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AuthorFrank Bruni
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Date Published2015
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Posted Apr 06, 2015
Category: Non-Fiction
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Synopsis

DISCUSSION: APRIL 30TH AT 8:00 P.M.

From Frank Bruni's Website -- http://www.frankbrunibooks.com/

"Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It's cruel. And in Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes."

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  •  Fred wrote 1192 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Listening to your important book and it's nice to hear the author's voice.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1192 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Both my children went to schools where they received enormous personal support and attention from faculty teaching low enrollment courses. They thrived in this kind of intimate learning environment and it helped them become who they are today. Dr. Gerald Goldhaber
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1186 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    I was an under achiever who went to Syracuse University where I continued to under achieve, but where I learned invaluable social skills and developed important connections through my Fraternity experience.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ShelleySimpson wrote 1183 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What I love most about the book is the social commentary beyond the stated topic. The reliance on lists and formulas has really created a disengaged culture. I remember Dick Cavett relentlessly reminding his audience that he went to Yale. I have no idea where Jack Paar went. I would like to know if that was the beginning of this trend. I see a reversal in this trend, however, with the millennials who want their careers to be meaningful and would love to know if Frank Bruni sees any indication of the trend being reversed with the uptick in successful entrepreneurship in fields like technology and this desire to be engaged in meaningful work.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1183 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    This is Fred's wife Joanne. Your book is compelling and refreshing. However, considering all the research you've done and real life examples you have cited do you think it will have any impact at all upon all those competitive parents out there?
     
       
     
     
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  •  MitchTobol wrote 1183 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What motivated you to write a book about the college admissions process?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Jane_Jacobs wrote 1182 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Where you go will always be part of who you'll be. It's not just about the classes and professors.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Nancy_Schess wrote 1182 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    This topic most definitely strikes a chord in my house. My daughter is just finishing her freshman year at Yale. Frankly, we never dreamed of an Ivy league education but as her grades, accomplishments and passions came together in her junior and senior years of high school, it just seemed inevitable to at least apply. Fred often recounts telling me that she wasn't getting in but she did even coming from a public LI high school. Oh yes, the expense is just plain over the top but we decided that the academic experience (both in class and extracurricular) as well as the level of connections available to be made could be future "door openers". So far, we are amazed at what she has already experienced and the level of people she has had the opportunity to meet. Do you think we made the wrong decision?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1181 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I highlighted a number of quotes from the book..I was brought back to my own college days - so much so that I wrote to a professor of mine from 1978 - someone who mentored me and clearly helped change the direction of my life!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Benjamin_Geizhals wrote 1180 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What advice would you give to young parents who are in the throws of the competitive search for the elite nursery school so that their two year old child can have every possible advantage? Concerned grandparents want to know.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Odey_Raviv wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You make so many important points for parents of students aiming for college. The message that getting into your dream school does not guarantee happiness and success is perhaps not as important as your inspiring words for parents worried that their children are slotted for mediocrity if they go to a lesser known private, state, or even community college.
    How can all of us spread the message that supporting high schoolers who don't have 'Pre-Ivy" credentials in their academic resume be rewarding and fulfilling for the parents and their children if everyone is willing to look at the big picture?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Frank.
    This process in the US seems so chaotic and not worth the stress. Do you have any thoughts on a European university experience vs an American one? When the time comes, both will be possible for our daughter. Thanks.
     
