Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Musings of an Italian-American Catholic wife, mother, and writer

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Yesterday I wrote about our summer of college campus tours, all of which have been fun, informative, and have shown our son a future bright with opportunities. It was our way to showcase the great big world out there, and to have our son see himself as a vibrant part of it.

I realize this may sound idealistic, perhaps even naive, but knowing what is out there is a great place to start. It’s great to have choices (they are gifts!) but we also know choices eventually whittle down until, ultimately, decisions need to be made.  
This, then, is the nitty gritty part of life in which we ponder, weigh, compare, analyze, formulate, calculate, and question. So, while we want our son to reach for the stars, we also want to teach him the practical aspects on how to navigate in order to get there. And there are so many things to take into consideration.
First and foremost, finances. Our son has a good life. He lives in a nice house, he goes to a private school, he has traveled to Europe, and he has a loving, supportive family. But part of being a good steward of God’s gifts is not taking anything for granted, and my husband and I are not going to just hand him four years wrapped up with a nice, neat bow; rather, he is very involved in the financial aspects of his college education. He knows we will help (a lot), but he also knows that there is the entire family to consider and that he has another brother who is just behind him. He knows that he has to do his part.
Location is another consideration. How far away is too far away, and how close is too close? We laugh about this sometime, and on bad days Joe and I think, Alaska is good. We also have to consider that fact that Georgia offers the Hope Scholarship (tuition is mostly covered if a certain grade point average is maintained), and while this is a huge incentive for choosing to stay in-state, it’s just that, an incentive, and not a done deal.
Then there is gut instinct, that visceral reaction which should never be ignored.  There have been campus visits in which, right away, we just didn’t feel it. It wasn’t something specific, just a feeling. On the flip side, we knew we were on to something when we heard our son say, “I can see myself going here.”
Oh, there is more to decide and consider. We could go on and on about student loans, meal plans, early admission, study abroad possiblities … ay, ay, ay.
On our dining room table is a huge black box with hanging files containing scholarship information, application deadlines, essay prompts, and test scores. The nitty gritty in all its glory. We look at the box, and yes, each of those files is calling for a decision to be made, but here’s the thing: we don’t need to make all the decisions at once.
Know what, then see where.
Decide where, and then work on the how.
And through it all we pray, which helps the nitty gritty not seem so … nitty gritty.

3 comments:

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

My son, not the stellar student your son is, went to a state school in Illinois. Then, circumstances caused him to leave that school for another. The final decision isn't often truly the final one.

In fact, his true "college" experience didn't happen until he went to grad school--at an SEC school.

The choice to be made is an important one, and in ways it determines further outcomes. I love that prayer is an important part of it!

tiziana said...

E' proprio vero...Nicholas ha proprio una strada libera davanti a se e ha la possibilità di andare e fermarsi dove vuole.
Quante decisioni importanti da fare e valutare.
Vi penseremo.
Ciao a tutti.
PS: Joe, penso sia un po' difficile e faticoso giorcare a golf in Alaska con gli orsi polari.

Anonymous said...

I remember an editorial by a mom who said that, if the kid didn't even want to get out of the car to take a look, keep on driving. So your son's comment about seeing himself at a school is very important. And it is SO hard making that choice (coming from a mom whose daughter couldn't even pick out a cereal in the cereal aisle for fear of picking the wrong one!) And often, the choice becomes limited due to gaining admittance and financial aid packages. Just know that most kids end up being happy at whatever college they go to (if they know that the more they put in, the more they will get out) so don't over-think it too much (tho. we can't help it--we are parents), and that everyone who tells you that those 4 years they are there will fly by is EXACTLY RIGHT!! And you develop a whole new wonderful relationship and appreciation of your college student. Plus, as a bonus, YOU'LL get a sense of accomplishment having survived 4 years of filling out FAFSA forms!
Best of luck!