In his spare time, New York Times writer Michael Winerip interviews kids who want to attend his alma mater, a little school up in Cambridge. In Sunday's Parenting column, he reveals that he's screened at least 40 kids—and exactly one student has gotten in. So why does he keep doing it? Why, because it makes him feel better about himself and his not-Harvard-material kids.

My reason for doing these interviews has shifted over time. When I started, my kids were young, and I thought it might give them a little advantage when they applied to Harvard. That has turned out not to be an issue. My oldest, now a college freshman, did not apply, nor will my twins, who are both high school juniors.

We are not snubbing Harvard. Even my oldest, who is my most academic son, did not quite have the class rank or the SATs. His SAT score was probably 100 points too low — though it was identical to the SAT score that got me in 35 years ago.

Why do I continue to interview? It's very moving meeting all these bright young people who won't get into Harvard. Recent news articles make it sound unbearably tragic. Several Ivies, including Harvard, rejected a record number of applicants this year.

Actually, meeting the soon-to-be rejected makes me hopeful about young people. They are far more accomplished than I was at their age and without a doubt will do superbly wherever they go.

How poetic. He ends the heartstring-tugging piece (Winerip sold hot dogs at Fenway Park during his high school summers; these kids work for NASA) with an anecdote about his son, "who's probably heading for a good state school":

He was in his wetsuit, surfing alone in the 30-degree weather, the only other person on the beach. "What a day!" he yelled, and his joy filled my heart.

Then he went back to gleefully rejecting all those overachievers who, despite their accomplishments, would never be able to say that their father had gone to Harvard. He'll show them yet! —Doree

Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard [NYT]