Parenting quandary(s) Need input

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

  1. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I've thought a lot about educational strategy, not from the perspective of cost, mostly from the perspective of the most effective route to a goal if chosen, with a relative recently starting college, and own kids getting to the point of thinking about it.

    Like it or not, the school you get your bachelor's from matters to employers. It's a sword that cuts both ways. Too good a school can make you appear overqualified for some jobs. (Been there.) If you already have a specialization picked out, you want to find the best school available that you can get into for that specialty, which won't necessarily be the "best" school overall. If the kid is definitely lined up for graduate school, or professional school, undergrad isn't so critical. It's the grad school that matters most at that point.

    For a kid like most that hasn't got a clue what they want to be when they grow up, school with the best reputation that they can get into and can afford will make the most options available when they graduate. That doesn't mean they are smarter, or got a better education going to an 'elite' school, but the average hiring manager hasn't got the skill to directly assess a candidate's abilities, and just has things like the college attended to go by.
  2. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Also, as much as Americans love to think of college as a right and rite of passage, it's a pretty darn expensive way to figure out your identity outside of your family. That's not what you go to college for. It can happen there, but that shouldn't be the primary purpose. If you've got to 'find yourself', try a couple of years in the military, the peace corps, etc., first. You'll take far more effective advantage of your time in school that way.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Since you mention it, I have to say that my Auntie J's sons (all ten of them) joined the military right out of high school. All ten of them used military benefits to help defray college expenses. Four went on to become career military men. Those four have all retired from the military now and the two who were Air Force pilots are making very nice livings as commercial pilots.

    The military is not the right route for everyone (especially now that we're at war,) but it's another approach that has worked for a lot of people. And there's no denying that it will help you grow up.
  4. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    Yes, except that a competitive grad school is going to take under consideration the school from which the applicant received his or her bachelor's degree.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. I'm sure the quality of the undergrad program is considered. I can't imagine that's the only consideration, though. I have three friends who went to HBCU's (and not top tier ones) for undergrad and who ended up in Stanford, MIT and Wharton respectively for grad school.
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks again for all the truly useful input, everyone. I am pondering. :)

    I have no doubt I'll be back to ask more in the future.

    Actually I just thought of something. If you could come up with a list of essential skills that you think every young adult should have before leaving home, what would it be?

    We've already mentioned basic housekeeping -- laundry, at least minimal cooking skills, cleaning. Basic money management skills, such as balancing a checkbook.

    What other skills do you think kids need?

    I have a couple funny stories from my first apartment that I'll share later. I mean really funny. I have a couple last minute gifts to buy, though, so I have to leave now. Want to be at Tarjay when it opens. :cool:
  7. ireniecat

    ireniecat New Member

    I completely agree that basic housekeeping are useful to know, but I would not say they are "essential." I learned laundry quite easily on my own, but I still don't know how cook to this day (no interest in it--fiance has cooked for the last 5 years). I would say it's more important to instill a sense of cleanliness and maintaining a dwelling than the skills in of themselves. Plenty of people know how to clean and do laundry but don't do it anyway.

    As far as money management, I would say balancing a check book is not near enough. Add to the list: getting/managing a credit card and understanding compound interest. Also, if the kid needs to take out student loans in his/her name, a full understanding of the repayment terms.

    Here's a good article about money management for kids:
    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2018865_2018867_2018868,00.html

    Other things: maybe how to change a flat tire on a car, shop for an apartment, safe sex (ha ha)
  8. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Understand that saying "Excuse me" is not a raping of your personal rights.
    Sew on a button.
    Change a flat tire.
    Know which piece of silverware to use and when at a formal dinner. You never know when the big boss or SO's filthy rich family might entertain.
    Basic first aid.
    Know how to read a map for when your GPS dies or goes crazy.
    Know how to pack a suitcase so your clothes don't look like you've slept in them.
    And speaking of clothes, know how to press a shirt without scorching it.
    Know when to end a bad relationship and know to keep relationship issues out of the workplace.
    Know some basic survival skills in case of emergency - build a fire, avoid hypothermia and heatstroke, know that water is more important than food.
    A little basic self-defense - block a punch; eyes, throat, groin; car keys can be used for brass knuckles.
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Huh. By your list I'm totally screwed! LOL. (Although I can, in theory, change a flat tire. I say "in theory" because if the stupid little bolt thingies have been tightened too much I'm pretty much screwed.)

