A few months ago, we gave my daughter race car driving lessons… She got into a Formula 2 car with an instructor and after many lessons she now has a race car driving license.
In her first race, she came in second. I’m proud of her.
I hope she stays interested in it. And I also hope she doesn’t die from it. She really loved it but we’ll see. Love needs follow up, as my wife often reminds me if I play chess online all day.
Here’s the thing: She got into every college she applied to.
Now… I told her NOT to apply.
I told her all the reasons I think college is a waste of time and a waste of money and a general waste of life energy.“
But you went to college,” she said, “why is it good enough for you but not me?” — says everyone who asks me about this.
It’s because I went to college that I am against it. I try not to have a cognitive bias just because I did something.
But this isn’t about the merits of college.
Here’s why I wanted her to take race car lessons before she applied:How many kids from the NY-PA-CT-NJ states apply to college?
How many of those kids have sufficient grades, sufficient SATs, after-school activities, some sports, and decent essay writing schools?
All of them.
Nobody can tell the difference. All of their applications look the same. They are photocopies of each other. They are clones begging to be selected by the casino of college admissions.
“But,” one might say, “what if one has an A average and the other has a B+? What if one has 1400 on her SATs and the other has 1300?”
BIG DEAL. Nobody can tell the difference. Even if it’s right there in the numbers.
Because when you throw in random after-school activities (this one played basketball, this one worked at a charity, this one wrote a decent essay about her trip to Iraq), NOBODY CARES.
Andy Warhol was a great artist.
I’m not talking about his Campbell’s Soup Cans or Marilyn Diptych. Before that. When he actually drew pictures.
He was the best illustrator in his day. There were other good illustrators but none as good as him.
Guess what? Nobody cared.
He was a low-level “drawer” in the advertising industry. People he worked with probably hated him and talked behind his back.
The average person can’t tell if one person draws 20 or even 50 percent better than another drawer. I know I can’t.
Bob Ross paintings look as good to me as Normal Rockwell or Hopper or any other realists. In fact, please tell me who you think is better. Normal Rockwell or Bob Ross. I honestly can’t tell.
Andy Warhol needed to be “the only” to be a famous artist. Not just better. My daughter, Lily, needed to be “the only” to get into college.
I had bad grades. I had OK SATs. And I had no after-school activities.
Why stay “after school”? I never understood that concept.
But I was “the only.” I played chess. But a lot of kids did. I was my state’s high school chess champion.
When I showed up for my interview, we spent the entire time with me teaching him some nuances in the Taimanov-Fischer match of 1971, which, by coincidence, my interviewer had been studying.
Here’s an image taken from the July 30 edition of “The Home News” about the upcoming US Open and my participation in it.
When I applied for a job as a computer programmer at HBO I failed the interview. I had no idea how to program for the Macintosh or how to do network programming. I knew nothing.
But I was “the only.” Turns out the group I was applying for was very competitive with another group in chess every afternoon. I got the job.
Photo credit: Wessel Hampsink on Unsplash