Deja Vu

We’ve been here before and have experienced the outcome of college admissions. 2016 was rough but 2017 was rougher.  With each going off to college.  Is it possible we’ll go through this agony of defeat again?  Batten down the hatches.  It is definitely not the perfect storm but more like mom’s crucifixion. Last year the scores were above average but technically lower for this elite school.  Although the GPA was well over a 4.0 weighted, the letter in the 10″ envelope arrived instead of the celebratory package of swag welcoming our student to the Class of 2021.  Well he won’t take no for an answer and decided to pursue his dream one more time.  Not sure how many times he is willing to be pushed down, but somehow he manages to get back up.

Determination?

I don’t think so.  More like stubbornness and out to prove a point.  Let’s hope he proves it.  Although he is attending one of the highest nationally ranked public universities, it still isn’t good enough in his eyes.  It’s the dream school for many of his friends and classmates.  Or is it?  I can’t figure out how bad he really wants to transfer or is it a game he’s playing and wants to say, I got in and turned them down.  Who knows his motive.  I on the other hand think he is immature.  He is definitely one who displays entitlement at home.  He thinks he deserves everything.

No really.  I’m not exaggerating. Everything!

Today’s best line was when he realized a summer class he registered for and thought it was held on Thursdays each week in three hour segments is in fact a two day per week, three hour (on each night) class.  Who did he blame for the error?  You got it! Dear ol’ mom! He is concerned it will affect his personal life. He has summer concerts planned and wants to enjoy as much free time with his girlfriend who is heading off to a different college, as much as he can.  So the best line that I haven’t gotten to yet was, “this is your fault mom. You said it was one day per week.”

In his defense, the course catalog does only list Thursday from 6:30pm-9:30pm.  Ooops…

Well he dropped it and decided to pursue it online even though it will be six weeks longer than the five weeks for the other session (only taught first session of summer).  We traded words (mine much stronger than his and included a few “F” bombs) but he knows better.  So we’ll see how it goes.  He’s been home 13 days and I CAN’T WAIT for back to school!  Let’s face it.  He’s a pain and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

God speed!

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Is It About The Money?

Today I was on my son’s high school campus and noticed the windows in the college counseling office had been painted by students with the name and logo and the college he/she is attending.  It is a very impressive window.  Dartmouth, Penn, Cornell, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, USC, Ithaca College, Seattle University, Georgia Tech, Portland University and many others.  I don’t want to be a nay sayer but I have no choice.

Wow!

Not that these kids don’t deserve it but even the best of the best struggle to get in at Notre Dame.  I haven’t seen one of our students become a Fighting Irish in many years. This year, two very nice and popular young women were admitted.  They are above average students with parents who make sizable donations.  Are they stand outs?

No!

Are they Notre Dame material?

Yes! Then why am I questioning it? Well, as it turns out I have known many above average, community leaders, volunteers, athletes with amazing essays get denied throughout the years.  Coincidentally, those with deep pockets and their last name on a building “somehow” manage to get passed the admissions counselor and their application is reviewed by the Dean of Admissions.

Well, congratulations to each and every one of them.  I ask myself, how is the student who is a second generation student ever going to get his name on a building when he becomes the successful alum if he is never given a chance?

Am I jealous?  You bet I am.

It makes no sense.  We tend to make excuses for the legacy, the lower income, and the first generation (sometimes one in the same) but never think about the second generation kid whose parents were a part of the first generation and worked full time to get a degree and were a non-traditional student.  Too bad your parents have a degree because now, you’re the second generation even though your parents never had the typical college experience that they have worked hard to ensure you’re going to get. Where is the box that asks, “Did your parents have a traditional college experience or did they work their ass off for eight years to get a degree?”

It’s all so disappointing and yet it makes me genuinely happy to see that some kids are going to their dream school.  Whatever it takes.  They beat the system. They got the package in the mail with all of the swag instead of the 10″ white envelope.

Good for them.

Congratulations!  May they continue to carry on their legacy of wealth and privilege for future generations and may all of their dreams come true.

