Ackerman: Pranking done ‘old school’ in 2013

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

It’s that time of year when high school seniors everywhere are stressing about college applications, so it would be appropriate – and cliché – if I wrote an article about my experiences.

I’ll come right out and say that I’m still in the I-don’t-have-anything-figured-out stage. This whole college thing is really hard. At first, I thought it was important to choose a school that I really liked. Then I learned it was about which school offers the best programs. I later found myself Mapquesting how far away each school is. But in the end, even with all these other factors, it is still somehow about my true happiness.

As the youngest of three, I knew coming into my search that choosing a college is no joking matter. It is, after all, the rest of my life we’re talking about. But to my parents, apparently it can be fun and games.

A couple of weeks ago I found a package addressed to me on our front porch. I thought it was strange, because it was too early for Christmas, too late for my May birthday, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t ordered anything online. Then I saw the return address. It was from the small college my dad went to in the middle of West Virginia. Inside was a letter saying that the alumni association was actively seeking high-achieving legacies just like me, so please consider our college while wearing this free sweatshirt.

While a sweatshirt may seem like no big deal to most people, I was freaking out. I have a long-standing joke with my family that I will attend the first college that sends me a free sweatshirt. Sure, some may give out cheap T-shirts, but a college that really wants me will step it up with a hoodie. I personally see nothing wrong with soft cotton bribery.  I stood in our kitchen with my mom for a solid 15 minutes trying to wrap my head around the fact that this real college had really sent me a real sweatshirt. Needless to say, I was excited. I waited eagerly until my dad came home from work and showed him the letter and my new spirit wear while sharing my surprise with his.

Turns out all of it was a lie. Last week, I received another package that looked awfully similar, though this time it was from the small Pittsburgh college my mom attended. Coincidentally, they, too, were impressed with my high school record and wanted to express their interest in the form of a complimentary sweatshirt.

This time, I put two and two together, and learned that this spirit wear came not from any alumni association or admissions office, but from the biggest college recruiters of all: my parents. Nicely played, Mom and Dad.

If there are any admissions counselors reading this, the bet is still on. I will gladly attend your college or university, as long as you provide the fine outerwear.

• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread, and writing this column. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.