyone who can cough up $225 can indulge in octopus confit or blackened vegan cauliflower at a popup restaurant.

9. Fitness Options – Top colleges do have massive gyms stocked full of rock climbing walls and Trailmasters, but working out at Coachella is so much more fun. Enduring a couple hours in the Sahara tent is at least equivalent to running a 10k.

10. Intellectualism/Finding your Passion – It’s all there: liberal arts (80s lyrics are so deep, baby), STEM (genius holograms), new media (Snapchat stories), sociology (rap is such a mirror of society, dude), photography (unless your phone falls in a Porta potty), and of course, musicology. And, as a bonus, Rolling Stone reports more accurately about music festivals than about college life.

11. Fostering Independence – A clear win for Coachella here. Kids are more likely to handle those lost phone and fake ID incidents themselves because otherwise their parents might not let them go again.

12. Internship and Career Contacts – In a word, limitless. It’s possible to run into everyone from Skrillex to AMC’s Head of Unscripted to Peter Theill and his team of angel investors. Entrepreneurial Studies at Stanford seems such a hassle compared to meeting up for frozen mojitos in the VIP tent with these guys.

And the best reason to go to Coachella over college:

13. Positive Values: Coachella has officially banned selfie sticks. Unlike college, here’s a 21st century opportunity to be zen and live in the moment. A plus for angst-ridden parents who have had it with resume padding and insanely-priced tutors. But they can still micromanage their kids’ lives, stalking them on Instagram while having massages a few miles away at a La Quinta resort. All this while their children learn real-life lessons about how to thrive in the desert.


Why Your Brilliant Child Didn’t Get into the Ivies

Just over a week ago 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 Stephen Hawking and spending the summer in limbo. These new Ivy rejects are far from slackers. They’re incredible kids with impressive resumes — 2350+ SATs, straight As in their 16 APs, debate champions, oboe 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.

Ten Trends in College Admissions

Overheard on various college tours:

1. “We had to find an independent college counselor because ours has never heard of Gallatin and thought that Amherst is test optional.”

2. “We know a family that sought out a SAT tutor who was also a tennis pro, so their son could practice vocab while on the court ($1000 a session).”

3. Hottest safety: Northeastern – Their co-op program ensures you’ll actually get a cool job. Only problem is that it’s not a safety anymore.

4. Hottest new career aspiration: “My older child is working for a fully-funded start-up, but I don’t really understand what they do.”

5. Top new admissions theory: “This will be the easiest year for full-pay kids.”

6. Crescendo-ing neurosis: “Darn…My child doesn’t have a chance of getting a job with a liberal arts degree and she wants to study Classics at Princeton.”  (But poetry awards while still in high school are acceptable, especially if the poetry is about Quantum Physics.)

7. Hottest after-hours locale for touring west coast high schoolers: Bushwick

8. Hottest new extracurricular, the ultimate for resume padding: TedXYouth

9. “I think my daughter is the only one in her senior class who is not blogging for the Huffington Post.””My son is the only junior we know whose chorus has not performed in Latvia.”

10. “I interview for Brown; I feel bad about myself because my own resume at age 52 is nothing compared to the resumes of the kids I evaluate.”

So, parents, if we haven’t given Ted Talks or performed in Latvia by the time we’re 50, it’s time to admit we’re failures. Instead we can now listen to the wisdom of our nation’s 17-year olds, who of course, are sharing their expertise for the good of the world, not so they can get into college.

The Anti-Vax Rat

The sun shone outside but I couldn’t play
‘Cause I had a high fever that beautiful day
I sat there with Sally, in anguish, we two.
And I said, “This disease is much worse than the flu.”
There were sores on my tongue, in my ears, in my eyes
And a rash on my body – ginormous in size
(All ‘cause our parents were not very wise.)
So we sat in the house – Bet you heard our loud cries.

And all we could feel was that Itch! Itch! Itch! Itch!
We sat and we sat, thinking, ‘Life is a bitch!’

And then something went BOOM!
That BOOM filled the room! 
We looked! Then we saw him step onto the mat!
We looked! And we saw him! The Anti-Vax Rat!
And he said, “Those are measles – just thank ME for that”

“I see that you’re ill and your noses are runny -
But Big Pharma, at least, has not taken your money.”

