Thursday, December 13, 2012

Legacy Does Not Wish To Continue The Family Tradition

Dear Tazi:

I am a high school senior at a very prestigious private school in Massachusetts. My parents required me to apply for early acceptance at Harvard; because I make a very competitive candidate, and because I am a legacy, there is an excellent chance that I will be accepted into this fine institution.  My problem is that I do not want to go to Harvard. I have spent the last fourteen years of my life attending private preparatory schools where I have lived among the world's most privileged; been pushed to excel beyond what is expected of other students my age; and isolated from reality. I feel like a bird in a gilded cage! I want to spread my wings and fly!

I would like to apply for acceptance to some of the nations more prestigious public schools, like the University of Michigan, UConn (I play basketball), Penn, and especially the University of Texas at Austin! My parents will not hear of such a dream, and insist that if I do not go to Harvard than they will not finance my education any further. In addition to playing sports and participating in Student Government and other extracurricular activities, my grades seat me in the top 1% of my class. I do not think financing my education will be an issue, since I am certain I will qualify for academic grants and scholarships. My parents did not appreciate this rebuttal, and threatened to cut me off completely if I do not agree to attend Harvard. As tempting as it is to consider making it on my own, I know that real life is not like a television show; to be cut off completely at the age of 18 is actually quite frightening.

I cannot talk to any of my academic counselors at school, Tazi; they would not understand. Plus, their job is to encourage behaviors that best represent the school, and seeing an alumna off to Harvard would look very good for the school. Can you think of any way I can win this argument with my parents? Or am I to continue to follow their rules for the rest of my life?

Not A Kardashian

Dear Not A Kardashian:

You sound like a young woman with more than just academic intelligence; you sound like you have a sense of adventure, combined with a sense of practicality, with a good dose of reasoning skills added to the mix. I am happy that you acknowledge the fact that life is not like a TV show; this is something that some people still need to learn.

Looking at the situation from your parents point of view, I see a few factors at work. First is their desire for their daughter to succeed in life at the level where they hope you will be entering the world. I get the distinct impression that they do not expect your first job to be an entry level one. Second, you mention that you are a legacy. Would you be the second generation to be a Crimson, or do you come from a long line of "John Harvards"? [Ed. Note: The mascot, people; not the brewpub!].  These factors, along with Harvard's reputation for academic excellence, could explain your parents push for you to stay in the Bay State.

Did you know that the University of Texas at Austin only accepts 15% of non-resident students into its freshman class every year? It is also one of the most competitive schools in the nation, public or private. Did you know that Thomson-Reuters ranked Harvard #2 worldwide for academic excellence?  It ranked a few points behind the California Institute of Technology; University of Michigan ranked 18th (which is not too shabby!). More importantly, do your parents know this?

I suggest that you gather non-biased information from reputable sources about each of your preferred schools, along with information about Harvard.  Compare and contrast each of the schools until you find what you feel is the best fit for you, and from there present the information to your parents in a logical manner, explaining to them why you feel your first choice school is the best choice for you - including the fact that a public school will fulfill your desire to interact with people of all socioeconomic levels. Remind your parents that an unhappy student is less likely to succeed in life than one who is comfortable with their surroundings.


P.S. Did you know that President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, once called his alma mater "the [University of] Michigan of the east"?  He did!  You can Google it!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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