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College App Process: Third Time's a Charm? Need help, humor, wine?

CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
Not sure if this is a vent, an advice seeking post, or a request for friends to cyber-cafe in a wine bar! No matter, I hope that I can get some reassurance that my third son IS going to go to college, will finish his college essay, and figure out how to send his Architecture Portfolios to all of his schools. Once the application list is complete, that is. I admit it, I'm starting to panic, but trying to breathe and focus on the end goal. His getting his first C on his report card, first term senior year after being on the Principal's Honor Roll his entire high school tenure didn't help much. (*First world problem, I know.)

Our Guidance counselor for the past 18 months has told me "Don't worry, you guys are old hat at this, etc. etc." That because she's been there since our two older boys sailed through their application processes and were accepted to, and later graduated from good colleges. Well, in spite of grades, good looks, and charm, this number 3 son has developed a serious procrastination issue, and a need for a Calc tutor. He's really struggled with this whole application process to the point where my husband and I have suggested to him that maybe he should wait, take a gap year, whatever he needs, but he firmly rejects the notion. Just as he did the suggestion to change Calculus classes in time to raise his grade in a lower level class, in which he might be more appropriately placed. We liked his reasons to stay and have supported him (even if we do wince looking at the report card).

In less than a week he hopes to finish his essay (no time for review from teachers over the Thanksgiving break), his portfolio, and apply EA-II. I'm not sure it's a great idea, and your thoughts are welcome. I think a more polished product RD with a late term grade update and perhaps a call from his guidance counselor if needed might be better?

Anyway, who would have thought that the third time around would be so challenging? I know all kids are different, but part of me thinks that if he could Snap-chat his college apps he'd probably already be done. I don't think my son was ready for a Smart Phone. Wished we had waited another year to get him one. Feel like a crazy parent putting his phone in Time-Out.

Anyone have tips on igniting some action here? Am I stressing too soon? Is this "normal"? Maybe my older boys were the anomalies?

Thanks in advance!
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Replies to: College App Process: Third Time's a Charm? Need help, humor, wine?

  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad 6202 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,365 Senior Member
    You mean to say that you had TWO older kids who sailed through the admissions process? Unheard of! I went 0 for 2.

    Older one had two EA applications due November 1, friends who kept calling for her to go to their Halloween party, and the Common App server repeatedly choking on her application submissions.

    Younger one procrastinated her ED application until the very last minute, perfecting and perfecting her essay, yet getting two weeks behind in English. Around December we got "the letter" from the head of the English Dept indicated that she was failing and needed to get her act together.

    Nothing is easy!

    Wine simply isn't strong enough!

    Older one just graduated from first choice top school, is working in great job and is happier than I've ever seen her. Younger one is sophomore doing great in tough engineering program.

    Seriously, since you offered the gap year, you shouldn't be stressing. Either he'll rise to the occasion, or he won't. No need to keep your foot on his neck. I recommend backing off.

    Some day this will all be funny!
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  • CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
    edited November 2014
    Thanks, RockerDad. I would love to laugh today! Appreciate your insights. It's funny but in my real life, aka Moms' circles in my town, most people don't mention when things are rocky, only when they are going swimmingly. I have to be honest though, this has been stressful. Choosing architecture, relatively last minute (May) has been a challenge. When he was looking at colleges with an "Undecided" framework, things were a lot calmer. I think he's feeling a little badly that his friends are already hearing back from colleges from their EA apps already, and ahem, his essay is only in the draft stage. But everyone is different. It just occurred to me that he took his time when he was born, too. First two kids, easy-peasy, this one, slept through labor all night and waited until 9am to arrive.
    edited November 2014
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  • DmitriRDmitriR 838 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 838 Member
    Honestly, I would just take a step back. You can't care about the college stuff more than the actual college applicant does. You'll end up pulling out your hair just for this reason, and seeing you climbing up the walls will just make him feel worse and more ambivalent. I definitely recommend easing off a little. It might make you feel better, it will definitely make him feel better, and it will give him more control over the process which he will need if he plans to actually do well in college. Early Action is not for everyone; it requires a certain locus of control and self-motivation that not everyone can gin up on cue like that. If he makes this deadline, great, but if he misses it then as you point out that will just give him a chance to put his best foot forward when ready.
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  • CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
    Thanks, DmitriR. I'm trying. Leading to water.....
    EA is nice, but I do worry about "cramming" to meet a deadline. It's funny, but it just occurred to me that much of architecture is about cramming for deadlines. Perhaps he'll fit right in (*and his flash-card preparing, Science-brained mom just doesn't get it.) ;)
    Thanks for the advice.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 32863 replies3607 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 36,470 Super Moderator
    I think I'd feel better this is happening with an EA deadline. There should be some learning curve involved for the RD deadline and, if he misses EA he can punt to RD on this school.
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  • KnoxpatchKnoxpatch 343 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 351 Member
    Raising my virtual wine and whine glass to you. Just think: in a few months it'll all be over. Oh yeah, it's never over.
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  • momrathmomrath 5937 replies39 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,976 Senior Member
    CapeCodLady8, Architecture, especially the BArch, isn't for the faint of heart. It's an extremely intense, demanding and focused program that requires a high degree of self motivation. The drop out rate is significant.

    In architecture school pressure certainly builds as deadlines approach, but I wouldn't say that it's possible to get through the process by "cramming for deadlines". The work is cumulative and labor intensive and can't physically be put off until the last minute. (I speak as the parent of a world-class procrastinator and architect.)

    Of course, you know your son. If he plunges with enthusiasm into creative and abstract challenges, then he'll do well in the studio setting. If, on the other hand, he finds it difficult to get started on open-ended, creativity-driven assignments then maybe he should rethink going straight into architecture.