    First and last: how to think for yourself. That will take care of a lot of other things on the list. For ex: credit cards. Uh...you have to pay for your crap. Even the slightest bit of logic will tell you that just because you swipe your card doesn't mean that you don't actually have to outlay cash for it at some point. You know that thing that keeps turning up in the mail with the credit card name on it? Yeah...you see where it has that "minimum payment" amount? If you don't pay it, bad things happen. How this gets lost on people I don't know. It' simple logic.

    Uber-basic house stuff: in cold weather you have to shut off your outside spigots, how to fix a toilet that keeps running, how to restart a pilot light, how to reset a flipped breaker, how to light a gas stove. Perhaps this is knowledge that boys seem to absorb osmotically. They were things that no one ever thought to tell/show me, so the first house/apartment was a bit of a learning curve. (Thank goodness there are instructions for lighting a pilot printed on the doohickeys themselves.)

    Basic investment things: the difference between a Roth and a traditional IRA (and how to weigh the benefits of each based on circumstances), SEP/SIMPLE IRA, matching, 401(k), rollover, vesting, HSA/FSA, money market, qualified/nonqualified, capital gains, defined benefit v. defined contribution plans (and funded v. unfunded plans).

    How to evaluate health insurance options (although technically covered by the "applying basic logic" item). The filing of taxes--when, how, the fact that you have to or bad things happen. Mortgage basics (payment in advance or in arrears, PMI, amortization and how it works, understanding prepayment penalties if applicable in TX, loan terms--fixed/level payment, ARM, term, how to think about rate adjustments). Personal insurance--renters, homeowners, car, health, long term care (not necessary right away), disability.

    ETA: Budgeting--how to make one, how to keep to one. Understanding of pre-tax v. post-tax. Understanding payroll taxes, etc. (withholding, exemptions, etc.). Difference between types of payment--W-2 v. 1099 for example.
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I have seen plenty of people "survive" just fine without most of these skills. Single most important skill, bar none, in these days of credit and instant gratification, is money management and financial planning. So many either learn it the hard way, or never do, much to their detriment. Most basic is understanding all the different ways to leak money. ;-) That includes usurious interest rates and starbucks lattes.

    Next after that would be learning, as much as possible, to read people and to have a healthy skepticism of the motives of others.

    These are the two areas that I think I've seen more people get in trouble than others. I won't say I had to learn them the hard way, but I do wish I had learned them earlier.

    Then, after that, you need to judge where your child might need some extra attention.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Dying to explore this. :wink:


    If I had to contribute one essential skill, it would be basic home repair. I never learned any of this because I lived in a traditional home where my Dad and brother did everything even remotely associated with Home Depot. (Actually, I'm too old for HD to apply. My Dad and bro bought hardware-related stuff at a ... wait for it ... hardware store -- an old-fashioned, family-owned hardware store that probably had spider webs in the corners still left over from WWII days. I loved that place. )

    I digress.

    Anyway. When I got into my first apartment, everything was a challenge. I couldn't hang a picture or install the simplest window treatments. I had no idea which drill bit to use and had no idea what a Phillips head screw driver or an Allen wrench was. Not good.

    So this one day, roommate and I were feeling rich (meaning we had a couple hundred bucks in our collective pocket) and decided to split the cost of a stereo set. Macy's had a great sale on stereo components. No problem, except that we also went to a dept store (that no longer exists -- I'm old.) and bought an assemble-it-yourself cabinet for our brand new stereo.

    We went back to the apt, read the instructions, assembled the cabinet, inserted the stereo components, and went into the kitchen for soda pop to celebrate. (This was before I became a wino. lol)


    CRASH!


    Run back into the livingroom only to find the cabinet tilted at a 65-ish degree angle, lurching over to the right, and our turntable in pieces on the floor. (Yes turntable. I said I'm old.)

    Neither one of us knew how to screw wood screws tightly and, even more importantly, how to know when they weren't. Hence lurching cabinet.


    We howled with laughter. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. Our cabinet looked like a sick old lady leaning on a cane. And our turntable ... well? We got a new turntable. :oops: :lol:
  12. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl New Member

    Back to the job question: I think it's crucial to put some restrictions on what the child does with money earned. I watched a very unfortunate situation unfold with the daughter of a friend of mine. The girl had a 20-hour a week job all through high school, making significantly above minimum wage. The mother, a single mom with limited resources, paid for all the basics and let the girl spend her earnings however she wanted. So all through high school, she spent all her money buying very expensive clothes and other luxuries. She wore more expensive stuff than her mom did--and more expensive even than I could afford, when I was single with a good job.

