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It's April - Don't Be a Fool

Honda CR-V Key

Our son is a college junior, 1150 miles away. This is the first year he has a car with him on campus and it’s not just any car. The Honda CR-V is a car we bought as my primary car when he was two. Yes, the car is 18 years old - as is the original key. In fact, the key is so worn, that it finally wore through the key ring – which is why I was now on the phone with my son, who had just spent the last hour tearing apart his dorm room looking for the key. Likewise, I was in my kitchen rifling through the junk drawer looking for the extra keys we had made when we had a similar crisis when he was in high school. I found three extra keys and hoping that perhaps there had at one time been a fourth one, I asked feebly “Did we send you up with a back-up key? Will you check your mini-safe?”

There was no back-up. We were on to Plan B – mailing an extra key as soon as possible and hoping that it didn’t get waylaid for too long in the college mailroom, like previous perishable care packages.

Inconvenient? Yes. Solvable? Yes. Preventable? Also, yes. He should have a handy back-up.

I’m working with my high school juniors now on creating a well-balanced college list. We start by casting a wide net, doing a lot of research, and having some lay-it-all-out-on-the-table discussions. The final list will include a handy back-up (or two or three), because despite not being the well-worn obvious choice, it may be just the right fit. In other words, there’s more than one key that can start the car and get you to where you want to go.

So, don't be a fool. Make sure your list is well-balanced too. Yes, include a reach school (or two) on your list if you want to, but let’s be realistic. This year Stanford reported a 4.3% acceptance rate. Georgetown turned down more than half of its applicants with a perfect 800 on the reading and writing SAT section. I could continue, but you get the idea. When you think about the best college for you – academically, socially, and financially – be open and willing to consider all possibilities. Think about what a welcome sight that key you have tucked away could be!

As it turns out, I won’t be heading to the post office this week. My son had posted his loss on the college lost and found Facebook page, and while we were still on the phone someone posted a photo of the key now hanging out forlornly on a purple fuzzy blanket. It had been found on the quad near where my son had emptied his pockets before spinning fire with the campus circus group. (“Wait, slow down – spinning fire?” Yeah. More on that in a future blog.) He now has a new friend, and soon he’ll have a back-up key hiding in his mini-safe, just in case.

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