College Shopping With My Daughter

Ebony contributor Dream Hampton describes the delicate decisions that are part of her quest with her daughter to find the perfect undergraduate experience without killing each other.

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One of the most important decisions a high school student can make is selecting an undergraduate college or university, which can help determine future employment and social circles. Ebony columnist Dream Hampton is negotiating this very crossroads with her daughter. Describing her need to get her child's process started early, hampton details their trip to Oberlin College.

Still, college is on the menu for my daughter. I attended NYU film school as an undergraduate and was taking grad courses there when I became pregnant with her. When my daughter began first grade, my mother graduated from nursing school. When my daughter entered middle school my niece, a gentle but strong role model, began freshman year at Michigan State. When Isoke entered high school, my oldest niece finished her fifth year of college (after a transfer or two) and graduated. I knew I wanted to make films when I was completing college applications, but I didn't have any support as I researched my options. My mother was an alcoholic, in and out of rehab during my eleventh grade year. I came up with my post-high school plan by myself. My daughter may sometimes wish that were her story; she had to tell me early in the process, when I was being pushy about her considering Spelman, that this was her decision. I respect that. Still, I know her. I know that she's a true introvert, shy at first, and fiercely independent.

The September of her sophomore year, I suggested visits to highly respected small colleges where I imagined my daughter might be happy. Oberlin is only a two-hour drive from our home in Detroit. Our friend, songwriter and singer Kimya Dawson was performing her new album in Oberlin's student center and wanted to visit us before driving to Ohio. I offered Kimya a ride, scheduled a tour for Isoke and we headed to the famously liberal elite college just outside Cleveland. I stayed in the admissions office admiring some of Toni Morrison's original papers on display while my daughter went on a small student-lead lap around campus. The visit happened to be the day following Troy Davis's execution in Georgia and Oberlin students had organized a sunset, candlelight silent circle in honor of him in the middle of campus. Kimya, Isoke and I joined the well-attended, diverse vigil and felt comforted by their gathering.

Read Dream Hampton's entire piece at Ebony.com.

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