I penned a letter to my daughter, Maria, just before she left for Kenyon the fall of her freshman year. Since leaving her home in Hawaii to make a new home in Ohio, Maria has completed two eventful years of college: declaring a film major, earning a 3.5 GPA, collecting two national diving championships, and being named NCAA Diver of the Year. While she certainly doesn’t need my advice on how to write an award-winning essay (she did that) or how to dive for another country in the Commonwealth Games (she’s doing that, too), I believe there are some words of wisdom only a parent can bestow.
Kenyon is not a small town. Gambier isn’t even a small town. This may come as a surprise to city or suburban parents who think they are sending their children to the quintessential New England-style school in a small town in Ohio. But Kenyon (and Gambier) are not Main Street, America, and you won’t find Homer Price’s donut-making machine in the shop on the corner with the accompanying 25-cent cup of coffee.
Once college applications are completed, students will find themselves in the midst of a lull period, during which high school seniors experience an interminable limbo while still feeling pressure to keep up their grades. So as a parent, what do you do?
It took me seven years of college searches with my three very different (I know you know) children to learn a basic rule: that virtual reality is just as valid a part of the search process as test scores, grades, and tuition expenses. Over these years, I’ve come to accept that my parental role is like that of Sancho Panza to Don Quixote, listening hard and believing the impossible until I share a vision of each student’s dream.
December is prime time for college neurosis. Seniors are waiting for early decisions and juniors have just received scores for the SATs they bombed. But if your child is under ten, or better yet, still in utero, you can alleviate a lot of stress by adhering to this handy timeline: