D. goes off singing to PSAT

<p>Along with millions of other juniors, my daughter is taking the PSAT this morning. A minor miracle occurred in our house when she woke up happy and calm about the entire thing this morning and actually left the house singing to herself.</p>

<p>As some of you know, due to a myriad of school and personal stresses, last year was a horrible year for my daughter. This year, she's taking a challenging but more manageable course load at school and I've made a conscious decision to ease back on the pressure and nagging from my end. Sure, I'd love to be able to say she's going to be applying to some "big name" schools next year, but the truth of the matter is the schools she is most attracted to are schools where the academics are good but the names are not particularly well-known or impressive. "Fit" for her is probably going to be a college where she can enjoy lots of personal interactions with teachers and friends and not be overly stressed by the level of academic intensity.</p>

<p>I've come to accept that that's OK. I won't be a failure as a parent if my daughter doesn't go to an Ivy league school, have 25 AP classes on her transcript, or star in a broadway show while serving as class president. </p>

<p>So, she left the house singing this morning. She knows she isn't going to come close to winning a NMS. She knows she did well enough on the verbal and writing sections last year and she's been working with a great tutor to help her with math. She's optimistic that she'll find a good college - the right college - for her and that they'll want her as much as she wants them. </p>

<p>And so am I.</p>


<p>This is the best mood in which to take a test! </p>



<p>Your D has shown that with the right kind of interactions with teachers, she can turn in an excellent performance. She'll have great colleges to choose from and will do very well. I, too, am optimistic on her behalf.</p>

<p>Carolyn, what a great post! But why do so many parents think that they or their kids are failures if they don't go to "an Ivy League school, have 25 AP classes...or star in a Broadway show while serving as class president"? You're right, it's all about FIT.</p>

<p>I read the thread about kids who are loving their freshman year at Dartmouth. I shudder to think of my S there. Isolated, outdoorsy... my S? No way! Parents should help their kids see their truth and guide them in the college search process.
I am so sad when I read about parents who insist that only Ivys and name schools will do.</p>

<p>Once there was a thread on this forum: How long have you been married? Many of us claimed 25+ years of married to the same spouse. I think a lot of us know about FIT.</p>

<p>Carolyn, such joy for your daughter. Attitude, that makes the difference - both your attitude and her attitude. I finally beginning to feel a little relaxed, to feel that this process will end as it should end, successfully. That makes all the difference, I think that's a little of what you are feeling.</p>

<p>My daughter also was "singing" her way to school today. She decided against taking the PSAT and instead is going to take the SAT in December. In the past year I have taken to heart a new definition of the word, "fit." Funny, until last year, I thought, "gap" was a place to buy clothes. Now I'm living through a gap year(s) with my son.</p>

<p>Carolyn, wise mom. I hope your post puts it all in perspective for a lot of parents. My junior didn't go off singing unfortunately, but we are getting closer to your point of view. She's such a high anxiety kid that she would stress out if she went to what might be a reach college for her. There are so many kids at our affluent suburban h.s. who are extreme over-achievers, like one very nice, bright senior who is a team captain, class officer, taking many AP's and up till 4 am almost every week night to get done what she needs to do--and then up at 6:30 to go to school. My daughter could never be like that nor would I want her to. There's a great college out there for every kid. Success is measured by a happy fit.</p>

<p>be my mom!!!
(joking. for the record, i love my parents very much. )</p>

<p>Carolyn, sounds as if you and your daughter are looking at this the right way. The process with my second will also be very different - different interests and levels of motivation. </p>

<p>I'm glad she's having a better year.</p>

<p>Carolyn, sounds like things are going great this year with your daughter. I truly think each kid is so different and must follow their own path to reach their own goals. I can say that my 16 year old certainly has her own path going that is not the norm. My main goal is that each child finds a school that fits her own goals and desires and where she would be happiest. The name of it is not the goal but more of getting to do what you like and be where you would fit in and be happy. </p>

<p>As far as the PSATs, I surely never knew they were such a big deal until I read this forum. In our house, my kids did not prepare for the PSAT but to do the one practice test that came with the sign up just to have a feeling of what it was like and know what to expect. That was it. We saw it as practice for the SATs and to give us a "base" of where they were at at that point in time in high school as far as testing goes. There was no pressure and nobody thought it was a big deal at all. I had no idea the big deal of PSATs going on elsewhere until I read this forum. We don't live in a competitive community when it comes to this stuff so a lot of those attitudes I read here are very new to me. </p>

<p>As it is turning out, my 16 year old will have never taken the PSATs! She was signed up to take them this time last year in tenth grade, as a practice, like I said for what was coming down the line with SATs. At that time, I also had no idea she would be graduating a year early. She took only half of the practice test in the booklet (the verbal part) which gave me some idea of where she was at, but before she even took the math portion in the sample booklet, we were called out of state to visit my father who was dying of cancer and my mom thought it was urgent so we took the kids (it turned out that he did not die until Thanksgiving and they were with him over Thanksgiving again). So, my D missed the PSAT test date. I figured oh well, it is not like it counts for anything, she can take it fall of junior year, for real. Turns out she wanted to graduate early (beats to her own drum) and ended up taking the SATs twice and SAT2s once in spring of tenth grade. So, she says she is done with testing and it is not like I could even bring up taking the PSAT today with her junior peers when in her mind, she is FINIS! So, I guess she will never have taken the PSATs afterall! </p>

