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The college tour redux
Old 06-08-2009, 12:04 PM   #1
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The college tour redux

I've posted other threads about touring colleges:
College tour questions: Notre Dame, Carnegie-Mellon, & RPI
Why aren't more retiring in Houston?
Summer college resident programs for high school students?

I'm probably overdoing the college-selection process like any anal-retentive keenly focused nuclear engineer, but I'm becoming a big fan of personal visits and dress rehearsals. We parents want this to happen one time, first time, no boomerangs. If we have to spend some of the college fund up front to make sure that the rest of it's not wasted, then it's worth it.

Our kid just finished her junior year of high school. As graduation approached, we've been hearing horror stories from other local families whose high-school graduates had returned home from college in total defeat after only a semester or two. One young man was thrown out of West Point for grades/honor while two others were totally unprepared for college academics. They (the students) were thoroughly demoralized by homesickness, unexpected Mainland weather, and no local foods or surfing. Not uncommon for Hawaii residents, they'd never even visited the campuses they'd applied to. They got into good schools, but with only hearsay (or Mom & Dad's decades-old sea stories) they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. There was no opportunity to look around the campus and say "Yeah, I can do this" or to develop any self-confidence before matriculation day.

This summer we decided to blow even more of our kid's college fund on in-residence programs. Part of this came from USNA's encouragement-- they know from bitter (and expensive) experience that one of the strongest indicators of freshman success is trying the lifestyle before the new plebes take the oath. Notre Dame also offers a three-week "Intro to Engineering" extended recruiting program, and as far as we can tell all you need is their $1750 fee. USNA's one-week summer seminar is only $325, and both schools offered needs-based financial assistance. More practice was worth these prices. Unfortunately, perhaps due to Houston's summer weather, Rice didn't offer anything. No time left over for Carnegie-Mellon or Rensselaer, but those schools aren't in the top two.

Four days ago we put our kid on the plane, her first solo trip, for the 5000-mile Annapolis redeye-- with 2500 miles over water at the same time they were looking for the Air France flight. Despite our parental packing advice, she stripped the house of 80 pounds of her possessions and crammed them into two suitcases-- but that's not our problem! She arrived at her grandparents' condo next day and listened once again to all their lurid tales about raising her mother. She reported aboard USNA the following afternoon and left us voicemail that she'd already met a midshipman from Hawaii.

We got a call Sunday afternoon, after her first 24 hours, and she's already hearing the seductive invitations of the Dark Side. They just finished an 18-hour day (although she sneaked in a jet-lag nap) and they're being run around pretty hard. She's exhausted, every muscle in her body is sore, the weather is hotter & muggier than Hawaii, they've been leading "Go Navy" shouting matches all day until she's hoarse-- and she claims she's having the best time of her life. She's living in Bancroft Hall, getting all sorts of presentations on cool Navy careers, working out for 60-90 minutes on Go Navy fields, visiting great classrooms and labs, eating food that she's never seen before in a huge dining hall, meeting 750 other students who she'd never encounter in high school, and being challenged by attractive midshipmen to do things she never thought possible. She said the submarine officer even told them my same jokes as he explained the underwater lifestyle to his new fan club. (Hey, the classics always get a laugh from the right crowd.) By the end of the week they'll be running several miles a day, crawling through a mud-soaked obstacle course, solving "battle problems" with teamwork and body armor and and time pressure, and using the cool lab gear.

Well, I guess that stuff's fun the first few times, but cults could learn a lot of techniques from these mids. She even thinks Marine Corps infantry is cool-- it's almost as if she doesn't believe a word we've been telling her all these years. She did at least agree to visit my old room to see if there's still any beer still hidden above the ceiling tiles.

Thank goodness for college summer programs. And thank goodness that she'll have three weeks of deprogramming at Notre Dame.
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Old 06-08-2009, 12:26 PM   #2
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Bet she's looking into skipping her sr. year and going right in! It's great that she's enjoying this non-kid-glove intro so much vs. the kids you've heard about who lost their way.
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Old 06-08-2009, 01:08 PM   #3
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What a superb idea! You've got a great kid there, Nords. Good job!
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:10 PM   #4
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She even thinks Marine Corps infantry is cool--
Away from home, feeling a little rebellious, perhaps some of the hidden feral nature creeping up to the surface, and then..."Pssst, hey kid, want to shoot a machine gun? Blow up something with some demo? Call in an air strike?" All followed by a friendly chat on the quarterdeck with one of our Drill Instructors friendly Human Resource Development Counselors


We call that recruiting. The next thing you know, she will be saving up for a Mameluke and envisioning commissioning day!

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Thank goodness for college summer programs. And thank goodness that she'll have three weeks of deprogramming at Notre Dame.
Hope that works out for you. If not, it's never too early to start shopping for Christmas for the Marine in your family. Have you seen some of our newer body art? The rose just makes the whole thing.

