Saturday, April 14, 2007

I salute you

I am a tour guide. This means that twice a week, I haul nervous prospective students, their bored younger siblings, and their oft-agressive parents around the campus. Now, this is allegedly something I like to do. I actually had to go through a three-stage application process, despite the fact that we don't exactly get paid. Well, we get a captive audience for 75 minutes, which uses up about, oh, a fortieth of my desire to blabber for a given day. Also, we get to wear very official-like engraved name tags. I like to think that this makes me important. Or it makes me look like I frequently forget my own name.


Before I go any farther, I would like to state that 90% of the prospective students and their parents that I personally deal with are very nice people. They're generally a little wide-eyed with a kind of lost look, but I can't hold that against them. If they're on the dreaded "college tour circuit," they just saw 5 schools in the last 4 days and all of the peopel they encountered gave basically the same generically postiive presentation. "At [X] university, we really feel that there's a strong a sense of community. Basically, they are attempting to survive the hellish process that is undergraduate applications. I sympathize with them and that's why I became a tour guide in the first place

Then there's the psychos. You know them. They bought The Princeton Review's Guide to America's Top 361 Colleges when their kid was a fetus and put him in SAT classes before he got out of diapers. They fretted over pre-school admissions because THAT MATTERS. YOU HAVE TO START EARLY. Obviously, if your child is not enrolled in French enrichment, jazz tap class, sousaphone lessons, karate, lacrosse camp, and/or extreme roller derby by the time she's three...SHE WILL NEVER GET INTO COLLEGE, SHE WILL LIVE IN A BOX ON THE STREET, AND SHE WILL DIE.

(Of course, even if you do this, there's still a nice chance that she will strangle herself with the ribbons from her ballet slippers, but that's another post.)

Now, I could rant about these people for oh....two and a half years? (Just ask the Awesomely Earplugged Roommate), but I have a specific person in mind. He was actually the parent of an admitted student who was touring schools again in preparation for making a final choice. Said admitted student had a hell of a choice, because he was choosing between three Ivies.

I know this, of course, because his father told me. Loudly. I stiffled my initial urge to punch him and was able to offer a cheery "Congratulations! I hope you choose Dartmouth!"

I won't know, of course, but I am nearly sure that he will not. Not that it wouldn't be a loss of a qualified student. He was very poised. He made eye contact. He took discreet notes. He asked intelligent questions and he smiled at my pitiful jokes.

At the end of the tour, he asked me several rapid-fire questions, all concerning statistics. They centered around the pre-med program and our acceptence rates to top med schools. (It's quite good, 96%. And we don't screen).

He also asked me if the Trips that I talked about were mandatory.

Dartmouth freshemen go on Trips. Basically, you throw 12 kids into the woods with hiking boots that are giving them blisters and a frame pack that's too heavy to carry. You leave them in the care of a highly qualified group of future CEOs, I-bankers, lawyers, doctors, etc, who are currently dressed in various animal-print spandex and sequined clothing and have decided to dye their hair six flourescent colors. Nobody sleeps for five days, you eat unidentifiable food covered with yogurt, and you are required to dance to both techno music and 50s jazz standards. It's fantastic.

It is not something that is relevant on your application to med school and it obviously did not interest this student. And this is the real reason that his father deserved...something. Not an act of violence. Maybe an act of loud yelling.

YES, YOU WIN. YOU PRODUCED AN IVY LEAGUE STUDENT. HE WILL STUDY HARD AND HE WILL GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL. A "GOOD" MEDICAL SCHOOL. HE WILL MARRY A WOMAN WITH A GOOD LAST NAME AND THEY WILL HAVE 2.5 BLONDE CHILDREN. HE WILL BE A DOCTOR, WHICH IS CAREER THAT NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH, AND HE WILL LIVE IN A NICE SUBURBAN HOUSE WITH A MANICURED LAWN. AND HE'S VERY GOOD. COMES OFF LIKE A REAL ADULT. OBVIOUSLY SMART, BUT DOESN'T ACT STUCK UP. LIKEABLE. CLEARLY FOCUESED. CLEARLY SERIOUS.

DRIVEN.

So will you accept my congratulations, stick the goddamn bumper sticker on your car and MOVE ON? YOU WIN AT LIFE! YOU ARE VALIDATED. THIS IS YOUR GODDAMN PURPOSE. YOUR CHILD IS A HUGE-ASS MOTHERFUCKING SUCCESS.

Except that he's clearly had the life sucked out of him. Descriptions of crazy college hijinks bore him. Got to stay on track! Eyes on the prize. There's always tomorrow to celebrate. Such fine, fine, values you've instilled in him.

So please, send him to a different Ivy. If he got into that one that starts with an H and is in Cambridge, by all means GO THERE. He'll be very happy. They don't dye their hair green.

But please, before you leave our little college on a hill, look at some of the students here. Yes, this too is an Ivy, and yes, we all had the insane application, and many of us will go on to perhaps a better med school. And some of us are named Preston Welligsworth Thronton, THE FOURTH and also need to be punched in the face. But there are enough of us who dye our hair and dance the Salty Dog Rag.

So look at us. And look at this child that you have created. And be proud of yourself. You have created, and again I say it, a SUCCESS. He will never be distracted. And he isn't interested in WASTING HIS TIME camping in the woods. Perfection. Humor is irrelevant.

Congratulations.

YOU WIN.

But where's the scoreboard?

3 comments:

Leina said...

yay for being a tour guide...my friend is one and she gets beaucoup de racist comments because she's chinese and her work ethic is supposedly more intense and therefore the parents cannot take her word for anything. and they told her this. to her face. yay

caffeinegirl said...

Holy SHIT, ow. Can she do anything about that? This other girl I know who's a tour guide has a Korean accent, and once, some kid made fun of her pronunciation of words, AFTER she told him to quit it the first time. Anyway, he had filled out an "interested student" visit sheet, so she got his name, and told the admisisons office and apparently they put a note abut it in his file. (She said he wound up not getting in, but he probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway, b/c he wasn't that great, but still she was like SMACKDOWN!!!!!)

So, yeah, your friends should smack people down.

sayuri said...

haha way to mention name of college! but it's all good. yay for tourguiding!