The C Student

This is a reflection from a church newsletter that my mom sent to me last year. I really like it an coming into the college acceptance/rejection season, it’s comforting to think that academics don’t have to define who you are. Christina Villa talks some common sense into the frenzy of worry over what schools to choose.

The prayer at the end is simple but beautiful. Even if you’re already safe and sound in college, it still serves as a reminded to say humble and don’t let others’ judgements of your abilities limit your potential.

Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”


In a recent issue of my college’s alumni magazine, the President’s letter was about the admissions committee agonizing over the many qualified applicants for limited places in the incoming class.  So impressive was the applicant pool this year that even “the acclaimed oboist who also started an animal shelter in her community” and “the budding actress who rock climbs and is fluent in three languages” were not admitted.

I understand that if you look directly at the applications of the kids who did get in, you will go blind, so admissions committees use those eclipse-viewing things.

The spell cast by the hyper-competitive college admissions process is not easy to opt out of.  When one of my sons was 11 or 12, he was getting a haircut and the barber asked him how he was doing in school.  “Oh, I get mostly C’s,” my son said.  The barber, Charlie, stopped snipping and looked my son straight in the eye in the mirror and said, “That’s just right, that’s just where you want to be.”  Then he resumed clipping and said, “You’re the guy they’ll want to hire when you grow up because they know you’ll try really hard.”

Oh great, I thought. Charlie had cut my son’s hair since he was little.  No matter how busy the shop was, we always had to wait for Charlie.  Sometimes it was a very long wait.  But Charlie, soft-spoken and polite, had patiently demonstrated the clippers for my son when he was 4 and suspicious of haircuts.  My son trusted him and was loyal to him.  And now Charlie was telling him that it was OK to be a C student.

Maybe I should have hustled the kid into the car and said something about how you can’t listen to everything your barber tells you. But I didn’t say anything. The world needs only so many tri-lingual, rock-climbing oboists, after all.  But it always needs more trust, more loyalty, and more  people like Charlie.

O God, release the high school seniors and their parents from the clutches of college anxiety, and restore the sight of those blinded by the accomplishments of others.  Amen