Shut Up & Drive

I just got back from a college tour with daughter Scout, a rising senior at Hyde-Bath. I thoroughly enjoyed the father-daughter adventure and had the same overall reaction that I had with her older sister Mahalia two years ago: they’re all nice…. maybe a little too nice.

On this venture I was especially struck by a scene I observed at one school, a university listed in the “Most Selective” category in all the guides. Scout and I were among 40+- prospective candidates and parents seated in a beautiful room. While giving the pre-tour overview, the admissions officer encouraged us to interrupt her at any time with questions. Before long a steady flow of questions followed, all with one thing in common: none of them came from the kids. There must have been a dozen questions asked before a kid stepped up to the plate. Not only that, but I observed feverish note-taking throughout, all with the very same thing in common.

My wonder mode was in serious over-drive: Shouldn’t the kids be acting like the parents?…. and vice-versa? How did things get this way? How can we bring a little “take hold and let go” into this picture? (I don’t know about you, but my parents did not accompany me on a single college visit and barely asked about it my whole senior year.) And, truth be told: Are the other parents looking at me as irresponsible because I’m not taking notes?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’m above it all. It’s just that I did this gig two years ago with Mahalia and learned something invaluable. Back then we drove all over the place and she seemed disinterested in all the schools. Then she flew out to Denver on her own, returned, and announced, “I could really see myself at U. Denver.” (She starts her sophomore year there next month.) So, what did I learn? It all boils down to two things: Shut Up & Drive.

I highly recommend this approach. Sit back and ask your son or daughter to take really good notes.

Onward, Malcolm Gauld