It’s so wonderful to hear about exciting the new horizons and journeys many high school students will venture out to post graduation. Then there are those students who perhaps have not planned out their journey to the fullest, and post graduation can be a time of uncertainty. Whatever side you’re on, it’s a nerve wracking time for parents and students.
So whether you are headed to your dream college, going to a school that wasn’t your first or even second choice, or are taking the junior college route, know all roads lead to a bright future if you have the right mindset, drive and, remember that nothing is set in stone.
Two years ago my daughter Mariah, and I were in the college decision making process. Did she get into her dream school? No. Was she bummed out? Yes, a little. Was I afraid of what was to come? YES!
All of these questions and emotions are all normal.
After looking at the out of state acceptances and in state schools, Mariah decided to attend San Jose State University (SJSU). I say she decided because I took the passenger seat when it came to picking the major and the final school that she would enroll in. Being a proactive mom, I assisted with pro and cons list on her top three picks. But, I wanted my daughter to own her decision.
When it was said and done, Mariah picked the school based on affordability. San Jose State was the school that offered the best financial aid package for one. Second, it was close enough to where she could get on a plane and be home within an hour, and it would only cost about $230 round trip. Third, she could envision herself there when we took the campus tour. And finally, she was going to pursue a major in graphic design. This was a subject that she thought she was passionate about.
We thought she would spend four years there. We had a going away party and taco tour. This is what we planned for. Is she there today? No.
SJSU was not what she thought it would be. She wanted to come home every chance she could. She didn’t like classes connected to her major, and this she figured out in the first few weeks. She redid her schedule. She was disconnected from the school community. Keep in mind that my daughter’s senior class had a total of 65 girls, and at SJSU, she was attending a college with over 26,000 students. On top of that, she is an introvert, and it was difficult for her to immerse herself into school clubs. SJSU is a commuter school, locals went home, and from what she tells me, it was lonely on weekends, she was bored, which made the homesick feelings even worse. My daughter did get a part-time job in retail, kept herself busy every weekend, studied so she earned good grades, and made it through the first year.
Every time we talked she tried to convince me to let her come home to attend community college. I was not hearing it, I didn’t give in. Now when I think back, I feel bad at how cold I was.
Why was I so adamant about her staying there when she disliked it? Was this about me or her? To be quite honest, it was about me. I didn’t want her to throw this opportunity away. She worked so hard to get there, and I worked hard to raise her and help her have this chance. I didn’t listen to how unhappy she was, and I knew the first year would be tough on all of us. I felt I had to stand my ground.
Before the first semester was over, I asked my daughter to research other options that were equivalent to where she was at.
Mariah researched her options and became interested in UC Merced. Why Merced? This is a lonely cow town, right? Well, she did her homework a bit more extensively this time; she went to visit on several occasions and stayed on campus with one of her high school friends during the school year. She liked the size of school, which has less than 8,000 undergrad students. She saw the unique school community and liked how the school sits alone about two miles from the city. She realized that the major she originally picked was not for her and became interested in another major they offered at UCM.
The acceptance rate for a first year transfer from a Cal-State to a UC is typically less than 1%. At Merced 97% of admitted transfer students were from California community colleges, and this is after two years. This did not scare my daughter. She made an appointment with a counselor and inquired about the transfer process. She took all steps necessary and applied.
She was accepted! We looked over all pros and cons list again. UC Merced offered a better financial aid package, and it was two hours closer to HOME! She made the move. She couldn’t be happier at this point in time.
My daughter is doing things differently at UCM. She has joined clubs and does frequent community service. She has fallen in love with school once again. She doesn’t beg to come home anymore! I beg her to visit!
UCM is working out for her, and I am grateful for this. Most of all I am glad that I let her take the driver’s seat. She is discovering her capabilities on her own and learning what it’s like to take risks and make tough adult life decisions.
Whether you are a student or parent in the process of making college decisions, here are some helpful tips:
- Always make your pros and cons list.
- Parents: do more listening than telling.
- Explore all options and ASK questions.
- Understand and accept that nothing is set in stone.
- Parents: Empower your kids to be confident and fearless!
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