Rhonda63 can you elaborate

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Rhonda63 can you elaborate
By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:23 pm: Edit

Sorry I can't help with your travel plans- although if it were me I might try to get through NYC in the middle of the night on THURSDAY night/early Friday morning-- leave really late, then sleep in on Friday and then drive to Providence from somewhere in Connecticut. I know you said you couldn't leave on Thursday, but what about at Midnight or something...I am seriously jet lagged, however, so I am not sure I would take this advice!

I am wondering if you would follow up on a comment you made on the MIT thread. You said you were "less interested in the fit" than others on the board. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that as I think this is at the crux of what I am dealing with with my #2 son.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:29 am: Edit

Robyrm -- in my younger days that would have been an excellent option. I remember driving to the in-laws when D was a baby, leaving at 10 pm so she would sleep all the way, and trading off driving. Alas, I don't think I can pull that off anymore -- we'd fall asleep and D (the non-driver)would be the only one awake! Thanks for thinking of my driving ordeal in your jet-lagged state!

On your "fit" question -- I see a lot of posts about which school is the "best fit" for a child. I don't think this is the most important thing to consider when picking a school because, for my D and probably for many other kids, there are a LOT of schools which would be a great fit. And I for one would not want to be a kid (or a parent) facing the pressure of deciding which among all the schools in the country is the "best fit" for me (or, as a parent, for my child). WAAAAAY too much pressure.

My rule of thumb is to attend the most academically prestigious school you get into at which you think you will be happy. The fact is that a lot of kids will be very happy at any number of schools. Since most only attend one, there's no way to test out whether they would have been more/less/equally happy at another one.

My D's first choice was Brown, and she applied and was admitted ED. But frankly, she liked virtually every school she visited (except Harvard and Amherst) and I think she would have been just as happy at a number of schools on her RD list. I do think there needs to be some consideration of "fit-related" factors, like location, size, depts of interest. As an example, my D wanted a medium sized school (not a LAC) not in the middle of nowhere, with strong Classics and English depts. (The Classics issue ended up ruling out a number of schools, btw). So she made her list accordingly, although some schools probably didn't satisfy EVERY criterion -- for example, Wes was on her list -- a LAC, but on the larger side.

I also question the ability of a 17-year old to decide which school is the "best fit" for him/her for the next four years, when they are likely to undergo quite a few changes. I think back to my own experience -- I attended JHU, and chose to go there after several visits, including visiting a friend who was a freshman there, meeting people, etc etc -- all the stuff they tell you to do when searching for a school that "fits." And based on those visits, I expected to like it and was looking forward to going. Long story short -- I spent the most miserable two years of my life there before I finally left. Again, I never would have predicted that based on my visits. I think for most kids, of course, it all turns out fine, because they are heppy where they end up, and then the parents say "oh this school is the PERFECT FIT for Johnny," when in fact Johnny probaby would have been just as happy at several other schools!

Once you've come up with a list of "schools I think I could be happy at," I would advise picking one based on academic prestige. Obviously, this is a subjective factor, and I would NOT advise using US News rankings or any other rankings. I think we all have our own "list" of academically prestigious schools in our own minds, and each person's list is probably not the same as anyone else's, so I don't think it's worth arguing about which school is academically superior to another. But you are picking a COLLEGE EDUCATION, and to me it is foolish not to place academics at the top of the selection criteria. That doesn't mean go to Harvard if you despise it, of course, but assuming you like both school A and school B, why not pick the most academically prestigious one?

I don't necessarily think that you need to go to an elite school to succeed, btw. I myself went to a third rate state U after leaving JHU and ended up attending a top law school. But if you have the option, why not pick the one that will provide you with a degree with the most "value" for your $$? And I don't necessarily mean high salary -- just the degree that will get the most attention and turn the most heads regardless of what you choose to pursue in the future.

I know this is not the prevailing view on this board, so others will certainly chime in with dissenting opinions, which should be useful for you to consider. But I just think "fit" is overblown, when the reality is that a lot of our kids will find that any number of schools is a "great fit." Hence my rule of thumb (above). I should note that this all assumes $$ is not an issue, which will not be the case for some people.

