Lily Web

Far Beyond Good Enough

About six years ago I went to a school fair in search of a middle school for our daugh­ter. I ended up in a room with repre­sen­ta­tives from an inde­pen­dent West­side school. The first ques­tion a prospec­tive parent asked was, Where do your students go?” The repre­sen­ta­tive responded, We have gotten students into Stan­ford, Harvard, Brown…” I was bowled over. We were looking for a middle school! My gut instinct was to run. I didn’t want, for my child or me, to live the next seven years gearing up to get her into the right” college.

Here I am, however, seven years later, to share that Lily did get into the right” college; thir­teen of them, actu­ally. And what makes them right is that they are right for her. Despite news that says other­wise, college accep­tance can be accom­plished without pres­sure, SAT prepa­ra­tion courses, hired consul­tants, or a cottage indus­try of profes­sion­als who prime chil­dren for this exact thing. Instead, Lily got into college by loving high school and being engaged in the things she likes to do.

One may think, Okay, that worked for you, but our kid is not (fill in the blank).” Before complet­ing this thought, allow me to share that we have a child who has strug­gled. She is not gregar­i­ous, doesn’t have 4.3 grade point average, is not a good athlete, would rather read manga than Tolstoy, hasn’t gone to Guatemala to work in an orphan­age, and can’t take a stan­dard­ized test to save her life. So how did she get into college? And not just one college, but many of them? This is how: Our daugh­ter under­stands what it is to have a point of view, and to be able to engage with both the mate­r­ial and her teach­ers. When we visited Whitman College and attended a psychol­ogy lecture, Lily went up to the profes­sor after class and asked him if he was aware of a partic­u­lar study that she had learned about at Waverly. After about 15 minutes, the profes­sor looked at her and said, What is your name?”

Lily nailed inter­view after inter­view. She was able to talk passion­ately about the things she liked, without invented expe­ri­ences or a script someone prepared for her. It is inevitable that the college appli­ca­tion process is going to be stress­ful, but there is a differ­ence between stress and sending the message to your child that they are not good enough.”

We owe Waverly a lot, much more than we have paid in tuition. We have a child who has never in four years said, I don’t want to go to school.” Who loves learn­ing. Who is certainly good enough.” I hope sharing my expe­ri­ence will help to put the college process into perspec­tive for parents who may be start­ing the college admis­sions process with their child.

-Kenneth Robins
Parent of Lily, 12th grade