How to get your kid into college

I’ve been threatening to do this for months, but I finally wrote a counterpoint piece to all of those “HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SCHMOOPYKINS GETS INTO HARVARD” articles. It was surprisingly cathartic.

My distress over various “experts” in this area is threefold:

1) Who says you have to go to an Ivy or other generally-rated-as-one-of-the-very-best sorts of colleges in order to succeed? That’s dumb. If that was true, none of the other colleges would exist, or no one who graduates from them would ever make a living. These pieces are rife with a snobbery about education that I find really distasteful.

2) It always seems to assume a trajectory that begins with laser-focus even before your kid hits high school. Call me crazy, but I think it’s okay to let kids be kids.

3) I don’t remember my parents doing all of this college stuff with me… because they didn’t. I picked the schools I went to. I wrote my applications. I handled it with minimum input from them, because honestly, if a kid can’t get themselves through the process here without mommy and daddy pointing out every step of the way, they’re unlikely to succeed at ANY college, much less a “top” one.

Want to know what needs to be happening through high school for your kid to be on track for the right college? Here you go. I may not be an expert, but I’m a realist—and unlike a lot of folks I know with high school seniors, we haven’t really found this year stressful.


  1. Erin

    Yes. Yes. YES. All of this. So much. I’m a college professor with a toddler and have said over and over and over again that I don’t care where he goes as long as he’s happy there, and I don’t care what he studies as long as he digs it, and I don’t care what grades he gets as long as he’s getting something out of the experience. He can make those choices himself with our input if he wants it.

    When I applied to colleges, I chose two I liked, my mom took me to visit both, we both liked one the best but I applied to both. I got into our favorite and went. End of story. She was always there to help, but it was definitely my job to get it done…and I did.

    The coddling, the intellectual snobbery, the anguish and despair…pfft. Not for me. Thanks for being a voice of reason about this, Mir.

  2. Grace

    You are so awesome. I have no kids but I’m forwarding your link to folks I know who are starting this process.

    Although I must say that my friends and I had it pretty much like you did – we did all our own applications, mom and dad didn’t hover, and we all got in to schools we preferred. And we did well at them. So possibly my best friends aren’t as stressed as some parents are.

    Thanks for being such a voice of reason!

  3. Jo

    Thank you for the information, I have a 4 year old and I am so scared of what her future will become, people like you help so much

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