How I Really Feel About College Admissions (Day 299)

(Photo via Visual Hunt)

This may not go over well as I am a parent of a high school senior and many of the people I know are also parents of high school seniors.

There are tons of articles out the past few days, as our children hear whether or not they were accepted early action or early decision into their #1 choice of college, about how we should calm down, how where our children go to school doesn’t predict whether they will be successful, how we need to change the whole college application system.

Of those concepts, I mostly only agree with the third one and this is why:

  1. Don’t tell me to calm down. My child has invested a lot of time in considering where she would like to be for the next four years, and while I really think she will do great things wherever she goes, I do want her to have what she has worked hard to achieve. If she doesn’t get it, that will be fine, but there is nothing wrong with wishing that your child gets what they desire and feeling anxious when they are about to find out and being disappointed or excited depending on what they hear from their chosen schools.
  2. All this talk about how the elite colleges may or may not churn out the most Fortune 500 executives is so missing the point of college. Yes, we all want our children to be able to support themselves when they are out on their own, but is that the reason you want your child to go to college? If it is, why not get them started in business now. Let them start in a company and work their way up. That’s how you get good at business. You do it. College, in my opinion, is a time and a place where young people can explore and discover who they are. They’re part way there having lived 18 years of life, but in college they get to do it independent of us, among their peers, among experts in some of the fields that may give them a jolt. I don’t give a shit if the schools my kids go to will make them business executives who make a lot of money. I give a shit that they will find their passions and figure out how to make a life and a living while simultaneously pursuing those passions.
  3. I do think the whole college application process is a mess. There are rules to follow, a game to be played, luck to be had. But it is so damn complicated. And to a degree, random. I feel like both of my kids have explored the landscape and spent time figuring out where they think they will be engaged and energized and excited. However, they’ve also had to balance that with the stress of determining their eligibility according to admissions data and their likelihood of getting in based on the ridiculously low acceptance rates at many schools. Add to that the peer pressure and cultural pressure to not just get into school but get into a socially acceptable good school. I throw my hands up.

My time in this process is almost over. By the end of March, my youngest child should know what her choices are regarding going to college next year. But the march goes on, and as parents we need to think about our children as passionate human beings not as potential money makers.

One day, in the not too distant future, they will have to face the reality of financial independence. But they also will need to face the reality that being rich does not make your life better. Being in love with what you do, in all areas of your life, is what makes life really worth living.



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8 thoughts on “How I Really Feel About College Admissions (Day 299)

  1. I agree with your three points. i remember when our daughter was waiting for those college letters. When she recieved the acceptance from her preferred choice, she broke down in tears, saying that they must have lowered their standards. That was a bittersweet moment. But she went on to thrive there, even returning a few years later for grad school.

    1. I feel like I was just there. It’s hard to believe I’m watching my kids go through it now. It is so much more intense now, though.

  2. It’s very hard not to angst. When you have good kids, like you do, it’s impossible not to want them to have what they want and have worked so hard to achieve. We want the best for our kids. They deserve it. And by that I don’t mean anything that has to do with money.

So what do you think?