I ripped open the envelope and skimmed the typed written letter. I read it over the mailbox right by the street. I had been accepted to my college of choice — a large public university about 50 minutes from my home. I would need to start school in Summer Semester, a few days after my high school graduation, but I would be on my way to getting a college degree.
The application process was foreign for me. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with my life or what major I should put on my application. I had put Communications as a stopgap solution. I didn’t have a lot of places to turn to for help. My two brothers had gone off to college, but we were the first in our immediate family. My cousin had gotten his degree after serving in the Navy, but outside of my teachers and him, I didn’t know a lot of people who went to college.
With my acceptance in hand, I ran into the house to tell my mom. I remember feeling torn, excited about my new adventure and scared to death about the next step: how was I going to pay for it?
Oh, how times have changed.
I applied to two schools at the most. My son applied to ten schools, like his sister and brother before him, and got into most. When the colleges had made their decision, he was notified via email. A couple invited him to participate in their Honors Colleges. Most sent an acceptance packet that looked more like a sales brochure, one school sent him a scarf with the school name, another sent him a pennant.
After some long thought and an even a visit or two, my son narrowed his list of colleges down to two and then made his final decision well in time for the May 1 deadline. His response to the decision: relief and excitement.
Fortunately, my son is much better positioned for college than I was. He still worries about the skyrocketing costs of college, but we’re better versed and ready. Now if I were only ready to be empty nester!