Last night, Ariel Hsing, a 16-year-old American table tennis phenom, almost defeated the world's no. 2. Amid reports that Hsing would ease off on her training schedule to attend college, Jay Kang felt compelled to lend a little bit of unsolicited advice.
As you make some very important and pressing decisions in the upcoming year, please remember one thing: College can wait. I have heard of the 4.0 GPA suicide pact you made with your parents, and of your Stanford aspirations. There’s no doubt that any college would count “Olympian badass” as a worthy extracurricular activity, and I know that you are itching to join your buddies Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in the world of business. I also understand that you certainly don’t owe us — your rabid fans — anything more than what you’ve already given. It’s beyond selfish for cranky farts like myself to ask you to “Go for the Glory!” when the glory might be nothing more than a half-hour tape-delayed defeat in 2016.
But before you start weaning yourself off table tennis to pursue higher education, before the three hours of daily practice give way to dorm food, exams, and the unbridled, vibrant joy of student life in Palo Alto (this, Ariel, is called sarcasm), please consider Gates, who dropped out of Harvard because college can be pretty pointless for individuals of extreme talent, charisma, and vision. The country has changed drastically in the past 10 years, and the death march of academic accolades and achievement feels less necessary than ever. Better to do something well, no matter how weird it might be, and figure out the money later. The country already knows about the fine, hard-pressed balance you’ve struck between academics and athletics. They know you aren’t one of those gymnasts, who, at the age of 21, realizes she has the same command of the English language as her coach, Bela Karolyi (that’s called a needless dig).