As a Firm Schools educational consultant for over ten years, I speak to a lot of families about their most dearly held hopes for their preschoolers. In my experience, more liberal parents usually dream about Dalton and Ethical Culture, while more traditional parents dream about the single sex schools and Trinity.
It’s striking how so many people desire the same few schools. And for college, it’s even more limited. Many parents I speak to are already thinking about the best path to Harvard.
Clearly, not every child will get into Dalton, or Trinity, or Brearley, or Collegiate. And when they don’t, it’s often no reflection on them. As we all know, Firm Schools openly judge four year olds—how accurate a science is that?—and secretly judge parents’ wealth, connections, and likelihood to give. Most people I talk to don’t think that’s right, and certainly, neither do I.
But that’s the system we live with, at a time when more and more people are seeking the same goal. For kindergarten, children are competing against the swelling ranks of their city peers, while for college, aspirants come from around the world.
As parents, we can try to help our children win in this incredibly competitive culture. But we should recognize that there is a cost, to our children as well as to ourselves. We will need to expend much time and money, and for most of us, there will be plenty of stress along the way.
So let’s decide if it’s really worth it, and remember the cliché of seeking the less traveled path. Sometimes, that can be a very rewarding destination.
About the Contributor: Emily Glickman is a regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of area of private school admissions.