I should probably hold back on daily post until the start of November, but I'm feeling engaged and this post will be stale by November.
The first college application deadline is November 1st. This isn't an optional application deadline, like early action or early decision. This one is mandatory and pretty prime for HSS (High School Senior).
For the last 12-13 years I've been socking away money every month into the Maryland Pre-Paid College Fund. I'll talk a bit about that in a future post, but for this post the important thing to keep in mind is that financially, a University of Maryland School System college choice is very attractive. For HSS two schools from this system have made her list - University of Maryland at College Park (the system's biggest university) and University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). These both rank pretty high for undergraduate engineering programs in the US News list (#24 & #95), so they are pretty attractive that way as well.
November 1st is their "priority deadline". That makes it sound like a deadline for over-achievers. It is, in fact the only deadline if you want to be considered for scholarships or special programs. Doesn't everyone want to be considered for scholarships and special programs? I know everyone won't receive them, but don't you at least want to ask? Honestly, why do they have any other deadline than November 1st?
I felt like we were moving along OK, but then I got an email titled "A Message to TERParents". Ack! Four days before the deadline and they're pinging me about the application? Maybe this is helpful for some people, but for me it's just another source of stress and a list of things that I probably should have done a month ago if I was a more organized or generally, just a better parent.
So here we are - essays to polish, and I guess I should proof-read everything that she's typed in to these online applications (College Park has their "roll your own" system, while UMBC uses the Common App). I've made sure they’ve gotten SAT and AP scores and HSS has told me the recommendations and transcripts have been submitted via the high school's on-line system. I guess I should double check that too. And stress a little more. And worry that I've forgotten something… or she has… or her school has...
I am now officially losing my mind; and this is just the first deadline of this whole stinking process.
So the month of November is looking to be especially busy - college applications, Girl Scout cookies, Thanksgiving, House of Ruth Adopt a Family drive at work... I'd have to be crazy to to add anything to that mix... so why not commit to posting once a day, every day?
National Blog Posting Month is a Blogher thing, as far as I can tell. You can look here for info and here for FAQs. Spur of the moment, hopefully along with four fellow Baltimore Education Bloggers (1, 2, 3 and 4), I'm going to post every day.
I'm also making a commitment to check out my NaBloPoMo buddies and comment and link to their posts.
I'm not promising long posts, but I will post. In reality, the chaos of the month should make it easier to post...how college essays are adding stress to my marriage, 504 meetings, cleaning up the house for Thanksgiving with the extended family, beginning of the Special Hockey season. I could probably come up with 30 topics right now.
OK, I'm feeling psyched and confident - NaBloPoMo, here I come.
Yesterday msk came down with some sort of minor bug. Nothing too much, just some sniffles and a desire to lay down. Also, not eating as much, which is pretty noticeable when a certain almost 13 year old typically eats constantly on weekends.
Not too long ago, being a little sick would have meant anger and frustration and me really not getting what was going on until a touch told me he had a fever and it would all snap in place. Yesterday was different though. Our weekly grocery trip went fine with no temper at the long line. When we got home the hub said "I think he's coming down with something." Msk was lying on the couch and not devouring the croissants that we bought at the Safeway. When I asked him how he felt he responded thoughtfully (as opposed to a rote "fine") "I feel sick."
I'm sure this sounds like nothing to most people, but the idea that msk could express how he feels, without suggestions or guesses, made me want to weep with joy. Watching your kids get sick is hard to take, but the fact that msk could never tell us how he felt, never say if the medicine was working... it broke my heart. I really wondered if he would ever be able take care of himself if he couldn't access abstract physical sensations and verbalize them to others. Rightly or wrongly, it seemed like a life-threatening deficit to me.
And then - in a single incident - *poof*, deficit gone. Through the day we talked about "laying down since you feel sick", "taking a pill (ibuprofen) to help you feel better", "maybe missing school if you still feel sick tomorrow." I know that all of this is pretty standard, but it felt like a miracle to me. No mystery or melt-downs.
There were still some issues. I'm not to sure if there was any origin of feeling sick, like a sore throat or stomach-ache. There was no putting off homework since school the next day was in question. Msk remains firmly attached to routine and there's no way he was going to bed without finishing his homework. As an aside, those homework passes because you’re doing well in a class? For a kid who is stuck on routine and loves the fact that he does well in math? They're never going to get used. A sticker or a high-5 would feel more like positive reinforcement.
Anyway... Bed time came a little early after a day of reduced eating (but not fasting) and mainly laying around. This morning he was sure he was OK to go to school and his appetite seemed to confirm that. Both of us are doing pretty well today.
Going away to college is huge, but there’s another transition coming up in our household. It’s hard to guess how big it will be. Msk is going to be finishing middle school in a year and a half. After that comes high school. With a kid with significant challenges, high school is a big deal. College seems hard to imagine, so high school might be the end of the school phase of his life. Or not… who knows?
Questions need to be asked, and they are hard as hell for me to write down, much less answer:
What goals are we shooting for – academically and in terms of life-skills?
How long do we want school to last and what comes next?
What kind of supports will come when high school is finished and what types will end?
What school will best build on his strengths and help him cope with his weaknesses?
After working hard to find an inclusive setting are we going to need to find a separate autism specific program?
A year and a half seems like a long time, but I know it isn't. There's lots of work to be done - assesments, school visits, team meetings, internet research...
It's intimidating to think about this process, how to start and what path to follow. Nothing to be done, but get down to it, I suppose. As the King from Alice in Wonderland says, "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
I find myself obsessed with this college search for this kid who is suddenly 17 years old. I started the savings plan about 14 years ago, so maybe it's natural to be a little eager to see this plan realized.
So, with engineering as the planned major and within a half-day's drive as a location we come down to this list:
University of Maryland College Park University of Maryland Baltimore County Johns Hopkins Drexel Carnegie Mellon Lehigh Bucknell Rochester Institute of Technology Rensselaer Swarthmore Stevens Institute of Technology
The balance between being excited and overwhelmed is tough to reach - both for me and my daughter.