Pinch Me, There Is No Way This Is Real Life
Y’all time is a thief. I am not okay. I blinked and all of a sudden my first baby is on the verge of starting her senior year of high school in the fall, turning 18, and then she will be off to college. It feels just yesterday when I worrying about heading to kindergarten. The idea of sending her off to college is both exciting and terrifying, however visiting the colleges has eased my mind a little. I still am not in complete acceptance of this being real, but it is and she may be ready, but I am absolutely not.
Time To Start Planning
When my daughter was little and even into her early teens, discussions about college centered around gymnastics and going to a school she would be able to do gymnastics at. Last year she retired from gymnastics because her body hurt, her mental state was being impacted by the sport, she knew she had an amazing career in gymnastics, but it was important to listen to her body and her mind, so after a strong finish at nationals, she said goodbye to her sport.
Without gymnastics being a factor for college, she spent more time exploring possible areas of academics and eventual careers she would be interested in. Of course, at 17 there are a lot of careers and jobs that sound really interesting and fulfilling, while some sound like a total snore. Up until a few years ago, she had wanted to be a nurse like me, but now she has moved past that (truthfully I am happy about it, nursing now is much different than when I started, but that is a post for another day). I try to let her have as much freedom in her planning. She currently is looking in the direction of liberal arts, political science, and urban studies.
Thankfully colleges have begun to offer in-person campus tours again. We easily booked tours at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, LSU, Tulane, and Loyola. Every college was amazing; the tour guides were current students and did a great job of leading the tours and providing information.
The tour typically begins in the auditorium. Once you check in, you receive a packet with a schedule and information about the school, financial aid, and contacts for the schools. Once everyone arrives, a speaker gives a “Why you should come here” speech, points out the goals of the school, talks about how they promote student life and inclusivity on campus, the various academic and non-academic programs available, and usually gives some history and accolades of the University.
Following the information session, the large group splits into academic colleges and then heads out to tour the school. Appointments for financial aid were available at a couple of the tours. LSU had tables for several of the programs set up, and professors/students in the programs were available to answer questions.
Thank You, COVID
You read that right. Thank you, COVID for pushing so many colleges, in fact almost 1,800 of them, to become test-optional. Test optional allows for applicants to decide whether or not to submit their ACT or SAT scores with their applications. While some colleges may consider the scores when deciding on applicants, they tend to focus more on things like recommendations, grades, essays, and extracurriculars. I absolutely think this should be the norm from here on out. Standardized tests aren’t reflective of a person and their ability to succeed. Some people are good test takers and others aren’t.
While not required for admittance, some schools request the scores for financial aid consideration. While that can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety for parents and students alike, your junior should be taking one of the two. A student can take the ACT up to 12 times and the SAT as many times as they want. Both tests offer superscoring, which is taking the highest score from each section of your test(s) and submitting those as your score. The average number of times a student takes either test is around three, and generally, the more they take it, the better they will score. We found online practice testing and workbooks to be beneficial, and she was able to take ACT prep as a class at school.
Now that we have visited the schools, we will start the application process. Even though she has her mind set on one, she will be applying to several different colleges to give herself the best chance she can. She has taken the ACT and registered for her senior classes. This summer, she is looking at taking some pre-college classes either online or in person so that she can get an idea of what to expect. Once she receives acceptance letters, then we will begin working on the financial parts of college and figuring out all the logistics of college living.
I have said it before and will say it a million more times, babies don’t keep. All of those sleepless nights and little kid days seem like they were so long ago, but at the same time, it feels like just yesterday. I am truly very excited and very proud that we are at this time in our journey and even more excited to see where her path leads.