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Application rejected: too smart, too lazy, or just plain bored?


Replies to: Application rejected: too smart, too lazy, or just plain bored?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    There are many of these kids, Jolynne. And statistically, they don't do that well in college is what I have heard. Every years such kids flunk out of the top schools. Some of them managed to get decent enough grades in high school, though still waaay below what they should have been. Some of those kids were smart enough to do well without studying at all in high school and in the lower level college courses. They never learned to study, take notes or do anything that does not interest them. Unfortunately there is a lot of dead wood in even the most interesting subjects and if you don't know how to grit your teeth and take it, there is a good chance you are not going to get through the course. That's why those colleges who have other choices in students do not want these kids who don't deign to do work they feel is below them.

    And Jolynne, I so agree with your last sentence!! You should write to Jay with your response. I think you hit the nail right on the head.
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    Ken - No one is arguing with your position that many public HS (and many private ones too, unfortunately) do a poor job educating gifted students. I hope what's coming through in these posts is that "giftedness" is a double-edged sword. Yes it's wonderful to have a gifted child, and an honor also. But it also creates situations which require creative solutions. In the case of Ms. Klimavicz it appears that these creative solutions were lacking. I do feel sorry for her S, because there was no way he could know behavior condoned by his family would hamper his college application process (and perhaps his life beyond college).
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,675 Senior Member
    I do feel sorry for her S, because there was no way he could know behavior condoned by his family would hamper his college application process
    I don't agree with that statement. The kid was in school, surrounded by peers. I'm quite sure that his high school teachers probably told him that he would need good grades to get into a good college. (It seems to be a mantra that teachers tend to repeat over and over.) I do think that young teenagers often make decisions without regard for the consequences, but usually by rationalizing that they don't care about the consequences as opposed to pretending that they don't exist. (example, "so what? I don't want to go to college anyway. If I don't get into a good college, I'll go bum around Europe for a couple of years instead.")

    In any case, as I noted the young man in question has been given a 4-year full tuition scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University. So basically it looks like he has options. (And he didn't write any letters to Jay Matthews -- it is quite possible that the only one upset with the outcome is the mom, who did note dismay over Clemson's tuition).
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Ha, ha. Love your post, Calmom. I think you're right.
  • cartera45cartera45 Registered User Posts: 12,442 Senior Member
    This family may have really been surprised that he could not get into some of these other schools with that GPA and those scores. There are years in which he could have. Things have changed. There are too many candidates who have both.
  • greatgirlsgreatgirls Registered User Posts: 82 Junior Member
    Just because the school did not challenge the student does not mean the student did not have options to look at. How about home-study courses in subjects that interested him, asking the instructor if he could do the homestudy or advanced course in the instructors classroom, online AP courses, Early college at a community college. All these show initiative, something colleges look for. Why would a college take a student who gets low grades and blames others for his lack of initiative... look at all the students that work the butts off for 4 years and don't get into their school of choice. I cannot believe his mother is even supporting him on this.
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    CalMom/cptofthehouse - I certainly agree that it's most likely the mother who's most unhappy with the rejections. Regards guidance given the student by his parents, I was basing my conclusion on this:

    "Fast-forward to high school. To minimize frustration, we focused my son on learning, not grades. If he could get a 100 on an exam without doing the homework, we believed his time was better spent doing another activity in which he actually learned something."
  • kenf1234kenf1234 Registered User Posts: 1,865 Senior Member
    No one is arguing with your position that many public HS (and many private ones too, unfortunately) do a poor job educating gifted students.

    The attitude I've seen repeated many times, on this thread and others, is that if a kid is bored in school, and so is unwilling to do endless, mindless drudgework, there is something wrong with the kid. Being gifted doesn't excuse you from "hard work", even if that "hard work" benefits NO ONE, and just goes to prove that you are willing to do meaningless hard work for its own sake. Thus, my metaphor of digging a ditch and then filling it in.

    Some kids can make accomodations from sympathetic teachers, but as school structures get more rigid, this becomes less likely. The article in question implies that there was such a situation at that high school.

    My point is that just blaming the kid as "lazy" is missing what is going on.
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    "My point is that just blaming the kid as "lazy" is missing what is going on."

    Exactly right.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Newhope, teaching my kids to get the grades consistently and to do the homework even if it was boring, irrelevant, too simple, etc were the most difficult things I tried to do. I did not succeed. I can see that my oldest son who is certainly the classic underachiever still has a problem in doing things thoroughly. He is a 75%er which is just not good enough for many things in life that he wants. It's a long, hard lesson for him.

    Also, though "lazy" may not be the case for some kids, it sure the heck is with many of them. My husband sees some of these kids at work too at their first jobs. Many of them quit or are let go because they do not want to do the mundane work since they feel they are destined for bigger things. Some may be brilliant enough to get there without going through the paces, but there are sadly many underperforming bright people who are disappointed in themselves as they did not get where they felt they should have in life.

    I have found that my son who has to work hard to to well in school has much stronger study, notetaking skills than his brothers who really whizzed through courses. Because he HAD to do the mundane work while the stuff was still in the early stages of difficulty, he knew what to do when it got hard. The older ones really were unprepared to handle boring, distasteful, and necessary work when it was presented at high difficulty levels. Some kids are able to swallow the bile and suck it up when it happens, but too often they just fail. It's just too easy to continue blaming the material, presentation, the interest factor, etc when it really does come down to being too lazy to do the work needed to learn that kind of material.

