I Think the World is Run by C Students, Part 2

In December, Sybil posted this rather cryptic message:

Before I head off into the abyss of family celebrations, I have one question for you to ponder. What do you think would be the greatest obstacle a 12 year old high school graduate would have to overcome to get scholarships?

This post has gotten a surprising number of hits, so, with Sybil’s permission, let me explain why she asked that question.

The answer is age.

Her daughter graduates from a local high school this spring. The kid will be twelve. She’s currently taking three Advanced Placement classes–composition, chemistry, and American government. Since AP classes are weighted, her gradepoint is well above the supposedly perfect 4.0. In fact, last semester, it was 4.8.

Most people think Sybil and her spouse are evil, controlling parents who force this kid to study. In reality, although both are themselves academics, they send her outside to jump on her trampoline and ask her to take the dog for a walk. They pay for expensive karate lessons (kid’s currently a brown belt) and are teaching her cooking, carpentry, and gardening. From her birth, both have repeatedly said their goal was to raise a happy, kind, rational human being.

The kid is on her way to this, but she was born a scholar. Hardcore. The kid likes play, but she considers reading heavy tomes the best play there is. She’s been accepted to a local state college, a good one, and looks forward to a double major in chemistry and environmental science.

So this kid is being showered with scholarship money, right?

Wrong.

Her parents have tried to make her life as normal as possible. And that has meant dodging publicity.

Now, however, their desire to not go bankrupt putting the kid through college may change that position. They are especially irritated when they see athletes who do not meet minimum academic standards get full-ride scholarships while their kid doesn’t even make the first cut.

Why?

As I said, the answer is age.

Law, regulations, and computer forms conspire against the kid.

For example, she went in alone–with mom waiting discreetly outside–to sign up for physics at a local community college and immediately had her cover blown when her birth year was not on the computer form she had to fill out. She was 11, and the forms were set for 16 and over. She already had approval from her high school and she easily tested in, but her parents were then subjected to weeks and weeks of calls from the college asking to “correct” the “mistake” about her age.

Moreover, it’s becoming increasingly obvious as the kid writes scholarship essay after scholarship essay that the American college system is stacked against geniuses. She can’t apply online since there’s a federal law against collecting data on children under 13.

Then there are the application forms themselves. All of them want to know about community activities and many of them want to know about work history. The kid has done tons of charity work, actively helped register people to vote, and done all sorts of community service. Unofficially. Most organizations automatically reject her as an official volunteer because of minimum age requirements, usually 16, sometimes 14. That she looked, acted, and certainly sounded like a college professor at 11 was simply not relevant.

Some scholarships won’t be awarded until April or May, so there’s still some hope, but mom and dad are getting grimmer by the minute as results come in without her name in the running.

But there’s always educational loans, right? Pell grants and such? Guess what? The kid isn’t eligible for ANY financial aid since the minimum age to apply is 18. So now, mom and dad, neither of whom went for the big bucks because they believe in giving back to the community, are going to be screwed for this too. They may have to consider regular, personal loans to get their kid through college.

They have excellent credit, but I’m sure you know what the conditions for getting personal loans are these days.

Hence, Sybil is none too happy when she reads in the local news that some athlete with a C- grade point average is getting a free ride.

I ask another question: What does this situation say about America?

Cassandra

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3 Responses to “I Think the World is Run by C Students, Part 2”

  1. Sybil Says:

    As a bonus I get to quit my job to drive her to classes.

    That choice is another in a long list of no-win situations. Either I have her live on campus and am seen as an unfit mother, or I drive her and I’m a pushy unfit mother. I’ll continue to take the actions that best suit what she needs, but I’m getting damned tired of know-nothings dictating what we should do with her.

  2. uncommonscolds Says:

    Sybil said, “’I’m getting damned tired of know-nothings dictating what we should do with her.”

    Maybe you could devote a post to your relatives. Detailing the escapades of the uniformed can be both amusing and a good way to vent. Think Flannery O’Connor.

    Cassandra

  3. Bernat Says:

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