“I know some good lies we can spread,” said the rat.
“Lies about science,” said the Anti-Vax Rat.
“Lies from the web: I will tell them to you.
Your mother believes them, and your father does too.”
Then Sally and I did not know what to say:
Our mother’s a rich, gluten-free CPA.
Then our fish said, “No! No! Make that rat go away!”

“Tell that Anti-Vax Rat he’s a paranoid quack.
He should not be here. He deserves a big smack.
He should shut up for good and never come back!”
“Now, now! Have no fear. Have no fear!” said the rat.
“My lies sound like facts,” said the Anti-Vax Rat.
Then he cleared his throat, gave his back a big pat:

“Vaccinations have toxins that makes you autistic.
If you get them, you’ll be a horrific statistic.”
“Get real,” said the fish, “Doctors say you are wrong!
Vaccines are just awesome – they make your life long.”

Said the rat: “And those measles, they aren’t so bad
So what if they killed your great-uncle’s dad –
Only poor people suffer, the ones in Chiang Mai.
You guys eat organic, so you will not die.”

“That’s untrue” said the fish, “Listen up. Just hold on -
The measles, once banished, are no longer gone
Even Mickey and Minnie can get them today.
Thanks to Anti-Vax crap, they did not go away.”

“Now please go home,” said the fish to the rat,
Soon YOU’LL have the measles – I hope you like that!
So put on a mask and start your quarantine -
You’re sure to get sick though you juice and eat green!

“And you know what’s insane? You know what’s absurd?
You anti-vax rats once relied on the herd:
You hated the shots but adored the protection,
(And chose fear over facts ’bout a proven injection),
Now our compromised friends face a true living hell:
Maybe POLIO next and then SMALLPOX as well.”

The rat said, “That is that,” as he left in the fog,
And then he went home to whine on his blog.

 Soon our parents came in and they said to us two,
“How do you feel? Tell us. What did you do?”
And Sally and I did not know what to say:
Should we ask them just why they thought it was okay
To ignore basic science in this modern day –
Mercury-phobic (although they eat sole),
They made us both ill – was that really their goal?

“But hey, Mom and Dad, know what you can do?
You are immune and we want to be too -
WE want those vaccines that didn’t harm YOU!”






9 Holiday Gifts to Get Your Kids, Instead of Paying Tuition

In the spirit of the holiday, how about getting your kids something more special than yet another pair of ear buds? Instead of plunking down $240,000 on a college degree that will probably lead to a position as a Cleanse Consultant at Cold-Pressed Juicery, here is a list of gift ideas that will truly bring joy and financial security to your high school seniors:

1. Seven BMWs: One every five years for the next 35 years.

2. A “starter” co-op in Brooklyn. Yes, it’s on the first floor and faces a wall. But your kid will get to live in Bushwick, a “burgeoning” neighborhood. And at 432 square feet it’s larger than most dorm rooms.

3. A trip around the world in a private jet: A tad indulgent, but just think about the networking options with fellow passengers, all retired CFOs. And because the tour is only $108k, you’ll have enough left over for a paid internship at the Weinstein company (yes, you can pick this up as a charity auction item online).

4. Two Birkin bags: Use them in health, then sell on ebay.

5. 3000 shares of Uber (exact amount to be adjusted when it goes public): If you invested $1,000 in Amazon at the IPO, it would now be worth $239,045, a much more impressive ROI than most college educations.

6. A 3-D Printer : A decent one, the kind you can use to make a burger or an extra kidney.

7. A marijuana farm in Humboldt county.

8. A VIP event hosted by your daughter or son at Coachella, with plant-based catering and the chance to mingle with Skrillex. Other guests will include Brazilian models, Elon Musk, Evan Spiegal and a bevy of angel investors, ready to incubate your kids’ ideas.

9. Airfare to Sweden, where a great college education is free. You will need to provide your child with a good immigration attorney and a high-quality seasonal disorder lamp, but he or she will end up with a degree, a talent for making meatballs, plus more than $200,000 in the bank.