Tuesday, June 05, 2018

What are Katie's college plans?

Katie graduates from high school this Sunday.  She is ready to be done.  She has tried her very best in her high school years.  We are so proud of her.

Katie took three AP classes( which she passed and scored well), scored in the upper 20's for her ACT, was one of six Verona representatives for Leadership Madison, participated in MUN (and worked super hard), she has a 3.8 GPA, took college French for her 4th year and got an A, she has volunteered for charities and for in the theater.

I am not telling you this to brag.
I am telling you this because all of this was not good enough to get in to the colleges she wanted to go to.

She was rejected by all of the selective schools she applied to.
She applied to these schools because of their curriculum, diversity, international flare and cost.
(100% need based aide).

She applied to the University of Wisconsin.  She was wait listed.

She applied to two other schools, one here in town and one in Minnesota.
She was accepted by these two schools.  But the local school would still cost 20,000 while living at home, and the Minnesota school was a last minute idea...and her heart was not into it.

So four years of doing everything she could do to get into college...a college she could afford,
was for naught.

She is planning on taking a gap year and trying to figure out what to do next.
She is interested in traveling, volunteering, working and learning.

She is positive and hopeful.

I am not taking it so well.  I am sad for her and it is the thing I mull over at 4:00 am when I wake up.

I am trying to believe that this is for the best.

I'm not sure how long I will leave this up.  I'm not sure Katie would approve.
This is the best I can do. Can't add less details without being terribly vague.

Katie is not interested in most of my suggestions.
I really don't like having this big open space in her life.
But it's not my life and I will keep loving her and encouraging her, when she will listen.

But this weekend will be a big blast because Emma and James and Matthew and Melinda are coming to town to celebrate with Katie.  We will have a house full of love and children and I just can not wait.

Patrick and Shelby and Dottie are doing great!!

My baby.
Our Quiet Life baby.
High school graduate.
We are incredibly proud of the young lady she is.

All will be well.




  1. I can relate. We have not found the college situation to be remotely easy. Our daughter stayed home and took a year of community college. It's affordable and gave her a year to adjust and figure life out. Also, in Maryland, if you graduate from community College you can get into the state schools. It's an "easy" in. Except people can be a little mean about it. Blessings to all of you as you figure this out.

    1. Thank you Beth! Wishing your family the best!

  2. I've been reading you long enough that I still kind of think of you as homeschoolers. Maybe consider Katie is going to homeschool herself in life for a year. My baby is a year younger than she is, and he is very bright but not a great student. He is now in a school where he gets work study credit, and having a job has been the best thing for him in many ways. He wants to take a gap year, too, but it's hard seeing his friends going to college and he's just not there yet. You say you are trying to believe it is for the best. I think you will get there. :-) Katie is a smart and well-loved human who will accomplish much in the world - and she is in the driver's seat now.

    1. Thank you BeeBelle. She is such a good girl. I have to be patient.

  3. Praying, believing, and yes, all shall be well. But this is a tough time, for sure. Hugs.

    I'm so happy about family celebration, what a joy that will be!

    Congratulations to Katie! I'm full of admiration for her wonderful achievements and experiences.

  4. Thank you so much, Susan.

  5. I'm so sorry for the disappointment. But all those things Katie did to try to get in to a college of her choice are NOT 'for naught.' They are all things that have helped her develop in to who she is, and will help in whatever she ends up doing. It's so hard when things do not go as we plan. I'm going to be praying that Katie continues to grow into a beautiful, strong young woman, and I will pray that you find comfort and peace in whatever it is she decides to do. Growing kids is hard!!!

  6. I have loved watching Katie grow through your blog into a beautiful, smart and capable young woman. I think God has a plan for us when things don't go as we wish. I hope that she can seek her own path and find what is just the right fit for her. I am sure she has many gifts to give the world and will find just the right next step that will help her move forward on her great life journey. Don't lose heart Mama - it will be well. Enjoy your wonderful graduation celebration with your family coming home. I have so loved reading your blog. :)

    1. Thank you Jana, for your kind words and encouragement.

  7. My Seth graduated just 2 weeks ago...so hard to watch the last one grow up and move on to the next phase of their lives. All will be well..
    They need to stretch their wings and fly...and always have a safe nest(home) to return to.
    Congratulations Katie!!

