Dealing with College Applications, or “The Waiting is the Hardest Part….”

(With apologies to Tom Petty…)

Anyone who has a child understands waiting. We’ve been waiting for all sorts of things all their lives. We waited for them to sleep through the night. We waited for them to stop being picky eaters. We waited for them to pass their driver’s tests. We waited for them to get home by curfew. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. But now I’m experiencing one of the most frustrating types of waiting: the waiting for the college applications to be accepted or rejected.

This is just the type of situation that makes me absolutely nuts. The timetable is completely outside my control. (This is a problem for a control freak like me.) To colleges, it’s perfectly ok for US to wait and thrash and not be able to make plans (like the Spring Break College Tour Trip), but THEY can force us to fill out all kinds of financial applications way before we even get all of our tax information. Yup, we’re unimportant, we just have the bank accounts.

It galls me that as parents, we spend so much time and energy over the years building our children up, to make them feel valued and to help them gain self confidence. All of that can be dashed in an instant in the college app process. There is no good way to soften the blow of “we’re sorry, we had 25,000 other applicants and you didn’t make the cut.” Who cares if your child’s spirit is crushed?

Of course when some good news comes, it’s a huge adrenaline rush. (I get the adrenaline rush when I see that a school wants to throw money at my child. Might there be a chance I won’t be broke for the next few years?)

It’s almost over;  I can almost plan the Spring Break trip. (Yikes, where’s the GPS? Can I use any frequent flier miles?) When am I supposed to feel good about this? Oh right, once the DECISION is made. And it won’t be my decision. Just as it should be.



    • Robin says:

      A “Terp” is the shortened form of Terrapin, as in the University of Maryland Terrapins. Yup, my school mascot is a giant turtle.

  1. Eileen says:

    as a fellow terp, all i can say is – i will be feeling your pain quite soon when my daughter starts applying to colleges. both my husband and i are UMCP alumni, and the thought of our daughter not being able to attend the school she’s been hoping to go to for years now is scary.

    and the good news? we get to pay a LOT of money after both our children and we go through the heartbreak, the highs and lows and stress of applying. good luck…i’m right behind you.

  2. Jean Fiala says:

    Having gone through the college app process with 4 of my 6 kids, I know your pain! The competition to get into a “good” school is obscene. I have a friend who has their 9 month old grandson on a waiting list for a good pre-school so they can get into a good elementary school, to get into a good high school…all in the hope of getting into a good college! What ever happened to our kid’s childhood! We have them in so many activities now just to have their college app look impressive! The pressure on the kids – and the parents – is staggering! AND… once they get into that “good” school, there is no guarantee of a good job! The cost factor is staggering as well. Ideally, kids should go to the local community college to mature and finish their basic requirements – then transfer to a 4 year when they have a sense of what they want to do in life. However, too many kids – and parents – feel this sane option is a sign of failure! What a shame.

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