A group of parents were bemoaning how much harder the college application process is now, as compared to when we were all going to college back in the stone ages. We were talking about resumes, and internships- things almost necessary now. One Mother spoke up….”Oh- My son didn’t have a resume or an internship, and he’s a freshman at Cornell, so don’t listen to those things……” Ladies and Gentlemen- this is a humble brag. The woman was telling us, a bunch of parents of Juniors, that Cornell is a piece of cake to get into- that any kid with any credential can get into this school. Let me give you a little knowledge- though Cornell is often known as the “Easy Ivy”- this is at best an oxymoron, as any Ivy, including Cornell, is extremely difficult to get into. According to prepscholar.com, the acceptance rate is 15%, it’s considered extremely competitive, the average GPA for admitted students is 4.04, and average SAT is 1480. Those numbers are far from average. No one is calling Cornell a safety school.
So maybe the student mentioned didn’t have a resume or an internship- but what did he do to make himself stand out enough to get admitted into this school, when 85% of the applicants did not? What did the Mother leave out?
Honestly- I’m OK with bragging. I’m OK with someone saying, I worked really hard and the team I was on won the State Championship. My daughter won a poetry contest. My son just got a job at google. I don’t mind bragging, because it’s honest- someone accomplished something, and it’s OK to talk about it. I applaud anyone who has a goal and sees it to fruition. I’m even OK if they’re are a little smug- because it’s OK to be proud of yourself.
But the humble brag……..
Accomplishing anything requires work and determination- to say that something just fell into your lap is disingenuous and frankly, sort of nasty. When you humble brag, you are telling someone that you didn’t do anything to deserve what you got – but gee whiz- it happened. You are devaluing anyone who works towards a goal and is unable to achieve it.
Now- let’s think about what is really annoying me about the particular humble brag I mentioned.
Back in August, my daughter began tennis practice. She was talking to one of the Seniors, and this girl told her- “I know everyone has been really nice so far- but don’t talk about your grades and test scores- whether they are good or bad. Keep stuff close to you. Junior year- the kids get competitive. Remember- everyone is trying to get into the same 25 schools, and we all know they’re each probably not taking more than 1 student from our High School.”
So when you have a group of high achiever, Type A kids, you probably have a group of Type A parents. No matter how you look at it- it’s a toxic situation. Everyone wants to be the 1 kid that gets into one of those schools. Every parent wants their kid to be the one that gets into those schools. You begin to see everyone as the enemy.
Will I be any different? I hope so. I didn’t say something snippy back to the other parent, like- “well yeah- that’s the easiest Ivy to get into-” but I did think it. That would have been passive aggressive, and more importantly- I still believe that somewhere, there’s a karma counter, and my being nasty would ruin my daughters chances of getting into the school she wants.
But- where I normally might talk about my kids accomplishments, I think I am going to keep a little quieter about it. I think I’m going to hold my cards close to me, and not reveal where she wants to go, or where she’s applying. I might not share her SAT scores or GPA when asked. I might not post a picture of her if she wins an award or honor. Because at the first meeting of the parents of Juniors- the claws were already starting to come out.