Magazine article The New Yorker

Ready for Launch

Magazine article The New Yorker

Ready for Launch

Article excerpt

The Parents League of New York believes you should do yourself a big favor and calm down. Like, right now. Deep breath. Put your iPhone on vibrate. Lean back. There is no reason to panic. Not yet, anyway.

It's a breezy spring evening, and the Parents League has organized an event at Temple Israel, on East Seventy-fifth Street, titled "Parenting the College Applicant." Those of you who have come here for "Parenting Workshop: Choosing the Right Dog for Your Family," sorry. That took place earlier in the day at the Parents League office, on East Eighty-second Street. Try to pay attention. Unless you are perversely rooting for Samantha or Dylan to fail to fulfill the master plan--in which case you're a prime candidate for a workshop on learning to like yourself--you're going to have to stay focussed. Also, flexible thinking is a must. Let's say your master plan calls for Samantha to become a neurosurgeon/Supreme Court Justice and Dylan to become a senior managing director at a once-reviled-but-never-mind-because-that-was-gimme-a-break-months-ago financial-services firm. A classic example of inflexible thinking is a conviction that it's either Plan A or goat-wrangling in West Virginia.

The Parents League, by the way, has been around for almost a century, longer than "parent" has been an everyday verb and overparenting and hyperparenting have been clearly identified syndromes. The impression some people in certain Zip Codes have that the Parents League's Preschool Admissions Workshop, Preschool Admissions Panel Discussion, and Middle and Upper School Admissions Panel Discussion programs are offered 24/7 except for a couple of weeks in July is just flat-out wrong. Please.

The panel of experts tonight includes a private-school college counsellor, the head of an all-girls school, a principal at a college-counselling consulting firm, a gap-year consultant, an adolescent and family therapist, and the C.E.O. of an "education strategy company staffed entirely by Ivy League-educated instructors and advisors who provide customized, one-on-one standardized test preparation and admissions guidance"--in other words, a lineup that only a very confused individual would mistake for a posse of axe murderers. The moderator is Karen Stabiner, the author of the "Admissions Freak-Out Countdown" series on the Huffington Post, as well as the book "Getting In" (according to Publishers Weekly, "a novel about five families with children applying to college that's as arduous and tedious as the actual application process"). …

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