  8. Congratulations, Katie! You have done well. Prayers the Lord will show you His perfect plan for your future.

    Donna, I so understand your angst. Two of my kids had a gap year. They worked and saved and then went on to college. Right now, my youngest two are living at home and attending the local community college because of finances. One will be an RN by the end of the year. ☺ Keep the faith, it will all work out.

    1. Thank you for sharing your family story. Thank you all for your encouraging words!

  9. I too was not accepted to any of the colleges I wanted to attend. I ended up at a college I didn’t like and I transferred three times before I settled and graduated. I ended up going for a second bachelors degree because my first was not something I cared about, rather just done to get a degree. I am now 30 years old and 10 months away from getting my doctorate in Nursing. If I had a gap year, maybe I could have figured out what I truly wanted to do instead of settling for a school I knew I didn’t want to attend getting a degree I’ll never use. Hang in there, momma. It all happens for a reason and she will find her way.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Megan! Congrats on your Dr. That's amazing!!! Well done!

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  11. There are so many thoughts going through my mind that echo the other comments above... just want to say that I share your angst and sadness and trepidation about 'next steps' in my own children's current situations. Know that I'm thinking of you and praying for you.
    -- mary from wheaton

  12. I remember the anxiety and angst that came with my childrens' graduations and the college application process. Prayers up for you and Katie. Isaiah 41:10

  13. Hi Donna,
    Congrats to Katie on her high school graduation. And congrats to you.

    I understand the feelings you expressed about Katie's future. It can be hard when things don't go as expected. She worked hard, and yet she didn't see a path forward to a college she wanted to go to the way others saw a path forward.

    My husband is a high school teacher who teaches seniors. He has many stories of kids who went off to expensive colleges only to come back in a month, a week, a few days (true story!) telling their parents it wasn't the right fit.

    He's also had many kids who have taken a gap year, and it's been a good thing. It's a year to be in the adult world to see what could be a good fit career-wise, to take "fun" classes at the local community college, to take a breath.

    Often, that gap year has made the kids more focused when they do find the right college the next year.

    Neither of my kids took the traditional path of going off to college right after high school. As a mom, I was a little wistful that there would never be that moment for them (or for me).

    I believe that your Katie will ultimately find a school that will be a good fit for her. You've raised an amazing daughter. It's been a privilege to read about it and catch glimpses here on your blog.

    1. Thank you for sharing your husband's experiences with gap year kiddos.
      I hope it's just what she needs to find a real focus.

  14. Donna, First big congrats to Emma on her marriage.
    As for Katie, I think she's wise to take a gap year. Im sorry she did not get into the schools she wanted to consider. THeir LOSS! I did not get into Notre Dame , my best friends did, and it was difficult to accept. Turns out , as LIfe does, that it wouldnt have been right for me anyhow. As you know Al graduated early from HS. could have gone to many schools but felt the need to stay home. Going tocommunity college and nursing was the right decision for the world. They got a great smart nurse. She was more comfortable with all the adults in Community college. Zach knew DePaul was his choice. (he did not get into UW madison either after applying) I wanted him to go to Marquette. Im glad i let my kids make their own decisions about college.
    Aslong as Katie is volunteering or working, she is growing and making connections. Perhaps she could be a puppy raiser in her year off . leader dogs for the blind is always looking for puppy raisers for a year. She has to listen to her heart. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is not the conventional thing to do. Give her a hug for me. Give you a hug from me.

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Thank you for the great note. Im so happy to hear from you. You are wise and always a comfort to me. Here is a hug for you ((kathyb))

  15. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Try not to absorb the stress! we too have a 2018 graduate, also our baby. Didn't everyone have a baby in 2000. We too are also (maybe) taking a gap year? A lot can happen over the summer, don't lose heart, Donna, it could be the best year of her life and what if you get a bonus year with your baby? xoxo

    1. The best year of her life. I like that.

  16. Hi Donna,

    I started reading the blog when I was in college and Katie maybe 10 or 11, though I rarely comment. As somebody who's not that far removed from the process, a few thought that I hope might be helpful:

    First, I second what several people have said above - that all of the accomplishments you listed are something that Katie and you *should* brag about. They're a big deal, and she's learned a lot!

