MAYDAY! MAYDAY! It’s known internationally as the call for help. In our house, it’s also a deadline. May 1 is the date that our college-bound daughter must decide on a school. Her whole future depends on it, of course, and perhaps the future of the entire planet.
At least that’s how it seems. Paralyzed with indecision, the e-mails and letters keep coming — from not one, but 10 different universities. They all want to welcome my daughter to her new home.
“I may have applied to too many schools,” she revealed recently. “I have too many choices.” It may have been my fault, too, for encouraging her to apply to some of my own personal favorites.
Take Montana State University, for instance. My old alma mater has generously offered a package of cowboys, skiing and scholarships. But the one thing they can’t promise is a buffer between my daughter and her mother’s “weird college friends.” Bozeman is, after all, a small town.
Then there’s Fordham. My daughter can’t remember why she applied here, but it’s New York so it’s in the running.
The University of Pittsburgh wasn’t her idea either, but she does have a favorite uncle there. However this must be weighed with the fact that her feet would freeze in flip-flops.
The University of Hawaii has the promise of paradise with sunshine and surfers, but can she come home when she wants to? There’s also the prospect of finding geckos on her dorm room walls. In other words, the eeewwww factor.
UC Santa Barbara, on the other hand, may be too close to home. Still, there’s sunshine and the beach and, as Bob Barker used to say, “the price is right”.
That leaves, in no particular order, my daughter’s current “fav five”: USC, Tulane, University of Texas, University of Georgia and Arizona State. If all things were equal, (i.e. cost, class size, career opportunities) Georgia would probably win the competition for my brilliant child. She’s dreamed about Georgia since she took a Girl Scout visit there years ago.
But the University of Texas has Austin and its renowned music scene. It’s also been rated the safest campus in the country.
It’s tough, too, to turn down Tulane. It’s a super school that exudes southern charm and is generous with its scholarships. Ditto for Arizona State, which mapped out its financial aid package months ago, making it seem almost painless to pay for college.
Finally, there’s USC — my dream school. I emphasize my because this was the university I wanted to attend back in high school. In those days, parents had parameters and mine was in miles. I had to stay within 1,000 miles of my home in Minnesota. Montana State turned out to be great, but I always wondered what life would have been like as a Trojan. Would my connections have catapulted me to someday be president of NBC? Would I have married a movie mogul or, even better, been one myself? That’s not to say that I’m unhappy today. My life is rich, if not my bank account.
In the end, it’s not about me anyway — as my daughter reminds me. This is her college experience. Thank goodness. If I had to decide, I’d be a wreck. Or maybe I’d send out a “Mayday” and hope someone would come to my aid.