Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I rowed crew in high school. It’s the only sport I have ever cared
about. I gave up playing in the jazz band and a trip to Zambia to stay
on the team, and go to meets. It was a great chance for me to learn
persistence, endurance, and even leadership. Though I never won any
races I did attend every practice and every meet. I got recruited by a
top school to be on their team. That helped me get into college early.
But now that I am here I see that all the other guys on the crew do
nothing but school and crew. They’re tired all the time, and do nothing
but work out and feel like they’re behind in their classes. I realize I
want more from my college years. I want to drop off the team but my
parents think I will miss an incredible opportunity. What can I say to
convince them? I was planning to be a pre-med major, btw, but
chemistry is killing crew, no crew or me.
Dear Want Out:
I commend what you did in high school, the sacrifice and the
dedication. It sounds like you really like rowing, but don’t want to
make it your life any more. I don’t know if you’ll be able to make
medicine your life if you can’t make it through chemistry. But if your
commitment to trying to get into med school is in any way presaged
by your high school commitment to crew, I think you have a shot. And
to really have a shot it will require your full attention.
I’d talk to my parents about why you want to quit and my coach to
find out if a one–term leave is a possible option. Explain that since you
are a new freshman it is critical to you to do well in your basic courses.
Say that you’d like to practice with the team if possible, and that
you’re willing to surrender whatever perks (training table, tutoring,
other?) come with being on the team. Explain that if you cannot do
well enough in school you’re going to have to quit crew altogether. If
you have to choose, go full bore on your academics and see if you can make the pre-med cut. If you cannot, you can always try out for crew
again next year. Or just row for fun.