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Missing Week of School for Excellent Opportunity??

ENsMomENsMom Registered User Posts: 256 Junior Member
edited September 2011 in Parents Forum
My daughter, a rising senior, has been asked by the professor mentoring her at her biomedical research internship to accompany the group on a trip to Eastern Europe to present the groups' findings at a medical conference. They have asked her to be the actual presenter, and she will also be listed as an author on the research when it is published.

My problem/question is this: my D will miss a full week of school in mid-October in order to make this trip, and I am concerned about her missing that much school. She has a very difficult class schedule this year, lots of APs, etc. And of course, she has college apps to do as well!

I am afraid that I am just getting a little overwhelmed myself with everything that needs to be done in the next few months, worrying that she may be getting in over her head with the workload she is taking on. She is very excited herself about the trip, is putting in some extra long days at the lab as summer comes to a close to wrap up their findings and prepare the abstract, and doesn't seem to be stressed at all about this whole thing.

Would I be foolish to even consider having her take a pass on this to stay home and 'stay on top' of everything? I think the answer to that is 'yes' but I am just looking for a few other opinions. Also, can anyone weigh in on how much an experience like this would help her on her college apps? I'm guessing it could be a pretty nice 'feather in her cap' which would make me feel a bit better about her missing the week of classes!
Post edited by ENsMom on
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Replies to: Missing Week of School for Excellent Opportunity??

  • mimk6mimk6 Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    She should go. Yes, it's something she can put on her app, but, more importantly, it's just very cool and something she'll remember the rest of her life. Presenting at the conference is something she can put on a resume, it could open the door for other opportunities in research. I would think her school and teachers would be thrilled to help her make this happen -- it's something they can brag about.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 37,724 Senior Member
    I thought you were talking about a college senior!.. No HS AP class can compare to what she will gain by attending and presenting her work at a real scientific conference. She absolutely should go. If her AP teachers make a stink about her missing a week, she should switch out of their classes NOW.

    As my boss used to say about college students, "A summer internship at XYZ big pharma is is an insatnt .5 boost of the GPA!" I think your D's demonstrated passion for her research will speak volumes to the adcoms, much more than her perfect attendance and flawless AP grades.
  • momma-threemomma-three Registered User Posts: 2,762 Senior Member
    I too thought you were talking about a college senior and even if you were I would have said she should GO to the conference. This is one of those special opportunities that should not be missed and it will mean more than any AP class or what she will miss that week. She is obviously a great student so I would NOT worry about her ability to make up any lost work even during the application period.
    In response to your query regarding if this will help her in regard to college application....YES, it will demonstrate just how talented and determined your daughter is. Research is an instant eye opener on any college application. Your daughter sounds like she has alot going for her academically. Enjoy all the of these wonderful moments!!!
  • forthreeforthree Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    Agree, too terrific of an opportunity to pass up. Since you have advance notice, your D can plan ahead with her teachers, GC etc...
  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    Send her. She will have plenty of time to work on her assignments on the plane.
  • cnp55cnp55 Registered User Posts: 3,782 Senior Member
    She needs to go. This is a BIG DEAL. Launches her into the small group of college applicants with something substantial under their belt.

    Have her sit down now and plan how she will get everything done. Big calendar with deadlines etc. Have her contact her teachers and guidance counselor to plan her absence.

    Check with GC about school deadlines for ED applications if she is planning to submit one. Get the Common App going and start writing essays! She may want to write an essay about her trip -- but get something started and available.

    Wow -- it sounds like an amazing opportunity.
  • ENsMomENsMom Registered User Posts: 256 Junior Member
    Thanks everyone for the words of support! My initial reaction when my D came home and told us about this what very much like what most of you have posted -- an immediate 'Wow- yes - go!" I think I was having some version of 'buyer's remorse' after accepting the invitation, and then getting overwhelmed with all the last minute planning that needs to be done in order to make the trip happen, what with having to obtain visas, etc. etc., and the worries setting in about allowing my D to take on too much.

