I’m buried in a mountain of college mail

04/20/2014 6:48 PM

04/20/2014 6:48 PM

Getting my kiddo set to apply to college has me more overwhelmed than ever.

Everywhere I look in my house is a stack of letters and glossy, colorful postcards from colleges looking to entice my youngest. My son has a briefcase full of the stuff. His bedroom floor is covered. The corner of every countertop holds a pile, and the dining room table is overrun.

They’ve come in the mail by twos or threes every day for more than a year now. It reminds me of the owls swarming with letters from Hogwarts in the first “Harry Potter” movie. Who knew there were so many colleges in this country? And who told them I had a 17-year-old with aspirations for higher learning? Scary. I’m the higher education writer for The Star, and even I didn’t expect this.

It wasn’t this way for my oldest. Sure, he got a bunch of cards and letters from schools selling themselves. But most of them came from regional schools: University of Missouri, University of Kansas, you know the ones.

Jordan, that’s the little guy, has heard at least once from probably every four-year public and private college and university in the country.

At first it was exciting: Princeton and Harvard and Yale, oh my.

But we quickly realized there are a lot of good schools in wonderful cities and with interesting programs. How do you choose? We can’t visit them all. Online tours don’t do justice. And time is running out. His junior year is ending. This summer is essay and application-writing time.

Let’s not forget there are standardized tests and prep courses to take. And most of these schools also have summer programs where for a fee — about a thousand bucks — high school students can spend a week in a dorm room, take a workshop or two and get a feel for campus life. To go or not to go? We must decide.

We know college ain’t cheap, so there are a host of scholarships to apply for and more essays to write.

And I confess that the thought of my baby leaving the nest makes me weepy. You see what I mean? Overwhelmed, indeed.

Every weekend he and I say next weekend we’ll get all this stuff in order. Then we look at the heaps and pull out a movie to watch instead.

But this weekend we’re armed with a giant whiteboard and markers, and we have a plan.

We’ll sort through all the pamphlets, cards and letters. First we’ll eliminate all the “no way am I going there” schools, then the ones that don’t have the right programs or location, until we whittle them down to the top 10. Next we’ll list them across the board. Beneath each we’ll include admission requirements, application requirements and deadlines for everything. Hey, this is starting to look more manageable.

Every time we accomplish a task we’ll cross it off the board. Before you know it, we’ll have this puppy tamed. At least that’s the plan. I’ll let you know if it works.

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