To our surprise our son was not accepted to UMass in the fall of his would be freshman year. He was waitlisted for the spring semester. This came as a shock to us all at first but ended up being the best thing that could have happened.
When he first opened the letter and read it, I panicked and said, “Well, you’re just going to have to pick another school”. Honestly, what worried me the most was the fact that he was actually contemplating NOT going to college at all after high school graduation. I thought, if he didn’t get into UMass with his classmates (which was his #1 pick), this would probably be the end of the possibility of him attending college altogether. UMass Amherst has a policy that any freshman waitlisted for September admission is guaranteed second semester admission, but he wasn’t sure it was worth the wait. We accepted the second semester admission but wondered if he would really go when the time arrived.
Once the realization settled in and we discussed it as a family, he realized he would have to work full time while not in school. He didn’t complain because he had a summer job that he really liked, working on a local farm. By November, after seven months of living at home with mom and dad, getting up for work every day, and missing all his friends who were away at schools, joining UMass in January started to look like a good idea.
As a parent, I enjoyed having him around, but, my husband and I knew college had to be in the cards. One day I said to him, “you know, this is what it would be like, you’d have to work and live at home until you can afford a place of your own.” That was the end! – by the time January came around, he was ready to go – thank goodness! He was able to save some money for college, but most importantly he was emotionally ready to embark on this wonderful journey.
Because he started second semester, other students were already settled into their routine so as a student starting halfway through, it was tough. He was assigned to a particular hall and roommate without having a choice. The match was not perfect but I think guys let things roll more than girls do, so we made it through. After that, he made friends, moved into a quad and now has moved off campus. He has grown very independent through this time and as I said in the beginning – this experience ended up being the best thing that could have happened.
If your student is waitlisted for fall admission, give serious consideration to the spring admission option and jointly agree on how they will spend the time in between High School graduation and leaving for school. Whether it is working, taking community college classes, traveling, or volunteering, having a game plan could make this unexpected delay a really positive experience.
Pam Meoli is the mother of a Sustainable Food & Farming major student, class of 2018