Here at the hovel, we are in the midst of college application season or, as I’ve come to think of it, “The 99 Days of Nonsense”. This whole process sure is different from when I went through it. It puts me in mind of the differences between how television seasons used to be and what they are now.
It used to be that come that second week of September all of the old shows had returned and the new ones were premiering. Boom! That was it. College application deadlines worked the same way. They were all due some time in January, if I remember correctly, with the exception of the early decision deadline — early decision wasn’t something most of us were interested in back in my day. Some kids were, the ones who had their hearts set on going to Cornell or Notre Dame, or some such place. But, for most of us, we went the traditional route.
Early decision was binding, still is, which meant that if you got in, that’s where you had to go. So, you had to be pretty confident in your choice. Never having been a “confident in my choice” kind of person, I did not go the early decision route. I wanted to weigh my options. So, I applied, like the rest of the world, in January. And, like the rest of the world, spent the next two months waiting for the mail.
The mailbox began, around mid-March, to be something that you approached warily — like the lion circling the hyena that may or may not, in fact, be dead — possibly he was just playing dead, waiting to tear through the lion’s carotid. The big, fat envelope was what you were hoping for — like the lion who discovers the truly dead hyena — the large, manila envelope allowed one to breath a sigh of relief. The thin letter? That was like the hyena “playing possum” and was to be avoided at all costs. It was a sure sign of rejection or, worse, it carried the news that you had been wait listed.
Things sure are different now. Now, there are numerous application options, like “early admission”, “immediate admission”, and “rolling admission”. “Early admission” is a lot like “early decision”, except that it is non-binding, meaning if you get in, you don’t have to go there.
“Immediate admission” is usually done in person or sometimes even on-line and, as its name implies, the decision is immediate. Certain days are set aside for students who wish to use this application process. In most cases, specific criteria must be met in order to qualify for this type of admission. It is also non-binding and, usually, if you qualify to use this method, there’s a good chance that you will be admitted.
Finally, there’s the “rolling admission”. This means that from a specified date up until another specified date, applications will be accepted. The earlier one applies, the earlier one is notified of the institution’s decision to admit, reject, or wait list you.
So, really, what prospective college freshmen are dealing with is a 99-day window for submitting college applications. It’s sort of like having a tooth pulled little by little, appointment by appointment — the pain, the anxiety spread out over the course of three months.
Colleges and universities, at least the ones that use The Common Application — an on-line generic application — also notify applicants differently than they did in my day. It’s now done via e-mail. No more waiting around the mailbox! You can now discover whether your dreams will be fulfilled through acceptance or whether you’ve been dealt the crushing blow of rejection in the midst of your morning toilette. A psychological link between tooth brushing and Stanford may, for better or for worse, be forged not far from where you learned to use the potty.
We’ve been at this for a little over a week now. Fangette has already received an acceptance e-mail from The University of Vermont. So, that’s a good thing. She hasn’t heard from either of the other two schools where she applied for early admission yet. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Every time her phone buzzes we listen for the telltale signs of success or failure. We’ve begun to station ourselves outside the bathroom door so that we may hear either the hooting and hollering or the crying and sniffling that is sure to follow the news that she had been admitted or rejected by some of her other choices.
I’m not really looking forward to the next 90 days. I’m hoping for a lot of dead hyenas, but you never know with hyenas, do you?
photo credit: mailbox