Dear College Admissions Officer: I'm A Mom Who Wants A Do-Over

by Kathryn Mayer
Originally Published: 
mom non-traditional college student
gdjukanovic / iStock

Dear College Admissions Officer of Elite Liberal Arts College That Promises to Teach Me to Think, Creatively Problem Solve, and Never Take No for an Answer:

Let’s just come out and say it: I’m an atypical applicant to your fine, über expensive ivy-covered institution, but I am so unique, so very dashing and different, so unbelievably non-traditional, that this essay most definitely deserves a coveted spot in your “maybe” pile (if and only if there is not a “if-not-now, then-when” pile).

I haven’t procured recommendations from senators, congressmen, or distinguished anyones. I have not earned a patent, nor can I swim, cook, play the oboe, sculpt, draw, design or build. I haven’t saved orphans or sent shoes to flood-ravaged countries or fed the homeless. I can’t throw a football, softball or lacrosse ball farther and faster than anyone else.

I didn’t even have great grades, as I recall. It’s been a while, a long while, since me and my ooh-la-la Sassoons sashayed down the high school hallways, but I recall being painstakingly average, and that’s a stretch.

It seems, as of late, I’ve got no marketable skills whatsoever, other than the years that bind me. You see, I’m old. Not old-old, but too old for this college essay application brain drain.

Nevertheless, here I am. Writing to you, to be placed in the incoming highly selective freshman class so that I graduate prior to Medicare kicking in—maybe.

You see, dear sirs and mesdames, I want a college do-over. (You do hire mesdames, don’t you? With 70-percent declared females in a typical undergrad student body, don’t tell me you don’t have a staff composed of 70-percent women. Just think of the money saved, paying all those women with big fat brains so much less than their testicular colleagues. It’s a novel idea to broach with your board: hire women, better bottom line, less tuition, more kids pay their loans and not bankrupt the nation—as long as our esteemed leaders don’t pass the equal pay act, which, they apparently won’t, because, they’re um, men.)

I digress. You see, years of hands-on, real-life experience shrouds my optimism. Sorry ’bout that.

I’d like to redo my college years to learn what I’m missing. It seems my skill set is limited, so says the hiring departments of every job applied for in recent months. I apparently do not have what they need, despite the fact that every online job portal floods my inbox with this message:

“Kathryn: Employers like THIS are looking for you!”

No, dear email spambot, they are sadly not.

They are looking for a younger, fresher, more malleable candidate, but they are certainly not looking for me. They want a trophy employee—younger and hipper, not the tried and true. They are not buying what my wrinkles have to offer. That is for sure.

Apparently, I am too outdated for manager or director and old enough to solicit a guffaw (I’ve heard it, even without hearing aids) for entry-level jobs that pay less than my kid gets lifeguarding, but hey, she is saving lives, and I am merely writing the words, telling stories to convince, convert, connect real people (and wallets) to your business/organization/non-profit/charity/cause.

This is not life or death, these press releases, newsletters, blogs, social media posts, menus, interviews, billboards, radio spots, video scripts, space ads, web banners, point-of-purchase displays and [insert big inhale breath here] consumer packaging, white papers, trade journal articles, grant proposals, and well, rejection letters to applicants more qualified than I, but I understand no one will actually die if they don’t receive an accurate, memorable message, so why pay more than would a 15-year-old lifeguard at the city pool.

So I want a do-over. I want to learn more, think clearer, teach higher, and do one more time, and I want to do it all within your very exclusive, very expensive ivy-covered walls. My skill set is weak, my wallet is thin, but my mind is still quite sharp, albeit a teeny-bit cynical.

Pick me. I promise not to be that mom, that return-to-college-mom who does all her homework, asks for extra credit, and ruins the curve. I won’t be her.

I’ll sit in the back, keep my mouth shut, and listen. I’ll bite my tongue when I see young women on campus full of hope and promise ready to conquer the world. I’ll encourage them to go forth and be strong, to not give up, not give in, and not go away.

Going away is what I did, and I’ve got great kids to show for it, but playing catch-up is hard, if not impossible, especially at my age. Pick me.

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