College Visit and Middle Ground

Apparently cows like middle ground too.

We are visiting a college tomorrow.

We will be walking on a campus, talking to an admission counselor, visiting with professors and trying on the campus like a pair of brown low heel pumps.

You see, this college is the middle ground for us.  It’s somewhere between MIT and our local college.  Just far enough away to be “away at college” but close enough to come home for the weekend.  Decent physics program but not too expensive.  So, it’s not the red alligator strappy sandals for which your heart longs, but  neither is it the well-worn tennis shoes, casual and comfortable but a little too familiar.  Brown low heel pumps, of course.

I had a devious plan where we would visit a variety of colleges and then if we could swing it, we’d visit the big (unaffordable) ones.  My thought was that by that time, he would see that a college is a college is a college.  Even though some have wonderful old buildings and carillon bells that sound on the hour, it still boils down to classrooms, learning and my son applying himself.  However, time is working against us so we’ve cut to the chase.  Middle ground it is.

A lot of things in life happen on middle ground.  Let’s take curfews.  Your teenager stands at the door, keys in hand and says that he’ll be home by 1 am.  You know that nothing good ever happens after midnight AND you are too sleepy to stay up that late, so you counter with your usual bedtime hour – 9 pm.  Back to the teen, he considers and takes a step toward the middle ground – midnight.  You realize it’s Friday and you could wait up a little later, so you take a step into the middle with 10 pm…and so forth until you both reach the middle ground.  Although some would argue that being in the middle is not as much fun as being on the edge, I still think a lot more gets done in the middle.

So, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

By the way, www.nerdwallet.com has an education section that lists scholarships and a financial calculator.  Valuable tool right now as we shop colleges!

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Trying to Make the Short List

I’m trying to figure out the short list of colleges to which we will put our energy.  However, the primary person, who needs to be involved in this list, doesn’t seem to want to sit down and talk about it.  So why?

It isn’t any secret that my son is a procrastinater.  Why waste today with an assignment due next week?  So, why sit down and talk about colleges today when he won’t go to one until next fall?   I have a one word answer.  Scholarships.  Maybe one more word.  Acceptance.

But, I have to remember, we haven’t been down this road before.  He hasn’t experienced competition for a place in a college class before.  So I guess it’s my job to remind, nag, implore, plead, demand, cajole, beg and talk to him about getting applications done.

We need a short list.  Actually, he has a very short list: MIT and Cal Tech.  My list is a little longer: Missouri State, Missouri S&T, University of Arkansas, Pittsburg State University, and Tennessee Tech.  If you read my list, you can probably guess the geographic area that I am leaning toward, with the exception of the wild card Tennessee Tech.  I love the Tennessee Tech Tubas and would love for my son to get an opportunity to play with them along with getting his physics degree.

Along with so many parents, I want my child to go to a college of his dreams.  However, I don’t have a big pot of money to pay for it and I don’t think it is wise to go into debt (the college student or parent) over a bachelor degree.

So, I have planned for time this weekend to sit down, look at college application and scholarship dates, mark them on the calendar and begin the nagging….I mean reminding….process.

A good free resource:  http://www.usnews.com/education US News and World Report has the rankings of 1600 schools.  The free version gives you tuition costs, enrollment numbers, freshmen retention stats and other basic information to start your search.  There are other links on this site to give you calculators, grad school information and rankings by category – i.e. liberal arts colleges, regional colleges, best value, etc.  There is also a paid component, but I haven’t decided if we’ll explore that yet.