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Stressed? How About Your Kids?

In December, a colleague told the story of her younger sister, a high school senior. The girl was in the midst of waiting to hear from an early acceptance college. Rather than those thick or thin envelopes we used to get, she was waiting for an e-mail from the school. And that meant checking constantly on whether the e-mail had arrived. The girl got to the point that if you asked her a question about colleges, she'd snap.

Advanced Placement tests are clearly a part of that pressure-cooker life our kids are living. According to Jay Mathews, the Washington area has the highest concentration of AP test-taking in the country. No longer is it guaranteed that teens will get into their college of choice by taking AP tests their senior year. The more they take throughout high school, the better they can compete.

The pressure's not just on the academics. Since when did high school sports recruiting turn into a media circus similar to NFL draft day? Earlier this month, a Nevada high school football player wanted a college football scholarship so badly that he faked being recruited. The teen, Kevin Hart, and his family aren't talking about his reasons, but it's hard not to wonder whether the pressure-cooker isn't partly to blame. In a story about Hart, The Post's Josh Barr says:

The financial stakes are huge -- a four-year scholarship for an out-of-state athlete to Cal, for instance, is worth approximately $100,000 -- and the demands on teenage athletes are expanding in an arena in which recruiting sites are among the most visited sports sites on the Web and cable networks vie for the right to televise announcements of top prospects.

And we shouldn't just think those academic and athletic stressors apply just to teens. Some commenters on this blog have referred to giving their kids de-stress days. Back in September, blog commenter FatDaddy said:

"The emphasis on academic achievement at such an early age is causing many children (and their parents) such abnormal stress that you can expect a continuous increase diagnosis of various mental disorders among younger and younger children. To expect children to learn to master concepts when their minds haven't matured enough to accept the material is a very destructive component of early childhood education. Not unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical companies have capitalized from this trend.
When my wife and I notice the symptoms of school stress (mental exhaustion, confrontational behavior, sleeplessness, chronic stomach aches...) are impacting one of our children, we simply give them a "work from home day" that includes activities and exercise. Don't be afraid to take your child out of school several times a month if necessary, especially for all-day kindergartners. If you don't give them a break, expect them to get sick with colds and the flu, and then you'll have to take them out of school anyway."

Are our kids growing up in pressure cookers? What do you do to help them alleviate the stress? Do you worry about the long-term ramifications of the pressure on their health?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 15, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments


I disagree with FatDaddy's comment about giving kids a "work from home day." If today's kids weren't constantly shuttled from soccer to lacrosse to girl scouts, etc., and pressured to excel in GT classes in school then they wouldn't need time away from school. Kids today aren't given any down time to just play. I was never given a "break" from school when I was a kid, and I don't intend to start it with my children. Please!

Posted by: Mom of 2 boys | February 15, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I can relate to this one! I have a 9th grade daughter that puts herself under stress. Her kindergarten teacher told us ages ago that we would never have to pressure this girl because she pressures herself enough. That is so true! In school they took a test to rate their stress levels. Hers was the top in the class! I am constantly encouraging her to ease up on herself but it doesn't work. I give her plenty of outlets to chill - go to the movies, shopping, etc. but she will still find ways to overachieve. My husband is the same way so she comes by it honestly. We have a great relationship and she will come to me to vent. Just this week she started an online course in Arabic in addition to her regular course load at school! She also wants to learn Chinese! My son is the total opposite! If only they could just mix their two personalities!

Posted by: MD Mom | February 15, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Catholic (and many private) Kindergartens are all-day. After watching my oldest struggle with stress and exhaustion, while excelling academically, I've opted to hold my other children back. They start at K at age 6 - since K is apparently now 1st grade anyway.

Why this push for all-day K? Developmentally, most children aren't ready it. And the stress only gets worse.

Posted by: Evette | February 15, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

In a world where Americans consistently rank in the middle of the First World on standardized tests and where kids in other countries are pushed just as hard if not harder, pressure to succeed seems unavoidable and not necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by: Franconia | February 15, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

"Why this push for all-day K? Developmentally, most children aren't ready it. And the stress only gets worse."

