Dear College Girl

weebabeTomorrow, you, my first born, my daughter, begin college. Coincidentally, the date coincides with the anniversary of my first day of employment at the same campus—22 years ago. Kids were not even in my vernacular then, while learning to navigate work at a giant research university. Whereas I was well into a career in higher education and on my third campus by that time, you are an amateur. A freshman. Have I taught you everything you need to know?

Life skill lists for college students focus on separating laundry and being able to change a tire. I am glad that you are getting the hang of laundry after begging for that help for years. It is exciting that you have figured out how to use the washing machine, if not the frequency. Do you want to learn how to change a tire? Your grandpa made me practice before leaving home. But as you do not drive, relying on your bicycle, public transportation and the kindness of friends, just remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Budgeting has been a little harder, but you have seen that bank accounts are not infinite. You are smart to take advantage of haircuts and shopping while with me!

We bridged the moving away from home event several weeks ago as you moved into off campus digs and began setting up a home. It was miserable, for ME, but you enjoyed your new-found freedom from curfews and assigned chores. Your new place is coming along nicely (do the dishes!) In hindsight, this early fleeing of the nest was good for both of us allowing new routines to be established. Less crying now, again from ME.

Sweetie, you are brilliant and ready to take on the world, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Trust me. After nearly 30 years working with college students and 18 years of being your mom, I know these things. But just a few more words of wisdom to share…

  1. Go to bed early. At least sometimes.
  2. Set two alarms (I know you like to sleep in).
  3. Greet the day with a smile, it has much to bring you.
  4. Being on time means arriving early.
  5. Take lots of notes in every class.
  6. Rewrite your notes after class and add text readings.
  7. Make lists, there is a lot to remember.
  8. Do you have an umbrella?
  9. Address your instructor as professor, it covers many titles.
  10. Drink lots of water, less caffeine.

And finally, do you remember the words of advice that I shared every day you were in elementary school? They are still important.

  • Be a good friend.
  • Listen to your teachers (er, professors).
  • Listen more than you talk, there is much to learn.
  • Always do your best.

Love,

Mom

PS. Text me a first day of college selfie!

 

 

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2016 Pocket Selfies.

I began a collection of my 2016 in photos. And then I found these photos. They also tell a story.

It could be a selfie. Jung might call that my shadow archetype.

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A spoon covered in peanut butter. In my bathroom. Parenting.

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With all that pink and light, it looks like a happy place.

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On my laptop goofing around with my phone. Normal.

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Hot chocolate for a group. I don’t remember taking this pic.

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Lots of travel this year as demonstrated by this lovely seat back pocket.

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There is an analogy here about warning lights and stress.

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If you ignore warning lights, you have engine failure. Apparently while driving.

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And finally. Screenshot of an Oregon v. Oregon State flashback. No idea.

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My 2016.

It’s the end of 2016 and by most accounts, many are ready to see it in the rearview mirror. As conflicting as this year has been, I had wonderful opportunities for travel and forging a new professional path. It was a year of challenges, sure, but it included great time with mentors, friends, and family.

And so onward… we rouse the chase, and wake the slumbering morn of 2017. See you there!

How I feel at the beginning and end of 2016.

Me at the beginning and end of 2016. Not really, but I love the meme.

January: Frosty sidewalk footsteps.

January: Frosty sidewalk footsteps.

February: Quiet morning at the State Capitol. #Iowa

February: Quiet morning at the State Capitol.

March: NSE Conference in Rhode Island.

March: NSE Conference in Rhode Island.

March: Ready for my MRI closeup.

March: Ready for my MRI closeup. Rotator Cuff surgery followed. Yeow.

April: With Delaney & Jonah before AHS Prom

April: With Delaney & Jonah before AHS Prom.

April: Deckard was my date for a friend's wedding.

April: Deckard was my wedding date.

May: Pano of Long Beach from the Queen Mary.

May: Panorama of Long Beach from the deck of the Queen Mary.

June: The Palouse in eastern Washington state.

June: Palouse in Washington state.

July: At Delaney's internship presentation. Also, my last day at my beloved university.

July: Delaney’s internship presentation on my last day at my beloved university.

August: Always happy with my feet in an ocean (Myrtle Beach).

August: Always happy with my toes in the sand (Myrtle Beach).

September: Constitution Hall.

September: Constitution Hall in Philadelphia.

October: Bow Falls, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

October: Bow Falls, Banff, Canada.

November: Thanksgiving with family, Basin Park Hotel, Eureka Springs, AR.

November: Thanksgiving at the Basin Park Hotel, Eureka Springs, AR.

December: Another visit to Narragansett, Rhode Island.

December: Another visit to Narragansett, RI.

Sunday Funday?

It’s the last day of spring break for my children and the end of a 3-day weekend for the adults in our family. We spent time relaxing this year, enjoying our favorite hobbies – reading, soccer, sleeping, video games, or binge watching TV shows. Like clockwork, today welcomed the wrath of the middle-schooler, distraught about returning to school. He’s a good student, but the idea of the structure and routine of the school day is a crush to his spirit. It’s those Sunday night blues.
I try to focus on the good of every day and to escape that “living for the weekend” mentality, but everyone needs a little help to get past it. Yolanda Wikiel offers great tips for making your Sunday easier to tolerate.
Do Sunday on Saturday: Get homework, laundry, blog writing (!), and other chores out of the way first thing on Saturday. Leave free relaxation time for Sunday, particularly Sunday evening.
Be a Forward Thinker: Plan ahead before leaving work or school on Friday so you can finish that to-do list and clear your mind.
Be Social: Get out of the house, enjoy coffee with friends, visit your favorite bookstore, or volunteer in the community on your Sunday.
Sunday Night 2.0: Switch up that idea that reclining on the couch is the best end to your weekend. Take a walk, begin a new book, or plan a brief outing to keep your mind busy.
I may have threatened my son with homeschooling if he didn’t snap out of his funk, but remember that every day of your week should be cause for celebration.

Acceptance rate

It began today. The messages were waiting when I checked the family email account this morning. Recruitment emails for my high school sophomore. College recruitment.
Looks like you took the PSAT. Clever. Starting the college search as a sophomore tells colleges that you’re serious about your future…
After a career in higher education, including admissions, I am supposed to be ready for this transition. Choosing a major, applying for scholarships, finding a “good fit” school. It’s a different story now. And I am not alone.
Admissions staff at Penn have discussed the college search process for their own children…
It can be challenging to be a strong self-advocate. All our lives we tell our kids to be humble and polite, but kids need to drive the application process and be self-promoting in this process so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t assert yourself in the college search process or application, no one else will do it for you.  ~Jodi Robinson
Good advice.

Price of admission

College has been on my mind lately with a high school-aged child exploring potential majors (insert major expletive or two). It would make sense that a career in higher education would contribute to some expertise in this area, but rules are complex for a high-ability student. They involve admission indexes and national scholarship competitions; areas that were not on my college search radar. Competition today is fierce. Parenting today is hard.
Why do you have to be so accomplished to get into college?

A year of accomplishments, scatterplots, new resolutions

Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.

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At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!