Operating under the theory that it's never too early to think about college, we took a bunch of sixth graders on a tour of Sonoma State University yesterday. The school is part of the California State University system, the cheaper younger sibling of the world-renowned University of California system.
Of course, when I say "cheaper," I mean in relative terms only. Pete and I will each be selling a kidney on eBay in hopes of paying for college for at least two out of three of the kids. We're hoping one will make it easy on us and be sent up river for a great deal of time, negating our parental obligation to send that one to college.
Eldest was enthralled with the whole package. It was a warm and sunny day, and everyone seemed to be out just having fun. We didn't stumble upon anyone in a classroom setting. We got to see the "model" dorm room. We passed the rock-climbing wall in the fairly new rec center. We saw the cafeteria. We saw the library and the art gallery. And we really didn't see any college kids stressing out.
It was idyllic. And the best part? The students on the panel answering the kids' questions in the lecture hall at the end of the tour talked of how easy it is to get scholarships and grants and financial aid. "Do you wear glasses? There's a scholarship for that." "Are you left-handed? There's a scholarship for that." "I work in the scholarship office, and you wouldn't believe how easy it is to get college paid for."
And when I say "the best part," I am being facetious. Big time. I got in an argument with another adult about us letting the kids walk away thinking college is a breeze to pay for. No one stressed the good grades required to get in. No one stressed that your family's income makes a huge difference. No one stressed the amount of work the kids will need to do to offset the costs, even at this "cheap" college. And no one stressed how the kids will be repaying loans years after getting out of college.
"Let's not discourage anyone this young," I was told. Screw that, man. It's not discouraging them to have them face the reality of studying and working hard and saving and not buying the latest gadget. It's parenting them. It's raising them in the real world. And not MTV's "The Real World." The real real world.
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