The Loh Life

The College Life, Part Two: Cats Understand

Sandra Tsing Loh on kids not going to college.

LA Unified just ended.  Suddenly.  And now, all these kids are home, some for longer than others.  Because a few I know... were shut out of college.

Moment of perspective - Since only one in 10 U.S. colleges has competitive admissions - If a middle-class kid with goodish-esque grades isn't college-bound, it speaks less to pure academics than the fact that he was too lazy to apply to any safety schools -

Of course, some of us parents, who are friends and relatives of these college-free kids... Well, as we look at our own kids - some of whom are just entering high school -  Well?  Having a gap year actually doesn't sound so bad.  Few 17-year-olds have a clue about what they want to do when they grow up - And isn't it nice to have them be confused for free at home rather than burning up thousands of dollars in a dorm with both a vegetarian and a vegan canteen?

A friend of mine has a stepson who needs a fifth year of college because he has suddenly fallen in love with philosophy - And while she's happy, he has finally fixed on a major, "That's $60,000 of our retirement money!"

We also question the pressure to specialize early, since there are precious few jobs in these specialized fields.  A mom friend and I were talking the other day about how our kids had to audition just to get into sixth grade.  Sure, it was for a "performing arts academy," but: "Whatever happened to the 7th grade talent show, where you just sang a goofy song?  Actually, no!" she recalls.  "My friend and I didn't even sing, we lip-synched!  To David Bowie!  But, we French-braided our hair.  Because that was our talent!  Cute hair."

Speaking of mediocrity, and its simple joys, I recalled how I got to be captain of the volleyball team... at Caltech.  "That was amazing," I add, "as I had never played volleyball before, but given a campus population of seven men to one woman - Where, as they say, 'the odds are good but the goods are odd - ' I was female, I could stand up, that made me a jock!  I could never have competed in Malibu or at Samohi - I would have been crushed by those teenaged beach babes."

This all got me thinking again about my own kids' college potential.  My 12-year-old has just written a poem in her poetry unit that is definitely not Ivy League material.  But I think it's oddly eloquent.  It's called:

Cats Understand

We laze around and eat food that's been canned.
When it comes to our lifestyles, cats understand.

Instead of Howl, it's a Meow... of a generation.  But still.

Next week: The Revenge of the B students!


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