When plans change

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: When plans change
By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 11:57 am: Edit

I didn't know where to put this, but I felt like sharing so I started a new thread.
We are going down to Portland this morning to spend a few days and bring our oldest back home with some stuff that she had stored there. ( She is having to take a year off from her school to retake a portion of a class, she would be a senior- but she has been working there for the last couple weeks to help in the computer lab, very angsty I'm sure)
She hasn't been communicating much, I don't know whether that is good or bad. I sent an email asking where she is going to be this afternoon and how she is doing and she just replied with the possible apt#s. terse.
But we are bringing the dog , pets are always good. I often brought the dog when I would pick my very morose pre-teen up at school because then she would be occupied with her until she went through the transition of school:home.

By Wjb (Wjb) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit

Emeraldkity -- I haven't posted much, but have lurked/learned, and have always enjoyed your posts and wise, down-to-earth perspectives. Sounds like a difficult transition period for your daughter and your family. My best to all of you as she retakes her course and regroups. Is her goal to return to Portland (I assume this is Reed) next fall?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 12:53 pm: Edit

Well thank you very much, I appreciate the positive thoughts.

Yes she wants to return to Reed very much.Although she went to great private schools, her middle/high school was challenging socially for her as the class was very small, and she had a very different background from the bulk of the students.
At Reed she really found her niche. She made so many friends there, and that is what is the hardest for her I think. She had talked about taking a year off last year, when she didn't know that academically she would have to, and I talked her out of it ( because I didn't really know, what else was going on for her.
I used the argument that she wouldnt want to be graduating in a completely different class with her friends, as well as losing momentum for her senior year. Now that came back to bite me in the a$$, so I had to come up with a completely different rationale why this isn't as bad as it seems!
She obviously needs to take time off, she was stressing all around, and she needs to get a better grip on her time management.
It really is disappointing that her advisor that she had for three years won't be there next year ( he was also a biology mentor) but I trust that they will find someone suitable to take his place.
She had been really looking forward to living in a townhouse on campus, but a new roommate hasn't been assigned so theoretically she can stay there when she comes down to visit.
She has a great opportunity to implement a science program at her former elementary school, and they are very happy to have her and are supposedly going to be accomodating to her schedule.
She should have fun doing that , she loved her elementary school and her teacher she had for 3/4/5 grade is still there and is her biggest booster. The school has amazing equipment and it is chance to decide if she really wants to go into teaching.So I am trying to focus on the good stuff, but it will still be hard I am sure from time to time as she realizes what she is missing at Reed. It is much harder to make friends at community colleges especially when you are only taking one or two classes cause everyone is also usally working off campus. Virtually all of her friends from high school are gone, but she can communicate with IMs and email and she will be back down in portland next summer.
This is actually good to happen I think. Life always throws us a curve ball, and for her to learn to deal with a fairly fast one now, with our support, will hopefully give her reserves to draw on later. ( or so I am telling myself)

By Wjb (Wjb) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 01:29 pm: Edit

Well, the teaching opportunity does sound wonderful, and that is obviously something she would not have been able to do at Reed. A genuine silver lining, I agree. And if she also does well with the classes she's taking at community college, that should give her the boost she needs to return to Reed refreshed.

And maybe a new adviser is not such a bad thing, either. I'm wondering about her departing advisor: Did he/she read the warning signals? Was there no communication with you as parents, or is that simply not allowed?

The social part is a drag, I agree. Is there much cross-pollination among kids in different years at Reed? If your daughter has some younger friends, maybe she can have the townhouse living experience with some of them next year?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 01:34 pm: Edit

It's Reed. There must be other kids that aren't graduating in 4 years.
It will work out.

By Enjoyingthis (Enjoyingthis) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 02:31 pm: Edit

Emerald-- hang in there! I predict someday you will all be looking back on this thinking, Wow, remember how rough that was, but now we're through it.

Our son came home after a year at Hampshire. During the course of the summer it slowly became apparent that he had left almost all of his loosey-goosey classes unfinished. We were all but bribing him to finish up his papers etc. but I think his refusal to do so was really his way of saying he didn't want to go back there, it wasn't right for him. But he'd left all his stuff in storage! So he was really sitting around here feeling very defeated. Had to make a trip back there just to get his stuff, then came home and worked temp jobs for a year, living at home etc. Then he got his act together and went to U of O where he did very well. Now I have to remind myself how bleak things looked at that point.

