Essay : That time of year
This is a time of year when many parents of graduating seniors and students returning to college, and looking for financial support, literally pull their hair out. All I have heard over the years are excruciating accounts, laced with groans, over the process of applying for financial aid and scholarships, to help get our kids a great education without ending up more firmly fixed in the poorhouse than most of us are already. I dreaded the process.
My son and I began filling out applications and writing essays to meet college deadlines months ago. Applications for local scholarships, of which there are many, include an intimidating amount of paperwork. But, we organized everything and chipped away at it bit by bit.
What appeared to be a Mt. Everest of dread at the beginning became one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every day after work, my son and I spent the evening together reflecting on his accomplishments, discussing his goals, discovering the qualities and character traits that made him unique and worthy of the scholarship whose application lay on the table in front of him. We travelled back in time to examine the great person he had become in the past eighteen years. We looked ahead optimistically to imagine the good and accomplished man he would become, aided by our Island community that so generously supports the higher education of our youth. We had fun creating what we were certain would be Pulitzer Prize-winning essays.
I was proud of the person with whom I sat doing this work. I was sad to realize that he will leave soon to go on to bigger things. I comforted myself, recognizing the confidence and support that has encouraged him to leave this safe and comforting place and begin his own journey. In the end, I am thankful to have passed through the daunting process of filling out applications, writing essays, and getting my taxes done on time to get my son all the help he can gather, to continue building a wonderful life of his own. The experience brought me closer to my son than, perhaps, I have ever been.
So, I thank all of the many individuals and organizations that offer these scholarships to our promising sons and daughters. And, besides, each of us can benefit from just the application process alone.
Christine Todd lives in Oak Bluffs. She is director of development for YMCA of Martha's Vineyard.