After running around a maze of dazed parents and their kids at the senior portrait studio, I spent the evening with three other IB moms, all amazing, who have already been through the college process. I try to do this when my family is about to experience a big change. I meet with moms whom I admire or who have been through a similar situation, and I pick their brains.
I hit the jackpot with IB moms. It has been such a relief to find women who feel the same way about education that I do, who see themselves as role models for their kids and try to lead by example and provide an upbeat, positive, productive atmosphere. These women fit that description to a tee, plus all three of them currently have kids in college.
We met at the home of Susan Mitchell, the Queen of IB Moms. Susan has two kids in the program and one who just graduated from it with a scholarship to the University of Florida. Susan is a Rosetta Stone of information and guidance. She knows everything. Susanne Garmong has one daughter in the program, a son in college and a daughter about to start fourth grade. She’s also on the swim team board with me and sets up the athletes’ table with such enthusiasm that I want her to cater my next party. Kan Davidson has a son in the program and a daughter who graduated from the program and is about to start her junior year at Williams College. Kan also single-handedly started the fencing program at Campbell.
I asked questions. They provided thoughtful answers. Some things I learned or confirmed:
- Don’t apply early decision to pricey out of state private schools. It’s a binding contract, and unless you have the funding lined up, it’s risky to commit when you don’t know what your grant/scholarship situation is going to be.
- University of Pennsylvania (Gigi’s dream school) does not allow early decision students to apply early decision to other private colleges. They have a list of “cannot apply to” schools. This freaked me out a little bit, but since we have taken early decision off our list, I’m okay now (see rule #1). You can, however, apply early action to state schools.
- Apply early action all day long. It’s nice to start hearing from schools before the holidays.
- Out of state state schools are way more expensive than I thought they’d be. They offer lots of scholarships, but still…
- What you choose to major in and how many students apply for that major weighs heavily in acceptance rates. Meaning, if you’re a super star student, but apply for a popular major, somebody who hasn’t performed as well as you but applied for a less popular major may get in while you get wait listed.
- When push comes to shove and you start hearing about costs vs. quality of education, many families start waffling on the Ivies.
- Always scour Target and Costco for items your kid might need in college. Buy early and buy often.
We talked about schedules and what’s coming up and how to do the next big thing. But mostly, we connected as mothers, as the women who have guided our children to this extraordinary moment, who are ready to send them out and eager to watch them gingerly step into their own. I see several such evenings as this in the future. Thank goodness.
And then they learned how to play Pokeman Go. Turns out, Kan is an expert! And we ate lots of dried green beans. Delicious!