|By Dadster on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 02:28 pm: Edit|
Is anyone else having difficulty trying to strike a balance between encouraging their kid to aim high but not setting him up to be disappointed if he gets rejected?
Our son has stats that are pretty good - above the published Ivy averages - and very good (but not incredible) ECs. One day he's thinking about adding Columbia and Brown to his list, and maybe taking a flyer on Harvard. The next day, he thinks he doesn't have a chance, so he won't waste his time by applying. I'd like to build up his confidence a little and encourage him to at least try (he really would love to attend one of those schools), but I don't want to set him up for a big downer if he doesn't get in. Anyone gone through this before and found a good way to handle it?
|By Dave Berry on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 04:19 pm: Edit|
I hear ya, Dadster. Here's my suggestion: Do an analysis of your son's stats and compare them to the admitted-student profiles of a group of, say, a dozen quality schools he might be considering. You can usually find those profiles on the schools' Web sites. The ones where his profile is just a hair light would be his "reach" schools. Those where he's right on the money are his "ballpark" candidates. Finally, schools where his profile comfortably outdistances their freshman stats will be the "safeties."
Once he narrows his choices down, you might end up with a list of two or three reaches, three or four ballparks, and a couple of safeties. All the schools on this list should be places where he really wants to go.
Once he has created the list, then he can set out to create applications to the reach candidates and use the work from those apps to trickle down across the other apps. Bottom line: If he has chosen a carefully selected list of candidates, he can't end up being disappointed.
I have greatly oversimplified this somewhat complex process, but I think you can see the main idea. He'll get to take a shot at some stellar colleges (in relation to his profile) and he might even get into one of them. If not, he's still guaranteed a fine school and education. Keep us posted on what happens.
|By Dadster on Sunday, September 02, 2001 - 07:12 pm: Edit|
Thanks, Dave. It's tough when all his teachers tell him he's going to get in everywhere. They have no clue, and, as a parent, it's tough to strike the right balance between optimism and reality.
|By Pomona2006 (Pomona2006) on Sunday, November 17, 2002 - 04:52 pm: Edit|
As a student...the worst thing you can be is over-optimistic. I saw too many of my friends hurt by their parents over-optimism. Be supportive and try not to be to anxious about the reply, because that will only make your son/daughter even more anxious. Just be calm and regardless of the reply...be supportive.
|By Sally R. on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 - 07:44 pm: Edit|
It's a good practice to not only follow Dave's suggestion and compile a list that includes "Reach," "Ballpark," and "Safety" schools but also to be certain to use that same terminology around the dinner table as well.
Ivies and the like are, after all, rarely a sure-thing for anyone. By encouraging a child to apply to the hyperselective spots but also repeatedly referring to them as "Reaches," parents can offer a vote of confidence but, at the same time, won't run the risk that Pomona2006 points to--where overzealous moms and dads can make for hurt and disappointed kids.
Similarly, using the word "Ballpark" (or "Realistic") doesn't imply that admission is a done deal but helps differentiate that group of schools from those that will be a tougher call.
Another related mistake parents often make (yep, parents do make a few from time to time) is insisting that a college that is hard to get into should automatically be more desirable than one that is less so. I've seen students steered away from schools they love because they've had the good fortune to be admitted to a more competitive place. Sometimes, while travelling the bumpy admission road, students decide that a "Ballpark" college is really a first-choice one as well. If parents feel that the "Reach" school is a wiser choice, they should clearly state their case, but make sure it's a good case and not based exclusively on status.
Another mistake that both parents and students have been known to make is to turn extremely competitive colleges into "Ballpark" or even "Safety" schools simply because they are not as attractive as others. For instance, just because Junior adored Oberlin and was ambivalent about Swarthmore, that doesn't immediately relegate Swat to the "Ballpark" tier. As Dave suggests, compare admitted-student profiles to your child's own stats, and create your categories based on the data, not on your preferences.
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