I hope this long post helps explain my view a little bit.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:07 am: Edit

Rhonda, I think many do agree with your approach. Interestingly (at least to me) at a party this last weekend, that included some brand new parents, the conversation turned to college naturally LOL and the only person in the group without any prestige degree (undergrad or grad) was also the only one who thought it mattered. He insisted that his opportunities had been limited by not having certain schools listed on his resume. Since he makes oodles more money than anyone else in the group I am not sure he was talking about financial opportunities. He is the sort of example people point to when they say the "cream will rise" regardless... although in a tech field, a while back at another party, he quoted a whole passage from Nabokov's Ada when I mentioned I was reading it. He insists his new baby will absolutely go to the best/most prestigious school possible.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:12 am: Edit

Another aspect of "fit" that is glossed over on this board is the fact that these kids start their search at age 16-17, matriculate at 18-19,and are around 20 when they finally declare a major. I think many kids are very different people at 20, but much ado has been made about finding the best "fit" for that 17 year old.

I actually think Rhonda very much believes in the importance of fit, what she has describes is exactly how DD and I would characterize it. My only dissenting opinion is that "personal academic prestige" is very hard to determine, especially if, as my DD did, you are using it as the first discriminator. How do you really know how rigorous the academics will be? How do you know that at Yale, even, you won't get all the absolute duds, or develop a late interest in engineering? You don't, you just do the best you can.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:18 am: Edit

Rhonda and Emptynester:

I so agree with the issue of best fit! My "problem" right now is that my S thinks he could be happy at several schools so cannot make up his mind whether he want to apply early anywhere; and yet, he would like the whole thing over and done with asap, preferably yesterday. We're beginning to sound like the Jon Stewart's Daily Show, Indecision 2004!

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

Cangel -- I'm not sure I believe in the importance of fit as others would characterize it, which usually seems to include more "campus life" factors than I would put emphasis on. But I'm glad people aren't saying I'm completely crazy!

I agree that academic prestige is hard to determine, and I do think it is distinguishable from academic difficulty. I know someone who graduated from Princeton about five years ago and said it was easier than his large, suburban, non-magnet public HS (and he went on to Harvard B-school, so I'm guessing he did well at Princeton).

In terms of academic rigor alone, I think you can get a top notch education at many (maybe most) schools in the country, including state schools. Emptynester's friend is an example of the very smart, driven, motivated kids who go to state schools and get a great education and do very well. But, as this friend seems to recognize, you don't get the "head turning" value of the degree (and that's what he would like his child to have). I think people don't like to recognize or admit that the academic prestige of the school is a factor -- we should all apparently be above that. Personally, I think that's part of what I'm paying for.

I have a friend who went to Harvard (Radcliffe, at that time) and HLS. She says that even though she got her degrees almost 40 years ago, that is what impresses people most, not everything she has done with her life since then. Sad in a way, but just an indication of the value of the prestige degree.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:25 am: Edit

Marite -- why not a nonbinding EA somewhere? If nothing else, if he's accepted it will trim down his RD list, right?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:30 am: Edit


Well, one of the schools on his list is Princeton, which is ED. Maybe some preference will emerge by November 1. In a way, it's a great problem to have, knowing that one can be happy at more than one school. If he does not get into whichever school he applies early to, I'm sure he'll be able to pick himself up and apply to others without feeling as if he has been exiled from paradise.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:53 am: Edit

I consider my friend to be mainly self-educated.
To clarify: I don't necessarily agree with his view on the importance of prestige degrees and was more than a little sad he feels that way since in the time since I did the whole college hoopla with my own I am starting to wonder about the possibility of avoiding it altogether and fantasize a self-educated life without buying into the system at all.. no college: elite or otherwise. No one else in my family is vaguely interested in exploring this LOL though if my niece doesn't last at her art school she may be asking for my support with her parents..

