right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Son totally undecided on career- start at Comm. college?

2»

Replies to: Son totally undecided on career- start at Comm. college?

  • NCalRentNCalRent 6141 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    a slightly different take here - this isn't a decision you (and he) need to make today. At this point, having options open when your son graduates in May should be your primary objective.. Help him apply to several schools, then explore them a little at a time. The world will look very different to your son 6 months from now, when his peers are beginning to commit to their post college plans. Get some acceptances, tour some campuses but don't ask him to commit to anything at this point. Make notes of the likes/dislikes and try to identify colleges that will be a good fit - either this May or next. At the same time, begin to talk to him about what a gap year might look like.- what are your expectations of him in this period, working x hours a week, volunteering somewhere, mowing the lawn/shoveling the driveway, doing his own laundry, .. The time needs to be productive, not playing video games or strumming your guitar alone in the basement. Help him visualize what it will be like during the year. Spun this way, it may be just the space he needs to re-energize and find his focus - or his worst nightmare. But either outcome is OK.

    If he still wants a gap year in May and he has a well thought out plan, you can approach the colleges that accepted him for a deferral. I wouldn't approach them without both an acceptance and a plan. I know several colleges with firm NO DEFERRAL positions will grant them on a case by case basis. The more compelling/interesting your plan, the more likely they are to grant the request. He should understand that if no deferral is granted, that door may be closed forever, particularly at selective colleges.

    As a CO resident, you are eligible for discounted tuition at a shockingly long list of WUE colleges - including schools in Alaska and Hawaii. Here's the list. : http://wue.wiche.edu/search_results.jsp?searchType=all perhaps peruse the list with your son and allow him to dream a little.

    You should be warned, many colleges only admit Jr transfers so, even one post HS class at a CC means, you need 60 semester units. This isn't true everywhere but, do your research, you don't want to discover this after the fact.

    My son just started at Ft Lewis, a CO public LAC in Durango that may be a good fit. They have music/math/science and limited engineering. It is certainly worth a tour.

    good luck
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34087 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But there's a difference between applying, being admitted, then requesting a deferred start vs not applying during senior year. If OP's son is undecided about his interests, how does he make a certain list of targets to apply to? Unless this is just about instate publics.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78223 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 2017
    CC is split on this: that college should be purely pre-professional (I will be an accountant, go to med school, etc,) versus I will explore interests and along the way, develop marketable skills.

    Consideration of pre-professional aspects of college is not mutually exclusive to exploring interests. Most college students do not have the financial luxury of completely disregarding the pre-professional aspects of college.

    Of course, students in exploration mode at a four year college should know that they may be on an administrative or financial clock to decide on a major, so that they need to choose their exploratory courses carefully to avoid accidentally closing any doors to possible majors of interest.

    Note also that going in as an engineering major does not preclude exploration into math, physics, or chemistry, since the engineering frosh curriculum tends to cover most of those majors' prerequisites anyway, and has some space for (required for engineering) humanities and social studies courses that can offer additional exploration possibilities.
    If OP's son is undecided about his interests, how does he make a certain list of targets to apply to? Unless this is just about instate publics.

    A college that offers good programs in all of the possible majors and subjects of interest, and where these majors are not highly competitive to declare after enrolling, would be a decent fit for an undecided student.
    edited August 2017
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34087 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't disagree. But I want to add that I don't think any kid should be pushed (or push himself) into engineering simply because he's strong in math. Nor is that all it takes.
    · Reply · Share
  • dogladyJdogladyJ 33 replies11 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I forgot to say that my son is a senior!
    · Reply · Share
  • dogladyJdogladyJ 33 replies11 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    As far as engineering goes, there is the fear that if he starts out in a 4 year college that does not offer Engineering degrees (like many LACs), then that opportunity is limited for him or would mean transferring schools and possibly having to re-take courses that don't transfer, etc. Also,

    from ucbalumnus: A college that offers good programs in all of the possible majors and subjects of interest, and where these majors are not highly competitive to declare after enrolling, would be a decent fit for an undecided student.

