The College Search Begins
By Linda Ramrath
“The Hare and the Tortoise” is one of Aesop’s fables with many valuable lessons. I remember reading this story to both of our children. I explained that the outspoken Hare was unkind to the tortoise. The hare prejudged the tortoise based on his outward appearance. The Hare was so confident that he could win a race against the tortoise any day. On race day, the hare had too many things planned, including a nap. By the time the hare got to the finish line, the Tortoise was already there.
The lessons I had hoped they picked up were
1. To not judge a book by it’s cover. And
2. To be more methodical in one’s decision making –slow and steady does win the race.
Our children didn’t seem to like to the story and asked why the author didn’t put a monkey in the story who would swing from branch to branch above any animal traveling on the ground. Did our children miss the points?
Slow and steady wins the race. I dropped it and moved on…
Now our daughter is a junior at Holliston High School. We just spent her April vacation visiting colleges.
On the first day we drove to a college and were not able to find the welcome center on our own. We asked for some help from college workers on a golf cart. They smiled and said, ”Good luck finding parking. The welcome center is the only building that looks like a house and isn’t brick.” We drove around the college three times and couldn’t find any place to park. Not wanting to get towed, we drove home.
Bethany (the Hare)really didn’t want to visit that college. She had already seen the website.
I (the tortoise), on the other hand, wanted to visit this college because it was reknown for the major Bethany was interested in.
On the next day we set the gps and traveled through some fairly depressed towns to the next college. As we turned the last corner, there were banners hanging on every light post. The buildings were tall, clean and brick. There was a parking space waiting for us. So many people showed up for a tour at 11am that they needed 3 tour guides. Everyone was so kind and inviting. The tour was very nice. We saw a classroom, the cafeteria, a dorm room, and a shuttle bus to take people around campus. We learned that the teachers are very dedicated to student’s success. We could have walked around campus to the other end where the preschool and education buildings were, but no, Bethany had seen enough.
On the way home my daughter told me that I had always said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover, but no one dressed like me.” She was worried that if she attended that school, she would dress in oversized clothes and look like a slob.
The following day we received a thank you for visiting note from that college. Someone there really knows how to make people feel welcome.
The very next day, I put Bethany on a bus to Vermont where her cousin picked her up and gave her a tour of St. Michael’s College. Bethany came home so excited. The setting is green rolling hills with trees! The library was awesome! There were so many ways to study; by oneself, in a group, or staring at the beautiful landscape. Everyone was so friendly.
She saw a dorm with suites and really liked that concept for living with others but having your own bedroom. Sorry, that’s not for freshmen.
I believe she was looking at a school to live at. She was not looking at curriculum. Or job possibilities after college.
I said to Bethany, ”Choosing a college is a big deal! No, one shouldn’t judge a college by the virtual tour on the website like the hare would, whether the sun was shining on the visiting day, or what some the students were wearing, but perhaps make a list of things you liked and didn’t like and weight them. It takes time.”
Can you hear my daughter now? “Oh Mom, you are so analytical!”
Thanks to collegeboards.com we were able to spend some time on our living room sofa exploring more colleges to decide where we should visit this summer. Our journey is not over. It has really just begun. I prefer to take the tortoise’s route, slow and steady to deciding which college will be best for Bethany.
Fables are a way of teaching children important life issues though stories. Some of them take some maturity to fully appreciate and apply. I think Bethany is learning to appreciate the wisdom of some of those fables.
I would however like to rewrite the ending of the hare and the tortoise and have them joining hands when they cross the finish line together and then share a big hug!