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High school seniors across the nation chewed their nails while checking mailboxes during the past few months – hoping, praying for that relief-inspiring fat envelope from their top college choice.

By now the seniors have received their college notifications – full-sized and stuffed with information, or disappointingly slim – and most are probably struggling with their parents to add up columns of figures to determine which school they can actually attend without leaving their family homeless. (See Better Dead Than Alive.)

But transfer students – ah that is a different story as my daughter and I have discovered. Most colleges don’t even look at their transfer applications until they’ve processed all the freshman ones. This leaves aspiring transfers in a kind of hellish limbo of waiting and waiting – as they stare into empty mailboxes while the days tick by.

This might be okay for junior transfers, you know those practical kids that attended community college for two years saving themselves and their parents tens of thousands of dollars in payouts and debts. Those students are often guaranteed admission into state schools if they complete their junior college work with satisfactory grades.

But for my daughter Rosie, it’s a different story. We have discovered that sophomore transfers are treated like a separate animal. They don’t have enough college credit under their belt to have proved themselves, and therefore all the high school transcripts, standardized testing scores and counselor recommendations are still required – along with all the college transcripts of course.

Just gathering all these materials together, a task that often requires repeated fax requests and long periods on hold while waiting to argue once again with some clueless office worker who claims the transcripts can’t be sent without a personal signature even though we are 2,000 miles away – is enough to produce an ulcer. And then there’s the waiting. That’s when the ulcer really takes hold.

Rejection Angst

Rosie applied to something like a dozen schools this time. About half of them required auditions (she has her heart set on a career in acting and would prefer to earn a BFA in acting – my motherly qualms on this will have to be reserved for a future post. Suffice it to say that this girl has had her goals firmly fixed in her mind since age 3 and has not wavered even a smidgen despite last year’s avalanche of rejections.)

Those ugly and heart wrenching thin envelopes began to arrive from most of the audition schools in early March. Is is okay to curse in a blog? Gawd, I hated opening the post office box and finding one of those accusing envelopes. Accusing me of somehow not providing my daughter with the right opportunities to succeed in this goal that she so longs for. Accusing me of being a complete idiot for spending so much time, energy and money on these applications and auditions when I know that the competition is so fierce that she only has something like a 2% chance of making the cut.

Is it stupid to encourage our children to follow their dreams?

But she is so talented! So fiery! Can’t they tell what a disciplined and fabulous student she will be from her two-minute monologue? No, the answer is they can’t. What they see in that two minutes is beyond me, but I do know that the school she attended last fall almost didn’t even take her, but once she got there she became a top student in the freshman BFA program and they begged her not to leave.


And now with this waiting game, I’m beginning to wonder if I should have encouraged her to stay. Despite the fact that she was completely unchallenged academically, had few options besides Wal-Mart to buy groceries, and complained  about the fact that there was absolutely nothing to do on weekends except get s**tfaced drunk, which got really old after about three weekends.

No, it wasn’t right for her. I felt it in my bones when I dropped her off on that first day, and I knew it two months later when I could sense her sinking deeper and deeper into the fog of depression.

But, what now?

We just got another “thin” envelope. This one a virtual one – an email rejecting her from UC-Irvine. They had warned us that they don’t accept many sophomores, but I still hoped. After all, she has straight A’s in high school and a 3.8 GPA in college, has an IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma, writes a mean essay. Just because she doesn’t do well in regurgitating answers on SAT tests shouldn’t limit her choices. But, unfortunately it does.

We still have at least five schools to hear from. Two audition schools that offer the coveted BFA (ones that we also need a fat financial aid offer from), one state school and a couple of private schools.

“I’m getting scared,” she told me on the phone yesterday.

And, damn, I really didn’t know what to tell her.