There are many women The College Whisperer knows -- and many more he does not -- who are tough as nails. Smart. Courageous. Undaunted by the most pressing challenges of our times.

Take Linda Flanagan. Ms. Flanagan is a freelance writer (frequently, at The Huffington Post), researcher, and editor, specializing in national security issues. Most recently she was Executive Editor for the HELP Commission, a federal body mandated to produce recommendations to reform foreign assistance. Before that, she worked on the design and development of a graduate seminar on business and national security at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Ms. Flanagan also has produced case studies for the Defense Department’s Commission on Roles and Missions, and has provided editorial guidance to senior national security fellows at Harvard University. Ms. Flanagan was a national security analyst at the National Security Program, Harvard University, where she wrote case studies on defense and foreign relations.

Talk about strength. Bravado (bravada?). Tackling issues that would boggle minds of mere men head on.

Linda Flanagan is also a mom to three children. And while she can take on national security like no one else, there is still one thing that unnerves her -- the Achilles heel, if you will. The college admissions process.

Yes, in her skillfully drafted and appreciably endearing essay, There's No Rejecting The College Admissions Game, Ms. Flanagan expresses, with pathos and humor, what every parent feels when going through this heart-wrenching, mind-numbing, totally absurd charade that has become the college admissions game.

The unwarranted competitiveness. The insanity of the selection process. The crazy quilt of college applications. The absurdity of the SATs. And need we mention the waiting (if not the waitlisted) game?

Why, it's enough to make a national security expert, at ease with the realities of nuclear weapons and international crises, lose it all!

Calling college admissions a "referendum on your kid," Ms. Flanagan opines:

"My mind insists that this is foolish and insane, erroneous and unfair. The college admissions officers are not oracles. For all we know, the person reading your kid's app might have had an iffy chili taco at lunch, his dyspepsia tainting the prospects for everyone in his pile. And who says that attending an elite college is even the best outcome for our little darlings? They'll graduate thinking the world owes them something, at minimum a decent job, when in all likelihood they'll be lucky to work as office temps or unpaid interns, and disillusioned ones at that."
Ah, the frustration, of parents, of students, of college coaches and guidance counselors. We stopped letting kids be kids, and parents be parents. And we've turned what once-upon-a-time was a relatively simple, stress-free process of getting into college, as something akin to preparing for Armageddon.

And toward what end? As Ms. Flanagan so aptly puts it, in the penultimate passage of her piece, "...if we only look to the visible, ego-boosting measures of success to mark our progress, then we'll end up like that runner in the New Yorker cartoon who gallops across the finish line into the pearly gates of heaven, arms up in victory. I did it! I'm finally dead! Triumph and defeat, those mere imposters, distracting us from living while we're here on earth. "

Lucky to escape college admissions season (visions of that deer in the headlights come quickly to mind) unscathed, let alone accepted to a college that some bogus ranking tells us is the "best."

Going to college is usually a fun and exciting experience. Some call it the best four (eight?) years of their lives. Shouldn't getting into college, and the whole rigmarole students have to entertain along the way, be at least half as much fun?

Why have we made getting in to college such an uncomfortable chore, a burden, not only upon the financial resources of college-bound families, but upon our very sanity?

I say we forget about United Nations sanctions and international trade embargoes when it comes to trying to contain nuclear weapons. Why not just threaten the likes of Kim Jong Un and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the SAT, the Common App, and, for good measure, CSS Profile and FAFSA? If that doesn't scare the dickens out of 'em, nothing will!

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . . 

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