With One College Acceptance in Her Pocket, Should Student Withdraw from Some of the Rest?

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Halleluiah!  Grace got into college!  It is not her first choice school, but it is an excellent option that delivers peace of mind.  I can’t tell if she is happy or just relieved.  My reaction to her news held both of those emotions.

So, it will be easier to settle into the long winter of waiting now.  Like a hunter with a catch already in his pouch, she is no longer desperate.  She knows she will not go hungry.  But what does it mean for the rest of the process?

There is nothing more she can do to improve her chances at the other schools.  First semester exams are over, and her grades and SATs are set.  But what about the list?  We have advised her to look carefully at it: there are 13 colleges and universities on it, and surely she likes the one she’s gotten into more than some of those other schools?  We know she does.  We have suggested she should withdraw her application from the schools she likes less than the college that has offered her a spot.  Those schools are some other applicant’s first choice, and if she doesn’t want the seat, she should remove herself from the competition.  But something in her doesn’t want to release them.  She just wants to have all her options, including scholarship information, in front of her on April 1 to weigh, consider, imagine.  Is that wrong?  Selfish?

This is a process that insists every man (or woman) act for himself.  Every 17 or 18 year old man or woman.  The age matters, I think, because part of what makes her want to wait to hear what the other 12 schools have to say is her desire to be accepted by them all, verified, loved, congratulated for her years of hard work.  I think she deserves that.  She has earned it.  And as a young person, still looking for the world to issue her worth, I don’t begrudge her urge to take a heaping serving of it.  But as we hold on tight to these last few threads of parenting, we still want to insert ourselves, to have an influence, to shape her thinking as she makes choices.  We still want her to adopt our values, and listen to what we think is the right thing to do.  So, even though the process demands a “me-first” attitude, we still think there is room for her to be thoughtful.  We want her to be compassionate.

One of the challenges is that scholarship information is not yet available, so Grace can’t really evaluate her options as they will exist on April 1.  We don’t even know when she will hear about that piece.  For her, as for most, this news is important.  The scholarship offerings could be deciding factors, as we have given Grace (and her siblings) a budget.  She knows how much money she has for her education, so if she spends it all on college, there will be nothing left for grad school; and if she chooses an expensive college, which might not be covered by the budget, her loans will be greater at the end.  So, the scholarship part is real, and she knows will matter in the long run.

Still, 13?  At least a few of them got tacked on to the list in December for security.  Maybe we can prevail on her to let them go, and with them, some of the anxiety that has accompanied the process until now, with one in her pocket.

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