I would not be at Carleton if it were not for the support of elder humans in my life and I think most students would say something very similar. You help us so much. I would now like to address a conglomeration of real and imagined, idealized adults in my life. Here is what you have done that has made a difference to me:
Thank you for believing in my ability to make a good college choice. Thank you for never telling me that any school was too much of a reach. Thank you for never asking “But why are you applying THERE?” Thank you for acknowledging that choosing a college is a difficult decision. Thank you for being happy for me getting into colleges. When I did not get into colleges, thank you for telling me it was OK to be sad/angry, making some really funny choice comments about said school, and then dropping it
Thank you for letting me come to Carleton. I know I’ve put up with a lot of people asking “Why Minnesota?” and “What the heck is Carleton?” (Favorite things people have thought: technical college and beauty school). I’m almost certain, though, that you’ve heard that from more people. Thank you for standing up for me.
Thank you for making it OK for me to call you even when everything wasn’t perfect. Thank you for not saying “I told you so.” Thank you for being nice to my college friends. Thank you for buying us food when you visit and letting them stay at our house. Thank you for remembering the names of people I talk about a lot. I don’t mind reminding you that we’re on the trimester or that I’m taking a literature class this term. I’m flattered you want to remember and that you ask.
Thank you for assuming I have my academics under control. Thank you for understanding that I do spend a ton of time in the library. Thank you for not asking, “But what else are you doing tonight?” On the other hand, thank you for not pointing out the contradiction when I say I have a big test tomorrow but right now I’m hanging out with some friends.
Thank you for encouraging me to get sleep and eat well and exercise while also understanding that that doesn’t always feel like an option.
I was very self-conscious about my major even though I knew it was what I wanted to do. Thank you for telling me that, all things considered, it was a great and obvious choice for me. Thank you for never asking “What are you going to do with THAT?” Thank you for always sending me job postings, even though sometimes it was kind of annoying. Specifically (Mom), I know there was no way you just happened upon a bunch of jobs in applied ethics, and I appreciate the thought.
Thank you for letting me go far away for college. Thank you for believing that I had found a good school and that maybe there were other schools that would have worked well, but this was where I wanted to be.
A note: I think web forums and college guide books can be good if they give information and encourage this kind of support. But here’s the thing. I’m a little worried focus can get shifted. I have never thought “Man, this is a slightly sub-par athletic facility.” I have loved things about Carleton no tour could have shown me.
I have two friends from high school who attend elite liberal arts colleges. Things I have thought upon visiting them: “Wow, you have ice cream in your dining hall everyday—that’s awesome!” and “Agh, I’m so jealous you have a week to study for finals!” Things I have never thought: “I therefore wish I went to your school.”
Going to college will be different from the tour or even (gasp!) admissions website. You’ll hear from us, though maybe less than you would like (that’s a good thing—it means we’re having fun). But guess what? We’re going to be fine. On the other hand, you might do strange things like set too many plates at the table or suddenly have a lot of space on TiVo. Even though we might hate the fact that you have changed the kitchen table in order to deal with this, deep down we understand and it is going to be OK.
When we show up at college, we have ideas of the person we want to be. When we end, hopefully we’re a little closer. Thank you for letting us change, whether it's our major, hairstyle, or our outlook on life. And even though it might be tough, thank you for letting us grow.