I remember when my wife and I bought our first house, a small 3-bedroom home in a little starter neighborhood less than a mile from downtown Duluth, GA. We were able to determine the color of the house/rooms, the look of the landscaping, the shape and color of the front door awning, and the overall feel of our home. We were thrilled, as it meant the end of apartment living and a chance to own our own place. Of course, with any new home comes new responsibilities. The day after we moved in, we had the bright idea to wallpaper the kitchen. My in-laws gave us a 30 minute instructional on how to wallpaper, then quickly escaped before we got started. Needless to say, the wallpaper went up, but I will never, ever, ever wallpaper anything again. My sanity and my marriage are too important to try that again. From there, we had to learn about water heaters, AC units, how to build a back deck from scratch, and later on how to baby proof a house. Side note, the most challenging thing we have ever done house wise has been to install a baby gate at the top of a set of stairs. It was like putting together a one-color jigsaw puzzle with 22 pieces missing. We almost threw it away and planned on just bubble wrapping our kids until they were three. When you own a home, you have to be okay with being “uncomfortably comfortable”, or comfortable with not always being sure of your footing.
In the same way, applying to college is an exciting time for growth and transition as you move forward in both your academic and personal life. But along with the excitement of ownership of the next stage in life comes a healthy dose of apprehension, as it is hard to take that big step into a new world. You will hear a number of college admissions offices use the phrase “Take ownership of your application process”, and we truly mean it. In learning about colleges, you (the student) should be the one to set up visits or sign up for virtual tours, you should be the ones to ask the questions, and you should be the one to call or email us about your application. We love parents, and I am a college dad right now, but the parents aren’t going to be the ones in our classrooms, taking part in our activities/clubs, or putting in the time and sweat when volunteering on campus. But what does this “ownership” really mean?
- You, the student, should ultimately decide where to apply to college. It’s your next four years, so you need to make sure the colleges you look at fit you well.
- You need to decide if you are going to apply Early Action, Regular Decision, etc. We can’t guess your situation or where you are in the process, so you need to make the call.
- You need to decide what you want to study. You know your strengths, your limitations, and your hopes for the future.
- You need to decide what classes you will take in high school, and then later in college. We receive hundreds of calls asking what students should take to get in or to prepare for X major, some as early as elementary school. We don’t know your academic skillset, the courses you have enjoyed, or the ideas in your head for the future, so you need to make these choices.
- You need to make the call, literally. Again, we love parents, but when we hear someone say “We have applied to …”, we cringe a little.
It’s not always easy to have ownership of a process, but in the end, you don’t want to look back and say “we should have put in hard wood floors here”, or “I really should have applied to X”. The admissions process is your chance to shape your college plans, and you have to feel okay with being “uncomfortably comfortable”. The same feelings will happen during your first year of college, so you might as well get used to it. In fact, life is a lot of separate events where you need to be comfortable with having the feeling of being uncomfortable, whether it is college, your first job, your first child (definitely your first child!), or many other milestone events.
Good luck, lean in to the uncomfortableness, and Go Dawgs!