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Anyone with a younger sib that's stressed out by older one applying?

Norcal1972Norcal1972 9 replies2 threads New Member
I am sure this happens, but just want to get some feedback from other parents that may have witnessed some disenchantment from your younger high schooler as they witness the application process. As our older one finishes up his applications, my sophmore has stated numerous times "well if he doesnt get into one of his top 4-5 schools, then I am not sure I want to try for all of this". He is a straight A student, bright, has other activities he does like sports and music - but I think the fact that he has watched how stressful this process has been and knows his brother has poured his heart out in these essays to possibly be disappointed, has made him take pause. I will own the fact we live in a house of reality - we have been careful to make sure our older one manages his expectations properly and even though he is qualified for any of the schools he has applied to, there is no guarantee to get in to his reaches obviously and even his matches could disappoint him with a denial. Of course he could also have a decent amount of choices - it all still is TBD.
And when I say "not sure I want to try for all of this" I mean take as many AP's as possible and fill almost every free hour of every day with activities etc, because it's what is expected.. My older one did that somewhat naturally - his experience through high school has been really authentic and his outside extras were things he did because he wanted to. The younger one is more social and for lack of a better adjective, lazier. He can put the effort forth when he needs to (as his grades refect) but he may decide to have a less stressful high school experience if he feels the added effort isnt worth it for a lot of these schools. Anyone else experience this?
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Replies to: Anyone with a younger sib that's stressed out by older one applying?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78992 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited November 29
    If he is still a "straight A student" despite being "lazier", it is not like he will have difficulty getting into a decent college and doing well there.

    Is there a lot of pressure from the school, peers, etc. pushing a "HYPSM/UCB/UCLA or bust" mentality on him, such that it is seen as a "failure" to get admitted "only" to UCSB, CPSLO, UCR, SJSU, etc., or even choosing to start at a community college?
    edited November 29
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  • chardonMNchardonMN 99 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I have a younger high schooler who isn't saying much yet, but is watching and is tired of visiting colleges on vacation. He is a high achiever, but I think I am the one who wants him to take it a little easier. The tension around this process is ridiculous, and also, we have discovered several colleges that can be seen as safeties, that we absolutely love and would be happy to have our kids attend. S20 was accepted to his Ed school and we were sad to have to pull those apps from safeties/matches as we had really become excited about them. So I think we will approach this in a more relaxed way with #2. So many great options!
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 9 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks ucbalumnus - nice recent win at Big Game!
    The public high school they attend is very competitive, and the students definitely wind each other up. I dont think that my sophmores friends are actively talking about this amongst each other right now, but because he has seen this process first hand with his older brother and he has a couple of friends also with senior sibs going through the same thing - it has come up in conversation. My husband and I have consistently told both our boys there are several paths for each journey and that no one way is the best or right, that it's just a different path. Whether that means having a less stressful high school experience and considering community college first, or going to a school that is not in the top WHATEVER number, it all leads to continued growth. We really have been supportive of what internally movitates our boys and are very careful to try and keep stress at a minimum when possible. Our family has been through some serious life stuff with my cancer diagnosis and we try to remind our kids that mental health and wellness are just as important as where they end up after high school. This whole process is so much more complicated and stressful now with how many schools these kids apply to with reaches, matches, safeties etc. In the old days when I applied decades ago, it was vastly different. And finally yes, I think his older brother will look at not getting into one of his top 4-5 choices as a failure because he has worked so hard for years. We have told him he will end up at the school where he was meant to attend and that his effort has been tremendous and he should take such pride in that, but you know when mom and dad say things sometimes it's ignored lol. I am actually kind of relieved that my younger one is evaluating if all this intense focus is worth it, in the long run. He will be ok, and yes we have already pointed out to him that there are PLENTY of schools he can attend without the crazy stats and 8-10 AP courses if that's not how he wants to exist the next couple of years. lol
    I was just hoping that maybe some other parents have gone through same and could share their experiences.
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 9 replies2 threads New Member
    ChardonMN - congrats on your older one getting the ED acceptance, that is so exciting for you! I can understand the sadness of having to pull the other apps, we encouraged our older one to do EA and not ED because he is always needing to know his options and he realized not knowing if he got into other schools would be hard for him to reconcile if he did get into one ED. I also look forward to the 2nd experience with younger one being more relaxed!
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  • TS0104TS0104 950 replies27 threads Member
    Your youngest will have the advantage of seeing your older son get into wherever (possibly not first choice), deal with it, and then go off and (hopefully, most likely) THRIVE. That's a huge gift of being a younger sibling, seeing that it all really does work out OK and the vast majority of students end up happy!

