While back in Orange County, California this week training a new batch of Collegewise counselors, I returned to my alma mater, UC Irvine, and walked my old collegiate stomping grounds. This curbside near the dorms probably doesn’t seem significant to most people. But in September of 1989, this is the exact spot where I hugged my parents goodbye and started my life at college.
I remember thinking that this was a significant moment that I wanted to remember. I didn’t know anyone at school. I had no idea what was going to happen that day, much less over the next four years. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or how my college was going to help me figure it out, but I couldn’t wait to find out. It was scary and exciting all at the same time, and I made a point to take a mental snapshot so I would never forget it. This week, I took an actual snapshot to share here.
That moment when a student goes from a high school graduate to a college student is big for any family. And I’ll bet my parents’ recollection of my UC Irvine sendoff is no less special to them than that day three years later when they hugged my younger brother goodbye. At Harvard.
The pressure surrounding the college admissions process can ruin what should otherwise be an exciting, transformative journey for students and parents. With over 2,000 colleges to choose from, your moment is going to come at one of them—whatever your GPA and test scores are—as long as you work hard enough to earn it. It might be at a prestigious college, and it might not. But I promise that when that day eventually comes, the name of the school will matter a lot less than the parental pride and student excitement.