Why is Applying for College so Painful?

I’m drowning in college applications, college essays, SAT and ACT scores, and a completely drained checkbook. GOING to college is supposed to drain the financial life from a family, but applying to college?

I realize that part of my challenge this year is that I have TWO high school seniors applying to colleges. That means that the costs, the time, the headaches, the campus visits are all doubled. I can’t begin to describe how burnt out on writing essays I am and I haven’t personally written any! I’ve just proofread, edited, and helped trim-to-fit-the-length-restrictions on so.many.essays, I feel like I COULD write them in my sleep.

Every school has its own deadline. Some have early application; some have early decision. Some early decision applications are binding and some are not. Some schools have deadlines for applications and then EARLIER deadlines for scholarship consideration. Some schools will flex on the deadlines and some are absolutely rigid.

Some schools collaborate to restrict students to ONE early-decision application. Some schools don’t care. Some schools take the Common App and consider it done. Some require the Common App PLUS several more school-specific essays. Some have their own proprietary application.

Some applications can be completed in 20 minutes. Some take 20 hours. Some schools require paper transcripts, to be mailed through the USPS. Some require electronically mailed transcripts.

Being a home educator complicates things for me. EVERY school requires something different from me. One school asked me to list every single text used for every high school class on the transcript. (“Son, please take School X off of your list!”) Some schools ask for letters of reference; some do not. Some schools allow me to function as the high school guidance counselor; some require that I find someone else to provide the information that a guidance counselor would normally provide.

Keeping track of who is who and who needs what requires a spreadsheet! Writing the checks for the application fees for each school just about requires a second mortgage!

Yesterday, Baby A and I were busy wrapping up his application at one of his top college choices. He read some fine print for the first time and realized that in order to meet the deadline for Application-with-consideration-for-scholarship-eligibility, we needed to have a notarized paper copy of his transcript in their office by 5 PM yesterday. Impossible.

Baby A got on the phone to the admissions office and asked if there was any flexibility. He is, after all, very interested in their school. Nope. No flexibility at all. The admissions lady told him primly that they take great pride in the fact that they make no exceptions for their deadlines. Ever.

He hung up the phone and said, “Well, I can still apply for admission but I won’t be eligible for any scholarships. At all. No exception.”

Well, that’s their call. They missed out on a good student in my Baby A.

I was just relieved to cross that school off the list altogether. It doesn’t seem like it should BE this hard!

One thought on “Why is Applying for College so Painful?

  1. That last part about the deadline makes me want to cry.

    I am empathizing. Not because I have two seniors at once, but because I had one last year and another this year. It’s like the movie Groundhog day – I feel like I’m living the whole thing over again.

    And yes, it is SO expensive JUST to apply!

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