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Wasted Energy in the College Application Process

College decision day....why so much leading up to it is wasted energy.

As any parent of a senior in high school knows, this Tuesday, May 1st, is decision day for college choice.

Leading up to this day is a process that, in my opinion, wastes a lot of energy.

Let me count the ways:

1. Hundreds of mailings -- literally -- of recruiting brochures, postcards, letters and other promotional packages to entice our youngsters into attending particular institutions of higher learning. Think of the energy involved in the conceptualizing, writing, designing, photographing, printing, and distribution of these little pieces of pedagogic propaganda. At last weighing (albeit using my bathroom scale so this is not scientific) my son's piles of paper totaled 587 pounds -- about four times his weight!

2. Countless flattering and enticing e-mails to prospective students extending application deadlines for "preferred" students...about 5 a day during the height of college recruitment season (early winter) and still trickling in at about 2 or 3 a week.

3. Paperwork. Anyone who knows me is well aware that paperwork is a pet peave of mine, particularly since I am old enough to have read "1984" before 1984 and grew up with promises of the "paperless" society. Although most of the paperwork is done online today, printing out copies of what was sent into each college, as well as scanning into computers copies of what is needed, all reverts back to actual paper. This paperwork calls for endless energy on our youngsters' parts  -- writing essays, recounting summer jobs, sports, clubs, volunteer work (the college demigod community service), and so on. Much of this also involves energy expended by adults in the form of guidance counselors, school advisors, and of course parents, assisting in completing, proofing or verifying various aspects of said paperwork.

4. Moolah... and moolah-related items. It takes energy for all of us to do the work that equates to our incomes, which means more energy is expended to pay the college application fees involved. Today, few students apply to fewer than 8 colleges, most close to a dozen, each requiring a fee -- actual moolah -- usually a minimum of $50 a shot. Related to that moolah are financial aid applications and forms...the dreaded annual FAFSA which has parents in panic mode to meet deadlines using estimated income numbers only to update once taxes are done...actual income tax forms (parent and student), self-employed business owner forms, farm owner forms, and the newest cherry on the top of this heap, not just the income tax forms themselves but the IRS tax verification requirement (another story!). 

5. College visits. Ah, gasoline expended for this alone is one major source of oft-wasted energy, but add to that the energy of getting ready to go, making sure the dog is taken care of while away, usually reserving hotel rooms for special visitor weekends, plus meals. My feeling is virtual college visits online should be sufficient, but whole cottage industries have grown around these visits, even special college tour service providers. My attitude, I know, comes partly from the fact that my parents never even visited Hofstra until I graduated, and I lived about 20 minutes away!

Why do I call much of this wasted energy? I admit I am slightly soured on the proces for the moment, coming from the fact that my second son, after all the applications and moolah and visits, etc. etc., decided last-minute (had to overnight the acceptance letter to make sure we meet the deadline...more paperwork, energy, moolah hahaha!) that he will go to the same college as my older son. 

Alrighty then. Time to expend a little more energy to go about buying extra-long sheet sets, since heaven forbid regular size sheets would suffice....

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paul May 02, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Wasted Energy in the College Application Process: It is called doing what is referred to as "due diligence" to make the correct decision... It is all positive...
Nancy Hiler May 02, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Of course it is all positive... Just a little humor here. Thanks for your comment.
Liz Berger May 02, 2012 at 10:54 AM
very sentimental this time of year and ESP. this year as our eldest will soon be a class of 2012 from one of the esteemed local colleges in Hudson Valley, (Marist)!The 4 years really flew and will miss visiting and hearing all about the journey...(we do have a local college kid as well, thankfully). My thought is to all the folks who push for the kids to do all this is independently is "really"?! My hats off to all the families going or have gone through this, so proud of all of us!
Liz Berger May 02, 2012 at 11:06 AM
grammar is off but could not correct, hehe (kids to do all this independently is "Really?!"....it is early still :)
Nancy Hiler May 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thanks, Liz. You're right there's no way our kids can do for themselves, and of course we all love to dote on them anyway, so glad you understand that this is all in jest, and since you know me, you also know I would and will do anything for my kids, just as you and all involved parents!! I am so glad you understood that I was kidding!!!!

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