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Old 09-05-2009, 03:16 PM   #21
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I would have read the entire rant, but I'm burned out from four years of FAFSA applications.
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:18 PM   #22
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I always enjoy Nord's adventures in college admissions rants. I have vague memories of mom helping me with the college essay, but I can see now that their are distinct advantages that neither parent graduated from college.

Personally, I am looking forward to next years rant on tracking the kid on Facebook.

Here are some helpful hints.
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:25 PM   #23
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Rant is an understatement. What comes to mind is Blackhawk parenting.
Much more poignant term than "helicopter parenting". It implies the use of parental deadly force, which several bureaucrats of our local high school have already experienced. I like it!

I should point out that I'm railing against the high school's bureaucracy, patronizing rudeness to the teens, and the lack of platform communication. I understand that teens generally lack time-management and critical-thinking skills, but we're working on that! Spouse and I talk with her about what needs to be done, suggest the approach, and then keep track of the "To Do" list and the deadlines. Our kid has been free to flail about find her own path for over six weeks, with progressively higher voltage, until she got to the "too important to fail" tripwire. We don't do her work for her.

For example, the CommonApp website accepts teacher/counselor recommendations and transcripts over some sort of high school P2P network. But our high school uses a different network, and of course they're incompatible. Hence the huge administrative burden of copying, faxing, and mailing that they grudgingly execute with totally inadequate resources.

The state has imposed a new high-school graduation requirement of a "senior project".* This website compatibility issue would make a great senior project for a few teens who want real-world Web 2.0 street cred on their college apps. But nooooooo, the school doesn't want them messing with state-supplied systems. It'll get worked out someday, probably about when our teen is a Navy lieutenant.

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Reading through the lines, I think that possibly some of your frustration arises from the bittersweet fact that your daughter is growing up and the difficulties all parents have in letting go at this age. Believe me, as a parent I understand how much harder that is to do, than it sounds, especially when we fear that a mistake could affect our child's whole life. But still, it is time to let her do as much as is possible or reasonable.
I hear you, and I understand it's quite common, but spouse and I had a wonderful "Woo-hoo!" three weeks while our teen was at Notre Dame. And she did the cross-country flying by herself, admittedly with pre-evolution coaching and safety briefings. I just don't feel the agonizing over empty-nester syndrome. I want our teen to take on the world while I sit at home, vicariously enjoy her success, and claim to have taught her everything she knows.

I see it more as training ensigns. You let them essentially run amok, learning from their watchstanders environment, until they approach a safety limit. Then you point out the growing problem, start warning them, and eventually step in as necessary. Nothing makes me happier than a newly-qualified ensign who'll take the midwatch so that everyone else catches a break. And nothing will make me happier than launching one from the nest with no hangfires or circular runs!

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We want to do everything for our kids, or at least most of it, but really at this stage your daughter is ready to be stepping in and doing all or most of this (like the essay writing, like getting the transcripts, and so on). She is a young woman and if she is going to make it at these schools (which she IS), then she already has the initiative to take care of the vast majority of this herself as you step aside and watch/advise from the sidelines, when asked, and fork out the $$$ as required.
Agreed. She does her own data entry, makes her own phone calls, drives herself around, and she writes her own essays. You'd appreciate her topic selections: "What I learned from failing my black belt test" and "Haole on the outside, Hawaiian on the inside". I'm only a glorified copy editor. Just like training ensigns, we note spelling/grammar and phrasing/flow issues. Unlike all my military staff-duty experience, it's her decision whether or not to use our suggestions. Essays have to be in her voice, even if the phrasing isn't perfect. But IMO nothing makes a worse first impression than a spelling or grammar error. Hopefully her demographics are what they're looking for, but if her SAT scores put her in the bottom third then there's not much margin for second chances.

It's interesting to note that USNA & Notre Dame treated her like an adult. Other than "sex/drugs/rock&roll" there were really no rules or curfews, and they were expected to perform as requested. Great autonomy experience and a real thrill for her, especially the love she got from the ND chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Even the community colleges treat her as an adult when she has to talk to their admin offices.

Contrast that with returning to the high school. "Oh, you know what, honey? Come back next week. I'm too busy to take care of that this week." Or, "Oh, they're on summer break and won't get to that until next month." Or "We did that, but we didn't tell you that we did it." Or "You know what? You didn't use the right e-mail address. Our website is out of date." Or not answering voice mail & e-mails because they're "just kids". Funny, they didn't have any trouble giving quality time to a pissed-off surferdude wearing a ponytail.

We have her run around and do everything that needs to be done. (We used to have to drive her around, but we don't even do that anymore.) We may talk her through the process, or coach her through an upcoming phone call or interview, but the colleges have never heard from Mommy & Daddy. She also does everything with the high school staff on her own until we detect that she's being jerked around and is in jeopardy of losing a deadline. I'm her silver bullet, and she knows she has a limited ammo supply. Essentially the high school is responding to her requests in a timely manner only because they don't want to have to see me anymore. And it's mutual.

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My opinion is that your primary role in this from now until college graduation is as Chief Moneybags, in charge of the dough.
By the way, as I recall what was really staggering to me way back when was the application fees! They were more than the SAT fees. So you get to look forward to those.... Good luck!
Good point-- we don't go into all the details of how we're managing the money and the FAFSA. But we tell her that we'll pay her 50% of any scholarships that she wins. (A lot of the $2500 military ones go begging for just an application and a 10-minute interview.) But she puts all the fees on her own credit card and then we reimburse her expenses.

IIRC the SATs are $90, the SAT IIs $65, and the college application fees $65. Each. The high school charges $1 for a transcript mailing and $5 for expedited fax/mailing.

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Nords, let me ask this question: What does Mom think about all this? In a family of 3, usually 2 people take the same side and gang up on the third. Who is odd man out on this?
Lemme put it this way. When the high school is blowing off our daughter, she backs off and defers to me. When I want to give the high school a really good scare, I back off and defer to my spouse. She's always been better at the vicious staff infighting, and she knows how to get the principal's attention if the counselor just doesn't understand.

Spouse is big picture: "Have you done 20 minutes on this task today? What deadlines are coming due?" I'm more detail-oriented: "If you want me to edit an essay, I'd like to see it in the next two days. Have you sent your SAT scores to the NROTC recruiter?"

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Somewhere in Hell, the College Application Design Committee (Marquis de Sade, Heinrich Himmler, Vlad the Impaler, and the guy who writes the Instructions for Form 1040) are being rewarded by Old Scratch himself.
Here are my words of encouragement: It will all be over soon. The letters of acceptance will come in, the sun will peek through the clouds again, you will all celebrate, and before long you will think to yourself: "Ah, that wasn't so bad. We were all freaked out over nothing." And then the happiest thought of all will bubble up and make everything all better: "Thank God we only had to do that once!"
I literally laughed out loud, and that brought spouse over to the monitor too. Thanks!

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Next year about this time will be the "College Drop-off Rant" about taking kid to college and installing her in the dorm room.
I heard all about this from a few parents last month. There was the "room was a roach pit" moan from Mom. Dad thought the communal showers hadn't been cleaned since he went to college.
Nay, nay, moosebreath. She went to Notre Dame & USNA on her own, and I think she can handle going to college on her own. We're inclined to drop her off at the Honolulu airport, stack a half-dozen lei around her neck, and take photos in case the police want one for a missing-persons report. I don't do zone inspections anymore and Mom doesn't do laundry or bedding. Our teen is warming up to the idea of doing it this way, especially after seeing the "Transformers II" college-dropoff scene.

We'll go with her if she wants, but I can't imagine anything worse than parent briefings with thousands of my closest new friends cramming into college parking lots and auditoriums. Spouse and I have Chiang Mai travel plans better things to do with our lives. Our teen will have too many things to take care of to want to have to deal with us.

And for graduation in 2014, if we can't rent a family-sized B&B within walking distance then we'll figure out how to rent an RV and boondock in a quiet corner of the campus.

[*If any of you Hawaii residents want to learn how your teen can choose not to do the "mandatory" senior project, then we can tell you how our teen escaped that "requirement". But it does mean that she will not graduate "with honors".]
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:51 PM   #24
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Aaaw - I'm not sure you want to miss the drop-off experience! As a fiercely independent young person, it was suprisinly emotional to have my parents and best friend come with me.

