Reed College, back to haunt me, through my own summoning.

I first applied to Reed College in the fall of 2000, using it as a backup (ha!) to Princeton, which I never had a chance of getting into anyway. Reed was the first school I was really interested in, and I liked the ideal of a small liberal arts college in Oregon.

However, private schools cost a lot of money. And as a middle-class wasp, I do not qualify for any particularly significant scholarships, even with excellent grades and SAT scores...except for the one I have now, at Ohio University, which is worth about $5,000 a year.

I got into Reed last year, and I just got into Reed again. I'm starting to wonder about the whole admissions process and how schools increasingly craft their entering classes with precision decisions, choosing one person over another because one plays the Glockenspiel ("And we've never had one of THOSE before," says the Dean of Admissions) and the other is merely smart. Having a unique talent or quirk is, according to the woman who interviewed me for Reed, usually the final factor in getting admitted to a competitive school. They want color and sound and the magical concept of diversity.

If Reed cost the same as Ohio University, I would go in half a second. I like the setting and the academic rigor and the connections to good graduate programs in everything. But it doesn't. It costs $32,000, and I can't count on getting much scholarship aid. Assuming none, that's a difference of nearly $25,000. Even over only three years, that's more money than I have ever had.

Add to this the complex family situation of a dead father and a mother who is rapidly approaching retirement and unemployment. My mom has maybe a half million in savings. She won't give me any for school. There are times I want to scream, "Damn it, I need the money more than you!!" but I know that right or wrong doesn't matter in an issue like that. And I don't even know if I'm right, anyway. I don't have the gall to just demand it. Nevertheless, Reed caused the only shouting match between my mother and I that I can recall in my entire life.

But I want to get the hell out of Ohio. I want to feel like I'm doing something new and something fresh, like I've actually taken control of my life and steered a new course. I've never felt that way before.

I tasted it this morning, barely. A hint. Does it matter where I go? Is Reed just an arbitrary rebellion? I always have done things the hard way...too bad I couldn't rebel by getting a full ride at an out-of-state state school...

I've got two weeks to agonize about it. What I really want, I think, is someone to tell me what to do. I lack an authority figure and find myself a wanting substitute. I have no real confidence in my decisions...and I feel as though by taking this one, and not compromising with anyone, I will establish that desperately wanted confidence.

Or maybe I should just go out and get laid.