"Sweetie-pie, you apply to any college you want. Aim high, and don't worry about the tuition - state school, or private school - we'll find a way."
That's what my husband and I said to our daughter this time last year. I don't know what we were thinking.
Last fall, I went with Jill when she visited Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. And yowsah, that is one classy school. It's got those medieval-looking buildings and there's a fountain where Kathryn Hepburn is alleged to have cavorted in the altogether on her graduation day.
I could just imagine myself as the mother of a Bryn Mawr student. I could say, "Bryn Maawr" the way Katharine Hepburn and other truly classy broads pronounce it. I'd ride around with a "Bryn Mawr" decal on the rear window of my '94 Volvo. When I'd run into people at the supermarket, they'd say, "So, what's Jill up to these days?" I'd say, real casual like, "Oh, she's at Bryn Maawr."
My reverie was shattered at the financial aid meeting. Okay, the price to send your daughter there for one year (room, board and tuition), is 33,000 dollars. And the next year, you fork over yet another 33,000 dollars - and you repeat this financial bloodletting for four years, for a total of 132,000 dollars.
As it happens, we wouldn't qualify for a nickel of financial aid. Near as I could tell, they don't allow for living expenses for the rest of the family.
...Well, excuse me for having a mortgage.
Of course, I didn't say a word about this to Jill - I wanted her to feel free to apply wherever her heart - and her SAT scores - would take her. We would find a way.
And so, she applied to Bryn Mawr. She also applied to the University of Virginia and to Virginia Tech. Now, because we are residents of Virginia, those schools are a true bargain, barely $8,000 a year. This is the Loehmann's of higher education: quality and value.
But I know for a fact that Katharine Hepburn never cavorted in the altogether at either of those schools.
As we waited for the letters from the admissions offices to show up in our mailbox, I vacillated between hoping she'd get into Bryn Mawr - damn the cost - and thinking what a relief it would be if she'd choose UVa or Virginia Tech.
Well, my daughter got the fat envelopes from all three schools. In case you're wondering how she decided which school to choose, here's how it works when you're 17 years old: Bryn Mawr was too far away, and UVa, being right down the road from us, was too close, but Virginia Tech, 3 hours from home, was just right.
Financially speaking, I am hugely relieved. It feels like someone has just given us 100,000 dollars - that's the difference in price between a private school and a state school: 100,000 dollars.
But , jeez, I came this close to being one of those classy broads with a kid at Bryn Mawr...
And get this: I discovered that Jill knew from the get-go that she wanted to go to Tech. She only applied to UVa and Bryn Mawr so I can brag to my friends that my daughter was accepted at those schools.
Okay, everybody, this is my big moment: My daughter was accepted at UVa and Bryn Maawr, but she's goin' to Tech.