Tag Archives: school

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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The Race, Part B

3 Mar

A story I love to share illustrates just how proactive and fair my mother was. During a meeting to create my 9th grade schedule, my new guidance counselor looked at my name and said, “Oh, Susan’s sister. Well, let’s see…do you have the same kinds of grades your sister has (all A’s)? She then looked at my school record and said, “Oh, I guess not.” Really, she said that! I, a 14-year-old A and B student, was stunned and angry. So, I went home and told my mother about the conversation. She was livid! She immediately called the school and spoke with the highest ranked administrator and warned that I was never, ever to be compared to my sister again. She gave a short lecture on the importance of treating siblings as individuals. I was grateful—instead of being upset with me for not getting those straight A’s, she always allowed me to be myself. She helped me learn how to advocate for others and for myself.

My mom could have been featured in the film, The Race to Nowhere, as part of the solution. Even though she is not here to remind me, I try to mother my children with these principles.

I hope you find guidance from your mother. Which of her special philosophies or techniques inspire you and help you guide your children through school?