Musings on College Admission


I'm reading David McCullough Jr.'s You Are Not Special . . . And Other Encouragements.

I'm also reading Shauna Neiquist's Present Over Perfect.

I've been pondering my own mental health crisis of last summer/fall, and I've been working hard on praying more mindfully.

A friend is guiding her homeschooled eldest daughter into college next year; she told me last week that she gathered 15 letters of recommendation to submit to her daughter's college of choice.


"Yes," she said,."My daughter is very busy with lots of volunteer work and extracurricular activities.  We asked all of her supervisors, and every one of them came through with letters."

In addition, I've been counseling with Pixie over her higher education dreams and plans.

The admissions requirements for her school of choice are daunting.  

All of these experiences are mixing together in my brain.


I don't want my children to have to be someone they are not to get into college.  I don't want them to lose themselves in over-busyness to try to prove their worth.

I understand that sometimes there are hoops through which we must jump.

After all, we just jumped through hundreds of them to adopt our newest 4.

But somehow, this whole college admissions game seems like a terrible, terrible game.

For what?

I know there is great value--both worldly and personally--in a higher degree.  I definitely don't want to close the door to college for my children by refusing to help them . . .

I'm just starting to wonder if we can be true to ourselves and still get in to college.

*We didn't do soccer this year, and we can't afford more dance teams than the one we're on.  Will a college look at their one extracurricular activity and see their devoted work and service?  Will a college admissions counselor understand how much this one sweet dance team has blessed our community?  Will it matter that we've chosen one activity instead of many?

*My older girls volunteer right in our own home--hundreds of hours worth of service--far more than the average older siblings help out  at home.  And it's emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging work to live in our home.  My girls live right in the middle of their volunteer service, building, hugging, cooking, working, learning, crying, praying, struggling to help a family live and grow.  Loving broken children into wholeness.  Will a college admissions counselor accept this as service?  How on earth will we put this on the forms?

*Do I want to start training my children to take ACT/SAT exams?  Is the pressure to perform reasonable or wise?  Most people consider it a given . . . I did when I was a teen.  But I'm really starting to question whether I should help my kids get on that particular conveyor belt.

It's not about me.

I know that.

It's about, though, the values I want to instill in my children.

Will this particular batch of jumping through hoops bless them?

I'm realize that it will depend on each child, and it will not really be up to me to decide . . . the kids need to choose their own paths.

I guess I'm just realizing that I don't want to assume.

I want them to be true to who they are and who they want to be and know that there are options.

I don't want them to get lost in the busy-ness and have to find themselves 20 years later after seasons of doubt and pain and self-destruction.

And I hope that if they choose a dream college and jump through the hoops and still don't make the cut, that they'll recognize that they are living lives of value . . .

just the way they are.

(linking here)


  1. This blog (with the pictures) would constitute the most compelling college recommendation any one of your girls could possibly submit--a recommendation from the one person who knows them best AND has documentation not only of their astonishing accomplishments but also of their so-very-rich "extracurricular" learning environment--all provided within the walls of their home. Your girls have the advantage, hands down.

  2. I'm with you on the difficulties of college admission. We've got a very differnt system here and my oldest three all opted to go to the local university, which is very homeschool friendly. I could help them get the education I wanted for them at home and they could still get where they wanted to go. Miss 16 is a different story sadly. The admission process for the university of her choice will require us to jump through some silly hoops and it will totally alter our final year of homeschooling. While I chafe against it I will oblige because it is what she wants and I can see it make sense for her. But still. I wish you and your girls well as you navigate the process.They've obviously had a unique, rich experience educationally and otherwise and that is allegedly what colleges are looking for.

  3. Thought provoking blog. We have always assumed that our children would start at community colleges as we did and then move on to a 4 year...if the choose to go at all. The demands are smaller for community college and the cost is so much lower. There are a crazy amount of hoops to jump through in life.
    Blessings, Dawn


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