I have a group of terrific online friends, several moms who met years and years ago on a message board, and have hung in there with each other long beyond the demise of the site that brought us together. I'm the oldest (!), and these days, fi ofve the women have high school senior kids, and a couple more are right behind. Others have young people in college and grad school. As you might imagine, much of our conversation these days focuses on the college admission process.
Two of the women, with funds and miles and time available, are leaving no stone unturned in the effort to visit and explore all possible appropriate options. Two expect that their children will attend local state universities or community colleges, but even those decisions are fraught with stress and second-guessing. One is somewhere in between.
Full disclosure here: my three children are graduates of The University of Chicago, Ohio State, and Willamette (via Tulane). Matt is now in law school at Cleveland State University, and Marissa has just earned her master's degree at Case. (After Josh died, we all tended to huddle close to home.)
I probably did more for them with respect to college admissions than I recall, but mostly I reviewed and made suggestions about essays and final drafts of applications and arranged trips to some, but by no means all, of the colleges in which they (or we!) were interested. We talked college endlessly, but each of the kids made their own application decisions. One went for prestige, one for ease of application and minimal cost, and one for anywhere on the perimeter of the United States, which conveniently excluded Ohio. None of them saw the colleges which they decided to attend until after they had been admitted. (Marissa did see Willamette, to which she ultimately transferred, when we made a trip out west before her senior year of high school.)
Here's what I had to say to my friends the other day. What do you think?
"There is only so much time and energy, and senior year is actually about far more than college.
And now, several years out, I wish we had given the college process
about 25% of the time, energy, and $$ we gave it. LIFE is about so much
more than college. It's only four years. I know kids who have been
really happy and successful in college, kids for whom it's been the
opposite, and kids in the middle. I think it has almost zero impact on
subsequent anything. I mean, of course whatever experience you have has
a major influence on your life, but I don't think it's the be-all or
end-all in terms of predicting future happiness, success, $$$, creativity, or
anything else of consequence. I am a different person for having gone
to small New England colleges than I would be had I gone to Ohio State,
but either way, I think I would have turned out ok."