Having a nice childhood and college admissions success are not mutually exclusive. Contrary to what Belen Aranda-Alvarado wrote in “The New York Times” yesterday on their “Motherlode” blog, kids don’t have to start thinking about college admissions when they’re ten! Ms. Aranda-Alvarado, a Tiger Mom-wannabe, is seemingly absolutely nuts. She seems to be under the misimpression that college admissions counselors will drool over a Latina young woman from the Bronx who rides horses. Is equestrian a hook for highly selective college admissions? It can be. Just as basketball can be a hook. In order for it to be a hook, Ms. Aranda-Alvarado’s daughter best be quite good at riding horses, though.
But beyond that, you can’t force a hook on a child. Just because Ms. Aranda-Alvarado’s daughter might like riding horses at ten, that doesn’t mean she’s going to like doing it at twelve. And while the mother jokes that if her daughter is thinking about quitting some years down the line she’ll put her foot down, who wants to put yourself in that position? Who wants to force a child to do an activity just to get into college? College admissions counselors weren’t born yesterday. They can tell if a student is truly passionate about an activity or if they’re doing it because mommy made them.
And while Ms. Aranda-Alvarado cites Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory, a theory that we’ve written about quite a bit over the years, what she fails to realize is that Bill Gates programmed at a computer for 10,000 hours because he was passionate about programming. Michael Phelps swims for so many hours because he loves swimming. If your daughter isn’t passionate about equestrian, she’s a.) not going to reach 10,000 hours and b.) not going to impress college admissions counselors to the extent you think she will. A Latina young woman from the Bronx who rides horses isn’t as incredible as you might think it is. It may even read: Mommy and Daddy paid big bucks for their daughter to develop a hook so she can get admitted to the college of her choice.
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