life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, December 10, 2009

College application season

Right now Becca is in the throes of torture the college application process.

I've been down this road before -- or at least a similar road-- with Jen just two years ago.

Though as I think about it, I've come to realize Becca's road is very different from the one Jen travelled. I suppose each child must find his or her own road to college.

Our high school is very academically oriented - 97% of the graduates go on to some sort of post secondary education, either 2-year or 4-year college programs. The guidance department is very active in assisting students in the whole process, from the moment they sit for the PSAT until the day they send in that deposit to the college or university of their choice.

Still, Jen had very little interest in the process until her senior year of high school. I think by the middle of her junior year she had a firm idea of what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, but no idea or interest in the four years of education she would need in order to get there. She was adrift in a sea of options, without a direction.

In fact, if you had asked me during Jen's junior year, "Where do you think she will wind up going?", my answer would have been very different from where she actually enrolled. Two years ago Jen told me she didn't want to go far from home, that she planned to go to one of the colleges within a 45-minute drive of our home so that she could live on campus during the week and spend her weekends at home. I could not get her interested in taking a tour of any college, not even our local ones, until the beginning of her senior year. Ultimately she was accepted by, and chose to attend, a university in another state, some 3 1/2 hours away. Now in her sophomore year of college, Jen is deeply entrenched in university life and is well on her way to becoming the independent, confident, productive individual I hope she will become.

Becca, on the other hand, has always been academically oriented and very self motivated. I think she began to take a real interest in college almost from the day she set foot on her high school campus. Early in her hgih school career she was able to discuss, with confidence, what type of college experience she hoped to have and where she might apply. Last year, when she was a junior, she was the one who urged me to take her on various college campus tours, she was the one who researched the colleges and made arrangements for us to visit the schools where she thought she might apply.

She has a t-shirt or sweatshirt from every college she visited and from every college Jen visited. She truly wants to be a "college girl". 

The irony of it all is that on her college applications she has listed her major as "undecided".  While Jen had a goal and had to figure out the way to get there, Becca has figured out how to travel the road but still does not have a destination in mind.

Not that there's anything wrong in Becca's approach.  College offers many opportunities to explore different disciplines, and it's hard at 17 to know what you might want to be doing when you're 47.

The application process itself is much easier than it was when I was a student.  No more sending away for a paper application and carefully filling it out, now you use the "common application" and apply on-line, and submit your ACT and/or SAT scores by filling out a form on line at each testing agency's website.  click, click, click, you've applied to a dozen different schools.  thus far Becca has applied to 6 or 7 schools, and there are another 6 or 7 on her list.  And no more waiting for the "fat envelope", schools post their admission decisions on line as well, to the prosepctive student's web account at that school.

But after tons of research Becca came to the conclusion that there's one school she prefers above all the rest.  She submitted her application to that school "early decison" -- which means if she is accepted to that college, she is committed to attending that school and she must withdraw her applications for every other college.

Decison day is Decebmer 15, next Tuesday.   We will either be popping the cork on the champagne bottle Tuesday night...or working on plan B Wednesday morning.

The next five days promise to be long and tense.


Suzanne said...

I will be crossing my fingers for you and Becca. Please tell me that she'll be busy working all weekend to distract her from the clock ticking down until the 15th!

songbird's crazy world said...

actually we're going to my cousin's bat mitzvah Saturday, so she won't have time to worry...

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