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  1. #21
    essnce629's Avatar
    essnce629 is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    I haven't read all the comments thoroughly yet, but these are my thoughts as of today. DS1 is a current high school senior who just went through the college application process and has 5 acceptances so far and is waiting on 4 more.

    1. If you don't qualify for need based aid (which I'm assuming the majority on this board do not based on demographics) then the ONLY way to bring down the price of a school is through "merit aid" which are basically coupons (although they call them scholarships) given directly by the school discounting tuition based solely on your kid's GPA and test scores. AND Ivy league and the most selective schools DON'T give out merit aid, only need based aid, so if you don't qualify for need based aid you will be expected to pay full price which is usually $70k plus a year for tuition, room and board, fees, etc at these schools. Luckily I knew this in advance by running the Net Price Calculator on dozens of schools ahead of time. In order to get the maximum merit aid your student needs to apply to schools a tier or 2 or 3 below the most selective schools, where they are in the top 25% or more when it comes to GPA and test scores. This means not applying to any "reach" schools. Many small private schools offer lots of merit aid, while most public schools do not since their price is already lower and they have no problem filling seats. Our goal for DS1 has always been for him to go to a small liberal arts college for the price of a UC school. So far we're in a good position and we still plan to appeal for more merit aid at a later date.

    2. There's lots of resources out there to become knowledgeable on the college admissions process. I've learned so much from both the private FB groups Grown and Flown Parents and Paying For College 101. For books, my favorites have been Colleges that Change Lives by Loren Pope and Who Gets In and Why by Jeffrey Selingo. For podcasts my favorite is Jeffrey Selingo's Future U.

    3. Let your kids explore. My DS1 rotated through so many extracurriculars and activities till he finally settled down on things he was passionate about. The extracurriculars and academic subjects he was interested in during middle school are completely different than the things he's interested in now.

    4. If you're not gunning on the most selective schools then there's zero need to stress on taking a million AP classes, volunteering a 1000 hours, or saving the world. DS1 took 1 AP class junior year and all the rest were a mix of honors and regular. He's at a private school that had very few AP classes to begin with and they got rid of them all together this year and created their own "advanced" classes instead of having to follow CollegeBoard's curriculum. He's in 2 of these advanced classes for senior year. He has zero volunteer hours. So far he's heard back from 5 colleges (all acceptances) and has received the top merit aid (because we specifically targeted these schools). For us, there's been little stress in the college application process. Yes, he has friends who have gotten into Ivy league and the most selective schools, but they will all be paying full prices which is 100% not worth it to me for an undergraduate degree.

    5. Visit schools early. I forced DS1 to visit schools starting his sophomore year when he had random days off that the colleges didn't. Thank goodness since our big trip to visit Pacific Northwest schools last spring break was canceled due to Covid. Luckily we had already visited 10 schools locally during sophomore and fall of junior year so DS1 already had a pretty good idea of exactly what he wanted. We started off visiting a small liberal arts college, a medium size liberal arts consortium, and a large private research university, in suburban and urban locations his sophomore year. Junior year we expanded on this visiting large public universities, more small colleges, etc. By the time he applied this year he was confident in his college list (mostly small liberal arts colleges with a few larger public universities as financial safeties in case merit aid didn't pan out).

    6. Run the Net Price Calculator on every single school that pops into your head or that your child mentions as a possible option. Come up with a realistic budget of what you're willing to pay per year and target schools in that range. No need to apply to schools that come out as double your budget when you run the NPC. The NPC is found on every school's website. The NPC calculator estimates what YOU will be expected to pay based on your specific financial info and your child's GPA and test scores.

