If you're the parent of a high school senior, you know what today is. Your bank account knows what today is. Most importantly, your kid has worked really hard and has had this day and this deadline engraved in his or her brain for months now.
National College Signing Day or National College Decision Day - whichever way you phrase it - this is it, baby. The first real decision they will make of their adult lives. Accept a school's offer, pay all the deposits and sign with them. Commitment.
As a student accepted by all of her top choice schools, my daughter narrowed them down and was faced with the daunting task of choosing between 3 schools. We visited each campus, attended special recruit forums and sessions and she listed out the pros and cons of each school. In the end, her dream school - the one she had fallen in love with last year - won.
She committed to Santa Clara University.
To me the decision was a no-brainer, but she struggled between wanting to move further away from home to San Diego or staying in Nor Cal and living in Santa Clara - just a few miles from home. Those were not her only considerations, with any student choosing a college there's a laundry list of things to consider: financial aid, ease of switching majors, location, campus life, class size, arts, athletics, college culture, underclassmen opportunities for research, major programs and most importantly - feeling "it". That feeling deep down inside that makes you feel, "this is for me...I fit here...this is where I belong".
Her decision was based in part on the following:
- quality of education
- campus housing
- award letter
- study abroad opportunities
- campus and class size
- passionate, intelligent students
- alumni network
- major program
- masters program
- community outreach
- feeling "it"
Notice how religion was not a factor. A common misconception is that you have to be Catholic to attend this or any other Jesuit university. Not the case. We are retired Catholics (cough) and choosing a school based on religion was not a consideration. The mission of a Jesuit education is to create an academic community that educates the whole person, not just the mind, regardless of your personal faith. The vision of SCU is to "educate citizens and leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion and cultivate knowledge and faith to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world". Compassion and giving back are values my daughter believes in, and having served at the convalescent home in our community she has gained more knowledge than in the classroom. Knowing she values service, community outreach and giving, and as a caring and compassionate person, she found the university's core values to be a fit.
Did I mention the campus is G O R G E O U S!?
My best advice to her during this decision making process was simple: trust your gut. Too often we ignore our instincts and allow outside noise to interfere with what our insides are telling us. If you have a student who is going to be embarking on the college journey soon, be supportive - not pushy. Listen and offer advice, but remember that ultimately you're not the one moving away and taking on an expensive four-year commitment. Even if you ARE the one paying for all four years, your 17-year old is probably scared, moody and indecisive. Just put on your seat belt and ride it out. The best is yet to come.