    If he is the least bit ambivalent about pursuing the BArch degree -- as might be evidenced by his lack of follow through -- then perhaps he should choose a more general path, like the BA or BS in architectural studies, or just "undecided" like most high school seniors. He'd always have the option to get an MArch if his interest continues, and he'd have his undergraduate experience to help him prepare himself emotionally and academically for the pressures of architecture school.
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  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo 1970 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,001 Senior Member
    Cheers and bottoms up! It's so much harder for applications that require portfolios because they take time and work but are so much more fun than trying to write those darned essays, which get pushed back. But it's only EA. Just have him make sure that everything is really done before Christmas / hannukah / quanza so that his rd apps are polished.
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  • mathmommathmom 31932 replies155 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,087 Senior Member
    Fellow architect commiserating. I've never pulled so many all nighters as when I was in architecture school - despite working very hard all term "charettes" still seemed to be the order of the day (and night). Putting together applications is hard enough, adding a portfolio is an extra complication. Good luck to him!

    I'm one of those who went the MArch route - if you are pretty sure you want to do architecture - it's still probably better to do the BArch you get more studio time if nothing else, but there are advantages of starting your professional education older and wiser.
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  • CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
    Thank you so much, everyone, for the support, cyber-clinks, and especially the Architecture advice. My son is pretty decided, even if it was a recent decision. I had encouraged him to go Undecided if he is not sure, but he's still committed. He did an architecture exploration program this past summer and absolutely loved it. We are kicking ourselves that he didn't choose a program which helped students develop their application portfolios. We were total newbies when choosing a program, and he applied pretty last minute. (I'm seeing a trend here. ;) )

    The good thing is he does both enjoy and get lost in his work when it comes to the Art/Design process. He was working on his Portfolio last night and it was pretty exciting seeing some of his pieces. He has not had much in the way of technical training at all, however, and only had room for one art class in junior year, though was able to advance by permission to AP Art this year. He seems to fit right in with Arch students we meet on college tours. They seem to be an interesting and great bunch of kids.

    If anyone has any additional advice specific to architecture I would love to hear it. You could post it here or private message me, I would so appreciate it.

    Thanks so much!
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,094 Senior Member
    This is an EA deadline right? And you feel it would be best that your son apply RD, right? Is there really a problem :smile: You may have been lucky with the older two boys but did they have extra material requirements in their applications? It sounds like this third son needs a bit more time. Not a gap year but RD applications rather than EA applications. I cannot imagine the extra time and effort needed to complete a portfolio in addition to essays.

    I was a Design of Environment major in college (that would be the architectural studies major). I went on to study city planning but most other students went on to get their MArch. It is a good option if your son isn't quite certain about the BArch degree.
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  • CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
    Thanks so much, SlackerMom. Much of the stress perhaps is generated by the process itself and the huge push for Early Action applications. At our last Guidance presentation for Senior parents/students, they reported that 70% of the students now apply early action. This is a huge jump from when my older boys applied, when EA was really for students to apply early to a school they loved, get a decision early, and avoid having to over-apply, while perhaps waiting until the end of the decision cycle for reach schools. Now it seems, EA is the norm. And the colleges seem to be pushing it as well, with somewhat scare tactics at the info sessions we've been attended. "We only have x spots and receive x portfolios."

    I am trying to have my son take the helm here, as he has throughout, though I tend to want to encourage him to forget this push to meet the next EA (since the Nov 1st EA deadline ship has sailed) for December 1st.
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  • LizzieTLizzieT 233 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
    I can only empathize. D decided to double major in science and music May of junior year, which threw the whole process into a tailspin as we scrambled to figure out colleges that offered both and the application processes. Thank goodness some of the colleges pre-screened with audio recordings that she uploaded via computer or the audition process would have been a total mess.

    D wasn't motivated until she had seen several schools and had a firm feeling about the place she really wanted to go. That lit a fire under her. I think the time of year helped, too, as she realized she really would have to do something the year after high school! Getting those first few apps in wasn't easy.

    I wouldn't worry too much. You seem to have a good grip and your son will learn, EA or not.
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  • CapeCodLady8CapeCodLady8 400 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 421 Member
    Thanks, Lizzie. Fingers crossed here. Happy Thanksgiving!
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  • momrathmomrath 5937 replies39 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,976 Senior Member
    edited November 2014
    @CapeCodLady8, is your son going for the BArch or is he also applying to BS/BA programs? My son did the BA+MArch, but many of his friends and colleagues chose the BArch. They are both good options, but very different -- academically, socially, culturally, and not in the least, financially.

    Finances are an important consideration if you need (or want) significant aid. BArch and BS/BA programs may offer either good need-based aid or merit aid. Since this is your third time through the process, you're probably up to speed on what to expect, but be aware that MArch programs are notoriously stingy, especially for White males.

    From school to school, for both the BArch and the BA/BS, there's a wide variation in the level of academic pressure, the focus on tech vs focus on design, the pervasive culture of the school.

    My observation (again, I'm a parent not an architect) is that portfolios don't need to be architecture specific. What the schools are looking for is "teachability" i.e., creativity, facility with different media, a sense of design and presentation skills.

    In higher income communities where the percentage of students who attend private schools is high, it's not surprising to me that more kids are choosing at least one early choice, though 70% seems quite high for EA alone. Do you mean 70% applied in a combination of both EA and ED? EA and ED are quite different philosophically. Some schools do fill a great proportion of their class through ED, others not so much.

    I think you'll find plenty of advice regarding specific channels and specific schools on the architecture board of this site, but it's best if you could narrow in what you want to know. PM me if you'd like.
    edited November 2014
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