I recently visited the admissions sites of the colleges attended by my children, and was reminded once again of the stress and anxiety associated with late March – early April. This is the time when applicants to those selective institutions of higher learning are anxiously awaiting the mail daily, hoping for the “fat envelope” to arrive from the school of their choice.

In our case, the “fat envelopes” came from all schools to which each applied, which resulted in the next decision about which invitation to accept. I’ve always been grateful that we never had to face the situation where either admission was denied; or the student was placed on the wait list.

Parents of high school seniors, and the students themselves: I feel your pain. I hope all of you get the “fat envelope” from the school(s) of choice, and the financial aid offers are generous. While this seems like the most important thing in the student’s life right now, even if the envelope isn’t fat, worry not; college will be what you make of it, and you will be able to achieve a good education at many a fine institution of higher learning. I say that with full cognizance of the value of the networking opportunities available at certain places, but after graduation and a job or two, all that won’t matter nearly as much as it might now seem it will.


Filed under The Public Square

10 responses to “IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR

  1. The daughter is a Junior. She’s been looking around already. Sure hope financial aid is still there. She’s been on the A-B honor roll and got inducted into the National Honor Society, but that’s pretty average for college bound kids.
    Butler Co. has a good program for drama, music etc. and a few of her friends are there already, so it’s my guess she’s interested in them. We’ve had good programs in these areas for years, and Butler loves to bring our kids there.

  2. 6176746F6C6C65

    She should definitely pursue Butler County, if that’s truly of interest to her. If she is interested in the fields of study you indicate, and would like to look at a “dream” school, may I suggest her taking a look at St Olaf, located in Northfield, MN.

    One thing that I cannot stress enough is the need to do well on the ACT or SAT. This is important not only for college admissions, but for certain financial aid programs. Good luck to her and her future.

  3. fnord

    I’m feeling it for you parents! And, I’m happy to be a grandparent and able to say, “been there, done that.”

    Don’t forget the many lessons learned outside the academics and if there is a way for them to go away to school there are many benefits!

    Reminds me of a funny story. My daughter took her two sons still at home to San Francisco last week to visit their oldest brother on spring break. Mom went to the grocery store and did some cooking for the one who is away and mighty hungry.

    While she is cooking the oldest is saying to the younger brothers, “Pay attention! And, I have something to add to what she’s doing. First, she makes it look easy, it’s not. Second, when she cooks she is already three or four steps ahead of where you have to start. You need to decide what you’re gonna cook, find out what is needed to accomplish that, go to the store and make even more decisions in the buying of that stuff before you ever get to the part she makes look easy!

    He went on from there with his sage advice for the younger brothers. Tonya said it was the first time it really hit her that she had done her sons a disservice. She hadn’t allowed them to start at the beginning, when she showed them how to prepare simple things she reached into her cabinets and hadn’t realized.

    So, all this long-winded story to tell you there are simple parts of life our young people learn out of necessity when they aren’t at home. And those lessons aren’t less valuable than the ‘book learnin.’

  4. Her more practical area may ending up being Pharmacist. She’s been in honors math for years, but I hear the biology classes run a lot of folks off.
    Our local college has some good pre-pharmacy classes and a good nursing school. I don’t know.
    I know Mom won’t let her go as far away as MN.

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      Tell mom that Northfield, MN is only a 9 hour drive up I-35 from Wichita. 🙂

      Seriously, the decision to go “away” is an important one, and needs to be made by all concerned. The student has to be ready and able to deal with life as it presents itself (even within the cocoon of college) without immediate parental involvement; the parent(s) have to be ready and able to let the student go. If either part of this isn’t solid, then the student likely should not “go away to school”.

      In our family, this was never an issue. Mom had traveled from Tacoma, WA to attend KU; my trip from Wellington to Lawrence was admittedly much shorter, but in practical terms was longer than that of my wife. Both daughters wanted to go away to school, and much time was spent with them by us reviewing the pros and cons. Not saying we did the perfect job, but at least both knew to some extent what they would be dealing with as a resident student “away from home”.

  5. 6176746f6c6c65

    If Pharmacy is a goal, then KU is the eventual answer here in Kansas. It (Pharmacy) is, as I recall, a six year academic program, and is not for the faint at heart or for those who don’t relish hard work. It isn’t just the biology classes; organic chemistry is a killer, too (just as for pre-meds).

    A thought (from memory of a friend of the elder’s who wanted to be a pharmacist): Pitt State has, as I understand things, a good undergraduate program that prepares students well for the final two years in Lawrence. Four years in Pittsburg, then two years in Lawrence.

    The elder is considering Pharmacy right now. Her education and academic interests tie in with such a program, and as she and her hubby are currently in the Twin Cities as he completes the Ph.D program in Physics at “the U”, she is taking a hard look at the UM Pharmacy program (very highly regarded). Of course, as their first child is on the way, this may be something that is put on the back burner a while. I know her interest in this has been sparked by the looming budget crisis in Minnesota which makes the one here in Kansas look like “chump change”, and which has caused her to believe she might not be able to obtain a teaching job for next year, even though she is licensed to teach chemistry, biology and math.

    Anyway, best of luck to the daughter whatever area of study she decides to pursue. I’m available for consultation, of course. 🙂

  6. 6176746f6c6c65

    fnord, your post illustrates the “truism” that half of what is learned in college occurs outside the classroom. That’s why “going away to college”, if possible, is the better way, for both parents and students.

  7. 6176746f6c6c65

    It really comes down to what one is seeking from “higher education”. If what one desires is merely a diploma, then the least expensive way to accomplish this is the best. If, however, one wishes to receive an education, then choice of school, being a resident student vs. a commuter, etc., is the best. All is my (less than) humble opinion, of course.

  8. 6176746f6c6c65

    Thanks, fnord. I was familiar with most of the schools included there, as I’ve been keeping up with the developments in financial aid as a part of my “unofficial” college advisor role.

    One thing for parents of Juniors in high school to be aware of is that the financial aid picture has dramatically changed in the recent few years, and I’ll guarantee has really changed since the parents were in college. There are a great number of institutions which provide 100% of demonstrated need financial aid; there are a growing number which are providing this aid through grants (no loans). Again, diversity on campus is the key; geographical diversity, economic diversity, and ethnic diversity are all pieces of the overall “diversity” puzzle.

    I’d also venture to said parents that if the student is male, he will get some ‘bonus points’ in the admissions process at schools striving to keep a rough gender equality within the student body. This is due to the curious phenomenon of a decreasing number of males applying to college relative to an increasing number of females.

    I’d also point out that in the case of at least one of our children, the fact that we reside in Kansas was good for some extra consideration by the admissions committees of the private schools to which application was made. No one person explicitly said this, but the comments made during visits, etc., made it clear that it didn’t hurt.