Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why the Ivy Leage can blow me

I just read about the "plagiarism scandal" surrounding Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan, and it's actually made me feel a lot better about not getting into Harvard or Stanford. I don't want to seem like the guy who's just bitching because he's got some sour grapes (though maybe that's what I am). I definitely liked both Stanford's and Harvard's programs best of all the ones I looked at, and, as more and more teachers tell me there's a huge job shortage for any but science and math teachers, I would absolutely love to have the golden ticket that comes with an Ivy League diploma.

But check this shit out:
In a profile published in The New York Times earlier this month, Ms. Viswanathan said that while she was in high school, her parents hired Katherine Cohen, founder of IvyWise, a private counseling service, to help with the college application process. After reading some of Ms. Viswanathan’s writing, Ms. Cohen put her in touch with the William Morris Agency, and Ms. Viswanathan eventually signed with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, an agent there.

Ms. Walsh said that she put Ms. Viswanathan in touch with a book packaging company, 17th Street Productions (now Alloy Entertainment), but that the plot and writing of “Opal” were “1,000 percent hers.”

Getting into the Ivies involves hiring a private counseling service and getting hooked up with a "book packaging" company? Why does that sound a lot like you have to buy your way into these places?

Getting some guidance on the application process makes sense. I hired Kaplan to help me, and for a few hundred bones I got some very valuable insight on my application essays. But there's something, I dunno, suspicious, about a counseling service that can put you in touch with a book packaging company as well as get you into top schools. (Read about what a book packaging service does, here.)

Or, in other words (since I'm feeling muddled and verbose): if someone is hooking you up with a company that's going to give you the plot, the characters, the outline, and the first four chapters of a book, and then pay you a half-a-million-dollar advance to "write" the book even though your writing style is unexceptional, what would you suspect that same person is doing to get you into Harvard? Is there a fill-in-the-blanks process for that, too? I wish someone would have told me about it.

I guess I'm naive.


jarrett said...

1. evidently she needs a math teacher if she doesn't know that 1000% an idiotic thing to say.

2. there is a shortage in math and science and a surplus in pretty much everything else. from what i understand. In fact, NYC just started a program that gives housing subsidies for new math and science teachers, pprovided they teach for at least 3 years. How about some subsidies for veteran teachers who have already committed to NYC?

Anyway, that's a tangent. It's pretty bad that connectinng-the-dots writing is worth half a mill.

Mustapha Mond said...

Yeah, no one is hiring liberal arts teachers at the moment. There's just too many. It's very discouraging. If I had half a brain for math or science, I would totally teach one of those instead.

Steve Miller said...

It's a shame that the surplus of English teachers, for example, hasn't led to better results so far as the students are concerned. Show me a typical college freshman and I'll show you a kid that can't write well enough to put complete sentences together, much less puncuate them correctly. But I've seen plenty of students with excellent math skills (many are foreign students, but plenty aren't).

My hope is to one day run across some of Mr. Mond's students so that I can start giving essay questions on exams again.

jarrett said...

uh, mr english teacher?

the ivy leage?

i'm one to talk. i spelled connecting wrong in comment section 2. and left out an is (hi bill) in section 1. among other things...