Addicted to Ivy

In his weekly online education column, Jay Mathews takes an in depth look at a national affliction he calls “Ivyholism”. That is the condition that affects high school seniors and their parents in this area each year, making them believe that the student must attend a brand name college or be doomed to a life of failure.

To help these poor addicts, Mathews offers his twelve-step program to help them return to some sanity about higher education. All twelve points are right on the mark, especially "This Is NOT the Most Important Moment in the Applicant’s Life.". Too many seniors in the DC region (and others I’m sure) hang their entire self-image on getting an acceptance to one of a few "top" universities. What’s worse many of their parents are basing their own self-image on the same thing.

Mathews twelve suggestions are great but I would add a thirteenth item to his list: Maybe a four year university program is not the best post high school choice for every student. The traditional high school program directs every student towards college whether or not the student is interested, capable or ready. We need to do a better job of helping high school students assess their interests and skills. Then we need to let them know about all their options and not just the ivy-covered ones that enhance the school’s – or their parents’ – brag sheet.