Worry Less About Success in College

Posted by Steve Baskin on Jul 28, 2015 3:00:00 PM
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OK, I know I have already written blogs for today and tomorrow, but a camp mom sent me a link to an article about college and depression.

Here it is:


My goal in my blogs is to share upbeat and/or fun articles that will make your day lighter.  I, however, felt a need to share a few thoughts after reading this article.

Having watched young people mature at camp for 2 decades, Susie Ma’am and I have noticed the increased pressure on children to perform academically.  Further, we see the other two trends mentioned in the article – social comparison issues created by social media and helicopter/"lawn mower" parents.

In addition to our direct observations, these trends are on the minds of every person I know that works with children.

You should be pleased to know that you have already made a decision to help your children address these issues. One of the benefits of summer camp is that it mitigates the power of social media.  Your child will no doubt return to Snapchat and Instagram after camp, but he or she knows that it is possible to live without it for 2-3 weeks.

Second, simply sending your child to camp will help improve his or her resilience. When you drop off your child, you are sending the subtle, but unmistakable, message that “I know you can make it without me”. While I love that my own children attend Camp Champions, like any parent I too want to give my child independence, teach my child resilience, and give them the opportunity to grow away from home, so they attend other camps and programs during the summer as well.

The final trend that seems to be so concerning is the belief that a young person’s success in the workplace, and indeed their entire future, is inexorably tied to the college s/he attends.  But this seems to be much less true than any of us imagine. 

Princeton professor and economist Alan Krueger conducted a study in 1999 showing no long-term economic advantage to attending a “highly selective college” (like an Ivy League university) versus a state university. He replicated the results in 2007. 

If that is true, we may be a tad more reluctant to push our children to attend the ultra elite schools.  Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that the uber-schools are BAD, but I want to question the idea that they represent the ultimate goal of parenting.

The Silver Fox (my wise mother) suggests that children should not attend the most prestigious school that they get into, but instead attend the best school that they can “shine” at. If a teen is one of the last students admitted off a waiting list, she will likely be better suited to a school that is slightly less prestigious and more likely to allow her to thrive in both academic and non-academic endeavors. One's success in college is far less dependent on how "good" the college is, and far more dependent on that college being the right fit.

I share this because I have talked with so many parents that feel trapped or deeply worried about the college admissions process. Deep down, they know that it is not as much a make-or-break decision as people seem to suggest. But when their friends and acquaintances start to talk about tutors and guidance counselors and college trips and SAT prep courses and everything else, it is hard to avoid getting wrapped up in the delirium.  My hope is that parents will read articles like the one above and realize that it is time to take a deep breath and worry less. 


Steve Sir


Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/are-summer-campers-more-likely-to-succeed-in-college