"Hey, Mom," asked our son Dan as he was filling out a questionnaire, "what class are we?"
I thought for a moment. What class?
"Seniors," I said sophomorically. "Or shall we be juniors? Which class has more fun?"
"Aw, Mom, be serious," said Dan. "I gotta know; what class are we? Upper? Middle? Lower?"
"I suppose that would depend on who's doing the classifying," I told him truthfully. "Our uppity neighbor has always been sure we are 'lower,' but your grandmother insists that we are 'upper.' Those who are in-the-know, however, would probably place us in the Great American Middle."
"Who are those in-the-know?" he asked.
"The IRS," I said. "Who else? What are you filling out, anyway?"
"A financial-aid request," he replied. "I'm applying for a college scholarship."
"In that case, go with the neighbors," I said emphatically. "Check 'lower.' And underline it. But do it in pencil; if they think you can afford a pen, they'll shove you into 'upper middle' and tell you to go paddle your own canoe."
I didn't have the heart to tell him he was wasting his time. I know. I have been this route before.
When our first son was preparing for college, he applied for financial aid and was told there should be no problem, as there were over 8,000 various types of scholarships available. That may be true; but what they failed to tell him was, at least 7,975 of them are limited to athletes, and the rest are parceled out to academically superior students who can prove financial need. Since his high school athletics had been pretty much limited to intramural wrestling (the coed variety), he could hardly qualify as an athlete (though he did earn the coveted Octopus award given annually by the Girls Pep Club.) He didn't even try to prove financial need, for he knew he would never be able to prove "academic superiority" with a report card that had seldom seen an A.