Over the last few years, the media has been telling us that America is a society where, to be blunt, kids are a lot slower to become independent than they used to be. Apparently it’s no big deal to graduate from college and move right back in with your parents for a few more years, often paying no rent. Just like when you were in high school, Mommy has a hot breakfast for you on the table when you roll out of bed at 10 a.m. Except back then, you were actually in school at 10 a.m. Now at 10 a.m., you’re halfheartedly cracking open the Classifieds looking for a company who thinks a degree in art history and comparative literature may qualify you for a job. Fortune magazine recently ran a story about parents attending job interviews with their children. And I don’t mean waiting outside in the lobby; I mean actually sitting next to their sons and daughters at the job interviews themselves. I’m not kidding.
ANYWAY… you can see where we’re going with this. Moms and Dads are doing quite a few things for their adult children these days that, not so long ago, were considered to be the jobs of the children themselves. I had always assumed that, despite this disturbing societal shift, all students and parents still knew that scholarship applications were still 100% the responsibility of the student, not the parents. But on a couple of occasions, I have been proven wrong.
I once tore open an envelope to find a two-page (front and back) hand-written letter from the mother of a high-school senior, who made the case for why her daughter should receive our scholarship. Now, I am not a cold-hearted person nor a closed-minded one; I read the entire letter before I made up my mind. When you’ve read as many thousand scholarship applications as I have, you know there are a lot of strange situations out there that you haven’t thought of. Thousands of children are paralyzed and cannot write or type; others are blind, etc. So you have to have an open mind, at least at first.
However, that was not the case here. The mother explained that she’d tried to get her daughter to sit down and do the applications, but that she just couldn’t get around to it because of all the other extracurricular activities she was involved with. This is the wrong thing to tell a person who gets hundreds of essays daily, and at all hours of the night, from students who are involved in all those same activities yet still find the time to complete their own scholarship applications without their mothers’ help.
Not only that, but the mother’s long letter covered very little about her daughter; mostly, it just talked about how badly she needed the money to go to school. I’ll always remember that one, obviously – it isn’t every day that a mother applies in place of the student – but I also remember it because it was sad. How desperate did that mom have to be in order to pick up a pen and paper and write out a two-page letter, essentially begging for us to send her daughter money?