Tuesday night I attended college night at H’s school. We feel fortunate that she is at a school with an incredible college counseling program. Now that she’s in 11th grade, the “counseling” portion of it is beginning…with a vengeance. She’s doing SAT tutoring, in preparation for her first test in December. She went on a college trip through her school last summer, and visited nine colleges/universities in 4 days in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We are planning on visiting a few in March before our annual ski trip for spring break.
I know I didn’t do this kind of preparation when I was in school. In fact, I don’t remember thinking about college until Christmas of my senior year. One of my girlfriends and I decided we’d go to MTSU. Then, the spring of that year she decided not to go to college. So I decided to enroll at David Lipscomb College. Two years later I wanted to major in communications, so I decided to transfer to the University of Tennessee. *Note, “decided”…not in the vocabulary of today’s current high school students. They actually have to apply, write essays, get recommendations, have 4.0 averages and take honors and AP classes, as well as do sports, volunteer, start clubs, write for the school newspaper, and God knows what else. At Tuesday night’s college night, H received her Planning Handbook, a three ring binder chock full of 13 divided sections, from college search information, website access, testing, college visits, interviews, resumes, application process, essay writing, and financing. On top of my daughter’s extremely demanding academic schedule, her extracurricular activities, and leadership roles, now she has more information to digest. While the colleges I “decided” to go to were not on any lists of great schools, even though I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class, and graduated “with high honors” from UT, today I might not get in because my ACT score is well below the average for UT freshmen.
It makes my stomach hurt.
So, my mommy mode kicked in. I have been on multiple college search websites, College Confidential, College Prowler, College Board, etc., trying to narrow down the lists of schools so that H can have a more manageable list. Some stretch schools, some safety schools, and some in between. I signed her up for the SAT in December, so she can take the ACT in the spring, and then decide which one she wants to concentrate on to retake next year. H is my only child…I’m kind of a control freak…so it’s what I do. But, Tuesday night, H’s counselors emphasized that we should be stepping back…letting our daughters do the research, fill out the forms, register for the tests.
Step back. Whew. It makes perfect sense. She has to learn to do these things on her own. She already does a fabulous job in those things that I don’t get involved with, so I know she can do it. But when I start stepping back, what am I going to do with myself? I am H’s mom. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. I’ve cuddled, encouraged, kissed boo-boos, made lunches, cooked nutritious dinners (even learned to cook tofu when she became vegetarian), comforted, cheered, driven around, prayed with and for, advised, worried, planned, shopped, and basically lived for her the last 17 years. I’ve loved every minute of it.
But I can’t go to college for her. Hopefully all those things that have been so much a part of who I am will help her become who she is. But she can’t become who she is unless I step back. I will still encourage, cheer, and pray for her. I will probably always worry about her. Maybe I will advise her…if she asks. It might be a little painful, but watching her become her own woman will be a magical thing.