I'm a little sensitive about the term Tiger Mother, but it appears that Harvard fears for the well-being of bright but uncompetitive children placed with Tiger Kids.


Q&A: Bill Raduchel on getting into Harvard and the future of newspapers
By Thomas Heath
Washington Post
July 19, 2013

So here is a question every parent might ask. Other than high SAT scores and straight Aís, what does it take to get admitted to Harvard?

The challenge at a really selective college like Harvard is finding people who can still find self-esteem in that competitive environment. If you are not the best at anything, life in that environment is not a lot of fun. And every admissions officer who is there a long time, more than a few years, probably had a case or two where he or she pushed someone into the class, only to have it turn out in tears.

You learn to look for what we called ďtranslatability.Ē Do something where you were the best. A kid who got straight Aís and was going to get Bís wasnít going to work if academic success is how they get self-esteem. So you had to look for people who could come into a very competitive environment, who could still find self-esteem and who in some way, shape or form was still the best at something.

How do you figure that out?

It was never the answers they gave. It was the questions they asked. The questions give a much better clue to how a person thinks. Answers can be learned, can be rote. But itís the questions. Like the questions Sean Parker asked me that day at AOL.

What was it like serving on the admissions committee?

Itís incredibly competitive. If you take the job seriously, itís really stressful, because at the end you realize you are affecting lives. You are making choices that are intrinsically very hard to do. You want to learn about how to work with people, how to evaluate people, how to make great decisions.

It was a committee process. Your peers had to vote to let anybody in. If you didnít get along with your peers, you didnít get many people into the class. We all had candidates. Some private schools sent large numbers of kids.

What you are looking for is trying to put together the best class for the college. That doesnít mean the brightest. You always had conflicts between kids who are very smart but were not otherwise exceptional and kids who were exceptional but not quite as smart.

The data showed kids who did something else but were smart and not exceptionally smart always did better in life and in grades. The cynics would say the reason was course selection.

What do you say?

If you have a good and solid group of friends, college comes down to having the right dozen people around you. And if you find them and prod them on the success, you will do fine. The trick is to go find that group of people.

The kids who were smart but exceptional, they look in the mirror and look at themselves and say, Iím in charge. And they act accordingly.

Kids who look in the mirror and they see Mom and Dad and the teacher and say to themselves, ďWhat do they want me to do?Ē ó itís a very different feeling. Thatís what you are trying to sort for. Have you figured out how to take control of your own life?