She may feel a twinge of loneliness if she goes by herself while others are surrounded by doting parents...You'll have plenty of alone time while she is gone, but it is one experience you won't get back! She has four (or more) years of resettling herself on her own - but this is the only "first time"...plus she'll just have a LOT more stuff then luggage for a weekender, may need to make a few trips to the local tarjay etc to get the rest....and might even want her last dose of her exceptionally attentive parents...
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:06 PM   #25
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Hey thanks for the reply! I haven't been called "moosebreath" for over 30 years. You make me feel young again. I guess I will write the drop-off rant next year.

About a week before I went to college, my folks asked me how I was gonna get there. I hadn't really thought about it. I called up Greyhound and got the bus schedule. I had to beg my mom to drive me to the bus station and I paid for the ticket myself. 24 hours later I was in a bus terminal with all my belongings missing. At least I had enough money to share a cab to campus.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:19 PM   #26
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Oh my. I think I admire any kid or parent who will go through that.

I have 2 kids starting college within the next year. They are, um, different.

The first to start college will be starting community college in January. He'll be living at home since he is 15. Obviously, he is a bright kid and one might think that he would be academically inclined and competitive and want to go to just that wonderful a school that was super hard to get into. One would be wrong. I suspect he will go to community college a few years (i.e. until he is 18...being smart does not alas make him mature enough to go away to college earlier) then likely transfer to a state university. This eternally B student says he will now start making A's. (I believe him...he puts huge effort into doing just enough work to make a B with an occasional A-).

My other is a more conventionally aged senior but again does not a conventional situation. He was adopted internationally and came to the US as an uneducated non-English speaking kid. It is a tribute to the fact that he is very bright that he is in fact graduating this year. He also has a hard head and doesn't learn from anything other than personal experience. That means that when he was a freshman in high school he totally refused to believe me when I told him that if he did no homework and didn't turn in assignments he was going to fail. He thought I was wrong. The first day of summer school in English the kind teacher went around and gently ask all those in the class what they struggled with in English. For some it was reading, others writing and so on. My son's answer? "Nothing." Not unreasonably she asked him why he was there. He told he didn't struggle with anything...he just didn't do his work. That year he failed 3 (!) courses.

He learned from experience and has actually done very well since then. Of course, this didn't help him overall average although amazingly he is somehow in the top quarter....

He is not academically inclined either but does realize he needs to go to college. He wants to start at community college (actually a residential junior college) and then transfer to a state university. Originally we were going to send him to a fairly easy to get into state university but the junior college is 1/3 the cost and everything fully transfers.

Seriously, I just can't get myself to believe that competitive undergraduate schools are worth it. I don't quarrel with those who feel otherwise but I went to an undistinguished state university for undergraduate and then a very good professional school and that is how I've steered my kids. They don't have any interest in the competitive schools (i.e. doing what you have to do to get into them) which is good in their case.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:52 PM   #27
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We put together a “goals list”, a deadline, and a Labor-Day-weekend liberty lockdown plan. Motivation soared inversely in proportion to morale'
Nords, I once read that "fairness doesn't just happen it requires the right government policies" You and your wife are living proof of that.

LOL

Son is a HS freshmen four years and counting blaze me a trail.
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:04 PM   #28
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Aaaw - I'm not sure you want to miss the drop-off experience! As a fiercely independent young person, it was suprisinly emotional to have my parents and best friend come with me.

She may feel a twinge of loneliness if she goes by herself while others are surrounded by doting parents...You'll have plenty of alone time while she is gone, but it is one experience you won't get back! She has four (or more) years of resettling herself on her own - but this is the only "first time"...plus she'll just have a LOT more stuff then luggage for a weekender, may need to make a few trips to the local tarjay etc to get the rest....and might even want her last dose of her exceptionally attentive parents...
I have to agree with that. I guess I don't know for sure, because for freshman move-in DD was able to get an early date because of marching band, and this year she has an off-campus dorm, so we didn't see the full rush of everyone checking into a high rise dorm. The downside to the marching band thing is that we only had about 3-4 hours to get everything moved and get her somewhat settled in before she had to go to practice, and I was sent away. But I did have time to make a Wallyworld run for her while she organized.

