Mom, Dad and I or The College Selection Troika

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Today, it’s all in the family. For my guest, I have my nephew Jesse. He is the oldest son of my oldest brother. Jesse is an avid reader, enjoys acting, and likes creative writing. In addition, he has volunteered his time to many charitable organizations.

Jesse, who was born on February 29, and is technically 4 years old is entering his senior year of high school. Therefore, he is going through the college selection process.

I proudly present to you my nephew on navigating college selection 2013 style.

My parents and I are going through the college selection process together. It would be easy for my parents to turn this into an unpleasant ordeal.

I always feared that this important decision would be turned into an impersonal sort of “project” rather than the individualized journey it should be. However, I’ve been lucky.  My parents have been forthcoming and attentive throughout it all.

Here is my dilemma: Do I enroll in a large public university that I can get in to with relative ease or do I bite the bullet and take on $80,000 + of debt in order to attend a private institution which may offer my greater opportunities?

I don’t mean to disparage public universities. Not at all. However, my parents have worked hard to send me to an elite and intellectually stimulating high school. Therefore, I feel as though I shouldn’t restrict myself. To this day, my mother, one of the smartest people I know, regrets having attended the large public university she attended. She was accepted to a handful of prestigious private schools, but economic realities prevented her from attending any of them.

Obviously, this isn’t an easy question. It’s also compounded by the fact that I am not choosing to study something economically feasible, like engineering or law. No, I intend to study creative writing, something that, as fulfilling as I hope it will be, gives the part of my brain concerning economic feasibility the howling fantods.

Anyway, as I have gone about the application process, I have come up with a list of the three most annoying things about applying to college in 2013.

  1. In 8 (count ‘em!) campus visits thus far, 7 tour guides have mentioned that Quidditch is quite popular among the student body. This is why the Chinese are beating us.
  2. Competing with the kids who put “I saved Tanzania for a month” on their applications. For a pretty awesome essay on this, check out the link here:
  3. For one reason or another, various schools that I have zero interest in have been emailing me constantly. I don’t know how many times I can ignore an email from Gettysburg College before they take the hint.

As I continue to weigh my options regarding what college I’ll attend next fall, I’d like to give some advice to my fellow classmates in the class of 2014 and their families. Though, if we’re being honest, I think there is a minimum age for dishing out wisdom, and it’s definitely not 17. Anyway, my advice would be don’t doctor your application or inflate your accomplishments. First of all, that’s lame. Secondly, colleges claim they don’t want robots. They want a person. You’re the only you! Give them that. Finally, seek out your parents help, but remember in the end, the decision is yours.

Okay, off I go to write an essay on the importance of a liberal arts education for the umpteenth time.

15 thoughts on “Mom, Dad and I or The College Selection Troika

  1. Quidditch! Now that’s insanely funny – until I realized that it’s probably true! 🙂 Excellent guest post by your nephew! I’m not far from going through this with Mr. T and now I feel better prepared!

  2. Ok Jesse, your uncle knows this about me but I have throw my two cents in … I went to an awesome public college that gave me a great education. I went to UGA (yes, that’s in Georgia, ever think about leaving the state?) and they have a great Journalism program. Don’t think that just because its a public college that you’re not going to get a good education. Your college experience is going to be what you make of it.

  3. For the serious creative writer your best bet is University of Iowa. Some of the best , best-selling, and most beloved writers in the country attended their writing program. Wish I had :(.
    Wishing you the best of luck and fabulous college career.

    • He didn’t check this school out. I think he wanted to stay on the East Coast. However, I have heard many wonderful and know this to be a wonderful program as well.

  4. Jesse! Jesse! Stop what you’re doing right now and go find the book “College (Un)Bound” by Jeffrey J. Selingo. He’s an editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. It has a Checklist for the Future in the back, which in your case would be a Checklist for RIGHT NOW.

    Seriously, 200 pages directly aimed at your life. 🙂


    (Girl) Jessie

    P.S. Student loans are the pits.
    I’m done now.

  5. This gave me flashbacks to my own college search so many years ago. I wanted to comment because I faced the same dilemma when choosing. When it really came down to it, I was choosing between a large, public university that would have cost next to nothing and a smaller, elite, highly-ranked private university that would have put me in a lot of debt. I went with my gut and attended the school that felt right. 12 years out of school I still have quite a bit of debt, but I also still know I made the right decision. Once you visit schools, choose the one that feels right, don’t think about the rest. You’re lucky to have your parents backing you, as I did. You’ll end up in a great place. Plus you’re a wonderful writer!

  6. Looks like you’ll do just fine, Jesse; you’ve got a good head on your shoulders (and a great writing style too… seems to run in the family….).

    And, don’t worry, you can always transfer – these decisions aren’t as final as they initially seem!

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