Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Standing at the Admissions Finish Line...Waiting...

Each week the Slice of Life is hosted by the writers and teachers of Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Many bloggers write slices each week that you can read by following the links from the comments, or feel free to join in on the slicing!

As I await with my oldest daughter at the finish line of the College Admissions Process for the greatly anticipated results, I find myself second-guessing and wondering about the whole process more and more. While we all want to believe that the buck doesn't stop at a GPA or SAT score (especially when those scores are not in the top 2%), certainly college admissions officers, inundated by bajillions of applications for ten spots, must have some clear cut-off in mind. Maybe the cut-off mark is a little softer for the tuba players when the top player is due to graduate, but there does seem to be a tendency (and a need) to pay attention to scores.

As he frequently does, Thomas Friedman got me wondering even more about all of this in his morning NYTimes OpEd piece, How to Get a Job at Google. While Friedman does validate the experience of college for many people--"For most young people, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers," he writes--, Friedman also quotes Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, as suggesting that too many colleges "do not deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don't learn the most useful things for your life. It's an extended adolescence."

Is it? Am I about to fund a $200,000 extended adolescence? My stomach hurts a little at the thought.

I would like to believe that my daughter will be one of those students who will take advantage of the learning opportunities that will be available to her next year wherever she decides to go, that she will be one of those students who gets involved in research projects, goes to the plays and art shows, has dinner with professors, travels with other curious students. I'll certainly be cheering...

In the meantime, I am having all of my daughters read Friedman's column and we will talk about what he calls "soft skills--leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn."

Still Waiting,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Still Wondering and Worrying About Saturday Night...

Each week the Slice of Life is hosted by the writers and teachers of Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Many bloggers write slices each week that you can read by following the links from the comments, or feel free to join in on the slicing!

I did something a little reckless on Saturday night.

I've been thinking about it since, wondering if I did the right thing. If there was a better way to have handled it. Scaring myself with the what ifs. Reminding my daughters to do as I say and not as I did...

We were driving home from a play on Saturday night. It was 10:15. My oldest daughter, Larkin, played one of the leads at a local all boys' boarding school. My friend, Mel, (my blogging partner at tworeflective teachers.blogspot.com) was in the front seat and my third daughter, Clare, was in the back seat with two of her friends. They looked especially cute, since they had just been part of the audience at an all-boys  school. As high school freshmen, they know when to seize opportunities...

It had snowed a few inches and the roads weren't great as we headed home. The roads were also narrow because we have had a lot of snow--there's not much more room to put it. Therefore, when I saw a runner up ahead of us on the wrong side of the street for running, I was worried. As we got closer and realized that this runner was in street clothes with a backpack on, we were all worried.

"He was like our age," Clare said. "Why would he be out running in the snow at 10:15 on a Saturday night?"

I picked up my phone, and dialed the police. Yes, I made a call as I was driving--another action that I never do with my daughters in the car. I told the dispatcher that we had just seen a boy running along the main road in dark street clothes with a backpack, and it definitely had not looked right. He asked for details about the location and direction, I gave those to him, and he said that he would send an officer out. He didn't seem too worried and he didn't seem too hurried.

Impulsively, but with all passengers in agreement, I turned the car around. He just seemed too unsafe. We followed the footsteps in the road. The snow made it easy. We were all impressed by how far he had gotten. When we finally came upon him, I pulled over and he stopped. Mel rolled down her window.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yes," he said.

"It's an odd time for a run," I said.

"I have to get back to school," he said. "I live pretty close to here and I have to get back."

"That's where we are actually coming from," I said. "We were at the play."

"I went to it last night," he said.

"You worried us," Mel said.

"I actually called the police when we passed you," I added. "You're pretty hard to see and the roads aren't too good."

"The police?" He gasped a little.

Where were the police??? I was trying to have this conversation take a while so that they would arrive. He might get in trouble, but he wouldn't get killed. I kept looking in my rear-view mirror for other cars, but especially for a car with lights on its top.

"Do you need a ride?" Mel asked.

No, Mel, I wanted to say. I can't give this kid a ride. I have other people's children in the back of my car. We don't pick up strangers. 

But there he was with a cracking voice, a school emblem jacket, a house nearby, and an extremely dangerous situation.

"Would you mind?" he asked. I think (hope) that he debated the situation. Just as I would say never to pick up a stranger, I would think that he would know to never get into a car with one. He hesitated, and we were all trying to figure out how to handle this. His school was only about a mile away, not far for the car, but far for a runner in street clothes with a backpack on slippery, narrow roads.

And, where were the police???

"What's your name?" I asked him.

He told us. (I'm not sharing it here.)

"Please get in the car. We don't want you to get hurt," I said.

I was so proud of the girls in the back seat. They were friendly and kind. They asked him questions and talked about the play. I asked him if he was drunk.

"You're not going to throw up on those girls, are you?" I asked. I had invited a stranger into the car to sit next to them. In a couple of minutes on the side of the road, Mel and I had determined that he wasn't a serial killer, but he could well be a prep school boy who was at home hitting up his father's liquor cabinet.

He assured me he was completely not under any influence.

My concern about him peaked as we drove into the school and the girls asked him where he lived. He lived on our street. I knew his family--not well--but certainly of them. I also knew how far it was! Almost three miles!!

We dropped him off in front of his dorm and watched him enter. I debated going to the door with him, shaking hands with his dorm parents, explaining how we had just gotten to know this young man. Maybe I should have.

Since Saturday night, I have had many episodes of second-guessing and the should-haves and the what-ifs. He talked about the complications in his family and I suspect that there are struggles. My daughters are pretty connected so they had an easy time finding out from people who know him that he is a good kid--funny, but in trouble a lot. I shared the story with a friend who is a friend of his mother's. She will have coffee and tell the boy's mother about Saturday night. And, I've tried to explain my actions to my daughters--rules are rules and sometimes we break them...I kept a kid safe on Saturday night.

I hope that he stays safe.