Opt Out of College Admissions Mania

I had lunch today with Tom Mulvaney, an advisor. Tom retired young after a successful career at Seagate Technologies and as an attorney. This is a guy Meg Whitman asked to be the COO of eBay and he turned it down. As we caught up on both personal and business fronts, Tom mentioned his son who’s a senior in high school. I immediately pounced on this opportunity to deliver my trademark “the college admissions process is nuts” line and he responded too, only more eloquently: “it’s bullshit.” Tom told me, “Ben, here’s what I tell my kids and everyone I talk to about this. I went to San Diego City College, and then transferred to Santa Clara University. Not a Harvard or Stanford for sure. But I’ve worked with some of the top lawyers in the country, the top investment bankers in the country, and none of them was brighter than I even though they boasted Harvard, Stanford. Look, what matters is are you a good person, work hard, etc.”

A lot of parents and people say this, but then they send their own kids to SAT tutors for $200/hr, college consultants, load on AP classes like they’re nothing, and put on incredible pressure. But Tom Mulvaney is not this type of person. In fact, his son is starting senior year and he hasn’t done anything too formal. Usually by now all hell would be loose. Instead, Tom is calmly evaluating his options and supporting his son in what he wants to do to be happy.

Tom is a model for any parent or student entering college admissions paranoia.

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