By: Ruth Ann Cote
As an Independent Educational Consultant, January has become my favorite time of the year. With the onboarding of new junior students coinciding with seniors receiving college acceptances, I am reminded of how far my seniors have come since beginning the process.
At the beginning of the process, there is always a common thread in responses to our parent and student questionnaires from otherwise very unique families: Excitement coupled with anxiety about what lies ahead. My current group of seniors was no exception. But they have faced a more challenging path than those of years past. The normal feelings of uncertainty, stress and “what ifs” were compounded by the addition of COVID-19 to their college process. That’s why this year, more than ever, the growth of these students was even more pronounced and meaningful.
So this January, I’m reflecting even more than usual and have written to my seniors.
To the student who was most worried about writing essays, because she felt she didn’t have anything “special” to write about: YOU are special. Your essay paralleling your growth personally with your growth as an artist was one of my favorites. Revel in the future “messes” you will make — they are beautiful.
To the student who was afraid to apply as an engineering major because he “only had pre-calc”: Your natural curiosity and hard work gained you acceptance to five amazing engineering programs (so far!) with sizable scholarships. Your authenticity and love of learning came through in your application and was recognized. Enjoy “hitting” the slopes from all possible angles, and the thrill of getting back up. ; )
To the parents who were worried about finances: Kudos for addressing this up front with your son, for making him a part of this adult conversation and recognizing it as a key factor in finding the “right fit.” Your spreadsheet tracking each of his acceptances, with the cost of attendance and the scholarships offered keeps it real and highlights his accomplishments. He is a young man who values your relationship, radiates the confidence you have in him, and will make the most of his college experience.
To the student who struggled freshman year, and has learned to embrace his uniqueness: You are one of the most talented and insightful writers and filmmakers I’ve seen. Colleges with truly holistic admissions standards “saw” you. They understand your potential and value it. Take this external validation, harness your inner “bad@$$” and run with it. The future is yours.
To the students who were worried about not having test scores to send or not having “good enough” test scores to send: When they said “test optional” they meant it! Colleges understood 2020 was crazy, that your tests were canceled, that you didn’t take the test until months after you prepped for it, that your world was turned upside down. We’ve always said, “You are more than your test scores.” This year proved it.
To the two students who have had a difficult path: Thank you for your honesty throughout the process. Your struggles have gifted you with a level of self-awareness beyond your years. Take comfort in knowing that your hard work has paid off. You are in a great position to take the next step, and pivot again if necessary. To my “ambassador:” You will continue to bring people together wherever life takes you! To my “numbers girl:” Look forward to all the upcoming important dates and encounters with butterflies.
These students have not heard back from all of the schools they applied to. They have not yet decided which school they will attend. That doesn’t matter. Their growth through the process is what I am celebrating today. The common feelings they started with have been replaced with excitement, hope, control and most importantly, confidence in knowing whatever comes their way they are ready.