December Sunday Afternoon in New England

When I returned home Sunday at about noon, I quickly pulled on some warm clothing and went back out to finish off raking the leaves. We’re blessed and cursed by huge Norway maples, which provide wonderful shade in the summer, and crazy piles of leaves in the fall. A few bags filled, and fingers frozen, I headed back inside.

After lunch, I settled down to read Fletcher applications. Every few files, I heard a shout that my 17-year-old needed me. More accurately, he needed my credit card so that he could submit his college applications. We sent out three, and I felt equally anxious on his behalf each time we hit the submit button. I’m prone to post-decision remorse, which is hard to suppress even when it’s someone else’s business.

The contrast between college essays and grad school essays is particularly interesting. I see a major difference in the thinking that goes into each. The 17-year-olds are trying to make sense of their own lives – who am I, and who do I want to be? Applicants to Fletcher have already accomplished a great deal, and are considering their future. They have done much more that reflects their own choices and effort. I know that writing the personal statement for Fletcher or similar schools can be very difficult; the best essays reflect considerable thought and crisp prose. But I’d still guess that the college applicants are going through a far more angst-ridden soul-searching process. After all, if a grad school applicant needs to soul search to that degree, it’s probably not the right time for grad school.

Having raked the leaves, paid the application fees, and read a bunch of Fletcher applications, I went on with my evening. Not long after dark, the snow began to fall. It may not be unique to New England, but it seems to me characteristic of the region, that we can have two seasons in a single day. The newly-raked autumn leaves, in their piles and bags, covered with the first snow of the winter.

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