I have spent the last several years, (my whole life perhaps), working on self improvement. This is as good as it’s going to get for me. I workout regularly, I’m groomed to a spit shine, I am well read, I can converse without saying “like”, I am self sustained, independent, I have a working knowledge of a few languages, I am a good friend, I appreciate humor, I don’t take life, or myself too seriously, I’m nice…and I’m humble.
It has taken years, but I have finally worked up the courage to ask my ideal man, let’s call him “Colin,” to have dinner with me on Saturday. His response: “I appreciate your interest, and while I’m not ready to accept your invitation at this time, I’d like to offer you a place in line…in the event that my first choice turns me down.”
What a jackass—right?
My child, a genius, talented, the president of every club imaginable, a musician who plays all the string instruments with her teeth tied behind her back, an award winning young author and state representative (every year from age 5 to age 13), she speaks Spanish while swimming competitively, (swallowing very little water in the process), she understands and sometimes speaks English with multisyllabic words, and she has very nice hair.
It takes her twelve years to work up to it, but she finally applies to her dream school, and the response she gets is the same as the one I received from “Colin.” She is placed on a wait list. How cruel. I understand the purpose of a wait list, but to be on the list is the worst kind of acne inducing stress imaginable…and right before prom.
To be fair, let’s hear the University’s (and Colin’s) side of the story:
“We have 100 slots for incoming freshman in the fall. We offer 150 students admission, based on an estimation that 50 will not accept, thus giving us exactly the 100 incoming freshmen we require to fill our program.
Two things can go wrong:
1.) All 150 will accept the offer. Then we have to suck it up and deal with over crowded classrooms, not enough housing…etc.
2.) 100 students will decline the offer, so we only have half the number of incoming freshman that we need to fulfill the financial needs of the school— money acquired through tuition.”
#2 is an easy fix…because there are students like mine who were not offered admission, but who were also not rejected. This unfortunate group of people are on the “wait list.” They wait. They wait and hope. They hope that enough accepted applicants will elect not to attend that particular school, thus creating a vacancy, so they will be offered admission. The schools are protecting their own interest, and most of this is understandable.
What I don’t agree with is that the school does not give any hint at specific information…no relative number of where each student stands on the list. Don’t try to figure the odds that you’ll get in off a wait list. No dates are provided as to when you can give up hope either. “We notify students as early as May 1st, all the way up to the week before classes commence.” So all we can do is wait…or not wait. They don’t need us to wait because there are hundreds of other kids waiting too. “Try to find another school you love.”
Statistics provided by the National Association for College Admissions Counselling, show a steady increase in the number of colleges students are apply to. It is common practice these days for students to apply to eleven to twenty schools. Back in my day, four was standard. With application fees averaging $80, eleven to twenty applications per student is quite a racket for these schools. There are students who still apply to only 4 schools, but last year one student applied to a record number— 86 schools.
With that many students applying to that many schools, guesstimating the number who would actually attend which school if offered admission has become effectively impossible. They can only guess based on previous years, but apparently there is no consistent pattern from year to year.
It’s hard to watch your child suffer. It’s harder to watch your child be rejected than it is to be rejected yourself. My child applied to a dozen schools. She aspires to major in theatre, so add a $40 audition fee to each of those $80 application fees. I will not refrain from mentioning that the cost of parking at the hotels where these auditions took place was another $40. per school. I was not supportive of her decision to apply for twelve schools, because there is no financial aid or loan money offered for the application process. I am a struggling single mom after all. My savings for college is like a unicorn…a beautiful mythical creature—elusive. There are no single mom special governmental funding grants or packages for me. I work hard to pay my bills, and I am penalised for doing so. I make too much money for my child to receive a free ride, but I do not make enough to afford the price of a ticket on the ride. (Have I mentioned that I hate the man?)
Reeling this back in to the point of my dissertation— my genius with the nice hair was rejected x 9, she was put on 2 wait lists, and she was accepted to one school with an offer of big money in scholarships. (Finally, someone sees her value.) This sadly is not the school she wants to attend…we never visited it either, because it wasn’t on her short list. Regardless, we have made our non-refundable tuition and dorm deposits to this consolation school, which she will attend unless she is pulled off of the wait list from her first choice dream school.
This week, said dream school notified another few lucky students that they were being offered admission, and she was not among that group either. This process will continue throughout the summer, up to the beginning of the fall semester…a cruel amount of waiting and hoping for anyone to endure, but she will wait and hope while we move forward with plan B either way. Both schools are in New York, so at the very least, I know what direction to point her in. Meantime we will visit the consolation school in July if she hasn’t moved off the wait list, and try to get the balance of tuition and housing money in loans.
I suppose it is possible that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from this experience: wanting something bad enough doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, or great things can come from unexpected places, or hope for the best but have a plan B… I guess any of those could be considered valuable lessons.
Back to my mise en abyme…
Colin also isn’t telling me how many others are in line to share a meal with him. If I had any self respect, I would tell him “I just remembered that I already ate next Saturday, so take me off your list” but I really want to have dinner with him, so I will wait by the phone, in all my perfection, while my self worth slips… Was that my phone?
**Colin is a figment of my imagination.
May 4, 2016, Daily One Word Prompt: Hope~ <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/hope/”>Hope</a>