Thursday, November 01, 2007

Parents Are in a Frenzy

Test scores alone are no longer enough to get your kid into the top tier colleges. College admissions officials now demand extracurriculars on top of good grades and high test scores. What a boondoggle for the rich.

Affluent parents have lunged at the chance to improve their children's resumes by signing them up for sports, clubs, and lessons. According to the latest Census Bureau report on children's well-being, the percentage of teenagers from the highest income families (with annual incomes of $72,000 or more) who participate in extracurriculars has soared. The percentage in sports climbed from 54 to 59 percent between 2003 and 2004 (the latest data available). The percentage in clubs increased from 42 to 51 percent. The percentage taking lessons grew from 40 to 46 percent.

Left behind are the nation's poor. A shrinking share of teenagers from the lowest-income families (annual incomes below $18,000) participate in extracurriculars. Only 22 percent are in sports, 20 percent are in clubs, and 16 percent take lessons. What prevents poor children from participating? Money, for one. Poor families cannot afford the fees. Transportation is another factor. Many poor children do not have a car or driver available. Time is the third factor. Single parents head many poor families, and they have little free time to chauffeur their children from one activity to another.

Too bad for them. The gap between rich and poor is growing, aided and abetted by the nation's college admissions policies.

For more about the well-being of the nation's children see the Census Bureau report A Child's Day.

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