Confessions of a School Snob

<p>I have a dilemma that I hope the wise folks on the parent's forum can help me with. I just read through the entire thread about kids who must go to their safety schools - great thread, and I empathize - but I have the exact opposite problem - </p>

<p>What does a parent do when their high-stat kid (3.8 GPA, 34 ACT, national-level athlete) is really only interested in safety schools? And, by safety I don't mean the state flagship honors college...more along the lines of the local 4th Tier school, or the local average Directional U commuter school. </p>

<p>Am I terrible to want more than that for him, to feel like he's wasting..something(?)..by making these choices? I don't feel that this is exactly a case of being a prestige hound. I graduated from the local average Directional U commuter school, and am well aware of the type of education he will receive there - not terrible, but certainly not exciting, nor the type of college "experience" I had envisioned for him.</p>

<p>He will not state any concrete reason for his desire to stay local and shoot so low, other than he loves this part of the country and has no desire to "go away to college". He's very content to be the big fish in a small pond, and possibly the thought of trying to be successful at a Duke or Vanderbilt is overwhelming to him. Who knows....</p>

<p>My plan of attack was to have him apply to a few reaches/matches outside our area where he's actually a good match - Washington & Lee, Furman, or the like, because I fear that a lot can change between now and next April. I want him to have good choices. He's humoring me in principle, but feels hurt that I think his current choices are sub-standard - there's a definite strain in our relationship every time a college discussion ensues.</p>

<p>So, should I continue that plan? Or should I get over myself and let him apply to wherever he thinks he'll be happiest? He has a written athletic scholarship offer from one school already, and can sign a letter of intent any time he likes. He would do so just to get the college process over with. I believe he can do "better" from an academic standpoint. </p>

<p>Two additional notes -
His ultimate goal is medical school. I believe most (but not all) of his choices can help him achieve that goal. I also believe other choices (Furman?) would be better suited.</p>

<p>We need lots of financial aid, and I'm aware that he'll fare better at schools where he's above the average stats. </p>

<p>Advice please? It's ok to be honest. I'd appreciate either reasons why his choices are fine, or maybe some valid arguments I can pose to him for why he needs to broaden his search.</p>

<p>jcc,
As a parent, I understand your frustration. I agree that he may feel differently next April, and it would be a good idea for him to apply to a few more selective schools. It sounds like his biggest concern is the desire to stay close to home. Are there any options within an hour or two that you can visit? He might be willing to consider a school that would allow the option of coming home on weekends. Try to get him to visit some more selective schools, just to see what they have to offer. </p>

<p>Some kids are resistent to the process because they are afraid of something - leaving home, rejection, failure. I think it's fine to encourage him to cast a wider net to keep his options open. If he still prefers the closer schools next spring, then you will need to be positive and support his choice.</p>

<p>Have any of the better academic schools recruited him aggressively as an athlete? It seems like that could pique his interest?</p>

<p>I think your frustration is normal, but I also think you've answered your own question here. It's his education, and it has to be in part about what he wants. He might be able to get into a more selective school, but he wont' succeed as a student there unless he has the appetite to compete in that environment, which can be hard to gin up if it's not the school he really wanted to go to in the first place. So while I think you're being a good parent by encouraging him to keep his options open and just apply to some more selective schools (he loses nothing by applying, after all. He might gain something however), try to remember that if he doesn't want it, it won't matter how qualified he is for it. </p>

<p>This is one of the first major decisions of his young adult life, and as the more experienced person here you should definitely guide him. But there's a difference between guiding and steering. If he wants the 4th-tier school, then that's what he wants, and you may have to accept that and try to support him and his decision.</p>

<p>Well, in one way he is making a sensible decision. Medical school is expensive, and the kinds of colleges that interest him are relatively cheap. If he makes the kind of choice he is thinking about, he will have relatively low undergraduate debt -- which is a good thing if he is facing heavy debt for medical school.</p>

<p>But I wonder whether a 4th tier local school can really provide him with adequate preparation for medical school. Your flagship state university can, but the kinds of schools he is considering are several levels down from the flagship. </p>

<p>If the idea of a prestigious private university is unappealing (perhaps because he feels that he might not fit in, either socioeconomically or academically), would he consider applying to your flagship state university -- and maybe also the flagship state universities of some adjacent states? These schools are not dominated by rich kids from elite high schools, and he may know other people who go there, and would therefore feel more at home than he would at, say, Duke or Vanderbilt.</p>

<p>"His ultimate goal is medical school".....which on CC means that his ultimate goal should be the highest GPA he can attain at any school that accepts the credits for pre-med and prepares him adaquately for that goal</p>

<p>I totally empathize with you in terms of wanting him to "reach for the stars", but in reality, if that is truly his goal, he will better be able to attain it where he is at the tippy top of the class.....</p>

<p>That being said, maybe a short visit to a couple of your choices would be a compromise he would be wiiling to give in on...if he is still convinced that he wants what he wants, you can sleep well that he will achieve his goal</p>

