The Loh Life

A weekly look at Southern California life, news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

The College Life, Part Two: Cats Understand

by The Loh Life

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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