Last spring, one of our 2014 grads was admitted off the waitlist to his first-choice college, but for January, not for September. January admission is one of many features of the current college-admissions scene that I don’t remember existing back in the eighties when I applied to college. Anyway, he chose not to focus on being one of the school’s last choices (which I might have had trouble getting past, personally, even knowing how competitive college admissions are and having screened applications for other stuff where you know the line you draw is fairly arbitrary; there’s not likely to be a huge difference between the bottom of the admitted pile and the top of the waitlist, especially when you’re admitting hundreds of people at a time), accepted his place for January, and headed off to do a little low-budget traveling.
He’s on a farmstay in China now and has been blogging about it. I’m really enjoying his posts, and I’ve been trying to comment regularly. Although I wince at the occasional error, his posts are generally quite clearly written, with confidence and flair; they reflect well on his education in English. They also reflect well on his ability to cope with unfamiliar situations. The accommodations look pretty spartan, and there have been mentions of vermin in the bathroom and so on. The pictures of the surrounding country are beautiful, though.
I’m thinking that this is one way to measure the success of one’s high school education. Can you plan a trip to the other side of the planet? (Yes, I know that his parents paid for the ticket.) Can you communicate with the people you meet there? Eat the unfamiliar food, make yourself comfortable in simple surroundings? Work and not complain? (Urinate next to a giant spider? There wasn’t a class for that one in high school.) And can you write about it in a way that people will want to read?