Freshmen Year at a Glance

A glance or a bat of an eye? Yes, it’s gone by fast but it hasn’t been easy. August rolled around and it was time to go. G-O, that’s right. We shopped at Bed Bath and Beyond, shipped all of his personal items, paid tuition and caught our flight. The most exciting thing happening was the full eclipse was expected on the second day of school and as luck would have it, his campus was the epicenter of it all.  One million visitors ascended onto campus for a glimpse of the total eclipse. Unfortunately, his dad and I missed it.  We had to catch our flight to help the eldest son move in.

Let’s back up.

We arrived, checked in to our hotel and explored the town a bit.  We made our way to the post office and picked up the packages we had shipped.  We were ready for the big move in day.  Did I mention the travel day did not go well for me? I didn’t tell anyone but the pressure I was feeling on my right side was not normal.  I kept it to myself and skipped a few meals.

Gas maybe?

Maybe not!

I Googled symptoms for appendicitis and gull bladder and at that point, Web M.D. had me convinced I was having an appendicitis attack.  Yep, in Smallville! No way, this is happening to me.  I refuse to get stuck in this small town.  After Googling the typical hospital stay for an apenticitis, I decided to move slowly, stay seated, and don’t eat. Self diagnosis was my plan, at least until I got closer to home. I kept telling my husband it’s just nerves and I’ll be fine (with tears of course).  The pain was unbearable but I was going to bear it.

We unpacked, met the roomy and his parents, formed my impression (can you guess?) and said our good-byes.  After all, tearing off the band-aid quickly is the best way.  We had an early flight and the freshmen were being summand to the quad for a class welcome.  I hesitated to say good-bye but knew the time had come.  I still get teary eyed thinking about that moment.  I knew it wasn’t the place for him but he was being brave and willing to try.  My heart was pounding. I was sure he could see it and hear it but nevertheless, he gave me the trademark head bump and distant hug and we both walked away.  The next morning my husband and I woke up at 4:00 am to catch an early morning flight out of the nearest airport which is 50 miles away. I cried all the way there.  Fifty miles of tears and wanting to turn back and rescue the poor kid I left behind.  I knew he was feeling lonely and sadly, disappointed in himself.  What was all the hard work for?  I knew exactly what he was thinking.  He was not where he wanted to be but willing to stick it out because his mother asked him to. He didn’t want to be labeled the failure.  After all, his #5 wait list school was ranked #20 Public School according to you got it, US News and World Report.  It was first choice to many of his classmates including his new roomy.  But who cares?  It wasn’t his first choice or even second or third or fourth.  I still can’t believe this was his outcome.  Where did we fail our kids?

He worked hard and did everything right.  And yet, fifth choice it is.

Thank goodness for football season.  When you’re attending the college with the number one football program in the country, it makes things a little easier (if you’re a football fan).  The entire town is dressed in orange and we were no different.  We visited six weeks after saying that hard good-bye and thought things were looking up.  He made friends, was attending parties, was doing well academically and liked his roommate.  So what’s wrong now?

His major.

Remember he was going to save the world.  The nature loving, wildlife protector had run into a few too many southerners who spend their weekends hunting the ones he loves and throwing them on the barbecue.  So it turns out, the college of environmental science is also the college of agriculture so he has spent the first six weeks of school learning about guns and ammunition from his classmates.  I tried to explain this may be a good thing because it will teach him how to defend animal rights and the forest that he loves.  I went on to remind him about the circle of life.  “We need to thin out the forest”, I said. That’s a bunch of crock to an animal/nature lover like him.  So he changed his major.  Was that the solution?

It couldn’t be that easy.

Of course not.

He made it home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break.  My husband attended Dad’s Weekend and I visited in April.  So basically, we were seeing him every 6-8 weeks. I thought this would help but it didn’t.

