By 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.