    It sounds like you are doing the perfect thing which is to use careful language and expectations around the process at home. Sounds like your sons may have some pressure at their school, but you can (and it sounds like you are) counteract that at home.

    Also remember that this is a small but intense window of time (applications/decisions), and then you shift into the fun part of looking forward to and preparing for college..and your younger son will get to observe that process as well!
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 323 replies0 threads Member
    edited November 29
    We see D21 college application process affecting S23 in a big way. But It may or may not be a good thing. He is taking all honored classes now including Spanish. I told him he doesn’t need to take it as honor, just regular is fine. that’s the class that pulled D21 GPA down (a few points short of valedictorian). She still got above 90, but it’s the lowest scores she got of all her classes. He said he needs rigors because colleges want to see that, and he doesn’t want to do anything “less” than his sister. Okay fine, but then one day he went home and was so upset saying mom I did really poorly on the oral Spanish test and that this test will pull his Spanish grade down. I had to tell him it’s completely ok. Turned out he got 100 on the oral test! This kid was freaking out for no reason, he said the Spanish teacher didn’t give any feedback and he had no idea how he did so he assumed he failed it.

    The more we talk the more I realized he has been listening to us through DD’s application process last year. And he does everything now to make sure he keeps up for the next 4 years. I don’t like that at all. He shouldn’t be so worrying about college right now. We told him to chill but not sure how much he will listen.

    Another example, DD is taking CS61A this year at Cal, it’s kicking her butt. Thinks she still can get A- but more likely a B+ unless she flunk the finals . Since the course has all the materials online, S23 has been taking it along with his sister. Because he wants to do well when the time comes. He definitely wants to major in CS. Why does he do this?? Because in case he doesn’t get into EECS directly at Cal, he hopes to get into CS from L&S but he has to do well in CS classes to be accepted. This kid is nuts. He worries too much. He wasn’t a typical worried kid, not before all this. Always chill, smart but not really competitive. All the sudden he changed as soon as he got to HS. We are working on him to ease his worry.

    So yeah I understand what you are saying, OP. The younger siblings do listen and watch the older siblings. But each kid seems to deal with it very differently.
    edited November 29
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78992 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Nhatrang wrote: »
    Another example, DD is taking CS61A this year at Cal, it’s kicking her butt. Thinks she still can get A- but more likely a B+ unless she flunk the finals . Since the course has all the materials online, S23 has been taking it along with his sister. Because he wants to do well when the time comes. He definitely wants to major in CS. Why does he do this?? Because in case he doesn’t get into EECS directly at Cal, he hopes to get into CS from L&S but he has to do well in CS classes to be accepted. This kid is nuts. He worries too much. He wasn’t a typical worried kid, not before all this. Always chill, smart but not really competitive. All the sudden he changed as soon as he got to HS. We are working on him to ease his worry.

    The idea that an A- or B+ in a college course is some sort of "failure" only applies to those needing very high GPAs for some goal (e.g. pre-med, pre-top-14-law, or a hyper-competitive major's secondary admission process). UCB L&S CS admits all who get a 3.3 college GPA in the prerequisites (of which CS 61A is one), so an A- or B+ will not prevent her from entering the major, if that is the concern. Note that a B+ or higher still puts her in the upper half of the typical grade distribution in that course.

