Originally Posted by Leonidas
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.
Our kid wasn't even close on the PSATs. (It took her until the third SAT to start applying those prep-course test-taking strategies and guess aggressively.) Heck, I don't think Hawaii has 40 NMSQT finalists in the entire state
Some colleges will require LORs from the English & math teachers, no options. Almost every college requires a student summary/counselor recommendation from the... counselor. No options.
Other colleges are more interested in the "whole person" concept and will take LORs from anyone. (Her taekwondo instructor was flattered & pleased to be asked, and she had two more available at the dojang.) Her boss at the Kumon center was very happy to write a letter. She had two drafting teachers (civil engineering) and two community college profs (from the high school's AP courses) lined up. After that we were willing to fill in the cracks from neighbors. When I applied to USNA I got a letter from our church's pastor, which was apparently unusual in the 1970s.
Notre Dame told us that one applicant supplied 84 letters. They wouldn't say whether or not he was admitted but they said that he made an overwhelmingly negative impression with that tactic.
Originally Posted by scrinch
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.
What Scrinch said. Our high school uses a "student report" form for the counselor's letter, and it's a fill-in-the-blank résumé format. Our kid provided a copy of that to the LOR writers, along with stamped envelopes or e-mail addresses and all the other tools. Her taekwondo instructor sidled up to me one night and asked "What should I write?" so I gave him some bullets.
She colored outside the lines a little. She had ended up on video for a Kumon award and was interviewed for the local public-access cable channel. She got a courtesy copy of the footage and burned a bunch of DVDs. I bought DVD label paper from an office-supply store and made up personalized labels on the laser printer. She sent a DVD with every application and gave one to every interviewer. I don't know if it worked on the applications staffs (nobody complained) but it made her feel as if she was giving herself an edge.
Starting sophomore year we also attended all those "preparing for college" evening seminars hosted by local banks. It helped her take things more seriously, and they served free cookies...
Originally Posted by Brat
Regarding attending graduation festivities: buy the cap & gown and sign her up for the graduation party. It is only January, she may change her mind.
As one who just attended her 50 year HS reunion the friendships made in high school are often the strongest. She and her classmates will scatter across the globe for the next 30 years. IMHO she should celebrate with them this life benchmark.
It is important that the graduation party be alcohol free and well supervised, if not host one for her friends yourself.
Her choice; admittedly an unusual one. Graduation is a big deal around here because a lot of kids drop out, let alone go to college, and it's not unusual to see 20-30 family members show up for each senior. She's been on the graduation committee and she worked the two previous class' ceremonies from backstage, so she feels that she's seen enough. (I get the feeling that she saw too much of the principal and the school board.) We're glad that she doesn't want to go to the ceremony because frankly we weren't looking forward to the whole thing ourselves. Just give her the freakin' diploma and let her get on with her life.
The cap & gown by themselves are over $75, despite the fact that last year's class won't be using theirs that night. She has a loaner from a friend just in case. Some kids spent over $200 for tassels, "Class of 2010" charms, and other tchotchkes. Lifetouch Studios is charging hundreds more for video/photos of the ceremony.
The school has a three-page handout of ceremony rules all the way down to what type of hosiery the (female) seniors are allowed to wear. The principal, to put it politely, is an anal-retentive control freak who lacks leadership/delegation skills and is terrified that individuals will express their... individuality... at the ceremony. They muster them in the school parking lot for personnel inspection. They load them on school buses for the 20-mile trip down to the UH stadium. She has to sit in alphabetical order with people she doesn't care for and 500 names takes a long time to read over the PA system. No applause until the ceremony's over. No demonstrations from the seniors or family members during the ceremony (or they'll be ejected). No meeting with family/friends until after the ceremony's over. A bunch of rules about what can be brought into the stadium and when photos are allowed.
28 years ago we had fewer rules, less fuss, and less security for USNA's graduation/commissioning ceremony.
She submitted a request letter to work backstage again this year, and the principal won't even formally answer her request-- just told the graduation committee teacher that seniors have to be in cap & gown on the stadium field, or in the audience. So she'll be in the audience, mainly so that she can be ready to board the party bus afterward.
The parents do "Project Grad" each year, so after the ceremony the seniors (her included) will be whisked way to a secure undisclosed location where they'll party their booties off in an alcohol-free environment until sunrise. There'll be a lot of bonding going on there, and I'm pretty sure the stories will continue to be told for many years... After the party ends the kids will be bused back to the high school to stagger on home.
Spouse and I are thinking about spending the night down in Waikiki. We haven't done that in years.