I am celebrating today that my son’s college applications are all submitted! This process was grueling not only for him, but especially for homeschooling parents like myself who are responsible for the school reports, transcript, and the detailed course descriptions that college counselors and school administrators are paid to provide. Today he applied to nine schools, submitting the common application and nine separate school supplements, three teacher evaluations, one counselor evaluation (from me), application fees, and nine test scores to each school. It cost about $100 per school, including test score submission, to apply.
He wrote 21 essays for this, but recycled some wholesale paragraphs in generic questions like “why engineering” or “why ____ college” for several different supplements. Unlike his older sister, he did not enjoy the process of being introspective or talking about himself. He would protest, claiming he could not say something complimentary about himself – to his mind that was a recommender’s role, and it was bad form and in bad taste for him to do it. I would tell him that this was a time to stand out and not fit in; ironically he is such a natural “standout” that the attempt to fit in has become an important survival instinct for him. He wanted the objective data to speak for him, and was modestly unwilling to “toot his own horn.”
He does have strong recommenders. A math teacher who he had in online classes in both Geometry and Pre-Calc is the math consultant for the Seattle schools. This teacher wrote Andrew an email saying he had completed the recommendation process, quipping, “I have to tell you that many of my checks were in the ‘one of the top few I have encountered in all my years of my teaching’ category. I didn’t mention the number of times in Geometry that I had to sit on you to stop you from giving away all the answers. I love your eagerness. So, I am expecting great things from you…” Music to a parent’s ears, I can tell you.
His second teacher evaluation was from his online programming and web design teacher. Instead of a final last spring in his Advanced Web Design class, my son suggested the entire class collaborate together on a redesign of the Potter’s School’s own website for a shared grade. This was agreed upon and Andrew was elected to spearhead this massive project, assigning components of the project to those most suited to working on the different aspects, and managing not only the people, but also the content detail and overall design. At the end of the course, they presented it, with all its bells and whistles, to this awestruck teacher as well as the parent company, who gratefully incorporated their ideas. My son thoroughly relished this experience, and if this instructor captures any of the essence of what occurred, it will be a strong recommendation.
Andrew’s third recommender (and only some of the schools except three, many only wanting “academic” ones) is the coach of my son’s FIRST Robotics team that has won the Boston Regionals twice while Andrew was on the team, proceeding to internationals both times. Andrew has been a pivotal team member, able to work well with others – and not the loner so many homeschooling preconceptions would try to suggest.
Andrew’s test scores are top tier and his grade point is 3.9, with 32 rigorous honors and AP credits. (For example, he recently wrote a paper in AP Economics that his teacher thought should be published…) Andrew spends two hours a day reading a wide range of news sources. He clocked 357.5 various volunteer hours in high school, including building a schoolroom in Peru. He’s been published in the Christian Science Sentinel Magazine. He’s gotten many 4H awards, including several for technology and for public speaking. He has been an integral member of the National Leadership Council, and has even received a Bronze Congressional Medal.
So the objective data is not at all shabby! Where did he apply? Olin, Columbia, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Swarthmore, Harvey Mudd, Reed, Dartmouth, and WPI. All have selective engineering (or 3/2) programs that are more practical than theoretical, with more opportunity for electives than most other places. Franklin W. Olin is his first choice but they only take 89 kids, nine of which are from last year’s wait-list, and half of which are girls, which means he is competing for one of 40 spots. However, all the schools on his list have strong programs where he could thrive. We eliminated applying to places like Princeton, Haverford, Brown, Tufts, and Principia that we had been considering, because my son had clarity that he’d pick WPI (where he feels assured of getting in) over them.
We have done our due diligence and now it is up to God. I am grateful to know that it is not up to admissions officers, nor up to chance. Andrew’s right place is incontestably his, as is everyone’s. I rejoice in the thought that there are so many other qualified kids out there; it makes me hopeful for our future. My son aspires to go to school with some of them, but where will it be? Alas, “Patience must have her perfect work,” so we will “trust God’s disposal of events.” Right now, I’m grateful this intense and important threshold has been crossed, and in time to enjoy the holiday in humble contemplation and blissful reflection.
Yippeee! Yeah!! Wahoo!
(As a special treat and a token of “congratulations for having it over with,” my husband made me the delicious Gougère shown below. No one knows better than him how many sleepless nights I spent pulling this all together! Yum! Ahhh…)