Parenting quandary(s) Need input

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by pygmalion, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    I understand your thinking, P, but I also think I understand what Joe is saying. [And I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong!]

    Your son might be motivated by thinking "If I excel academically, I may be able to get some fantastic scholarships and go wherever I want!"

    I also would say the following:
    A) He's 14, right? The extent to which you "Want to get a Ph.D." is kind of nebulous at 14. I just don't think you can really understand what that means in terms of commitment and sacrifice until later in life. [Actually, I'm not sure I understood what it meant in terms of commitment and sacrifice until I was about halfway through my program. Seriously.]

    B) Let's say he hits it out of the ballpark on the SAT or ACT and has a strong GPA. Do you have any idea how much colleges/universities would compete for a talented A-A student with high scores interested in a STEM field? There really could be some sweet deals there. You'll have a better sense of the lay of the land by junior year.

    C) I like some of the Florida public schools (especially New College), but I like the way you put it above: "strongly consider." YES, debt is a bad thing, but it is also important to find a school that is a good match, academically and socially.


    I have a young relative who is planning to pick the university that is closest to home, and I don't think it is the best fit for him. He has such an opportunity to expand his horizons, but I don't think he's going to do it. He's a bright kid and his life will turn out fine...but differently than it would have if he had truly explored his options.
     
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think the first goal is seeing whether or not he is really interested in applying himself...because, if he isn't, you won't have to worry about Harvard...and that has to come from within him (wanting a phD and being willing to daily sustain what it takes to get one without parental supervision are, as you know, very different)...because you aren't going to be there to form a plan for him or monitor whether or not he is executing it...if he applies himself and excels, many of the concerns you have will be taken care of because he will have offers that include funding or, which are so promising that he will be able to take on the debt ...the hardest thing ever is to have to watch your child squander some opportunities before they are fully committed to applying themselves, but sometimes it is a neccessary evil
     
  3. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    perhaps we should start a new thread of Happiness Vs Human?Academic Potential..

    In a Beautiful Mind, I always thought it was a mistake for the guy(John Nash) to leave his best friend/s for an academic career.
     
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    you know, it is a choice that everyone has to make....dh turned down Harvard Law school(he was in the 99th percentile on the LSAT) because he was our sole income provider at the time and we had a 1 year old and a 4 year old at home...so the thought of relocating and taking on that much debt to quit his job was simply more stressful than either one of us could bear...he went to DePaul in the evening and worked during the day instead (which was a sufficient level of hell)....I don't think either one of us has ever regretted it though....our son, OTOH, followed a girl off to Kent State, albeit it WAS the honors college and he did have some merit money, but he turned down a full ride to Purdue, simply because it was local and she was not there...then, lo and behold, she didn't like Kent and they both transferred to Purdue, without the previously offered full ride...of course they broke up shortly thereafter....I am certain that he now regrets that ...but it was his choice to make and he now lives with the consequence...so we paid his undergrad due to that misfortune and he is on his own for Law School...mercifully, he scored well on the LSAT (92nd percentile I think) and has a pretty good deal...however, had he made wiser choices, he would have scored better on his LSAT and have had access to a few other top places that he was considering....sigh...he'll be fine...and he owns his decisions, his mistakes, and his successes....shrug

    In my case, I unapologetically followed dh to undergrad as well...I think that happened to serve me well :), but it was a crap shoot
     
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the really good input. I do appreciate it.

    One of the things I've observed about DS over the years is that if he decides he wants to do something, there's virtually nothing I can do to get in the way of his achieving his goals. If he's not motivated, however, ahem *cough* That's why I think ccm is right. His finding a major that inspires him and a school that is a good fit are both absolutely essential.

    And yes. There are still lots of scholarships out there for talented kids. I just can't forget listening to the heart-breaking stories on NPR, last summer and the summer before, of very talented kids with good grades who were in search of money for college. Most of the kids who were featured never did find the money. Heartbreaking.

    So of course. I will encourage DS to excel academically as much as he possibly can, but I also want to make sure he has a financial back-up plan.

    As far as the PhD is concerned, eh. That's all DS knows. DS's Dad and I both spent big chunks of our careers in a pretty elite R&D organization, so DS has always been surrounded by people well educated people. It would never occur to him to seek anything other than a terminal degree. As much as I see other perfectly good possibilities, I'm certainly not going to discourage his vision, at least at this stage of the game.

    But yes. DS has yet to connect the dots between today's actions and college applications in his junior year. (Meaning we are already having the annual "Am I going to take that internship?" drama. The kid has no concept of how lucky he is to have a Dad that can arrange for him an internship that never even gets posted in one of the top scientific orgs in the US. Oy.)

