Good morning, Krusty Krew… Bill and I woke up bright and early in our suite at the Wald Hotel in Stuttgart. It’s a very nice hotel and we have a lovely room, although the bed is a bit firmer than we’re used to. But, no matter. I realize this is a first world problem, and we’re damned lucky on many levels.
As I was regaining consciousness this morning, I took a look at the news. First, I read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s legal woes. She’s been sued by a retired optometrist who apparently crashed into her on a ski slope in Utah seven years ago. The guy, name of Terry Sanderson, initially sued her for $3 million, but a judge threw out the case. Now, he’s suing for $300,000. I’m no fan of Gwyneth’s Goop, but it does sound to me like the guy who crashed into her is trying to cash in on her fame and wealth. She’s countersuing him for $1 and legal fees. Frankly, I hope she prevails.
Then I read a story in the Washington Post about an 18 year old young woman named Daya Brown from Atlanta. I don’t have any more free articles to share this month, so here’s a link I found to another paper. Brown is a fine student, and in 2020, when she was 15, she “had some extra time on her hands.” She started researching colleges she thought she might like to attend. When she was finished, she had a list of about 70 schools.
Then, when the time came for Brown to apply to colleges, she spent about three hours a day for over four months, filling out applications and researching scholarships. She took advantage of the pandemic rules, as many schools waived their application fees during the height of the COVID-19 era. In the end, she got accepted to 54 schools and scored about $1.3 million in scholarships. Ultimately, she decided to accept an offer to attend Duke University. No doubt, that is an excellent choice, and she obviously has a great work ethic. She’ll probably do very well at Duke.
Personally, I think that applying to that many colleges is ridiculous on many levels. But ultimately, Daya Brown was rewarded for her efforts. She can tell people that 54 colleges accepted her. Anyone who has ever filled out applications for institutions of higher education knows that successfully gaining admittance to selective schools is challenging. However, I think the time Daya Brown spent on filling out those applications could have been better spent on other things, like enjoying her final year of high school. In other words, when she’s in her 30s or 50s, I wonder if Brown will still think the hours she spent applying to so many schools was time well spent.
Also, I once had the “privilege” of working in a college admissions office one spring. It was my job to file all of the stuff prospective students sent in to the College of William & Mary, a very selective school in Virginia. I saw, with my own eyes, the endless deluge of documents from hopeful students the admissions office dealt with at William & Mary. Some of it was absolutely insane. I know the college admissions process has changed since those days. For one thing, a lot of schools use the same application. Still, there are human beings at those schools who have to process each application. As I read Daya Brown’s story, I thought of the people working in those offices who had to process her application, even though she probably had a much shorter list of schools that she was actually considering attending.
I can excuse Daya Brown for applying to all of those colleges, though. She probably got a lot of local praise for working so hard on her applications. And she is obviously a good student, and one that most colleges would happily welcome to campus. Maybe she felt encouraged or pressured to apply to so many schools from her family, or maybe she’s simply a bit compulsive. Whatever her reasons, she’s getting highly commended for it, which is valuable in and of itself. She’s even getting fifteen minutes of fame, as thousands of people read her story, and people like me blog about it.
In our warped American society, people who have insane work ethics are praised and rewarded. Most people never stop to think about how, actually, it’s kind of a self-absorbed thing to do– applying to so many schools, when you can only attend one at a time. It’s also not a trend I would want to see catch on, as more students might feel pressured to do what Brown did, when they already have a lot to worry about and think of during college application season/senior year. Not everyone has the time or the money to apply to so many schools. I realize that Brown didn’t have to pay application fees for all of the schools she applied to, but I don’t expect that trend to continue, as the pandemic hysteria seems to abate.
Naturally, I had to read the comments… and I have to say, some of them were really surprising. I wonder… do people ever really stop and think about the big picture when they react to news stories? So Brown got into 54 colleges. That means it’s likely that students who actually wanted to attend any of those schools she applied to, but had no intention of ever attending, were rejected or relegated to a wait list.
Most people who commented on Daya Brown’s story seemed very impressed. Those who were not impressed by her extremely ambitious college application operations were roundly criticized. One person, name of Cherie, wrote that she thought it was “nuts” that Brown applied to so many schools. She wrote that this was not a trend she’d want to see continue. A number of people left Cherie very rude comments, even after she explained that she, herself, has a doctorate and teaches college courses. Another commenter, who claimed to be a physician, called Cherie (a youngish looking woman, based on her Facebook photo) an “old hag”, and berated her for daring to criticize Brown’s actions.
I took a look at the doctor’s profile. She appeared to be pretty long in the tooth, herself. Cherie didn’t need me to stick up for her, though, as she wrote that she hoped the physician had a better bedside manner than her online personality. That’s a separate issue, of course, but I wonder why people simply can’t be civilized when they comment on things? Why start off an exchange by calling someone a mean-spirited name, as you try to qualify your comments by saying you’re a physician? I can see getting “nasty” if someone is nasty to you, but why immediately address someone with such piss and vinegar? It really makes me think that a lot of people are just unkind.
But mostly… I just think that if you’re already a very hardworking student who has done well in high school, you should just try to relax and enjoy the fleeting days of youth. Daya Brown has the rest of her life to work. She’s 18 years old, beautiful, smart, and presumably healthy. Seems to me she could have whittled down that list of colleges by two-thirds; people still would have considered her a hard worker, and she would have still gotten into a great school and scored scholarship money.
In this age of excesses, I just don’t think this trend of students applying to dozens of colleges is something we ought to be promoting. Being resourceful and hardworking is certainly commendable, but there’s a hell of a lot more to life than trying to impress others. And “workaholism” is not really something that Americans need more of, because there’s a hell of a lot more to life than work, branding, and self-promotion. At best, it ends with frenzied people who are bitter and burned out by their time they’re 30. At worst, it ends with people who die sooner than they should, having spent all their time working, instead of being with loved ones, serving others, and enjoying being alive.
Anyway… just a thought from a 50 year old “hag”. The doc didn’t actually call me that– yet, anyway– but I stand with Cherie, the college professor, who clearly knows of what she writes. And I’m really glad to be 50, and no longer feeling the pressures of being 18, with my whole life ahead of me. I’m sure it’s a lot scarier now than it was in 1990, when I was Daya Brown’s age… Fortunately, my own college choice was easy. I applied to four schools, and only got into one… and yet, 29 years post graduation, I still have a pretty enviable lifestyle. I guess that just goes to show you that, in the grand scheme of things, even if you aren’t a super achiever in high school, things can turn out fine.