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:57 am: Edit


I was actually wondering about the social occasions in which someone's undergraduate degree would come up, other than in terms of the college search or in alumni get together.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 12:11 pm: Edit

Marite, you are right. No one would ask such a thing. The only social occasions it comes up are those in which the discussion revolves around the never-ending college search for someone or other's child. These are older new parents who are already thinking colleges LOL and wanted to discuss options. (Needless to say this is an easy baby) Dad brought it up. I always assumed he went to a big name school, most likely MIT.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 12:31 pm: Edit


Wow! I read about parents signing unborn babies up for nursery school, but not about parents discussing college options for a baby. Whew! Doesn't it make the rest of us feel like real slackers in the parenting department? :-(

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 01:58 pm: Edit

Well, to put it in context, these new parents have long been interested in various educational options for this much hoped for baby. For more than a decade the mom has been talking homeschooling with me and while still expecting went to visit her local homeschool group. LaLeche came later. Personally I find this charming and very endearing. And at this gathering were several college students excitedly comparing upcoming schedules and adults reminiscing about their undergrad experiences. The new dad was pretty impressed with what he saw as these students' opportunities. He is imagining his own child in 20 years. They won't be high pressure parents; they are going to be amazing parents.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

I always thought of Princeton, Harvard, or MIT for your S. I know he doesn't want CA, too far from home. Does he want to leave Cambridge?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit


He does not mind staying in Cambridge, let's put it that way. He may have to flip a coin if he cannot make up his mind. I was surprised that he was not more enthusiastic about Stanford, frankly. His reasons have to do more with weather than distance from home.

OT: Did you and your S go to Alaska? How was the trip, with or without winter jacket?

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:52 pm: Edit

I was actually wondering about the social occasions in which someone's undergraduate degree would come up.

What? Marite, surely you know the undergraduate and graduate education of nearly every American in your (presumably academic) social circle. Perhaps it's not openly 'discussed' but one's academic pedigree is certainly decifered very quickly in upper/upper middle class America.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

Cheers: Did you read the bio of the new MIT president? She did not graduate from HYPMS. I think the Boston area, and Silicon Valley may be atypical because so many Harvard and MIT graduates stay around, just as so many Stanford graduates stay in Silicon Valley. But I would expect that in other parts of the country, it is harder to guess where someone went to college unless it is plastered over their car.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:09 pm: Edit

Academics defined social circle when I lived in Boston. My Mommy & Me group included MDs, PhDs, Edds, Jd,(all from known schools) and one 'other.' When I moved, less relevant and barely mentioned.
What's wrong with CA weather? Does your S expect to visit Stanford and Caltech?
Alaska was beautiful, especially the parks. The down jacket got returned (too small) but weather was 80'. My S will do his own shopping for jacket; no more online ordering. He finally started his English IV course last week, and is 80% done. I try not to nag, but he's working on his poker game online. I guess thats a skill that will be needed in college.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:29 pm: Edit


S claims he likes changeable weather and snow. Not much of that in Palo Alto or Pasadena! I think that puts Chicago in the running.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:29 pm: Edit

Interesting comments regarding "fit", the impossibility of knowing what changes a 17 year old will go through and the fact that one can be happy at any number of schools.

One of the new college mags said finding a college was not as important as finding a spouse, more like finding an appropriate house or neighborhood. Of course one could argue that a person could be happy with many potential spouses. Fortunately my spouse doesn't read this bbs.

Another thought, I was just thinking about how my 17 year old son has grown so much over the summer in Mexico and the first few weeks of school, I could actually see him suceeding at Harvard, when 6 months ago it would have seen impossible.

Recently I had to make the decision whether to hire a 59 year old self employed friend with a tech degree from MIT who has fallen out of the job market and is now fixing computers on his own.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 06:13 pm: Edit

Texdad, Did your hire your friend?
Marite, I think your S is using weather as excuse. Temp varies, I think, Between 40's to 90's, and mountains nearby. Frankly, if I lived in Boston, I wouldn't want my S to leave the NE, midAtlantic area. Going far away was only option for my S. His friends will either go to state school or travel far away north.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 06:32 pm: Edit

My son just turned 17 this week, and I know he will be a different person in 1, 2 and 5 years. His aunt, a Midd Kidd, really challenged him this summer with her comment that she, the quintessential affluent Connecticut girl, found that she was such a different person after 2 years of college that she would have thought of changing schools, but she was just having too much fun!!

When I was 17 I was defeated when I was only wait listed at Williams and had to settle for MIT. 2 years later, and light years from the prep-school girl who had been so distraught..I looked back and said, "what could i have been thinking?" It was clear that at 17 I wanted something familiar, but luckily fate had something else in store for me- the challenge I needed at 18 and beyond.

