Author Karen Stabiner finds college and parents mean trouble

Tue Apr 6, 2010 10:20pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - When writer Karen Stabiner began helping her daughter with her college applications, she was amazed at the cut-throat process that brought out the worst in many parents.

After all, a recent survey by the Princeton Review of 9,132 college applications and 3,042 parents of applicants found 66 percent reported high stress levels, up from 64 percent last year, with the financial crisis adding to the tension.

Stabiner, who has written nine books about family and health issues and one novel, tackled the increasingly competitive college admission system in her second novel, "Getting In", which follows five families seeking the perfect college.

Stabiner, who is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism, spoke to Reuters about her writing and newly released novel:

Q: What drew you to this topic?

A: "When my daughter was going through the process, we, like everyone else, were going a little crazy so I went into journalism mode which is when I become the parent asking questions long after everyone else has left. I learned that college for most American families has come to symbolizes the thing we want to give our children so that they will have a better life than we did."

Q: Why has the system become so competitive?

A: "This is a function of the last five to 10 years because you have baby boomers who are used to getting what they want and then you have the issue of what special thing are we going to give our kids. Frankly you have a really scary economy so everybody weights a great college degree with more significance than it really can have."   Continued...