I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
It will likely take me some time, and at least a few more collegiate visits, to gather all the research I will need. But in the meantime, I am happy to offer a few helpful hints and observations, in no particular order, based on my recent experience.
There are varying degrees of "Welcome" in offices of admission. Call ahead to see if they have coffee. And an easily accessible bathroom. You'd be surprised. Especially on the latter.
Try to visit a campus you are really interested in during a torrential downpour. No, you may not see any actual students playing ultimate Frisbee on the quads or gleefully walking to class as you might have expected. But you may be gifted with a slicker with the school's logo on the front to wear during the tour. And nothing beats free collegiate swag.
A shocking number of college students, or at least prospective college students, claim to want to be engineers. At least a third off all kids on tours were interested in the field. And while I know STEM careers are hot right now, I have a mild fear engineering may become the new pre-law. Way too many graduates and not enough jobs.
Don't make assumptions about whom the other parents on your tours will be. At one of the selective east coast schools we looked at, I expected everyone to be named Chip, Preston and Blair. But to be honest, I probably looked more like a traditional "Muffy" than any of them. Sure, every kid will be wearing preppy footwear--boat shoes are de rigueur for high schoolers these days. But none of them will look like they've ever been on a boat. And those who aren't in Top-Siders will be sporting Doc Martens, but they've probably never been in punk bands, either.
Every campus has blue-light safety phones that will be pointed out by your enthusiastic student guide during the tour. But when she stops in from of them to explain how they work, she will look right into the eyes of every parent and assure them that NO ONE she knows has ever had to use one.
Most campuses have a logo embedded on the floor of a major building that rumor has it, if you step on, means you will not graduate. Some campuses have taken this superstition to the next level claiming that if the parent of a prospective student steps on it, he or she will not receive financial aid. Needless to say, I did not take my chances.
Collegiate tour guides are exceptionally skilled at walking backwards while talking. They are like highly educated Weebles. It doesn't matter what wayward pothole or branch they encounter, they absolutely never fall down.
All schools will assure you they have a "holistic" admissions process. I personally believe this may be code for "If your kid is a gifted athlete, I plan to spend a 'whole' lot more time on his or her application."
If your child wants to get into a competitive East Coast school, consider moving to Pierre, South Dakota or Bismarck, North Dakota. Admissions counselors seem committed to geographic diversity and, according to them, no one ever applies from the Dakotas.
While it may feel like a roller coaster, touring small liberals arts colleges has very little in common with a trip to Disney World. There are no fast passes to meet directly with the dean of admissions and there are no parades except, perhaps, for homecoming.
And from what I saw, no one gets nearly as excited about getting their picture taken with the mascot of a Division III school as they do with Mickey Mouse.comments powered by Disqus
Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?
If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.
On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.
You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.