The waiting… ugh, the WAITING!

by Carin Smith on April 15, 2014

You’ve probably caught on by now that there is a LOT of waiting in the college admission process:

  1. Colleges (and parents) waiting for students to submit applications.
  2. Students (and parents) waiting for schools to respond with offers of admission.
  3. And now, colleges (and parents) waiting for students to make a final college selection.

As impatiently as you may have been waiting for “the big envelope” from us, we now find ourselves on pins and needles (where does that oh-so-appropriate metaphor come from?) wondering which admitted students will respond with the great news that they will be enrolling at our schools.

If you’ve read the previous “Mom blogs” you know that I have two kids—both now in college—who went through this process already. As they approached their final college selection decisions in the spring of their senior years, I experienced some combination of the following, sometimes all at once:

Anxiety
Part of me was anxious to see what their final decision would be… their seeming lack of urgency with this decision helped stoke this particular fire. (See “impatience” below.)

Introspection
I found many moments (often while folding their laundry or tripping over sports equipment left in the middle of the hallway) when I wondered how much my heart would ache when they finally did leave. Didn’t I just read them bedtime stories last night?

Impatience
I also discovered that during spring of their senior years these wonderful budding adults became, I’ll admit, a bit insufferable. I knew—at least intellectually—their moodiness and/or ambivalence might have been a response to their own concern about their final college decisions and all the emotion wrapped up with high school ending. But, really, I think we all had short fuses in those last weeks leading up to decision day.

Worry
I worried – too much – about whether they would make the “wisest” decision possible. (Translation: would they make the decision I thought would be wisest for them?)

I also learned that I have to follow the same advice that I’ve been giving to parents of college-bound kids for years: it’s not all about you. (It sounds really nice when I give that advice, but it stinks when I have to follow it myself.) Although I knew each of my kids would ultimately make a selection, I quickly discovered that their decision-making methods were very different from each other—and certainly quite different from mine.

My daughter? A methodical list-maker, she devised a 5-point, multiple-category rating system to score each of her schools. It made perfect sense to her, but she didn’t share the results with anyone in our family for a week. It needed to settle in her mind before she shared it with anybody else. I was standing in the grocery store checkout line when she called me to “reveal” her decision – I will never forget it, and I presume neither will the clerk, who might have been a bit surprised when I burst into tears for no apparent reason.

My son? Where his sister trusted “data,” he embraced his inner Obi-Wan Kenobi and trusted “his feelings.” We made return visits to his top three colleges. (This was, if I’m being honest, at my insistence). It was a less scientific process, and the factors he considered were far more superfluous than I thought appropriate:

  • One return visit involved a 5-hour drive (one way) and resulted in a 2-block walk, on our way to the admissions office, at which point he turned to me and said, “This isn’t the one, Mom.” (A FIVE-HOUR DRIVE… PLUS TWO BLOCKS?!) This may come as a shock, but I’m a bit stubborn, which is why I demanded that he go through all the activities the admissions office had so carefully planned for him. (In hindsight, we should have trusted his feelings and gotten back in the car. His feelings were right.)
  • Another visit revealed that the campus was really WAY too close to the stadiums of professional sports teams that were arch rivals of the Chicago sports teams he had grown up rooting for. “Mom, I don’t think I could spend 4 years surrounded by the crazies that cheer for these teams.” My head almost flew right off my body when I heard this one. But his feelings were right.
  • At last, it was the third visit (why couldn’t it have been the first one?) that confirmed itself as “the one.” (I’m resisting the urge to make a Goldilocks “just right” connection here.)

Which bring us to what might be your family’s current experience. Whether your child is a list-maker, a dart-thrower, a gut-truster, or some other kind of decision-maker, remember that this process is ultimately about your child.

(OK, it’s about you, too… but I trust you know what I mean.)

The May 1 National Candidates Reply Date is approaching where students nationwide will deliver their “yays” and “nays.”

We’re waiting…

(Ugh, the WAITING!)

May the decision lead your children to colleges that fit them well, wherever that may be.

{ 0 comments }

Ready to submit your deposit…?

April 11, 2014

…only to be thwarted by internet-dwelling gremlins? (We hear that from time to time.) If you are ready to join the Lawrence community for the coming fall, and wish to pay your $400 tuition deposit online, you might find the following steps helpful. 1. Log onto your admissions status page, and you’ll see a screen […]

Read the full article →

Counter-intuitive thinking about return on college investment

March 26, 2014

This morning, as I was catching up on an old podcast while shaving, an interesting insight came to me. (Warning: exercise extreme caution while simultaneously handling a razor and an interesting insight. Failing that, have a bandage handy.) This particular podcast, NPR’s “Planet Money,” covers a wide range of topics, from how LeBron James is […]

Read the full article →

ESPN has 30 for 30. Lawrence is going with 47 for 44(ish).

March 17, 2014

So it doesn’t have the symmetry of the title to ESPN’s signature documentary series, but that’s what you get with a prime number like 47. On our application for admission this year, we posed a devilishly simple short answer prompt: Why Lawrence? It’s a short question seeking a short answer. 47 well-chosen words—give or take […]

Read the full article →

Homemade food, old friends, great conversation, and environmental economics

February 27, 2014

If you’ve visited Lawrence University over the past few months, you may have spotted me behind a sliding glass window right off the main lobby of the Admissions Office in Hurvis Center, staring intently at my dual monitor.  But last Thursday evening I found myself in the mustard-colored Greenfire house laughing with old friends, their […]

Read the full article →