So here we are again, back to school. This time it’s strange for me for a couple of reasons. My son, who is my youngest child, is starting his senior year at Ridgewood High School. It’s hard to believe we’re already here. Hard to believe his college applications will be done in a couple of months. And hardest to believe he’ll be going off to college in one year. He is such a different person than my daughter, that the college app and senior process will be much different this time around. Let’s just say things aren’t quite so buttoned up. At the same time, things don't feel so stressful, either.
We did manage to get a few things done this summer. We researched and visited several schools. At the beginning of the summer, his list of potential colleges was around 40. It is now a manageable 11 schools – and that’s how many he will apply to. I think he’s got 2 reach, 3 target/reach, 4 target and 2 safety. Part of the challenge is that he is completely undecided in terms of what he wants to study or what he wants to do with his life. And that’s OK with me – in fact I think it’s great because I don’t think 16 or 17 year olds have the experience or knowledge of themselves or the world to be “deciding” on their careers. So while I’m glad he’s open to a lot of possibilities, it changes the college search process from one focused on finding the school with the perfect program to finding a school with a wide variety of options, where the important thing is he feels comfortable enough to explore.
I appreciate the fact that college is a priority among Ridgewood students – as my daughter used to say, it’s actually cool to be smart at RHS – but I don’t like the constant comparison and “where are you applying” and “what are your SAT scores” that can reach a fever pitch among some/many of the students (and parents). My number one goal with my son (and my daughter in 2007) was to get them to keep their heads down, focus on themselves and what’s right for them, and don’t listen to what everyone else is doing.
As a parent, it can be helpful to hear what others are doing as a way to get ideas, hear advice from those who’ve lived it before and to relieve stress (whew, glad to know all the boys are procrastinators!). But for the students, I think the constant talk and comparison is not helpful. So I try to be a counterbalance to that.
Anyway, the beginning of senior year is an exciting time. Even though I know that at the very end of the process there will be a letting go, I’m looking forward to the experience – the one I’ll be sharing with my son and husband and the one I’ll be sharing with my fellow RHS Class of 2012 parents.
Have a great year, everyone. Here we go!
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org