This is the year for me, mom, to think about my past and compare it to my daughter's and realize how different things are...
During my senior year of high school I was gripped with two emotions: excitement and terror. Excitement because this is the year that I face the college acceptance process and the school acceptance process: prom. Terror, because my world is going to change mightily.
I filled out five college applications by hand! I mailed in the applications and recommendations and transcripts using a stamp and envelope. My parents included a check with the application fee. It was so mechanical and such a daunting load of paperwork. I waited until April 1 for the letter in the mail (thick or thin?) and revealed my options at school the next day to my friends. It was so simple. And so stressful.
Now, multiply the stress...high school seniors today do their college searches and their applications online. This means even more is expected from them. They can look at college websites that are spectacular and inviting. They can do an analysis of their test scores and GPA's relative to their target schools. They can sign up to get regular recruiting emails or even get them without signing up! The marketing and the college recruiting efforts are amazing. It is definately a more competitive world for both student and college.
Then the application process is upon us. It is also all electronic. Students fill out "the Common Application" online. There are lots of essays! And then, many schools ask for more essays unique to their institution. No misspellings allowed (spellcheck) and be very careful when you cut and paste...schools do not want to see a competitor's name in an essay.
Applications go in with a push of the button. Recommendations are done by teachers online and emailed. Students have "application accounts" which keep them up to date on what parts of the process they are missing. More and more and more is expected...
The comes the brutal modern process. Most schools notifiy students electronically whether they have been accepted or rejected. On an appointed day and time, students are asked to log into their application account and read the news... "Congratulations,...! or "Thank you, but..." No letter, no private moment with an unopened envelope in your bedroom. You learn from your phone, your computer, the library, even Kinko's Office.
And then it gets hard. Everyone immediately posts their news on their Facebook page. The "winners" are immediately apparant even before you have digested your own news.
The public nature of all this makes me realize how tough our kids have become. They are growing up in a competitive, confrontational world. How do they sort through their teen angst and emotions when everything is so public? When do they get a chance to burst into tears or kick a rock hard?
And how does prom work with the internet and Facebook?