Adult ChildrenAges 13-17 (Teen)

Rejection is our constant companion.

No matter how old your kids are, they have some pretty dumbass ideas. My daughter Mary Alice, a junior in college, texted me the other day “I just took a practice LSAT and got a 160. I’m taking the official practice test next week.”

Kewl. Good luck.

She had mentioned this before and the negativity just poured in;
law school is too expensive,
you’ll never get a job,
biggest regret of my life.

Gee, are you people trying to tell her something?

I’m used to my daughter’s dumbassary, when Mary Alice told me a few years back that she was interested in studying Philosophy, I spent about 10 minutes trying to talk her into going into an allied medical field. Total fail. Then, I spent a few minutes reminding her that English is useful. After all knowing grammar is pretty handy. Right? Huh? English?

Nope, she liked to read. Read and argue. No matter that the sexists practices of philos departments at University of Colorado and elsewhere have generated some conversation about how unfriendly some philosophy departments are to women. SHE liked it. Because she is a pretty good student and frankly a lot smarter than me I finally shut up and took her to Target to get the mandatory shower shoes and clip lamp for her dorm room.

I struck a quasi deal with her, I would defend her choices but I could only contribute $2,000.00/year to this endeavor so you had better stay smart enough to keep your scholarships and you’ll have to take out some loans.

In 1986 when I started attending (insert name of the least selective state university here) I remember withdrawing $1,500.00 which paid for tuition room and board for my first quarter of school. Ummm, yeah. I realize that was a long time ago but other than the high speed internet access, ridiculously large libraries and the mandatory food court every 12 feet—shit’s not that much different today…just way, way, WAY more expensive.

Back in ’86 you could hide out a bit on campus—mess up a little if you wanted. No one sniffed around your every move. It was a place to “find yourself”, not an ultra expensive race to the future. My parents were pretty lower middle and I never filled out a FAFSA—there was no point. Sadly, there is no real Hot Tub Time Machine and obviously, funding college in 2015 is a lot more tricky, it’s tricky tricky tricky.

Make no mistake, I may sound romantic but I understand pragmatic. I see the commercials for ECPI and University of Phoenix and I know that going to college these days is all about money. Education is an investment and we all know that if you aren’t already super rich that your every single monetary move is really,really, really super duper important, really.

I think the point of “zero to bachelors” in two years is to spend less money so you can earn more, right? I don’t recall seeing anyone playing hacky sack on the quad in the commercials. It’s all about the cash.

So how much money is enough money? I haven’t a clue. I do know how much money isn’t enough and that is a little more than I made when I was a divorced mom with three kids.

I went back to college when Mary Alice was 12 years old. I’m glad I waited because she helped me with my algebra more than once. She also saw me agonize through my Spanish courses(I literally had to take each of my four required classes twice until I could earn the required C). I really felt like an idiot in my Community College classes. But I kept going and eventually transferred to a university and, at age 39, competed my BA.

I don’t make much money in my social service career. In stark contrast to what ECPI may want us to believe, the point of going to college isn’t about making money, it’s about making connections both socially and intellectually.

If the biggest single connection that I made by going back to college was getting to share the pain of doing homework with my kids, it was worth it. Frankly, I had a lot of people who thought I was wasting my time in school. These people did make me second guess myself but I mostly ignored them. There will always be people who have a better idea for how someone else should be living their life.

You shouldn’t tell anyone what to do with their lives, not even your kids. I’ve always thought as a parent we are just facilitating our kids’ lives. We attempt to hook them up with good resources and then get the hell out the way.

If my daughter decides to attempt law school, or any other graduate degree program I’m not going to stop her, (and by the way I know my $2,000.00/year won’t help her much either.) At the end of the day, I’m not going to discourage her. There will always be enough rejection in this world, but rejection is just an answer. A rejection is proof that you’ve attempted something and as my professor husband always says “you earn every rejection you get.”


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

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