College. Wait, What Just Happened?

 kateBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! I know it’s been a while, but I keep running out of time to write every week. This has nothing to do with my new photo app that let’s me try out different hair colors without commitment.  It’s because they work my little fingers to the bone in the CLO office. Those diarista ads don’t write themselves, you know. Speaking of diaristas, mine quit on me last week. She’s been with me three years and she knows how I like my socks rolled instead of folded inside each other so they don’t get stretched out. Don’t judge. Being the positive person I am (shut up, you), I’m using this as an opportunity to whip my kids into shape in the event that Uncle Sam ever gives us an onward assignment and we can no longer afford household help. Considering that one of my kids complained about his underwear not being folded since our maid left, we have a long way to go.

The domestic situation is only the least of my worries right now. My oldest infant tiny newborn baby is supposed to select a college to attend by the end of the month. It’s a good thing we had all those extra kids so we could sell them to pay tuition for our firstborn. Applying to colleges while living overseas can be tricky. Thankfully, my child is aware of my Benign Neglect approach to parenting and took it upon himself to do the work of applying to colleges himself. He even managed to get accepted to some non-clown colleges. But what if you don’t have a kid like that and you aren’t a slacker mom like me? Where do you go for help? The AAFSW has published a very helpful timeline with many resources on how to go about the daunting process of throwing your babies out into the universe and hoping they return to you happy and successful and only for short visits. Without dirty laundry.

Folded underwear aside, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that my oldest child will soon be leaving the nest. They really should give parents a manual about this stuff before they have kids. Nobody gets pregnant thinking, “It’s going to be so awesome in eighteen years when this perfect creature that I made leaves me.” What am I going to do without my practice child around to tutor his brother using the ‘punch-him-if-he-gets-an-incorrect-answer’ method (side note: his brother’s math grades improved considerably after his tutoring sessions)? Who’s going to make fun of me every time I get the lyrics wrong when I belt out into song? How did eighteen years fly by so fast, and how is it possible that I am still only 29 years old? What? Give or take, obviously.

Despite my parenting fails, I did manage to pick up a few useful tips over the last few months between eating bonbons and playing Candy Crush Saga.

  • Encourage your child to do most of the work themselves. Researching schools, filling out their applications, writing their essays, etc. I did look at my son’s essays and pointed out a few grammatical errors, but for the most part left it alone. I didn’t want to change his voice or point-of-view to that of a 29+ year-old sarcastic woman.
  • Follow up with them. Keep a timeline in a visible place, say, the wine rack, and check in with your child to make sure they are on track.
  • Have your child monitor their e-mail for acceptances and financial awards, which will often arrive in the mail way past the time your child has been accepted. THIS IS NOT TO IMPLY THAT THE MAIL HERE IS SLOW OR ANYTHING. Follow up with each college to make sure they received the applications and FAFSA (this is the financial aid form). We found this out the hard way. One college never received my son’s application and another never received his FAFSA. Both mistakes were discovered too late to do anything about it.
  • After your child has been accepted to a school, there are usually Facebook groups of accepted students he or she can join to meet other kids and get a feel for what they will be like, and even make a connection to find a roommate.
  • Try not to influence your child too heavily. This one is really hard for me. Of course I want him to go to college in our home state at the same school where he toddled around as a baby while his dad worked on his master’s degree. And where I have many spies. The more I try to tell him how awesome it would be, the less he wants to go there. Naturally.
  • Don’t rush out and get a puppy to fill the void you are soon to experience. They poop all over the floor and chew up your shoes.
  • Pat yourself on the back. You created a child that will soon be folding his or her own underwear. Or not, but their underwear will no longer be your problem! And rejoice in the fact that you can GET RID OF THEIR DRUM SET! Wait, that wasn’t too specific, was it?

Now I feel the need to go cry in the corner. But I can’t, because it’s dirty and I don’t know where we keep the mop or vacuum.

Helpful College Web Sites (register here to take PSAT, SAT, and SAT II tests) (click here to fill out and submit the Common Application) (most colleges will require you to apply for financial aid using this site) (many will also want you to use this site) (register here to get scholarship alerts via e-mail) (helpful e-mail alerts for parents and students) (AFSA scholarship information) (AAFSW scholarship information) National Association for College Admission Counseling Independent Educational Consultants Association


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