Designer Education vs. Designer School: Fashion Not Applied

Clothing designers slap a bird logo on a tee shirt or a letter on a shoe and sell them for hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars. In a luxurious retail shop, a beautifully-sewn dress with a “very simple” silhouette catches your eye. Hoping that no one else has seen what you have seen, you spring into action. You must get to that dress first! So you attempt to make a graceful dart from one end of the store to the other. The sort of way Cinderella’s evil stepmother and sisters traipse around the ballroom trying to get a close-up of the Prince. You hope no one is watching, but who cares! You made it. Look for your size. ‘Oh no, do they have my size?’ You hastily push aside the other dresses that hang, causing that high octave screeching sound when the hook of the wire hanger and the rung of the clothes rack rub together. Ahhhhhhhhh! You find it. The dress and your eyes lock with a passionate intensity, that is until you look down. No, don’t look down! Don’t look down. You look down. Suddenly, the sweet sound of Lakmé’s Flower Duet is gone  The passionate locking of eyes is over. ‘I am not paying that!’ The price tag shocks you. As it should. Remember, it’s a simple dress with a logo on the tag. That is what you must tell yourself to feel confident about walking right out of that store with your head held high as though none of the clothes are your taste anyway. So why don’t we do that when it comes to colleges and universities?

Last week, a college bound teen named Siobhan made headlines when she sent a rejection letter to Duke University in response to their rejection to her attending their school in the fall. To put it simply, it was a rejection to the rejection. In the letter, she writes that she has been fortunate to receive rejection letters from the best universities in the country and that she is unable to accept their refusal. When she spoke with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, she explained that the motivation for penning this letter came from seeing her friends cry and stress out over receiving these rejections and that she wanted “to give them [colleges/universities] a taste of their own medicine.” I am pretty sure that Duke is not crying over this letter, but maybe they should be. The audacious Siobhan is most likely the kind of character you want at your school.

There is a culture in this country of putting emphasis on the school and not the schooling. So much pressure is placed on teenagers to attend a school whose name is “popular” and identifiable. I listen to parents brag that ‘Lisa is going to Georgetown or Sam got accepted to UNC’, while friends sitting at the table for lunch pretentiously oooh and aaah. You never hear, ‘I am so proud of my kid, he/she is going to college’. Period. Much like the clothes we wish to wear, these colleges and universities are mostly unaffordable. They are designer schools, name brand schools. We speak of Harvard University as though we speak of the Big Bang, so then we can pay $100,000 in yearly tuition for the same education received at a local college. What takes priority – the school or the schooling? These name brand schools typically have a low acceptance rate, admitting maybe a few hundred freshmen yearly, but thousands apply and get rejected. The smartest and most brilliant students doubt their abilities and question their worth. But what about those who are accepted? They take hundreds of thousands of dollars out in loans that they cannot pay back and end up moving back home with no prospect of a job – at least, not one being standard to that of the Harvard educated.

Siobhan has gone where no teen has gone before. Her rejection to Duke goes on to read: “Despite Duke’s outstanding success in rejecting previous applicants, you simply did not meet my qualifications. Therefore, I WILL be attending Duke University’s 2015 freshman class. I look forward to seeing you then.”  Haha!  By the way, she got accepted to the University of South Carolina. What’s that saying? – One college’s loss……. When asked by Brooke Baldwin what she would say to someone from Duke’s admissions if given the chance, her response: “[I] wish I did not make so many typos in the letter I sent [you].” Well done, Siobhan. Well done.



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