College: Apply Generously

I don’t know how stupid or lazy people get their kids into a university these days. I’ve been doing college applications with my daughter and I haven’t felt this mentally exhausted since I had to bullshit-write my way through a geek-level psychology class in 1981. That semester could not end fast enough. It would have been easier to just get a master’s in psych, but instead I expended a huge amount of brain power faking my way to a B by writing awesome papers.

My daughter is applying to seven different colleges, all with different application processes, different essay questions, supplemental applications, separate applications for their music schools, and a cornucopia of requirements from her teachers, guidance counselors and references. It’s been a test of my intelligence, tenacity and ability to not let out a whimper and throw a glass.

I’m starting to rethink my self-image as a smart person. Also, last week I suggested that locksmithing school might be neat.

We’re roughly a third of the way done. I think. It’s hard to tell. New tasks keep popping up all the time. It’s possible we’re nowhere near the finish line.

The other night, it was 10:45 and she got to a section on the online application-within-an-application that had three essay questions that we had never seen before.

“Agh!” she said.

As exhausted as I was, I tried to play the court jester. “Come on, we can do this! It won’t be that hard! We’ll just plow through these and then we’ll be done!” I was waving my arms and bobbing my legs, for emphasis.

But it was too late. I mean it was literally too late at night and neither of us could think straight enough to answer a question with enough clarity and grammar to get her into a major university.

She was typing away and I . . . I may have been asleep . . . when she said, “OK, I’m writing about the effect that my volunteer work at El Sol has had on my view of the world. How should I describe what they do there?”

“OK, it’s a . . . they . . . alright. El Sol is a community . . . immigrant . . . they, um, they . . .”

“Aren’t you, like, a writer or something?” she said.

“Ha, ha. Very funny, smart girl. Just let me think how it should be worded.”

“And didn’t you write the brochure for them, the one that describes what they do?”

I let out a whimper and threw a glass.

“Locksmiths are highly respected in some cultures, you know.” 

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