Is your kid’s college admission process killing you? Are you ready to be committed to the nuthouse after your kid applied to 20 different universities (after years of preparation leading up to this day) and then they are waitlisted or denied from their “dream” college?
Whether you’re in the midst of helping your teenager pick a college or university, haven’t even started or you’re finally done with the grueling process of the SATs, campus tours, applications and acceptance, waitlist or rejection letters, you may get a kick out of Brooklyn-born J.D. Rothman’s new book, "The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions."
The book, which was published Thursday, March 1, is described by Rothman as a “humorous ‘guidebook’ to the insanity of the college admission process.’” It started as a blog in 2008 during an eight-state college tour with her eldest son who is currently a junior at Duke.
Rothman, who grew up in Flatbush and attended Midwood High School, said she started posting the “adventures and misadventures” of that trip, which brought them to schools like NYU and Cornell University. Eventually, after excerpts of her blog was published in another college admissions book, her publisher, Prospect Park Media, asked her to turn the blog into a book.
One of the more interesting chapters, Rothman told Patch during a phone interview, is one about college campus tours.
“Kids make their decisions where they want to go, or more accurately, what schools they don’t want to go, based off of ridiculous factors,” Rothman said.
The author, who is also a writer, producer and lyricist for TV shows like Sesame Street and Madeline and is currently writing lyrics for the Jim Henson Company’s “Pajanimals,” said that if a tour guide makes “too many references to Harry Potter” or is wearing “nerdy” shoes that the applicant is likely to not choose that school.
She also said that weather, school superstitions and how the other kids on the tour are dressed are other big factors that can make or break a college-bound 17 or 18-year-old’s decision.
“If a kid sees someone with a mullet on campus, it’s over,” she warned.
Rothman also explores exactly how “neurotic” parents have become with preparing their kids for college at extremely young ages.
“I have had parents contact me about which science programs their third grader should take over the summer,” she said. “Kids are being pushed by their parents and the kids are being totally over prepared.”
She explains that a lot of parents believe what preschool a child goes to determines what elementary school they will attend and that will eventually determine what college they get into.
A section in the book explores how New York is a hotbed for “neurotic” parents and she cites a lawsuit that a woman brought against her daughter’s preschool because she thought the teachers were having the 3 year olds “sing too much and were not studying enough,” Rothman said of the reasons the lawsuit was filed against a Manhattan preschool.
Rothman also says that now preschools are offering Kumon, which is an intense tutoring program created in Japan, to 2 and 3-year-old kids.
But over preparing your child is not always a good thing, Rothman said.
“What happens is that when kids get to high school they are unbelievably accomplished, they started an orphanage in Ghana, won a junior Noble Prize or a Pulitzer, but they have no life,” Rothman explained. “Then they get waitlisted because there are tons of kids just like them.”
She said that on average, kids apply to 15 colleges. But when the kids are over-qualified many colleges reject them, she said, explaining the “Tufts syndrome,” where schools do not accept a potential student if they believe they will not attend due to how over-qualified they are.
After all the madness of picking, applying and being accepted into a school, what happens?
“The insanity continues,” Rothman said.
"The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions" follows her eldest son’s first year at Duke, the experience of saying “goodbye” and the “frenzied” purchases of linens and furniture for their dorm.
The last chapter is about what kind of jobs are available to college grads in our depressed economy.
“It doesn’t matter where you go to college anyway because you’ll probably become a barista,” she said, explaining that over-prepping may not give your kid an instantly successful adulthood. “Those are the only jobs available.”
Come to Rothman’s book signing and Q&A at the on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m.