Helping kids and families shed their Ivy-worship
I am a psychotherapist and I work in a community mental health center, and I work with quite a number of adolescents in high school. I constantly witness the effects of high school pressure on these kids, but the worst thing I see are the feelings of anxiety and helplessness these kids experience because they believe that there are eight good colleges in the country and the rest of them are all crap. Sometimes there are a few other schools that make the cut, Stanford and MIT, of course, and a couple of other top 20 universities. This belief pretty much always comes from the parents. And the thing is, the parents have the best intentions. Most of them did not grow up in this country, and they want to see their children succeed, but they have been led to believe that there is only one very narrow path to success. They have communicated to their children that if they do not get into one of these schools they have failed and they will not be successful.
Wanting to go to an Ivy is not the issue. Of course there can be many good reasons why a person would want to attend one of these schools. But these kids, under the influence of their parents, are desperate to get into these schools before they know any single thing about them other than their prestige. My heart breaks for them because I know what the odds are. I know the odds are even slim for excellent students. Some of these kids are already feeling the pressure as high school freshmen. Having been through this process with my own child, I believe I have a very balanced and realistic perspective on the college admissions process. However, I am not a college admissions coach, I am a therapist. There are some things I can do when speaking with these kids and their parents, but I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions about where I might direct these families to get more information and that would help them gain the knowledge they need to broaden their perspectives and take the intense pressure off their children? I don't think that these parents would be receptive to a book like Colleges That Change Lives, because I think the leap from Ivies to schools they have never heard of might be too much to stomach, at least initially. But any resources would be helpful. And I wish, in addition to college admissions consultants, there were "College admissions reality checkers" that worked for a reasonable fee! Maybe I should start a new field.