    Unfortunately, the popularity of majoring in CS does mean that he will face more competition for direct admission CS majors, or make note of secondary admission processes (which can be very competitive at some schools like CMU, UIUC, UCSD, Washington, or Purdue) where there is no direct admission to CS or where he does not get direct admission to CS. Unless, of course, the computing industry crashes between now and when he applies to college (the 2001-2003 crash greatly reduced the popularity of majoring in CS for several years afterward).
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1987 replies6 threads Senior Member
    I think we may have the opposite problem. D19 procrastinated on application stuff all through summer, made a concerted effort in the last couple of weeks before the ED deadline, then got into her ED school, so it was all done and dusted before mid-December. D26 obviously has a while to go yet, but may have a distorted idea of how “easy” the process is.
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 518 replies29 threads Member
    The only thing our 12yr old S has taken from his brother's (2019) process is that he refuses to look at a school more than 6 hrs from home. He's taking a definite "the closer, the better" approach. That unfortunately eliminates a ton of great options in the midwest... but he's 12, alot can change in 6 years.
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  • turtletimeturtletime 1247 replies12 threads Senior Member
    frankly, we were ALL stressed out by eldest’s application process because SHE was a mess about it. I think our son actually benefited from it. He watched his sister do everything right and still not get into her dream schools BUT go off to a wonderful college lower on her list and thrive. It relaxed him. Let him be who he wanted to be and not try to twist himself into something he thought colleges wanted. As if turned out, he faired much better acceptance wise despite not filling every second with activities and choosing a high school that didn’t believe in AP and such. He even decided to attend his big sisters college and is thriving as well.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23006 replies292 threads Senior Member
    D1's college process was very difficult. She was WL at Columbia even though her GC believed she was a shoo in (based on the school's past experience). She then was rejected and WL at all of her top choices during RD. D1 pushed until the very end with the highest senior GPA at her school. She said she wanted to have all her options available, which included getting off the WL and possibly transferring after first year. She ended up getting off both Cornell and Duke's WLs, and matriculated at Cornell. She had 4 best years there and landed her dream job (she is still at the same job 7 years later).

    D2 lived through her sister's experience and saw her sister's perseverance. She knew if her sister didn't work hard she wouldn't have had the options she had. D1 didn't get exactly what she wanted, but she thrived at her best option. D1 gave it her all, so she had no "could have or should have." When it was D2's turn, she also did her best in school, but she realized she didn't necessary need to be at the highest ranking school to be happy. She decided to ED at Cornell instead of at other higher ranking schools (one and done). She is now at a law school of her choice.

    My kids didn't take all the hardest courses in high school. They took many electives of interest to them. They also did the same in college. D1 double majored in Math and Economics, but also took many art history courses and minored in Women's Studies.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 323 replies0 threads Member
    edited December 1
    ucbalumnus wrote: »

    The idea that an A- or B+ in a college course is some sort of "failure" only applies to those needing very high GPAs for some goal (e.g. pre-med, pre-top-14-law, or a hyper-competitive major's secondary admission process).

    She will declare cognitive science after the spring. Will go for PhD or Med school. So it’s extremely important for her to keep high GPA. She is okay but very cautious. Cal exams are the killers. It’s so funny that she has a friend who is at UPenn and they compared exams materials bc they are on similar track, her friend keeps saying OMG And DD said it is so clear the difference in level of difficulty. All other classes are on track for As (Chem 1a, math 54 and some English). She thinks CS61A should be one of her hardest classes for her considering she never took formal CS course in HS, however she knew python. If she survives this course with a decent grade, the rest should be not too bad, though with many sleepless nights for the next 3 1/2 years.
    edited December 1
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 323 replies0 threads Member
    edited December 1
    The only thing our 12yr old S has taken from his brother's (2019) process is that he refuses to look at a school more than 6 hrs from home. He's taking a definite "the closer, the better" approach. That unfortunately eliminates a ton of great options in the midwest... but he's 12, alot can change in 6 years.

    He is 12 and looked at schools, that’s some maturity there.