Its cheaper than daycare or preschool. I saw this with my SIL. They aren't the upper middle class that reads this blog, both her and her husband are grad students. They couldn't afford to put their son in a day care or preschool program and were really hoping their public school system would admit him to all day kindergarten early (he was 10 days past the cut off). I think it is probably better for their son that they didn't, he needs the year in preschool first. And some nice family members chipped in for the year in preschool. And he is doing great in kindergarten this year.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

In New York City parents are not permitted to hold their children back a year before starting kindergarten. My sister teaches kindergarten in NYC - her biggest complaint isn't that the kids are in school all day. But she has 28 students, a part time assistant, and teaches in a school that serves as a national model for reading/writing/math education. Her biggest complaint is that the kids are expected to learn too much - too much material, and not all of it appropriate for 5 year olds. The solution is to work with your school board and school administration, to ensure that we don't expect kindegartners to write their autobiography in order to graduate to first grade, and we don't expect our high school students to publish in scientific journals.

And to those who comment on the US's poor ranking in global tests, there are several factors in play there - ONE) The US is not a homogenous population, as in many countries; TWO)EVERY child gets the chance to go to school here, which is not true in many developing nationsl so our low-income kids are included in our test scores, but will not be included in test scores from China; THREE)Even in high school, most American kids get 1 or 2 electives. Something they can study for fun, or as a break from those intensive AP classes. In parts of Europe and Asia school is a 30-40 hour workweek, and that time is focused on limited subjects, without any creative time. Thanks, but I'll stick with the US system.

Posted by: To Evette | February 15, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me? Stress in kids? That's a laugh. Stress is working 40+ hours in a job you hate. Strugglng to pay mortgage, car payments, insurance, daily commutes in jammed traffic and icy roads. Annoying and inept co-workers (and bosses). Almost weekly slaughters in public places (campuses, shopping malls). Students get free room and board, anything they want on a silver platter. Just wait until they get out into the real world and then they'll know stress.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the kids are growing up in a pressure cooker, particularly in urban areas. It stinks. It's a cultural thing, and I don't know what to do about it. Most moms I speak to feel the same way, but either we're outnumbered or or options are limited.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 15, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me? Stress in kids? That's a laugh. Stress is working 40+ hours in a job you hate. Strugglng to pay mortgage, car payments, insurance, daily commutes in jammed traffic and icy roads. Annoying and inept co-workers (and bosses). Almost weekly slaughters in public places (campuses, shopping malls). Students get free room and board, anything they want on a silver platter. Just wait until they get out into the real world and then they'll know stress.

Posted by: | February 15, 2008 08:54 AM


Geez. What's wrong with you? You're suffering froma major case of Empathy Disorder.

Children have stresses all their own. A 5 yr old may not have bills to pay - but they live in the same world in those shootings, they feel their parents stress over paying bills and work, NEVERMIND the emotional and hormonal and social stresses that a 5 yr old goes through!!! They don't have the coping skills that adults have. It's a scary time to be a kid - how can you not see that??

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I do think there is more stress on students in many ways - extra-curricular activities are one way, and also with tuition costs so high I think competition for scholarships and the need for part time jobs add to stress a lot.

Having said that I was definitely stressed throughout a lot of high school - I went to a highly competitive school - and although I think I would prefer my child not be QUITE so stressed, looking back it wasn't all bad really. I just wish there had been more awareness of it and more stress busting (although being on the swim team certainly helped).

I'm not quite sure I believe rates of child mental illness are related to stress exactly; I think it may be more of a diagnostic trend.

To get to the 'competitive in the world marketplace' issue -

Evette, not to slam my beloved country of birth, but Canada ranks higher than the US educationally and is in many areas much more diverse, offers electives, and all kids go to school.

