College was especially sweet because of the positive, hopeful atmosphere of a college campus. ~ Jerry Kramer
Where does the time go? Ten years ago, Shannon graduated from Memorial High School here in Houston. The four years she spent there went by in a flash, and her college years went by even faster. And so it goes. Now, here we are, ten years post high school!
In the spring of her junior year, Joel and I went to MHS to hear a speaker talk about the college application process. We left that meeting thinking that we were way behind the ball, and that we’d best get busy researching various colleges with an eye towards finding just the right one for our precious baby angel girl.
We soon realized that we had no clue where to begin or how to compare the apples to the oranges. Certainly Shannon’s input was important, but how much would a 17 year old know about all the various options available to her and how to research and compare, especially the financial aspects?
Given the scope of this search and the lack of time that her school counselors had to help her (there were hundreds of kids in her class), we opted to use the services of a private educational counselor who, among other things, specializes in placing students in colleges that fit their needs. Dr. Marshall Shumsky is his name, and he was beyond helpful to us.
Before our first meeting, Shannon had made her course selection for her senior year. Because she had fulfilled most of her required courses for graduation, she had planned to take various electives to make for an interesting and fun year.
I remember that first meeting well. Shannon, Joel and I all sat there in Dr. Shumsky’s office as he talked to Shannon about her grades, her test scores, what she was interested in studying in college and where she might want to go.
It seems funny to me now, but two of her particular criteria for a college were that it didn’t have a football program nor a fraternity/sorority system. And, by the way, she wanted to be up in the northeast, in order to be close to New York City, a place that she just loved (and still does!).
Dr. Shumsky looked at her transcript, test scores and her planned course of study and gently told her that if she wanted to get accepted to a college like she envisioned, she would need to take another year of language (she’d already had 3 years of Spanish) and another lab science (after Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I could see her lower lip begin to tremble, and I thought to myself, “Oh no, she’s going to cry!” All her visions of a fun senior year were melting away.
Dr. Shumsky could see the same thing and asked Joel and me to leave them to talk between themselves. We went out to the lobby, and I was a nervous wreck, wondering how Shannon was coping with this unhappy development, and how it would all unfold.
And then suddenly, there they were! Shannon was beaming and announced to us that she was going to take a year of German (helpful in a singing career), and a year of Aquatic Science. Right then and there, if Dr. Shumsky did nothing else for us, he earned his fee.
For if WE had even suggested that she needed to do that, she would have balked, and there would have been unpleasant repercussions. But since HE guided her to this place, it was all right with her.
They had also identified 25 schools that fit her criteria, and her assignment was to research them and cut the list down to 12. This she did (solely by looking at their websites), and we picked 8 to visit that summer (which ended up being a really fun trip to New England). 8 days, 8 colleges, 8 states!
She immediately fell in love with Bard (in the beautiful Hudson River Valley, NY), but she also liked and applied to Bates (Maine), Skidmore (NY) and as her “safety school” Manhattanville (also NY. I didn’t like that one, but didn’t forbid her application. She not only got in, she got a huge scholarship offer, but declined, which I was happy about).
That fall, she and I flew up north so that she could interview at both Bard and Bates. This was also a fun trip, but it would have been more fun if Joel had been there, especially because I was the driver and uncertain about navigating in NYC and Boston. This was before the days of GPS, so I was winging it as best I could. We survived.
Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
Bard was still her first choice after that trip. There she sat in some classes after her interview, and I remember when we left to head up to Maine, she said she didn’t want to leave Bard, but just stay there forever!
She nixed Skidmore, which didn’t surprise me, because if I’m not mistaken, they DO have Greeks there. As it turned out, Bard wanted her just as much as she wanted Bard, so it was a match made in heaven.
When it came time for her to enroll for Bard’s 3 week orientation immersion into campus life (now called the Language and Thinking Program) in August 2004, we drove her and her “stuff” up north, which was a 3 day road trip. I know I was anxious that she find some friends and like her roommate, and I’m sure she must have had some anxieties, as well. But it all worked out- great roommate, fun friends (one of whom is now our son in law!) and a wonderfully eclectic and artsy education, which she thrived on.
Tewksbury Hall where Shannon lived her freshman year.Circa 1950’s, it was not the most idyllic place to live, but it sure built character!
The bonus was that we loved visiting Shannon those four years while she was at Bard. Gorgeous and interesting, historical and a haven for foodies, I highly recommend planning a trip to Rhinebeck next time you are up that way.
Thanks, Dr. Shumsky. You earned every penny of your consulting fee!