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What not to do as a parent...a true story

CTDadof2CTDadof2 78 replies12 threads Junior Member
I thought I would share this cautionary tale.

My sister-in-law holds a Ph.D. from a prominent Boston area university. She is a high achieving woman, on top of being the best mother I've ever seen. She is extremely kind and down to earth.

She and her husband both coached their children's rec league sports teams back when they were small. One year her huband coached a town rec league soccer team. There was a surplus of players that year so the players were grouped randomly onto two teams, unfortunately labelled the A Team and the B Team.

One day my sister-in-law was at home when she fielded a call from a woman incensed that her son was on the B Team, insisting he be placed on the A Team. SIL attempted to explain the placement did not reflect ability at all, but was totally random. The mother would not be assuaged. She kept my SIL on the phone, haranguing and haranguing her for half an hour, until my SIL had to just hang up to be able to go about her day. My SIL felt sincerely guilty about this.

Why am I telling you this. Because on top of holding a Ph.D from a prestigious university, she holds a bachelors degree from an equally prestigious NESCAC school. One with a very low admit rate. And for which she served as an alumni interviewer on behalf of its admissions office.

Shortly after the episode with the soccer-mom-from-hell, my SIL was asked by her college to interview a local candidate for admission. In an incredible coincidence, the candidate was the older child of the soccer mom. Knowing that if she interviewed the student and he was denied admission, she would never hear the end of it, probably for the rest of her life, my SIL told the admissions office they would need to find someone else to interview the candidate. She later found out he was rejected.

Just think, if the soccer mom hadn't been so rude and unhinged, she may have gotten to know my SIL through that soccer team, and my SIL may have agreed to interview her son, and he may have gotten in. Let this tale be a reminder to us all to live by the golden rule. You never know how your rudeness can come back to bite you.



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Replies to: What not to do as a parent...a true story

  • MWolfMWolf 1666 replies10 threads Senior Member
    It has been repeatedly mentioned that admissions rarely hinge on alumni interviews.

    I sincerely hope that being friends with your SIL wouldn't have increased the kid's chances of acceptance. If being friends with an alumnus interviewer increases the chances of acceptance, the accusations of elitism of that college are fully justified. This is exactly the type of system that ensures that the kids who are accepted to "elite" colleges are the "right type" of people, from the "right" neighborhoods, having the "right" friends, etc, with "right" generally being the ruling class.

    That is exactly what the term "elitism" means - when the rich and powerful consider themselves as "the elite", and believe that it is their birthright. They deserve to be rich, to attend the "best" schools and colleges, to run everything, including the country, because they are inherently better than anybody else, because they were born in the "right" families.

    I think that the real cautionary tales are that there is there is power in labeling, and that this power is never so evident as in labels that can indicate prestige

    The mere fact that the two teams were labelled as A and B created in the minds of some people the illusion that team A was superior to B, because A is usually used to denote the highest quality, and B is used to denote something that is of lesser quality.

    The other women was obsessed with the label that was assigned to her son, while demonstrating very little interest in anything else. She didn't care how good a player her son was, whether he liked soccer, whether changing the team would help him, or even what he was doing at soccer. She just cared that he would be labeled as being in the better team.

    Even if the soccer teams were of different ability levels, she was behaving badly and selfishly. If she truly cared about her son's soccer practice, she would have asked for details, and how her son could improve, asked her son whether he was happy on his team, etc.

    The woman had a single lesson - her primary focus should be on her son, not on the prestige of the label that has been assigned to her son.

    Your SIL's lesson was not to label teams A and B if they weren't divided by ability, or, if she wished to divide by ability, make sure to have B as the team with the higher level of ability.

    Everybody's lesson - don't be THAT parent.

    PS. That woman (not the SIL) sound like the parents who were implicated in the admissions scandal.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2344 replies43 threads Senior Member
    edited November 9
    While alumni interviews may not have an effect on admissions, it is possible that karma (sometimes?) might.

