I have nothing against Brown University, except maybe that they usually beat my Alma mater, UConn, in lacrosse, (but not always). Truth be told, plenty of teams used to beat us. I guess my issue is with parents who think their child needs to go to Brown to live a better life.
I totally get it, I have a two and a half year old daughter and live in Manhattan, and when I see a six year old girl walking to a private school in my neighborhood, carrying a violin and lacrosse stick, I usually think “my girl is going there!” Fortunately I have a sensible wife who will no doubt stop me from spending our savings on a private elementary school.
I run a summer camp for teenagers, and have for thirteen years. In that time we have had top students from top schools and lousy students from so/so schools. I think practically all of them benefited by being at a camp where they felt seen, heard, respected, and loved. I hope most of them left feeling more excited for their future, and with a sense of wonder for the world we live in.
I know plenty of parents choose summer programs they think could help their child academically, or send them on a community service project they think might impress college admission counselors. I understand why they would do that, but we think teen camp can offer some equally impressive.
I have had plenty of teenagers tell me they got into their college because of an essay they wrote about their experience at camp. They wrote about taking a “face your fears” workshop where they walked across hot coals, or the time they sat in a sweat lodge singing with ninety other teens, or maybe they just wrote about a special connection they made with someone at camp. My guess is that in all cases the person reading those essays really got a feel for who that person really is, and what makes them tick. I think that can go a long way.
So, maybe from now on I should say, “Send your kid to Odyssey Teen Camp and help them get into Brown.” I hear they have a good lacrosse team.