March 10th was D-Day in boarding school world. The day that acceptance, denial and waitlist letters went out. We did our best not to think too much about it, but it was always there, in the background.
Two weeks earlier I got a call at work, from C.’s school. As a courtesy they wanted to let us know personally that they would not be able to accept M. I appreciated the gesture and although intellectually I knew that M’s acceptance would have the been a real long shot, and that deep down it really wasn’t the right place for her, it still stung a bit.
Early on the morning of the 10th M. checked her email. And was greeted with a subject line that read “Congratulations! You’re a ____ Girl!” She was in at the small, New England girls school. M. was flooded with relief. It wasn’t her first choice, but… Now she just had to wait the entire rest of the day for the two other decisions, which would be released at 7 and 8 p.m. The final school decision would arrive by snailmail.
When the fateful hours arrived, M. held her breath and opened her email. Waitlist. Both schools. Very disappointing. However, it was a waitlist, not an outright rejection. There was still a chance, albeit very slim. We also reminded M. that these are very, very competitive schools in a time of growing applicant pools. That she was a girl, applying with no geographic, athletic, or ethnic “hook,” needing financial aid and with an academic track record that some might say was a bit of a “wild card.” So the fact that she even made it onto these waitlists was something she should feel good about. A jump over to College Confidential confirmed this; there were many kids who were outright rejected or waitlisted everywhere this year. (BTW, not accepted at the snailmail school, which definitely surprised us, as that seemed a “match.”)
A few days later, the confirmatory fat envelope arrived from the Flower School, and we all laughed when green and gold sparkle stars spilled out into her hands. Nice touch. Better yet was the financial aid package, which equaled the one her sister had received and spoke of M.’s academic excellence and promise. That meant the world to M. The saying goes “love the school that loves you” and here was a school saying very loudly and clearly: “We want you. We think you can thrive here and be a credit to our school.”
C. came home for spring break the next day (love those long school vacations!) and she was excited for her sister, asking that when the time can she wanted a school sweatshirt. Even though C. is happy and thriving at her school, there is something about the Flower School’s quaint traditions that really speak to her. Her sister’s enthusiasm certainly helped M. warm up to it.
A few weeks later Dear Husband, M. and I drove up to Rte 95 for the school’s revisit day. It was cold and rainy–we had been hoping for some glorious spring weather, as the last time we visited the school it had been 17 degrees and snowing. Oh well. Perfect opportunity to wear those Hunter boots. When we entered the lobby to check in, I introduced my myself and M. was automatically greeted with “Hello M.!” That felt nice. M. was given a t-shirt and one of those rubber wrist bands with the school’s name on it. There was mingling and then welcome speeches in the auditorium, then a chance to sit in on an English class where they were reading the Aeniad. The teacher, herself an alum, was young and dynamic. Typically there are 12 students in the class, and to break the ice with the visitors, she had the students suggest a bonus question for the introductions. They chose, “Name your favorite kitchen utensil,” lol. The class was interesting and the students engaged, which definitely created a positive impression for M. Then it was back into the rain. Husband Dear and I headed to the “dance barn” for the adults’ lunch (excellent), while M. went with the kids to the actual dining hall (also excellent). We sat at a table with the head of the math department and a few other parents and we got a very good feeling from the math guy. Afterwards music and dance performances were planned, but we ditched the performances and snooped around campus a bit. Things finished up with a reception in the sports building: a cappella chorus serenade, house brand artisanal sodas, fancy flower-shaped lollipops.
And then the long drive home.
It had been an intense two days. So much to consider. A few things still niggled. In the presentations there had been a lot of emphasis on relationships and traditions, but I would have liked to hear a bit more about the intellectual life of the school, the academics. I decided to follow up with the school librarian, who upon M.’s acceptance had sent me a congratulatory email and the offer to answer any questions we might have. Not only is she the librarian (you can always count on a librarian ), but she is married to a department chair and has two girls at the school–that she had homeschooled. We had a good, frank chat, homeschool mom to homeschool mom. Forty-five minutes later I got an unsolicited email from the Director Admissions, fully and convincingly addressing my questions. Talk about responsive.
Love the school that loves you. Love the school that loves your child.
M. said yes.
Premature empty nest here we come.