Lydster: not her parents’ college search

the college tour

college searchAs I’ve noted, my daughter has been on the college search. My, but has this process changed in the past few decades. For one thing, they send a TON of emails, multiple messages per school.

Some of them extoll their particular schools and why my daughter would obviously fit in, hinting at financial incentives. But some involve how to engage in the process of applying for college generally. Most schools accept the Common Application, and some even prefer it.

Having gone on a few college tours this summer, it’s difficult not to judge the schools based on this important aspect. Some of them have way too many people in the group. It’s very difficult to hear what’s being said upfront when you’re in the back. That, unfortunately, was just one of the failings of my undergraduate alma mater’s tour.

Some of the tour guides have these portable mics and speakers that they were wearing. That was MUCH better except in one case, where there were actually too MANY guides in a relatively small space and the sound of one group bled into another cluster.

Some of the walks were mostly flat, although a few seemed to go up and downstairs a lot. My left knee became particularly sore on those treks. Generally speaking, travel is exhausting mentally and physically. I’m SO glad we went to NYC BEFORE the subways were flooded by the former hurricane, Ida!

The issues

Most of the colleges are SAT/ACT-optional. While some of these places initiated the policy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, others were proudly ahead of the curve.

Other than academics and social life, one of the most common questions by potential students were safety and security, especially getting from the nearby towns back to campus. One school, in particular, sounded quite impressive, even at 2 a.m.

I was truly surprised that one of the topics that came up often was laundry! At least three of the school folks mentioned the fact that the college offered free washing machines and dryers, though one has to provide detergent. Another complained that the students there had to cough up $1.50 per load.

It’s possible, I suppose, that my daughter will go to a college she has not visited in person, only virtually. But I’d be very surprised. As she noted, some schools were enhanced in her mind by seeing the physical location, while others suffered IRL.

Bright College Days – Tom Lehrer

Lydster: looking at colleges


College AheadBy the end of her junior year in high school, I wondered if my daughter was even interested in looking at colleges. And, I might add, it would have been OK if she weren’t.

Within 48 hours of the conclusion of the semester, she hauled out a bunch of catalogs, pamphlets, and other materials from the past six months or more. She had KEPT those? Her mother and I had thought that she had tossed them out. But what do WE know? We’re just parents.

She created a spreadsheet and soon had prioritized the colleges and universities into four categories. Some of the criteria were based on her understanding of the vitality of their art program. But diversity and other factors I don’t quite understand also played into it.

Having looked at the literature she received, I got a glimpse of what impressed her. For instance, one had a piece of glossy paper with her name; it’s a mail merge, but I’ll admit it was cool. A student from my wife’s alma mater wrote her a personal letter, noting my daughter’s interest in art; that was nice. But neither school was in her upper tier.

She also gets a TON of emails. Or more correctly, I got them and then forwarded them to her. Early on, she was understandably coy about putting her email out into the world. So most things came to MY email, and I’d forward it to her. Some were generally helpful in talking about financial aid, while others touted their institutions.

Only one school did she put on her do not forward list, and it was a school that tried to guilt her. It read like some political mail I’ve received. “Aren’t you interested…” and blah, blah, blah…

Roll up for the virtual tour

Several schools offered visits, some in person, others remotely.

Her first in-person visit, with her parents, was to a college within driving distance of Albany. I had conferred with an alum, an old friend of mine, who was less than enthused by his experience of a couple of decades ago. But the school seems to be a much different place now.

Actually, I was impressed. First, the head of admissions talked with us, a total of eight students and their parents, on a Saturday morning. Then two students lead two groups on a tour. Our student, in her final year, was personable, and specifically appreciated that I laughed at most of her jokes. But she didn’t get it when I told her my bill would be in the mail, though a nearby parent did.

My daughter also visited my alma mater with a friend of hers. She had originally pop-pooed that choice, probably because I went there. But her best friend Kay is interested, so they went together with Kay’s older brother.

I went on a virtual tour at a school with my daughter 1200 miles away. It was as fine as another ZOOM meeting can be.

Only one of her top-tier school choices concerns me, and it’s primarily because it’s one of those states with the most dramatic rise in COVID cases. So she’d be more than 1000 miles away if she were to get sick, although she’s fully vaccinated.

If this process is exhausting for ME, I imagine it’s laborious for her. I need some Tom Lehrer.


N is for nativism versus immigration

“Illegal” immigration has always been a red herring.

There have have always been nativism movements in the United States. Seldom has been as blatant as it’s been the past year and a quarter. In February 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna announced that the agency changed its mission statement from:

“USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

To now:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

The aspirational angle has been lost.

By contrast, “During the 1940s, America basically underwent a nationwide sensitivity training program. Zoe Burkholder, a historian of education, writes… that a ‘forced tolerance’ movement had begun frothing a decade earlier as educators feared that scientific racism—the pseudoscientific ‘Master Race’ theories brewing in Germany—could waft overseas.” A reasonable worry, evidently.

Thus the story about the Superman pic shown. (Hey, wasn’t he an illegal alien?) What I do know is that the current regime’s attitude is troublesome.

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn notes: “The part where Jesus says to welcome the stranger is not a suggestion, it is a directive.”

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein writes that Ronald Reagan “not only celebrating the concept of welcoming people from all sorts of places during his kickoff of the fall campaign, but arguing that it was immigrants who helped build the country and it was the dream that they embodied that was what made America great.” The GOP icon didn’t believe in nativism.

In other words, the US Needs ‘sh*thole’ countries, not the other way around. “America’s prosperity and security are greatly dependent on the goodwill and cooperation of other nations, developed and emerging markets alike.”

That would include chain migration, or family reunification.

Read former President Obama on immigration from September 2017

A pastor friend of mine noted recently, “I am thinking this morning of good people, great Americans I know, who have come here from Haiti, [various African countries], Pakistan, Philippines. These Americans contribute to the greater good of the US… [they] have worked hard, learned to live in an often-less-than-friendly new place, raised strong families, and sent their kids to college so they can also contribute to society… You ARE the American People.”

As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting.

The Weekly Sift guy nailed it when he wrote about The Real Immigration Issue: “‘Illegal’ immigration has always been a red herring. The more fundamental question is whether the United States will continue to be a country dominated by English-speaking white Christians.” Will nativism continue to push back?

For a brief historic perspective, read Becoming a Citizen: Naturalization Records, 1850 – 1930

For ABC Wednesday

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial