College. It’s necessary, we’re told, in today’s job market: “The bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.” If you are an engaged parent, a loving parent, an effective parent, then you should do all you can to get your son or daughter to college.
But what if you don’t know how? What if you didn’t make it? If your life experiences didn’t include higher education, college might as well be New Zealand or Spain. Foreign and inaccessible.
As my oldest daughter prepared to graduate in 2012, that’s how college looked to me, too. How did all that stuff work? Was there a secret password? How would we even know if she had a chance? Was there such a thing as a fair shot for low-income people like us?
Instead of finishing high school, I got pregnant, ran away from home, and ended up with a GED and a job making tacos. My husband’s education followed a similar broken path, starting with segregated schools and ending when he dropped out of high school at age 17. You can read more about family patterns and how they influence parenting elsewhere on this blog.
When it came to our own children, we aimed for something finer. We wanted futures for those beautiful kids. We decided we would do whatever it took to give them a world-class education. You can read about our homeschool journey on this blog, too.
But all that is just background for what’s really important: the miraculous-seeming series of events that led to our daughter winning a spot at Haverford College, a top liberal-arts school that some call a “mini Ivy.” It turns out that great schools want kids like ours — yours too. It was just a matter of figuring out how to knock on doors we never even knew existed.
What we thought were strikes against us — poverty, geographic isolation, lack of experience, lack of connections, unusual circumstances, degreeless parents — turned out to be powerful levers that pried open the gate to a completely different life for our daughter.
Maybe that sounds unusual to you. I’d love for it to become commonplace.
If you are in the market for college-journey inspiration, suggestions, information — or just plain old encouragement — you’ve come to the right place. I can’t drop your child off at college, but I can share my family’s journey, maybe shed a little light on the path, and cheer you on as you find your way.