The dean of college admissions at a top west coast high school recently posted the following as her Facebook status:
I'm tired of hearing from parents that their kids cannot go visit a college, a college they are considering going to in the fall, because they're going to Coachella. Am I the only one thinking priorities are out of whack?
Moments later, the director of admissions at a leading west coast university commented:
Not with AC/DC heading it up
This provided food for thought for the neurotic parent. Kids these days do have clear priorities. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is simply not to be skipped, even if it means missing an accepted student weekend, postponing the ACTs or blowing off a ceremony to pick up a MacArthur Genius Grant. So perhaps, if students are more passionate about three hot, smelly days in the desert than collecting degrees, parents should pay attention -- these kids may be onto something.
Let's look at the benefits of attending Coachella instead of going to college at all:
1. Cost - College can currently cost $240,000, more if you include airfare, study abroad fees, twin XL bedding and four years of North Face at retail prices. Even if you splurge for VIP admission at Coachella and take an Uber round trip, you can still put a couple hundred grand in the bank.
2. No Pretentious Essays or Unfair Exams - Coachella attendees do not have to play the stressful admission game. Students of all abilities can get in...as long as they have the foresight to sign up in January or the resourcefulness to sort through the scams on Craigslist.
3. Bragging Rights - Parents can still impress their friends with their kids' accomplishments. A mom stopped by today and told me that her son had gained acceptance to several Coachella parties, including one that included Victoria Secret's leading model, Miley Cyrus's sister and Justin Bieber... before he got expelled.
4. Schedule - No annoying early classes. Bands never begin playing until after lunch.
5. Weather - Many prestigious universities are situated in places with truly dreadful weather. At Coachella, your child will be comfortable shirtless or in a Forever 21 sports bra during the day and a hoodie at night. And when s/he loses that hoodie, there just might be a cool Barbour in the Lost and Found to replace it.
6. Greek Life - No elitist sororities or misogynistic fraternities at Coachella. This means no worries about rushing or pledging rituals. Unless you're Drake -- then you might have to make out with Madonna.
7. Sensible Style - None of the preppy obnoxiousness you find on most college campuses. No Vineyard Vines shorts with whales on them. Instead, to look cool, all you have to do is snack on a giant slice of watermelon while wearing a Boho chic sundress.
8. Meal Plan - No awkward auditions for exclusive eating clubs. Anyone who can cough up $225 can indulge in octopus confit or blackened vegan cauliflower at a popup restaurant.
9. Fitness Options - Top colleges do have massive gyms stocked full of rock climbing walls and Trailmasters, but working out at Coachella is so much more fun. Enduring a couple hours in the Sahara tent is at least equivalent to running a 10k.
10. Intellectualism/Finding your Passion - It's all there: liberal arts (80s lyrics are so deep, baby), STEM (genius holograms), new media (Snapchat stories), sociology (rap is such a mirror of society, dude), photography (unless your phone falls in a Porta potty), and of course, musicology. And, as a bonus, Rolling Stone reports more accurately about music festivals than about college life.
11. Fostering Independence - A clear win for Coachella here. Kids are more likely to handle those lost phone and fake ID incidents themselves because otherwise their parents might not let them go again.
12. Internship and Career Contacts - In a word, limitless. It's possible to run into everyone from Skrillex to AMC's Head of Unscripted to Peter Theill and his team of angel investors. Four years of Entrepreneurial Studies at Stanford seems such a hassle compared to meeting up for frozen mojitos in the VIP tent with these guys.
And the best reason to go to Coachella over college:
13. Positive Values: Coachella has officially banned selfie sticks because they promote narcissism. Unlike college, here's a 21st century opportunity to be zen and live in the moment. A plus for angst-ridden parents who have had it with resume padding and insanely-priced tutors. But they can still hover, stalking their kids on Instagram while having massages a few miles away at a La Quinta resort. All this as their children learn real-life lessons about how to thrive in the desert.