I realize this may sound idealistic, perhaps even naïve, 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 two years behind.
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 … 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.