    Eh. We still have time. Not as much as I would like, but we have some time.
     
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and, in the end, what he does each day from now til then is up to him...and sometimes, however that goes, that is the best possible thing for a soul....I remember, and thank goodness it was a really stupid and trivial loss but one that bit at the time, that I decided to rush sororities freshman year...I also decided that, after two years of Spanish in high school, I didn't need to get up at 8:30, 4 days a week to go to a Spanish class taught by a TA......well, that Spanish grade kept me from the minimum GPA required to get a bid from the only sororityI liked...now, in hindsight, I never would have been a match for sororities, but, as a freshman, I had it in my head as a big deal.... it taught me a lesson that no amount of nagging from my mother ever could have
     
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I guess I should also add that I am ambivalent about Florida public schools because DS's father is either a visiting professor, an invited lecturer, or a graduate advisor at several of them. I'm not sure that DS attending a university his Dad is affiliated with would foster the independence that can be such a big part of the undergrad experience.

    So we'll see. Right now, my biggest struggle is getting him to see why it's important to excel in all his classes, not just the ones he loves. Arrgh.
     
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Yep. It's probably a good thing you went away to school so you got to make that decision (mistake?) without parental interference.
     
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my parents were really big on not interfering , probably too far to that end of the spectrum.....but yea, I am certain that I would not have listened had they tried...as is the case with our children
     
  10. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    This.

    I absolutely agree as far as "at this stage of the game." And with his experience through his parents, he's got a better sense of what an academic lifestyle is than many teens. At the same time, it may make him even more susceptible to just keeping going with school because that's what he knows, and he's good at it. But dissertating is so fundamentally unlike any other kind of school, and there are so many other possible ways of life out there, that I think that's a dangerous reason to enter a doctoral program. I strongly recommend that students take some time in the real world before entering a doctoral program to figure out if they really can't do what they want without the PhD. Because the soul-sucking feelings of failure that go along with that 50% attrition rate for doctoral programs really are best avoided if possible. Not to mention the people who do manage to finish but then can't find or have discovered they don't want the highly specialized jobs they just trained for. Just something to keep in mind 10 years from now, when and if it's applicable.
     
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I have a GF whose son just graduated with a Masters in ... counseling? Something in the social sciences this past May.

    She loves to tell the story of her son who has ADHD and had learning delays in reading and math. She really went to bat for him, especially after his primary school teachers told her that he'd be lucky if he ever made it out of high school.

    Anyway. With her help he made it through high school near the top of his class. so she went with him to his first counseling appointment at college, to talk with the counselor about classroom accommodations, etc. At the end of the appointment, the counselor said, "Thanks, Mrs. P. You've done your job now. It's time for him to take it from here."

    Very nice. :)
     
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    DS has a hard row to hoe on that score. I see all sorts of possibilities. DS's Dad not so much. DS's Dad is from a developing country in which education was the only escape from poverty. That man is driven! He went straight from undergrad and got his PhD in three years (because he didn't have money for a fourth year lol.)

    I guess I should add that this is why it was so important to me to make sure that DS would have college money his Dad had no control over. I don't want DS to feel he "has to" go to the college his parents prefer. DS's Dad really means well, but I can't see the ex paying for DS to go to ... interior design school (just a top of the head example) even if interior design is DS's passion.

    With the prepaid tuition program I have, as long as DS goes to an accredited school (2-year, 4-year, vocational you name it,) he will get college money. Going to a Florida school will maximize the return on my investment, but DS making a different choice would not be the end of the world.

    So we'll see.

    For now, I'm going to try to expose DS to as many possibilities as I can. The nice part of being from a now-defunct R&D org is that I have a lot of friends who landed in academia. I think it might be a good time for DS to take some road trips. :)
     
  13. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    This is what I did, and in retrospect it wasn't the best choice I could have made. But what's done is done.
     
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I didn't want your point to get missed, either, btm.

    Yes. Years ago, my Dad used to work at a lab in a university in my home town. One of Dad's coworkers was a mechanical engineer who also had an MD degree. When my Dad asked him why, the coworker said that his parents had always wanted him to become a doctor. His parents wouldn't pay tuition for anything else. So he went to med school. Then he practiced medicine long enough to pay for himself to go back to grad school in engineering.

    What a sad waste of time.
     
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So quasi-related question. Please bear with me, because I know y'all went through this with me last year this time.

    DS once again has an opportunity to do a six-week internship this summer at an R&D organization with name recognition, even beyond the techie world. It would be unpaid, but he'd be working with a well-known scientist (not his father.)

    Problem? DS doesn't get along with his father and had a pretty bad experience when he did the internship last year. Not at work, but at home with his Dad. Because I no longer do high tech, I don't have the connections to offer DS anything similar.

    I have already talked to both DS and his father about what went wrong last summer. DS's Dad said he'll try to address the things that went wrong. He also said, "Look. This isn't about how DS feels about me. It's about him having a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can worry about how he feels about me later. I'll do my best." And the ex is right. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that DS has now been offered twice. DS's geeky BFF is dying with envy.

    Obviously, no one here knows DS's father, so I won't ask what I should do.

    What I will ask, especially of people who have been fairly recently involved in the college admissions process (from any perspective -- student, parent or educator,) is how heavily do summer internships or other types of enrichment experiences weigh in the college admission process?

    Assuming DS ends up in high tech (Right now he's interested in computer engineering.) would a high tech internship carry more weight than, for example, a summer job or volunteer work in a community organization? Or is just involvement over and above grades and test scores enough?

    And my prejudice is that a series of internships with the same organization would look better that a series of unrelated internships. Is this true? (DS would have increasing responsibility. He assisted last year; this year he would have his own project.)

    Any thoughts would be welcome.



    *digging out copy of Fat Envelope Frenzy.*
     
  16. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    Ok, prefacing my remarks with the fact that I am not an educator, I am just a mom who went through the admissions process four times, two times with kids who selected engineering as their career choice.....I cannot help but think that your son has a golden opportunity with this high tech internship. My kids were not fortunate enough (or perhaps not driven enough) to have or this option, and they were on pins and needles while waiting for the acceptance from the polytechnic institute of their choice. They had good grades (top 15% of their class), some AP coursework in Science and Math, steady summer employment, and a lot of volunteer experience. Yet they were still advised that they were not a shoo-in for their school of choice. So I think anything extra your son can do to gain experience in a field that he loves and may want to pursue as a career will help.

    I also think that it's not a bad idea for kid his age to get to know his father a little better. Maybe I'm crazy, because you've mentioned here that he is a difficult guy. But I just think that if a son and his father can come to understand each other a little better, it got to be a good thing.....and he gets a great internship experience on top of the Dad experience.... And if the company invites him back, it is bound to show that he is reliable and hardworking.

    One thing I found very interesting during the college application process....one of the admissions counselors at my son's target school told me she actually liked the fact that my son scooped ice cream at the ballpark for a few summers. She told me it shows that he must have some people skills, unlike a lot of kids who apply to that school who want nothing more than to work on their computers in the privacy of their own room. So that little job was actually a plus, and he talked up his "people skills" when he applied for his paid internships in college.
     
  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I teach at MIT, as well as guest coaching at Harvard and Yale. And I know that at MIT a 4.0 is the bare minimum requirement to get in, so I would suspect that Harvard and Yale are the same. Most of what these types of schools require is social and leadership skills. A resume filled with academic clubs, leadership positions, social work, and a job are what gets one in, because honestly every kid in these schools already has a 4.0.
     
    samina likes this.
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Awesome! Thanks for the perspectives.

    Now I have ammunition to beat DS over his figurative head. Just kidding! But this is food for thought. When DS declined his Dad's first offer of the internship for this summer, his rationale was, "But Mom. This is my last summer to just veg and be a kid. Next summer, I'll have to worry about SATs and stuff." I didn't say anything be cause of poor timing, but I thought, "I've got news for you pally-o. You may not spend this summer in the lab, but you sure as heck won't be spending it in your room, glued to your laptop screen."

    Now I have data to back up my knee jerk reaction.

    One way or another, the boy will be working this summer. Done deal. :cool:
     
  19. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Yep...a GPA is just basic, a beginning point. They want leadership...activities & successes that set a kid apart from the rest. Or, ya gotta be an insider...that goes a long way, still. Whether fair or not, the world is built on that at a certain level.
     
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yes...I can also verify that even at Northwestern, which is arguably on par with the finest institutions, 4.0 is a given... awesome standardized test scores are a must... and impressive extras plus skill in direct interviews need to be there....our dtr's SAT was 2300, her ACT was a 35, her GPA was above a 4.0 (because the academy she went to was weird like that)...she attended Interlochen Summer fine arts for two summers, and Notre Dame fine arts camps as well...she tutored, was president of the Green club, was also in band and choir, won many writing contests, performed hours of social service...and she still had several sit down interviews with alums...even with all of that, she got in but they do not give much money out...all she got was the max that you get from National merit, which trust me, doesn't scratch the surface... she didn't work anywhere significant, but her activities were relevant to her major
     

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