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Old 06-10-2009, 12:18 AM   #5
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Good pictures, Leo, thanks! Gosh, now she has a template to show the Wahiawa tattoo artists by Schofield Barracks... and if she already has a tattoo then it's none of my business.

Two more days have gone by and she's only 36 hours from finishing. The mids have kept them going every day for 16-18 hours. The first night she slept for four hours, yesterday she slept for six hours, and today she slept whenever she wasn't actually moving her legs. She says she's never seen bloodshot eyes before. (What every parent wants to hear.) They've practiced drill every day. They've had all kinds of classroom & lab sessions on foreign languages, weapons systems, naval architecture, all the engineering majors, robotics, and how everything ties in with all the warfare communities. Yesterday they took the YPs out on the Severn to the Bay Bridge. They've worked out every day and she says she's really sore. Today's workout was led by (in a special appearance) Stew Smith in person-- she has his book-- and her summary of his program was "Ow." Tomorrow they're having a candidate drill competition and a "sea trials" team-building problem-solving mud-slinging session on the obstacle course.

One comment was "You wouldn't believe this, Mom, after our morning PT they only gave us 20 minutes to get a shower, put on fresh clothes, and get back in formation! Less than half the group made it!!"

I think she's been phoning us every day to talk through the trauma just to check the Annapolis weather. The mids have let them keep their personal electronics but they don't have any open Wi-Fi or Internet access. So each night she places a 5000-mile cell phone call to have us update the satellite forecast outside her window.

We need to have a little chat about her judgment. I asked her to check whether Bancroft Hall's room #3208 still has a six-pack tucked away in a corner above the ceiling tiles. I thought she would've asked any 3/c or 1/c midshipman to help her figure that out, or even buttonholed one of the ensigns. But for some reason she decided to bring that issue up with the lieutenant commander in charge of the entire Summer Seminar program after his "Does anyone have any questions?" offer. In front of about 750 other candidates and all their midshipmen escorts. Starting with "My dad is a USNA grad, a submariner, and he asked me to find out if..."

So history repeats itself and another Nords pops up on the conduct system's radar. Ah well, she'll get used to it. I wish I knew how many mids have sneaked into that room tonight with a flashlight and a stepladder.

She says she enjoys the Academy architecture & grounds, the classrooms & labs, the engineering, the cool gear, the food, the training, and the camaraderie. She wants to be a naval architect. (No civil engineering at USNA.) She wants to buy her own pair of night-vision goggles. I don't want to know why.

She says she doesn't like the stupid stuff, most of which has already been sampled in the "Army Mom" thread and by Stephen Colbert's Iraq training. We've been telling her to decide whether or not she wants to repeat this week another 45 times during plebe year with watchstanding, marching, winter weather, and homework. And maybe a little restriction...
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Old 06-10-2009, 02:20 AM   #6
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Wow, if anyone was ever in a position to know what they were getting into, it's your daughter! I just sent in a few applications and hoped for the best (not really invested at all much in the outcome either, turned out fine that way).

The interesting parts are what falls deaf to her ears now, but will stick in her head after it matters.

Sounds a bit like my friend and her first baby - she had several friends (including me) go through the whole thing before her, she heard all the stories, read all the books and was still floored by the experience in first person.

The part about her judgment is pretty funny! She's probably too trusting of her superiors...
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:36 AM   #7
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It is interesting that she has had plenty of info before heading off for a trial run, she still managed to get her name attention. Re: Q about contraband in the ceiling.

Recall the only advice I got from a neighbor (who I later learned was a Major in the reserves) the day before heading off for basic, "don't let them know your name". On the bus ride to Ft. Jackson SC, I thought about that. Having a unique name posed a problem.

The conclusion I came to was: don't let them learn the proper pronunciation of my name by frequent practice. And keep my public questions to: none.
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:35 AM   #8
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....I asked her to check whether Bancroft Hall's room #3208 still has a six-pack tucked away in a corner above the ceiling tiles. ... But for some reason she decided to bring that issue up with the lieutenant commander in charge of the entire Summer Seminar program after his "Does anyone have any questions?" offer.....Starting with "My dad is a USNA grad, a submariner, and he asked me to find out if..."...
And the answer?
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:13 PM   #9
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The conclusion I came to was: don't let them learn the proper pronunciation of my name by frequent practice. And keep my public questions to: none.
Most definitely.

I knew I was really screwed in Boot Camp when I was standing on line in the squad bay and one of the Drill Instructors was coming down the line asking each one a question. As he got closer I heard:

Quote:
Are you Leonidas?

Sir, no Sir!

Are you Leonidas?

