Sunday, January 11, 2009

Application (Re)Forms

I own an apartment in a building where I would no longer pass the coop board because the qualifications have gotten more and more stringent. It is now clear that I got a mortgage at a time when all you needed to be was alive. I have a diploma from a college that would most likely toss aside my application if it arrived today. I did not have to apply for middle or high school. My district sent kids to the nearest school--and they were all of the same good quality. Now, I've faced my share of "thanks but no thanks"--but I've always landed on my feet. Overall, my application experiences have been good.

Today, a knack for filling out forms and the ability to nail an interview have become necessary skills for young children. In NYC, 10-year-old students must apply to middle school. Despite best efforts, the process was confusing--and there was a lot of pressure on fifth graders and their parents. For instance, 2000 students and parents took the tour of East Side Middle School. How many students will it accept? 140 or so. (Honestly, this was not a good time to have dinner with the parents of fifth graders. They could talk of nothing else--but who could blame them?)

My friend, 10-year-old Isabel Lichtenstein, was quoted in a New York Times article about the application process. I hope Iz gets her first choice of school--and I wish her good luck with all of the forms, essays, and interviews she'll face over a lifetime.

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