With apologies to the souls and estates of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, T.S. Eliot – and to Meatloaf.
““April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” -T.S. Eliot
“March is the cruelest month, teasing hope out of the exhausted parent, mixing scholarships and insufficient funds, stirring dull rejection letters with glossy admission notifications.” – M.J. Szarek
With March 1 turning up next week, most admission decisions have gone out, many scholarship notifications have followed and the first financial aid packages, like crocuses of academe, have started to push through.
And, for many students, there comes the harsh reality that the school you fell in love with doesn’t love you back. For many families comes the harsh reality that those crocuses might not be as pretty or bountiful as you imagined.
This can be a time when even the most grounded family can turn into the Simpsons.
Therefore, this might be a good time to step back and analyze what you are going through.
DENIAL – The Admissions Committee must have made a mistake; they must have not seen her senior grades. The FAFSA must be wrong or the College read it wrong. This is somebody’s else’s EFC. I know it ain’t what this family expects to contribute!
ANGER – How dare they crush my little Justin’s dreams. Those @#$^#$. It isn’t fair. How can a middle class family send their kids to college?
BARGAINING – What if we send every certificate Caitlin has ever gotten since 2nd grade? Let’s go back to those scholarships for Lithuanians – my great-grandmother once lived in Vilnius.
DEPRESSION – We failed. If only we had planned better a few years ago. If only we had pushed Brad to study a little harder in sophomore year.
ACCEPTANCE – Hey, you know this isn’t a bad school. He had in his top group all along. And, by balancing aid, loans, payment plans, his summer job earnings and Aunt Lucy’s generous birthday gift, this might just work out.
While my writing style tends towards humor and a light-hearted tone, these scenarios, experiences and feelings are real. And there is nothing wrong with them. The college search is not a simple, straightforward process and is filled with “I wish I knew then what I know now” moments. It is normal to be confused, concerned and frustrated during the Spring of the College Admission process.
But this is the very moment you should take a deep breath and try not to lose perspective. And try to make sure your child does not lose perspective. This is probably the first time they’ve faced a decision with this level of importance. So, they may actually seem to value your opinion once again – be ready for it.
Remember – for the vast majority of souls – it ends well. A recent Pew Center report asks Is College Worth It?, and the answer from most graduates is a resounding “yes.” Of survey respondents, 86 percent of college graduates believe their education was a good personal investment. In addition, 88 percent of those with a four-year degree said their education was useful or somewhat useful in preparing for a career. Think about how many other services, products or investments can claim similar results.
So, keep things in perspective. Keep your options open. Monitor your breathing.
And – don’t forget – when all is said and done – your son or daughter can paraphrase the great philosopher Meatloaf and tell 90% of the colleges, “I applied there. Got accepted there. But there ain’t no way I’m ever going to enroll there. Now be sad (don’t be sad) ’cause two out of three ain’t bad…”
Just don’t be surprised if your son or daughter asks who the heck this Meatloaf person is…
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Us” and join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR. And now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.