Sir, no Sir!
God that was a long wait for him to get to me and ask the question. For a moment I considered denying it but figured he would get it right eventually.

Nords, you know I'm there for you buddy!

Don't think it's just you though. My BiL has always hated TAMU and Aggies, and his youngest daughter just finished her second year there. He's learning to deal with it though - no doubt all the Aggies bumper stickers I've put on his truck have been helping!
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:47 PM   #10
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And the answer?
I don't know, but by next morning I suspect it was ***buuuuuurrrp***...

I hate wasting good beer, but we were interrupted and just sorta never got back to the project.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:36 AM   #11
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Are you Leonidas?

Sir, no Sir!

Are you Leonidas?

Sir, no Sir!
Just out of curiosity. If a DI mangles the pronunciation of your name. What is the correct response. You approach seems like is a good way to piss off th DI.
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:17 PM   #12
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We're heading to San Luis Obispo this afternoon for tomorrow morning's graduation ceremony. Sometimes college works out just the way you want it to for your kids. This one graduated with an international business degree in 4 years with a good job lined up in Philadelphia beginning in July. The next one starts UCLA nursing school next fall. Both of them visited the schools before applying. Hope UCLA works out better for her than it did for me. I left after one year...not my style. But then I grew up in the LA area and needed to get away.

Nords, trust your daughter's judgement about her college choice when she gets back. Kids can make good choices...and they can also learn from bad ones.
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:01 PM   #13
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Congrats, Nords on an excellent strategy! I wish that my ex and I had sent our kids to more college summer programs. We did send our son to a history camp at American Univ one summer where he decided that he definitely did NOT want to be a history major.

Parents of college bound HS students take note! There are lots of summer college programs, probably near your home town. They are worth it!
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:47 PM   #14
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Just out of curiosity. If a DI mangles the pronunciation of your name. What is the correct response. You approach seems like is a good way to piss off th DI.
He wasn't mispronouncing my name, he was looking for me and didn't know exactly where I was standing. He was working his way down the line asking each private if they were me. The fear being how did he know my name and why was he looking for me. I had made the one big momma of all mistakes, I had become known.
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Old 06-15-2009, 05:46 AM   #15
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Late update; been busy and off the board. Gosh it's humid in Annapolis.

In just one week our kid has grown new shoulder & quad muscles, gotten noticeably thinner in the face, and possibly grown a half-inch taller. I swear she's looking me in the eye now. So I guess all that government-sponsored sunshine, fresh air, and exercise has been a good deal. The week finished with "Sea Trials"-- eight hours of mud, sweat, and tears. Not too much blood, except that low-crawling on one's stomach is hard on the knees.

After her grandparents picked her up she took a three-hour nap, wolfed down about 1000 calories of dinner, and slept 13 hours straight through the night. All better except for processing the trauma and healing some sore muscles. She thoroughly understands the wisdom of regular workouts and has learned to push herself further than she ever believed physically possible.

She "gets it" now, and USNA is #3 on her list behind Rice & Notre Dame. Carnegie-Mellon is #4, which means she'll either never get around to filling out the application or she'll do a half-fast job of it. But no losers in this shopping trip.

No signs of homesickness or unhappiness. Made a lot of friends. I think she feels more like a college student now, and she's probably going to have a huge chip on her shoulder when she starts high-school senior year.

USNA gave her about $75 of "free" t-shirts and bags... they've probably learned how to fully exploit the teen reciprocity reflex. They also gave her a cool new USNA graphic novel, which is hilarious. Five plebes locked in overnight at John Paul Jones' crypt. Yeah, sure, it could happen: Academy's new drawing card -- baltimoresun.com

Professor Bruce Fleming is also up to his usual alarmist essays about declining standards of midshipman academic performance:
Guest Column: The cost of a diverse Naval Academy • Opinion (www.HometownAnnapolis.com - The Capital)

We're spending this afternoon in the Midshipman Store, where she'll shop her heart out for logo Navy gear. But I'll be glad to leave the politics and humidity behind, and it'll be interesting to see how USNA compares to Notre Dame.
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:32 PM   #16
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Unfortunately, perhaps due to Houston's summer weather, Rice didn't offer anything....

Gosh it's humid in Annapolis.
Sounds like the tour is going very well, Nords. And I believe you are correct on why Rice doesn't have a summer program :

Forecast for Houston, TX (77002)
High /Low (°F) Precip. %
Tonight Jun 16 Clear 73° 0 %
[with 90% humidity in the early morning]
Wed Jun 17 Sunny 96°/73° 0 %
[With "only" 50% humidity at mid-day]
Thu Jun 18 Sunny 95°/75° 0 %

Fri Jun 19 Mostly Sunny 95°/75° 10 %

Sat Jun 20 Mostly Sunny 95°/74° 0 %

Sun Jun 21 Mostly Sunny 96°/74° 10 %

Mon Jun 22 Mostly Sunny 96°/74° 10 %

Tue Jun 23 Partly Cloudy 96°/75° 10 %

Wed Jun 24 Mostly Sunny 97°/76° 10 %

Thu Jun 25 Sunny 97°/75° 0 %
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:11 AM   #17
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And I believe you are correct on why Rice doesn't have a summer program :
Ouch. Even Annapolis in mid-August is barely that nasty.

