The Dip

The horrible reality of college admissions

Are fifteen-year-old kids too young to deal with the Dip?

Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jessica Clayton scored
1540 out of 1600 on her SATs, aced five advanced-placement courses last
semester, volunteers two days a month at a middle school, works after school at
a smoothie shop, is on the varsity Lacrosse team and runs cross country.

But she worried that wasn’t enough: An Ivy League recruiter
told her about a rival applicant who composed harp music, recorded the
compositions and sold the CDs for charity. "I don’t even play the harp," says
Ms. Clayton. "There are kids who have sent up satellites that have orbited the
Earth. At my school, I’m pretty average."

Sonya points us to this article about the cruel reality of college admissions. I happen to think that almost all of it is money-driven, insecurity-fueled foolishness, a bogus nexus of lies, fears and greed, but more on that later.

For right now, the key lesson is this: colleges (the most coveted ones, anyway) are picky. That means they have a choice. And given a choice, they always do the same thing: they pick the best in the world. It’s quite a Dip, one that most students ought to reject in my opinion. Instead, egged on by guidance counselors with a vested interest and parents who mean well but don’t see the problem, they throw themselves into the system, almost certain to get stuck in the Dip instead of playing a different game altogether.

The opportunity for 95% of the student body is this: reject the idea of being almost good enough to get in to Harvard and embrace the idea of being extraordinarily good at something else.