    When it came time for college and living independently, things went downhill fast. Having to use her own money on rent, food, and utilities was a huge shock to her, and she simply couldn't bear to be without the luxuries she was used to. So she dropped out and got a full-time job. Short-term it gave her more money, but wasn't such a good long-term plan.

    My friend should have insisted that her daughter save at least half of her earnings for college, especially since the mom's limited resources meant she knew she wouldn't be able to pay all the college expenses for her daughter.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks for saying that, waltzgirl. :cool:

    Even when I have a question, I try to start threads that are not all about me and then follow the threads wherever they naturally go. :)

    And yes. I do agree with what you've said.

    I saw something similar happen with my nieces. They didn't have jobs (my sister wouldn't let them work, even though they asked.) But they had a Dad who was a combat-wounded Vietnam vet who was also exposed to agent orange. The US government gave him a six-figure settlement which went to my nieces when he died of cancer. In addition, because they were both minors, they both got his SSI payments to age eighteen.

    My sister says she felt guilty because she and their father divorced. So, foolishly, she let them decide what to do with the (significant amount of) money. Tens of thousands of dollars lump sum, apiece, plus I forget how many hundreds of dollars a money SSI, in the control of a couple of teenage girls.

    Bottom line, they both spent money like it was free until age eighteen. Then neither of them had any money for college nor any concept of the value of money as young adults. Really quite tragic. :-?
  14. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Getting into grad school from college has strong similarities to getting into college from high school. When I said college was not as critical, I didn't mean to imply not important at all. If I was going to pick a strategy, it would be to go to the best school I could get straight A's at, with reasonably well connected faculty in the field I want to pursue in grad school.
    A good state school should serve this purpose quite well. Community college might be a bit risky.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Well-connected faculty. There's the rub. That's' the part that's going to take some research. I do have friends who are faculty, board members, advisors, etc at various schools, if DS stays on the engineering track that he is now. If he changes his mind, I'm back to square 1.5, in getting the real scoop. *shrug*
  16. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Case study:

    Me - BA from Northwestern (physical science), 3.15 GPA. Rejected by PhD programs at Minnesota and Ohio State. Accepted into terminal masters at South Florida and PhD program at Indiana. Ultimately got MBA, so it didn't much matter.

    DS1 - BA from Northwestern (religion and philosophy), 3.85 GPA. Rejected by U of Chicago Law, accepted by U Southern California Law, which was in top 15 or so at the time.

    Ex-SO's DS2 - 4.0 at Southern Illinois (history), published several journal articles as undergrad. Rejected by Ohio State and Illinois (I think) PhD programs. Accepted into terminal masters at Northern Illinois.

    MY GRE scores were very good, DS1's LSAT was excellent, dunno abt ex-SO's DS1.

    When I was an administrator at NU, our engineering PhD students came from all types of schools - large, small, public, private. But we had 60 kids in the Chemical Engineering Phd track alone.

    Conclusion? I wish I had taken up ballroom in my 20s. ;-P
  17. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Figuring out who is connected usually shouldn't be so tough, with the internet to help. Most universities have faculty pages. Then you do a search for them online. Find out what professional societies they participate in, do they go to conferences, etc. Lot's of coauthors on scholarly articles and books is a good indication of connectedness.
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. I hear you, T. I'm sure you're right. But I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that DS stays with engineering. If he does engineering, I know guys and gals at a ton of universities who can invite him over for dinner and keep an eye on himm, academically, even after I no longer have control. There's nothing like personal connections. These folks have been at my house for social events. They can certainly keep an eye on my son. :cool:


    OTOH, you're right. I can probably find out whatever I need with the help of the internet. :-D
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Exactly. Whatever pieces you have, put them together to create the picture you want. :cool:
  20. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl New Member

    Good exam scores can do you a lot of good. I had some amusing evidence of this once. I graduated with a 3.2 GPA in history (it was not the done thing at that time and place to care too much about grades). A decade later, I decided to go to grad school in English, so I took the GRE and got a very good verbal score.

    I was meeting with a professor at a school I was thinking of applying to, and she was being quite condescending, saying things like, "you know, dear, studying English at the graduate level isn't the same as sitting around reading novels you like." I put up with that for a while, then found an opportunity to drop my GRE score into the conversation.

    I've never seen such a fast turn-around--I'm surprised her head didn't fly off. Just that one thing completely changed her attitude toward me.

    I didn't go to that school anyway.

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