The First Day of May

Wednesday, May 1, is a significant day: the deadline to submit a deposit (or letter of commitment) to hold a place in one freshman class.

On Wednesday of this week, a lengthy, adventuresome chapter closes for most seniors.  (A few will steadfastly carry on with a waitlist pursuit…but relatively few.)

May 1 marks the conclusion of a long sequence for many Moses Brown families.  Most students have worked exceptionally hard in a demanding program for many years–while playing a time-consuming sport or participating in our performing arts or leadership organizations. Supported by their parents, these students have also visited a multitude of colleges, completed applications,and endured multiple Saturdays of college-related testing. At every family holiday gathering, seniors have been asked “where do you want to go to school?”

For those not involved in making a deposit or selecting a college by May 1st, it’s a harder decision than it appears.  In many cases, it requires a good deal of consensus among family members.  Financing, for example, is key.  Many colleges extend generous grant monies per year to candidates they really like and wish to attract to their campus. This is welcome assistance to Moses Brown families who may support another child or two in independent school–or perhaps another child already in college. But what to do if a student’s first or second choice has accepted him or her–but not extended any money (or very little)? By necessity, money impacts many college decisions. We need to be sensitive to  the influence of financing on choice.

Geography also represents a big deal breaker–usually more for parents than students. Seniors are often ready to cross to a different coast, experience a different city, or explore unfamiliar airports. Because the adult has a different role in the family, a parent has to worry about the “B” plan if a MB graduate becomes sick on the west coast without a car, etc. These are important things to consider–but they can be negotiated and figured out.  Ultimately, some people just like to travel and organize trips more than others–and this should be discussed within a family.

Then there is the choice of major or career in terms of choosing a college. We are very impressed with one student in our office. She knew music school (her top choice) might be a hard sell for the family–from price to future job prospects. So she wrote up a “business plan” and presented it to her parents over dinner–identifying the summer she would seek an internship….and how she would find a way to take a number of business courses to add to her music background. Her parents approved and signed the contract!

Senior families need a lot of space and room at this time of year. Rather than pressing them for answers about the “big choice” and how close to May 1 it will be made, it’s better just to acknowledge how tough a decision it is–and how many variables are involved.  It is also important to note that May 1 represents a first formal goodbye within a household; it is the moment the  college plan becomes real and determined.

Seniors and their families are typically tired at this time of year. Let’s remind them it will soon be time to celebrate their accomplishments!

by Helen Scotte Gordon


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