Reflecting & Connecting Grayson and the College Admission Process

Catherine Souza
Just like many of you, I spent some time during my final week of summer to read our schoolwide book, Grayson by Lynne Cox. While it might have been better if I had finished up the required reading before the last week of summer (sorry, Mr. Jordan), it ended up being serendipitous timing as it allowed me to funnel the book through my day to day work with seniors on their essays and search process. I was struck several times how Cox’s words about searching for the mother of a gray whale could work so wonderfully to explain and provide insight into the college search process. In fact, I was able to find a quote for each of the four classes that align well with their current status in searching for schools and have shared my thoughts below. Enjoy!

Freshmen
“Sometimes I just did things because I thought I could and because if I didn’t an opportunity to learn something, grow, and reach farther would be lost” (Cox, p. 80).
 
The first year of high school is an important one for many reasons—it sets the academic foundation for the remainder of your high school transcript, is often the time you meet your best friends, and allows you to try new activities. It is the last of these things—the exploration of your interests, talents, and passions that Cox summed up quite well in the above quote. Maybe you decide try out for cross country in the fall, to give your time to service projects in the winter with the Community Service Club, or to spend the spring preparing for the big state Mock Trial meet. Hopefully a few of the things you try as a freshman end up being things you love, but in the end, there is just as much value in figuring out the things you don’t love. It is my hope that our freshmen students will channel this thinking as they make their way through the first year—that they not lose out on “an opportunity to learn something, grow, and reach farther” (Cox, p. 80).
 
Sophomores
“There are all sorts of ways to think about the world, and so many people who think differently. Still, I believe there are two basic ways of thinking: one of possibility and hope, the other of doubt and impossibility” (Cox, p. 95).
 
Sophomore year is the time when many students, and their parents, really begin to engage in thinking about college—what the next two years will be like as well as the four after that. I hope as students and parents begin, they do so with an open mind and a sense of hope. You’ve heard it all before from the media, your neighbor, and even other parents—college admissions can be complicated, unfair, and stressful. But we hope that families instead focus on the fun exploration that also occurs and they chose the “thinking…of possibility and hope” (Cox, p. 95) that Cox describes. During College Seminar, we will lead students through introspective exercises that help them figure out what they are looking for in their next home as well to learn more about the many, many possibilities available to students in majors, programs, schools, and more. This process can be and should have an element of fun—we hope that our help and guidance in the process helps you experience that first hand.
 
Juniors
“Sometimes it’s the process of doing that makes things clear. If we don’t start, we never know what could have been. Sometimes the answers we find while searching are better or more creative than anything we could have ever imagine before” (Cox, p. 56).
 
For some students and parents, the prospect of getting “officially started” with our office is exciting and they’ve been waiting months for it to begin. For other students and parents, the enormity of the process and the many moving parts can be overwhelming and, in some cases, debilitating. Cox’s observation that “sometimes it’s the process of doing that makes things clear” (Cox, p. 56) rings incredibly clear when thinking about the college search process. The only way to start to understand and own the process is to simply to…begin. That may mean jumping onto College Board Big Future for the first time to research a school, or beginning a conversation with Mom and Dad about an interest in studying abroad, or going on Naviance to learn more about your Career Interest Profiler results. Whatever way you feel comfortable jumping into this process, I encourage you to do so. I also think that when Cox shares, “the answers we find while searching are better or more creative than anything we could have ever imagined before” (Cox, p. 56)—she is definitely right when you apply that to the college search process. We will challenge you to think introspectively about who you are, what makes you tick, and what you want in your future and by actively engaging in that process and exploring, those answers may surprise you in the end!
 
Seniors
“Do what you can do, I thought, don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of something. Break it down into smaller pieces like you do when you swim. Do one thing at a time” (Cox, p. 98).
 
As a senior, you’ve been hearing about college for years—from your parents, your friends, your teachers, your dentist, and everyone in between including Mr. Boehm and I. Now is the time when the real work is upon you and when we look at the big picture of what needs to be done between now and early November. It can be overwhelming, but only if we let it be. If, instead, we take Cox’s advice and “Do what you can do, I thought, don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of something. Break it down into smaller pieces like you do when you swim. Do one thing at a time” (Cox, p. 98), it becomes easier to handle and much more manageable. Throughout the fall in College Seminar and in your individual meetings, we will do just that—help you create a calendar, a task list, and more so that you feel more well prepared for the process and what needs to get done, when. We already know you are capable of being successful in the process and we’ll help you stay organized and have confidence that you can get it all done, step by step.
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A private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy, grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.