    Second, while I know it's probably cold comfort right now, there is a lot of research that suggests that students who take gap years actually do better in college than students who go straight on (see: https://www.thecut.com/2016/05/you-should-be-jealous-of-malia-obama.html).

    Third, and I mean this as kindly as I can, I think you're right to wonder about if Katie would be OK with this being up, and I'd recommend asking her. Here's why: During spring break of my senior year of college, I was struggling mightily to find a job for after graduation and striking out on every count. My wonderful mother took me on a girls weekend trip to the mountains, and the two of us stayed at a little family B&B. One morning I was coming up the stairs from our room, and overheard her talking to the B&B owners - what I heard was just this phrase: "I know she'll find something." It was meant with all the love and confidence in the world - I could hear it in her voice. But I was putting an enormous amount of pressure on myself, and I really needed her to be strong and stalwart when I didn't feel like I was, so it was hard to hear her express the worry to someone we didn't really know.

    I'm absolutely sure Katie's going to be fine and have wonderful adventures during her gap year that will serve her well in the long run. It's hard to imagine now, but I bet they'll be fond memories in the future!

    1. Here's to wonderful adventures and fond memories!

  17. All will be well. I don't know you other than through this blog and facebook posts, but it's obvious that your children have wonderful, loving parents who have guided them well. They all seem to be living interesting, diverse lives and that says a great deal about them and about you and your husband. Wherever Katie lands, whatever she does, she is a beautiful, intelligent young woman who will make you proud. She will be fine mama... all will be well!

  18. My husband works in higher ed admissions and highly recommends students attend community college and then college. For many it is a great way to get their general education classes completed and to work and figure out what they want to study. He has seen many students start right out of high school and struggle, so that can be a great path. Best wishes to Katie. God knows exactly where she is going!

  19. Dear Donna and family, first of all, I stop by here every day and have since Katie was very young, but I rarely comment, taking but no giving I know, and I’m sorry for that. Second, congratulations on all the wonderful things that have happened and are happening in your family’s lives! Emma’s marriage, darling and oh-so-wanted-and-cherished Dottie, and now Katie’s graduation! To quote from Matthew, Well done, thou good and faithful servant(s)!

    I am retired now from a profession that was perfect for me, my aptitude, my personality, and my sensibilities, which was as a court reporter. I came to that profession, which, by the way, was very good to me financially then and now in retirement because my employment was in the superior courts of Arizona and California and federal court the last 18 years before retirement. I came to my profession in a roundabout way and very non-traditional. I graduated from high school a semester early, and my parents insisted that I start college right away for fear that I’d end up doing nothing as I didn’t really have much ambition past just getting out of high school. So I went to community college and took classes that I wasn’t much interested in just because I had to in order to live at home rent-free. Still no ambition!

    One day I met a young man a few years older than me who had just gotten out of the Navy and was starting college on the GI Bill (a leftover from WW2 and the Vietnam war - this was 1974, and I was 21) and we got to talking and he said that he had absolutely no ambition after he finished high school either and that was why he enlisted in the Navy. He also told me that while in the Navy he traveled and grew up and learned more about the world and compassion than he ever could have otherwise. Then he said the fateful words to me: Debbie, why don’t you join the Navy?

    At that moment I had a physical sensation in my body that I’ve always remembered vividly, kind of like an electric shock of knowing that that was my perfect path. To make a very long story a bit shorter, several months later, in December of 1974 I joined the Navy, much to my parents’, siblings’, aunts’, uncles’, cousins’, and grandparents’ dismay. It was hard, and I couldn’t just leave when it was hard and frustrating, but the thing is that everything that that young man told me came true for me also; I grew up, I honorably and proudly served my country, I traveled to interesting places (Spain and Guam) met incredibly accomplished and interesting people, did important work, and discovered that there were several things I was particularly good at, so much so that a supervisor suggested court reporting as a profession when my enlistment was up. I stayed in an additional year after my original 4-year commitment to finish a project I was working on, and then got out of the Navy and started court reporting school two months later, paying for it with my small stipend from the GI Bill and cleaning houses. Court reporting school was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life - to this day it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done - but I didn’t give up and eventually finished, passed two states’ and national examinations. I went on to spend 32 years in the profession and retired at 62 a couple of years ago with a state and federal pension.

