Would you send your children to the Ivy League?

First of all my children have relatively zero chance of getting accepted into the Ivy League. They won’t have all of the extracurricular activities required to get accepted. They won’t volunteer 20 hours a week. They won’t have incredible test scores. They won’t have a sob story to tell in their application letter.

Lets assume hell froze over and they did get accepted. Would I send them?

The answer is no. I wouldn’t. Getting into a top 15 college is so competitive nowadays that its a full time job for the entire family to make it happen. They must push their children to do a bunch of stuff they have no desire to do. Stuff that has no utility later in life.

Lets think of the traits you need to get accepted. Very good at standardized tests. Very good at holding a position in student government. Very good at schoolwork. Very good at following the rules. Very good at fitting in. Very good at doing what everyone else is doing. Very good at complying.

Now lets think of traits you need to succeed in life, business and relationships. You have to be very good at communicating. Very good at socializing. Very good at making friends. Very good at doing hard work. Very good at dealing with failure. Very good at handling surprises. Very good at leading others. Very good at helping others succeed with you. Very good at holding down jobs when necessary.

People who succeed and lead happy lives have street smarts. They have experience figuring out life problems on their own. They have emotional maturity. They thrive in social situations and enjoy learning from and interacting with real humans. They can operate without a safety-net or helicopter parent.

Kids who get into top universities are horrible at all of these things. They can’t carry on a conversation. They can’t work with others. They can’t socialize. They can’t deal with failure. They have never been dealt a surprise. They have never dealt with a problem without leaning on their parents. They have never worked a summer job doing manual labor. They do not understand how money works.

They are zoo animals. They have been coddled and guided and fed their entire lives. They are great at doing as they are told.

They got into the Ivy League because their parents worked hard to get them into the Ivy League and they are good at complying.

When zoo animals get let out into the wild they starve or they get eaten.

Let me tell you that I am very grateful for my time at Cornell. I met amazing people. I met down to earth people. I met my wife and my business partner – the two most important people in my life. I learned a lot.

But I’m sending my kids to public school. The most important lessons in life you learn in the household. I’ll do my best to teach them those things. The rest is up to them.

December 12, 2018 5:45 pm