I think any fit has to allow for growth and change. No doubt, this can be hard to always account for. That being the case, I too would surely tell my child that all things being equal, there is no reason not to select the school that "has it all".

By Donna1o26 (Donna1o26) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 06:39 pm: Edit

rhonda63- JHU

Would you mind telling us what happened at JHU that made you so unhappy. Know it was a while ago, but would still like to know. My son is in his second year. He seems to be doing wonderful and claims he loves it. He is majoring in engineering and is playing baseball. I would of preferred Lafayette or Lehigh being they are only 1 hour away.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 07:38 pm: Edit

Marite; I've lived in 4 of the top metropolitan areas in the US, plus two foreign cities. 'Polite' but thorough knowledge of academic pedigree was a given in the upper/upper middle class segments of all four US cities--and neither of the foreign cities.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 07:46 pm: Edit

Marite and Robrym; What about University of Edinburgh? A friend's math/science/AI-nut S LOVES it and is currently doing an unbelieiveable junior year internship with Sun.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:04 pm: Edit


Interesting about the pedigree. I know the undergrad degree of only a handful of parents of my two Ss's friends. I also can guess at the graduate degrees of some of my colleagues but not their undergraduate degrees, but I have no idea where other parents in my Ss'schools went. My H is more aware, but that's because his company has done a lot of hiring and he has been interviewing a lot of new hires. But where one went to college does not seem to be a staple of conversation around here.

About Edinburgh: Hmm. Maybe for a semester abroad. I did spend a week in Edinburgh and loved it. But that's a long time ago. In Europe, there's actually some choice for study abroad in math. There's Cambridge, of course. I've also heard of a center in Hungary where math is taught in English. I'd love to have an excuse to visit Budapest.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:06 pm: Edit

My son has given a passing thought to looking at UK or Canadian unis as our school caps the # of schools that a kid can submit applications to in the US, but then you can tack on Canadian or European or Australian schools at will...now isn't that a bit absurd. It is all a bit overwhelming to think about, though it is easier to get info here than it might be were we in the US. Will check it out.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:17 pm: Edit

Educational background: around here, many UWashington alums and WSU alums have special license plates giving their allegiance, and of course discussion is rife on the day of the Apple Cup (the fall football game between the two) or when U of O meets either school. The very fact that I am aware of these football games indicates how extreme the loyalties are. (My first year teaching in my Seattle suburb, I went into the faculty lounge in the morning to find a stuffed husky hanging in effigy the day before the Apple Cup. Later it had been replaced by a stuffed cougar--with its throat slit. Tough crowd at that school. (Later years were just as bad. On one occasion (UO vs UW), there was a stuffed duck with a knife through its "heart."))

In any case, beyond the UW/WSU allegiances, I think I know where most of my children's friends' parents went to school--but not most of my friends or my DH's friends. I think it's a matter of whether college planning was ever discussed, not a status issue.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:18 pm: Edit


If CMC appeals to your S, I would suggest he apply there. His unusual background will make him very attractive to the adcom; at the same time, he will enjoy being among students who will value his cosmopolitan experience.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit


Do you know about the MIT prank that involved a big black balloon bursting out of the turf at a key moment in a Harvard-Yale game? I think it was about MIT students poking fun at the Harvard-Yale rivalry. It got both sides mightily annoyed at MIT.

Living in an area dominated by colleges, I get to find out that many people work in those colleges and universities. I just have to notice their email addresses!

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:47 pm: Edit

Of course I know about the MIT balloon at the Harvard Yale game. I'll point out that the engineering was fascinating.

I suppose these days it'd be considered a terrorist activity... after all: they planted a radio-controlled explosive device in a crowded stadium.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:06 pm: Edit

Re snow: My S just said he likes snow that comes to him rather than having to go where there is snow (does not care for ski-ing). I'll remind him of that when we have to plow ourselves from a foot or more of snow.

LOL! you are right about the "terrorist activity" description.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:48 pm: Edit

"'Polite' but thorough knowledge of academic pedigree was a given in the upper/upper middle class segments of all four US cities--and neither of the foreign cities."

Cheers, although my sample is smaller than yours: only two major metro areas and one foreign city, I have to agree-- And probably my friend sees exactly the situation you describe and which I hesitate to even acknowledge... which of course supports Rhonda's original post that college prestige should be considered and that at the very least it inevitably impacts in some way our view of people. Thanks Rhonda for a lot to think about.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:08 pm: Edit

Do any of us really know what will "count" in 20 years when this gentleman's child is in university? I think parenting should be about "constructing a person" not "constructing an application" and I think that even tacit consideration of colleges in a child so young is of concern.

I deal daily with the immense disappointment, the grieving really, of parents who have come to the realization that in spite of all they have done right- all the books they have read, all the lectures attended, all the breast milk and floor time...everything, something is just not clicking for their child. They strive to understand, they want the best, they do everything imaginable, but they grieve for the child they do not have. Ultimately, they often construct a "new reality." The child soars as they are valued for who and what they are.

I am sure you are right, these people will be exceptional parents for their much beloved and awaited child. It is good to have dreams. It is better to make the reality your dream.

By Sac (Sac) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:13 pm: Edit

How about his applying EA to both MIT and Chicago? That might clarify things for him. He would still have a shot at Princeton and Harvard RD. I don't think EA at Harvard gives much of a boost and ED at Princeton would lock him in when he still sounds pretty undecided.

I predict he will have the same problem we did! My son thought he could be happy at just about all the places that accepted him. And, he thought that right up to the day before the decision was due. That's what made it so hard.

There is no one "fit," in my opinion -- whether in houses, colleges, or even spouses (much as I love mine of 30 years.) There are definitely "unfits," but then you pick one that seems great and make the most of it. I think going off to a school you think is the "perfect fit" may actually be more of a recipe for disappointment, both because there's only so much you can tell about a school before you attend, and because -- as others have pointed out -- what fits you at 17 or 18 may very well not fit you at 20.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:38 pm: Edit

I think the overall EA and RD stats at MIT are about the same, but I could be wrong. The difference is that international kids can't apply EA. In another board someone pointed out that for RD at MIT, because of the huge difference in admit rates for international and US kids, the admit rate for US kids is actually about 20%, for EA it is, again I could be wrong, about 16%. MIT are not yieldmongers, I don't think, so the whole EA thing is less of a factor for them. I suspect Marite's son will have great choices ahead, no matter how he applies though!

As for the fit issue, I also don't think we can consider ourselves successful as parents if we have convinced our kids that there is only one fit, in life in general...You never know what is going to be tossed your way- you often just have to make the best of whatever it is!

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:40 pm: Edit


Thanks for the suggestion. S will be going to an info session at MIT in a few weeks; he'll have a better idea of what to expect there. I hesitate to ask him to apply EA to Chicago for two reasons. We have not been able to visit, and he is unenthusiastic about its core curriculum. If, after the MIT info session he is more enthusiastic about MIT (which has a pretty rigorous core), I will share your suggestion with him.
He did like Princeton a lot and has had some very helpful exchanges with math and physics profs; this suggests that, academically, Princeton might be a great fit.
Honestly, what he is suffering from is an embarassment of riches. He knows that he could get a great education at several places and is not overly concerned about the social aspects of each college. A factor in his decision is that he has a couple of friends about to start at MIT, another couple of friends either already at or about to start at Harvard, and one friend who is graduating early like him and is almost sure of being admitted ED at Princeton. So far, he knows no one at Chicago (though he knows a couple of people who graduated from there).

Has your S started yet? He must be having quite an introduction to life in NYC!

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

Robyrm, I absolutely agree with what you are saying but would maybe state it a bit differently. IMHO most parents have plans but change them as they go along and realize what kind of child they actually have. (I planned to train my babies to sleep thru the night at an early age; I learned to use a babysitter to take naps during the day so I could stay up all night. My children have never ever slept thru what most would consider a night-- one of my many plans out the window!) It is rather a universal experience it seems to me. It was certainly mine. Am I missing something major here?

"Ultimately, they often construct a "new reality." The child soars as they are valued for who and what they are...It is good to have dreams. It is better to make the reality your dream."

