Back when I was applying to colleges many years ago, I was overwhelmed with choices. I was the number two student at Santa Monica High with a high GPA and back then it felt like I had a good chance at being accepted at a variety of great universities. Up until fairly recently, I was not so sure that would have been the case today. I had heard stories from parents, stressing about where their kids were going to go to school. These students were at the tops of their classes at some of the toniest private schools in town. They busied themselves with a million extra curricular activities, aced the SATs, were accomplished athletes and dramatists yet, the media had me convinced that the door of opportunity for these high achievers was not necessarily wide open. How frustrating is that?? To work so hard throughout high school and then not have the confidence to feel like their efforts would result in the college of their choice? I was lucky that I was accepted to the majority of the schools I had applied to. It came down to a choice between attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut or University of California, Berkley. I grappled with the decision, weighed the pros and cons of each and ultimately decided to brave the cold Connecticut weather and go to Wesleyan- not an easy choice for this Southern California native. I’ll never know if that was the right decision. Sometimes I think I would’ve been better off at Berkeley. Sometimes I feel like Wesleyan was the better choice. There’s always the question of the road less traveled and the grass is always greener and all that jazz… We’ll never really know how our lives would’ve turned out differently when faced by (what feels like) incredibly important decisions. I will say, however, that there is something nice about attending a small school with a stellar reputation. There is a niche familiarity there amongst those who know the school and its reputation as one of the leading liberal arts institutions in the nation today. I recently held a reception for Wesleyan at our home. The purpose of this particular party was to invite applicants from the Los Angeles area and their parents to meet with admissions administrators in a casual setting. University president Michael Roth was here as well, sharing anecdotes about campus life and explaining to the anxious audience that they didn’t even have to submit SAT and ACT scores if they didn’t want to. It’s a new philosophy that a handful of top universities are adopting to acknowledge that applicants wouldn’t be judged on numbers alone. There was also an opportunity for these high school seniors to chat with alumni and learn more about their experiences at the school when they were undergrads.
I was pretty honored to be able to host this reception and show our three young boys that higher education is valuable and highly sought after. It is a luxury that isn’t easily come by and the students who were at the party clearly had worked hard and were incredibly focused on making their attendance at Wesleyan a top priority. What was interesting to note, though, was that while they all of course hoped to gain acceptance to this fine university, they seemed to be pretty confident that if it wasn’t one school, it would be another. That their entire lives didn’t seem to rely on getting that fat envelope telling them that they would be heading to Connecticut in the fall. It was really reassuring to learn that, after meeting these kids from all different backgrounds, and all types of high schools, no matter where they gained acceptance would actually be quite all right. The end-all goal wasn’t necessarily the school but the experience itself. It relieved me to see first hand that hard work still translates to opportunity and I was really happy to play a small part of the whole college process. I have a feeling that the years between elementary school (where my kids currently are) and college applications will literally zoom right by. An evening with today’s current high school seniors put my nerves at ease and reminded me that the destination isn’t necessarily the goal– but the journey itself that is really what matters. And wherever these kids end up going to school will be A-OK!