The other morning I was unloading the dishwasher when I noticed something. My 12-year-old J was making her breakfast, and it was eggs with onion, spinach, and feta cheese for breakfast. Self-sufficient and vegetable-loving? I got my Good Mom Gold Star first thing in the morning. Whoop, whoop.
In other news, I attended our high school’s College Night the other day. And yes, that means I’m a gigantic geek, because M’s a 9th grader. I was ambivalent about going, because the transition-to-high-school programs were not particularly informative and because some other parents I spoke to never went at all or went for the first time during their kid’s junior year. But I’m glad I went. It actually made me feel marginally better about the whole college process.
First, the high school gives the impression that they’re all over this process like white on rice. Now, they might be putting on a bit of a show, but even so, it was a pretty good show. I should have realized that with Niskayuna CSD always celebrating the splendor of Niskayuna CSD, of course they’re highly motivated to get kids happily placed into good colleges so that they can brag about it later.
Second, there’s just so much more technological assistance now. Way, way back in the olden days, I used the Common Application to apply to a few of my prospective schools, and it seemed like an extraordinarily efficient innovation to decrease paperwork. But here in 2017, it’s just plain crazy. I went to the program explaining the Naviance system that the school uses. Mostly because I had never heard of it. It turns out that you can enter information on your activities, honors, etc., and it will put it in gorgeous resume and/or application form. So, if you’re super with-it and adding things as they happen (your kid needs to get the log-in from her guidance counselor, and I have since nagged M about it twice), then by the time you’re filling out college applications, a lot of that information is organized at your keyboard-tapping fingertips. And you can search for colleges through Naviance, narrowing down by whatever parameters you or your kid happens to care about. But then the really ridiculous feature–and I mean ridiculous in a mostly-good way, as in ridiculously-awesome-but-also-possibly-taking-this-entire-thing-way-too-seriously–is that, once you’re looking at the college, you can pull up a little graph of GPA and test scores that marks the average for that college’s acceptance rate, but also includes a scatterplot with the actual information of recent Niskayuna applicants on the graph along with whether they were accepted, rejected, or wait-listed. Which seems like an amazing tool, even if it could also be a tragically sobering reality check.
Third, they were just generally reassuring about the whole process. For me, the most puzzling portion of getting into college is the activities. I mean, I’m fairly confident about the other factors: both of my daughters will get take mostly-tough-but-not-always-the-toughest classes, where they’ll get very-good-but-likely-not-the-tippy-top grades and test scores, and they’re likely find a couple of teachers who are effusive about recommending them. And yes, I did just knock on wood about all those. So, if that’s more or less accurate, the question is, what is it going to take, activity-wise, for my kids to get colleges to want them enough to chip in the cash for them to actually be able to attend? Are they going to need to invent something that benefits thousands of children in developing countries and/or learn a fourth language while starting a small business? Because it kind of feels like that’s the way it is. . . . But the super-reassuring advice about activities was: 1) They’re looking for consistency, impact, commitment, and leadership, so even a minor thing can look good if you stick with it, and 2) You’re doing pretty well if you’ve got at least two things at school, something outside of school, and you do something productive over the summer. So at that point I counted up M’s activities, and she’s looking pretty good. In fact, I’m super-excited about her most recent activity, which is that she’s joining the spring Unified Basketball Team, which is made up of kids with specials needs or physical/cognitive issues and kids from the general population. That had Cute W and me joking, “Wow, colleges are going to think she’s a really nice person!” Ha, ha. I mean, okay, she is a nice person. Just not always to her family.
So, to sum up: J is a self-sufficient vegetable-eater and M is an activity-joining scholar-athlete, and it seems entirely possible that at some point in the not-too-distant future, they’ll both be at college.