Archive | June, 2011

Congratulations to the Class of 2011

23 Jun

Today is graduation day for the seniors at our high school and they are to be much congratulated on their accomplishments.  Most of the class of 2011 will be going on to colleges where they will receive a first class education.  From what I could piece together from different sources, here are some highlights of where the students will be going.

Of all the graduating seniors in the class of 2011, 350 of them chose to disclose where they are attending college in the fall, a substantial majority.  Thirty-two of them will be heading to Ivy League colleges, with nine going to Cornell University, six each to the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, four will go to Princeton University, with two each attending Harvard University, Yale University, and Dartmouth College and one going to Brown University.  The co-valedictorians this year will attend Princeton and Georgetown Universities.

By far the largest contingent of students will be heading to Rutgers University, 17 in all.  The University of Michigan also appears to be a popular destination, claiming 15 students.  Other popular colleges include Syracuse University (14), New York University (10), Boston University (8), Colgate University (8), Indiana University (8), Pennsylvania State University (7), the George Washington University (6), Muhlenberg College (6), and Washington University in St. Louis (6).  Two are even heading north to attend McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

By all accounts this was a difficult year for admissions, given the sheer number of applications.  The Common Application folks reported that over 1.8 million applications were filed this past year and the number of applications filed on December 31, 2010 set a one-day record.

As these students leave adolescence and childhood behind and head off into adulthood and bigger horizons, they take with them our hopes and best wishes for a fulfilling, productive, and happy life.  Congratulations to the Class of 2011.

Almost There…

16 Jun

“Yay!” my daughter shouts gleefully and pumps her arms over her head, “junior year is almost over!”

We were looking at the calendar recently and marveling that junior year is about to come to an end.  For my daughter, it’s not soon enough.  It’s been a busy, full year – lots of late nights staying up tackling homework, lots of juggling of academic and extracurricular commitments, lots of preparing for and stressing over standardized tests.  It was akin to running a marathon and in early spring, when the weather did not yet show signs of turning, it seemed as if we were hitting the wall and the year would never end.  I worried that she was not getting enough sleep, as I would find her dozing off in the car even for short rides.

After finals end next week, she and her classmates will be seniors, at the top of the high school food chain.  Already she is looking forward to exercising her “senior privileges,” which include having a whole hour for lunch instead of 25 minutes to wolf down her food, being able to leave the school and go into town for lunch like an adult, and not having to take finals.  And then there’s much anticipation that after three and a half years of really hard work, pressure, and fierce competition, she and her classmates can finally relax and enjoy their last days of high school.  From the looks of it, there are all sorts of parties and celebrations going on for seniors.

At this time of year people say the same thing, how fast time has flown, how they can’t believe it, where has the time gone?  Someone once likened the passage of time to the rewinding of a VHS tape – remember those?  It starts out slowly, but then begins to gather speed and momentum, the machine whirring fast, faster and faster as the rewinding hurtles toward the end and the tape is spit out.  Trying to hold on to moments is like trying to hold on to the wind.

Soon and very soon, the new school year will arrive and the process of actually applying to college, putting words to paper, will begin in earnest.  Until then, I exhale a long held breath, and say a prayer of thanks and gratitude that the year is behind us.

“I Just Don’t Feel It”

4 Jun

“I just don’t feel it,” said my daughter.

“What do you mean?  Why?” I asked.

She shrugged and didn’t say anything else.  We were discussing a university that we had visited and I eagerly wanted to know what she thought of it.  It was a big name ivy-clad university with a beautiful campus and it offered the types of programs she was looking for.  Notoriously difficult to get into, it would be a “reach” school, but I was hoping she wanted to “reach” for it.  She didn’t.

The lack of specificity in her response left me feeling frustrated.  Sometimes she could explain her reasons: “Too small,” “Too much of a pressure cooker,” or “It’s in the middle of nowhere.”  So I wanted her to give me a thoughtful reason but none was forthcoming.  I tried a different approach.

“You know, this can be one of your “reach” schools.  You need one or two “reach” schools on your list,” I reminded her.

No reaction.

When we started visiting colleges, I quickly discovered that our reactions to colleges could differ greatly.  Some college campuses that seemed perfectly fine to me held no appeal for her.  Sometimes she knew why she didn’t like a place but just as often she would say, “I don’t know,” followed by a noncommittal shrug that communicated nothing else other than her lack of enthusiasm.

I have been told that sometimes kids are just not able to explain why they don’t like a particular school.  The standard advice from guidance counselors and admissions officers alike is for parents to accede to the child’s feeling and move on.  A part of me acknowledges the wisdom of this advice but another part of me questions whether 17-year-olds can know what’s best for them.

So I find myself unable to shake off my frustration and every so often, I will ask her again albeit with different questions all with the purpose of drawing a reasoned response:  “So…why did you not like that college again?”  “Are you put off by the low admissions rate?”  Call me persistent but of course she is equally persistent in giving me the same answers.  You would think that I would have learned by now to let it go.

And perhaps one day I will.

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