Sounds like your D got a lot further than my son did in her first years at Reed. And yes, as Dstark says, it's really fairly common to need more than four years to get through Reed or to take a year off.

The best RX, I believe, is love, support, and giving her time to find her own way.

I'm rooting for you!

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

I'm just wondering, is this the daughter who lost her friend recently?

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 04:53 pm: Edit

Emerald, Your daughter always seems to do things in her own way and come out on top. I'm positive she will this time as well. Sometimes life takes unexpected turns that turn out to be exactly what was needed. Keep us up to date about her progress!

By Cheers (Cheers) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 05:21 pm: Edit

Taking a year off does have funny ramifications. I did it and wouldn't recommend it in retrospect. In fact, for the life of me, I can't remember the reasoning that led to the decision. I did manage to avoid marrying the Wrong Handsome Boy so maybe it was worth it? Who knows. It didn't hurt my career or my life but it seems like teenage kookiness from this vantage point.

Transitions take time. Your D will probably settle in as the months roll by...

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 05:38 pm: Edit

Hope I don't sound like Pollyanna, but here goes. I don't know what your D intends to do with future, teaching? grad sch? but often very useful to have a year of experience inbetween UG and grad. Well, your D is getting some wonderful work experience next year. She's flipping the time table

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit

Ah'm in Portland- Free wireless everywhere! so cool!
Anyway- saw the daughter at school yesterday- she was helping someone set up something, and another friend was there so didn't talk to her by herself- met more of her friends, they are very helpful and supportive. We are going to move some of her stuff into one's townhouse as it is currently somewhere, where she is being charged.
Portland is warm- warmer than Seattle or maybe it's cause Im downtown although they have more trees than downtown Seattle.
Thank you to all for support , I think it will be OK- she took a year off after high school and that helped a great deal, she does have friends who are younger or who are taking more than 4 years, but when you don't need fin aid, it is easier to stay on campus.
I think she wants to go into teaching, although she is interested in training teachers to do more science, but she knows you need classroom experience to do that. So her plans may change , she does tend to land on her feet, although there is also a story in Oregonian this morning about another young woman who killed herself at the University of BC last winter, which gives pause to the stresses these kids find themselves facing. (Backhandgrip- no she hasnt lost a friend recently- thank goodness)They often act so grownup, that it is hard to remember that they don't have the perspective that "this too shall pass".
It is wonderful that such an online forum like CC exists, and there are so many helpful voices, not only for choosing colleges but for helping young people through this transition time. ( and their parents!)

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 10:56 am: Edit

Emeraldkity -- I wish I were in Portland, it's such a nice city! I would probably waste too much time in Powells, though, if I were there!

Good luck to your D. The whole situation is probably difficult for her, since she must be someone who has worked hard and generally done well. I hope she does have people to talk to, even if she is not opening up to you as much as you would like (I know that feeling!).

By Thisoldlady (Thisoldlady) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 03:36 pm: Edit

There is a Biology Programs for Teachers division at the UW. They train teachers to do science in the K-12 schools. Some (or all) of their funding comes from a Howard Hughes grant. there are a couple of really cool women who run the program. You might have your daughter contact Helen Buttemer and ask about any opportunities to learn/volunteer. Whether your daughter wants to teach or train others to teach Biology, this might be a good resource.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 08:36 pm: Edit

thanks for the info
One of my younger daughters biology teachers kathryn Kelsey I believe has been involved with training teachers at UW , but unfortunately this district at least especially some schools are not big on improving science education.

I will tell her though, but I think she will have her hands full with two classes at Community college including organic chem that gave her such trouble, working 20 hours at the elementary school and supposedly getting her Apple certification at the same time?
Perhaps she has discovered a way to use more than 24 hrs in a day like Hermione Granger? ( harry potter)
I am tired just thinking about it!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:02 pm: Edit

well we are back home after grumpiness ( mostly from weather)
Daughter seems perfectly ok except her conference with the disability person didn't go so well. She needs to have an academic plan since she failed a class, and her time off this coming year was going to have her take the whole year of organic chemistry over at a community college. It wouldn't change her spring semester grade on her transcript, but for grad school I imagine they would average her grades together. This was the only way we could think of to do it, since if she took one class at Reed it would count toward her four years of fin aid, and we would rather have that count for a whole load.
Her chem prof gave it his blessing but the learning specialist won't sign off on it.
There is no way she can do a senior year at Reed with a bio thesis and retake organic chem at the same time.
I asked if she wants me to call her and ( D) says no, but, this seems like something that should be easier to deal with.
The reasoning apparently was that the F would still be on her Reed transcript, but she doesn't want to apply to medical school and it would show that she passed the class elsewhere.
anybody else have thoughts about grades and transcripts?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:15 pm: Edit


I don't know about grades and transcripts.