Although second semester has been better than his first, he’s moving back permanently. He spent his Winter Break filling out college applications AGAIN.  Yes, this is our third year in a row filling out applications, writing essays, and playing the waiting game (once for his brother and twice for him).  And now what are we doing? Waiting.  That’s right.  You guessed it.  Waiting to hear from his dream school.  I don’t know how many times this kid can be rejected and recover so I am holding on to hope that he will be among the 29% acceptance rate for transfer students versus the 15% freshmen acceptance rate. He received a letter requesting his final grades when they become available.  According to College Confidential, some transfers have already been admitted, some rejected and the third bunch received a same letter he did.

This can’t happen twice.

Or can it?

We’ll see what the future holds.  Is he meant to attend his dream school? Time will tell because of course we have to WAIT!

May day…the agonizing decision deadline

Yep, still here.  Can you believe it’s been a year?  Wow!  Nothing has changed.  He cleared the waitlist on May 2nd after a very long night on May 1st agonizing over which school to attend.  The options were choice 6, 7, and 8.  Yes, that’s right.  I stopped writing after the third waitlist.  Five schools wait listed him and then on May 2nd at 9:00am the phone rang and who was on the other line?  That’s right, school five.  So they couldn’t call on May 1st and allow us to avoid paying the unnecessary $500 deposit to school six? Really? The game continues.

Fast forward.

July 17, 2018 and I’m sitting in the hotel room ready to attend parent/student orientation the next morning and he says the magic words.  “It doesn’t feel right.”  What?  Are you kidding me?  We’re here.  Ready to register for classes, touring your new home and now you’re having second thoughts. I encourage him to give it a try.  “Get out there and try”, I said.  Nothing is permanent.  He trusted what I was saying and fell asleep.  At breakfast the next morning I reassured him that if he goes in with a positive attitude, it can be the perfect place.

I knew deep down this wasn’t going to end well.

After a long day of sessions on dining hall options, bookstore, healthcare, and departmental tours, we’re both exhausted.  I go to the hotel and he chooses to stay with other new students and attend Freshmen activities.  I leave with a hole in my heart knowing this is not the place for him.  He’s much braver than I am.  I would have told my mom to take a hike and stood my ground.  I hate it. I don’t belong here.  I’m not going.

Well, that’s not exactly how it went down.

Remember the agonizing May 1st decision? Which button do I push? Well, he was back to the drawing board as soon as we got home from orientation and made the embarrassing call begging for his spot that he paid for on May 1st.

It’s a no go!

That’s right.  The nationwide problem had hit his #6 choice too.  Apparently it was his #6 but #1 to many other students. Far more freshmen enrolled than anticipated and well, not enough housing.  His option was to wait until January and enroll at that time.  Well grumpy is still grumpy and absolutely unwilling to consider a gap semester or study abroad option.  He is determined to begin his freshmen year in August even if it means enrolling at his #5 school.

Well, here we go.  Nothing ends well.

 

More Torture

The Wait list!  Oh dear God as if waiting six months for an answer wasn’t enough now you’re going to torture my son with a wait list option?  And he clicked on “accept wait list”.

Oh no! What could be worse?  Four wait lists.  Yes, that’s right.  I said FOUR.

And it’s F***ed.  He was qualified to apply, met all of the requirements and wrote strong essays. So why are we in this position?  That’s the million dollar question.  Yes, I feel badly for him but the attitude has to stop.  Anyone else feel this way? The world does not revolve around him.  WHAT?  Oh dear God, he thought it did and so now we are left consoling the kid who is bright, good looking, an over achiever and disappointed.

What are we to do?

Wait! And then, wait some more.

Because that’s what these colleges expect us to do. Like we have nothing else better to do. The wait list is a college’s safety net and they will release students from the list when they are good and ready.  It’s also not likely wait list student will receive any merit awards.

Define fair.  This isn’t it.

The Washington Post listed their most recent data regarding Wait List and it ain’t pretty.  100 Selective Colleges and their Wait List data.  So what do we tell our grumpy seniors who are angry and frustrated and taking it out on dear ole’ mom?

I know I would never tell my kid to wait for anything else.  No girl, no boy, no job…nothing is worth the wait.  If they don’t want you, move on.  But in this case, we will sit patiently and wait.