Leaving today for Chicago, and boy am I ready to go. We spent just enough time with my parents-in-law to stay out of trouble while reminding ourselves why we don't like spending time with my PILs. As usual I had a great time with my BIL and his spouse. Neither spouse nor I had any USNA nightmares this week, so it's possible that our therapy is complete.

After years of my complaints about Hawaii drivers, I have to profess that DC drivers have worse habits. With apologies to Sammy Hagar, I... can't... drive... 65. Luckily we won't need a rental car in Chicago.

Instead of the typical DC tour we did the Library of Congress-- Jefferson's library and the Gutenberg Bible are amazing. The Capitol's visitor center was also nice for a quick lunch but freezing cold. Otherwise we've spent far too much of this week shopping.

But if you're a 40-something guy with a ponytail and a few day's beard, the clerks at "Outdoor World" in Arundel Mills are incredibly happy to see you!
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Old 06-17-2009, 04:51 PM   #18
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Hey Nords,

Just got back from Baltimore myself - poured the first few days and then hot and humid - uhhh, you'd freeze here in Germany. Seems as though I've adjusted to the much cooler weather, although lately the days have been really nice - mid to high 70's and minimal humidity.

Library of Congress is awesome - I love it - last time I was there they had a free indoor concert of a guy playing classical guitar.

Have fun in Chicago - they've been having a cold snap :-)
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:13 AM   #19
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Our kid's been at Notre Dame for three days (out of a total of three weeks) and she's already able to note some differences:
- Notre Dame's NROTC takes the summer off-- no PT or classes. Mids do their summer cruise training and that's it.
- Notre Dame had her "Nords@nd.edu" e-mail account and free WiFi (for her iPod Touch) waiting for her upon arrival. USNA had no computer or Internet access for their attendees due to "security issues".
- ND's Hawaii Club has already taken her under their wing. She's also been invited to two Hawaii alumni events. USNA... not.
- The Dean of Engineering welcomed the seminar group and then took questions. (Thank goodness I've never had any misconduct incidents at Notre Dame.) When our kid asked how to contact a specific prof (mentioned by a friend of ours) the Dean said he'd have the prof contact her. Which happened within 24 hours. Note: This doesn't even occur in her high school.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:33 AM   #20
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Notre Dame's been doing a pretty thorough job of introducing engineering in a way that just hasn't happened at high school or USNA.

ND's first week covered bridge-building and chemical engineering. They also had field trips to the Zimmer factory (knee and hip implants), the Grissom Air Museum, and the College Football Hall of Fame. (She doesn't care about ND football and the HoF didn't do much to change her mind.) Next week is robot building and more talks on civil eng.

USNA kept them going for 16-18 hours/day, not a bad idea with teens, but ND has only done a couple hours of talks in the morning and left the afternoons free for group projects. The ND students & profs are available to talk about the projects or anything else but there's lots of unstructured time. Not such a good idea with teens but she's loading herself up with workouts in their facilities and other projects. The ND students have organized social nights & bowling parties. She's also learning other valuable career skills like Texas Hold 'Em.

Our trophy kid is not impressed with ND's dorms. Hers was built in 1927 and she says she's sleeping so close to her roomates that they can hear each other turning over. USNA's rooms made the most of their limited floorspace with integrated desk/bunkbed furniture but the ND dorm room is crammed. So she's learning to lower her HGTV expectations. Maybe we should have her practice by sleeping in the garage...

We learned more applications info. NROTC opened their online application a couple months ago, but only in the details of the instructions do you learn that applicants have to include at least one state school among their five choices. (She picked UVA, probably so that she could finally squeeze in a good basketball school.) Of course NROTC may only offer to fund the cheapest (state) school, although they'd let the kid switch the scholarship to another school at the lower rate. Don't see any way out of that.

The college online common application also opens 1 July, so she can get started on the main application and then work on her essay questions. Hypothetically she could be done with applications before the end of July, which will sure beat the transcript rush at the counselor's office.

Aloha Stadium is always a scheduling problem for high-school graduations, and next year they're closing for renovations in May or June. The state's school year still starts at the beginning of August, but our local high school moved next year's graduation up to mid-May. She'll have over three months of summer parental hell fun before matriculating...
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