Monday, December 14, 2015

A Long, Slow Look at College Decisions

Often I see glimpses of my husband in our teenage daughter. Her natural athletic ability, for example. Her sense of humor. How fast she drives. Some of these attributes are good and some ... not so much. Some make me pull my hair out. 

But, I digress.

Other times, I see myself in her. I take pride in her creative writing, in her diligence and determination. Her obsessive appetite for particular TV programs. Sadly, she's inherited my sweet tooth as well. 

But, again, I digress.

Then, there are situations in which I watch her and think "Who are you?" and "How can we possibly be related?" 

We're going through one of those now as she hones in on the college decision that she'll (and we'll) be living with for the next four years.

When I was a senior, my college prep counselor (who knew me btw; he was one of my math teachers) took a look at my transcript and my SATs, asked what I wanted to major in, and made a single suggestion. "Tufts has a great drama program and they love early decision applicants." I went, I saw, I applied. They said, "Yes." I said, "Yes." And we were done. Signed, sealed, delivered before Christmas my senior year. One thing, one very big thing, crossed off my list.

This was 1979, and early decision was still a fairly new idea. Forget about all its modern permutations: early action, rolling admissions, restrictive early action (WTF?), as well as plain old vanilla regular decision. 

Everything is much more complicated nowadays, although with most schools accepting the "Common App," there's a lot less paperwork. Still, it's mid-December and a compulsive young person (such as myself 35 years ago) can already know where she or he will be going.

Not my daughter.

She applied to just four colleges (less than most of her peers in our high-achieving little town; her very focused intended course of study made the universe much smaller). Her applications were complete in late October, neatly within any early action or rolling deadlines. She was almost immediately accepted into two schools, which happened to be her first choices, at the time. I say, "at the time," because times have already changed. Now, we're waiting to hear from the other two. And, my daughter (not a particularly patient young woman under normal circumstances) seems perfectly content to wait.

I would be pulling my hair out! 

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand — and even support — my daughter's thoughtful consideration during this important time of change and choice. After all, chances are she will spend a substantial chunk of her formative young adult years at whatever fine institution of higher learning she chooses. Then there's all the associated fallout: friends and significant others, where you live and what you do. I have never attended a Tufts reunion, but my decision to go there affects my life every day.

Nevertheless, my seventeen-year-old self was way too eager to debate, contemplate, ruminate or meditate (Hmmm ... I seem to have missed my calling as a middle-aged white rapper). My daughter is taking her time.

She has an equestrian scholarship application due tomorrow, but no other paperwork or tests to worry about. In essence, the admissions ball is not in her court at the moment. Once she hears from her other two schools, we may have to do some additional campus visiting (bake-off style, perhaps). But, there's no rush.

You see, she has until May to make her decision.

I just hope I can last that long. 

If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.

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