I only had an hour drive though, not a plane ride over the ocean.
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Old 09-06-2009, 12:27 AM   #29
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Katsmeow-- I hear you. Our high school had a family whose two kids locked up the national science competitions starting sophomore year and had all their high-school credits by the end of junior year. But they were woefully immature. Not socialized or equipped to handle stress.

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Aaaw - I'm not sure you want to miss the drop-off experience! As a fiercely independent young person, it was suprisinly emotional to have my parents and best friend come with me.
She may feel a twinge of loneliness if she goes by herself while others are surrounded by doting parents...You'll have plenty of alone time while she is gone, but it is one experience you won't get back! She has four (or more) years of resettling herself on her own - but this is the only "first time"...plus she'll just have a LOT more stuff then luggage for a weekender, may need to make a few trips to the local tarjay etc to get the rest....and might even want her last dose of her exceptionally attentive parents...
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I have to agree with that. I guess I don't know for sure, because for freshman move-in DD was able to get an early date because of marching band, and this year she has an off-campus dorm, so we didn't see the full rush of everyone checking into a high rise dorm.
I only had an hour drive though, not a plane ride over the ocean.
I don't particularly care either way, but I've read that some colleges are dealing with a certain number of Blackhawk parents to the point of making up "Welcome to college" programs for them on opening day. I feel as if we'd also be adding to the crowds and the general stress level.

She feels pretty strongly about asserting her independence, so we'd only come along if we were invited. And if not, then at least we'd make sure she packed all her left-behind possessions in numbered Rubbermaid containers so that she could send us an e-mail to ship her containers #1, 2, and 4... or whatever.

The flights are just part of the price of paradise. It's a lot easier to fly direct from Honolulu to Houston than to South Bend through O'Hare. They're 8-9 hours each way (don't really remember since I sleep most of it) but we'd pad the vacation with side trips and make 2-3 weeks out of it.
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:28 PM   #30
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When I was applying for college -- back when the woolly mammoth walked the earth --, I was pretty much on my own as I was the first in my family to go to college. Got help on the SAT/ACT front from my junior yr. history teacher who used class time to give hints about the test process and help from my English teacher on the essays. Proud to say that I was accepted at all three of my choices...with scholarships from each!

Several years later, I couldn't believe it when my then boss said that he was taking a few days off to go to his son's college NOT to move him in, but to go with him as he registered for his classes...son was a senior in college at this time, and Dad went with him to register for his classes every single term since freshman year! (Later I met the son and wasn't surprised by how immature he was!)
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:03 PM   #31
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When I was applying for college -- back when the woolly mammoth walked the earth --, I was pretty much on my own as I was the first in my family to go to college. Got help on the SAT/ACT front from my junior yr. history teacher who used class time to give hints about the test process and help from my English teacher on the essays. Proud to say that I was accepted at all three of my choices...with scholarships from each!
It still goes on today. I just skimmed this thread, and I was going to post " Am I in the minority here?", because our two college kids got into the colleges of their choice (and accepted at several) with very little action on our part. We did some research on schools and majors, just to steer them towards something that we thought might fit, and planned out the tours a bit to fit our schedule, but they did the applications, the essays, studied for the ACTs and everything on their own. I remember reading the essays, which had been grammar checked and had some feedback from their English teachers, but that was it. I thought one essay was really good, the other just sort of 'adequate', but I figured, well, that is her work, it represents her, so it is what it is. She got accepted at some fine schools.

I'm pretty easy to drive into a rant, but this just wasn't a big issue for us.

