Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Gatekeepers

     Currently reading a book called the Gatekeepers. Interesting book. The author shadows an admissions officer from a highly selective college on the East Coast in an effort to demystify the process by how colleges select the students to admit to their schools.
     It poses a few questions for me. If I had a child, (which I don't) would I push him or her to pursue a college education? And if I did, would I try to push them to the big name Ivy League schools, or a second tier school, or would I be happy to just let the kid go to whatever school suits them, whether local or out of state?
      Does a big name on a college diploma really insure a better life? 
      Bear in mind, that I didn't go to college out of high school. It took six years of military service and six years of scuffling and shuffling before I was mature enough to go to college. And I went to CCAC, which I took to like a duck to water, though, I did my own version of academic advising, which I would not recommend. 
       And after graduating and getting my associate's, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I decided to transfer to Robert Morris because, at the time, they transferred most of the credits on my transcript and in the late 90's were pretty cheap in terms of tuition. RMC back then was not nearly as selective as they are now. I probably couldn't get into 2018 Robert Morris with my 1997 transcript.
       Pitt wouldn't have transferred a quarter of my classes and CMU and Duquesne wouldn't have touched me, and I couldn't afford either of them at the time. But I could have done better had I not flown by the seat of my pants in terms of selecting a major and scheduling my classes. 
      But, water under the bridge.  I don't think I could be the helicopter parent who pushed their kid to apply to nothing but Ivy League schools. I would have been happy if they applied to and was accepted to Pitt or any other of the local schools. If he or she decided to save the old man a few bucks, and took their freshmen and sophomore classes at CCAC, and transferred to a four year school, I'd have been elated.
      I'm very much a believer in community colleges. I'm a product of one (CCAC Boyce Campus '95). I wouldn't need to live vicariously thru my kid, by making them go to a better school than i did, though I would lobby strenuously for them to at least apply to RMU. Being a legacy can't hurt.
      And if my hypothetical kid decided to do what I did, and decide to go to the military, I'd be okay with it, however, I'd advise them seriously to talk to some veterans about the good, bad, and ugly of military service and not just take a recruiter's word as Gospel.  I would just want my kid to be happy whatever path they take.