My Kids Are Growing Up

Saturday was a bittersweet day. My son Benjamin graduated from High Tech High.

Ben received his diploma along with about 150 other seniors on the school’s lawn on a beautiful (naturally) morning in San Diego.

High Tech High has never ranked students – that’s one of the things that I love about the school – so we didn’t have to suffer through speeches by a valedictorian and salutatorian.  If you want to learn more about valedictorian mania you should read a story about this ridiculous phenomenon in Sunday’s New York Times.

Ben will be heading off to Beloit College in less than seven weeks and he’s eager, excited and nervous to get started. It helps that he had his big sister Caitlin around for a month to share what he might expect in college.

And that’s the other bittersweet part. Caitlin was back home for just one month after spending her entire junior year at the University of Barcelona. After Ben’s graduation, we returned home to watch the USA vs. Ghana soccer match (pitiful result) and then Caitlin was on the road with her dear friend and college roommate, heading the 2,600 miles back to Juniata College.

Caitlin has embraced her college life with incredible zeal. Because of her involvement at Juniata, she’s received many opportunities at the liberal arts college in Huntingdon, PA.

A year ago the marketing department asked Caitlin if she’d like a job after she returned from Spain because of copy she wrote last summer for the school’s viewbook.  After frequently submitting photos to the school’s photo-of-the-week contest (even when she was in Spain), she was asked to serve as a school photographer. And she’s got a full-time job this summer working for the international department to help develop an international peer advisor program. Caitlin is also launching her picture frame business with seed money she got from Juniata and the state of Pennsylvania.  She’s got soccer preseason in August (she’s a forward on the varsity soccer team) and somehow she’s going to find time to work at a couple of soccer camps at nearby Penn State in July. Oh, and she’s dog sitting for the chairman of the Spanish department.

I am very glad that Ben and Caitlin, despite typical sibling squabbling, are close. As a going away present, Ben made Caitlin a wooden bookshelf. Ben plans to build her a coffee table when he and I visit Caitlin this summer in central PA.

I am blessed with two great kids and I hope that will make the looming empty nest thing easier to handle.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College. She also blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Congratulations, Lynn!

    Nice article. Reminded me of my own two children — 18 months apart. They’ve been close all their lives!


    1. Hi George,

      Thanks for your note. It’s nice, isn’t it, when siblings are close. It also makes it easier to be a parent!

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. Lynn – Congrats to you and your son.

    Agreed – that’s a joke having multiple valedictorians like several of the schools in that NYT article and choosing not to weigh the GPAs, just to level the field.

    But, why not reward the two kids that DID do what it takes to go above and beyond to excel in the AP and honors courses via the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian? And can’t the administration vet the speeches and require them to be under X number of words? That seems simple enough to address the concern you expressed.

    That said, you have no idea how tremendously rewarding it is for those who do achieve those distinct honors, and it is both a mistake to cheapen it AND it’s a mistake to just plain eliminate it in the name of “fairness”, just so nobody else “feels bad”. Give me a break. We’ve really taken the “everybody’s a winner – we all get trophies!” mentality of pee wee soccer a little too far when we start applying it to young adults too.