Watch Out College Process!
You know how it is with the first one. You walk around with sanitizer 24/7, ban sugar consumption and delude yourself that you can protect your progeny from all evil. Number Two is a different story.
Number Two started applying to college this fall and since I still have lingering post-traumatic stress disorder from Number One’s senior year (she’s now a college sophomore), I headed into this terrain with a brand new mindset.
Last time I absorbed, inhaled and feared the massive amounts of information headed my way. From college nights, websites, computer match-ups, articles and other parents proclaiming they knew better, the process owned us. This time I vowed to:
- Ignore the college tsunami of information. For every truism that was out there I could hold up examples that negate it. Lesson: Mind your own business and schools fill up with many different kinds of students and yes some of it is not fair. So, if you want to give a reach school a try, why not, it’s only money and keep your checkbook open.
- Hand the reins to Number Two. During round one, I was too involved. I enjoy my sanity too much for that to happen again.
- Keep my mouth sealed. Remember naming your baby? Everyone wants to know your choice and then they will tell you what they really think. There is so much more to consider in choosing a college than impressing others, like programs, grants and distance. So you won’t have to ask when we meet in the supermarket: “My Second is not going to Harvard.” The 5 percent acceptance rate got in the way.
- Not spend my year in fear. Go through the process once and the curtain has been revealed. Colleges play games like sending out free applications as a ploy to lower their acceptance rate so they place better in the rankings race which is so flawed that’s another article. The lesson here is that colleges are harboring their own fears, managing a business to pay for rock walls and group study rooms. The hype is everywhere, so remember they need you just as much as you think you need them.
- Demand more for my money. From a recent Washington Post article: “…everyone, except for the super wealthy, is having a hard time paying for college. Tuition has risen faster than the rate of inflation. Wages certainly have not kept pace with the costs of college, neither has any form of financial aid.” Enough said.
- Like my child. When child Number One went off to college; I was too exhausted to enjoy many of the milestones.
- Develop a new kind of kitty litter with college mail. I threw this one in to make sure you were paying attention!
If there is anything I learned during this process two years ago is that shedding the pomp and circumstance of finding “the perfect school” is an absolute necessity. You may believe one school will set your child on the correct path but there is no school that will magically achieve this. This is your child’s job and whether you see it in them already or you’re still waiting, this is what we all should get worked up about – helping them build the skills to succeed. Deciding on a college is just the beginning!
Check out more Road2College posts on cutting college costs and our online course:
Vilma Sceusa is a former ad executive who traded in Madison Avenue to raise her family and write. She now works as a freelance writer; provides writing, social media and marketing services to small businesses; and blogs about midlife at www.thatgirlisback.com.