“Waitlists allow colleges to target acceptance letters to students likely to attend to maintain the college’s selectivity ranking and yield.” Wikipedia

Who are you?

It wasn’t suppose to happen this way.  My son has been working hard for the last four years doing everything he was suppose to.  A multi-sport athlete, student council, 4.2 GPA, every honors class offered at his school, part-time job, community volunteer, leader in his school, team captain…shall I go on?

All he’s talked about for the last four years was attending his first choice university.  We’ve encouraged him because why not?  Even with a ridiculous price tag and no opportunity for financial aid, we still encouraged him.  We saved all of his life so he could attend any university he could get into.  Yes, any university.  We are not wealthy people but education is at the top of our priority list and our children have excelled in every aspect of the word.

So how did we get here? I can’t remember. Oh yes!  All hell broke loose on March 28, 2017 when he opened his portal to find a rejection letter from the dream school.  The dream school was not a reach and it was very realistic and yet, the rejection was plain as day.  They don’t want him.  My reaction was like any mother’s trying to console her devastated child.  “It’s their lose” I said.  Feeling a little bit relieved because this, although a selective school, I’ve been on campus several times only to witness first hand the parties, the vomit flying into the trash can as the beautiful yet almost naked girl holds it tight to her chest.  I’ve seen the coolers being carried onto campus and set under the canopy in the quad next to the beer pong tables and the music blasting all the while campus security is watching.  And yet, we allowed him to apply because it seemed like the right academic fit and he would certainly not allow himself to get wrapped up in the party scene.  Ya right! Our kids know that although we have saved for their education they get four years to get it done and that’s it.  They know C’s won’t get them a job and our expectation is a job at the end of four years and few internships leading up to the end.  No more kicking back during summer break.  Get ready, life happens and it’s happening.

So why the attitude? Ungrateful. Entitled. Selfish.  So what if they didn’t accept you.  Are you really going to allow that to destroy you and everything you have worked so hard for leading up to college? Give me a break.  No school is worth that.  If they don’t want you do you really want them? Lick your wounds and move on my friend because opportunity only knocks once and I hear it ringing at three other colleges that you loved.  They love you and are offering you the opportunity to join them and they’re footing the bill.  Well not all of it, but a portion of it is better than nothing at your dream school.

So why is it that rejection kills us? It doesn’t have to be this way.  Mourn your loss and move on.  Don’t let it destroy you or your hard work.  Stand proud and be excited for what is right in front of you.  Be grateful to those who have loved and supported you. Look beyond the moment and try to get a glimpse of your future and what awaits.  This isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last time you’ve been disappointed.  I know it hurts but be the bigger and better person.  College won’t define you, you will define the college.  Take the “I’ll show you” attitude. When you’re able to make a sizable donation to your Alma Mater, kiss that check and tell the dream school to shove it where the light doesn’t shine. Make something of yourself and become the person your parents taught you to be.  Don’t be “that” guy who turns his back on those who love you.  Be “the” guy who makes a difference.  You want to make the world a better place.  Now go out and do it.

Up or Out

Today is the day.  I’ve been waiting for the day that I am pushed over the edge. I’m there. On the outside, I appear put together, a loving wife and mother, and the do everything kind of person.  Well, I’m officially broken.  Why you ask? College admissions.  If ever there was a more depressing time in my life it is now.  The admissions process is a game. Sadly, not just a game our kids are playing but parents are forced to play too.  I read article after article on college admissions and as a former admissions professional, I can tell you there isn’t anything like the game we play today.  It is definitely a game and most of us didn’t choose to play but we were sucked right into it.  Our kids do everything right. They set their eyes on a goal and do everything right hoping to land the big prize.  The prize of course being an admissions letter welcoming them to “the” university.   Do admissions reps know what happens after a student receives the denial?  Let’s face it, denied is just a nicer way of saying rejected.  It’s not the end of the world.  Or is it?