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  •  Cynthia_Somma wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Do you find any difference in the process with boys vs girls? We seem to be a generation that coddles our children. My oldest will be graduating NYIT in a few weeks and feels like graduate school is a good idea. I do not agree, as I know he is delaying "life".
    At this rate...I will never have an empty nest :)
    Loved the statistics regarding the high profile people and where they began, I shared this with all 3 of my children. Very inspiring!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Welcome Frank! It truly is an honor to have you as a guest chatting with us tonight. Your book is inspiring and encouraging, especially to those of us who are imminently approaching the college application process.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As a former school-based and now independent college counselor for almost 20 years, I can totally relate to this topic. I see it all the time with families - those who do not think about fit, but rather only care about name recognition and the connections they will they will foster along the way to "help" their student succeed in life. There are just too many wonderful colleges and universities in the US to mention, and any number of them can and will prepare students of all levels to succeed. Can anyone name or really care where Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock or Oprah Winfrey went to college? I think all three have done pretty well for themselves despite not going to well-known schools whatsoever. I don't know what the shift in the water is for the current generation of parents, but I will continue to work hard to introduce them to the thousands of options they have aside from eight (excellent) colleges that really are just an athletic league. Think outside the box!!!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Welcome Frank - well this is a timely topic as all of NYC is abuzz with Dante De Blasio getting into Yale!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    After reading your op-ed piece that discussed the Levin family and the letter they wrote to their son - which they expected him to read prior to receiving his acceptances/rejections from colleges - and literally weeping at the sentiment, just a few days later my son's English teacher sent her students home with a segment of the Levin's letter - and she addressed it to the students. My reason for telling you this is to let you know that you have reached high schoolers in a suburban area, simply because their teacher truly cares about their future and well-being. She forwarded your message in the most sincere way. Lucky students!
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello everybody! Since many of you have already posted comments and questions, I'll start a few minutes before 8. First, two apologies, or maybe three: I'm losing count. I'm a bit jet-lagged AND I lost my glasses this morning, so am using silly drugstore magnifying/reading glasses and it's not going well. For that reason, and because I'm trying to be speedy so as to get to as many of your questions as possible, you must forgive me what will be many typos and instances of bad grammar that I PROMISE are not who I am under normal circumstances. HOW YOU TYPE IS NOT WHO YOU ARE. That's my next book. OK, Mitch, why did I write this book? Simple. I could not reconcile the depth and breadth and altitude and intensity of the college-admissions anxiety with what I saw in the real world, with what I'd seen over decades of interviewing hundreds of accomplished people in many fields: There is no ONE educational pedigree that spawns or guarantees success. There are countless roads.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    There were so many great quotes that I highlighted and loved: "Great educations aren't passive experiences; they're active ones."
    As an instructor at The NY School of Interior Design - this is something I try to stress to all my students….
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Benjamin What advice would I give? I'd say to those parents: In trying to give your child an advantage, what are the costs? I don't mean financial. I mean: Are you taking away a CHILDHOOD by stressing this certain script, these certain metrics, this forced march to a very particular destination? If you're holding out Harvard or Stanford as the only acceptable results, aren't you setting up heartbreak, since 95 or so percent of applicants won't get in? If you're hiring consultants and spending tens of thousands, what message does that send to a child and what values does it transmit? Are you really in the end doing as much harm as good? You need to ask yourselves that.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    "Students from affluent families for attend a truly diverse school may be more likely to understand that the rest of the US hasn't grown up in the same circumstances that they have, and they might think about whether that's a fair society -- quite profound and important..One can only hope.
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred, It's so cool that you're listening to the book. I know it's an odd thing for me to weigh in on, but when you record a book--and this is the second time I've done that---you sort of can't believe anyone's really going to hear it. And it's one of the most self-conscious-making experiences imaginable, sitting at this microphone reading, slowly, word for word, your entire book. So I'm glad to know that there are takers: a market for it. I hope my pronunciation was OK!
     