-ERD50
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:12 PM   #32
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I'm pretty easy to drive into a rant, but this just wasn't a big issue for us.
It seems that you're not exhibiting classic noodge behavior in the most Yiddish sense of the word.
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Old 09-11-2009, 06:41 PM   #33
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As I recall, my son was very closed mouth about his college applications. He refused to consider his parents' alma maters(NYU and Columbia) as he figured if we went there, there must be something wrong with them. He visited various schools with two boys in his class who were interested in the same major(road trip!). Fortunately for him, even though his grades were only so-so for his graduating class, he aced the SATs, and we were able to afford the tuition at his chosen school. He never indicated a first choice school on his applications telling me he preferred to keep an open mind.
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Old 09-11-2009, 10:30 PM   #34
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My daughter took me to Powell's Bookstore. After reading through what they had on their shelves (she is cheap, why buy when you can take them to Annie's coffee shop and peruse), she developed her selection criteria: strong engineering program in as small a school as possible. She wanted to stay on the west coast. Cal Tech and Santa Clara made the list. I talked her out of Cal Tech as I didn't think they offered other majors that fit her skill set if she concluded that engineering really wasn't her passion. This is a gal who not only had all the advanced math and science but speech and rally squad. Santa Clara was her first choice, early admit.

My gut was right, DD wasn't happy with an 'individual contributor' career path. No issues at all academically. She changed her major to finance, is now a CFO.

My contribution to all of this is to help her see the big picture, as well as the pot holes, in the academic programs she considered.

My advise to Nords: encourage your daughter to look broadly at programs that fit her interests and talents. Find a situation where she can make a mid-course correction without major disruption.
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Old 09-12-2009, 02:51 PM   #35
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My advise to Nords: encourage your daughter to look broadly at programs that fit her interests and talents. Find a situation where she can make a mid-course correction without major disruption.
Yep, and I think Rice or Notre Dame will give her those options. Even USNA.

NROTC is free of obligation for the first year. Plenty of time to make a good choice.

I fear, however, that no matter how miserable our daughter may be (and no matter how sympathetic & supportive we parents are) she'll get all stubborn & obstinate about completing the path she set out on. For this I blame her mother's genotype. I'm sure she didn't inherit that stuff from me...
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:54 PM   #36
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Now that our kid thinks her college search is over, and after re-reading my original rant, I haven't changed my opinion of the system and its problems.

But to bring this thread back to a positive note, here's what we learned. Trombone Al, Htown Harry, Leonidas, and some others of you have seen more of the process than I have, so let me know what I'm missing...

This was our first FAFSA but if Trombone Al says it's shorter/simpler, that can only be a good thing. The biggest hassle was being given the impression that it has to be done ASAP in January-- and having to gather tax data to support that self-imposed deadline. Once we tracked down the numbers (from running an early approximation of our tax returns) the data entry wasn't bad. I don't think we'll get anything from the effort, but the school requires a FAFSA before they'll consider handing out their own loans & grants. Not that we expect to get anything there, either-- I think her NROTC scholarship will probably have a chilling effect even on the "merit" awards.

NROTC opened their website application in June and we pushed hard to get the application in by July because we expected an answer by Aug/Sep. The reality is that their board didn't meet until October (even for the "Immediate" Scholarship Reservation program) and they didn't start notifying recipients until November. We had also thought that she was required to apply for five NROTC colleges, but upon re-reading the application we now realize that's only a strong recommendation. Getting an early start and applying to several schools was still a good idea. Just like joining the military, some NROTC recruiters are more knowledgeable than others. Hers wasn't "bad" but she got better answers from the staff at the NROTC units. It's worth poking around the Web to read the NROTC FAQs at larger schools like Notre Dame and UVA.

The military's entrance physical was far easier/quicker than expected. Results were back in a few weeks. Followup was prompt and not too difficult. It was a good thing that Mom happened to go along for the physical because a teenager may be incapable of interpreting the test data and asking for something to be explained or repeated. Teens also tend to blurt out all sorts of scary things on the "Tell us your medical history and how you're feeling" form because they don't really remember the actual story. Teens don't appreciate that words like "asthma", "allergy", and "back injury" are show-stoppers.

I won't run on about NROTC and service academies but we've become experts on applying to them. PM or e-mail me if you want more info. If I don't know the answer then I know people in every service who can find out, and to my surprise that includes classmates on Congressional staffs. A lot of shipmates saw our teen's application and said "Hmmm, I wonder if that's Nords' daughter?"

