A Change of Plans?

So, the latest in this parenting from afar saga is getting Hope to embrace a change of plans for post-high school.

I’ve been putzing around the house wondering what this year at boarding school would mean for Hope’s future. Sure, I really wanted to create a situation where Hope would be successful in high school, making decent grades, figuring out the social stuff, getting mentored, all that good stuff.  But, really, all of that is supposed to lead to a college launch.

Some time ago, Hope and I concluded that she might do best staying home and attending the local community college. Then she did well on the PSAT, and then she went away for the summer and shined. Now she’s at the school for her senior year. In my mind, this represented a trajectory change. It was huge directional step away from that original post-high school plan. I mean, why go to a community college when you’ve graduated from a college prep school, right? I bore no illusions that Hope would go to some big university. Given what we’ve learned in the last year, it’s clear the smaller school the better and the most structured environment the better. Hey, she might even consider the military. In all the change in the last few months, I saw the widening of options for Hope and a change in plans.

Hope did not see things this way at all. With me, she hemmed and hawed about what she wanted to do after graduation. When her mentor started asking questions about the SAT and the ACT, Hope said they really weren’t necessary since she didn’t plan to go to a university. We’d talked about whether and how Hope saw the move to boarding school as a change in her trajectory. She said she did and then she didn’t say much. I would ask about how “the plan” might change and what should that look like? She would say she didn’t know.

It all seems like a ploy to avoid inevitable confrontation since this weekend I learned that maybe she didn’t see a change in plans in play at all.

My response? Well why not???

Her response? Why should it change anything?

My next response? Are you kidding me? I think it changes everything!

And so, I went inside my head and heart to wrestle with my expectations of Hope all over again. When given chances to change course, usually Hope doesn’t. The decision to go to boarding school was shocking, and I thought maybe it marked a big change. Of course, it did. It just didn’t mean what I thought it meant. The truth is I have no idea what it means. I don’t think she really knows what it means either.

So, we’ve been talking about it. Have you looked at any schools? Yeah, sure. Do you want to share the schools? I get the list, and applications to those schools will be met with rejection. I don’t say this; I don’t want this conversation to shut down and well, there’s a college counselor who will convey this message. Then, she announces maybe she will go to school in Seoul, South Korea. Um, have you looked into going to school abroad and what you need to do in order to do that? Do you have any idea how much money they want you to have in the bank in order to do that? OMG…

This is such a tumultuous, transitional time for kid’s her age. It’s a crazy times for parents too who are hoping, praying that their kids explore their choices and then make good informed choices. This is what I hope for Hope, but I know this kid and decision making isn’t a strong suit with this one. She avoids them. She doesn’t like change. She may still really need some time before launching, but I also know that that being the default position is not the best thing for her. She always needs a push or pull to stretch a bit, to trust herself and to trust her ability to stand on her own. I’m trying to give her some space to figure it out, but yeah, I’m a bit vexed because it’s so unknown for both of us.

I have no idea if she even has a clue what she wants to study? Does she even really still want to be a linguist? Who knows.

All I know right now is that I need to finish SAT and ACT registration and start work on the FAFSA so that we can keep options open.

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About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted tween a few years ago, and this blog chronicles our journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2018. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

13 responses to “A Change of Plans?

  • Susan

    oh my goodness. well, all i can say after having a couple of kids hit college age is that a low dose baby aspirin a day is suppose to lessen the traumatic effects of a stroke.

  • Marieke

    Could it be that if you she jumps from boardinggschool to college she will never live with you? That going tonboardingschool was doable if it meant coming back home after that? My son has 2 years left at his current school and university choices are feeling heavy..

  • Hana

    Living in South Korea would be an immense shock for her on many levels, I suspect – no matter how much Korean pop culture you consume state-side. If she’d ever like to talk about it, she can email me!

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Yes, I totally agree. She has a fairly romanticized ideal about it. I do hope and believe she will get there one day, but this talk of going to university there is kind of akin to when she thought she would be the next Beyonce,. She has a voice made for showering singing and avoids physical activity like the plague, so…. 🙂 Thanks so much for the offer! I’ll let her know!

