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Marketing and Motherhood

My good friend Rachael stared at me in bewilderment and said, "You actually make the things you pin?"
"Of course. Isn't that the idea? I've never understood why people would take the time to plan for a project and then not complete it."

I love Pinterest. I enjoy the level of organization it provides me for some of my long-term projects. There's a satisfying sense of control in pinning something I know I can't get to immediately, but really want. In fact, I found myself creating a new board called "High School Graduation" recently. With the vast amount of references to my child going to college lately, I can't help but want to place a level of control on this milestone. (Insert all the parental clichés here). “It happens in the blink of an eye.” ”I swear she was 9 years old just yesterday.” “They grow up so fast.” However we want to express it...the college search process catapults parents (at least this parent) into the reality that our children, our pride and joy, will be leaving us one day soon. 

For me, it happened when she was an 8th grader and I sat through high school orientation. As the other parents in the auditorium diligently took copious amounts of notes on how to best to navigate their child's high school years, I fumbled to find a Kleenex in complete embarrassment that I was losing my shit over my 8th grader going to...not high school...but college. 

As an admission professional, high school is my market. That's the point where I start to see a child very differently. They become “pre-seniors” in my brain and we all know what that means…a comm flow. They are fair game! 

I've seen every step of my daughter’s high school experience through an admission lens. I can't help it! Transcripts, course selections, meeting with the high school counselor, extracurricular activity choices, teacher conferences.... I see all of these things as both a parent and as an admission professional. And I haven’t even mentioned the college mail.

I clearly remember the first piece of mail my daughter got. I walked to the mailbox, reached in and pulled out a postcard from a private college in Iowa. Confusion set in. Why were they mailing me? The markets have been tough. Was this a strategic tactic to mess with my mind? Then I saw daughter's name printed right there on the postcard. The parent side kicked in and it was as if I'd been hit in the stomach. (Insert all the parental clichés here.) How could my sweet baby girl, who I'd seemingly only brought home from the hospital yesterday, ever leave home and go to college?

But then, just as quickly, it was as if the mailbox grew arms and slapped the admission professional me upside the back of my head. She's a ninth grader. They are mailing to 9th graders. Ugh! I'm not mailing to 9th graders. Should I be? Am I missing this segment of the market? How many 9th grade names do we have in the system? How much budget will it take for a 9th grade mail flow? The admission professional side of me was wide awake staring at that mailbox and feeling a little competitive. Then it happened, Admission Me and Mom Me had a moment -- how dare they be the first college to send my sweet baby mail? She's mine. I should have sent her the first piece of college mail.

Admittedly, I understand if Sybil comes to mind. But sometimes I feel like two truly different people going through this wonderful high school-to-college experience. That clash between Mom and Admission Professional hits fast and hard. Like the time my daughter asked how many AP classes she should be taking and Admission Me blurted out, "It depends, are you going to Harvard?" I was serious. Dead serious. And as my sweet baby girl blinked her blue eyes back at me, the Mom Me shoved her way to the front and told her that ultimately it was her decision, but I wanted her to learn to challenge herself, while maintaining a healthy balance of coursework and extracurricular activities, because high school is about having fun. 

I know I'll continue to have these Admission vs Mom moments. My daughter is only half way through high school but I'm reminded every night as I sift through the postcards that this is really going to happen and - just like my Pinterest board- isn't that the idea? We parents spend countless hours and years planning for the most significant project of our lives - developing competent, content, motivated children we hope turn into good citizens as adults. And ultimately, we know how that turns out. The most wonderful project of our lives will no longer be in our homes every day, but rather shared with the whole world and a college of their choice.  

And I know another college admission person will eventually see my daughter through their lens. We've all felt the tug of pride over “our” college students. That student worker or that recruit who always stops by your office to say “Hi.” I can't wait for my child, my most precious project, to experience that special bond between college employee and herself. Yet, just like when one of you got to her mailbox first, I'll also be just a little bit jealous that it isn’t me.

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- Tuesday, May 15, 2018

You sure hit the nail on the head. I think of this often and it is so true as an Admissions professional, we see it from both sides. This time of year gets me every time.

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