Thursday, January 19, 2017

This is going to be an education, all right...

When the current grading period of the 2016-2017 academic year comes to a close tomorrow, my older son will officially be...a Second Semester Junior. Now, I realize this doesn't carry the same weight or prestige as being a Senior, on the cusp of graduating from High School...but still, it kicks off a whole array of fresh...potentially exciting...and very probably nerve-wracking events in the near future, and extending for an indeterminate length of time (until one makes some extremely important decisions...but much more on that later...). As a family, this is the first time we'll be going through this together, and I'm sure I'll have quite a bit to share about the process as things unfold. So whattya say we consider this the inaugural installment of Derek's Road to...Whatever Comes Next. (How's that for vague and open-ended? Wouldn't wanna put too much pressure on the boy, right?)

For Derek, one of the first things that occurred in this brave new era is that his mother--being the ultra-helpful...somewhat Type-A...loving parent that she is--signed him up for practice runs of the college entrance exams. So he grumbled a bit, but showed up on a couple of different Saturday mornings, took the tests...and then did...nothing. And by that I mean that he received his ACT score in good time, as promised, but failed to mention this fact to anyone. That is, until Mom--annoyed that we hadn't heard anything and seeking to get to the bottom of the situation--logged into his account, and checked his messages herself...and found the notification RIGHT THERE where it should be, having arrived WEEKS ago, on schedule.

(She then proceeded to demonstrate her frustration by yelling loudly about his lack of responsibility and follow-through, whilst whacking her son about the head with the rolled-up score report that she'd printed. You know, to teach him the error of his ways...or what have you. However, since this only served to reduce him to helpless giggles, I don't think the point was made. Especially because about a month later, while we were cooperatively cleaning out the Black Hole of Paper that had accumulated in his closet--already-graded assignments, both outdated and current syllabi and course requirements, random pages of notes...etc--we chanced upon his SAT documentation, languishing in his backpack. "Oh," he grinned in what was probably supposed to be a charmingly impish manner, "I was supposed to give that to you, wasn't I?" Siiiighhhhh...clearly, more beating will be necessary...)

Anyway, the natural consequence of registering for these sessions is that they now have your name...and address...and probably email (although who knows if Derek will ever check it again, so that might be wasted effort on their part). And you know what happens next: those details get disseminated to every Tom, Dick, and Harry institution of higher learning in the known universe...and they begin sending you information. Sure enough, the first piece of correspondence arrived about a week ago--from a college we'd never heard Rochester, New York. So, not really a viable contender for Derek's attention, but I was jazzed, nonetheless. When I waved it under his nose and expressed my enthusiasm, however, Derek's response was decidedly...lukewarm.

Of course, there's no way in HECK I was gonna let him get away without at least peeking inside the envelope...which he somehow managed to utterly mangle in the attempt. "You know," I quipped, if you can't open their mail, they're never going to let you take classes there." To which he retorted, "Well, they shouldn't make it so difficult!" (Oh, honey...if you only knew the trials that await you...envelopes are the LEAST of your worries...) Once he had managed to fight his way into the contents, he glanced at the list of majors and cheerfully announced, "Hey, I AM interested in... Theatre!" (Which incidentally is possibly the most enormous lie ever to issue from that kid's my knowledge, anyway...) On a roll, he continued, "And I DO speak a language!" (Yeeeahhhh...that would be...ENGLISH...)

Once Derek's smart-aleck comments had run their course, Riley wandered in and joined the conversation. Amusingly, the younger brother showed much more interest in the subject...although he had some erroneous pre-conceived notions that needed correcting. "You mean they picked you to go to their school?" Um....noooo...not exactly. He tried again, "They're inviting you to visit?" Well...not that, either. We explained that it was simply a form letter, distributed to possibly thousands of Juniors across the country, to promote their college and get the name out there in case you weren't familiar with them. (Actually, it was kind of disappointing to explain realistic much for the initial thrill...oh well...)

That turned out to signal the proverbial floodgates opening, as the envelopes began arriving regularly (always one per day, never more or less, for some reason). Number 2 hailed from an institution in Virginia--we knew nothing about the the school, but it did prompt me to exclaim, "Hey, they're getting nearer!" As it turns out, that applies only to geography...since it was an all-male campus. (Also Derek noted, "The envelopes don't get any easier, the closer you get to North Carolina..." Real World Skills, dude...we'll work on it...) But the final dismissal for this particular college came when I read Derek the initial line from the standardized letter, which stated, "Your commitment to personal success indicates that you will thrive in the college environment...(blah blah blah)" I didn't get any further before he stopped me with a scornful, "Pfft, they don't know very much about me at all!" Riiiight...moving on, then...

The next day's post brought...not only an in-state university...but one whose name sort-of rang a bell...ish. (Whoo hoo!?) When I pointed out that fact to Riley, it was his turn to scoff, "Bah, they're not D-1...there's no WAY Derek will go there." And no, I'm not kidding: that's one of the factors that actually matters most to my beloved child: the level of competitiveness of the sports program. The other one that I think he considers most significant is the amount and quality available to students. (Do you see what I'm dealing with, here? Ay yi yi. But this is a whole other post for somewhere down the line, trust me...) We also got our daily chuckle out of their version of the cheesy pickup line aimed at gullible young adults: "I'm impressed with your accomplishments so far, and I think you're on track to make even bigger strides in college..." Seriously? Does anyone fall for that?

Aaannd to continue (I swear I do NOT intend to write about every single one of these...for the next year...) Western Carolina checked in, proclaiming that "Your high school accomplishments have caught my attention..." (Yeah, right--into the file you go...because you didn't think for a second that I was discarding any of these, did you? Puh-leaz...they're numbered...and tucked away...where they will remain, right up until the moment he chooses and is accepted into someplace, at which point we'll ceremonially, with much fanfare...on my part, anyway...recycle the whole shebang...)

Finally (for this segment, at least) UNC made its appearance. And can I just say, it's about time? Jeez, Louise--where have you been? Ohhhh wait...UNC Pembroke. No, I don't have any idea where Pembroke is...or what it's like. Heck, I didn't even realize there was such a thing as UNCP. So when I Googled it, I found out that it's about 2 hours straight south of here...and "historically American Indian"...and then I quit reading. Also, they didn't even pretend to flatter Derek, just simply sent a computer-generated username and password to be used for accessing "two free search tools" to help in "landing the right college"! Um...thanks? Maybe later...

So that's where things stand at the moment...unsolicited propaganda flowing in steadily...but the Junior isn't showing much clue yet about what he wants--or where he wishes to seek it. And of course this is perfectly fine for right now--I'm certain that...stuff...will start to become clear as time marches on...and his parents keep pestering him to, for the love of Pete, name some campuses he'd like to perhaps tour. Keep all body parts safely inside the vehicle...and stay tuned...this ride is just on its way out of the station...wheeeeeeee!

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