Now that my ds22 has all of his apps in and is beginning to receive responses, I thought I would share his journey for the benefit of those parents and students out there who have had ups and downs throughout high school and may have stats lower than the average CC student or a story that doesn’t fit the mold.
Background info: This kiddo started freshman year at our local, highly competitive public school struggling with what we eventually figured out that 1st year of HS was ADD and depression. He also began to make some questionable friend and behavioral choices, and long story short, he ended 9th grade with his diagnoses, a 1.9 GPA, and a plan to attend a private school sophomore year. After one semester at this “school” (needs its own thread…), he was still struggling (in some ways more) despite talk therapy and the new academic environment. Feeling really at a loss, we made the decision to have him return to the local HS, this time with an IEP for his diagnoses and medication support in place along with therapy. We also put our trust in the support team at school because we were honestly so worried abt him. At that point, we had no idea whether applying to college was in his future. We just hoped he would be ok and would graduate. Looking back, trusting the team was the best decision we’ve ever made. Despite Covid lockdown hitting the world just a few months into his return, his teachers and GC have been incredible these past almost 2 years now. He has since turned his personal life and grades around significantly.
Since this time, he has responded well to treatment, re-involved himself in sports, made smart friendship choices, and has made a 3.5 or higher every semester that he has been back. He is happy and mostly thriving, with some occasional issues naturally arising for any kid with mental health and learning stuff. Unfortunately though, math is math, and he’s currently at a cumulative 2.8 because of where he ended his freshman year.
Having been through the process with our older son who had a totally different profile, we entered the admissions process this fall really not knowing what to expect. We knew his upward trend could only help him, but to what extent and where we are still unsure. We know he needs an environment where he won’t get lost and where there are structures in place to help him manage his diagnoses, but we also know that he’s got to be enthusiastic about the place and engaged in his learning to be successful, so his list may look wonky to some—compromises were made.
He was also honest this summer that the pressure he was feeling about applying wasn’t helping, so we backed off significantly and agreed on a few things together before school started:
No more SAT practice. He decided to live with what he got with minimal prep and move on, sharing it with schools where it could help, and going test optional where it might hurt him. We were fine with this, as we know him well enough to know that it would only stress him out to add daily test prep and another SAT to his plate.
He’d finish all apps by the end of September to get it off his plate. This meant some outside help to keep him on track for his common app essay to avoid us having to manage that with him and keep the waters calm. Best decision ever and he stuck to it.
No more college visits except for a couple of schools where it made sense for him to interview to enhance his application. He had visited many schools for himself as well as with his older brother (ds20) and he felt done. Anyplace he hadn’t seen we determined we would visit in the spring if he got in and really wanted to go.
With those 3 agreement in mind, we cast a wide net using his school’s Naviance info, his GC advice, and his preferences. Below is where he stands as of Thanksgiving in terms of apps and responses:
Safeties (sent SATs)
—Plymouth State University, NH (rolling), accepted with 10k merit per year
—Southern CT State (EA)
Reaches (no SATs):
UConn (in-state, RD)
Others (sent SATs):
(To be honest it’s hard to know if there are matches or reaches because his profile is complicated, but Naviance gave him a reason to hope to at least some degree on all of the following):
-Salve Regina, RI (EA)
-St. Michael’s, VT (EA)
-U of Tampa—accepted EA
-Indiana University, Bloomington (EA)—deferred for fall semester grades
-College of Charleston (EA)
His acceptance to Plymouth State gave him a huge confidence boost last month, and he just found out about U of Tampa on Thanksgiving day, so he’s over the moon. Tampa started out as his 1st choice, but we have since learned that they do not guarantee housing for freshmen and will not release housing info until July (?!). This has soured us a lot, and he’s not thrilled. He knows he needs the support and structure that the training wheels of dorm living will provide, so it’s not off the table entirely, but probably not where he will end up.
His first choice has become St. Michael’s, where he interviewed well and was able to spend the night with a family friend who attends. We like it for him because of size and student/teacher ratio, and the fact that they have a fee-based academic coaching service for kids with learning needs. He likes it because he felt like he fit in with the students he met, and they have several programs that interest him. His brother is nearby at UVM, so that helps as well.
After St. Mike’s, Salve Regina and UVM appear to be other favorites for him. He interviewed well at Salve and was able to spend a weekend with a friend, and UVM is familiar and comfortable because of his brother. We would be happy with any of these schools for him.
To summarize, anyone who reads CC and has a child who has struggled academically and/or personally, I hope this gives you hope that there are schools out there that will be happy to have your kiddo. I’m happy to answer any questions, and will report back on his results periodically.