I could barely believe my eyes this Sunday when my son and I walked into a reception for early-admitted engineering students at SMU.

Everywhere we looked—girls. Adorable, darling, young women. Smart young women, who obviously love math and science and excell in the subjects.

When I inquired about the makeup of the Lyle School of Engineering, Dr. Marc Christensen officially confirmed it: 33% female, twice the national average.

What a change from when I went to college. I think it’s wonderful.

I’m often harassed in my family for getting too excited about education and putting a high premium on attending an elite school. I’ve expected my kids to make A’s, take AP classes in high school, and shoot for the moon. I do realize you can get an excellent education at any college. But there is something I’ve always admired about the students (and their families) who attend name-brand institutions: they seem to have worked a little harder, cared a little more about their grades and activities, and sacrificed more financially to pay the extra cost involved.

Sure, there may be some “undeserving rich kids” whose connections get them into these elite institutions. But I do NOT believe they compose the majority. Instead, I believe the circle of influence one encounters in a Stanford or Duke seems to be a cut above. Why should I not want that for my kid?

After the SMU reception (which came highly recommended by CBS11 interns, by the way–nothing’s more persuasive than personal experience!), Luke had the privilege of an alumni interview with Duke University. This gracious, down-to-earth woman spent a full hour with my 17-year-old. When Luke debriefed with us afterwards, the kid was beaming. I could feel his excitement. This is how I wish every child could feel about going to college.

Education is such a gift. And learning is SO MUCH FUN.

I have no idea which school Luke will eventually choose. The five or six to which he’s applied are all wonderful in their own ways. And yes, scholarship money will certainly play a role.

But I do know this–I have no regrets about encouraging my kids to aim high. Other than love, discipline, and security, helping our kids dream big should be a parent’s top job. And kudos to the parents and/or teachers of the 33% female engineering students at SMU. Someone helped those girls believe in their gifts, buck the stereotypes, and go for it.