    I am not saying that joining the military is for everyone or specifically Katie; the point of this entire story-sharing is that there are many ways to succeed in life, and your lovely, kind, interesting, and brilliant daughter will find her way. It’s clear that she has learned to handle disappointment - a very valuable skill indeed, if a bit sad at times - but I have no doubt that she will see that path, or feel that electric jolt at someone’s offhand remark and know the way to go.

    From reading your blog these many years, it’s been so clear to me that you and Patrick have given your children the very best foundation they could have, and that will serve dear Katie well in the future.

    All the best you to all.
    Debbie H.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Debbie! I loved reading it! I'll pray for that electric jolt for Katie :o)
      Thank you for serving our country!
      What interesting things I'm sure you learned while being a court reporter!

  20. college and growing up really is a funny thing. none of us really know what we want, what is beat for us, even when we think we do. And I believe in a god who knows better than I, even when it doesn’t make sense. I always knew (when I was Katie’s age I thought I knew everything) that I would attend a Christian university and work with youth in some capacity. Turns out a Christian university was actually a pretty terrible fit for me, and I truly hated working with the youth I thought I loved. But I learned to love people, and I learned what is important and meaningful to me, and I met Matthew (and accrued an insane amount of debt). My point is, my plan... it wasn’t what was to be. And I am still trying to decide what my future will be, how my plans will work into something different entirely. And I am doing okay. To quote The sound of music “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” And the window might have been meant to be the door all along.

    1. thank you for sharing Melinda. the long and winding road.

  21. I am homeschooling my two teens and fighting anxiety about their future.
    They are good students and good girls but don't understand what is at stake with the ACT etc. I wish you could blog like this more, it helps the rest of us. For Katie...Moody Bible Institute?

    1. I will try to share more about Katie's college prep.
      You know Emma was wait listed for one year to Moody. Her school of choice.
      She was able to save one whole year "tuition" while working that year.

  22. Sadly, I hear this more and more. The adoption of honors and IB that give kids ridiculously high GPAs upwards of 7.x and 8.x make it hard for great students with high traditional GPAs to get accepted. I hope she has a fantastic gap year!

  23. I saw earlier this week (and I so wish I could find the article and share), someone super well respected, recommending that all kids take a gap year -- that they will be without question better students for it and better members of their school communities as a result. I have found so frequently in life that the biggest disappointments in life have come when my own plans have not panned out. And yet, in each and every instance, God has gone before me and made the plan for my life better than the one that I had dreamed up. May the disappointment of the moment soon pass as new doors begin to open for her.

  24. I wish our son had taken a gap year. He was much too immature for college and got into a fraternity and partied all the time, unbeknownst to his parents. He left college, worked at Walt Disney World for a few months and asked to come back home to live, but his father said, "No." A few months later, he joined the Air Force. Best thing to happen to him. He grew up, went back to college and now has a very well paying job. He's taking us to Walt Disney World for our fiftieth wedding anniversary! I'm just saying, the best laid plans are not always going to happen like one hopes they will, but it all works out in the end if we have faith.

  25. Kathy2:50 PM

    Hello Donna! I loved the honesty of your post. I was a non-traditional student and it was a long journey to a degree, something I still wonder the purpose of, even while knowing I went because God sent me.

    Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

    A directive I heard early in my years after high school. While it has been hard to follow at times, I didn't always listen, and have lived through consequences, when I do trust, life is better. Not easier, just better.

    That verse was and has become even more, my life verse. It's something to consider over and over, just trusting. Leave the wondering alone and just trust. Isn't that sometimes the hardest part of following the Lord?

    I will pray for you and your family, as I do often for all these wonderful people I only know through their words. God is SO good, we only need to notice.


  26. Anonymous11:14 AM

    My only child is 21. She was always a wonderful student, honor roll etc. She got a 19 on her ATC, terrible, she wouldn't take it again. We moved a lot while she was in school. She took a gap year and worked and saved a good amount of money. She had no idea on what she wanted to do or be as an adult. She took classes on an on-line college for the last 3 semesters to get the basics out of the way but she still has very little ambition on what to take for a degree. Her grades are once again good, I think her GPA is 3.7 out of 4.0. Right now we are trying to get her into a local community college for one more year then she will hopefully transfer to one of two universities that are in driving distance. I am shocked Katie wasn't accepted with all of her accomplishments, was it because she was looking for a scholarship? If tuition was being paid for do you think she would have been accepted? My daughter has accomplished much less but luckily her great grandmother left her enough money to pay for those two years at a university. What ever does happen, Katie will be fine, she is such a bright girl!