Our high school counselor was, to put it politely, abysmal. Her interpretation of "10 business days" for mailings was actually 4-6 weeks, and she treats the students with disrespect/deceit. So maybe I didn't really learn anything here, but our kid became very aggressive at following up on the counselor's actions & deadlines and sending us parents straight to a vice principal if she wasn't happy. Visiting the VP once was enough to dramatically improve the quality of the service from "bad" to "poor". It certainly taught our kid a lot of negotiations skills at dealing with difficult people. If you start working on anything requiring school action during their summer vacation, it may be necessary to personally visit the staff to make sure the word gets to the counselor people who don't check their e-mail/voicemail during the break. When the application tsunami begins in November, quality of service drops exponentially.

At one point the counselor announced to the entire senior class at an assembly "I don't know what's taking you seniors so long. Nords' daughter has already submitted her applications!" You can imagine how a teen girl feels about that sort of attention.

High schools frequently offer community-college credit for advanced courses. After the first semester's grade, the kid should check with the CC that they're in the database and that there's actually a grade report. Our kid started taking CC credits in her sophomore year but didn't check their records until she started filling out college applications, and she had to register with the CC all over again. Luckily it didn't affect the college's decision.

Some IT entrepreneur can make a lot of money adding more connectivity to the nation's high school & college computer networks with the College Board's network. It's already been done for the SAT and the Common Application but it needs to be standardized for transcripts and counselor/teacher recommendations. (Some second-millennium-era schools still require [*gasp*] paper letters sent through snail mail.) There are a million non-standard v1.0 applications floating around out there, and even when they work right they still require duplicate data entry plus faxing and Fedex. Heck, while you're at it, add in the FAFSA and the PROFILE applications to the common app too.

There's a fine line between "coaching" and "Blackhawk parenting", but it's a training opportunity. We had to allow extra time to work with her and to help her recover from her mistakes. Occasionally something would be "too important to fail". Teens aren't always capable of understanding some aspects of adult communication, and frequently they'll think that an e-mail or a letter is just marketing or a status report instead of a request for action. We parents managed to never talk with the colleges directly (and almost the same for the high school) but we had to ask our kid to info us on every letter and e-mail so that we could make sure she didn't overlook an action or a deadline. With 5-6 college applications (and transcripts, recommendations, & interviews), plus scholarships, the tracking requires a fairly big spreadsheet. The downside of this is that we parents pay the same price as our kids at having to stay up late the night before a deadline or having to deal with the "We need... " phone-call crises.

Rice notified our kid of their early-decision acceptance right on schedule. They said 15 December and they meant it-- by 9 AM Houston time she'd received their e-mail. (Even better, it came on her iPhone while she was hanging out with some older friends who were home on college break.) As seen on Facebook, other colleges did the same thing with our kid's other early-decision classmates. Colleges may still send snail mail but most of them notify by e-mail or website. If your teen doesn't hear from the college on the day that the college says they'll tell them, then there's probably a problem and it's worth calling them.

After the applications were all in we took a break, relaxed, and waited for the interviews. Bad mistake-- we should've started the scholarship search no later than the end of September. For some reason I thought corporate/charity/non-profit scholarship applications were linked to the FAFSA/PROFILE deadlines. Boy was I wrong-- most of the scholarship deadlines went by on 15 November and we never noticed. The next batch of applications is due in Jan-Feb. The "good" news is that many of them are annual so your kid can reapply next year. The "bad" news is that most of them are annual so your kid has to reapply every year. Another issue is that many of the scholarship applications require counselor's transcripts/recommendations and teacher/community recommendations. Save a few of those noble recommendation volunteers in reserve because they might not want to do recommendations both for colleges and for scholarships...

One college interviewer (a local guy who'd graduated from Rice) was either criminally lazy or diabolically clever. He sat down with our kid at Starbucks and said "OK, what do you want to talk about?" Luckily she'd come prepared with a printout of her application, her info sheet, and a bunch of questions.

A lot of this process, frankly, was the blind leading the blind. I really appreciate the help we got from the board members here, and particularly those of you around Rice who kept feeding me the latest news & gossip. If we had to do this again for other children, they would be mightily pissed off at their older sister for causing Mom & Dad to put them under a microscope on a very short leash. I'm also doing my best to never again have to speak to the high school's principals or VPs, let alone the counselor.