    I agree that in this day and age, if the team is split randomly (not on skill), it is better to pick two random names, such as "the alligators" and "the bears" rather than A-team or B-team.
    edited November 9
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4416 replies18 threads Senior Member
    I feel for the coaches. I used to be a "Dad" assistant coach for baseball and helped out in football. Parents can be crazy! The kids are usually the mature ones.. Lol.
    . But without reading into this story much, I understand where the OP is going with this. Just a daily comment of just being kind to those you meet. Maybe things would of been different.

    There was a movie years ago and I think it was Gwenth Paltrows first role but about a young women on a train. Half the movie was about when she got off the train and walked left VS how her life was so different when she got off the train and walked right.

    I do think life has its way to work these things out. What if at this school (maybe a small LAC) the interviewer "might" have more influence??
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  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1340 replies43 threads Senior Member
    my life's motto: it's never wrong to be kind. Soccer lady was not kind.

    I like the idea of using animals for teams like Groundwork2022 mentioned. Even with using colors, people try to figure out if one team is better than the other. "Is gold better than black?" Is Red better than Blue? (been there!)

    question: Is there any protocol with interviewing with someone that might know the mom or dad?
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  • allyphoeallyphoe 2439 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Either "this kid's sibling is on a team I coach" or "this kid's sibling is on a team with my kid" would be sufficient grounds for me to recuse myself as an alumni interviewer. Appearance of impropriety and all. But my school's rules likely would permit it, and I'm aware of the existence of multiple alumni interviewers who think that the official rules don't apply to them.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34478 replies382 threads Senior Member
    An interviewer isn't supposed to push favorites she already knows. The lesson isn't that, had the mom not complained, the kid might have gotten in. The alum should have recused herself or admitted in her report that she knows him. So she did the right thing. Don't look at it as retribution.

    And don't assume an interview report has no bearing, unless a college states so. It's both "eyes on" the applicant and a chat. And then a report back to the file.
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 890 replies15 threads Member
    @Groundwork2022 except in this example the mom’s bad karma is taken out on the kid. That’s not how karma is even supposed to work if you want to believe in it.
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  • jym626jym626 55801 replies2904 threads Senior Member
    edited November 9
    While some alum interviews have become more than just informational , I agree its still very, VERY unlikely that an alum interview will make or break an admission (well it can break it if the student brings a gun or something, LOL).
    edited November 9
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34478 replies382 threads Senior Member
    Lots of ways a kid can fumble an interview. Sure, it can tip the scale in the wrong direction.
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  • jym626jym626 55801 replies2904 threads Senior Member
    edited November 9
    We have always completed a post interview form, but only recently ( as in the past year or 2) were we advised that it could carry a bit more weight than in the past. Certainly a major red flag is important to share.
    edited November 9
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23238 replies17 threads Senior Member
    The only mistake your SIL made was arguing with the mother when she called. There was no chance of changing that mother's mind that Team A was not better than Team B. Everyone knows A is better than B, especially in something that really matters in college applications like rec league youth soccer coached by a mom and a dad (phd or not, it's still just a parent coached team). Careers depend on which youth soccer team one is placed on, and the B team would have been the kiss of death.

    My brother runs a youth league. You can't believe the tears and shouting and rending of garments that goes on if Bobby is placed on the team that practices on Mon and not on Tues, at this park and not that park, on a team with Johnny but not Connor. He had one mother who shouted and threatened so much that he refunded her money and told her to go to find another team. The father called and begged the son's way back onto the team with the promise that the mother would not be involved in any way, and the father's winning argument was "Now do you see why we are divorced?"
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  • CTDadof2CTDadof2 78 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Well, SIL told me that their function as alumni interviewers was to delve into the applicants extra curricular activities only and to get a sense of the applicants as people; all evaluation of academics was handled by the admissions office. And sorry, but I completely reject the notion that the alumni interview has no bearing on the admissions decision. If this is so, why have it?

