I can’t recall if I have mentioned it in previous posts (I think I have), but I have a 17 year old son who is a senior in high school.  He lives with his mom in Oklahoma, so we aren’t as close as either of us would like to be.

He’s had a rough year to say the least.  I think the reality of being in the home stretch of high school is hitting home and he’s a bit nervous about the future.  I don’t blame him.  I had similar feelings when I was his age.  The uncertainty of striking out on your own is daunting.

His plans are to attend college, join an ROTC program, and start his career in the military upon graduation.  He isn’t exactly enamored with Oklahoma, and he expressed a desire to live in as many different places as he can to experience them.  Couple that with the fact that my Wisconsin residency makes him eligible for in state tuition, and we started looking at schools here in the Badger state.

He had expressed a desire to head to my Alma Mater of Michigan State, but the out of state tuition rates were crazy, so that quickly was scratched from the list.  He came out almost a year ago to tour the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  When the University of Wisconsin is mentioned, this is generally the campus that comes to mind.  As a bit of an afterthought, I scheduled a tour at UW – Whitewater, which is another school in the system.  It’s a smaller school in a smaller town, but still with strong academics.

We toured both schools, but he was enamored with the Madison campus.  I wasn’t surprised.  It’s a big school with big time athletics and academics.  I’m sure my description of my college days at Michigan State had a lot to do with his views on a bigger school.  He felt that Whitewater was okay, but not his first choice.

That was last spring.  As summer came and application season hit, he started preparing his applications for admittance.  After talking with military recruiters and family friends, he decided that he wanted to do something with the Marine Corps while in and after college.  In terms of ROTC programs, that meant he would have to find a school that had the Naval ROTC program.  There’s only two (sort of) in Wisconsin.  UW-Madison and Marquette University.  Doing a bit more digging, we discovered that students at UW-Milwaukee could enroll in the Marquette program while attending Milwaukee for everything else.  That school became a possibility.

The deadline for submitting the application to Madison in order to be considered for early acceptance was November 1st.  He came right down to the wire for that, but submitted it in time.  Then we waited.  The decision would come at the end of January.  In the meantime, though, he didn’t apply anywhere else.

Well, we heard a couple of days ago that he did not get into Madison.  Based on the way things had been going of late for him, I was worried he wouldn’t take it very well.  I was very pleasantly surprised, though.  Yes, he was disappointed, but he took it in stride and turned his focus onto getting his application finished up for Milwaukee.

One of the things that I’ve learned throughout this process is how much the college application process has changed since I was going through it almost 30 years ago.  Everything is online now, which makes things a bit easier.  Also, since all of the schools he is interested in applying to are part of the University of Wisconsin system, he can enter information into one application, and just about all of it will carry over to the others.  Back in my day (yeah, yeah), I did all my applications on a typewriter.  I like this way  much better.

He finished up what needed finishing up on the Milwaukee app and submitted it.  Now, we wait.  The good news is that they process applications on a rolling basis, so there’s no waiting for months to find out whether he got in or not.  Hopefully he will hear within the next week or so.  While I had doubts about Madison, I harbor few for Milwaukee.  The acceptance rate is high, and with his grades and test scores, he should have no problem getting in.

He even made a few calls to the NROTC program at Marquette to make sure that he could participate in their program while at Milwaukee and that he would also be eligible to apply for scholarships in the coming years.  Both items checked out.

The next steps in all of this is waiting top hear if he is admitted.  Once that happens, he and his mom will make the trip from Oklahoma to visit the campus, as that is the one place we haven’t visited.  The school has a few visitation days for people that have been accepted as a way for the students to be sold on attending there.  I imagine that they will come up for one of those, and we will incorporate a visit to the NROTC program at Marquette while we are at it.

I guess the bottom line to all of this is that I’m very proud of him.  He handled it better than I thought he would, and he bounced back immediately from the disappointment and knew what he had to do next.  That skill will serve him well as time goes on.  It’s one that I wish I were a bit better with.

I know he is scared about the future.  This is a big step, and I’m a bit scared for him, too.  However, it is a part of growing up and I believe that he is doing the best he can just as I know that his mom and I are doing the best we can.  He may not feel like it at times, but she and I are his biggest supporters and we just want him to succeed.  Success, though, does require the occasional failure and watching your kid struggle and fail is a horrible feeling.  His denial to Madison is a failure, but his reaction to it and the actions that he has taken since then indicate that he is more than capable of bouncing back from that failure.

Anyway, I think that is enough of my rambling for the week.  I’ll be back next week with something else.  As an aside, I’m liking this writing a post a week.  It keeps me focused on what I’m doing, and that’s a good thing.  Thanks for reading, and take care.


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