       
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    My favorite quote: The idea that you would go to a university for an education at the level of your soul is considered absurd, and to me that is heartbreaking" -- So true and I am glad that I went to school at a time, that one did go to college for that purpose….
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I listened to it also, and I thought it was terrific to hear you- the author- reading your own work.
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, John, for highlighting those quotes. I interviewed some very thoughtful people and am immensely grateful to them. The word 'soul' is almost deemed corny these days, and yet I really believe it's an important one, and I think college is equally about the intellect AND the soul. That's why I so wish people would choose college not the way they choose luxury products --- the more exclusive the brand, the better! --- but with more care, more nuance, more gravity. And I wish, as I say at length in the book, probably too often, surely redundantly, that people would choose colleges that expand them, that fill in their blanks, that complete them. To point to people/profiles in the book, it's what David Rusenko did. It's what Howard Shultz did, although Howard did it more by accident than design. In both of those cases, college served the individuals well because it upended their universes, it didn't just extrapolate high school.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    "If you are extremely smart but you're only partially engaged, you will be outperformed, and you should be, by people who are sufficiently smart but fully engaged" again an important lesson and totally true. One sees this over and over….The lesson about being engaged in school is more important than where you go is so important….I also see people immobilized by their perfectionism.
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, Julie, I almost didn't do the audio for this book, having done the audio for "Born Round" --- not sure if anyone online now read that --- and having found it very tough, in terms of the little booth, the airlessness, the silence, the need not to shift or sigh or breathe heavily. The microphone is so sensitive that if your stomach growls mid-line, you have to start the line over. The technicians told me that certain thin actresses who read books for money and eat little and have ever-growling stomachs have to swaddle their midsections in blankets to muffle the sound so that they can read on. Isn't that trippy? I can't name names! I won't name names!!! But they did give me one name . . .
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Julie, you mentioned the Levin family and that letter, and I admire that family so. I've gotten to know them better since the book. I spoke at their son's school, and I hadn't met Matt, their son, when I wrote the book, but he came early to an event I did on the Upper East Side and we sat and chatted and he's a terrific young man. That family gives me hope: You can ALMOST get too swept up in this, you can be in an environment where so many others are getting swept up, and you can stay grounded, sane, loving. OK, I'm going to get teary. That Levin letter makes me cry every time I read it, but then I cry every time I watch "Jerry Maguire," when Cuba Gooding is inert in the end zone . . .
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I totally ended up in my college by sheer accident and it worked so beautifully for me - totally changed my life…. so I practically agreed with everything you wrote.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Frank - I am an independent college counselor whose philosophy really surrounds finding colleges for my students that are the right fit. I go blue in the face stressing that to my students and I travel all over visiting a large variety of schools to find all the gems out there. Aside from doing this to be knowledgeable and educated, being enthusiastic when I present a college list, and also explaining that just because you go to a "ranked" college does NOT necessarily mean your life path is set, what else is a counselor to do? :) I do encourage students to try for reaches because I am not a dream-killer, but more for finding targets and favorables the students will like if not admitted to their first choices. Do you have an example of a family or parents you have met that have been wildly unrealistic, but learned a good lesson along the way (not bad karma) but a realization of some sort about how where you go is not who you are after going through the process? I like and use anecdotes about past experiences with current families. Thanks!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    BTW I totally related to "Born Round" as well….
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Ha! A good friend of mine gave me your book, Born Round. She raved about it. I haven't read it yet.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I cry every time I see "Jerry Maguire" as well.....
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Abby, I'm really glad to hear that that's the approach you take. And I'm glad you wrote in, because there ARE independent counselors like you who are not simply pumping families up with unrealistic dreams but trying to match students to colleges that will be right for them. Many, many families fit the description you outline. One of the oddities of this scene is that parents and kids can look at these 5 percent and 6 percent and 9 percent acceptance rates and somehow think: Yes, but we're different. We're special. We're sure to land in the 5 percent. Well, odds are odds. And secondary schools are overflowing with overachievers. And any parent of any child other than a true prodigy or authentic genius cannot make Stanford or Harvard or Yale or M.I.T. THE goal. It's a recipe for disappointment.
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I guess this is the meeting of the "Jerry Maguire" fan club. tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renee Zellwegger (whom I probably just misspelled) and Bonnie Hunt all at their best. And that little kid. What happened to that little kid? And did HE get into his dream college?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I actually went to the best school I got into - for many reasons - but one was for prestige. I ended up having a great time and am so happy I went there, but I struggled academically for the entire time I was there. I had tutors and there were tears. As my parents said, thankfully I wasn't going on to law/business/med school (and my father graduated from a now-prestigious college with a lowly 2.1 and did pretty well for himself). I tell my unrealistic students this story a lot. Do you really want to struggle academically and stress for four years, or do you want to focus on learning and fun and expanding your horizons? I may have gone to college a long time ago but the thought still stands, IMO. I also tell my kids I don't care where you go as long as you are happy and healthy, trying to impart on the parents that it's not about a name you can brag about at cocktail parties, but is your kid happy and doing well? Those are the ones who will generate the opportunities for themselves.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    The kid is Jonathan Lipnicki. He is still working (not sure about if he went to college): http://www.jonathanlipnicki.com/biography.php