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    Last edited by essnce629; 01-24-2021 at 08:46 PM.
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  2. #22
    SnuggleBuggles is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorsmom View Post
    I totally hear you. And pigeon-holing my kids in something they don't want is my fear too. But some kids need more pushing. And some kids just don't know themselves or their abilities well enough to make career decisions by the time they are 18. High school advisors can look at their grades and teachers can tell them they do well in this or that and that helps. But parents can start watching early for signs of passions and talents based on what they are hearing about their kids or seeing them do. Studies show that who we are is 50% from our environment and 50% what our genetics give us. So really parents and close loved ones might be able to see abilities in their kids that the kids can't see yet themselves. Without a loved one encouraging and nudging them to try things they have shown skill at but never really considered, kids might overlook what could be very good for them. The important thing is to eventually as they are old enough, let the kids try a wide range of activities and explore different paths on their own so that ultimately it's their decision. And it's important for parents to step back obviously, when the child is old enough to explore on their own safely. It should be clear that parents will emotionally support them with whatever they choose.
    In 9th grade I not only nudged but I made some participation non optional. He was going to swim. He was going to be part of the musical. I couldnt get him to bend on marching band but he joined the next year and said to me one day, I should have listened to you last year and joined.


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  3. #23
    niccig is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Default Preparing for high school and college

    Quote Originally Posted by daisyd View Post
    So helpful to read everyone's experiences. We are surrounded by high-pressure towns with kids doing so much that I often feel that we are not doing enough for DS. Even in our town, many families do afterschool enrichment as our middle school is not great but the high school is more rigorous. But whenever I suggest DS try something, I hear a resounding "NO!". I guess it's partly how COVID has changed things at school and partly being a tween. We've had a lot of arguments because DS seems so different, obstinate and I can't convince him to step out of his comfort zone.

    My fear has been that I'm not doing enough as a parent to provide the right opportunities, steer him in the right direction etc. Plus, as he's my first child, there are so many firsts that we have struggled with as parents and learnt things the hard way that I want to be adequately prepared to support him on his journey.

    My take away is that it is DS's journey and that I need to let him drive this process and let him take wing. I want for him to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. I guess, I need to take a step back for him to trust us as parents.

    (So hard for me to do. I had parents who couldn't help and were so hands off when I longed for support. Now that I'm trying for DS to benefit from my experience, he wants none of it I guess that's the irony of life.)
    You can provide him with opportunities or set up with someone who can help, but ultimately they have to be motivated. The motivation can change as they get older too.

    DS has talked for awhile about learning woodworking. DH and I cant teach him. We found a community wood shop where he could do classes with a parent. I think it was a little too early, he was 13, as after the first introductory safety lesson he wouldnt agree when I suggested signing up for more. They had serious equipment and it may have been intimidating.

    Then this last summer, a friend was over doing a large woodwork project for us and DS was the helper on days DH and I were both at work. Our friend taught him how to use the miter saw, drill and just narrated everything he was doing to DS. We ended up buying a miter saw and some other power tools as DS now knew how to use them safely. DS is 16 now and has built a few projects and is designing his own desk to build. I asked and he said he would be interested in the wood shops classes to learn more. Our friend liked teaching DS and DS knows he can ask him for help.

    So it can take a bit of time for them to show more interest in things.


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  4. #24
    gatorsmom is online now Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    In 9th grade I not only nudged but I made some participation non optional. He was going to swim. He was going to be part of the musical. I couldn’t get him to bend on marching band but he joined the next year and said to me one day, “I should have listened to you last year and joined.”


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    I still remember when you said your DS1 had found a great group of friends in theater and honestly, I was jealous. It's great for them to have those opportunities. If I had my wish, our high school would be much bigger and much richer so those clubs could be open to us too. I take comfort in having the kids see that if they want something, they will have to make things happen for themselves. i realized i didn't really answer your post above. I'm not just preparing them for college. Early successes don't just look good on their high school activities list. Early successes give confidence and self esteem. They are more likely to explore and try new things in high school AND college if they have already has some successes in middle school.
    "People are made for happiness. Rightly then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him." -St. John Paul II

  5. #25
    niccig is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Default Preparing for high school and college

    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    In 9th grade I not only nudged but I made some participation non optional. He was going to swim. He was going to be part of the musical. I couldnt get him to bend on marching band but he joined the next year and said to me one day, I should have listened to you last year and joined.


