Thursday, July 4, 2013

To a worm, anything above dirt level seems pretty lofty

I couldn’t resist posting this interesting little tidbit from a slate.com article that kind of sums up the impact parents can actually have on their child:

“… if live in a small city or town, or out in the country, you’re probably not. And the difference is information and your sense of the possible—what you know about, what you learn from the experiences of people around you. Hoxby followed up with an experiment in which she showed that just sending high school seniors 75 pages of information about selective schools could boost their admission rates from about 30 percent to 54 percent.”

The quote addresses the likelihood of someone applying to elite colleges and notes that the poor and especially those from outside big cities often don’t bother applying to those schools, despite the fact that colleges would often accept these types of applicants.  Push your kid into “Super Kindergarten” all you want; stress out about their college acceptances for 20 years and their employment for 30; the reality is that just giving them information about what they can do raises their likelihood of doing it by 24 percent.  This is why I counsel parents to relax, enjoy their kids and simply give them a world where anything and everything is possible.

Its all about the sense of possible you instill in your child.  Smart or of average intelligence, rich or poor, if your child thinks he can accomplish big things, he is more likely to try.  He might not succeed, but we all fail from time to time.  And then again, he just might succeed.  If you live an impoverished life in Podunk, USA, and surround yourself with people who think Podunk is the end-all and be-all, then your child probably going to apply to Podunk U, or nearby Backwoods U, and not Harvard.  Despite this, Harvard might be looking for just such a candidate.  But it can’t accept what those who don’t apply.

To bring this fully around back to the title:  This isn’t about pushing your child (worm) to Harvard, its about raising them in an atmosphere where going above ground and beyond is a possibility, even if it isn’t the road they eventually choose.

Some of this is genetics, I’m sure.  Worms like the dirt; there isn’t much for them above ground but being eaten by birds, baked in the sun or stepped on.  Some of us are risk taking, adventure seeking, positive people who would apply to Harvard and don’t mind taking on adventure, while some of us are genetically built to enjoy life in Podunk.  Nothing is wrong with either life, necessarily.  But if you are going to college, and can get a free ride to Harvard, I don’t know why you’d choose Podunk U over it.

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