    I strongly feel that a parent should try to find a good match with difficulty level, interest and ability for his/her child. If a school/curriculum/program is such a terrible match, a search is in order. However, if the child cannot consistently do good work at a level where it is easy for him, there often are other problems here. Laziness certainly can be one of the reasons. Some parents have learned later that just cranking up the difficulty level of the work is not the solution. If there is no interest there, the kid is not going to find the more difficult subject matter more palatable. The laziness is that of not wanting to do something that does not interest him. Unfortunately, in life we have to work on a lot of non interesting things and have to do such things very thoroughly. It is an important thing to have the ability to do what is in your best interest to do, even if it is not interesting.
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    cpt - (Without knowing it) you have nicely encapsulated my educational career -- classic slacker in HS who failed first attempt at college due to no study skills, followed by a couple difficult years of "learning how." With those new skills, UG and Grad School became straightforward. DW and I had no desire to have our kids repeat this experience. And yeah, we probably overdid it. But I'm pretty sure we'll never hear from them "I never knew good grades and good study habits were important."
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,675 Senior Member
    It's not a matter of laziness vs. work-ethic; it's a matter of learning style, motivation and goals.

    When my d. wanted to deviate from the prescribed path through high school by opting for a high school semester abroad, I supported her -- but I also warned her that it might end up hurting her chances of admission at highly competitive colleges. In her case, the opposite proved true -- but if she was rejected from any colleges because of weaknesses in her high school record, she would have no one to blame but herself.

    Cptofthehouse -- I don't know what the situation is with your underachieving oldest son, but I am sure there are many areas where he can be very happy and successful --but he needs to make sure his goals more closely match the effort he is willing to put in. There is a place in the world for bright, creative kids who aren't willing to follow all the rules -- but there's a reason that Einstein had a hard time lining up a job after he graduated, and why he was not a very good employee at the patent office where he worked; and there's a reason that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn't manage to graduate from their respective colleges, nor go on to become loyal employees for IBM.

    I don't think that parents should feel a need to force their kids to get top grades or aspire to elite colleges -- I did not do that with either of my kids. I think the only thing I managed to convey successfully was that they were on their own and that the school system had very different (and less forgiving) rules and consequences than home life. Once, when my son was in 9th grade, he got a D for the grading period because he had not done one of the assignments. He thought that if he did 4 out of 5 assignments, he should be entitled to a B - so of course he griped to me about how "unfair" the teacher was. My response at the time: "Well, too bad, looks like the teacher sees things differently."
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Newhope, you are one of many. But you are one of the smarter ones who figured it out. There are many out there who have not. SOme are very unhappy people who just don't understand why they did not get what they should have out of life. It's a hard break for the parents too. You raise a remarkable, precocious, gifted, talented child who is such a delight and sooooo talented, so special, and he just can't learn to do the mundane. Many blame the parents for encouraging the "giftedness", but I don't think that really is the big problem. SOme kids just really have trouble doing things without a focus and have trouble finding focal points. Many have been punished quite a bit for this deficiency, yet, they still cannot do it. For some, detail work is just not for them, and if they are lucky they can find a path that suits them. I think it helps if they understand that they do have a problem, instead of being told that they are just so smart they don't need to do the busy work. That way they do not get the expectations that they are going to get interesting, challenging things to do in their lives. Whether this problem is laziness, attention deficit, motivational, mood, is not as important as recognizing that this could be a problem.

    Going back to the OP, I am still surprised the young man did not get into JMU or VPI. I double checked, and kids with far lower stats than his, including grades have been accepted to those schools. I think, perhaps, his gpa must have some really low grades in there. I know that a steady 3.0 is acceptable at those schools with lower test scores than the OP's son has, especially if the school, curriculum, classes are at a high level.
  • KeshiraKeshira Registered User Posts: 1,148 Senior Member
    Honestly, if I were stuck in regular classes or even honors level classes in school right now, I'd be bored silly. I'd be bored so silly that I'd be tempted to stop doing the work or skip school, though I probably wouldn't because I've been raised with a strong sense of duty. But who knows what would happen?

    Yes, it's true that some of these students fail to do better even when the difficulty level is raised, simply because they've gotten into the habit of not having to try. It's not an inherent trait in them though. If from the very beginning of school they'd been given work of an appropriate level, they would not have this problem. So I'd say it's still caused by the school system.

    It's said that success in school is 1/3 intelligence, 1/3 hard work and 1/3 interest. I'd go as far to say that it's 1/2 interest... because without interest the hard work part won't happen.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Calmom, I don't believe that it is the best thing to make a child take the hardest possible courses and insist on the top grades. I also don't believe that tailoring your life to get into top college or getting your child into a top college is an enviable goal. If the activities that fall in that category, are also things that your child wants to do anyways, that is a different story, but much of life is the journey, not the destination. You do live those moments too, and to be cracking the whip at a kid who just does not want to do it, is not a good quality of life.

    But there are certain work ethics that a kid has to learn if he is going to be self sufficient and have a reasonable life quality. Thoroughness of the job, doing unpleasant, uninteresting things, following direction, doing what the boss wants, are all important life lessons. When I say my son is having difficulties with completion, it is not just with academics. There are other issues in there too, I'm sure. Hopefully, his goals and work somehow meet. There are many out there who work to eat, and that may well be his destiny.

    Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Einstein.... there are many such geniuses. But for each one of them, there are hundreds of thousands of lazy or unmotivated geniuses who never found their matches or niches in life, and are very unhappy about it. As I stated in my earlier posts, colleges do accept underachievers, kids who are untraditional IF there is something tangible there that the kids have achieved that makes them stand out and desirable. I have seen such kids. If a kid is so talented that he does not have to dot the i's and cross the t's, there will likely be some recognition of this. Unless such tangible evidence exists, an underachieving genius is right in there with other slackers, and he may never be recognized for talent nor have an opportunity to show everyone what he can do.
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