It’s bad enough that the Ides of April coincides with Tax Day – but this year, we had the extra expense of a large auto repair bill (thanks, Volvo)… and some last-minute travel.
Megan got in to seven out of the ten colleges and universities she applied to. That was the good news. The bad news is that the three campuses that rejected her were all in California, and so what we were left with was a collection of very different schools thousands of miles away.
I exaggerate. We still had two California colleges to choose from: UC Davis and California State University, Northridge. While Davis is a well-regarded university and located in a lovely town, it’s a more rural experience – and they don’t offer a lot of the programs my daughter is interested in. And although CSUN is a much more dynamic school than it was in the 1970’s when I attended, it is still a commuter campus located practically in our back yard. This is not the college experience my daughter has dreamed of (nor the one I dreamed of for her).
The most attractive thing about CSUN is that the cost to attend for four years is exactly the amount we’ve got in my daughter’s college account. All the other choices will require us to supplement those savings, by a lot.
But let’s throw those practical considerations to the ground. Thanks to my personal history, there’s an emotional aspect to that choice: I transferred to CSUN after one Freshman quarter at UCLA — and I hated it. It was a decision made under duress, by a 17-year-old without much in the way of counseling. In the end, I spent a total of seven years — on and off — studying for a Bachelors degree I never actually attained (I went through the cap and gown thing but was 2.7 units short of what was needed for a degree, and did not bother to complete them).
I had a problem with life getting in the way: My first boyfriend died in a car accident my Sophomore year and I went into an emotional tailspin. I was depressed and flailing and looking for ways to dig myself out. I quit school, moved out of my parents’ house and threw myself into a full-time job at our local newspaper (working in the classified advertising department). I ended up moving back home and continuing where I’d left off, but I discovered I wasn’t good at splitting my time between my education and the part-time work I needed to help pay for it.
I realize my dislike of CSUN has nothing to do with what is a perfectly good state university, but that doesn’t erase my memories and my general disdain for the place. So while CSUN was the obvious choice for financial reasons, and I hoped she might see it as a good choice for her, there was no way I was going to force my daughter to go there if she didn’t want it.
And not surprisingly: she didn’t want it.
So that left us with five very different choices that were all thousands of miles away.
So we spent our Spring Break exploring three of those campuses, which gave us the opportunity to take a family vacation, driving up and down the East Coast. And then, when we still could not decide, Gareth and Megan finished the month with a quick flight to Chicago to visit the one remaining choice. So we made the decision at the very last minute prior to the May 1 deadline.
Megan will be attending Columbia College Chicago. Ironically, that was the first school to send an acceptance package, way back in December. And at the time — before we got the bad news from her California choices — I put that one at the bottom of the list.
I think this just shows how prescient William Goldman was when he wrote “Adventures in the Screen Trade”: “Nobody Knows Anything.”
Sure, he was talking about motion picture producers. But I have found that phrase to be a useful summary of just about every aspect of my life.
Nobody knows anything. So you may as well plunge right in and see where life takes you.
Right now, it’s taking us to Chicago — at least three more times this year, as we need to return for her orientation, her move-in and then Parents’ Weekend.
And then … I don’t know.
Is it wrong to wish that time could just stop? Or that you could pick one moment and just stay right there? These are the things I think about when I ponder what’s in store for me.
Nobody Knows Anything. That can be a statement of optimism as well as fear.
Believe it or not, I choose optimism. At least, I’m trying to.
Yeah, funny how those college choices work out. My daughter had decided that after four years of all-girls’ high school, she was going to a co-ed campus come hell or high water. She ended up at all-women Mills College, partly because they had a program she liked and partly because they offered her the best financial aid package.
And, yes, it’s normal to want some of these moments to last forever. And in a way they do, in the way we treasure them in our memories and occasionally haul them out to torture the squid with later.
I loved Mills when we visited it last year and wish Megan had! (She would still be here in California). Alas – she really wanted that urban experience she will be getting in Chicago.