    School starts next week and my D's teachers are not yet available, so we're having to go on faith that they will all be cooperative in excusing her absences and allowing her sufficient time to make up the lost work. I am fairly confident that the teachers will be cooperative, but my D goes to a very large public high school (5,000+ students), so every once in a while they pull one of those "if we make an exception to the rules here for you, then we have to make it for everyone, etc." My D's guidance counselor was instrumental in her obtaining the research position in the first place, so I am sure she will be in my D's corner in dealings with the teachers. Also, as someone pointed out, it is something for the school to brag about as well -- the magnet program my D attends at this school is the go-to program for the high-achieving students in our city, and the program does like to highlight the unique accomplishments of its students.

    I agree the experience to present at the conference is invaluable, and she will also spend two days watching others present, another great experience. We will have one full day and our evenings free to see the city. And yes, the many hours on planes (we are coming from California, so it is a long flight!) can be used to keep up with school work. The laptop is definitely coming along!!
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,918 Senior Member
    I agree that she should go. As far as strategy, I would suggest that she tell the guidance counselor first, before she tells the teachers. That way she can be informing the teachers that they will need to deal with an excused absence, as opposed to asking their permission.
  • BatlloBatllo - Posts: 3,047 Senior Member
    I would keep the trip on the down low until after the trip.
    You don't want others to think she got special treatment.
    Buy her a nice dark suit and closed shoes.
    Chilly there in mid-Oct.
    Is she done with her SATs/ACT testing?
    She will have to email to keep in touch with her teachers while away.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 13,631 Senior Member
    I also thought college and would have had her miss that! Of course she should go, I'll bet her HS will be thrilled one of their students has this opportunity- most college students don't even get to do this. Even if they won't excuse the absence she should go- our district is cracking down on those, but it's 10 days before truancy laws kick in. This trip comes at a good time- well before semester's end or college apps are due. October is a big month for many medical specialties to hold conferences.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,104 Senior Member
    I would check with the school to see whether this will be counted as an excused or unexcused absence.

    In some school systems, a week's unexcused absences could prevent a student from graduating on time. In the area where I live, there is a limit on unexcused absences; if you exceed it, you have to repeat the grade. This has mostly caused issues for students who wanted to go to grandparents' funerals in foreign countries, but it could apply to a situation like your daughter's as well. Your school system might have the same problem.

    Also, I wonder whether the professor has considered problems that might arise because of the student's age. Even if she is 18, she might be too young to rent a hotel room in the Eastern European city, for example. Has this professor taken high school age students to this city before? I'm wondering whether it might be a good idea for an older family member to accompany the student to avoid hassles of this sort.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,867 Senior Member
    With regard to the idea that a school system might treat this as an unexcused absence: This reminds me strongly of the one-liner by Isacc Asimov: "Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain." A school district that would treat this trip as an unexcused absence ought to be dissolved! (Just my opinion, of course)

    I think it would be a superb idea for the student to go on the trip. It is a very rare opportunity and a great honor for a high school student to give a presentation at an international conference. It would be a good idea for the student to talk with the professor about the housing issue that has been raised.

    Typically, if a student is asked to go to an international conference, the costs are covered by a grant or by the university. This would include the hotel costs. The professor may be reserving the rooms, to begin with. It is also possible that the high school student will have a double, with a grad student or post doc.

    ENsMom: If the high school made an exception for everyone who was invited to present work at an international research conference, they could easily do it--it's not likely to happen more than once in a decade.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,104 Senior Member
    QuantMech, we're talking about a public school here. Institutional stupidity is to be expected.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,867 Senior Member
    ^Marian, post #14: Sadly, I know and agree.

    Also, what kind of heartless school district would not excuse a student to attend a grandparent's funeral in a foreign country? Wow.
  • mimk6mimk6 Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    OP, I agree that the GC should pave the way and then daughter should approach teachers after the first couple of weeks (because those first couple of weeks are high-stress for teachers) and present a responsible plan for how she will make up the work. She should not approach as if she is asking their permission, just that she will be away that week because of this opportunity and wants to work with them on a plan for making up the work, etc. If the school gives you trouble re excused/unexcused, PM me. I'm known at our school (in CA) for being a successful advocate for high-achieving magnet school kids and programs. I have a few ideas...
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