Living Out the College Application Journey with Intentionality

Living Out the College Application2Written by Mike Lawing

It started almost a year ago … the pursuit of the continuation of my elder son’s education … college!!!  Last year our family spent Spring Break journeying to several college campuses so Elijah could get an idea of where he would like to apply and what studies he would be interested in at those schools.  It was the beginning of a yearlong endeavor that would include lots of questions, discussions and decisions, applications for admission, applications for scholarships, discussions and decisions, prayer!, requests for recommendations, discussions and decisions, prayer!, essays, essays, essays, prayer!…Whew!  Get the picture?  And we’re not finished yet but we’re certainly seeing the light at the end of this long college bound tunnel.

When I attended Appalachian State many years ago, getting into the school wasn’t this time and effort demanding.  One thing we’ve certainly learned is that the entire process is very competitive.  So many young people are seeking an education beyond the high school level, and good for them.  But it makes for a very dedicated and time consuming pursuit for a child, and their parents, all while trying to complete and possibly enjoy their senior year in high school.

One of Elijah’s goals in all these efforts and preparations was to see what options would open up to him and to have a choice in what he would like to do, based on his interests.  Proudly, we now stand at the fruition point.  Graduation is still several months away and Elijah has some wonderful opportunities lying on the table.  We’re still deep into discussions and decisions and prayer…which school offers the best options, his course of study, housing options, a roommate, more scholarships (paying for it!).

Now, with all that’s been said and knowing how much effort is involved, I’ll say too that it’s not as bad as it seems.  We started early!  The locations visits, talking about where he feels God is leading him in school and life beyond, requests for information and getting his name “out there,” gave Elijah a great start.  Then, the applications and all involved therein fell into place.

One of the most challenging parts of the applications was, as I mentioned earlier, the essays, essays, and more essays.  Colleges want to get to know their applicants so they ask lots of questions and expect more than answers of a few words.  Some examples:  “Beyond rankings, location, and athletics, why are you interested in attending our university?” … “Our motto is “Progress and Service.”  What does that mean to you?” … “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?” … “What concerns you about your world and what do you hope to do to make it better?”  To say the least, these were tough to tackle.  Applying for scholarships brings up more questions just like these.  And, of course, the activities and happenings of life come into play as well and must be dealt with along the way.

We are almost there!  I say “we” because it has taken all of us to make this college pursuit happen…his mom especially!  In a few months Elijah will walk across the graduation stage and will know what he is stepping into beyond that.  That’s a good feeling for him, and all of us, for sure.

My first advice?  Again, start early!  If you have a high school student in your realm of existence, begin now to talk about, pray about, and look into the options of life beyond high school.  Be that college, military service, the working world, who knows?  Start getting ready.  It will be here before you know it!  This time, for sure, has come quickly for us and it will for you too.

My second piece of advice?  Stick to it!  The process can be disconcerting but one step at a time will get you, and your student, to the admissions office.

My greatest advice?  Rest in God’s promise found in my favorite scripture verse… Jeremiah 29:11.  “For I know the plans I have for (INSERT NAME HERE),” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Isn’t that all we really need to know?

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