What would a bio thesis entail? I'm assuming lab? Is it possible for your D to get an early start on the senior bio thesis this year so that her plate would be less full next year when she retakes OChem? She could do most of the work during her year off, but still be registered as taking the appropriate course (independent study) at Reed when she returns.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:37 pm: Edit


If she is going for an MAT or something of that ilk, I can't imagine but that re-doing organic chem and doing a better job of it wouldn't be sufficient. What is on the transcript is likely irrevocable, but repeating the class has great merit. If she is planning to apply to grad school in science, it would help, perhaps if she took a course at a higher level than OC and did better in that, as well. Of course, if she struggled with OC this could be a real challenge, but maybe if she could devote more time to it it would be okay...

It sounds like she has an ambitious year planned, do you think she can prioritize a bit?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

well she doesn't want to drop her 20 hour jb at the elementary school, it is a great opportunity for her , she would be writing curriculum and have amazing resources as well as she probably would get a great deal of emotional support from the staff.( and of course namedropping opprtunities that are useful to have even if she doesn't use them with my snobbish sister)
I agree with it, I think it could lead to great things, the networking opportunities alone are probably worth it.
Organic chem isn't required at many colleges for a straight biology degree but of course it is at Reed.
She couldn't start early on thesis since it involves a great deal of original research and closely working with profs but she can still be researching what she wants to do.( she better be!)
organic chem isn't really in her major but it is required for her major. Everyone I have talked to had awful time with OC and as long as a passing grade is on her transcript I can't see that she will have that hard of a time. I think it is more important that she retake it and pass it, than she pass it at Reed.
She is thinking of dropping the astronomy class that she is already registered for at the community college, but with organic chem, working 20 hours as well as taking an Apple certification online class and having to ride a bike or take a bus cause she doesn't have a car, it sounds like the best thing to drop.

I thought of recommending to her that she drop everything that wasn't strictly academic, but the teaching job and the computer class will give her lots of muscle for her resume, as well as a break from Ochem. She is having to make lots of choices, but she seems a lot more excited about her school year than her sister does about hers.
We still have one more week till high school starts.:::::crossing fingers::::::

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:45 pm: Edit

You know, reading your daughter's story reminds me of my niece. She dropped out of Vassar with a D- in physics after a year and a half. (Well, she was asked to take some time off. Same thing.) Spent a year working as a lab tech, then decided she wanted to continue in science, but not at the research level, went back to school (at Lesley) for a teaching degree and graduated second in her class. Now teaches, quite happily, middle school science at a school in NY (upstate).

But during that year-and-a-half my sister was crazed. She couldn't figure out how this was ever going to work out. She thought her D would never straighten out. But she did grow up.

Emerald, your D sounds like she has a plan. And it sounds to me like a wonderful plan. Buy her this book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072380578/qid=1094057026/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/002-9722235-2436836 (buy it used) if you can stand the cost. It's the single best book on science teaching I've ever found.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 01:09 pm: Edit

If she must take organic at Reed, what if she audits the class at the cc? Did she do badly on the tests and better in the lab, or can she tell? Organic to me was like learning a new language, then doing trying to do logic problems or crosswords in the new lang. Repetitive exposure would help tremendously with the new language/memorization part of it, and couldn't hurt with the logical thinking aspect of it.

By Kelly1 (Kelly1) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

To DMD77,

With regard to your niece, why did she not return to Vassar? She didn't want to or they didn't have program that she wanted to pursue?

How was she during the year and half between schools?

I am asking since my daughter is trying to transfer after unhappy 2 years at her school. I can totally sympathize what your sister went thru, because I think my daughter needs some growing up to do as well.

She has done okay in college, but I think she is worse off admissionwise that she applied as frenshman. Thanks.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 02:54 pm: Edit

I don't know why my niece didn't return to Vassar. I know she had decided she wanted to be in Boston by then--a boyfriend she broke up even before she started back at college--and I think she was looking for someplace more lowkey. I know she feels now (it's about 7 years later) that Vassar was snobbish, but I'm not sure she felt that then.

