“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.

4 Responses to ““I Just Don’t Feel It””

  1. Marty Lowell June 4, 2011 at 5:33 PM #

    Gotta say… your stuff keeps getting better and better. Highest praise is to say something is worth reading. And now your stuff is.

  2. susannah June 4, 2011 at 5:56 PM #

    Please let her go with her gut!! She’s going to wake up nearly every morning for the next four years in the place she ends up attending. That is a looong time for someone her age. She has to know that it was her choice to be there in the first place.

    Who of us can adequately verbalize to anyone why something is right or not-right for us? I felt a lot of pressure from my mother and grandmother to pick a certain school that “didn’t feel right” and it was an expensive and time consuming disaster.

    I ended up transferring without even telling my mother (because she wouldn’t listen) and we didn’t speak for a year. It was one of the most difficult times of our lives.

    I’m now proud of my degree from a not prestigious university because I did it on my own – but people pre-suppose A LOT, you know, and often times it seems to me I took a much longer route than needed.

  3. Seth June 6, 2011 at 7:04 AM #

    Already I can relate to the mixed emotions you face- and describe so well. Let’s see how I do with this complicated conversation with my daughter in about 13 years! Thanks for a welcome head’s up.


  4. Penny June 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM #

    I enjoyed reading your blog, though my boys are no way near applying for college yet. However, I can relate to your feeling as a loving parent wanting to know “why” and the frustration of not getting the answer. Perhaps in this upcoming summer break she will draft her own list of “reach” schools and talk about why these schools are on her list. Sometimes “timing” is just everything – be patient 🙂

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