Thank you so much for reaching out to my 15-year-old son. While it’s tremendously thoughtful of you, you really do need to stop, at least for now. I know he’s receiving your mail because, despite my admonition not to do so, he checked off a certain box on the PSAT registration form which indicated his desire to hear from colleges. His bad. But, in his defense, he’s a 15-year-old boy who is very taken with checking off boxes, no matter what the consequences.
The first sentences of your letters to him are lovely, if not a bit bold. How’s this for an opening salvo, “I’m excited I found you.” Or, “I can see that you’re a student with a distinct sense of promise” which begs the question, is it better to be a student “with promise” or with a “distinct sense of promise?” Some of you schools ask him to answer a series of short questions so he can, “discover how the things (he) does every day can make (him) a stand-out candidate.” You also offer a plethora of ways in which he can interact with your websites, and on the surface it all seems pretty, as the kids would say, lit.
But colleges, here’s the thing; you and I have some unresolved trust issues that date back to when my oldest son was applying to school. This, my friendly colleges, is the third go-round for me and you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit leery, if not completely jaded. The first time around I was blown away by the flood of mail with which my son was inundated, somehow convinced that the schools knew what a fabulous asset he would be to their campuses. As with all firsts, I was excited, eager and anxious in a butterflies in the stomach kind of way, about the whole process. I couldn’t believe that we had at long last gotten to the college portion of the child rearing adventure. I never really focused on the fact that after the search came the separation. When your letters came, we opened them enthusiastically and read them through. “How nice,” we thought, to be so wanted. I believed you. He believed you. We believed you.
It’s amazing how much can change between a first and a third child. If I thought that your lovely mail was indicative of real interest that would be one thing, but now I know that even if you send us a decal, a t-shirt, a coffee mug and a course catalog as thick as the yellow pages, you are not after my son, you are after my son’s application. This detritus from colleges that litters my kitchen table is a massive marketing blitz and my young son is the consumer. Your bottom line is numbers; the more applications, the more rejections, the more “selective” your school appears and up you go in the rankings leading to a virtuous cycle of something, but certainly not something that has my son’s best interests at heart.
There’s also this, I’m quite sure that my third son is no less mature than his brothers were at his age, but to me he doesn’t seem old enough to think about colleges, let alone begin the college admissions parry and thrust. Can’t we just agree that as a sophomore in high school he shouldn’t waste what precious high school time he has left, talking, thinking and preparing for college?
I now know that nothing can stop the tick tock of time and sooner than I would hope we’ll have to figure out this college thing. But, please just a little more time. I’m not ready, of course what I mean is he’s not ready. So, colleges, we know where you are and we know how to find you. In the nicest way possible, don’t call us, we’ll call you.