A process, an end, a beginning

The college search and decision process represents, for some kids, a significant threshold. They begin to move from the present emotion of adolescence to the future rationale of adulthood. They have to consider their own identity in an attempt to find a cultural and academic match. They must take a sobering account of their performance and finally link the cause and effect of each homework assignment either completed or eaten by the dog. It is also an opportunity to consider their personal narrative. What have I done that is interesting? What do I care about? What is my voice? What does it mean to have a voice?

For some high school seniors the plan is mapped by family legacy, geography, finances or even the determination that college is not a desired option. For my son and his friends, it has been an exhausting competition, real and faux, played without enough experience to factor fate in the outcome. No amount of assurance and logic has meaning. It is their first brush with mystery. The same college that accepts a student ranked 48 in his high school class can waitlist or reject the Valedictorian. They always knew life wasn’t fair, they just assumed that their parents were the arbitrators. Now the whole world seems in on it.

Because I have shared some of my son’s college application journey:




Here is his decision:


He is very, very happy. Living through his eyes in the past few weeks, I have shared his incredible rush of relief. He did his best. It is over. Now he is just running the clock out. And although I was prepared to either sort through disappointment or bob in the wake of excitement, this was his show from the start. I watch him bask in the sun and know he needs to savor and store this feeling. He will need it.        




16 responses to “A process, an end, a beginning”

  1. Dave says:

    Wow, congratulations to the kid. All the Chicago grads I know are really interesting people. Hope he enjoys it.

  2. Rachel says:

    Woooo! This is so exciting. And Chicago is the BEST city. Congrats to all of you.

  3. FPS says:

    Hee, where fun goes to die! As you probably know, the U of C is a miracle of self-selection–the kids who chose it tend to love it, though it’s kind of acknowledged that most people would run screaming away. The undergrads are a nice combination of quirky and off-the-chart intelligent. He’ll have an interesting time for sure.

  4. swells says:

    What life transition is more exciting and transformational than moving away from home to start college? Very few, if any, I reckon. I’m thrilled for him as he begins his new life!

    And does everyone here know that one of our own TGW writers, who’s definitely a beautiful combination of quirky and off-the-chart intelligent, is a UofC creation? Shall we make it a quiz, or does everyone already know?

  5. FPS says:

    I actually don’t think I know. (I went to grad school there. Grad students at the U of C often substitute unhappy for quirky and overfocused and geniusy about one insanely specialized thing for the rest.)

  6. PB says:

    I love a quiz!!!!!! I actually have no idea who it is!

    The prospective student in question just fulfilled a 5-7 page lit assignment on Dante by writing a 64 page blow by blow homage called “The Happiest Place on Earth” – a 9 level hell for Disney Characters. Just because he loved “the Inferno” so much. This from a kid who wants to major in physics. I have never seen a better example of self section. Quirky, check. Crazy smart, check. What is interesting is their selection. He was in range but certainly not at the top of the stats. I admire that they were able to recognize their kind through essay and interview and not just perfect grades.

  7. josh k-sky says:

    That last is heartening. Congrats to you and your son.

  8. trixie says:

    Congrats! Strong work!

  9. swells says:

    FPS: “Grad students at the U of C often substitute unhappy for quirky and overfocused and geniusy about one insanely specialized thing for the rest”: I fear that’s not limited to U of C . . .

  10. swells says:

    Pandora: any chance your quirky genius would allow an excerpt of the Inferno essay to be a guest post here sometime? I’d so LOVE to read that. If you take the freeway exit for my school and drive ten miles in the other direction, ON THE SAME STREET, you’re at the gates of the magic kingdom. So many of my students work there, grew up with annual passes there, hang out there in the evenings . . . it’s so engrained in them that they haven’t one fairy dustmite of ironic distance from it. Essays they write on it (and oh, they do) invariably end with “It really IS the happiest place on earth!” Your son’s essay sounds like such a wonderful breath of fetid, fiery, fresh air.

  11. LP says:

    Adding to the chorus: Huzzah!

  12. Tim says:

    Many congratulations to your son, PB! That’s a great accomplishment in these days of super competitive college admissions.

    The U of C is an amazing, wonderful place to go for college. I can attest to that from personal experience. I guess I’m outing myself as “a beautiful combination of quirky and off-the-chart intelligent,” about which I am all blushes, believe me. (Backdoor brag)

    The one proviso I have about the place, however, is that they don’t teach spelling. As you all know, occasionally I have a problem with that.

  13. PB says:

    Swells – I will ask the author if I can send a full copy. Although I warn of graphic content – did I say he channels Dante in every sense – I think you will find it free of all fairy dust (jiminy is a cigarette smoking Virgil).

    Tim!! Thank you for letting us know, you are a truly inspiring role model (go ahead and blush, it is true!!!)

  14. PB says:

    Um, by send I mean by email, not a full copy here to post, 64 pages might be a bit much (installments like Dickens?)

  15. J-Man says:

    Congrats! I’d love to read an excerpt as well – what a great idea!

  16. AWB says:

    Congrats! I received that letter 15 years ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier before or since that day. I ran around my whole school screaming with joy. I hope the son is relishing that feeling.

    (NB: $$$ meant I couldn’t go, but I still feel good about myself for getting in. I’m that pathetic.)