I’ve just returned from spring break where we did a round of college tours. This is a grueling but interesting process. Having somewhat of an inside perspective makes the information sessions and tours a little different. I have a good sense of how the admissions process works, and I have an even better sense of what classes are really going to be like. For the most part, the tour guides and information sessions have been fairly accurate if a little salesy. It’s been especially interesting to see what Geeky Girl finds most interesting and appealing. And it’s not the same as what I find interesting.
Geeky Girl is not interested in ranking. The colleges we went to see are super highly ranked (and super hard to get into, but we’ll cross that bridge later), but she didn’t really know that. She selected these to visit based on size and location. After going on the tours, she’s said that she likes schools where the clear focus is on the academics, where most of what the tour guides talk about is learning and the approach to learning that the school takes. She likes small, discussion-based classes. And she’s like hearing about study abroad opportunities and internships. That said, she also mentioned liking it when the tour guides mention fun traditions the school has, especially when they clearly bring the school together.
The parents on the tour were mostly like me, quietly sitting in the background, letting their kids take everything in, ask questions. It was the kids’ process. Other parents, a few on every tour, were clearly super anxious, asking about details that were weird, like food allergies and specifics about classes. One parent was already planning on the financing options, even though her daughter hadn’t even applied, much less gotten in. She was also stressing out loud about the admission process, goading her daughter to do this and do that in order to increase her chances. I was embarrassed for her.
I do sympathize with the parents. It’s an overwhelming process, and if you know nothing about higher education or the admission process, it’s even more overwhelming. Plus, you’re thinking about losing your kid. It’s very emotional. But, it’s still more the kid’s process than yours. It’s one of the first big decisions they’ll make as adults, and while parents have some say (especially in the money department), I think it’s important to let the decision be theirs. They’re not the little kids who can’t tie their shoes anymore. So step back, try not to wring your hands so much and want to control the whole process. If you’ve done your job well, it really will be okay.