Letters to the editor

Recruitment of 13-year-old athlete is out of bounds

As a longtime college counselor, former admissions officer and high school teacher, I was appalled to read that USC’s football coach has made a scholarship commitment to a 13-year-old, and that he has done the same thing before at another institution. It violates every principle of sound recruiting set out by the NCAA and the National Association for College Admission Counseling, not to mention it puts unconscionable pressure not only on the young man in question but also on every other potential athlete who now will have to start bulking up in third grade to get that big commitment from USC by the time he’s 13.

I am struggling to understand how USC — or any other reputable institution — can permit this invasion at a particularly delicate time in a young person’s development; especially by someone clearly unconcerned with his long-term growth except as it might benefit the team. I’ve been told that “other schools have done it,” but that’s an excuse from a 13-year-old, not a justification from an institution that should know better.

And what is this boy supposed to do now? He says USC has been his “dream” school, but what does that mean at 13? And how will his behavior change as a result of this commitment and attention? What happens if he breaks a leg or tears a ligament? It’s a long way to senior year. And USC can always change its mind at the last minute, as it did with 14-year-old basketball recruit Ryan Boatright not long ago. Again, what justifies recruiting 13 year olds in the first place? If it had been done over the Internet, we might be worried about a lot more than just a basketball or football scholarship.

As someone who has spent my professional life working in the best interests of my students (often including running interference for them with overbearing parents who want them to become little Einsteins before their time), I find this behavior unacceptable and call on USC and other institutions who recruit in this way to repudiate it. Let kids be kids and, when they’re ready, by all means recruit them, but responsibly.

As Jonathan Kozol has written, “Childhood is not merely basic training for utilitarian adulthood. It should have some claims upon our mercy, not for its future value to the economic interests of competitive societies but for its present value as a perishable piece of life itself.”

This behavior is shameful and should embarrass the university.

Willard M. Dix

President, College Access Counseling, Ltd.

What can a degree from USC do for you?

In Somto Ugwueze’s article (“Freshmen increasingly concerned about cost of tuition, survey shows” Feb. 1, 2010) the emphasis on the rise of tuition and the ability to finance an education from USC is on many students’ list of concerns. However, even with the concerns, would attaining an education from USC help recent graduates recover those tuition costs quickly?

As tuition continues to rise, many students may start to wonder if pursuing a higher education, let alone choosing USC, was the right choice. With the recent downturn in the economy and the job offers to recent graduates dwindling, many students are concerned if finding a job after graduation is still plausible. And if they do find a job, what kind of financial security can they expect? According to a survey done by PayScale of the Best Schools in California by Salary Potential, the salary chart shows USC as one of the top seven schools with a higher starting median salary in California.

Besides a better starting salary, USC also provides its students with an advantage in getting that first job over any other institution. With well over 220,000 living USC alumni — the vast majority of them living in California — the networking and relationships of the Trojan family is any job-seeking USC graduate’s most prized possession.

It would make sense for many students to worry now, but, in the long run, USC offers students vast avenues and opportunities to land that first job. With a higher median salary than most, graduates can expect the process of paying off school loans to be expedited.

Jack Chang

Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering