DS22 Journey B/C Student on Long and Winding Path

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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):
Syracuse (RD)
UVM (EA)
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):
-URI (EA)
-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.

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Thank you so much for posting! It is great to read about a kid who had such struggles and overcame them, especially during covid when everything is hard. Reading about the way you have respected your child’s needs, and clearly you must have great communication, is inspiring. Also the fact that your public school was so helpful.

We have some similar schools on my DS23’, under 3.0 GPA (but improving) list: (Plymouth State, St. Michael’s, Syracuse and UVM as reaches…he really loves snowboarding).

Congrats on the successes so far and yes keep us posted, good luck with the rest!

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Thanks so much. And good luck to your ds23. UVM is a wildcard for our kiddo with his stats. The major he’s applying to isn’t super popular, so that may work in his favor. Regardless, I’m pretty sure he will get deferred to regular decision so they can see his fall semester grades in January, or they will ask for 1st quarter grades. I don’t think he’ll be outright rejected, but ultimately a waitlist wouldn’t surprise me. I think Syracuse is a major longshot, but you never know :woman_shrugging:. St. Mike’s is requesting 1st quarter grades, so it’s important for kids on the cusp to know they can’t phone it in senior year!

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There is a lot of wisdom in your post for ALL students, not just those with lower GPAs. Speaking as someone who lives outside of urban coastal hubs with numerous “feeder” high schools, the path you described for your son is the path I thought was “normal” until I stumbled upon CC, etc., late in the game.

I have a student with an UW 4.0 GPA and 15 AP courses. But like your son, she took the SAT one time with little prep, finished all her applications by the end of September to reduce stress, and didn’t visit any schools pre-acceptance except for a few athletic recruit trips. She has no access to Naviance, no college advisor, and her GC is a passing acquaintance at best. Based on what I read here and elsewhere, I am guessing her essays are probably not unique enough, her extracurricular activities are not “curated” enough, and her passions aren’t focused and documented enough for the tippy top schools.

But that’s okay — those schools are reaches for everyone and I’d be concerned about fit even if she were accepted. Better for her mental health and personality that she didn’t spend the last weeks, months, and years on a quest to make herself stand out more to a handful of T20 schools, in my opinion. Landing at a college — any college — where she can thrive is a win.

Best wishes for your son! He’s going to college! He should be proud of himself for making it from where he was to where he is.

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Thanks for sharing this. Our journey hasn’t been straight and narrow either. Appreciate the honesty and perspective and hope he continues to do well. The whole process is crazy and good for him for putting limits on what he would and would not subject himself to in the name of college admissions.

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Congratulations to your son! He’s put himself into the position to have choices and that’s something for you all to be proud of.

I’m a firm believer that the kids who’ve had to be resilient in high school, really dig deep and figure out what they want and what they need to do to get there, start college with a leg up in certain ways. And an understanding that there is more than one path to the goal.

Good for him and good for you!

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I agree—a little less helicoptering and pressuring and curating would be good for ALL kids for sure. And your daughter is lucky to have you with such a healthy point of view given her strong profile.

It’s all relative, right? My ds20 wasn’t worried IF he would get into school, only where. Ds22 wasn’t sure he would even graduate at several points along the way, let alone apply to college. Honestly literally physically getting to school some days has just been rough.

Being accepted anyplace at all feels really significant because of that, and I think CC isn’t necessarily a place where you hear lots about kids in those circumstances. Honestly I’ve found that real life isn’t actually that place either. I have found that living in a town with high performing schools and competitive parenting has meant that people don’t want to know about stories like my ds22’s. Like if they don’t discuss it it won’t happen to their kids.

Hence my post. Hoping his story can help a parent who is worried that their kid is in a hole they can’t get out of, kwim?

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@ububumble Thank you! Your ds’s story last year was so helpful to me, I figured I’d add another to the mix for people like us out there. I hope he is doing well at Roanoke!

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Thx. Honestly I needed those limits, too. It helped me to be mindful to not to make things worse in the name of making them better. Setting those boundaries has also been so important for our relationship and communication.

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This is a great entry. CC tends to skew high stat/achievement, and not all of our kids are. Despite this, there is a school and place for them. Its “the road less taken”, and amidst the college mania, often feels like the lonely road to nowhere.

But its not. Keep navigating each new turn in the road, and there is a reward. My older '22, kid was in a very similar boat in many ways including diagnosis, changing schools and whatnot. And ironically, we made MANY of he same choices you did- easing up on SAT prep, getting apps in early etc. Realistic college selection based on CC was a life saver.

You have done well- and reading your entry shows me that we have as well. I suspect, but do not know, that one of the keys here is trying to help the strugglers find their passion. If we can resist the pressures to allow them to pursue some avenue in college that don’t make sense to them, I think they will all be OK. When they find what lights them up, their struggles with be an advantage as start to shine. Kids like this don’t fear rejection, and aren’t afraid to work facing low odds. That plus a passion IS a recipe for success.

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Thx so much, and glad to hear your similar student has found success. I couldn’t agree more re: finding their passion. Helping him understand that while there will be some required coursework, college will allow him to explore and to concentrate on what makes him happy has been a huge motivator.

I am not sure that we declare victory just yet- we are really at the same stage as you. But I will claim the minor victory of redefining what success is- as have you. This forum is really of great use, but all too many times one can walk away from it thinking there is a single definition for it, which unattainable for my child.

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Totally unattainable for mine as well. Where is your student applying if you don’t mind my asking? Lots of luck to them!

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Agreed that more people of “average” kids need to post. When I first started on CC, I thought it was a bit sad as every kid was a top student. Students with 3.75-3.9 consider themselves “low GPA.” While I understand that certain colleges get more attention than others, there are many colleges out there that are good and will prepare kids for entry into careers in whatever they choose. All 3 of my kids are finding their own paths and are doing just fine in life even though they are all under the 3.5 gpa mark.

I refuse to define my child by their grades or where they end up at college/tech school/trade school/workforce/military.

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I love this so much. Cheers to finding your own path.

At his lowest moments, I’ve made it clear to ds22 that come 5/1/22, if his choice is not a 4 year college, we are 100 percent behind him. We just want him to have choices to make, and I think that’s truly the biggest celebration for us right now. More than anything, we want him to be happy, healthy, and in control of the choices he makes. We’re just facilitators and cheerleaders at the end of it all, and there are so many paths to a wonderful life. :facepunch:

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My oldest is at a tech school and currently taking time out to work and re-evaluate his goals. Some may consider it a “fail” but as a kid who barely made it through high school and had an IEP his whole life for learning disabilities, the fact that he is living hours from home and paying his own rent and bills is a win in my book.
My middle (hs junior) wouldn’t mind doing a trade but he can’t verbalize what he would want to do. He tentatively wants to do music education and be a high school choir teacher. He has the opportunity for free or reduced tuition due to me working at a university so thus we are pushing for him to start there, trying things out and make decisions as he goes. Syracuse and Salve are on his list. U of Tampa would be but I too am concerned about housing. And Indiana would be on his list as they have a great program but we will have to see if we could get the money to work out.
Youngest is just a freshman and who knows where she will end up. She has some goals in mind. Shes a good human and I know she will do just fine.

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Your oldest sounds like he’s thriving! Kudos to him.

My husband is a high school instrumental music teacher and loves it. Have you considered U of Hartford for ds23? Great music school (Hartt) and music ed program. We also have a friend whose daughter is an elementary ed major at Salve, and she has been thrilled with her classes and student teaching placements in Newport.

Also edited to add that I am a middle school teacher. A kid with an IEP and learning issues living on their own and paying their bills?! The word fail doesn’t enter the equation. What a success story.

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Yes, U of Hartford is on the list for S23. Either being near skiing, mountains, or water is important to him.

Oldest began with an IEP at age 3 (Early Childhood Ed through school district including speech and OT). Technically ended on a 504 his senior year. Lots of support in elem and middle school. He’s on the right path. His pace just may be slower than others and thats okay. He now has around a 3.0 gpa in tech school. Hes been promoted at work. He coordinates shared bills with his roommates. Theres been ups and downs the past few years but I am proud of his progress!

As you said, just a very different approach with post high school plans with each child.

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My guy is a B+ student, got to 1140 on his Sat and was very happy to get there. He has applied it the middle of the pack SUNYs and will figure out his major once he is there.

We are budgeting for a 5 year plan, because I want him to take some chances academically, without the pressure of having to make things up if he makes a mistake.

We could only do this at a SUNY financially.

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I love the 5 year plan idea, and can relate. We are in the fortunate position to be able to make this happen if needed, and I feel like for some kids, the gift of time is essential. You are lucky to have many more solid options in NY than we have here in CT.

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