People like me who have kids in school systems in both countries speculate that a lot of the difference comes down to:

1) Canadian schools are funded at the province (state) level, so although there still are 'good' schools and 'bad' schools, the pooling of tax dollars across the whole province means that the gap between good and bad is not as large and

2) because Canadian schools are not focused on "bringing all kids up above the 50th percentile" (whoever wrote or communicated that part of the NCLB clearly didn't pass stats) they can use their resources to teach the students at the top of the curve as well as students at the bottom, rather than basically having to concentrate most of their resources at the bottom in order to have all the kids pass the test

3) Because of a stronger social safety net, we just plain have fewer kids coming to school without access to good medical care, etc., and of course a sick kid or a hungry kid or a homeless kid is just not going to perform as well.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

That should be kids in the family in both systems, I don't personally have kids across the border, although it's a definite possibility since we seem to almost alternate years. :)

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 15, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

To Evette:

In New York, children are not required to attend kindergarten, so I don't know where you got your information.

The law says that a child must be enrolled in school by a certain age. State law doesn't require kindergarten.

Posted by: Kindergarten | February 15, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

A few years ago, a friend told me not to push my high school age child to excel...her son had perfect SATs, spoke two languages fluently, played the violin, was an extremely high achiever in a competitive school district, enrolled in academic summer programs, and he did NOT get into the highly ranked college that was his first choice...Duke. He's now attending after transferring there after his freshman year.

My son is not in the same academic category anyway. He's bright but not worried about his grades. But I've pointed out to him, it's not where you begin your college career, it's where you complete it. Nearly 30 percent of students transfer after their freshman year in college. I think it would be healthy for students and parents to calm down about the entire process.

I've known high achievers who completely fizzled out in college, and some kids who never looked like they were awake in high school, have achieve spectacular success in college and beyond.

The most important thing is to get a decent education, and help your kids learn how to make decisions for themselves. They need to know how to live a happy, authentic life regardless of their college and career choices.

Posted by: Kate | February 15, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

shandra

I think you meant your remarks to go "To Evette" not to "Evette" (me)

Here's another one To Evette:

In NY, you can't choose to hold your child back in a private or religious school? I'm glad I don't live there - talk about the government trying to raise your child!

Even though my exp. with children is only in religious school (although I went to Fx. Cty), I think the all-day K trend is being implemented in public schools now, too, and I think it's a stupid idea for 5-year-olds to be doing what is essentially 1st grade work. In K, my children must

1. learn to read
2. be able to add and subtract
3. beginner science, etc.
4. learn to write sentences, etc.

While when I was in K, we played with blocks and dolls, and had a big cookie and milk for snack and then went home!

Most 5-year-olds do not have the fine motor skills to learn to write and it frustrates them, whereas if you just wait a year, it comes much more easily AND it doesn't produce all this stress.

Posted by: Evette | February 15, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't know that things are any more or less stressful for students than they were when we were in school. I think its only natural for teenagers and young people to have stress about school, and in fact probably even more stress than we have as adults. That's because when you are young, the world is centered around you, and you have lofty goals and dreams. And every minor failure is a huge deal. But by learning to deal with that as a young person when often the stakes aren't really that high, ultimately you are better off when you are an adult and you perceive the stakes to be much higher, but are in fact better equipped to deal with the stress.

In hindsight, most things I stressed about in high school and grade school makes me laugh. But it was very real at the time, and by learning to cope with it, I find it much easier to handle the ups and downs and stress of my adult life.

Posted by: Cliff | February 15, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I didn't comment on NY State requirements, but New York City. My sister has a number of students in her classroom who she believes should have waited a year, but the school system does not allow it.

As to what happens in a day of kindergarten or first grade, I've learned a lot from my sister. When I was in kindergarten we weren't taught to THINK. We learned our ABCs, some kids learned to read, and the play time had some relationship to learning. In my sister's kindergarten classroom, when she reads a story she pauses, and asks the children what they think the character will do next, and why? After she reads the next section they may discuss any differences between what they thought would happen and what did. It is a process of teaching children to be critical thinkers and active learners, instead of sponges who regurgitate what they are told. And I think it's a brilliant improvement over the old memorization process. When her students play with blocks it is not about building the tallest tower, but it may be how many ways can we use blocks to make the number 5. 5 blocks laid out differently, blocks laid out to look like the number, 1 set of 2 blocks and one set of 3, etc. It's play time, but it's geared to a specific educational goal. The kids don't have to know the difference.

