Does a 13-Year-Old Really Need a Résumé?

An article in a big city newspaper caught my attention recently. The headline said, “Abby Smith, 13, Publishes Kids Restaurant Book and Website.” Then, as I read the story, I wondered why someone that young would need to produce a project like this, complete with front-page news coverage.

Being the mom of a 13-year-old myself, I’m skeptical a kid this age could really self-publish a book, not to mention build a slick state-of-the-art website complete with a professionally branded design by herself. How could they find the time and money to review dozens of restaurants? In the article, Abby addresses the issue, saying people think her parents wrote the book for her, but that, yes, she actually did it herself. No comment on who designed the super-fancy site.

This is resume building by—and for—a 13-year-old. It’s more impressive than the CVs of most adults. Of course, this particular teen excels at an elite private school, plays sports, and is the offspring of two Ivy League graduates. So why the need for this kind of over-the-top, parent-sponsored project?  Is there a need to be already starting the race to Harvard?

I’ve read stories about kids starting SAT prep five years prior to the actual test, and how they are being pushed to the limit in sports. When I attend my son’s games on local club teams, parents scream and yell, leaping from their seats red-faced and furious to correct their children about a missed shot or rebound. Insulting other people’s kids is also fair game with these moms and dads. I cringe to think what happens when they get into the car after a lost game.

I don’t want any part of sideline coaching, vanity projects for my kids or SAT prep that starts half a decade too early. I want my kids to be kids—until they aren’t anymore. Then, I hope they will be able to build their own resumes through internships, jobs and hard work. You know, the old-fashioned way. As one admissions official told my husband as he got ready to interview high school students for his alma matter, Harvard University, “SAT preparation is not an extracurricular activity.”  I completely agree.a