College Road Trip –a long and winding road.

9 Oct

As I and my family become immersed in the frenzy of my daughter’s college application process, I wish I could talk to my mom about my senior year, her coping mechanisms and just get that re-assurance that it will all work out.

My friends (my colleagues in Parenting, Inc.) and I discuss how much this whole college search and application process has changed over the last 25 – 30 years. We all agree it seems much more grueling. Like so many other things in our lives, it is more complicated and competitive. We can’t really blame this change completely on technology, but the fact that a tremendous amount of the planning and applying takes place on-line, makes this another task we can obsess about 24 hours a day!

There are some important similarities I recall about my own experience. We think that our teens go overboard with tutors and counselors, but even I had a few appointments with a college counselor to help me figure out what I might study and where. College visits/ road trips were all exciting. I enjoyed visiting Tufts with my parents and actually recall walking around the campus with dreams of a 4 year stay. I also remember the Reuben sandwich I enjoyed when we took a break in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. My mother and I enjoyed a long car ride to Cornell and then survived a scary ride home in a white-out snowstorm. I remember being thankful for my mom’s willingness to stay in a hotel while I camped out in a dorm room there.

My most  vivid memory is actually a regret.  My final decision to attend Rutgers College makes me proud, but I never shared the exact reason with my parents. After Tufts and Cornell rejected my application (easy to say now, a horrible feeling then), I had to choose between Brandeis and Rutgers. Even after meeting with my lovely counselor, I was still unsure of my career path. I thought I should follow my sister’s grand footsteps and consider law or a similar, highly respected career. At the time, teaching was not the popular choice. Salaries were still low as  was the esteem, or so I thought. Yet, somehow I knew that I might choose to be a teacher. And, so I privately decided to opt for the less expensive education, I started out majoring in economics and taking courses that were not right for me. Fortunately, Rutgers was the perfect place to alter my path and follow my true calling to become an English teacher.

I wish I could tell my mom and dad about my secret decision, but I also think they might have known. Most importantly, I still get chills as I recall their show of approval and support of my decisions. I know I made them proud!

So, now back to my current journey as the mom of a college-seeker. And, since I do not recall my mom nagging me to edit college essays and finish applications (most likely a selective memory loss), I aspire to be the supportive and understanding mom.

How about your experience, then and now? I would love to know your story—it might just help this current journey.

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2 Responses to “College Road Trip –a long and winding road.”

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster October 10, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Part of reading through my old journals was seeing various discussions about my academic path. My mom agreed to let me plow through high school in five years, but then chafed to see me dawdling at community college. When, 4.5 years later, it looked like I was actually going to graduate, she rejoiced . . . despite that she couldn’t imagine what I’d do with an Anthropology degree!

    Recently I went to show a visiting girlfriend a video of myself from my early 20s. As I was rummaging for that, I realized I had a video of my mom walking away from my college graduation, stopping and calling, “I’m proud of you!” Oh, how I wept!

    If you’d like, I can email you the crummy quality clip of that.

    I didn’t talk to counselors. I didn’t apply to multiple schools. I meandered around and was fortunate, through that meandering, to find something that worked.

    Would you be at all interested in writing an FTIAT entry about your mom? I, for one, would love to read it.

    • Shari Danzig Stein October 11, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      I would love to write an entry–thanks for asking, I’m honored. I’ll think about my focus, but please give me suggestions if you have any.

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