Don't all good parents do this? Of course you deal with extreme cases but don't most parents in most situations just naturally decide the sort of child they have is the best kind of child to have? Am I wrong in seeing that tendency even in a very small way on this board when suddenly the first choice school after an ea/ed disappointment is not such a good idea after all. There are better schools out there! Ultimately the child's college is going to be the very best college in the universe. And whatever class size they offer at your students' school is the best class size.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:59 pm: Edit

The parents on this board, just by virtue of sharing and reading, have a much different sense of reality regarding college than many do. Many happen to have remarkable kids, as well. In our anonymity, we have great luxury. Furthermore, saying the school that wasn't the ED school is ultimately better (I have said this aloud myself many times!) is a healthy, optimistic and rational response to a statistical nightmare! It's easy to blame statistics!

I just worry about hurried kids, unique kids, different than hoped for kids, and for the lives they lead. Do good parents accomodate and develop realistic expectations, yes they do- if they have the time, energy, information and desire. Do all parents.....I am sure you seen the mental health statistics for American teens and children?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:08 pm: Edit

Last year, there were a number of posts from distraught students whose parents were buying into the HYP-or-bust mentality (in fact, it was more Harvard and Yale). Then there were the posts of students whose parents insisted they apply in-state when they themselves wanted to be farther away and felt they had the stats to be admitted, perhaps even with merit aid, to more selective private schools. I'm sure that, unfortunately, we'll see more of both kinds.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:25 pm: Edit

There are two sides to every sword, no? I hate to see the posts from the kids "which Ivy is best" and such... and I hate that my son's friend's parents are still not allowing her to look out of state in spite of stellar statistics and all her work to inform them of relative costs and values. Both are injustices done to children, often by well meaning people. People need time, energy, information and desire to inform themselves..plus a wee bit of open mindedness!

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit

"Furthermore, saying the school that wasn't the ED school is ultimately better (I have said this aloud myself many times!) is a healthy, optimistic and rational response to a statistical nightmare! It's easy to blame statistics!"

I hope you understood that I believe this to be a good thing; that I assume 99.9% of parents would do just this and that imo to do otherwise would be cruel. In my world are a whole lot of parents who were thinking HYP with early readers but talking up very different schools by middle school. And an increasingly interesting (to me) number of young people, usually but not always homeschoolers, who aren't doing a traditional college thing at all.

I wish you could have been my kids' doctor! He's a very nice man but every single time I see him he makes some comment about how amazing it is my kids turned out as wonderfully as they did! And asks me if I have trouble believing it! If I had realized at the time, while they were trying yet again and with increasing success to disassemble his examining table, how really odd he found them.. I would surely have changed to someone else. Assuming the type of student usually discussed on this board, what is your opinion on the parent's involvement in the whole educational process, esp high school. This is a discussion my h and I had many times and never really resolved. Do you think parents should push a bit: insist homework be done, SAT's be prepped for, reward good grades? Or do you think the student should be made responsible even if it may lessen opportunities? At what point is it too much pressure? Are you comfortable with such a discussion? Apologies if not.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:54 pm: Edit

I'm sure I don't think my S is the best kind of child to have. He's lopsided in his interests. He loved computerrs & math, so I worked hard to find summer program to fit his needs. By hi school, he took the initiative to find classes and clubs to fulfill his interests. I'm worried about core courses & difficulty at his college, but he wants to be around kids who think like him.

Marite's S could clearly flourish at MIT, but he would do well at P or H. P would offer him the depth in math/physics, but core would be broader.The housing situation at P is more stable, but he already knows people at MIT, so would be less thrown by #of students and choices of dorms. I didn't know P accepted juniors. When my S decided to skip sr year, it seemed MIT, Caltech, CMU more receptive than the few Ivies he called. I'm sure Marite's S will spend time at both his top choices, so will use the EA choice wisely. (P is binding, MIT not?)

By Cheers (Cheers) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:22 am: Edit

E and R; I wish I could say that I ignore the hype of prestige but I pay attention. For the first five minutes. However, noting that undergrad degree is not the be all to end all. Plenty of bloodyminded HYP grads I'd rather not run into at the market.

At the risk of offending alums, the Ivy League degree is (often?) the most prestigious item bestowed on an individual and I've seen plenty, PLENTY, who never get over it. The business of peaking too early.

The preening I saw in the NYC famous architect's office was not to be believed. I finally suggested some alums wear their college sweatshirts so they wouldn't have to mention it nine million times.

And I found the prestige snobbery extended to presumptions about my children: ie, you didn't go to XYZ, so your child won't be accepted to such and such elementary/high school. Huh? I'd get mad if it wasn't so absurd. (Of course they were accepted).

A tiny bit of prestige--going to a top 75 undergrad for instance, or going to a prestigious secondary school--can produce enough prestige for the lifetime of a talented person. Nail biting about the USN 25 undergrad is OTT and wrongheaded.

Anyway, a little prestige helps, but don't put all the prestige eggs into the undergrad basket.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:56 am: Edit

Yes, I understood your intent- and I work hard at trying to take my own advice!! As to the more general discussion topic, sure... why not..I'll go out on a limb here, because this is where my junction between parent and professional is most challenging..

I think it is a parents' responsibility to help a child see the need to preserve options. I think, therefore, that if a child appears to have the capacity to excel, the parent is beholden to provide the opportunities for them to do so, to the extent that it is within their means and values. However, I think parents need to appreciate that kids bloom on their own time schedule, and that the conventional 4 years of HS might not be their "season." In this case, nurture what the child is doing well, preserve their sense of self, value what they love and take a sincere interest. Try to help them extend what might seem limited or inapplicable interests- I know a whole fleet of kids who were "drummers" in 9th grade, but by 11th grade were planning concerts, studying music theory, learning physics so they could study music technology. They have all started U expecting a career in some aspect of the music industry. One of these kids is now touring with his band all over the US. Unfortunately, he is not in communication with his dad, except through 3rd parties. The boy is more resilient than the relationship.

As for the day to day issues...SAT's, grades and such...I think parents need to provide the environment, the structure, the opportunity and the expectation that a student will do their job, which is school, or applying to college or whatever- even through HS. I am a firm believer though, that internal motivation wins out every time over external motivators. This is where great teachers come in and make a big difference in HS, as do a dynamic peer group. A bright kid can't help but get caught up in these things. As to how many hours they study, what are good enough grades, or SAT's... some kids are just more tenacious than others, and I think this is a personality characteristic that is very hard to induce or bribe in an effort to sustain. And, some kids are topic specific- tenacious when it comes to a piece of music, indifferent as to a potential SAT increment.

My own eldest is a late bloomer, just seeing the evidence academicially of his ability..and it was induced by remarkable teaching and peers. I did the usual spectrum of structure-cajole-humor-nag-nag+ with him through HS. He explored areas like technical theater that he now really knows a lot about and which others value, he did fine academically- but his best semester ever was 2nd semester senior year...talk about reverse senioritis! He came to me after winning his first academic awards in his senior year and knowingly said.."I wonder if I could have been doing this well all along."

Son#2, a completely different kettle of fish..puts pressure on himself, tries to do his best, but also accepts that sometimes his best is not as good as someone else's best. Takes on amazing challenges, but always because he wants to, never because he should. With him my H and I monitor his stress level, encourage him to take time to socialize and exercise- and listen, and listen. He is young, and needs to learn to pace himself better!

Blissfully, my 3rd child is only 9 and while she is a handful (have you read The Difficult Child?) her stage of life is a relief from the "pressures" of HS for all of us!

At the beginning of the summer I reward for grade improvement in areas that the kids have targeted during the year. This serves two functions, it gives them a budget for the summer (they have not been in a position to work generally) and it acknowledges effort which for them almost always is tied to outcome. This seems a reasonable balance for us...the boys appreciate the expectation that they will set goals and sustain effort. I like it that they don't nag me for cash during the summer! I always think it is better to acknowledge effort than outcome as a key measure. Without the first, there will never be the latter.

Sorry to be so wordy...but that's how I see it, and how I try to do it...like I said, I try to take my own advice!!

