Sunday, April 26, 2009

May 1st is just around the corner....decision time!

For most May 1st is just another May Day, and that's it, but for those of us who have seniors in high school or had them, you remember; it's decision time, mail in check time, let the college know you're coming time!

What is your kid thinking? How are they making the decision?
Did you send them to or did you go with them to Admit weekend?
Check the college's website?
Did they go on Facebook and join the Class of 2013 page for that school?
Did they talk or text with kids they already know at the college?
Maybe you pulled out that college ranking book yet again....

Your kids have so many different options to try and figure this out. And since it's deadline time, you can't procrastinate much longer, they can't procrastinate much longer. When I think of the ways each of my kids went about this...all so different! If your kid was lucky enough to go back to the school or to Admit weekend in the last month, the question to ask them is: "wasn't it a different feeling than when you were there for the first time?" Now they're in the driver's seat. The college wants them to accept their accept. They've done a very careful, deliberate job accepting them because they help make up a great class. What they bring to the table is unique and is a piece of the puzzle that the college wants. Knowing that helps. So what are they thinking? What I've learned is they walked around the campus, looking at the other kids there, trying to see what kind of stuff seems to be going on. Maybe they went to a class or two, listened to the professor(s), all the time thinking, "can I see myself here? Do I see "my people" here?" They've talked to kids there, or maybe the school did something more organized and they (you) listened to a schpeel (sp?) from the Dean of Admissions, the University President, maybe the Dean of Students. They might have attended a student performance or maybe a lacrosse game. They might have joined in on a frisbee game on the lawn outside of some dorm. Maybe they spent the night on campus....that was an experience in and of itself. ( Just remind them that next year it won't be a sleeping bag on someone's floor, they'll have their own bed.) The whole time thinking, observing and trying NOT to "judge a book by its' cover" but trying to see if they see if this is a fit.

While they were experiencing this some of the things they may be trying to figure out were: if the girls "dress" for classes, ie., wear makeup, do their hair, or is it more casual and kids actually roll out of bed for that 8 or 9am class and wear their PJ bottoms across campus to class.
The questions to ask are: Does any of that matter to you? Do you "have to have" a date for a football game? You laugh, but some schools have this as part of their culture. Appealing to some and not so much to others. What do kids here do to have fun or socialize? Do you "have to" go greek in order to have a good time? Does everybody party downtown? Does that mean you're out of luck until you're 21? Is there a "chem free" dorm? Would that environment make you feel more comfortable? Are there any "theme houses" or dorms? Would that make you feel more comfortable? What about the actual make up of the dorms themselves? Are there coed floors, single sex floors/halls? All freshman dorms? Do you have "guaranteed housing" for 4 years?

These are the kinds of things I think they're thinking about, and in my opinion, they should be....all good stuff. But I know that us parents are thinking about this a little differently...

We're thinking that this is a huge investment. Probably one of the best investments will ever make...their education, but nonetheless a BIG investment. Hopefully, we've done our homework and during the application process we took care of satisfying our own questions about academics, access to professors, opportunities available to our kids, etc. What we're focusing on now is: that it's a safe place. That we're going to be able to see our kid on occasion, either by us traveling there or them coming home. That it's got lots of different options for them. That there are resources on campus to help them be successful. That there is a medical clinic nearby. That they're going to be fed on the weekends. That there are people (adults) around to answer their questions to support them....That WE "see" kids on campus that WE think look like their kind of people...

What happens over the next couple of days is hopefully a meeting of the minds...we parents are trying or should be trying to "let go" (for a moment) and let our kid make the decision, but boy oh boy, we know this is a pretty big decision...and believe me, we chime in, and sometimes we're not even asked. A little retrospect: yes, the decision is a big one. It's important and it is indeed a big financial commitment. But something that is also true, is that everyone's human, nothing is forever and if this doesn't end up working out for whatever reason, your kid can always transfer. Daunting I know, (especially at this particular 'decision time' moment) but knowing loads of people who have switched gears after a year or two.. they didn't just survive, they thrived!

OK, enough procrastinating....get that "check in the mail!"

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