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Mom’s bumpy road to higher education

Bev Herndon, Staff Writer

All right, I said, he made it through high school, and now he’s going to college. This should be a great experience. We’ll fill out the registration papers, find out where he’ll stay, what it will cost, and, Voila! he’s in.
Boy, was I wrong.
So begins the journey to higher education, which, by the way, is not free for most of us. You do pay. A lot.
You don’t register a student for college like you do for high school. First, you have to find out which college is best for him or her.
There are seminars and meetings upon meetings. There are financial meetings, college introduction meetings, college campus tours, even seminars on the food the students will be served, to name a few.
You have papers upon papers to fill out: financial forms, scholarships, grants, loans, and who knows what all else.
There are forms to be signed by a physician. You spend time reading the fine print, making tons of phone calls to who knows who. You get switched so many times: “Oh, they sent you to the wrong department. Let me get you to ….” until, finally, you think a voice on the other end has answered your question. That is, until you pick up the next piece of paper and wonder if you heard the voice on the other end correctly.
There is just so much you can take in.
But, you keep plugging away. After all, he is your son.
I began looking into scholarship information several years ago and was told I didn’t need to begin my search until his senior year. Wrong — at least for me. I should have started my search beginning his freshman year, or, at the latest, the beginning of his junior year.
I was probably at the high school two or three times a week the last three months of the last semester trying to get papers together and driving counselor Marg Meyer crazy. I think she knows me better than my son. But, hey, like she said, “What are mothers for?”
First, I wanted to know what I could to do to help my son get all the information and papers together, then I would tackle the really hard part — making an appointment with him to make sure he got his part done.
When he couldn’t schedule me in, I figured my next step would be to strap him to a chair and get his attention. I wasn’t about to do all this myself. Finally, we came to terms and met at the computer. I don’t remember how I got him to sit long enough to type a few lines about himself, but he did. I could tell there were other things he’d rather be doing, but, as his mother, I had to be stern — yeah, right. Then he started to get in to it. “Hey, Mom, this isn’t so hard.” Well, of course it wasn’t. I had done everything for him!
My house has become a college information center. I have had every college magazine, pamphlet, flyer and Web site ever made strewn throughout the living and dining rooms. When it came time for dinner, my family couldn’t find the dinner table.
Another good source of college info was my son’s student advisor. He said he’d be available any time to answer my questions, but he didn’t know what he was in for. He finally gave in: he gave me his home phone number. Now that’s dedication to the students and their needs.
After several months of preparing, writing and typing, a few trips to the college of choice, a couple week’s pay for phone bills, and many dinners in front of the TV, we are about finished with this year’s journey — seeking the start of a higher education. For me, it’s already been a higher education.
But, hey, I’ll be ready to do it all again in another five years. My eighth grader has already told me I won’t have to worry because he’s already getting ready. He learned a lot from this, too.
You can guess what we have experienced. Sending a kid to college is, well, a family ordeal. It has been for us because everyone plays a part.
Our next step is to move his belongings into the dorm and make final preparations. He will be going to Vincennes University, only about two hours away. It already seems too far away, and he hasn’t even left yet!
“Hey, who knows, maybe we’ll have to move closer to you,” I told him, half joking.
“Yeah, right, Mom! I don’t think so.”
Oh, well, if I want to see him, I guess I can always make an appointment.