There are key facts about the college admissions process. Some may see it as true and others as post rejection frustration and I’ll admit, it’s a little of both.

  1. It is indeed a game and your opponent is likely some under thirty wanna be who holds the future of your family in his hands.  He isn’t working at his Alma mater but somehow managed to get hired and entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing applications he himself couldn’t prepare and is now making another person’s life a living hell during the waiting process.

  2. Admissions counselors are not completely honest.  They are told to encourage every student to apply even if that student is not qualified because it will increase the University admissions stats (we can thank US New & World Report for that).  Some applicants are just another way for the university to improve their acceptance rate.

  3. The truth is the ever important essay will not be read if the applicant doesn’t pass the numbers test. Applicants will be told about the “holistic” approach and encourage students to write about their personal experiences but the truth is, if the applicants SAT/ACT score and GPA are not up to par, the essay won’t ever get looked at.  So if you’re border line, that’s when the essay will make it or break it for you and the application goes into the “read” pile.  The applicant who makes it past the “numbers review” and placed in the “read” pile will only stand a chance if they are in the upper echelon of applications.  Colleges are denying wonderfully qualified students.  Unfortunately, too many students are applying to too many colleges they have no intention of attending (we can thank the Common App for that).  Colleges have no way of knowing what the applicants #1 school is and therefore, must gamble and hope they are selecting the student who will enroll.  The truth its, high school counselors must do a better job and limit the number of applications from their schools.  If a student can’t afford College A ($70k per year) he shouldn’t be applying to College A.  The truth is, College A offers a very limited number of merit awards and those go to the Top 3% of applicants.  So let the Valedictorians apply, otherwise cough up the dough or don’t apply.  Those applicants are taking a spot away from a student who meets the admission criteria and has the money to pay in full. This is true for many schools.  Students should be limited to six applications and they should be required to rank their selections.  Period!

  4. Suck up to your admissions representative.  Yes, SUCK UP! Don’t send gifts because ethically the representative shouldn’t accept them but do send emails and ask lots of questions.  Attend every high school visit and stop by and say hello when you’re on campus.  Make sure your admissions rep knows you and your name.  Why you ask? That person may actually go to bat for you during the admission review phase because you are well liked.  Even if you have the highest scores and are graduating top in your class you may need a little love during the screening process. Don’t take things for granted.  Now a days, there are no “safety schools”.  Just when you thought you were safe, the rejection arrives in the mail and if your safety school happens to win a National Championship, you better believe it’s position as a safety school just jumped up 10 notches.

  5. A true sign “is this school right for you” will be shown through the actions of the representative visiting your school or delivering the admissions presentation. Maybe you’ve attended EVERY presentation that rep has given for the last three years, visited campus every summer since sophomore year and you think your “buddy” the admission rep feels the same way about you.  Then the test…he shakes your hand at the admissions presentation in the fall of your senior year and says, “it’s nice to meet you”.  Are you kidding me? Do your job Admissions Rep and at least pretend you know your students who have shown interest in you for the past three years.  Pretend you know their name.  Pretend you’re interested.

    Here’s some free advise for every Admissions Officer out there.  It’s easy. Print a list from your handy database and read it before you arrive. Take a look at who has signed up to meet you, who has visited your esteem campus and who have you met with during your high school visits.  It’s elementary my friend.  All admissions reps should know this but some just don’t care because they have forgotten what it feels like to be on the other end of the application. Some schools are just so snobby it leaves me wondering, is this our future?  Well yes, it is.  We talk about entitlement and this is it.  We blame the youth but these reps are the youth.  God help us all!

 

 

Let’s Talk

You’re invited to join the party and post your comments about the process.   The process called Life.  We GIVE and some take.  We give more and some take more.  Bottom line we’re just trying to do our job.  The job is called parenting.  Some insult us by calling us helicopters when really it should be called loving.  Others want us to let them fail and pick themselves up.  Well what’s the right way to do that?  Let’s talk.  Someone is always listening.  Feel free to post or just read.  I’m here for you if you want to talk.