Suzanne Fields
The college acceptance letters have landed. Hysterics have subsided. No more time tearful sessions of "what if?" Parents have come to terms with their disappointments that their achieving, well-adjusted child didn't get into her first choice because she had only an A-minus average and good but not great SAT scores, and was merely a reporter for the school newspaper. She may be able to recite the Gettysburg Address from memory and read all of "Moby Dick" (including the whale blubber descriptions), but that simply wasn't enough.

At the interview, when she talked about "coming out of the closet," _she meant only that she had found the right designer jeans and running_ shoes. She wasn't gay except in the old-fashioned way of enjoying life. She had never contemplated changing her sex. Her well-adjusted life was a negative, leaving her chasing the curve for insights into suffering.

The college essay had been a particularly badly handled chore. When a school counselor told her to write about her feelings when she felt victimized, she could only tell about the time her mother made her take off her spike heels and skin-tight miniskirt she had found for the junior prom. Mother-daughter conflicts are so yesterday. Freud is definitely out.

So is patriotism, mainstream religion and heterosexuality. Although you'll get no hard data on college essays that aced it with the admission committees, the odds are that the successful ones were submitted with titles such as "How I Found God and Became an Atheist," or, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Hooking Up" -- or, to impress the environmentalists, _"Out to Sea on an Ice Floe Hugging an Endangered Polar Bear." I'm exaggerating, but not by much.

The competition this year was fierce. Three million applicants struggled into the pool a year ago, and that's only slightly more than this year. Numbers will begin to diminish and stabilize over the next decade, but that's not necessarily good news for your grandchildren, or even your great-grandchildren (to be).

"(The numbers) will remain at a level high enough to have left previous_ generations agog, and guarantee that our own children will also have the opportunity to obsess on behalf of children yet unborn,"_ writes Andrew Ferguson in his best-selling book "Crazy U: One' Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College."


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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