<p>I realize a lot of people here think the test is important I guess cause of National Merit, but otherwise, I don't see that much riding on this test and I cannot imagine studying for it or being stressed over it as it does not count for college in other respects. I see it as a stress-free opportunity to experience this style of standardized testing akin to the SATs that will count and matter later on. I did not feel much was riding on this test and surely my kids did not feel any pressure in taking it. I know that is just my viewpoint but I can't imagine the pressure going on in some communities already in tenth grade over this stuff. </p>

<p>I truly believe that you shoot for your personal goals, whatever they may be and there is a school for every kid out there that fits their personality and strengths. The shooting for "name" schools as a goal is one I was not tuned into until I read the CC forums (mostly the kid ones) on here. We just don't have that kind of goal in our local community, nor in our home. It was just about doing your best, having goals and reaching for schools that were appealing to whatever that child liked and would fit in well at. If the child was a very strong student, yes, the child wanted a challenging environment and to be with other motivated kinds of kids. If the child had a specific talent, then she wanted a school where she could focus on that and pursue it. The whole name thing is hard for me to relate to as a goal in itself. </p>

<p>I personally think your daughter, Carolyn, is on the right track for HER. She is a very strong student who seems to have an idea of the kind of school where she would flourish and now can work toward that goal which is HER goal, as it should be. The fit to the kid is really the primary thing. And thus, these PSATs should not be a pressure cooker for her. Rather, she can use this test date to get a glimpse of how she is doing score wise and if there are any areas on the test that she may want to prepare for when she takes the SATs later on. I see the PSAT more as an opportunity to give her that information so she can decide what she may want to focus on for spring testing when it counts more. Luckily, she went into it feeling that way and not as if it was such a big deal.</p>


<p>My D actually studied for the PSAT. We had gotten a notice that her school was offering an SAT class for something like $700, and we had a family discussion as to whether that was going to be necessary. (Didn't know about CC then!) What we agreed on was that D would set up a study schedule. If she stuck to it and did fine on the PSAT, she could self-study for the SAT too. If she didn't stick to it and/or didn't do well on the PSAT, then we'd consider some sort of study help (the class or an internet class or whatever) for the SAT. So there wasn't any pressure on her to do well, as either result & the ensuing mode of study would have been fine.</p>

<p>And yes, I can also hold my head up high even if I don't get to announce that D is going IVY. If she's educated and happy, I'm happy too.</p>

<p>Wow... I go to a very relaxed school. The PSAT isn't mandatory, and those few juniors who knew this and lived close enough slept in. Everyone else dawdled through it, and seniors went to a useless "college application writing workshop" in the library. Last year I was sick on PSAT day, and this year forgot it was this morning. I think I laughed through most of it. I have an amazing talent for amusing myself with questions such as "Would the author of article II react to the quote in article I with a) mild amusement b) scientific detachment c) cool indifference or d) muted outrage." Good times. One proctor made coffee for us (this is why you should always hope for a Spanish teacher). Anyway, no one studied.</p>

<p>And for those of us who didn't take the SAT on October 9th, we never knew it was going on at all (and most of my friends are seniors). No one was worked up at all. "How was it?" "Eh."</p>

<p>Carolyn- I'm really glad for you and your daughter. An unhappy child is a mom's worst nightmare. We feel the pain 10X worse than they do.</p>

<p>Kinshasha- You are so right about certain schols being bad fits. Additionally, I think there is a point where kids are stressed too much to get into the most rigorous school possible. Even if they can handle it, some don't want to. I've realized this about my S. He was purposely avoiding HYPSM schools....not even giving them a chance (although visited a couple with a smirk on his face the whole time). I couldn't undersatnd it. It wasn't until recently that I realized that he's looking to create a "buffer zone".....and not focusing on schools that sit at the very top of his ability scale (though, he ED is certainly a reach - but his reasons for choosing it aren't related median SAT scores and selectivity level). Some would cringe at this strategy....saying he isn't challenging himself enough and <em>could</em> do more with his opportunities. He could, true. But, he has a strategy for personal success and enjoyment.......so I have to agree. </p>

<p>By the way, son attended an info session for Chicago this morning. He called me after to quote the adcom .... "this is where fun goes to die".......Huh? I hope his enthusiam isn't "dead" now. He thought the Chicago essay questions were fun and was looking forward to answering one. Now, who knows.... he's one kid who loves his fun....(ever see the show Viva la Bam? That's my home!! Add some of you think I nag...HA!!..I just get body slammed or something crazy). Has anyone heard Chicago say this before? Did my S interpret it wrong?</p>

<p>That comment is the "Conventional Wisdom" about Chicago, and the Princeton Review book quotes it in their blurb. I would be very surprised to hear that the adcom was quoting it to emhasize it, rather than what is more likely: he was confronting this canard directly in order to temper and refute it.</p>


<p>I agree with Garland. It is a canard; in fact, I believe that Chicago students even make fun of it by having it as a logo on their tee-shirt. The D of a friend of mine graduated last spring. She majored in English and did lots of theater; she really enjoyed it there.</p>

<p>Momsdream, I read a post a while ago by someone else, who quoted that same very strange declaration by a U of Chicago admissions rep. "Huh?", is certainly the appropriate response, isn't it? Why would ANYONE want to attend a school where "fun has come to die"? Even the most academically driven workaholic needs some "fun" once in a while. Are joyless "grinds" the only kind of applicants in which U of C is interested?</p>

<p>If anyone is worried that all Chicago wants are joyless grinds, please read this wonderful speech presented to the new freshmen and their parents by the Dean of Admissions at the convocation a couple weeks ago. My son is applying to Chicago and received an email from them with this link. It is a remarkable speech both for its humor and intellect. But, yes, he does say "we are here to celebrate the death of fun." I think it's tongue in cheek and I think he means a certain kind of fun. </p>

<p><a href="http://phoenix.uchicago.edu/ted/classof2008.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://phoenix.uchicago.edu/ted/classof2008.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>This is how he ends the speech, and my guess is that it offers a clue about the type of people they are trying to attract to Chicago.</p>

<p>"I like this day so much because I admire you all so much. Parents, you too, because you somehow - sometimes you wonder - had a child who wanted a very fine, unconventional thing, and worked hard to earn something so good. This prestigious college does not exist to convey prestige, this amazing collegiate history isn't the seed bed in which to grow laurels to rest on, this swaggering, and beautiful, city isn't here just to admire; this is a place to live a thinking life of effort - to think great thoughts, to make and re-make a community of scholars, to create an urban life of justice and neighborliness. And that is what you wanted, and, hallelujah, that is what you are going to get. Parents, as you prepare to say your temporary good-byes (they will be back in November or December, still more or less willing to talk to you despite the fact that, perhaps you have not read, say, Horkheimer and Adono) realize that they made the courageous choice to live a life that is balanced and thoughtful. Be proud of them, as we who came to know them through their uncommon application are proud of them, and are proud to present them, the best class ever, to President Don Randel as the Class of 2008."</p>

<p>Good for you Carolyn(I spelled it right this time) for allowing your D to march to her own drummer during her HS days. She will be happier, healthier and enjoy her journey into adulthood. We have all heard the disturbing stories of helicopter parents who are overly protective and intrusive in the lives of their children. I suspect that their children are neither as happy nor as able to cope with the disappointments that are natural in life.</p>

<p>Keep up the good non-work C!</p>

<p>Momsdream, U of C students pride themselves on working hard, but our impression is that the university really want to change the image they've had for years as the place where fun comes to die. They like to talk about it as a place where the definition of "fun" is much broader -- and includes a good coffee house conversation about philosophy, for example -- but that doesn't mean there isn't the more traditional fun around. When our son visited their admitted students event last Spring, he found a fraternity party, for example. (He chose a different college for various reasons, including the question his U of C interviewer asked him, which was: "Have you ever been so cold your teeth hurt?")
I think anyone who looks forward to the the Chicago essays is definitely someone who would enjoy the university. Our impression was that it's a great school, with a tremendous faculty who are really engaged with students, who treat the undergrads more like graduate students. It's for the kind of student who likes to meet high expectations, definitely. But there are tons of active campus organizations and clubs, and the juniors and seniors, especially, seem to get out into the city -- which is great.</p>

<p>Carolyn: amen!! Good for you, good for your daughter. My own daughter struggled mightily soph and jr year with deep, dark depression. When it came time to schedule sr. year I condoned backing off. It was just not worth the pressure. She dropped foreign language, science and math! (Although she was retaking 1 semester of pre-calc because she had done so poorly 1st semester jr. year). She really personalized her schedule: some AP english classes (she had always been stronger in english with honors classes), cadet teaching, band, the req'd gov't/econ (NOT AP level), even a local college course in psychology - which is her intended major. She relaxed, had a great year and did great. Going to a solid school and happy as a clam. Doing well (I think!!) in college.</p>

<p>To repeat: sometimes it's just not worth the pressure. We slowly learned that my child's emotional health and happiness were the overriding factors in academic decisions. And neither she nor I regret it one bit.</p>

<p>From my day, UChicago's reputation as above (for its undergraduate education) was well-deserved. But I haven't been there in a long time. Still, you start with a lot of lousy weather, add in a location that is less than ideal (yes, you can go downtown, but I'm always surprised by how few students actually leave the safety of Hyde Park), lots and lots of books, and a faculty dedicated to getting you to read them, and...well, that's what it is.</p>

<p>And there are students who really, really LOVE it. There is no sense in making it what it is not, and my reading is that the adcom is looking for those students who really WILL love it. No sense in being all things to all people. UChicago isn't Princeton, or Stanford, or even Northwestern. Not better, not worse - it just is what it is. </p>

<p>(Glad to hear there are now coffeehouses in Hyde Park; it used to just by divvy bars - bars where you could go to hear Saul Bellow!)</p>