I agree with the psoter from Canada though, about distributing access to good education through a broader system. I find it grossly unfair that a child from a low income home is far less likely to get a good education than a child from a middle income or higher home in the US.

Posted by: To Evette | February 15, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

You need to check the attendance policy at your school before keeping your child out for a mental health day. Most schools have a limit as to how many days kids can miss. Your child will be help back if they exceed the number. Be careful about following Big Daddy's advice.

Posted by: PRISCILLA | February 15, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

If a parent writes a note that "Susie wasn't feeling well on Tuesday", the absence will be approved. Most of us know how to read an attendance policy and this is exactly how the policy was designed to be administered. If a parent says her child is sick, he's sick. That's why it's called a Mental Health Day. Duh.

Posted by: Mental Health Days | February 15, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, gosh, if it's playtime, can't they leave the 5-year-olds alone to build any kind of blocks they want to? You have to give the kids a little credit - I guarantee you they'll come up with some block configuration that is way more useful to the child's development (and way more fun) than the "specific educational goal" the curriculum has in mind.

Posted by: katie | February 15, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

It's a scary time to be a kid - how can you not see that??

Posted by: | February 15, 2008 09:35 AM

If your 5 year old is scared and pressured at school, or in life, generally, you need to make a change. This is not normal.

I am puzzled, no, baffled, at all the opposition to all-day kindergarten unless, like the traditional calendar proponents, it's based on nothing more substantive than, "I didn't go to all-day kindergarten and the way I was raised was best." With a good instructor, all day kindergarten is a mix of two snack-times, lunch, recess once or twice a day, circle time, having stories read, talking about Mr. A, cutting, pasting and coloring and -- oh, yeah -- the fireman came today and talked about fire safety and the whole class got stickers. My kids viewed it as hanging with friends and doing cool art projects, and yes, they both had homework every night which we worked on together and made fun. The attitude of the parents, more than anything else, is what creates or decreases stress. All-day kindergarten isn't the problem.

Posted by: Please | February 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Playtime in the classroom is not the same as recess. It's still a learning tool. You never sat down with a kid to play with blocks, and said let's see if we can.....? Or how about "let's count how many blocks tall our building is"? Yes, when you're children are playing independently there's none of that, but most adults, when playing with their children, also throw in those educational tidbits. Otherwise your kids would never learn their colors, or shapes, or all of the other toddler and preschool educational things that come from structured play.

Posted by: to evette | February 15, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"I am puzzled, no, baffled, at all the opposition to all-day kindergarten unless, like the traditional calendar proponents, it's based on nothing more substantive than, "I didn't go to all-day kindergarten and the way I was raised was best." With a good instructor, all day kindergarten is a mix of two snack-times, lunch, recess once or twice a day, circle time, having stories read, talking about Mr. A, cutting, pasting and coloring and -- oh, yeah -- the fireman came today and talked about fire safety and the whole class got stickers. My kids viewed it as hanging with friends and doing cool art projects, and yes, they both had homework every night which we worked on together and made fun."

Please:


But that doesn't describe the all-day K my children experienced. Yours sounds like it's age-appropirate, geared toward 5-year-olds. My experience in 2 schools(one religious, one private McLean school) was that the K curriculum, while including lots of playtime, also required that the children learn to read, do math, write in journals, etc. 1st grade work - not just more free playtime that you are describing.

I don't get your "the way I was raised is best" read on my attitude, either. I cleary said that I attended Fx. Cty Public schools, but have put my children in private and Catholic ones where the K curriculum is incredibly demanding and more appropriate for 6-year-olds, which is the age of my K student this year.

Posted by: Evette | February 15, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Our children are definitely growing up in a pressure cooker! Our world today is full of so many dangers that just weren't ever an issue when I was a kid. I never wondered if someone would bring a gun to school; I never wondered if my dad would beat my mom after a major argument; I never wondered why little Johnny had to take pills to behave.
My oldest (19) puts extreme pressure on himself to excel in school (nursing major). He's decided that this spring break he's not working or going anywhere. He's going to sleep late and work out and watch tv/play video games. He finally understands that the better he is to himself, the better he will feel.
When my other boys (12) are stressed, they cry more easily. I've found that some "mama time" on the couch snuggling and singing and just sitting helps restore some semblance of sanity to their busy lives. Then we're more able to discuss what the real problem is and what a good solution might be. Face it-life is stressful and if we want our children to succeed we have to equip them with the tools they need to cope.

Posted by: momof3boys | February 15, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I see the stress in my 6-yr-old, and it's definitely school-related. On the one hand, she needs to be challenged, or she gets bored and becomes a behavior problem. On the other hand, her current school requires what I consider way too much homework for 2nd-graders. Plus her own natural tendency is to be a perfectionist, so when she struggles to learn something, she immediately "awfulizes" it to "I'm dumb, I'll never understand." So I spend a fair bit of time teaching her what are basically de-stress techniques -- we talk about examples of when mommy and daddy messed up or couldn't understand something, taking deep breaths or just sitting and snuggling, working calmly with her to show her how to figure something out.

My current concern is that I think all this work is counterproductive. The biggest challenge she faces with the work is slowing herself down enough and paying attention to what the question really is, rather than just jumping to what she thinks is the answer. She recently got a 78 on her English test -- missed an entire, very simple first section, and then got 100% on the very hard section at the end. So we really need to work with her about taking her time, being methodical, and reading things twice to make sure she understands what is being asked (she inherited this from me, btw, so I am very sympathetic and understand what a struggle that can be). But on the flip side, the school gives her homework every night, sometimes a LOT -- which just teaches her that the point should be to get through it all as fast as possible. So now the teachers are complaining about her periodic sloppy work -- ummm, duh!

We'll see how it goes next fall -- the 3rd grade teacher is really great, seems to know how to handle her well. But if things don't improve on one side or the other, I'm going to be looking for another school.

Posted by: Laura | February 15, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

My daughter went to full-time kindergarten and there was a mix of playing and coloring and working on writing and simple scientific concepts. The teachers were very patient with the kids and understood that kids at that age range in maturity and ability and self-control. I thought it was a great program.
Here's something that amazed me...last year, my daughter had to take the SOLs (end of grade tests in vA), using a computer for the first time, in four subjects. She has always done well in school and loves science and reading and I didn't worry about the SOLs a bit. However, we got a steady stream of stuff from the school about what to give them for breakfast the day of the tests, not to emphasize the tests too much, not to trivialize the tests, what to dress them in....good Lord! SOMEONE was stressing out...and my daughter began to worry that she would do poorly and not be promoted to fourth grade. She calmed down after taking the first test and finding that she knew the material. I knew the school has to stress the tests to motivate some kids and/or parents, but this seemed excessive.

Posted by: Angela | February 15, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Every middle and high school in the county where my kids attend have its own dedicated cop, rules are painted on the walls in the hallways, chains on doors... The school seems to be turning into a minimum security prison.

My teenage daughter works harder than I do. She regularly bring her work and projects home to do on the evenings, weekends and holidays. Often she get home from school and goes directly to her room and takes a nap. She gets exhausted from the school day.

Kindergarten for today's kids is like the first grade when I went to school. Kids are expected to know how to write their names on the first day of kindergarten, which lasts all day. When my 5 year old come home after school, I can almost see the anxiety steaming off his skin as his behavior is almost uncontrollable at that time of day. He cries at night from his experiences from the school day. He screams "I hate school!" in the morning when it's time to get ready to go. His backpack is full of unfinished work. The list of stress indicators goes on and on.

His teacher says he is doing just fine, better than most. Oh, really?

Stress? You bet. For the whole family!

Posted by: DandyLion | February 15, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

it's not where you begin your college career, it's where you complete it.

Posted by: Kate | February 15, 2008 09:57 AM

IMO, it's simply what you make of your college career that matters. You get out of it what you put into it, regardless of where you go.

Sure, it's nice to say you graduated from Duke or some other elite school, and it might give you a little help in getting your first job. But after that, nobody cares. You can get a great education at "lesser" colleges or even community colleges (for the first 2 years) if you have the right attitude and work hard.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

MD Mom you sound like my mom when I was growing up. I can only say to FORCE her to take breaks, talk to the teachers when they give "vacation" projects and talk to your kid a lot about how it's ok not to always be perfect and give her a realistic picture on the world.

My mom wasn't able to help me much because she was so focused on just paying the bills and making sure the basics were taken care of, and she'd never had any opportunity to go to school so my life path was completely different from hers and she couldn't give me any real advice.

Growing in that environment, mixed with my already perfectionist personality and need for approval, my middle and high school years were pretty much "get full scholarship or die" sort of a mindset.

Not that I didn't enjoy and get a lot from those experiences, and I definitely got my full scholarship. But it led to a lot of burnout, resentment, and loss of "good times."

I don't really know the solution, other than to realize no one gives a crap about SAT scores AFTER you've been accepted into college, no one gives a crap about perfect attendance except score keepings, and that you WILL make a few tremendous screw ups and you WILL move on from them.

But until we fix the acceptance problems in higher education, there's no way to stop the NEED for kids to get perfect scores on stupid tests, to take AP classes, to be All Around Extra Curricular Fabulous.

Posted by: Liz D | February 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Kindergarten for today's kids is like the first grade when I went to school.

Posted by: DandyLion | February 15, 2008 01:09 PM


Exactly. The problem is all the standardized testing, no child left behind, etc. trickles down to kindergarten. That's why the school year starts earlier and earlier every year - they want to get more days in before the tests.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like parents are putting pressure on kids to excel in school so they'll get scholarships and mommy and daddy won't have to pay for college. Hmmmm. If your little Einstein doesn't get a free trip through 4 or 6 or 9 years of college, then somebody has to pay for it.

Make them work and pay for it themselves. Or get a student loan to pay off forever. When I was in high school it seems the kids who could afford to go to college were the ones getting scholarships. The son of an engineer was one. Another was the son of a lawyer. Another the daughter of a builder who taught swimming classes IN HER OWN SWIMMING POOL! A poorer student who was in the top 10% of her class didn't get a scholarship (she came from a very large and poor family). Where's the fairness in that?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

DandyLion:

That's why I ended up holding my younger children back so they are 6 in K. Have you considered that? So far, it's worked out much better than I expected - the children I held back is much happier, etc. than the older one.

Posted by: Evette | February 15, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"And to those who comment on the US's poor ranking in global tests, there are several factors in play there..."

I completely disagree with you. I went to a very tony private prep school here. My classmates went to UVA, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, etc etc etc. I got into one of those high-echelon schools too. Right after my high school graduation I went to France for a month as an exchange student. The family I was staying with had a daughter my age. She and all her friends were taking their final exams "a l'oral." What that means is that they had FAILED the written final exams, and had a last-chance exam to graduate high school. Bottom of the barrel, right????

..... not so fast.

I was amazed at the breadth of knowledge they had. I attended several of their study groups - they were studying concepts that we hadn't even touched on at my prep school. Yet these were the "bottom of the barrel" students in France! It was a real wake-up call for me as to how much better their public education system is --- because they demand much, much more from their students.

Posted by: To "To Yvette" | February 15, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Should be "To 'To Evette'" not Yvette. But my point still stands :)

Posted by: Grrr | February 15, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

IMO, it's simply what you make of your college career that matters. You get out of it what you put into it, regardless of where you go.

Sure, it's nice to say you graduated from Duke or some other elite school, and it might give you a little help in getting your first job. But after that, nobody cares.
------------

No, this is not true. I don't know what kind of lazybones think that you get the same business contacts no matter what school you go to. I went to the U of Maryland and when I started my own company at 19 I got almost no help and no decent advice- my friends kept telling me to take it easy and relax more. My company did ok initially, but failed. My sister's best friend got into Yale. She married the son of a billionaire who she met in undergrad. She runs her own charity. He runs the same company he started prior to going to graduate school.

If all you care about is working 9-5 for someone else then where you go to school doesn't matter. If you want to actually LIVE, you need to go to the best school possible starting freshman year.

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Evette, there's been previous discussions either here or on Onbalance that discussed the pros and cons of holding back a kindergartener. My wife and I decided it would be best to go with the guidelines for the age cutoffs suggested by Fairfax County for various reasons, but mostly because of the convenience of free child care. (Isn't that terrible?)

Right now, I'm following the advice I gave back in September as I posted under the name of FatDaddy. I'm hoping my 5 year old will mature soon enough to handle the stress without doing too much damage. Occasional breaks seem to be working for the time being.

Posted by: DandyLion | February 15, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow DCer I almost never ever ever ever ever agree with anything you say, but you are spot on today!

:)

Posted by: To DCer | February 15, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

No, DCer, all a job requires is a '4-year degree from an accredited college or university.' I've never seen a job application specifying what college the degree is from in the requirements section.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I think kindergarten is too much stress. I know they need to learn and grow but the ridigity of the teaching is scary.

I am glad I did not test DD and she can handle the stress better at almost 6 1/2. I watched DD's gym class yesterday before the Valentine's Day party. Some of the children nearly fell asleep on the mats while the gym teacher was trying to explain the stations.

The party was so rigid. Go here, move to the next table, and the lights go off when they need to stop eating. DD will stay skinny because she talks more than she eats.

Posted by: shdd | February 15, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"No, DCer, all a job requires is a '4-year degree from an accredited college or university.' I've never seen a job application specifying what college the degree is from in the requirements section."

... you have to be incredible naive to think that a recruiter is not going to give a closer look to an applicant from a prestigious school than to an applicant from a dime-a-dozen school. Of course they don't come right out and say it - just like they don't come right out and say every other bias out there. But it doesn't make it any less real.

Posted by: To 3:41 pm | February 15, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

should be "incredibly" naive.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Suppose you're at the bottom of your class at Harvard and someone from the top of their class from a state college applies for the same job. I'd think the recruiter would choose the person at the top of the class rather than a bottom-feeder from Hah-vahd. Don't dismiss state colleges as 'dime-a-dozen' schools, you arrogant prick.

After all, it's just a piece of paper that says you did your time inside a college. In most cases, Daddy's money was more influential than Junior's grades. Take a look at the idiocy going on inside colleges, dorms, classrooms. Frat parties, rushing, passing out from alcohol. Yeah, really impressive. Ever hear of the mattress parties at the Ivy League colleges? Put that on your resume and see how far it gets you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow you sound bitter. I bet you have some issues with your Harvard-educated bosses ;) You wouldn't be nearly as surly if you didn't seriously resent the fact that there IS bias ... and that it's bias AGAINST YOU!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

No, DCer, all a job requires is a '4-year degree from an accredited college or university.' I've never seen a job application specifying what college the degree is from in the requirements section

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So you like working for a boss, huh? Sounds like you found your niche taking orders.

from my original post:
"If all you care about is working 9-5 for someone else then where you go to school doesn't matter."

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Ever hear of the mattress parties at the Ivy League colleges? Put that on your resume and see how far it gets you.

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And this behavior is different from a state school how? I went to a state school. you think we didn't see that?

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Kids are overscheduled. If you were going to school all day, then being shuffled to swim practice, piano and tutoring everyday-you'd be stressed, too. I know plenty of elementary students who are putting in 12 hour days. Kids need time to play, explore and run.

Someone mentioned before that it doesn't matter where you start college, only where you finish it...that is also a crock. Unless you are talking about the Ivy league a degree is a degree. Education in general is what's important. When I was working I honestly never cared where an applicant's degree was from. I was more concerned about attitude and work ethic.

Posted by: Momof5 | February 15, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow DCer I almost never ever ever ever ever agree with anything you say, but you are spot on today!

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Now here's my question to myself, why is it that every few days someone posts this exact response?

