Waiting, waiting, waiting...Posted on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 21:43
Mary Dell Harrington of Grown and Flown joins us today to talk about the ups and downs students -- and parents -- weather as the wait for regular decisions winds down. It's always nice to have a fellow traveler with whom to share the experience. Read on for a friend's perspective...
Thick or Thin Envelope?
Welcome to the end of the waiting period, the last few weeks of March where kids who applied to colleges via regular decision still remain in the dark about whether they will receive the “thick or thin envelopes.” Our youngest child is one of those seniors and she (and I) know that the April 1 notification date is no longer some distant date in the future. It is practically now.
I have been down this road before with our son and his friends when they graduated from high school five years ago. I work as a PTA volunteer in the snack bar where we sell bagels, Snapples, and a host of comfort foods to hungry kids. From mid-December on, seniors accepted via early decision bounced up to the counter wearing new logo sweatshirts and broad smiles, expressing relief that it was all over. They could now finally begin to imagine themselves the following fall in Syracuse or Nashville or wherever. No more wondering, no more work to do.
The college where my son applied via early decision mailed letters the week before Christmas, letting its applicants know if they were in or out. He opened the letter, read the first paragraph, left the room.
As his mom, I felt that familiar sickness whenever my children faced disappointment in the past- not being picked for a travel team, not receiving an invitation to a party, suffering a season-ending sports injury. Other than saying a few words to acknowledge their hurt, it is best to remember that clichés (from parents, especially) sound hollow: “so many great schools out there,” “very competitive,” “their loss,” “get back on that horse.” My son was unhappy with the rejection but also the realization that he had to quickly regroup over winter break (fun) to complete the additional applications waiting for him on the Common Ap.
Early Decision Two for him was a much happier day and he graduated last May from a college that - in our heart of hearts - probably was a better match for him than the one who had (temporarily) broken HIS heart.
So my daughter waits. She did not apply via early decision but has received good news from schools with rolling admissions so she waits knowing that she WILL be going to college, somewhere.
I expect her decisions will be a mixed bag given that she applied to schools with a range of selectivity. While she (ok, “we”) wait, I view Instagram pics of admitted kids proudly holding banners with college slogans with the hashtag -- #classof18. Thick envelope decisions are now revealed in a public manner like never before. It is no longer just phone calls to friends and family or congratulations on Facebook walls written with lots of !!!!!.
As parents, we know that in person or on social media, congratulations come easy, consoling is much harder. Good luck to all - seniors and parents, too - waiting class of '18 decisions.
Mary Dell Harrington is a graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Business School. After a career in the media working for NBC, Discovery and Lifetime, she began a decade-long stint as a school volunteer and certified animal therapist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is the mother of two children, 23 and 17, and lives in Westchester County, New York. She is co-founder and writer, with Lisa Endlich Heffernan, of Grown and Flown: Parenting Never Ends. Please visit www.grownandflown.com.