    I mostly agree, but engineering and music are almost always highly competitive.
    · Reply · Share
  • AroundHereAroundHere 3584 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Music programs leading to a carer or even gradate study in performance are highly competitive. Many liberal arts schools and even community colleges have noncompetitive, even audition optional, music programs. There are liberal arts colleges with guaranteed transfer to engineering programs (if you can afford both the 5th year of a 3-2 program and the risk of not getting financial aid at school number two) and community colleges might not have guaranteed transfer to engineering, but it is quite do-able with a solid GPA (which someone with your son's stats is likely to get) in the required courses.

    You seem to be focused on engineering as "what he should do, but he has no idea." Perhaps what you should focus on is getting some career guidance to open up wider possibilities for you both.

    I agree with the advice not to sit out the admissions cycle entirely. Keep your options open. Apply widely and use the year to visit and consider your options. You need to decide to apply now, but you don't have to decide to attend until this spring.
    · Reply · Share
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5703 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Take a look at Union College in NY. I realize it doesn't hit the sweet spot on a number of fronts, but it actually sounds like the academics and the timetable for declaring a major are what you're looking for. If so, it might be easier to find other schools with those attributes.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78223 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 2017
    dogladyJ wrote:
    I mostly agree, but engineering and music are almost always highly competitive.

    Engineering majors tend to be more competitive (within the college) mostly at state flagship level schools and similarly selective non-wealthy privates, where there are plenty of strong and interested students, but capacity is limited by school budgets. Less selective schools with engineering often have excess capacity because students leave engineering because it is hard. Some super-selective schools are wealthy enough to provide plenty of capacity, and may have students more interested in Wall Street and consulting than engineering.

    You may want to investigate how difficult it is to move to an engineering major at each college (but be aware that prerequisites must be taken from the beginning in any case) if he wants to be undecided with engineering as a possibility.
    edited August 2017
    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41874 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @dogladyJ: Thanks for the reply!
    I would suggest you run the NPC on several colleges.
    A possibility for your son, since he's so creative, is to look for a college that offers CS+X or some form of CS or applied math as well as music composition.
    Here are some direct examples (that you can share with him).

    The example I gave you above is for this college: the student can combine a BA in Composition and another major (which could be CS or Math or anything else).
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/musicadm/welcome/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/math/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/cs/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/mathbio/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/statistics/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/science-conversation/
    https://wp.stolaf.edu/admissions/alumni/ole-engineers/

    St Olaf is excellent for music and math, and would likely have merit aid (as long as you show understanding of the college and show interest now).

    However for your son's stats, he could also look into Yale and Vassar.

    Yale is trying to beef up its STEM reputation (not that it's a slouch, but we're talking world-level :p) and is outstanding for music. Even students who aren't music majors can easily get involved in music, the Facebook page for rising freshmen is always buzzing with kids trying to form quartets or play together for instance. The "Computing and the Arts" would be of special interest to him, allowing him to combine math, music, and CS applications. And the "shopping period" + relatively flexible distribution requirements would allow him time to choose and study whatever he's interested in.
    https://admissions.yale.edu/majors-and-academic-programs
    http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/computing-arts/
    http://seas.yale.edu/
    http://cpsc.yale.edu/academics/undergraduate-program
    http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/statistics/
    http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/cognitive-science/
    http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/applied-mathematics/

    Vassar is open curriculum and would let him find his interests and aptitudes in ways helping him toward a career.
    https://physicsandastronomy.vassar.edu/physics/engineering.html
    http://sciencetechnologyandsociety.vassar.edu/
    http://music.vassar.edu/
    http://math.vassar.edu/
    http://cogsci.vassar.edu/
    http://computerscience.vassar.edu/
    · Reply · Share
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2432 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your best bet would be to apply to the college of engineering at the state flagship and OOS mid sized or larger universities where you can get good financial aid, which he has the stats to do. It's easier to change from engineering to another major as ucbalumnus alluded to, so start there and don't declare a major. Typically you'll have one free elective per semester or quarter that can be used to try non-engineering/science courses. If your son gets AP credit, he can use those to take advanced course in a requirement or better yet fulfill that requirement and take another elective outside of engineering. I've seen kids with AP Chem credit take Organic Chemistry freshman year which would give a good idea on medicine.

