Tuesday, January 26, 2010


For all you type A parents who are involved in the college process, don't ever, under any circumstance visit the site "College Confidential." This is a warning. This site is worse than crack cocaine. It is addictive and insidious.

No! Stop. Do not leave my blog and head to "College Confidential!" It will make you nuts.

My friend in LA warned me against it earlier in the school year. Her daughter is a senior and she is right in the midst of admissions hell.

My 16-year-old has taken to playing Collegemania. He comes bouncing in every day with another college du jour.

What about Oberlin? All my friends love it. How about Haverford? Have you heard anything about Bowdoin or Middlebury or Colgate or Colby or Dennison or Connecticut College or Pitzer or Bucknell or Kenyon or Carlton or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or....

I'm sure some of you went to these colleges, please feel free to let me know what you thought? I'll be sure to pass on the information to my son.

What made you happy during your college years? Did you love your school? I am at such a loss here because I went to UCLA--it's just what you did when you went to BHHS and you were not the Ivy League Type--most of us just went to a UC. A few of us went to the Claremont McKenna schools but mostly our choices were limited. I have a friend who went to Bowdoin and another who went to Vassar. A few from my class ended up at Harvard and Stanford and Brown. But they were the exception. We looked at them with awe and respect. They were leaving California.

The college counselors at Kyle's school ask each student to really think about what they want...a big school or a small liberal arts school. Do they want an urban environment or does that not matter? What do you want to study? Do you care about climate? Do you need to be near a big city? etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Once you have given this careful consideration then they will help you make a list of at least a half a dozen colleges, probably more like a dozen schools that you should apply to. They look at your grades and test scores and give you choices--there will be Likely choices, Reach Schools and Safety Schools.

Then during Spring break you visit these schools. I have visited some schools with Kyle already. The process was stressful. It was worse than looking for a house to buy! Kyle imagined himself living there. I watched as he checked out the other kids, the dorm rooms, the libraries. Then I could almost hear him asking himself, "Would I like it here? Would I get claustrophobic? Will I fit in?" Kyle did this last summer.

After you have made your selections you have to write all the applications (there is a common application but it doesn't apply to all schools). I imagine this to be a painful process. You want to put your best foot forward. You have worked so hard for years to get here and now it comes down to a piece of paper and some numbers, such as 3.7 unweighted (AP and honors not included!) 4.3 weighted.

Am I good enough? Will they want me? Do I stand out? These questions must run through these kids minds.

In the end, they get into a college and hopefully they enjoy their experiences there. Hopefully they are engaged learners who find themselves thriving in a field that interests them.

Nothing like this happened to me. I took an internship at CBS my last semester of UCLA and got a job after graduation. That job lead to another and then another. I moved to NYC and hit the streets. Found a job at CNN Showbiz which lead to The Travel Channel to Nickelodeon to making a couple of films with Warner Brothers to having kids and writing this BLOG about what I am going to do once the kids leave home.

Somehow I don't think things will fall into place for me (when I am finally an empty nester) like they did when I was young. But I do know that "OUR" kids will find their place in the world whether they go to Stanford or City College or no College or a fun Trade School.

So, I will not go on College Confidential ever. Never ever again! (well maybe just one more time!)

Please let me know about your college experience. You can COMMENT on the site, or on facebook or just e-mail me. I will pass on your thoughts to the little prince!


  1. Hi!
    Worry not! Once a Mom Always a Mom! I've got no kids physically at home, but believe you me, they are ever present! What with text, cell and the iPhone and FB app....well, you hear from them lots! And it's great!
    I'm blogging about it! (http://genymom.blogspot.com)
    Don't worry, there's life after high school!
    Thank God!
    And btw, I love See's too!
    Keep on sharing!

  2. Beppie: I love your BLOG. And it gives me hope that my kids will always be close by--somehow, someway! Love www.genymom.blogspot.com

  3. My college decision was one of the best I ever made. I researched schools until I was blue in the face, and as a straight-A student, people had all kinds of theories about which one I should choose. I went with a random state university (not even from my home state) where I didn't know a soul. And I LOVED it. It was totally out of character, but if fit ME...but I had to let myself select something I wanted, instead of what everyone else wanted for me. Luckily, I had parents who supported that decision staunchly. You can read ratings and reviews all day long, but he might know what feels best. Good luck on this exciting venture!!!

  4. Anne it is exciting but scary, too. I know my son but don't know how much I should influence him in his decision making. I hope I will be like your parents and support him wherever he wants to go (hopefully just an hour away)! I miss him already.

  5. Hi Terry,

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog so that I could have the chance to find yours!

    A former prep school teacher and the wife of a college professor, I've had a front row seat to both sides of this process. It's been 15 years since I went through it myself, but, my, how much more competitive it's gotten! The upside, I think, is that this competition has driven lots of good, bright kids to more schools. I hope that - in our kids' lifetimes - we'll see less significance given to where one's diploma is from and more given to what she knows and can do.

  6. Kristen: Thank you Thank you Thank you. This is the biggest problem right now. He is at a wonderful high school and loves his classes. He is engaged and excited about learning but it is really difficult. It's about the learning and not the college! Now how do I convince him?

    How many years do you have before you go down this path with your children??? There is a great organization at Stanford called CHALLENGE SUCCESS. It asks you to evaluate how you view success. I hope by the time your little ones are getting ready for this process everyone will have learned from our mistakes.

  7. i may be playing collegemania but at least i'm not blogging about it!

  8. Spoken like a 16-year-old! And you're grounded.

  9. Can't wait for MY turn...

  10. When you come east, you must stay with us. Haverford, Swarthmore, Penn, etc are a stone's throw. BTW - I find it fascinating that anyone in high school really knows what they want -- how can you know without every living anywhere besides with your parents. I think alot of it is just plan ol luck. I was scared to death of the city but loved Penn. Actually conquered many fears there. You go Kyle! I have a feeling youre gonna have a blast.

  11. Wow...I must be the oddball here. I graduated with a Computer Degree from Berkeley, but I spent the first half of my years at a Junior College and then transferred.

    Not getting in as a Frosh. sure blew my self esteem, but in the long run it was the best thing to happen to me. By the time I was doing upper division, I was also TA'ing those Frosh and Soph classes, and noticing that the education I received at the JC was IN EVERY WAY better than what the kids in my classes were getting. The instructors were better, the classes were better paced, and I went into upper division better prepared.

    Today, having been a professional programmer for 15 years, I can definately tell you: Not a single one of my employers EVER made it past my degree at Berkeley. The fact that I spent time at a JC just doesn't matter. My degree looks just like everyone elses.

    So consider the JC's ... but most of all, spend an afternoon sitting on the grass, staring at the buildings, and find a place to be comfortable. If you're not comfortable, you can't learn, and that's what it's all about, right?

  12. Goofdad Kyle was delighted to read your post. He said it felt like it took a bit of the stress off. Thanks for sharing. So many of my friends went to community college before they ended up at CAL or UCLA too. It makes sense financially as well!

  13. Actually, I have a much longer version ... basically a rant about exactly WHY I have a problem with the modern university system. I grew up in the Bay Area, and have family at both Berkeley and Stanfurd going WAY back ...

    If Kyle is interested, have him drop me a line. I'm not sure it's appropriate here, in comments, but I'd be glad to share my college experiences.