Let Kids be Kids. Let College be College.

I’m an educator. I want kids to succeed in this world. I want them to work hard, learn difficult concepts and idealistically walk into the world like they can make a difference. I want them to be productive for themselves and in return for society as a whole. I want them to be cutting edge and do amazing things that my generation never was able to do. I want to push them to do their best.

But give me a break: let kids be kids and let college be college.

I’ve seen it too often, and living in an Asian context it can be over the top. What is the ‘it’ I am referring to? Schooling. Education. We are creating a whole generation of kids who have been gypped of half their childhood because they are being pushed too hard.


How about AP courses? The Advanced Placement courses where kids can earn college credit for taking rigorous courses in high school. Let’s be honest here, isn’t this just a get rich quick scheme by the College Board? I mean, I wonder how colleges and universities like it to have this omnipresent educational organization scarfing a lot of their tuition money by giving kids college credit in high school?  Maybe I’m being a little too harsh, but I’ve seen too many kids pushed to the brink to over-achieve in high school.

When I was in high school, I barely had 30 minutes of homework a day. And look how I turned out! Okay, maybe that’s a bad example. But I remember when a kid’s life was more about playing with tadpoles in the creek rather than cramming six hours of homework down their brain each night after being in school for eight hours.

You think I exaggerate. I barely exaggerate.

If teachers can’t teach what they need to teach in 8 hours, then shame on them. Don’t condemn the students to hours or purgatory every night just because the College Board says so.

And then we have the little issue of “tuition” – not the American word meaning the school fees – the other “tuition” meaning additional classes outside the regular school day. This is rampant in Asia – 8 hour of school isn’t enough. Many student will go for many more hours to bone up on other academic issues which their parents deem to be lacking during the regular school day.  I’ve heard dozens of horror stories about a high school student’s life in Korea – extreme pressure – families barely seeing each other during the week because it’s not uncommon for students to go to school and then tuition until midnight or later on a daily basis.

When I was in high school, I came home around 3pm. I usually watched a some soap opera with my Mom after I came home, and possibly an after school special. Then I went out on the front porch with my glove and tennis ball and played catch by throwing the ball against the wall. Then I had dinner, played some basketball with some friends, watched Entertainment Tonight or a MASH rerun before settling in to prime time TV or catch a ballgame on the radio. I had a whole seven hours to explore and enjoy everyday. I was able to be a kid when I was a kid.

And then when I went to college, guessed what I did? I became a college student.

Preparing kids for college is not wrong. There are good ways that parents can do this and it might include taking an AP class here or there. But I’m afraid we have tipped the scale too far in the other direction and in the process we are stealing half of our kids’ lives.

And that’s too bad.

It’s okay for a kid to be a kid.

That’s why we have college. We can be a college student once we arrive there. We have twelve years to prepare them. It’s okay to breathe and let our kids breathe too.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

One response to “Let Kids be Kids. Let College be College.”

  1. I agree. There’s also a huge problem with unrealistic expectations. Every kid is told that if they get into the Honor Society and do hours of community service then they’ll get a great scholarship (total scam). We noticed that most kids got a “scholarship” for half the ridiculously expensive tuition no matter how much community service they did. The only kids who got great scholarships were a few athletes (don’t even get me started.)

    I loved some classes at college but I learned most of the important things in life playing after school and throughout my life. I studied hardest when I was researching what I loved.

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