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:53 am: Edit

About the undergraduate degree:
Maybe because there are so many people around here who are assumed to have degrees from local universities that include Harvard and MIT, as well as from other prestigious universities, we don't actually need to know where they got their degree--it's just assumed it's from somewhere great. And it does not make sense in such an environment to try to categorize people by where they went to college.
The first time I heard of Reed was when my older S was looking at colleges. Someone I admired mentioned that he'd gone to Reed. I did some research and came away liking Reed (but my S did not want to go far). So I admire Reed because I admire the people I know who graduated from Reed (I've since met more), rather than the other way around. I find it strange that people are fixated by the college they went to decades earlier.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:18 am: Edit

Robyrm: Thank you very much for your post. I am extremely interested in your take on all these subjects and really appreciate your views.

Difficult Child, Stanley Turecki. I think we discussed this on another thread and yes it was my bible. His ideas on using routines to help highly sensitive children worked very well with my own. My feelings are rather more mixed about "Quirky Kids" which I was finally able to look through last week. My first take is that it is a still too negative a view of "unique kids, different than hoped for kids." One issue is that I never felt my kids were really all that unusual and I am not sure I would have been well served by being told otherwise. Well, I guess a whole lot of people outside my family did try to tell me otherwise LOL. Since these were behaviors common in various parts of my family(and I am coming more and more to understand in my husband's as well)I wasn't that distressed by it all. My h and I thought our kids were fascinating and endlessly entertaining.. tho debilitatingly exhausting. We always thought they were the best kind of kids to have. And now with them mostly raised, among our extended family we enjoy most the kids my h calls "interesting" and always look forward to visiting with them; we have to be careful to show equal attention if they have less interesting siblings. My absolute best advice on dealing came from older family members. I think my h and I did okay with our kids but looking back I see room for improvement. Looking at the personality types that attract my sons and imagining my grandchildren I am trying to do some memoir type pieces that may be useful to my sons and their partners when they parent. I absolutely don't want to be in the position of handing out unwanted advice to an uninterested/potentially resentful daughter-in-law but it seems to me useful to start keeping some sort of generational record of trial and error parenting techniques. Wordy to the extreme! sorry!

Because of the type of kids we have we never tried to fit them to any particular mold. That would have been futile. We never monitored homework (tho we always gave help if asked) rewarded grades or insisted on test prep. This was easy for us because by high school all their energy was directly in a very positive manner. Since one kid thinks standardized tests an absolute and unbearably tedious waste of time and really really hates filling in those bubbles, we debated long and hard whether we were doing him a disservice not forcing SAT prep, since he was capable of a really high score IF he would just concentrate. Although he didn't manage to bubble his name correctly (and goodness knows how many other questions he missed that way) he still managed to do "well enough" We decided to leave well enough alone rather than insist he try again. Both sons seem to think we weren't high pressure enough parents. A recent holiday visit had them complaining they weren't raised bilingual-- "mom, it would have been so easy!" Since they didn't even speak English till they were almost four, preferring a combination of sign language and invented language.. I just rolled my eyes and tried to keep from laughing. Of course my baby sister didn't talk till she was almost five (another sign language kid) and my niece wouldn't talk to anyone outside the immediate family till she went to school. Until recently it has never hit me that these sorts of behaviours are really not that usual.

okay apologies to all for being totally off any sort of college topic

By Sac (Sac) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 03:05 pm: Edit

The Chicago and MIT EA suggestion was based on their policies of not restricting EA to single choice. From experience, I can tell you it's a terrific luxury to go into the RD round with a great school as your "safety." I also think your S has a great shot at Princeton RD, based on what you've said, and that he doesn't need to lock himself into it by applying there ED just for some strategic advantage. I'm responding to what I get from your posts, the sense that your S is undecided. The social aspect might become more important to him between now and next Spring, when he makes his final decision.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 03:22 pm: Edit

Your take on my S is absolutely correct. I'm trying not to put any pressure on him. Even if he does decide to do either ED or EA, he still has until Nov. to choose one (or more) schools. He has been in touch with some adcoms about whether he can use recs from his college math prof since he has not taken math in high school, and the physics class he audited was back in 8th grade (though the teacher certainly remembers him!). He has been busy trying to write a variety of essays for different schools. Thank goodness he writes fairly fast and understands the advantage of getting essays out of the way now before classes start again. Truth to tell, I'm finding this whole process rather smooth- going, knowing that he will do well wherever he ends up. It may be a different story in April if he cannot make up his mind then! Thanks for your concern and suggestions.

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