The following is M4C’s inaugural Montecito Journal column from August 19, 2021:
introducing our organization to the journal’s readers. We will post future “College Lowdown” columns on this blog or you can find them at MontecitoJournal.net on the third Thursday of each month.
Applying for College? Yeah, We Feel Your Pain—But Help Is Here
Years ago, after graduating from college, I went through a six month period where I suffered from blood-curdling, ghastly nightmares – where I dreamed I hadn’t really gotten my diploma after all. I’d wake up in a cold sweat, covers tangled on the floor, breathing heavy at 2am, convinced I’d forgotten to do something absolutely necessary to graduate on time. Sometimes I’d dream I’d slept through my exam in Cognitive Psychology. Sometimes I didn’t have enough units to graduate. I simply had added wrong. And sometimes I hadn’t turned in my final paper in “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” Oh, don’t look down on me. We all took those “Easy A” courses our last semester of senior year. And, in my defense, Cher’s music was “revolutionary” at the time. I thought those brutal college nightmares would never end. But finally, they did.
Years passed and then I had a kid of my own. Who decided he, too, wanted to go to college. I was thrilled. I absolutely wanted him to go to college and go to a college where he would thrive. Education is the gateway to a bright and successful future. Okay, I told him. Let’s do this. Pick a UC. But no… Things were different now, he informed me. Now you had to get through…
The College Application Process.
Oh. My. God. What sadistic evil Bond villain invented this wretched process? Talk about your nightmares. Want to submit an application? Try deciding between applying for Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Decision, Early Action II, or Single Choice Early Action? Are they kidding?! I can’t decide between a blueberry or a cinnamon bagel for breakfast so I’ve eaten a hard boiled egg for 25 years straight. And then there are the essays. Plural. I didn’t write this many essays the entire time I was in college…and I was an English major. There’s that big fat juicy one for the Common Application where the parameters are basically “Tell us about yourself, but we’ve read 9 billion of these, so good luck impressing us.” Once you get through that, there are those small quirky supplemental essays like “If you were a rabbit, what kind would you be?” I don’t know – stew? Who could sleep at night thinking of the rabbit they’d be – Fuzzy, Cottontail, Netherland Dwarf, Flemish Giant, the kind Glenn Close would cook up…And if you need money, and let’s face it, who doesn’t with the cost of college these days, you have to face the FAFSA. Ever seen Clint Eastwood’s movie “The Gauntlet?” That’s based on the FAFSA.
The college application process shouldn’t be this overwhelming. Or this daunting. That’s the truth. Kidding aside. That’s why I became a mentor, with a non-profit organization called Mentors 4 College. We are a group of volunteers, who have all undergone rigorous training, in order to help high school students and their families (all across the nation) navigate the college application process – for FREE. We simply want to help students and their families steer through the process with more confidence, more knowledge, and more ease. We’re here to help you Know Your Opportunities: academic, social, and financial. To help build college-savvy communities. And…that’s what this new monthly series of articles is all about. Written by our knowledgeable mentors, the articles will de-mystify the college application process. They’ll offer you insight with information, guidance with expertise. Every month we’ll tackle an issue about the process and make it more understandable, more accessible, and more transparent. And, here’s the best part – you can ask us questions. Okay, actually the best part is that it’s free, (did I mention that?) but you can also ask us questions. You can write to us here at the newspaper or, hit us up at our website (see the link below, where you can also sign up for free mentoring). We’ll be happy to answer any questions you throw at us. Unless, of course, it’s about that rabbit…
So, keep checking back here. In the coming months you’ll learn insights about College Admissions Trends (post pandemic), Financial Aid basics every family needs to know, Common Application Tips & Tricks, we’ll talk about procrastination and motivation, we’ll do a deeper dive into understanding what those essay prompts really mean (we even offer a free online essay workshop – more on that later), and a host of other college application topics you won’t want to miss. You might even sleep better.
As promised, here’s our website: https://mentors4college.org.