What’s it take to get a student ID card here, I thought as I ran past the tree-canopied boulevard adjacent to Tufts University. Money? Of course. Good grades? Sure. But what else do kids have to sacrifice to wedge their way into this college, any credible college, today?
My husband’s son, who’s visiting us this week, is giving me a pretty good idea. And he doesn’t have to say much. Dad’s brief run-down on his past semester’s workload is one clue. The obvious physical and mental need for a grizzly bear entering hibernation’s amount of sleep is another. Tack on the daily dialogue of do I take another AP class or allow myself eighteen fewer hours a week of homework, and I’m realizing that I’m damn grateful to be 46 instead of 16. Here’s why:
- I went to public school, rocked a solid B grade point average, excelled in Calligraphy and Paper Cutting and had no trouble skating into the 4-year state university. A brief review of said university’s admissions requirements today would have likely landed my application in the office trash bin.
- “nah, you don’t need any math past trig, honey,” was the advice I got from the counselor. My innate antipathy toward any and all calculation matters made it easy to solve that problem, and direct all energies toward Journalism and English – my stronger suits. Yes, I excelled in those areas, but why wasn’t I encouraged to work at my weak spots?
- the only AP I was familiar with was After Practice. As in, will it be pizza or donuts after school practice, ladies?
- which brings me to practice. To play sports at my high school, a signed Do Not Sue the School waiver and purchase of a $20 hideous polyester leotard got you a spot on the gymnastics team. So what if I was 5’9″ and could barely do a cartwheel? Kids today can’t suit up for high school sports without having already begun their chosen sports in diapers and amassed a wall of trophies in the basement. Sigh.
He’s got advantages, of course. He doesn’t have to spend half an hour logging in to a school-provided MS-DOS box to gain access into a program. Or destroy his young eyes staring into a fuzzy overhead projector’s display in a dark auditorium. Driver’s ed classes today, I’ve learned through he and my 17-year old niece, are now taught with a modicum of professionalism. My class was taught by the school’s baseball coach, whose expertise was limited to showing us films on what happens to crash-test dummies following too closely behind an 18-wheeler.
But as I said, I’m grateful to be 46. Past the pressure-cooker age of not-so-sweet 16. And will do my darnedest to impart a little fun into the campus tours we’ll be strolling through this week.
And seeing which schools still offer Advanced Calligraphy…