The message today, touring schools was that you need to find your fit…and parents should be helping their children. I will accept that, but it isn’t as easy as you’d think.
How do you fit in if you don’t know what you want to do – and how do parents help when we aren’t sure either. We certainly don’t want to make a decision that will affect someone else for the rest of their life; not when we have made most of their decisions up until now. We chose the community in which we live. We chose the school district where they found their friends. We even had a say in what activities they joined or didn’t join…
Now they have to ask themselves hard questions and we have to make sure they think about them:
- Do I feel like I belong?
- Am I comfortable?
- Is this place too big? too small?
- It is just a perception or a reality – do I want to make it work – but it really isn’t, quite right?
- What will I maybe do when I am done?
- Will I be able to get a job?
- Who am I looking to become?
I was lucky. I had found several places I liked. Yale. MIT. Boston University. The programs weren’t quite right though. So, I kept looking. I knew the moment I walked onto Temple’s campus in 1986 that it was not for me…”Um, mom, I am not going here.” So, we left.
Then, as bizarre as it may seem to people who know both Philly city campuses, for some reason, I felt that Drexel was the right place – I had found my fit – and they had the program I wanted, too.
Looking back on the years I went there, the program was great, I liked being in the city, but not being in a huge city, I made a lot of friends and I stayed close with a handful – who I still see and spent time with today – including my husband. We were lucky and we look back and know that it was random but auspicious that we met there. Maybe the people I met is what made it such a positive experience…there were tough times but overall I remember it with a smile on my face.
Now, we get to help the next generation – not on finding someone – but, (and more importantly) in finding themselves.
It isn’t as easy – the expectations are higher, the tuition rates are incredibly expensive – while some universities are rolling back fees it’s still really a lot of money. We toured two campuses today, neither are an instant fit and one is actually a no…which is fine. We can keep moving forward.
Besides not being interested in one of the many city based schools that grace the Philadelphia landscape, we learned a “fun” fact today. It isn’t quite so fun…and it is quite seriously impacting what kids think is the right thing to do.
“The average student who graduates from a 4-year program will spend 21 years paying off their college education.”
It took me ten and that felt like a lifetime, but I spent 18 months of my 5 years working and had a job when I came out of school. It wasn’t a high paying job, I’d actually made more when I was working as a co-op student, but I loved what I was doing. I only hope that my kids and the entire coming of age generation can have the chance to make choices, to take the time to look and then look some more.
Maybe it is harder today, maybe it was harder yesterday, but I am hoping that all of you out there find your fit – even if you aren’t 17 and “just” looking for an undergraduate program to attend next fall. Remember that it is never too late and even if next fall isn’t perfect – each new year gives you options – make the most of them.
~ Dawn aka Hat Girl