Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Page 86 College Admissions and what NOT to do

This is an absolutely true story

" Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust." annonymous



dedicated to Brook who brought motherhood back in my life

I know nothing about college admissions or selection. All I know is that my child has been reading newspapers since she was seven years old. She was active in politics since she was eight, making certain I voted for Perot by not only accompanying me to her grade school where the voting process took place, but going as far as to supervise my decision in the booth. I let her actually poke the hole next to his name, so she could say she has been voting since she was a young child.
Along with this idealism, she had it in her head she was going to go to Northwestern. And she refused to settle for anything less. She took her SATs and did extremely well. I won’t lie, I can’t remember – but I think she got close to perfect.

She worked her ass off writing her essays to her selections, but the rule is she could only make one Ivy League choice. Or something of that nature.

As the letters arrived, some of the lesser schools automatically accepted her. She had an option to attend any college in the state free of charge due to her consistent high school career. But she was a white female in middle to upper middle class household. We all know that there are issues and I am not going to get into a political debate about it, but she would have had a much better chance if she was a child of color or grew up homeless. Even better if she were both.

We all waited pensively for the letter from Northwestern. I was told that if the envelopes were thin, she didn’t get in.

That rhymes. That sucks.

When the letter, instead of package, came from Northwestern, I did the worst thing a person could do.

I opened it. And now you will understand why I have taken so long to pick up on my story….

I stood with that thin envelope in my hand, my heart beating extremely hard and I am pretty certain I knew how it felt to have your heart literally break in two.

The letter was short. Full of bullshit reasons, and worse, full of typos! .

I was so angry. I didn’t waste time penning a letter, sending it by special delivery. My letters are usually very persuasive. But not this time. The return letter came directly from the dean who apologized for the “obvious lack of professionalism his staff showed, but unfortunately, the students had been registered for the year and Devon was high on the “wait list.” .

I sat on that letter for two weeks. I just couldn’t see my child hurt. That is what mothers do. Right? Every morning I woke up even more tortured. I couldn’t sleep at night.

Sometimes we need to think past emotion. I didn’t know she only had a limited amount of time to enroll in another Ivy League institution or college of her choice. Willie finally told her after two weeks and handed her the letter. I wish I had just resealed the letter, put it on her bed and taken a two week vacation while she destroyed the house.

Her anger with me was complete. It was as if that was the final straw. I have always been on trial with this child and the more I tried to protect her, the more damage I did.

In the end, she got a full ride to Drake - A FULL RIDE! She got her dorm room, her tuition and even some of her books. For six years! 3 years of pre-law and 3 years of law. It was a limited program they had just started and gave to 100 students total worldwide. And she was a personal selection.

She wasn’t happy. But they loved her. Her first job there was working for the dean. When she got sick, the president of the university and his wife sent me a letter asking me if they could go to her dorm and get her and bring her into their home because she was so insistent on making it to her classes. I still have that letter. It is a direct reflection on the child I raised. Devon from a very early age was very self confident and always drew people to her. She was a person who had an effect on everyone she met.

Today she is a highly successful business woman living in a tony area of San Fransisco.

But still, she would never forgive me.


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