    And regarding the charges of elitism, back off. Her family and mine are not rich, powerful, influential or connected. She doesnt live in a power suburb, but a fairly average town. SIL got into both her undergraduate and graduate schools on her own merits, without hooks at either. I don't think interviewing the child of an aquaintance you barely know rises to the the level of advocating for your best friend's child, or would have constituted an ethical lapse.

    I completely agree the labelling of the teams as A and B was a mistake, they should have used names like lions and tigers. But upon learning this was all a random exercise, the mom should have ceased. A calm, rational adult should be able to accept this explanation on its face without feeling slighted/threatened.
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1934 replies71 threads Senior Member
    CTDadof2 wrote: »
    Just think, if the soccer mom hadn't been so rude and unhinged, she may have gotten to know my SIL through that soccer team, and my SIL may have agreed to interview her son, and he may have gotten in. Let this tale be a reminder to us all to live by the golden rule. You never know how your rudeness can come back to bite you.

    It's very unlikely that, even if the SIL had written a positive report on the soccer mom's son, he'd have gotten in.

    It's also very unlikely that, even if the soccer mom's been nice and lovely, the SIL would have taken on the interview while clearly knowing the mom and her son. The SIL would have recused herself as all interviewers suppose to in such circumstances.

    Whether the interviewer is bound by any instructions regarding recusal or not, it'd be very wise to be recused from any interviews of anyone the interviewer's acquainted with for one simple reason: to avoid any unpleasant consequences with the interviewee should the admission result isn't positive. With "elite" colleges with very low selectivity rate, it's usual that most of interviewees do get rejected. With a highly sensitive process where a family's "dreams" may be on the line, the blames can fly off in the interviewer's direction. Most folks place too much significance of the interviewer's role in their chances at admission.

    In my 5 years of doing interviews, I've had one occasion where I had to recuse myself, from interviewing this girl who our family has known through sharing the same private piano teacher. I explained to the girl and her parents the reasons for the recusal, and they understood. Although she ended up not getting into the college for which she was being interviewed, my relationship with her and her family did not sour. She ended up at another excellent college, and I sent her my congratulations.
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  • jym626jym626 55801 replies2904 threads Senior Member
    @tiggerDad is correct. Any potential conflict of interest or familiarity with the interviewee or family would be reason to decline the interview.
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  • chardonMNchardonMN 76 replies10 threads Junior Member
    @momofsenior1 Glad most are positive experiences. Generally how did the two negatives bungle so badly? Were they rude, pompous, or something? Just curious.
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 890 replies15 threads Member
    edited November 9
    @CTDadof2 there is a decently lengthy discussion on here about why schools do alumni interviews if they mean so little, and the consensus seems to be it’s about engaging alumni and hopefully keeping their checkbooks open because they feel connected to the school. Most schools will straight up say that not getting an interview has no bearing on decisions- how important can they be if they’re randomly assigned by schedule availability and geography?
    edited November 9
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  • CTDadof2CTDadof2 78 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Really, I only shared this story in an attempt to make some people think twice about their rude behavior, and the unforseen consequences it might have. I never thought this would turn into a debate about alumni interviews.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1666 replies10 threads Senior Member
    CTDadof2 wrote: »
    And regarding the charges of elitism, back off. Her family and mine are not rich, powerful, influential or connected. She doesnt live in a power suburb, but a fairly average town. SIL got into both her undergraduate and graduate schools on her own merits, without hooks at either. I don't think interviewing the child of an aquaintance you barely know rises to the the level of advocating for your best friend's child, or would have constituted an ethical lapse.

    I didn't accuse your SIL or her college of elitism. I wrote that if you were right, and that being in good relationships with an alumnus interviewer increased the chances of a kid to be accepted, that would be elitism.

    I was being skeptical of your take on the story, because it implied that the college engaged in elitist practices. Basically, I was saying that I didn't believe that the behavior of that mother towards your SIL had any effect on her kid's acceptance, and had your SIL interviewed her kid, her feeling towards the mother would not have affected the kid's chances of acceptance. The reason that I believed that was specifically because I don't believe that your SIL's Alma Mater engages in elitist practices.
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