We’re currently two weeks away from the first set of admissions deadlines she’s facing, and I can’t even imagine the level of stress she’s under. In addition to having to fill out the Common app, along with the supplemental apps for each of the two schools she’s applying to for early action, she also has to keep up with her current class load. Outside of school, the competitive cheer season is starting to ramp up, with her team holding multiple practices per week in addition to individual tumbling classes. I’m honestly in awe of how much she’s able to keep up with. While I deal with a heavy load at work, I’m a grown up, not a 17 year old still in high school. My senior year was nowhere near this hectic, and frankly I don’t know how she and her friends are able to handle it all without losing sight of their end goals.
She’s been working on various parts of the Common app since school started, but on the essay side, until last weekend she hadn’t done more than write down possible ideas. With this weekend being a 4 day weekend for her, the plan was to focus on getting all of the writing done and have it ready for grammatical review by Monday night. On Friday, she started writing the main essay, and was able to get it knocked out within 3-4 of hours. That sounds like a pretty long time for a 650 word essay, especially when she’d already chosen a topic and overall theme, but she’s pretty hard on herself when it comes to critiquing her own work. She gets that from me, as I’m never totally happy with my work. Every now and then I have to write and deliver technical training, and not once have I ever gone into a delivery entirely happy with the content I’ve written. It’s a character flaw I wish I could overcome, and one that a part of me wishes she hadn’t picked up. I guess it’s helpful in that it pushes me to do the best possible work on something my name’s attached to, so I hope it helps her in that way, too.
Back on point, here it is Sunday evening, and there’s still work to be done. She’s finished the main essay, and 3 of the shorter supplemental essays for one of the two schools that she’s applying to via early action. She’s still got two more to go for that college to get the film supplemental piece done, and she’s going to focus on those after cheer practice tonight. That will leave college number two to work on tomorrow.
I’ve seen her work to date, but only in a grammatical review capacity. As I’ve said before, these essays are hers to write. If she comes to me with a sentence or idea she needs help structuring, I’ll provide a few examples she can use to get over the hump, but in the end I’m of the opinion that the essays should reflect the child’s voice, not that of the parent. With what I’ve seen out of her so far, I’ve been pleasantly impressed. She’s done a very good job of not falling in to some of the common pitfalls, as well as writing the essays in a clear and concise manner that avoids the use of text-speak. I called that out because during our college visits, admissions advisors mentioned more than once that they’re seeing a growing number of applicants who will actually write their essays as if it were a really long Tweet or text, and they strongly cautioned against that for (what should be) obvious reasons.
So where does this leave her? Well, with 19 days to go to the 11/1 deadline for the first two applications, she’s a little more than halfway through the essays. In addition to the remaining ones, she also has to put together a 2 minute video essay that’s got one very interesting requirement, she can’t appear in it, either directly or as part of a photo that might appear. She’s already got an idea for what she wants to do, but refuses to share that with us until she’s done with it, which is fine with me. It’s good to see her with that kind of drive, as it hasn’t always been there when it came to school-related work. This is where touring schools and being able to get a sense of what she’s working towards really came in helpful. Regardless, she’s planning on working on that video next weekend between cheer practices. I’m pretty excited to see what she comes up with.
Now, I realize that I may be portraying this is a fairly smooth process so far, but honestly, it’s been anything but smooth. Yes, she’s been working hard on it, but frustration does set in and there are times that even mentioning the word “college” agitates her. She’s very excited about what lies ahead, but the reality of how much work is going to be required of her this year is sometimes overwhelming. I can sympathize, considering the number of things I have to get done in the next 8 months if my wife and I are going to move out there too.
When I wake up every morning, I have to remind myself that this is her last year living at home with us, and that regardless of what’s going on, I need to soak in as much of it as possible. With each passing milestone, we get closer and closer to her being out on her own. I just hope she and her friends are taking the time to take in their final year together as well. I imagine that’s hard, given everything they have on their plates, but hopefully the stress hasn’t taken too much of a toll there. I think they’re all going to be feeling a huge weight off their shoulders once the applications are all submitted. That’s what I hope, anyway.