My wife Judy and I received a letter the other day that really caught my attention. The envelope said it was from Maj. Gen. Stanley Hyman and it was addressed to “The Parent of Noah Zheutlin.”
I was hoping it might contain confidential information about the next episode of "Homeland," but in fact it turned out to be an invitation, a "special honor," for Noah, a high school senior, to attend the “National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security: Exploring American Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defense” to be held in Washington, D.C. next spring
Under separate cover the same day, arrived a more formal invitation, addressed directly to Noah, an invitation so fancy I thought it was for a bar mitzvah in Boca Raton: letters and envelope gold embossed with an eagle carrying an American flag, details of the six-day program, and a list of past speakers including former CIA Director George Tenet, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Henry Shelton.
Wow! My son Noah, the one who sleeps past noon on weekends, is immersed in the world of video games, and is incapable of doing a load of laundry, was one of the few select American high school seniors invited to participate in what appears to be a high level national security briefing based on his 'leadership potential!' Apparently, George Mason University, the academic sponsor of this briefing, and the National Youth Leadership Forum know a lot about my son that we don’t. Oh, and, for the honor of Noah’s attending we only have to come up with the $1,630 tuition.
Like millions of other parents, we are in the midst of the college search process this fall, and Noah is suddenly the recipient of a huge amount of mail like this from colleges all over the country.
Now, I love my son, and I am very proud of him, but all this attention isn’t because he can throw a football 60 yards, debated Chris Matthews to a draw on 'Hardball,' or won the Nobel Prize in chemistry at age 13. (For the record, he didn’t do any of those things.)
And it isn’t because he blew the roof off the SATs. But it is, apparently, because his very respectable, but not superlative SAT scores are high enough to pique the interest of admissions offices where his scores, and those of a hundred students like him, might bring the school average up just enough to move one notch on the US News and World Report college rankings.
Indeed, Major General Hyman’s letter pointed out that George Mason was named one of US News’ “best national universities in 2011 and consistently ranks as one of the top ‘Schools to Watch’ in the country!” Well, I’m hoping Noah plans to actually “attend” college not “watch” it, but given his current level of interest, “watch” may actually be ambitious.
The University of Miami (Florida) wrote to Noah saying, “You seem to be the kind of motivated student we look for here.” Consider this an open invitation to any member of the Miami admissions staff: Come to our house for a weekend and see if you can motivate my son to get dressed before dinnertime and set the table.
The Wentworth Institute of Technology waived the application fee, told Noah he has “what it takes to be successful in [his] chosen field” (which happens to be the virtual field in the FIFA ‘13 World Cup Soccer video game), and offered up a special “Future Leader Application” with a decision within three weeks.
The University of Denver offered its “Pioneer Application” with fewer questions to make the process “quick for busy students like you.” That appeals because it will leave more time for FIFA. Denver or Bust!
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