During the year-and-a-half, my sister insisted on her having a job, and she went through a series of menial jobs but worked both summers as a lab tech in a lab at Woods Hole (someone I went to college with who'd met her when she was taking HS bio and contacted her when he needed a tech later). One of her comments at the time was that she found "school science" ludicrous when she'd done real science (she got her name on some papers).

My niece definitely moved to a less-elite school--but she did get the education she wanted, and the job she wanted, so I don't think she'd complain.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

Emerald, why is your daughter taking organcic chem? If it is to be an MD who isn't a certian type of researcher , this is relatively meaningless jump through the hoop exercise, not to be taken to seriously. Take it at the community college and be done with it. Don't let the psuedo bs at Reed get her down.

If it is to be a PhD type chemist then perhaps it is important to be evntually done with great rigor.

Reed sounds very depressing. To me this shows one advantage of your typical big state school. Kids drop out for a semester or two all the time, to refocus or often to earn some more money. They continue living with their college friends, might even hang out at the campus center from time to time and continue the social growth of the college expereince. It doesn't seem like the failure of Western Civililization.

It is too bad that the environment at Reed is so narrow that something like this does not seem to be possible.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Why is Reed making it so difficult? (Not a rhetorical question.) In my experience, small LACs actively WANT their students to succeed, and it reflects badly on them when they don't.

The plan she has worked out for the year sounds great! If I were a school dean, I'd be backing her 200%! What's the deal?

I wish I could come over and give you, and her, a big hug. Consider it done electronically.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

she is taking organic chem because it is required for major. SHe actually liked the class and the prof she had for spring was very supportive and helpful but she ran into a few emotional/logistical/physical problems and stuck her head in the sand over them.
I am hearing that organic chemistry is very difficult and a new way of thinking. She liked it better than regular chemistry as she is a biology major, but she has learning challenges and when I hear that many have difficulty with it, so much so that they audit it first, I am not surprised it was such a challenge for her.
She does want to take biochem at Reed, and I think that if she takes further chemistry classes it will mitigate teh effect the F has on her transcript. ( I hope) I am not really sure where the school lies. On the one hand I can see that if she takes in at Reed, it would make her F disappear. On the other hand, I don't see her finishing up senior year thesis, and struggling with o chemistry at same time.
Her organic chemistry professor is fine with her taking it at a community college, and with his approval I think that is probably the plan she is going to stick with.
It is unfortunate that this happened of course and I suspect if she wasn't at a school that was as harda$$ed as Reed is, it might not have happened. But she likes it, wants to return, and I am sure not forcing her.
At Reed actually as alumns on this board can tell you people do take time off all the time. However money is a factor for us, and she needed to live at home to save money and that was her decision as she decided home was the best place to get back on track.
She could very well attend Reed part time, however that would impact future financial aid and that is too big of a consideration to ignore.
But I suspect this will be a blessing in disguise, as has many things that have happened to her over her life. She just lands on her feet that girl!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

I didn't read Minis post so want to add a few things
I think that the dean is( will) agreeing, it is just the learning specialist who is being grumbly and I don't know what that is about cause she has been kept informed about plans..
I appreciate the tips about textbooks and contacts at the UW and passed those on. She is very excited about the program she is leading and working with other teachers at her elementary school. THey are excited too, she is the first one who has come back ( the first class that is old enough to) and they are very interested in expanding the science program. I think she is most interested in middle school kids, but this will be a good place to start and get more classroom experience. She is going down to a PNAIS conference in October where she will get to take workshops and probably come home with a fat notebook of resources.
I hope that the time off will help her enjoy her senior year when she does go back instead of being overwhelmed by it. At least she is getting to stretch it out a bit.
Thanks for the support, it really is going ok, a little irritating to hear about nieces getting straight A's at colgate but other kids doing well doesn't take anything away from mine.
I love to hear about others on these boards, although some remind me of people whose effort and energy is all about the wedding, not the marriage.
It doesn't stop just when they get admitted to school, it just started!

By Kelly1 (Kelly1) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:28 pm: Edit

" a little irritating to hear about nieces getting straight A's at colgate but other kids doing well doesn't take anything away from mine."

I totally understand what you mean..

Thanks, DMD77 for your response.

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