The thing about kids and life is this. At my 20th HS reunion I met some of the guys who owned their own companies and were millionaires. I knew these guys (and one woman) in school and these were NICE guys. These were SMART guys. And I could see the trajectory they took to get where they did as entrepreneurs. And one of the things that separated them from the rest of the pack was that they really did hit on all cylinders at every single important juncture in their lives. They all got into Ivy League or private undergrad schools, they all started companies in the 1990s prior to going to graduate school, except for the lawyer, they sold their companies to AOL or whoever at the right time and they kept moving. The ability to be a world leader is something that I recognized in these people.

What's important to me is to determine how I can assist my children so they have the maximum opportunities open to them when it's time for them to make their mark on the world. and that's damn hard.

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

If all you care about is working 9-5 for someone else then where you go to school doesn't matter. If you want to actually LIVE, you need to go to the best school possible starting freshman year.

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 03:35 PM

I'm sure Bill Gates is kicking himself for not getting that Ivy League degree.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

It's strange. The American way is to be at the top--but want free lunch at the same. we think that if we just go the right school or take the right test we'll be set.

For the most part it matters much more what you made of your time in college, than where you where you went to school.

At best a prestigious school might give you a leg up in your first job in certain places, but that's about as far as it goes. You still have to demonstrate that you're competent enough to do what's required of you. A diploma from Harvard isn't going to change that

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

If all you care about is working 9-5 for someone else then where you go to school doesn't matter. If you want to actually LIVE, you need to go to the best school possible starting freshman year.

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 03:35 PM

If you define "live" as working 80 hours a week and never having a life outside work, then perhaps it does matter.

Posted by: Work_revolution | February 15, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

If you define "live" as working 80 hours a week and never having a life outside work, then perhaps it does matter.

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Anyone who views their career as a negative thing is a sad sad individual. Look at that sentence "never having a life outside work." That is absolutely NUTS. Does anyone think Martin Luther King was an over-achiever who never had a life? When your career has meaning such sentences make no sense.

That you would even write such a thing shows a total lack of everything in your life.

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Bill Gates is kicking himself for not getting that Ivy League degree.
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Bill Gates is a perfect example of my point. He attended the most exclusive high school in Seattle and then attended Harvard. How does he in any slight way support anything different than what I wrote? I mean, do you even know who Bill Gates IS? He and his high school friends, I will repeat, HIS FRIEND PAUL ALLEN FROM HIGH SCHOOL founded Microsoft and are billionaires. Get it? Sheesh!

Posted by: DCer | February 15, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

He dropped out of college. If getting a degree from Harvard is so fricking important, how did he manage to make a billion dollars by dropping out? Get it? Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

DCer's point isn't that he needs to have "graduated" Harvard, but that the contacts that Gates made in high school and in Harvard are what gave him the ability to reach his goals later. "It's not what you know, it's who you know" - and Gates met them, at the best schools in the country. Graduation not necessary if you have that prerequisite.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I work with people who put in 60-80 hours of work a week and have no life outside the office. Most went to the Ivy Leagues. Most have miserable marriages and screwed up kids. Some of the female persuasion can't do anything but eat and pee by themselves. How can they get through college if they can barely dress themselves in the morning? If anything goes wrong, the blame is placed squarely on the support staff, where it belongs -- like thunderstorms that keep them stranded on the runway, or a power outage that shuts down the computers. DUH!!!! All that education but not a drop of common sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

fr February 15:

>...Excuse me? Stress in kids? That's a laugh....

No, it's not. Stress over grades, mom and dad creebing at you because little johnny gets better marks than you, etc. Kids ARE indeed stressed about school these days. It's a FACT.

Posted by: Alex | February 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I have the opposite problem with my 9th-grader. If she feels any school-ralated stress, she doesn't show it. She does the work as required, but not one bit more. She doesn't stress about grades at all - yes, she's less happy if she gets a lower grade, but not enough to do anything about it. She got her first-ever C this year and didn't seem bothered at all. I sometimes wish she would be more concerned about her grades.

I, on the other hand, was so stressed about my grades in college that I never had any fun. And guess what? In the real world, no one cares whether you got a B or a C in freshman comp. The only company that ever asked to see my college transcript was IBM - and I'm sure glad I didn't go to work for them!

Posted by: lorenw507 | February 19, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

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