The Language (and Fees!) of College Applications

College—Can I Get a Translator??

When I was in school, (although I hid it well) I realized at an early age that I had a penchant for language. ANY type of language study whether it be reading it, writing it, learning French, Latin and Spanish, came extremely easy to me. What’s more, I enjoyed it. (I hid THAT nugget as well in high school!) As I got older, I continued to study anything that would feed the ravenous verbal monster in my mind who always wanted more, more, more. Words to me, reading and writing, song lyrics, monologues and quotes, book after book after book became solaces, comforts, soul food.

That is until I began the college application process with Son1. I have to tell you that before this process began I felt quite self-important when it came to all things reading and writing. Writing a unit plan for school, a blog entry for Muddled Mother and editing a school paper for hubby took no effort at all to do in one afternoon. The computer was my friend. The pen was my friend. And words….sweet words…well I never met one I didn’t love—until now!

I’ll just come out and say it because there is really no other way to put it…the college process MAKES-ME-FEEL-STUPID. Phew…there…I said it. I mean is there anyone out there who can tell me the difference between “early acceptance” and “early admission?” How about a “universal application” and a “common app?” Words like “aptitude”, “transcripts” and “FEES” “FEES” “FEES” make my head swim. And don’t even get me started on the bleepin’ abbreviations. You can take your G P A’s and S A T’s, you can take your A C T”s, your A P’s, and your F A F S A and shove them well…you know…

It doesn’t help matters that Son1 seems to not have any compass or desire when it comes to this process. We took him on visitations last April, have offered to take him on more. Heck, his grandfather even took him to college night at our local state university. But nothing has really helped. He seems to be just as mired in this process as I am. And that makes me wary. There are plenty of parents I know that just tell me to fill out the applications for him, have him write a “Common Essay” and send them off. The decisions can be made later. But, for someone like me who is on an EXTREMELY fixed budget, the “FEES FEES FEES” that these applications demand could break the bank pretty quickly, and for what? For Son1 to say, “Nah…I really don’t want to go here or there…” So I am reluctant. If HE doesn’t know what he wants to do…how can I move forward?

Inept. I feel inept. I listen to parents around me whose kids seem to know just what they want and just where they want to go…or they at least have a bit of a plan such as the SIZE of the college or even the location…jeez…I’d even settle for a class Son1 really wants to take. But I feel like there is a “college cloud” over both of our heads and it has soaked us in a procrastination puddle. The deeper I wade the more confused I get. As October turns to November which seems to quickly be turning into December (according to the giant blow up Santa our local hardware store is already displaying as a decoration) one other word keeps dogging me—a word that probably weigh more heavily than all the other college terms that muddle my mind—and that word is—DEADLINE!


Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Talbot]

2 Comments on “The Language (and Fees!) of College Applications

  1. I am one to do everything online and loathe speaking to real people, but this is one situation where asking questions of everyone you can get a hold of is key. Talk to guidance counselors, school admins, admissions offices, everyone. Explain the challenges you’re facing and ask their advice. Ask every question you can think of, then ask them what else you need to know.

    For example, did you know that you can apply, get accepted, and then defer actually going to college for a year and most schools will hold your place in the following school year?

    Did you know that if a school you are really into rejects you, you can appeal the decision?

    Where to go to college is a decision that’s both huge and small. On one hand, it doesn’t matter much since what you get out of your education is all about what you put into it. On the other hand, this is a key juncture in a person’s life that can affect every other outcome throughout their life.

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with you completely- the college process is INCREDIBLY daunting. (I did it twice because I made the wrong choice the first time around!)

    As someone who wishes she had done one, I suggest considering a gap year! Not the type where your kid takes a year to run around the world, whipping out your credit card all over the place- the kind where they work, maybe volunteer somewhere (and engage with their community somehow!), and use the time to figure out what their personal interests actually are without the constraints that school can sometimes put on personal freedom.

    Either way, GOOD LUCK! (Having watched my mum go through it with my sister and I, I know you’ll survive… and then you’ll be a valuable bank of knowledge for friends with younger kids!)

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