Donald King is a middle aged African-American father, professional, marketer and an avid sports fan. College football, especially Stanford football, is a significant aspect of Don’s life. As an alumnus and interviewer of Stanford applicants King watches every game, some in Palo Alto, with an awareness of what it actually takes to walk the halls on that beautiful campus. And he knows that being a five-star athlete is just another blip on a Stanford application. You better have a story and make it good. Stanford really is the gold standard for NCAA student athletes.
Don talks about the exclusivity of elite colleges and universities:
“Going through this process for the second time now with my son really gives me an acute sense of what a ‘crapshoot’ it can be to become one of the chosen few to earn admission to one of the nation’s highly selective universities. As a Stanford alumnus, I’m both proud of the football team’s recent success and awed by the ability of the coaching staff to find top-level football players who have the chops to be admitted to Stanford, and to excel athletically once they arrive. The academic consistency needed to get into Stanford or one of the Ivies is astonishing.”
Parents are willing to meet the demands of every coach. They’re willing to drive hundreds of miles through weekend traffic. They are willing to spend tens of thousands on a sports education. Are they willing to accept the same competitive realities of elite education?
As a father touring the finest schools on the East and West coasts it’s déjà vu for Don. But the more he knows about the application processes for these schools the more he sympathizes with other parents. You make every single provision you can to put your son or daughter on the steps of an Ivy League campus or Stanford – but it still might not be enough.
“I do Alumni interviews for Stanford,” King explains, “and I’d estimate that 85-90% of the kids that I meet are bright enough and driven enough that they would succeed academically at The Farm. Yet, only 4.67% of applicants were accepted for admission to the Class of 2020. That’s crazy. It also means that there are a lot of very deserving applicants to the most elite schools who wind up going to a school that may not have been their first choice.”
Parents who need the financial assistance to provide a solid college experience for their children should not be discouraged. There are so many schools with athletic and academic scholarships available. And no family should ever be discouraged from reaching for the top. They should also know how difficult that process really is.
It’s good for parents and students to prepare plans B and C. There should never be a sense of failure about the application process. It might be a classic four year campus in the countryside, a major networking metropolis, or one of the many places in between. Every student should feel a sense of choice about his or her education.