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm looking back through some of the questions posted before 8 p.m. Someone asks if I have thoughts on European versus American university experience. I don't feel I know quite enough about the European universities to offer a truly informed opinion. But on a semi-related note, something I wonder about and am bummed about is how few American college students, even those who can afford it, avail themselves of study-abroad options---or, for that matter, consider going to college in another country. This era is one of increasingly porous boundaries, increasingly globalized businesses, etc. And the very nature of education is expanding your frame of reference, encountering different viewpoints, coming to appreciate the diversity of the world. One of my great regrets was not studying abroad, though I was lucky in that my career let me do that, in a sense, later, in the course of work . . .
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    That's my biggest regret too! My university only had a few options, and studying through a different program was not an option back then. Students who are concerned about money should look at Canadian colleges in addition to some that are more Americanized, like St. Andrew's, American University in Paris, Richmond-the American International University in London.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    The School I teach at is pretty prestigious in our field…yet I see students struggle, only trying to get their projects done with minimal effort. They rarely go the extra mile and they will copy whenever they can….try as I might to get them to understand the concepts and thought process, their goal is to finish the project and get an A….This all fits in with this topic, they are kidding themselves and the likelihood they will succeed in this field is slim.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1179 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    I feel like everyone in my community should read your book. The talk about college is incessant. Loved it!!
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I read Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath - and I believe you reference his reference to "a big fish in a small pond" and vice versa. Have you two ever collaborated on a project - or possibly considered working on something together?
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John, what you just wrote brings to mind two dynamics that were frequently brought to my attention in the course of researching and reporting the book. One, many students either worked/strategized so hard to GET INTO the prestigious school---- or were pumped so full of the believe that that prestigious school's name would be their ticket through life---that once they're admitted, they're done! They feel the rest is coasting. Professors brought that up and expressed worry about that: It's something they've noticed in some kids. The other dynamic: Some kids respond poorly to a stage overcrowded with overachievers. They'd be better off at a slightly less selective school, where they'd be able to get more elbow room, more oxygen. Depends on the student's personality type.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    If it is okay, can I address the question from the poster about American vs. European universities? Many of the European schools, especially in England, require students to declare a major before attending and that determines where they will even apply. There are not at all as many options as there are in the US and it's very difficult to change majors once you are enrolled. For some of the "majors" such as Cambridge and Oxford, students need to have a certain amount of AP classes and 4/5 on the exams. In the US there are over 3,500 colleges to choose from, and students can go in undecided and have the option to change their major several times until they formally declare. An issue with the Canadian colleges is the issue of collegiality. Some of the biggies - McGill, UBC, UToronto are so big and there are few options for on-campus housing (esp. for non-residents) so you don't get the collegial feel you get here in the US. Just food for thought.
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Re Malcolm: I've never even met him! But you're right: I read D & G and quote from it in that one part of my book. I obviously respect Malcolm. I think he does just fine without collaborators and has no need of me!!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John, do you ever talk to your students who you believe just don't have the raw talent to make it interior design and try to steer them elsewhere? I've always wondered about this at colleges that don't require an audition for theater or dance majors. I remember at Bucknell the professor told me "We just encourage them to major elsewhere and join the stage crew!"
     
       
     
     
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  •  FrankBruni wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks for that, Abby. Regardless of geography, I'm not very keen on kids deciding at 17 or 18 what they'll do for the rest of their lives. How many people really KNOW that early what their passion is, what they're good at, etc. I realize that some kids---too many kids----need to get on a track fast, for income/earning/safety reasons. But even in those cases, it's hard to predict what's going to be practical for the future. The job market changes all the time.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    So - the question is - will parents/students/counselors/paid consultants/etc. - any or all change their approach? Will we encourage our kids to find the right fit for them, not necessarily to seek the most prestigious college? Your book has inspired me to take a closer look and a closer listen at/to my kids and to consider with them, what would suit them, where they would flourish the most.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Abby_Siegel wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Who would have thought five years ago you could make a living blogging about fashion trends and other stuff? I know recent grads who have good jobs spending their days on FB, Twitter and the like!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1179 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Abby, I'm an adjunct so it's very tricky - I constantly try to inspire them to think beyond the project….Since I also run my own design business I try to stress the realities of the business….but I also believe it's more about persistence and hard work as well as some talent.
     
       
     
     
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Reason for Reading

This book is a helpful tool for parents and teenagers alike, reminding us all that the true value of higher education is not where you go, but what you make of it.

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