      • Hana

        Haha! I’ve had many a student with similar aspirations, misguided and completely endearing all at once. Pro football player, movie or social media star. This is such a great and terrifying age for young adults, taking so many leaps and trying to find their way in the world. I know Hope will find hers – after all, she’s got a great mom to lean on. 😉

  • Liz

    It actually seems to me like coming home and doing community college could be a GREAT option given the losses of family time and mom time that have come with this boarding school opportunity that was too good to turn down. If someone has the opportunity to go to a top notch, high quality four year school, I would say community college does not compare. But if that is not an option, I think financially community college and then transfer to state school makes a lot of sense, and you can transfer to some excellent state schools (and having gone to an Ivy, I definitely feel that one year more or less at college wouldn’t make a ton of difference if I got to do at least some coursework at a true university level). Some community colleges are stronger than others, and then you can get a lot out of them if either your academic background isn’t very strong and learning almost anything is worthwhile and/OR if you’re putting in a lot of work to take advantage of what’s there and make it an interesting/meaningful learning experience. It seems like coming home again would allow this boarding school time to be an academic and independence strengthening experience, but not the end to childhood and full on early launch it could become. Another option might be if there are four year universities she could attend as a commuter student. And also good to remind that you can do a semester or year study abroad in Korea! Sidenote you probably already know, but Korea is probs super racist toward black people, also, or at least just a major novelty factor that would be v unpleasant. But agree it’s definitely good to take the SAT or ACT to keep options open. Although there are an increasing number of schools, including some top tier ones, that no longer require them – you can google lists – so there will still be options if she doesn’t take it.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      I’m in higher ed, so I really do appreciate the value of community college, but I also know Hope–left to her own devices she will strive down. She needs a good push from time to time. She may very well return home, but my point is that I don’t want that to be her default position, especially if it means not applying herself to see if there is more out there for her. It’s really about helping her understand her own worthiness and ability to fly. If she needs more time, she gets it. But she needs to take some time to explore what options are available to her and make an informed decision about 4 yr or CC. Until I told her it couldn’t be her default she was not interested in looking at all; now she’s at least looking at options. That process will really need to be refined in the coming months since she’s kind of grasping a bit. It’s really a life lesson, as I think about it more, I just want her to learn to strive. Choosing to go to the school is a HUGE thing for her, and she’s doing ok there; it’s about helping her learning that this kind of stretching and exploring is ok and a lifelong thing. If she comes home, I want to her to have had some experience in stretching through the process of looking at colleges as well.

  • April Stapleton

    Hi! I’m a new-ish reader who has never commented before. Love your blog. Is there any possibility of her taking an extra year of high school? And maybe take some advanced credit classes that transfer to college/university? That way she can be in a highly structured environment (unlike many college residences) and she gets more time to figure out what she wants.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Hi thanks! 🙂

      Hope is ADAMANTLY against this path. I explored holding her back from graduation, but 1) she has too many credits in our state to do this, she *will* graduate this year. 2) The emotional ramifications of staying in hs another year are much too great. She would be better going to CC for the two years than doing that. As I just posted on another comment, I want may daughter to want to try and stretch. Her default has been to reach down, not up. I’m hopeful that this experience gives her some confidence to reach up. If she ends up at home, that’s fine, but not as a default stop. 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Rachel

    Are there any gap year programs that could provide structure while also giving her a chance to explore other options and gain some new perspectives and maturity? The ones abroad might be too much of a stretch (or might not be!), but I think there are also some good domestic ones.

    (My background on this is that I went to college early, at just-turned-17, because I devoutly needed to NOT be in my high school environment any more; and while academically it was fine, emotionally it was a real struggle, and I wish I’d had other options besides “stay home” and “go away to college.”)

  • Snarl Furillo

    What about Americorps NCCC or Conservation Corps? Both great programs for young people who thrive in high-structure environments, want more time to plan and mature, and could use some money for college.

    State maritime schools? Suny Maritime, Maine Maritime, Mass Maritime. Highly structured, less academically competitive than the federal service academies, lead to high paying jobs.

    Is she competitive for a service academy if she does a year at one of the service academy prep schools? Maybe something to explore with the counselors at boarding school who should be familiar with it. For promising applicants to the federal service academies who need more academic prep. Bonus of being a stealth fifth year of high school.

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