Friday, May 6, 2011


If you are the parent of an Edina High School senior, it's been an important week. May 1st  is the college decision deadline.  It is the culmination of the arduous college search and application process—one that has dominated the landscape of your lives for the last year or two. 

The process is obviously different for each student. Some students are admitted by public universities on rolling admission throughout senior year—perhaps as early as October. Early decision works in the favor of a few. But most students have to wait until April 1st (or pretty darn close) to learn where they have been admitted.
Last year, April 1st fell during Edina’s spring break. While our son had received three acceptances by late March, three still hung in the air…or I should say two waited in cyberspace and one at the Edina post office. We spent spring break of 2010 in New York City. We were so busy sightseeing, shopping, and eating that we didn’t speak of college until the day arrived. On April 1st our son logged on with the laptop. I stayed in the other room and couldn’t watch. He entered his codes for two Ivy League schools and watched the screen as he was rejected by both. No surprise, with acceptance rates of less than 10%. The text messages and postings on Facebook started flying around.We returned home, sorted the mail, and found a big fat envelope from the last school. A yes. 

A neat little ending would be a decision made with no additional fanfare. But that would be too simple. April is the month of ‘Accepted Student Days.’ This is when you make a final visit and the college has its last chance to woo and impress prospective freshmen. If those schools are nearby, you just hop in the car and go. When they are across the country, this means yet another costly trip. Dad and son go back to Boston to re-visit his top two choices. They return. Son doesn’t say a word for three days. We casually mention we would appreciate not waiting until April 30th.

For several days I only speak to my closest friends who are in the same boat. We don’t sleep well. One morning I walk around Lake Harriet with the mother of a gifted musician with extraordinary choices. I hear the details of the high-pressure auditions required and no decision made yet either—it sounds agonizing.

Finally, on Sunday evening after dinner, our son says he has made his decision to attend Boston College.  Though a bit frustrated by his two rejections, he knows he has chosen the school that is a great fit for him in many ways. The blank is finally filled in. His body breathes a visible sigh of relief, and he hugs me like a child. I am relieved, but feel my first tinge of sadness too.

For all you parents of the class of 2011 experiencing a similar scenario, I feel your anxiety. But I also feel your pride and your excitement for the future. I share your gratitude that Edina Public Schools has served your son or daughter well for 13 years. I especially felt this when I saw my son’s first semester transcript with all that college credit earned for his work at Edina High School, fulfilling many core requirements. That happened not only because of our son’s efforts, but also because of his fine EHS teachers and their passion in the classroom.  

I promise that May and June are much more fun! There is prom, May term, award banquets, commencement, and dozens of graduation parties. You will tire of eating cake and sub sandwiches. But you will be happy for everyone, and enjoy the glow of all the graduates’ faces.

Leaving in September? That’s a posting for a different month.


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