Learning to Fail in the Age of Coddling

Olivia Pan ’20

Opinions Editor

In the wake of the recent college admissions scandal involving multiple parents across the country, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, I think it would now be a good time to address the topic of failure in a culture that currently coddles young people and shields them from every possible hurdle or rejection. I’m a liberal feminist, and even I become exasperated at the level of shielding done by today’s “helicopter” parents and also by colleges. This nationwide scandal involving parents bribing their kids into colleges is a perfect example of such coddling. Clearly, the very idea of their child being rejected by a college was too much to even consider.

Let’s say you don’t get into the college of your choice. This is not a tragedy; this is not the end of the world. This is going to sound cliché, but failure is a part of life. Not that getting a college rejection should even be considered a failure. These parents must have been so utterly desperate to clear every possible hurdle for their children that they lowered themselves to the point of bribery and cheating. It’s sad. All students going through the college application process should know this: whether you receive a rejection or an acceptance from the college of your choice, at the end of the day, life will go on and you will too.  

There are now several individuals, students and parents alike, filing lawsuits against the specific colleges and parents involved in this scandal. One student, Lauren Fidelak, whose name was originally included in the filing of one such lawsuit (she has since dropped out), was apparently “so upset that she did not get into her chosen schools that she had an emotional breakdown and had to be hospitalized in Boston.” This extreme reaction to a college rejection is indicative of a larger problem that’s currently going on. Young people place so much pressure on themselves, and are being coddled to the point of being crippled. Failure does not even seem to register as a possibility or a concept.  

And this type of coddling is taking place right here. The very fact that Holy Cross brings in therapy dogs for students during finals week is (if I’m being honest) ridiculous and completely unnecessary. At least it should be unnecessary. If you are becoming so utterly stressed out during finals that you need a therapy dog, then you need to take a hard look at the kind of pressure you’re putting on yourself. You need to ask yourself why you are so afraid to fail. Not to be blunt, but therapy dogs were brought in for Parkland students after their classmates were gunned down. Yet, we bring them in for students who are taking a couple of tests? There is no trauma in taking finals and there is no trauma in failing a final.

Failure is something that should be embraced rather than avoided at all costs. Kids are given trophies in sports for participation alone today. No one is being taught that it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to be rejected or told, “no.” You will never learn to cope with the many challenges of life if everything is made easy for you. These parents who had to bribe their kids’ way into college should take note.

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