A group of parents were bemoaning how much harder the college application process is now, as compared to when we were all going to college back in the stone ages.  We were talking about resumes, and internships- things almost necessary now.  One Mother spoke up….”Oh- My son didn’t have a resume or an internship, and he’s a freshman at Cornell, so don’t listen to those things……”  Ladies and Gentlemen- this is a humble brag.  The woman was telling us, a bunch of parents of Juniors, that Cornell is a piece of cake to get into- that any kid with any credential can get into this school.  Let me give you a little knowledge- though Cornell is often known as the “Easy Ivy”- this is at best an oxymoron, as any Ivy, including Cornell, is extremely difficult to get into.  According to prepscholar.com, the acceptance rate is 15%, it’s considered extremely competitive, the average GPA for admitted students is 4.04, and average SAT is 1480.  Those numbers are far from average.  No one is calling Cornell a safety school.

So maybe the student mentioned didn’t have a resume or an internship- but what did he do to make himself stand out enough to get admitted into this school, when 85% of the applicants did not?  What did the Mother leave out?

Honestly- I’m OK with bragging.  I’m OK with someone saying, I worked really hard and the team I was on won the State Championship.  My daughter won a poetry contest.  My son just got a job at google.  I don’t mind bragging, because it’s honest- someone accomplished something, and it’s OK to talk about it.  I applaud anyone who has a goal and sees it to fruition.  I’m even OK if they’re are a little smug- because it’s OK to be proud of yourself.

But the humble brag……..

Accomplishing anything requires work and determination- to say that something just fell into your lap is disingenuous and frankly, sort of nasty.  When you humble brag, you are telling someone that you didn’t do anything to deserve what you got – but gee whiz- it happened.  You are devaluing anyone who works towards a goal and is unable to achieve it.

Now- let’s think about what is really annoying me about the particular humble brag I mentioned.

Back in August, my daughter began tennis practice.  She was talking to one of the Seniors, and this girl told her- “I know everyone has been really nice so far- but don’t talk about your grades and test scores- whether they are good or bad.  Keep stuff close to you.  Junior year- the kids get competitive. Remember- everyone is trying to get into the same 25 schools, and we all know they’re each probably not taking more than 1 student from our High School.”

So when you have a group of high achiever, Type A kids, you probably have a group of Type A parents.  No matter how you look at it- it’s a toxic situation.  Everyone wants to be the 1 kid that gets into one of those schools.  Every parent wants their kid to be the one that gets into those schools.  You begin to see everyone as the enemy.

Will I be any different?  I hope so.   I didn’t say something snippy back to the other parent, like- “well yeah- that’s the easiest Ivy to get into-” but I did think it.  That  would have been  passive aggressive, and more importantly- I still believe that somewhere, there’s a karma counter, and my being nasty would ruin my daughters chances of getting into the school she wants.

But- where I normally might talk about my kids accomplishments, I think I am going to keep a little quieter about it.  I think I’m going to hold my cards close to me, and not reveal where she wants to go, or where she’s applying.  I might not share her SAT scores or GPA when asked.  I might not post a picture of her if she wins an award or honor.  Because at the first meeting of the parents of Juniors- the claws were already starting to come out.


19 thoughts on “Humble Brag

  1. When my oldest decided she didn’t want to go to college I was devastated. I couldn’t believe my own daughter would take advantage of the opportunity to go. So then when my next child was a freaking delinquent due to missing school almost didn’t graduate you can imagine my hysteria. I remember crying on the phone to the Vice Principal…so embarrassing! It caused me immense anxiety. Both are doing well, though! They are working full time etc. I’d rather college but it’s not my life. Maybe when she figures out what she wants to do she will go back. He is now in a trade which he loves. ❤

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  2. It is interesting, though, the horror stories you hear about how hard it is to get in to college. We were assured by almost everyone that my son, a good, but not great student, would never get accepted to UMD. We were told that it would be almost impossible for him to get into the other really good local school. We did discover that the grades and test scores mattered, but weren’t the only think they needed. He got into the school we were told was impossible. I’m pretty sure it was because of things like starting an ultimate frisbee club at the school, doing summer volunteer work with church, being a mentor and a guidance aide. He earned his way in, just not in the way people expected. That experience has made the college process much less stressful this time around.

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    1. Honestly, I think me, and the other parents like me make it more crazy than it should be. The problem is so many people want those highly ranked schools…..it just becomes a name thing…..but you’re right, it’s the whole person that matters, not only the grades


  3. College…oh Cauliflower. Ya fertilize those factories to the tune of a quarter to a half a mill.. all to awake one day and find that you are just like any other adult…going through the rest of your life as an autodidact. Just funning.

    Nice post about the tricks and traps of maneuvering within the meritocracy.


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  4. My daughter’s friends in high school were a bunch of over achievers to the nth degree. My daughter was not competing with them in any way as her direction was completely different so she could really relish in their successes as she knew they were different from hers and I know their parents dismissed her as beneath their notice because she wasn’t considered of their ilk, even a little condescending to some degree. My daughter is happy with her choice and that is what matters. I heard the humble brag plenty of times from that group as well as the outright crowing about their child’s accomplishments. Funny how most of these kids are no longer in touch or friends other than on Facebook.

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  5. You last para makes me really sad. Sad people are so caught up in their own stuff they can’t celebrate a fellow student’s accomplishments, instead have to see it as a threat. Instead of focusing on working hard on their own stuff, they have to shut someone else down or see someone else’s also hard work as a detriment to their own. Just makes me sad that we humans so often do this to each other. Hope your daughter makes it through alright and college is as she dreams it to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You nailed my thoughts exactly. I love when I see kids succeed at stuff. When I see my daughters friends perform I cry a little, because I am so happy and proud. When you know the work someone put into something…..I am always thrilled when someone follows their dreams and does it, no matter what realm. We should be cheering one another on…..applauding accomplishments.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Honestly, you will forget all about this in a few years. Junior and senior years are the most stressful for any parent, but it’s best to leave it to the kids to handle and decide where they’re going. As far as getting into a great school without a resume or internship, it’s very possible. I’m convinced my son got into his top choice early decision because of his essay, which outlined his community service and fell in line with the school’s mission. Good luck!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, I had no idea it was so competitive over there for schools. Not like that here at all! At least not when I was applying we all sat around talking about it, discussing our grades, our offers, our hopes. Not just in friend groups but generally, I had these discussions with people I didn’t even know just because we happened to sit near each other in the cafeteria and would overhear a conversation. it was all very relaxed and open. I think I would have had a nervous breakdown stateside!

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  7. It’s sad that we’ve come to a point where what school we get into (or our kids get into) has the power to ruin friendships and make us leery of sharing what it going on in our lives. I have no doubt that it is necessary, but I just don’t think it’s a good thing.
    My kids went to a large public high school in the Midwest, and even there, the competitive spirit was there among the kids who had top notch schools in their sights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s disheartening. I feel like your kids sat scores are the new accessory. I was at a school event back when my daughter was a freshman. A man introduced himself to me by saying. Hi, I’m x. My daughter got into Harvard. I mean, it made a good story, and I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing if my kid got into Harvard, but still…..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My daughter went to a state school, got an undergraduate degree in philosophy and is doing great 2 1/2 years out of college.

    Plus Cornell has a state school as well as a private school so depending on which college this student is in, they just may be a loser state school kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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