Application Season

‘Tis the season for applications at the Crowley home.  My daughter is applying to high school and my son is applying to college.  I am cooking a lot of food.  When my kids hunker down to do extended schoolwork or in this case, extended applications, I function like a combination cheerleader and short-order cook.  I check on my kids occasionally, talk them off the ledge if they are despairing, and provide liberal servings of turkey and grilled cheese sandwiches and steak fajitas.  This gives my son and daughter the strength to complete their tasks and I feel immense satisfaction that I am contributing on some level to their success.

Mention the word “application” and parents of teens shudder.  In my day, I applied to two colleges.  I was going to apply to a third, but the essay seemed like too much trouble and I felt confident that I would be accepted to one of my first two choices.  Times have changed.  My son will probably apply to nine colleges, which is considered on the low side.  The common application AKA “the common app” is supposed to alleviate some of the tedious data entry, but only four of the colleges to which he is applying accept the common app.

Some of the application questions elude me.  For example, my daughter has been asked to identify her favorite quote.   If I were asked this question, I would be dumbstruck.  The ability to summon up a favorite quotation represents a major hole in my education.  I can tell you the lyrics of a number of Top 40 songs that ruled the charts between 1970 and 1981 especially any Carly Simon, James Taylor or Carole King hits.  I specialize in these three artists’ recordings.

But I was never asked to memorize a single literary quote in my long education.  Now it’s too late because my memory is shot.  Anything from my life that I remember took place between the ages of 10 and 21.  I don’t know what happened to my brain after that, but I never learned all the words to a favorite song again, let alone a poem or quote from literature.

Sometimes I feel intimidated when I read a book that uses a lot of quotes from other sources.  I wonder, “Do these authors annotate everything they read and if so, where do they find the time, or do they have amazing memories, or do they just Google a lot?”   Personally, I Google a lot.  I’m not proud of this, but let’s face it, everyone does it.  I couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag without Google and my virtual Thesaurus.

I do have a few sayings that I draw upon, and naturally they’re from my mother who could quote Shakespeare if prompted, even though her daughter can’t.   They’re more like Patsy proverbs because that was my mom’s name and her words communicated useful thoughts like a proverb does.   She often told me, “Simplicity is the key to style,” advice I have taken to the extreme at times.

My mom also told me “not to get attached to material things,” counsel that I did not appreciate when it was dispensed but has carried me through many a disappointment.

I think if admissions officers really want to understand the essence of a student, they should ask them to identify and interpret a memorable quote from a parent or caregiver.   The variety of responses would open up a Pandora’s Box of emotions.  One thing I know for sure, you can’t Google those memories.

Here’s one of my favorite songs from Carole King.  I could sing this song in my sleep and probably have, just in case you were wondering.


9 responses to “Application Season

  • Joanne Desmond

    Good luck with all the “apps”, thanks God I am not 18 (or 13) now, how can a 13 year old have a favorite quote??? It is a miracle I made it through school, but I do remember in school going with you to the Warehouse on Ocean Avenue buying albums (I think a few Carole King’s).


  • alicia donahue silvia

    In April when the rain doth fall
    And pierce the drought to the root and all….
    (or something like that)

    Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
    Junior English at SRA
    One of many passages you and I had to memorize…do those count as quotes?
    XO and Good luck to the Crowleys with thier apps!

  • Cici Lee

    Nancy you are an awesome Mom and awesome writer! I remember my kids going through this so well! The worst part is waiting for the responses! I am sure you children will do well!

  • Janet Portman Wetter

    Nancy… I just realized that I should reply to your “blogroll”, instead of e-mailing you directly! It’s fun to read the replies from others. O.K… Alicia’s literary mind and memory are unquestionably superior to mine! In my youth I found relevance in the lyrical prose and like you, Nancy, could sing very song written by Carol King, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel (I was’t a big fan of Carly Simon).
    As for Kerry and Meg’s applications… please wish them luck!! The memory of this process is too fresh and still provokes mental and emotional fatigue! I, too, prepared a lot of food and brewed tons of tea! xoxo Janet

  • Kim Blue

    Hey Nancy,
    I’m right there with you. Except we did the high school thing last year (two at one time would put me in the hospital!) Well, you should feel encouraged that your kids are at least WORKING on their apps. Morgan, as usual, will wait until two days before they are due, and in the meantime the rest of my hair will turn gray!!!

    Loved the Carole King song. Let’s hope “It’s too late” has no relevance as it relates to school applications! Jackson Browne and Crosby Stills Nash were big time favs of mine in those days, and the cool thing is that Morgan LOVES alot of my old favorites. That makes me feel slightly less uncool.

    I had to laugh when I saw Alicia’s post about the Canterbury prologue. We had to memorize the original “olde” English version… which sounded like a foreign language. I can vaguely recall the rhythm of the poem, but have virtually no recollection of the words…

    Thanks for doing these blogs… they’re wonderful. Hope to see you soon!

    • Nancy Hayden Crowley

      Thanks Kimmy. My son is having to memorize the Canterbury prologue right now. What a chore! I would much prefer to memorize Suite Judy Blue Eyes and I know he would too. He listens to 103.7, all my favorite oldies. He and Morgan can sign around one of Janet P.’s campfires and we’ll actually know the words. Thanks for checking in. XO

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