  27. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Please congratulate Katie on graduating high school!!!
    Wishing her the best of luck.
    I went to a community college for two years (to get some of my basics out of the way) and then transferred to a university. I'm so glad I did because it gave me time to think about what I wanted in life.

  28. Anonymous3:20 PM

    Donna, I have been reading your blog since you were associated with The Pioneer Woman.

    Recently, there was some very good information about college costs in the online version of The New York Times that I thought might be of interest to you and Katie.



  29. It will 100% be well. Gap years are so common as are pg years (a year at a boarding school). It makes so much more sense to take a year, figure out the next move, and reapply than it does to go somewhere just 'cause. I totally understand the worry and disappointment but I promise it'll all be okay. xoxo

  30. I feel your pain -I have been following your blog for awhile. My daughter is one year younger than Katie- so we will be facing the same stage in life next year. I fear that my girl Kristen, may suffer the same fate. She is an excellent student, many APs, high GPA, very involved- will even be Editor in Chief of her Yearbook. So far her ACT/SAT score have been good (not outstanding). She wants to go to the University of Florida, which incredibly has become a very difficult school to get into (if you live in State) out of State students have a much lower standard for admission- it is all about the money$$. I know of many excellent students who were wait-listed or declined from our big State school. We are hopeful, but realistic. I truly appreciate your honesty about this and have found comfort in some of the comments above. It can be very difficult when life is unfair to our sweet children. But like we Cuban's say in South Florida "pa'lante y con fe"= keep moving forward with faith!

  31. If UW is like Univ of Michigan-tell Katie not to worry. I went to UofM-dearborn & we had a way higer phd to student ratio. Half the classes in ann arbor are taught by ta's. the Michigan snob thing is really not all that. Prol not the UW thing either. i think my niece went to UW Madison? Is that the same? She's a burnt out nurse. so it's really not the school. And maybe she'll get in after the waitlist?

  32. Yes, everything will be all right. I know your heart hurts for her. But God loves her more and knows what's in her future. I have to remind myself of that over and over again as my youngest gets ready to face his future in a couple of years. Those 4 a.m. my-brain-won't-let-me-go-back-to-sleep wake-up calls are for the birds. I start praying or singing praise songs in my head and that helps some. Praying for clear direction for Katie and peace for you. I can't wait to see what unfolds!

    (In our state we have lottery based college scholarships. If it weren't for those, my older two would not have been able to afford college at all.)

  33. I forgot to ask if there is anything like a Bridge program in your state? My son went to a technical college for the first two years and "bridged" over to USC (South Carolina ;)) as a computer engineer student. He had an adviser at the university who kept him on track as to what courses he needed to take to transfer into his chosen field. Those first two years were covered by lottery scholarship money and he saved for the last two years at the university. Even without lottery money it is much cheaper and is a more intimate learning environment. Maybe something to look into?

  34. Katie has such a fun filled out going personality, send her to PW in OK to work and save $$ for a year. BTW congratulations on graduating high school :)

  35. Anonymous11:13 AM

    My Katie is also a 2018 high school graduate, so I understand the stress that comes with the application process, deciding where to go to college and what to study, and all that goes into trying to figure out those next steps. Although my daughter is going to college in the fall, the way it all played out is different than I first imagined. I think it will be good, but I still worry. I’m choosing to trust that God has led her to this school and that He will guide her to the career, friends, church, ministry, etc. that He designed her for.

    It has been a delight to see your Katie grow up on the blog, (I think I started reading when both of our Katies were around 5 years old :-)), and she has excelled in many areas and grown into a lovely young woman. God is not thrown off by this change of course. He’s got your girl and this gap year is part of His good plans for her. I’ll be praying He will encourage your heart and give you peace. This could be a great year for both of you. ~Jeremiah 29:11
    Blessings to you!

  36. What an exciting opportunity! Katie can step off the trail so many others are taking and instead walk along a less-trod path. She will see and do amazing things! Sending her congratulations on graduation and an impressive high school record!

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