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The College Process: A Full-Time Job!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

I never thought that my son applying to college would be so much work!!! I remember back to when I went though the college process. (It was in the 80's, that's all you need to know!) Anyway, I know it was nothing like this. I remember going to my counselor, telling her what I wanted to study. She suggested schools that she thought would accept my grades and that had my major. I applied to them. Never went to visit any of them! A brochure was all I got to look at! I got accepted to the school I liked best and went there. Sight unseen!!

Now kids are told to start looking at schools in their sophomore and junior year. Research them online. Go visit them. Then go to the open houses that they have. Some even offer overnight stays. The counselors suggest that we see around 10 schools and apply to at least 5. I have a friend who's daughter dragged her to over 25 schools. A very important bit of advice: make sure you visit the schools when classes are in session. Going in the summer or on a Saturday when class is not in session, is like going to a ghost town. You can't get a good feel for the school when it's empty. It looks so much more energetic and alive when you see kids walking around. It changes the whole look of the school.

Ok, so we went to the schools and ended up applying to them all. And when I say, we, I mean ME!! My son has after school sports and hours of homework. He did not have the time to apply to 10 schools. The counselors say that they want the kids to do it themselves. Believe me, 99% of the kids I know, had their parents doing it. For two weeks straight I was applying to schools. I didn't mind doing it, I am just preparing all of you out there that it takes a lot of time.

So, we applied to the schools. Now we have to have his SAT scores sent to every school. This is another process. You must send them through collegeboard.com. Then you have to get the school counselor to send your transcripts. This was our biggest challenge. They took forever to send them. Many, many emails and phone calls went back and forth between me and my son's counselor. I was ready to go into the school and strangle her! I mean, we were getting letters from the schools 2 months after applying saying, "still waiting for you to send us your transcripts." Take note of this. You can't trust anyone to get things done for you!!! You constantly have to be on top of them and double-check. I eventually had to call every college and find out who got transcripts and who didn't. This is the counselors JOB!!! I know, I'm a little bitter about this one. It was a real pain in the neck to get straightened out.

So, finally everything is sent out. So now we wait. Meanwhile, I think I'm done applying to schools. Then all of a sudden, my son starts to get phone calls and emails from college scouts looking to recruit him for baseball. We go to meet with 4 coaches and visit 4 more schools. They all want him. So, we now have to apply to those 4 schools. And the battle with the counselor begins again. We get everything out, however, and now, suddenly, our focus changes from the original 10 schools we applied to, to the 4 new schools that want him for baseball.

Acceptance letters start coming in around December. He gets accepted to every school. It made him feel good to have all these options. Meanwhile, the coaches from the 4 schools keep calling him and emailing him. "Have you made a decision yet?" "When are you going to make a decision?" Truth of the matter is, the 4 schools that wanted to recruit him were all private schools and very expensive. Unfortunately, the decision of where he was going lied solely on who was going to give us the most financial aid. Which brings me to my next nightmare...

Financial aid. Oh my gosh, what an ordeal!! Don't get me wrong, it's great that schools will give you money based on financial need. Especially since a lot of them are over 50k a year. However, the work involved is long and tedious. You have to fill out forms for every school. Then if they don't give you enough money, you go back to them and apply for more. Then for us, if you have numerous schools that want you to play a sport, you are back and forth telling one college that the other college gave us this much, can you give us more. I felt like my little boy was on the auction block!

In the end, the one that wanted him the most, got him. It was not his first choice, but it's nice to feel wanted. He finally made the decision the other day, and the check is in the mail. He is very happy and the coach is very happy to be getting him. We are also very proud of him. In a few weeks we will be getting a bunch of information and things to do before school starts, so it is not over yet. But we all were relieved when the ultimate decision was made.

I had no idea that when I started to write this blog that it would be this long. Sorry to those that were bored with it. Hopefully, you stopped reading a while back.

So, I just want all of you parents with college bound teenagers to realize that your in for a lot of work. Don't get me wrong, it has been a lot of fun also. Researching schools online and visiting them, was a blast. We took our younger daughter with us to all the college visits, so it was always some good family road trips. By the way, if you have younger children, definitely bring them along. That way they have an idea of what the schools look like in case they decide to apply to them in the future.

So, in the end, you are going to rack up some serious hours getting your child through the college process. However, you will become very knowledgeable as well. Gotta say, I could be a counselor myself with all that I have learned!! Just remember to follow-up!!! Don't assume that things are getting sent! That is the most crucial thing you should take away from this.

The important thing is that you enjoy this time together. Before you know it, it will be time to pack up the car. :(
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    phew! It's rediculous I'm sure! I did most of the paperwork myself when i went to college but that was in 2004 and not quite every thing was so digitalized yet. I did end up wishing I had visited my first school on a weekend - it was a "suitcase school" where everyone went home every weekend, but home for me was 70 miles away and caused a lot of problems. I ended up transfering to a school closer to home after one semester and wasted a bit of money in the process.

    Also (I'm sure he'll end up doing more of the paperwork himself as school goes along) I found having been through the process of financial aid to be completely priceless when trying to navigate the process of buying a house. Seriously - my expectations of how long things would take and how many papers I would have to sign was entirely based on my experiences with FASFA and Pell Grants and begging for scholarships and I was very well prepared because of it (arguably more prepared than my loan officer or my realtor when it came to timelyness expectations)
    1869 days ago
    I certainly admire your effort and the ultimate success it achieved. I must confess that I could have been TinaJane's Mom. I told my 3 kids that if they couldn't manage the application process themselves, I wouldn't think they were ready to live on their own far away from home. I realize that's not the case, but that's how I felt at the time.

    Fortunately, all did well, graduated in 4 years and became gainfully employed. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the process for their own children.
    Going back a generation. My parents asked me "What are SATs" and their parents were immigrants who barely spoke English.
    1869 days ago
    Oh my, what an ordeal! My kids are 1-6, and college seems so far off!
    1869 days ago
    Ditto on what MAXMAMA45 said! Your son is so lucky to have a mom who is so invested in the process and has done all of the hard work, research and follow up that you have. I don't have kids myself, but I remember going through that process when I was a teenager. My parents weren't half as informed as you are and I did most of the work myself, which was very overwhelming when you're just a high school kid. It's great that, even though it was stressful for you, that you enjoyed it and just think of how satisfying it will be to see your son flourish once he gets started. You'll be one proud mamma!
    1870 days ago
    Wow all I can say is, you are one awesome mom!! Your kids are lucky to have a mother willing to put in all those hours. Hope you get to enjoy lots of time with him this summer before he leaves for school!
    1872 days ago
    i totally feel for you.... pretty frustrating when you not only have to do your job but someone elses as well. they are supposed to be guiding you through the process, i mean its not like you do this all the time... that why they are SUPPOSED to be there.

    well, you survived... take a deeeeeeeeeeep breath. the fun is only just beginning... :S
    1877 days ago
  • KANOE10
    I went through that with 4 kids and many many college applications. Now I have kids applying to law school and graduate school. I totally agree. It is a of work...but so worth it. I am glad your son found a good school to go to.

    1878 days ago
    LOL I'm laughing as I literally am going through the same thing. My oldest is now in Frisco, and my middle one is receiving school tour info etc etc.

    fun times for us 80s mom, right? LOL
    1879 days ago
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