College. Seemingly as soon as Adventure Guy and I arrived home with DD1–having driven more carefully those few miles from the hospital than on any other trip in our lives–someone warned ominously, “I hope you’ve started a college fund. Do you know what it’s going to cost by the time she gets ready to go to school?” We’d nod in agreement and go back to thinking about paying for diapers and daycare.
Now suddenly, DD1 is halfway through her junior year of high school. She hasn’t needed diapers in years, though it’s amazing how other expenses took their place–swim team, cello lessons, car insurance payments. I understand now how they come up with that six figure estimate of how much it takes to raise a child. And I have three of them!
I also, much to my relief, have inlaws who set aside money for our children’s education. That fact alone opens up some options that the kids simply wouldn’t have otherwise, since we fall in that difficult category of making too much to qualify for need-based assistance but not enough to either have set aside a large college fund for each child or to pay college costs entirely out-of-pocket. I firmly believe that it’s a mistake to saddle students with large amounts of college debt just as they begin their adult lives, and I would have a hard time encouraging one of my kids to go to a school that would require taking large loans to complete.
With all that said, it should please me that DD1 has narrowed her college search to public universities in states surrounding our own. On her want list for a school: strong science program, mid-size to large student enrollment, college town setting, winters no colder than here in Suburbia, and a location within driving distance from home.
So this summer, we’ll make some visits to each of the campuses she’s identified so that she can get a feel for each of them. We’ve also discussed visiting the Boston and Washington, D. C. areas to see some of the alma maters of various relatives. Her grandmother is rooting for Georgetown, her school, while Adventure Guy’s uncle talks up Boston College. But, DD1 shows little enthusiasm for those options.
And, it’s not that she couldn’t get in. Her test scores are strong, her extracurricular activities both varied and deep, and she has a distinct advantage in the “geographic diversity” category. None of that is a guarantee, but she hasn’t done anything to rule herself out of consideration for more competitive universities.
My question. Is it worth it? Should we push her to apply at some of those schools or be thankful that she wants to stay closer to home and pursue an education that will not leave anyone in debt? In fact, those scores above qualify her for some pretty nice merit-based scholarships at many of the schools on her list.
I just finished a great book on this topic–because as Adventure Guy once said if I’m doing something I’ve got to have a book about it–David L. Marcus’ Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Find The Right Colleges–And Find Themselves. I added it to my Kindle one day and finished it the next. In between I often found tears running down my cheeks as I read about the students and their individual challenges and triumphs, and I picked up some helpful tips to use when it comes time for DD1 to write those entrance essays.
Ultimately, I want her to find the school that fits for her. The challenge is how to make sure she has a full understanding of all the options without hijacking the process.
I think it was easier changing those diapers!