<p>Crossposted with Marian: totally agree with her post as well.......</p>

<p>I think you really have to let your aspirations take a back seat to his. You can find lots of anecdotal information about success stories coming from all kinds of undergraduate academic backgrounds (including the two people I know who went to a second tier LAC that many people have never heard of who both ended up at Harvard medical school).</p>

<p>I'd recommend you continue to offer your opinion when he asks for it but support him as he goes through the application process. I read too many stories from parents who had miserable senior years with their kids because everyone got so stressed about all of the college stuff. I really just do not understand that. I'd also give him the opportunity to visit several of the schools he's interested in. That might change his mind (or yours).</p>

<p>I learned pretty early with my kids that what I wanted was not a priority for them--for the most part. We have had some nearly disastrous results when kids did what they thought the parents wanted rather than what they wanted.</p>

<p>If your son wants to go to medical school eventually, have him take a look at how many kids go to medical school out of the colleges he likes. Have him make an appointment and talk to someone in the biology department and see what kinds of things are offered for students interested in pursuing medicine. He may discover that the numbers of kids heading off to med school (or the schools they are attending) aren't what he thought. Or you could find that his school choices are good for med school entrance.</p>

<p>Three wonderful humans I know, who are also medical doctors, completed undergraduate school at West Virginia University, James Madison, and University of Dayton.</p>

<p>Does he, perchance, have a girlfriend who is a year or two younger than he is?</p>

<p>I think you should urge him to apply to a few more selective schools--just to humor you--and see if his views change if he gets into some of them.</p>

<p>Good grades and a good MCAT score are way more important to acceptance than the name of the school. This is his choice and his life.</p>

<p>I think he feels unsecure and immature. With his stats and capability, he will excel in the CC and eventually transfer into a great college and medical school of his choice when he attain his maturity. He is no snob by a long shot.</p>

<p>I'm in a similar position, jcc. I have insisted that DS apply to more than one place, and that his options include several quite far from us. He does not see the point in this, and maybe ultimately there is none, but you and I know that things can change a lot in one year. As they begin to hear about where their friends and classmates are applying, visiting, etc. they may get excited about having some other options. We have visited a lot of places. I think you are right to insist that it's too early to close all the other doors.</p>

<p>I did ask my daughter to apply to one school. I had heard someone say that sometimes parents ask kids to do their list, but then one or both parents get to choose a school. It sounded reasonable. I chose a school that gave great merit scholarships. She got one and that is where she went!</p>

<p>It is ultimately his choice, so the best way is to make him want to go to a better school. Since you know his personality, and I do not, you are better situated to figure out how. But the best idea I have seen is to take him on a couple college visits to really lovely campuses, and organize the trip to stress the quality of life, not the academics or rigor. Then he might decide "I could see myself here."</p>

<p>Wow! Thanks for all the replies. All of you have validated what I know to be true intellectually - it's his decision and I know he'll do best where he is happiest. It's the emotional "you want to go where?!?" part I'm struggling with.</p>

<p>To answer a few of your questions - his sport (cycling) in not available at as a varsity sport at any top-notch academic schools. 4th tier is as good as it gets if you want (need) scholarship money. The closest exception is Virginia Tech, where it's a club sport w/$$ available. However, when he learned they require US History SAT II he said "never mind". Grrr.</p>

<p>His girlfriend is going to the "local average Directional U commuter school" on a full ride athletic scholarship. While that may have an influence, his opinions regarding school choices definitely pre-date her.</p>

<p>We've visited all of his choices already. When my son posed a question regarding med school admission rates to the Biology dept. chair of current his "top choice", the man stroked his chin thoughtfully and replied "I don't think we've ever had anyone apply...." It's still his favorite, although his scholarship offer is from a competitor who has some success with med school apps.</p>

<p>I agree that he'll likely end up in the same place in life whether he goes to a top school or a local school. It's what he makes of it, etc. I just have to figure out how to be happy about it. That's actually much harder than I thought it would be.</p>

<p>
[quote]
When my son posed a question regarding med school admission rates to the Biology dept. chair of current his "top choice", the man stroked his chin thoughtfully and replied "I don't think we've ever had anyone apply...."

[/quote]
Ouch! I think that should give your son some pause if he really wants to go to med school--that college is not likely to be well-equipped to advise him.</p>

<p>^^That would scare me a bit too. I would emphasize your point about young people changing their minds during senior year. He wants to have options in April.</p>

<p>Oh, and Artloversplus - none of his choices are community colleges - just garden variety local schools that no one outside of a 1 hour radius has ever heard of.....</p>

<p>I'm not a school snob ... at least I don't think I am. But I am a success snob. CHOOSING to attend a tier 4 college for undergraduate is highly unusual for an aspiring physician, and that decision will be scrutinized by every gatekeeper on his path to professional success. JMHO of course.</p>

<p>
[quote]
The closest exception is Virginia Tech, where it's a club sport w/$$ available. However, when he learned they require US History SAT II he said "never mind".

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Double check this. I don't think it is correct. At most, they might require it for placement (i.e., those who get a high enough score might be exempted from an otherwise-required course).</p>