rug-rat race
n. Intense pressure put on children to achieve early educational success, particularly as a prerequisite for eventually getting into an elite university.
Also Seen As
This striving is necessarily, and worryingly, inegalitarian. Parental investment in children’s education is an arms race in which poorer families cannot hope to keep pace. Richer, better-educated families can call on many more assets in helping struggling students or providing enriching résumé-building material. The more the rug-rat race leads parents to withdraw their children from public-school systems, the worse this trend becomes.
—Ryan Avent, “High-Pressure Parenting,” 1843, February 06, 2017
The analysis raises questions about the extent to which inadvertent engineering—starting with the so-called "rug-rat race"—is exacerbating the achievement gap.
—Alia Wong, “How to Solve the Diversity Problem at NYC’s Elite Public Schools,” The Atlantic, March 05, 2015
Increased scarcity of college slots appears to have induced heightened rivalry among parents, taking the form of more hours spent on college preparatory activities. In other words, the rise in childcare time resulted from a "rug rat race" for admission to good colleges.
—George Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, “The Rug Rate Race” (PDF), National Bureau of Economic Research, August 01, 2009
2007 (earliest)
A lot of British children aren’t in this rug-rat race. Children enter schools at age 5, when compulsory schooling starts. More than 90% of children in Britain attend schools that are run by the state and don’t charge tuition.
—Cecilie Rohwedder, “London Parents Scramble for Edge In Preschool Wars,” The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2007
The sublime slang term rug rat—referring to a small child, particularly one who still gets around on all fours—first crawled into the language in 1970. Rat race—the incessant struggle to get ahead that is characteristic of urban working life—first appeared in the late 1930s.