By Patrick Lorenzo
For admitted students and families still pondering their decision on where to enroll this Fall, May 1st is looming ahead. The Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) is a national deadline for students to submit their official deposit to secure their seat for Fall 2016. Some of you might be wondering how are families, one day before the deadline, still thinking of what to do. It may seem mind boggling that considering the weight of the decision how is it possible such a life altering choice is not set in stone. I mean the path to college is mapped out from the womb while the formality is simply picking the most prestigious school, right?
Well, for many families it’s not that simple. For many, finances play a tremendous role in determining what is feasible. In some heartbreaking cases, it could be a family trying to cobble together funds to pay the enrollment deposit, seeking a deadline extension, and/or requesting a modified payment plan. Sometimes you also have families trying to negotiate, leveraging their financial award letters and asking if schools match scholarship offers. Please keep in mind this is a significant investment and do not reduce the process to feel like a used car sales deal. On other hand, it could be a family who has several options and have struggled to narrow down their choices for whatever reason. Perhaps, they did not do as much research from the start to figure out their fit or applied too broadly. Sometimes choice can be a challenge when you are overwhelmed by options and you are lacking a sense of mission and purpose.
Big picture wise, your college selection is not your destiny. It does not define who you are or where you will go. It does not guarantee a high salary or automatic success in your chosen endeavor. Think of it as a significant layover on your life journey. I understand it is difficult to imagine it that way when it might have been drilled from the moment you were learning words that you must attend college. Perhaps, it is presented and pressured as this ultimate prize and badge of honor. In some cases, you might feel your family looks at this distinction as a trophy to show off. Instead, it should be viewed as part of your life adventure. A tremendous experience filled with opportunities to grow and develop to become a better version of yourself. Discover who you are and uncover your passions.
Understand college is not your final destination. Your degree is a launch pad to your life not a reflection of your worth. Life is full of exciting experiences and college is one where you’ll spend a significant amount of time exploring values/ideas/people and the world around you. From this substantial layover you will find more treks are ahead. When you finish college it is not called graduation. Your work is not done or complete by any means. Commencement, the exercises one must undergo to celebrate their
collegiate success means to begin, to start anew. Alas, when you complete your college experience, you continue your life journey and embark on the next chapter of your life. It is not graduation, it is commencement.
I wish all families the best of luck on your college decision. If you’ve made your deposit, relax and enjoy the rest of your school year. If you haven’t decided yet, take a moment to reflect how far you’ve come and that in the big scheme of things all things holding equal find the place where you fit to standout. Sense of belonging leads to standout success. Remember, this is not the final destination, only the beginning of your next expedition.
(#ThickEnvelope is a monthly column that can be read exclusively on AsAmNews. Patrick Gabriel Lorenzo is Associate Director of Admissions at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and a graduate of both a University of California campus and a regional private college. He has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education spanning public and private institutions. He is a firm believer in access, against the notion of college acceptances being a prize to be won, and promotes the idea of searching colleges from the inside out. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions.)
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