The Magazine

Harvard or Bust

They'll get in their 'reach school' even if it kills them.

May 7, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 32 • By STEFAN BECK
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Ryland happily carried the last of the toy bags to his car, which was crammed to the roof with hundreds of gifts that people had donated because he asked them to. . . . He knew that no matter where he ended up, he would get into a college--a good college--where he would get a solid education, learn subjects relevant to his interests, make close friends, try new experiences, and get involved in activities he was passionate about. As Ryland drove away through snow melting in the bright December sun, he was certain that he was going to be just fine.

Everything will be fine, for isn't that what overachievers deserve? Never mind that the quarter of their lives they just lost could have been spent, ahem, getting a solid education, learning subjects relevant to their interests, making close friends. . . . Suffice to say that when Robbins solicits fan mail for the "main characters," some of us will want to save it for the people we remember from high school, who were more worthy of our best and worst feelings than any physics test could have been.

Stefan Beck is a writer in Philadelphia.