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Taking the Sting Out of the College Admissions Race

Each spring, we’re bombarded with articles about the continually increasing selectivity of the nation’s top colleges. This held particular relevance for me this year. My baby, and third born, will be starting college in the fall. I’m thrilled that she got into a highly respected college, one that was her top choice. But I’m even happier that this process is over. The stress leading up to this decision weighed heavy on both my daughter and her parents. I believe strongly that your self worth should have nothing to do with the college you attend, but everywhere she would go her senior year, the inevitable question would surface: Where are you going to college? My daughter is happy she can now answer that, but even more, she is delighted that she can focus on the excitement of learning. She is hugely relieved that the rat race to getting into college has ended. As stressful as this has been for her, it doesn’t compare to the pressures that so many other high school students face, because of the incredible high school she has attended. I discussed this in my most recent Huffington Post blog:

As a journalist, I tend to shy away from taking strong positions on issues I cover, but there’s one belief I will share, since I feel so strongly about it: We need to put an end to the unnecessary and unhealthy emphasis on college admissions.

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News

The Healing Power of Siblings: Helping To Bear the Burden of Aging Parents

I was moved by Frank Bruni’s article in Sunday’s New York Times, The Gift of Siblings, since it mirrors the feelings I have towards my brother and sister. This past weekend, my daughter graduated from college. My brother planned a visit from China, where he lives, around the big event and my sister also made the two hour drive to be there, as did my husband’s sister, who drove nine hours from Boston with her son, and his brother and his wife, who live only an hour away from the college. The extended family rendezvoused at a cottage overlooking Lake Erie that we rented for the weekend. As I glanced out of the window as the sun was setting over the lake and saw everyone celebrating my daughter’s milestone together, I was grateful that I, like Bruni, had a big clan. My brother and sister are there for me during these exhilarating moments, but just as important, we’re there to prop each other up during the tough times. Just before my father passed away over a year ago, we took turns visiting him and tending to my mother’s needs. When he died, we collaborated on a fitting tribute filled with stories about his life that included his trademark good humor. When my children were only ages one and four, my mother-in-law passed away. As my husband’s large family filled her former house to pay their respects, I decided then that I was going to have another child, so my children could have an even larger support network. Had I the patience and fortitude, I would have had a fourth as well. As parents postpone childbearing and end up having smaller families, with only children becoming more the norm, I feel for the children who won’t have siblings to surround them the way I had, who will have to bear the burden of their parents’ illnesses, and eventually their death, alone, or with minimal support. This situation will take its toll emotionally on an entire population of children of boomers. I hope, that as young people contemplate the size of their family today, that they consider all that siblings have to offer. Like Bruni, I’m not only grateful for mine, but also that my children will have each others’ shoulders to lean on as they face the inevitability of their own parents aging