Over the past week, we realized that my wife is having a pretty dramatic other road experience. Three weeks ago, we packed as many of her worldly goods as would fit in our very old, rather troubled Volvo station wagon and drove from our home in Nashville, Tennessee, to Los Angeles, California, to get her ready to begin law school. This was, we thought, a rather straightforward transition to the next leg of the journey.
Perhaps this would be a good place to offer a hint o’ background to help you understand how absolutely twisted this other road has become. She applied to several schools, some stellar ones spread across the country and a humble “safety school” in her city of choice, Los Angeles. Two schools declined, four schools placed her on their wait list, and three offered her admission. Of the offers she received early in the summer, the safety school offered her a full tuition scholarship, the second included a partial scholarship, and the third included no assistance.
These offers come with deadlines, and to accept them, you have to pay a large chunk of the seat deposit (a non-refundable commitment to get them to hold that seat for you). As the summer progresses, the balance of your seat deposit becomes due. This is very understandably to discourage students from keeping all of their offers on the table while they wait to see if someone “better” wants them.
Some students are able to pay all of the seat deposits throughout the summer to keep all of their options open until they’ve heard from everyone. We… how do I say this? Well, for today, we are — financially speaking — just not those people. She had to make some hard decisions. She spent hours (adding up to weeks) comparing everything from programs to climate to middle and high schools for the children (and about a million factors in between).
Because the location was very family-friendly, the one offering no financial aid was the most easily, although not necessarily happily, eliminated. There were plenty of perks and challenges to be had at each of the other two. We coughed up — with much creativity and some charity — a couple of hefty seat deposits to buy more time. There was absolutely no clear-cut choice. She researched and reported, churned and worried about it for weeks.