All the things my son didn’t do to get into college

Layer a college admissions process on top of online schooling during a pandemic? 

Sure. Sounds great. 

The college admission process is chaotic during a “typical” year and this year amped that up x100. Was it still a stressful process? Yes. But some things made it easier. 

Here’s some of the things my son didn’t do to get to this point in his life. 

He didn’t listen to people. 

Braden has a strong sense of self and purpose. He took the high school classes he wanted to and not what was strongly recommended to him by others. He dropped AP courses after he learned more about their (to him) sub par curriculum. He took unweighted courses instead of more “rigor” AP because they were more fulfilling. He didn’t follow guidelines of 4 of everything- english, math, science, language and social science. His end transcript is just so perfectly HIM and isn’t that what it should be? 

He didn’t center his success or self identity around grades, gpa and test scores. 

He didn’t make high school the end all be all to his life and education. This isn’t how we wanted to raise him and when he wrote this piece for his high school paper? I knew in my soul I had done one parenting thing right. 

He didn’t put “safety” schools on his list. 

Every school on his list (and it was small) was one he would have attended. 

He didn’t go “Ivy Hunting.”

Many students, especially this year with test optional, applied to every prestigious school they could. I guess that’s fine if you like a lot of extra work to gamble on black. 

He (we) didn’t hire out a college consultation service. 

First of all, I completely understand why people do, it can be an enormous task to take on when it’s your first child going through the process. I even looked into it at one point but for the cost of them? We just couldn’t justify that. Did he really want or need a perfectly polished and coiffed college application anyways? No.

He didn’t have anyone outside our house edit his essays

His father and I read them over. Scott for grammar, me for overall tone. In the end the essays were 100% my son and not washed over with a vanilla bean for wide mass appeal. Hell, his common app essay was “Why I don’t like writing prompts.” Were there a few things that maybe his dad and I would not have said or written? Sure, but we weren’t the ones portrayed on the application. 

If my son’s writing doesn’t appeal to a college, then they should not accept him and he should absolutely not go there. 

He didn’t oversell himself. 

I hear this might be a midwestern trait but he didn’t overinflate anything he did or accomplished. Maybe to a fault, but again, that’s who he is. 

In the end my son got into his 1st, 2nd and free tuition option choices. Like I said, he had a small list and would have gone to any single one of the schools so we are thrilled for him. What will he study? He’s 18, so let’s give him some time but he’s looking at political science and music which is exactly what he said in 9th grade. I originally started writing on the internet (9 years ago!) because his educational journey so it felt right to bookend it with this post. I can’t wait to see how his next few years develop. He will be attending the University of Chicago in fall of 2021. 

The Pandemic Pantry

Watching the world in February made me think “We need some cereal.”

I went grocery shopping to start stocking up on dry goods so much so that my teen boys thought they had just won a Kellogg lottery. 

As we were unpacking from The Dry Goods Shopping Olympics, Tegan noticed one large bottle of Gatorade.

“Who is this for?”

Me: It’s for whoever gets the corona

Him: “Sign me up for that trip to Wuuuuhannnn!”

Jokes aside, this anti social family has been training for this for years. 

I have Twitter (and lol this blog?) and about 2 years of house projects I’m behind on, one of those being house numbers to put on the mailbox so delivery people can stop circling the cul-de-sac looking for the idiot who doesn’t have house numbers. 

About a month ago I even bought flower seeds to grow. I fu*king love a month ago Jen. 

Scott has a POV

Tegan has Xbox

Braden has Discord

That’s not to say we won’t have moments of chaos during our Cereal Quarantine.

Just when I was feeling smug about my pantry bursting with goods, I hear the distinct sound of a box hitting the floor with a swoosh of small items scattering about. 

Me from upstairs “THAT BETTER NOT BE A BOX OF CEREAL!”

Tegan from downstairs “Don’t worry, it was just Dad’s Fiber One.”

Like I said, we’re good here. Except for one of us who might have to find an alternate for his fiber needs.

Cereal

Listen, if you’re judging my cereal choices then I’m probably judging you for your Wheaties.

Racism is not a joke

When my son was in 5th grade, the class performed a play at school. What started out as a cute idea, spiraled into me being horrified. I sent an email to school administration regarding what I felt was culturally inappropriate and insensitive. I never received a response. 

racism

My younger son graduates from that school as my older son is in high school. The first semester of 9th grade PE class, my son was introduced to the square dancing unit that was 6 weeks long. Upon doing some research on the topic, my son found out that square dancing has roots in white supremacy. He sends a “Tip 203” (school complaint reporting system) to the district. Some school official calls him down to the office to discuss what he had reported. My son explained his findings and said he felt it would be more appropriate to diversify the unit with other cultures dancing. They basically patted his head and sent him along his way. 

Look over any materials used in public education and you are going to find very Eurocentric, white/colonizer point of views on history. Kids are not taught that this -white view- is the right way but it’s not paired with ENOUGH of the other point of view for balance. Couple that with the cultural insensitivity we see IN ACTION through curriculum and you’re going to end up with what’s happening not only at Naperville Central, but also across Illinois

The issue isn’t just in our public schools, the colonizer view is so ingrained in our society that it even presents itself at our national parks. 

NP

Something tells me that the Coahuiltecans might have a different view on this. I took this picture found at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park this year, 2019. 

Instead of seeing people trying to educate themselves on these topics, I often hear

“Slavery was so long ago, people should just get over it and move on”

Not so fast on that. Science is finding that trauma may be passed down through changes in DNA. That means that slave -from so long ago- that had a horrific life may now have ancestors living in our 20th century carrying this trauma as well as all the other trauma’s that’s held in their lineage. 

And how do we -mostly- white people treat this minority and vulnerable populations? With more insults, assaults, bad jokes, and voting into positions of power those who do not have their best interests at the forefront. 

Yes, Naperville has racism, the United States of America has racism, I am racist and filled with implicit bias that I work on daily. 

Admitting it is the first step. Knowing is not a weakness, it’s a strength because once you know where to start to change, you can. 

There are fortunately many things you can do to start.

Find those minority voices in your community, listen to them, and most importantly ACT with their interests in mind. Read books from other point of views than the white Euro one. Visit museums that are run by those it represents. 

Teach your kids it’s not good enough to not be racist. They must call out racism around them by also calling out friends who say racist sayings, jokes, and stories. Teach them to stand up to anyone no matter what- even if they’re in a position of power. Especially if they’re in a position of power supporting racism practices. 

When people of color ask for support. Act on that. 

And whatever you do, don’t stop the fight.