Colleges Hot to Attract Winter Wonderkind

1 12 2006

They still diss football players as scholars but ski bums are high-class recruits?

The good news–unschoolers and homeschoolers exemplify the same personal strengths that snowboarders and ice skaters apparently do, and can make excellent college students for all the same reasons.

The bad news may be that as a professional class, the so-called intellectuals guarding higher education gates so diligently the year round, do not. They haven’t learned to make daring leaps yet, not so much from white sports –pun intended– to all sports, but from prizing individual strength and concentration to — well, selecting for individual strength and concentration! (How hard should that be, seriously?)


Let’s hope the admissions game players don’t fall through the ice instead, with some idiot No Child Left Inside winter-sports mandate.

If admissions officials are as disciplined, daring and open to mastering new academic tricks as they find these accomplished athletes to be, maybe they can follow the recommended half-pipe learning curve for snowboarders, and turn this first little thrill of lifting off for a split second, into some extraordinary moves worthy of oohs and ahhs from an adoring public audience.

Among colleges, specialized winter schools have earned a reputation for producing not only accomplished athletes, but students who can handle the intellectual rigors of a campus.

“From an academic point of view, we certainly have a high opinion of ski academies,” said Bob Clagett, dean of admissions at Middlebury College, adding that academy graduates often arrive with extraordinary time-management skills. “They end up being some of the strongest students we have.”

Winter-school students, whose applications are not packed with a variety of extracurriculars, are not necessarily penalized for it.

“We far prefer to see a higher level of talent and experience in fewer areas than dabbling in many,” Mr. Clagett said.

Growing up in Florida means we don’t know Snow, but tennis academies here are world-renowned and most other sports are available to aspiring young people at a very high level. My kids are deeply into the arts and entertainment rather than athletics, but it all seems like the same power of story to me and shares the same happy ending, if we can keep our own focus on what counts.bollitieri-tennis-coach-blonde-kid.jpg

Public success isn’t decided by the diplomas and deeds you have on file, any more than success at home is having the right marriage and birth certificates on file, or money in the bank.

If success is defined not by law or riches, rule or school, but by who you become, and how you pass THAT on to your children — then how could any lawyer or bureaucrat possibly belong between you and your child in that process?



6 responses

7 12 2006

Power of Sports Stories as School.

I think this David Brooks column about the changing culture of “sports values” might not be available online without subscribing to the NYT, so here’s an excerpt:

[I]t affirms certain values precious to the culture. . . a brick-by-brick destruction of the values that were prevalent 30 years ago.

Thirty years ago, young people were told to question authority. . .
Thirty years ago, there was a revolt against traditional manliness . .
Thirty years ago, students were warned of the dangers of conformity, of the crushing banality of the Organization Man.

But in this world success comes only when individuals subordinate themselves to the team. . .audiences embrace coaches who enforce an insane work ethic on their teams, who scream and punish their players until they have performed that final, soul-cleansing push-up.
It all pays off, because society is just. . .

In short, these movies embrace the civil rights part of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Women and minorities *should* be given full access to the competitive world of the meritocracy.
But they take the therapeutic, progressive, New Age part of the 1960’s and 1970’s and they crush it dead. They create a culture of all-inclusive traditionalism. . .

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