Last Thursday my husband and I accompanied Eldest on what was meant to be an innocent trip to his guidance counselor to discuss which classes he should take next year. Eldest is now a sophomore in high school and since—to quote my wise friend Chrissie—”high school is no longer about just being in high school but is all about getting into college,” naturally the conversation turned to college. Even though Eldest is 15. And hated sleepaway camp. And still wears braces. And can’t even drive.
The meeting was quite pleasant and fairly unsurprising, until the lovely guidance counselor—who will henceforth be known as AoD, or Agent of Doom—introduced us to Naviance.
Ah, Naviance. Doesn’t it sound like the name of a sleep aid? I imagine Naviance should be a lovely robin’s egg–colored pill that I could take at 10 p.m. and that would allow me to wake up happy and refreshed at 7 a.m. sharp.
Not so much.
For the uninitiated, Naviance is a Web tool that allows you to compare your poor, unsuspecting high school student to other kids who have graduated from his high school. Specifically, although without naming names (now that would be fun), Naviance shows you the grades and test scores of the other kids who have applied to a given school, and whether they were accepted, rejected, and so on. And how your kid stacks up against these other kids, on a nifty little graph.
Q: Am I a Tiger Mom?
Q: Am I in a Race to Nowhere?
I’d like to tell you that we did not spend the weekend on Naviance, obsessively comparing Eldest (who hasn’t even taken the SATs yet, for God’s sake) to every other overachiever who has recently graduated from his high school. I would like to tell you that, but I can’t. Because Naviance is not a lovely robin’s-egg blue pill, but is in fact like crack cocaine: briefly exhilarating, incredibly addictive, and really, really bad for you. I’ve got two and a half years till Eldest goes to college, and it just may kill us all.