    My S23 wants to follow his sister’s footstep, 3000 miles away, or anywhere. Distance is never a problem with our kids. Both kids have no dream schools, just general idea of the type of schools they want. Although S23 thinks it would be cool to join his sisters school, as it was also mine and hubby’s. Wants to keep up the tradition. My gut feeling, he will do well with close by schools that are also good like Penn Stat, Rutgers or Stevens. Will have to see.
    edited December 1
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78992 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Nhatrang wrote: »
    She will declare cognitive science after the spring. Will go for PhD or Med school. So it’s extremely important for her to keep high GPA.

    Yes, pre-meds will face GPA stress throughout college (unless they decide to stop being pre-med).

    However, if the younger kid is not aiming for something hyper-competitive like medical school, then you may want to make sure he knows that not everything is hyper-competitive like medical school.
    Nhatrang wrote: »
    She thinks CS61A should be one of her hardest classes for her considering she never took formal CS course in HS, however she knew python.

    In all fairness, the syllabus for UCB CS 61A does give warning that it can be hard for those with less prior experience or previous course work:

    https://cs61a.org/articles/about.html
    There are no formal programming-related prerequisites for CS 61A, but it's not the right first course for all students. Many CS 61A students have had significant prior programming experience, including prior coursework. Some students take the course without any prior programming experience, but they typically must work substantially harder to master the material, perhaps simply because they have less practice working with programs. If you have limited prior experience and you find it challenging to complete all of the required coursework in the first three weeks, you should seriously consider taking another course first. You'll likely have a better experience taking 61A later, and you won't fall behind in any meaningful way by taking one of the alternatives below prior to taking 61A
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 323 replies0 threads Member
    Thanks @ucbalumnus for the warning and advice. I am sure will come back to you for more over the next few years.

    She really enjoys CS161A quite a bit actually. Loved the assignments, completed them without help from TA and got all the extra credits. it’s the the exams that make it hard to obtain A.

    Sorry @Norcal1972 for taking a detour of your thread. I see that you are new, If your kids are interested in the UCs, they have their own forums there too if you want to ask specific questions about them. You are so lucky to be living in CA where the UC system is second to none. Good luck with your kiddos!
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  • jmnva06jmnva06 780 replies7 threads Member
    I wouldn't say that stressed is the right words but D2 clearly watched D1's process and decided to follow a different path (more visits and more applications),
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5525 replies79 threads Senior Member
    Even ideas of how this works from seven years ago is dated in terms of what the past few years have done to the level of competitiveness. Many of us who had success at highly selective schools would potentially face different results today. I would say for any 12 year old it will again be different in six years. Potentially govt sponsored college options for free, less students applying demographically speaking, a turn to trade schools as culture and away from varsity blues type behavior.

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78992 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited December 1
    I would say for any 12 year old it will again be different in six years. Potentially govt sponsored college options for free, less students applying demographically speaking, a turn to trade schools as culture and away from varsity blues type behavior.

    Or a recession could cause state budgets to go into crisis, with budget cuts hitting state universities hard (forcing tuition increases and/or FA cuts) resulting in higher cost and debt for students, as well as more difficult admissions due to reducing capacity by cutting adjuncts who can no longer be afforded to be hired. And the community colleges will be overflowing for the same reasons, as well as additional people who lost their jobs and are trying to retrain for some other job.
    edited December 1
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5525 replies79 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus Yes. Good point. Any number of scenarios. I was focused on those more readily observable currently, but your point is well taken.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5680 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "I wouldn't say that stressed is the right words but D2 clearly watched D1's process and decided to follow a different path"

    This was our experience also. The main difference I saw was that D2 had solid safeties lined up. D2 seemed to want to reduce the stress.

    D1 had schools that we knew she would get into, schools she was willing to attend, and schools that we knew she would be able to afford, but they weren't all the same school (she did end up with a merit scholarship that made her first choice affordable, but this was not a guarantee up front). D2 applied to several schools that were both very good matches and safeties. The only issue was deciding between several good choices.
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