March 26

Regarding the March 24 Style article “Pushing for a course correction,” about McLean High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association President Wilma Bowers:

Thank heavens for a dose of good sense in this soulless, highly competitive suburb filled with goggle-eyed soccer moms in Lexus SUVs. For years I have watched my stepchildren and their friends play sports both days every weekend and much of the summer so they can have an extracurricular activity to list on their college applications. I have seen them in pain, suffering from concussions, back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and exhaustion, and still they played. I have seen them sleep-deprived and in tears from studying late into the night, since weekends and evenings were devoted to sports. I have seen them enroll in expensive universities for reasons of status. Sadly, I have never seen them read a good book for enjoyment, go for a walk to enjoy nature or visit a museum for pleasure.

This community is all about who has the biggest McMansions, the most expensive cars and kids at Harvard and Yale. It’s not about personal happiness or learning to balance one’s life, lessons that are far more important in the long run than a softball trophy or an Ivy League degree. Hats off to Ms. Bowers. She is swimming against a fierce tide, but she does have common sense on her side.

Eleanor Dyment, McLean

I was overjoyed to read Pia de Jong’s honest portrayal of the overwrought gamesmanship that has become college admissions [“Rejecting admissions madness,” Outlook, March 23]. As a parent of a freshman at a highly competitive high school, I find that the great expense of college (which is starting to keep me awake at night) can compel us into wrongly thinking that our children should know what they want to study when they matriculate — even though few 18-year-olds even know who they are, let alone what they want to do.

Ms. de Jong brought home the point that high school years should be a journey — enjoying the moment, with all its adolescent goofiness and giddiness, ups and downs and anticipation of independence and academic exploration yet to come — and not some adult-like “careerist” arms race of activities and academic production toward an endgame of elite college acceptance.

Cara J. Sodos, Kensington