It started with the 12-year-old girl down the street who told my daughter she would never get into college. I am sure many of our friends, who were devoting untold hours to ensure that their children excelled in public school, wanted to say the same thing to us. But they held their tongues. During our SVS interview prior to enrolling I remember Hanna telling us that eighty something percent of SVS students go on to college. I would repeat this fact, like a mantra, to friends and family whenever the conversation drifted toward the “How will they get into college?” question.
Since our children enrolled at SVS, one starting in “6th” grade the other starting in “4th”, I have grown to more fully appreciate and endorse the SVS educational model of learning. See my many Blog contributions https://sudburyvalley.org/author/foss-tighe about the different ways in which SVS has impressed me over the years. Yet I still had lingering fears. Did our choice to move to SVS constitute some sort of dangerous experimentation on our own children? Would they enjoy their SVS years but be disadvantaged in some unknown way that would make getting into college difficult? Would it turn out that 12-year-old Andrea was right?
So, in addition to all the excitement and celebration, there was a small sense of relief, when Cori’s acceptance letter arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago. She was accepted at her “first choice” school, Regis College in Weston. Of course, she only applied to one school!
Over the past few years I have read in horror how the college application process has morphed into full time jobs for parents assisted by expensive consultants who will help in crafting the perfect application, including advising your child on which extracurricular activities they should pursue. More recently the news has told us how for some schools and parents we have moved beyond the perfect application and have turned to outright bribery.
SVS students learn that education is what they make of it. They learn how to navigate systems and achieve the goals they set out for themselves. Cori was interested in going to college. She figured out the “Common Application” with no assistance. I helped fill out the section about parent’s education. And in the name of full disclosure, I encouraged her to record her being elected Chairman Emeritus in the school honors section which she was tempted to leave blank.
She wrote her own essay, she made good use of the resources available to her. She asked for and received editing help from friends and staff at school. Mimsy was wonderful completing a paper copy of the web form as school registrar. The paper copy allows her to write in the margins when the closed ended questions on the web form simply fail to provide responses appropriate to SVS. Cori had grades from several college courses she has taken over the past 2 years, which substituted for a High School GPA and the lack of SAT scores.
True to predictions, there were still a few bumps in the road that are unique to SVS students. A week or so after completing the application, the school contacted Cori saying her application was not complete. After a little discussion the admissions person concluded that her application was indeed complete. About 3 weeks later another admissions staff person contacted Cori saying her application was not complete. Before she could respond to that person another admissions person emailed her to tell her that her application did not look complete. Rather than fighting this hydra one staff person at a time, Cori decided to go in person to try to clear things up. After looking through both paper and on-line files the staff agreed that Cori’s application was complete. Cori asked about an interview, which they agreed to do right then and there. Cori let me stay in the room for the interview which was a treat for me. I got to watch as she provided thoughtful responses to all the interviewers' questions.
Despite Andrea’s predictions, a few days later the “Congratulations” letter arrived.