January 10, 2007
There's been plenty written about the overloaded high school kid who maintains a 4.0 GPA in a full line of A.P. courses, has swim practice before school and cello practice after, and is president of the class Sudoku Society and the Young Francophiles Club. But now we learn that after such students are admitted to Ivy League schools, many experience a letdown--the work just isn't as challenging as it was in high school. Jeff Zhou, who attended Andover and is now a freshman at M.I.T., took only four pages of notes in his first two weeks of college. And he has lots more time: "I've started watching The Office and Family Guy," he said. Such stories are especially jarring when compared with reports showing that 40 percent of college students take remedial courses, and that only 27 percent of ACT test-takers met the college readiness benchmark in biology. Of course, that's the real problem we need to keep our eyes on. As for Jeff Zhou and his peers, top-flight colleges might want to find better ways to engage them, lest they follow Bill Gates' lead and head off for greener pastures before graduation day.
"The Incredibles," by Laura Pappano, New York Times, January 7, 2007