Speaking of "so over high school", our kid has decided that there's no reason for her to participate in her high-school graduation. We support her decision, which is more than I can say for her high school. Apparently a student's ranking is determined by more than just credits and GPA...
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:25 PM   #37
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:16 AM   #38
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For lots of different takes on applying for college there is the NYTimes blog "The Choice"
:College Admissions Advice - The Choice Blog - NYTimes.com which is easily accessible. The articles come from admission officers, parents, students. For example, here is article about not letting everyone know about your college admission on Facebook: Accepted, Rejected or Deferred? Keep the Answer Off Facebook - The Choice Blog - NYTimes.com

Fear not folks! Nords' personality exudes out of your computer display which is why we like him, but normally the college application process is not so dramatic. Nordally, I guess it is though.

Here's another take on the college app process: Daughter fills out online app on deadline day Dec 15th. Acceptance letter arrives in the mail on Dec 18th. (Of course, SAT scores + HS transcript already sent to university earlier in the season.) No drama. Parent involvement: "You had better go online and apply. Isn't the due date today?"

Congrats to your daughter! Rice is a great university and I'm sure she will do very well there. Since you won't be at Rice, Nords, who will give us updates on her progress?
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:52 AM   #39
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Good update Nords! Except for the NROTC stuff, it all sounds so chillingly familiar. Round two for us is getting cranked up here, but we're still in first gear at the moment.

Son #2 is mostly clueless (he can spell college, and he has narrowed down his choices to: "some kind of engineer", physician, or attack helicopter pilot), but he is starting to realize there is a lot more to this than he imagined. Plus, we just received his PSAT score for the NMSQT and he is in the 96th percentile - not good enough for semi-finalist, but within range of "commended". We're celebrating at the same time that we realize that our little universe of schools to consider may be widening quite a bit.

If he narrows the choices down to flying an AH-1Z while shooting Hellfires at Al Qaeda, we may have to consult with you on the topic of NROTC.

Your comments regarding the HS staff were oh-so-familiar. When the youngest started HS I was forearmed from my experience with his older brother, and I was all over our counselor from the first week of school. He knew my name, phone number, email address and general plans for my little frosh. Regular updates and touching of base followed thereafter - not to be a pest but just to develop the relationship so we wouldn't have to develop one a few years down the road. Junior learned early on that spending a little quality time with the counselor wouldn't hurt him at all. "Go see Mr. Liu" was the expected response to most questions involving scheduling and course selection. After a couple of years he figured it out and discussions about such things started with "I think I'll go see Mr. Liu tomorrow".

Public schools being bureaucratic wastelands, the system tried to screw us over by reassigning "your counselor for the entire four year high school experience" to a different section of the alphabet at the start of sophomore year. We just ignored that and continued to use our bestest buddy in the world. If he has ever wondered why he has a "K" last named student in with all his "M-N-O-P" kids he has never told us about it.

I'm curious about your thoughts on letters of recommendation. More specifically, what strategy did you and the little Nordette employ to identify and develop "noble volunteers". With first son it was not a real issue, he had really bonded with the heads of the science and English departments so he didn't have a problem. Considering #2 son's test scores may put him in range of some of the more selective schools, I'm thinking that such things as letters of recommendation may play a more important role. Any advice you can offer on that would be greatly appreciated. His school is a more academically challenging place and even with his abilities he probably won't graduate in the top 25% (it's a major geek-a-thon there with 40 National Merit finalists and another 40+ commended each year). He doesn't stand out academically like he might at a more "normal" HS.
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:42 PM   #40
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More specifically, what strategy did you and the little Nordette employ to identify and develop "noble volunteers".
The "scrinchettes" found it useful to provide resumes to the LOR volunteers. The head of the english department previously had no idea that DD had a girl scout gold award, was an all-league soccer player, and regularly volunteered at the local animal rescue shelter. With DD's resume in hand, however, the letter of recommendation touched on each of these items and was much more compelling than it would have been had it only referred to DD's performance in a couple of classes.
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