    If your son figures out a major or direction and he's not happy there, he can try and transfer to better fits now that he knows his major.
    · Reply · Share
  • NCalRentNCalRent 6141 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Trust me - the kid doesn't understand the complexity of the process, how much lead time is required and the implications of getting shut out. At this point, it is simply too early to decide 'gap year'. I can't tell you how many time I have heard from my freshman son something like 'I thought you just signed up for college and picked a couple of classes, i had no idea there were so many options, deadlines, forms to fill out, etc."

    This may be unpopular but, since lots of publics don't require essays, I'd all but submit the aps for him. Not behind his back, I'd tell him, look, i think this is the best way to give us options come May. I plan to submit aps on your behalf to these schools and may need your help with transcript requests and a few other details. Would you like me to add any to the list? Perhaps 4 or 5 of varying make-up as undeclared that you are confident he'd get into. The point is mute if he doesn't apply anywhere. This isn't commuting to any post HS path. A gap year, your local CC, never going to college at all, or heading straight to a 4 year are all still possible. It is merely preserving options should he chose to exercise them.
    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41874 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    (For what it's worth, I DO NOT recommend taking Organic chemistry freshman year. No better way to kill a GPA and discourage a student - that is partially that course's goal, after all. Better try that as a sophomore, once the college transition is done.)

    Perhaps your son will get more motivated if he sees what he can do, beside imagining a sort of high school bis?
    (Have you or your spouse been to college and perhaps could give him stories from then?)
    Can you show him the link for Computing and the arts at Yale; Engineering and Honors college at CU Boulder; the links for science conversation, composition BA and math at St Olaf; and music and something else at Vassar? If he has an idea of what to aim for perhaps he'll get more motivated?
    · Reply · Share
  • juilletjuillet 12659 replies161 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Well, why does he want to take a gap year? All I hear is that the parents think it's a bad idea, but no indication of his wishes. Is he nervous about college? Does he just not want to go through the application process right now? Is he burned out from high school? Does he want to pursue some passion of his for a year before committing to a college? College isn't going anywhere, and there's no reason a bright and motivated student shouldn't take a year off. Given his grades and aptitude, it's unlikely that he'll do nothing afterwards.

    As was mentioned, there are MANY good careers for someone who is strong in math and science besides engineering. I wouldn't advise him to start in engineering just because it's easier to transfer out than in - it's also easier to tank your grades if you don't really want to be there. Instead, he's got a whole year - he should think on it some more and decide if it's something he wants. No, there are no assurances that he'll be able to transfer in later if he goes elsewhere, but there are no assurances in life anyway.

    But actually just looking at his test scores he actually looks like a well-rounded student who has strengths in writing, too. Don't discount that

    But why would he start at a community college? He'll have to take the same courses he'd have to take in a four-year college, only they'll be at a lower level at a college with fewer resources. He doesn't have to know what he wants to do to go to college.
    · Reply · Share
  • dogladyJdogladyJ 33 replies11 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    He only thought he wanted to take a gap year because he doesn't want to go into college with absolutely no idea what he wants to major in. He does not want to possibly waste money taking classes for one major and then deciding on a different major. Kids hear so much about college debt that folks are burdened with. Juillet: You are right that he is strong in writing as well. Thanks for pointing that out! The only reason for starting out at a community college would be financial savings, but as I am learning here. CC may not be as much savings as I would think with differences in merit awards for freshman vs. transfer students. I'm hearing that I need to reassure my son that he doesn't have to know right now what he wants to do.
    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41874 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Also, in most cases freshmen all take the same basic requirements - math, English Composition, a foreign language, a science with lab, a social science, an art class, plus 2-3 classes that are introductory to majors they might be interested in (that will serve as gen eds for other majors).
    They don't have to know till sophomore year.
    edited September 2017
    · Reply · Share
  • juilletjuillet 12659 replies161 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    @dogladyJ, much is made of having to know, but actually in most college majors students can start in their sophomore year and not take any more classes than they would take if they knew their major freshman year. The exception would be engineering and some of the physical sciences with sequenced classes and cognate requirements, but even that's a pretty easy solution: if he thinks he's leaning towards the physical sciences, take some of the math and science requirements freshman year. If he changes his mind, they'll count towards gen eds or divisional requirements in the sciences, and they'll probably be useful later on anyway.

    So no, he doesn't need to know right now what he wants to do.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity