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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Long Distance Mom: Drop Off and Launch
January 16, 2013 - 6:28pm

Well, I successfully dropped off my son Nick for his first day of college. If you’ve been following my column (and his), you will know that my son was a “high school burnout” who took some time off before college.  Discovering that he was bored silly with the minimum wage working world, Nick conceded to apply to a local state school. He moved into a dorm last Sunday and started classes at 8:00 am on Monday (which happens when you register late.)  But yesterday Nick’s Facebook page read, “College is probably the best thing that's happened to me.  Life, she do me good.”

I do not regularly “stalk” my kids on Facebook… Parents can’t help but to check in occasionally to test the prevailing happiness temperature.  I’ve also been texting Nick after his first classes to see how he feels about them.  (He likes Art History!)  Now he’s starting to ignore my incessant messages—a good sign, I think.  (He’ll respond when he needs something…)

One down.  One to go.  My daughter Katie is a high school senior this year so her final college applications are due NOW.  Katie went to the dorm to drop off her brother on Sunday and seemed sufficiently impressed.  But Katie won’t let me be the intrusive (“Let me look over your applications, please”) professor Mom in the same way as her brother.   Katie is the child who sends in her applications and then tells her parents about them later. 

Fine.  But professor Mom wants to help with the admissions' essays—to help craft the language that explains that one “D” in the midst of all those AP classes.   

Katie has so many interests that she does not really know what kind of school is best suited for her.  (I don’t either.)  Katie is good at math, loves cooking, animals and has recently discovered that she is talented at art.   (I keep hoping that she’ll look into engineering of some kind…)  A big research university makes sense for kids who have lots of interests and don’t lean towards just the humanities or the sciences.  But Katie also wants a smaller school in a more rural setting (which may be more expensive).  The result of all of these different interests means that she is completing many applications for schools as different as Sewanee and FSU, looking at scholarship programs, tuition costs, etc...  Katie did agree to put in an application to the school where I teach, which would mean free tuition, worth about $100,000.  (I try not to force that option...)

Perhaps because of all of the application pressure, Katie is starting to talk about a gap year, which her brother started last year, but did not complete in any organized way.  I am fine with any of Katie's options.  It’s just about applying for programs in a timely way so she isn’t stuck at home, bored on the internet (as her brother was).

I have to admit, though, that I’m enjoying these last moments as much as any parent.  Watching your child wonder about her future interests and then go happily off to pursue them is what it’s all about, isn’t it? 

If only I didn’t spend so much time thinking about it!  I better write those syllabi...



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