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Dear College Admissions

Dear College Admissions:

My children are currently sixteen and thirteen and in tenth and seventh grades. This means the amount of time I have them at home is starting to decrease to anxiety provoking levels.

In fact, out of curiosity, I calculated it, and my tenth grader goes to college in approximately 912 days. That isn’t a lot of time.

I find this very distressing. I’m sure some of you are parents, and completely understand where I’m coming from.

Life is going by quite quickly, and I want to enjoy the fleeting time I have left with my children. I want to make memories and have fun together.

A lot.

That’s where you come into the picture. You’re causing some issues for me.

Since you expect “perfect” students to apply to your colleges, and because there are only twenty-four hours in a day, one almost has to choose.

Let me spell it out for you:

Do I allow my kids to take honors and AP classes that will load them up with a ridiculous amount of homework causing them to feel like they have to study all the time?


Do I let them take a more “relaxed” schedule? One that provides time for family outings, fun trips, all sorts of entertainment, and actually lets them have time to still be children. Since they actually are still children.

Well, we’ve gone with the second option.

I know some of you won’t be impressed with our decision.

Dear college admissions: Why do we have to choose?

Dear college admissions: Why do we have to choose?

In fact, some of you will be significantly unimpressed with our choice to allow our daughters to have a balanced life. Time for family and friends, actives they want to do instead of trying to pad a college application, and going to sleep at a decent hour.

I fully appreciate there are some kids who can take the hardest classes and still have a balanced life. To these people, I say, “Go for it.” More power to you.

I’ve been told our decision has already taken some of our biggest and best named schools off the table. But here’s the thing: I don’t care.

I don’t care that my kids won’t be able to get into a Ivy league college. I don’t care that I can’t brag in the carpool line about the classes they’re taking. I don’t care that their schedules aren’t considered “the most challenging.”

But here’s what I do care about: My kids are kind and honest people. Happy people who have compassion for others, and they want to spend time with our family. They have time to sit and do nothing, spend time with friends (when they have time) and are developing hobbies that will last a lifetime.

These are the things that really matter. To me. To our family.

In fact, I’m actually thinking we don’t want our kids to go to a college that only wants “perfect” children. Because they aren’t perfect, the world isn’t perfect, and life isn’t perfect. So, why would I want to send my daughters to a place that prides itself on only having “perfect” people attend it?

I don’t have all the answers. But what I know for sure, is that in two years, and then again in five, it will be game over. I don’t think we’ll ever regret the time we spent with our daughters.

Find meaning each day,



  1. margaret harrison on September 22, 2015 at 8:55 am

    I love this Dara. And in trying to be perfect they might just miss their very best path that is waiting for them. Love your voice!

    • Dara Kurtz on September 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks, I would never want them to miss their very best path. Wonderful thought.

  2. Charlie Massler on September 22, 2015 at 9:28 am

    One additional consideration must be – what do the children want to do? Children at the ages you discuss have strong and often well considered ‘wants’ that must be factored into the child-parent / family decision making process. Even as ‘all knowing’ parents, we do not have all the answers.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      You’re so right. Sometimes I think parents force their kids to do what they want their child to do, not what the child wants. And guess what? The child is actually the one who has to do the work.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      I don’t have all the answers, that’s for sure. But good perspective!

  3. Beth Anne Foess on September 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    AMEN! We had this same dilemma when our son entered high school. His freshman year he had honors geometry and biology. It was miserable. That was what it took for us to realize the value of happiness over the value of academic bragging rights. He’s now a senior (?) and I think we did ok. This year he is taking an AP history class because he WANTS to. I’m so glad I read this. I know he won’t be eligible to go to the top schools but in the end he has been able to breathe a little easier and learn for the love of learning.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      I agree with what you did, 100%. Your son probably enjoyed his high school experience a lot more, because of the decisions you made. And that’s important. I’ll choose happiness over the value of academic bragging rights any day!

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Being able to breathe a little easier and learn for the love of learning is important. Good for you!

  4. Joan Woodard on September 22, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    With tears in my eyes I agreed wholeheartedly. Dara thank you for writing what is in so many of our hearts.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      It’s all about keeping the big picture in our minds, and not getting stressed out over the little things.

  5. K. Wood on September 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    As a teacher, I have watched a lot of kids struggle to find balance. As a parent, I’m a firm believer in a balanced life! WAY TO GO, Dara! And by the way, I have never seen your oldest daughter without a smile – she clearly enjoys life and strives to make each day a happy day!

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      It’s hard for all of us to find balance, but we have to strive to find it. For us and our kids!

  6. Megan W on September 25, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Love this short, simple, and totally to the point blog! I have 3 sons, one of whom is a senior. He’s smart (of course I think so!) but not the kid who should be loaded up on difficult courses and too many activities. I got to the point where I realized he’s a great guy and he’ll get into college somewhere and he will love it and he will have a great life. My 2nd son wants to push himself to the extreme and, so far, it works. He excels academically and should be challenged. My third son lives life on his own terms. As the third, I just enjoy him and I’m so curious to see the person he evolves into, already knowing he’s not going to take the traditional path to get there.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      I love your thoughts, and every child is different. We have to make the best decisions for our families and kids, and recognize that every child can’t fit into a perfect box.

  7. Bee Zub on September 26, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Question: If 50,000 high school students apply to a place with 2,500 slots, how you would select? Would you do it randomly? Would you pass over more accomplished students for lesser accomplished? This post seems to be more about entitlement than anything. How dare a college overlook my kids, even though they aren’t among those who’ve dedicated themselves to accomplishment?

    • Dara Kurtz on September 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks for your perspective. I don’t have all the answers. We just have to make the best decisions for our families, and have faith that it will all work out in the end. .