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    We told DS he had to join a club. He joined the e-sports club! This year hes in the cinematography club. He enjoys those classes most and they created a club this year. Zoom has made it a little more difficult but its something. Everything else has been shut down


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  6. #26
    SnuggleBuggles is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by niccig View Post
    We told DS he had to join a club. He joined the e-sports club! This year hes in the cinematography club. He enjoys those classes most and they created a club this year. Zoom has made it a little more difficult but its something. Everything else has been shut down


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    Ds1s university just had intramural sign ups and more than half were e-sports


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  7. #27
    essnce629's Avatar
    essnce629 is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    Ds1s university just had intramural sign ups and more than half were e-sports


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    Fun! My boys would love that!!!

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  8. #28
    niccig is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnuggleBuggles View Post
    Ds1s university just had intramural sign ups and more than half were e-sports


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    I know, its huge! We were wanting something other than video games.


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  9. #29
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    I have 2 in high school. Oldest is in 11th.

    As far as prepping for college - it's been hard! We were going to tour over spring break last year. We are hoping some will be open this spring break, but likely he'll apply site unseen and we will tour places he's been accepted into. It might mean more applications than he would have done before. We will see.

    Early on, we made a testing plan and I'm glad. He reviewed and prepped over the summer, then took the July ACT and August SAT in preparation for the Oct. PSAT. Now he is done and that's a nice feeling. I will have my other kids do the same. It works for us based on their class levels and that they are all good test takers.

    I'm hopeful they will all find some interesting clubs/activities to do. DS1 has - marching band, robotics, Model UN. DD (9th) has not because most things haven't started this year. I would like them to try as many things as possible. This includes different classes as well as activities. It's a good time to try out new interests.

    I haven't pushed hard for rigorous schoolwork for any of them. DS1 picks it himself. He wants to be more challenged than he is. He has chosen the most rigorous path he could. DD opted not to take the 1 AP class offered to freshmen. I think that was a good decision for her. She would have done fine, but not enjoyed it at all. I am pushing her a bit to try one next year - her favorite subject and a well loved teacher.

    I have made a couple things non-optional. Music of some sort. DS2 did not want to play an instrument and we decided it was not an option. He could start in 6th grade. He could pick band or orchestra, but had to pick one. He ended up loving band! He now plans to continue in high school. But for the most part, we have left class choices up to the kids.

    Otherwise, we just talk about their interests, the importance of turning in assignments, paying attention in class, etc. We talk about college in general. We are trying to talk in more detail to DS1, but he isn't very interested.

    I think the most important thing I have personally done is to be 1-3 years ahead of the kids. So when DS1 was choosing classes for 6th grade and middle school, I looked at the choices for all of middle school so I could understand what his choices that day would mean in a couple of years. When DD picked her 9th grade classes a year ago, I helped her sketch out a 4-year plan. We know it might change, but having a starting point was helpful to her. I could do that because I have been looking ahead since DS1 was in 9th. I don't want any of us to be surprised by missing a required class, finding an interesting class, or anything else. I do this by looking at the course options, the website, reading online at other places, etc. I don't talk to the kids about it until they are in the right time. I don't pressure them. I just prepare myself so I can help them have all the info. Right now I'm taking notes on college stuff - where is there merit, when does the common app open, etc. DS1 will apply this fall and at least I won't be scrambling to help.
    Kris

  10. #30
    Kestrel is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Preparing for high school. What a scary thought! DS is in the first year of middle school. We have focused on reading a wide variety of subjects and then expanding/further study of things that interest him. Also working on study skills. And typing! Typing isn't even being taught where we are, but everything is remote and hunt-&-peck is taking forever. It's a skill he'll have forever.
    Trying different things is important, as is loading up on something they love. We have insisted on at least one form of sport or physical exercise - other than that, he makes his own choices.

    There are lots of paths to success. We believe some kind of after-high-school training is important, but that could be trade school, apprenticeship, community college, or military. Not everyone can, or should, go to a traditional university. Student loan debt can be crippling. Some degrees are useless in actually finding a job (my DH has one of those).

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