Help - I don't know what to advice to give him...

<p>Hi, first post - so hope I'm going about this the correct way. To introduce myself, I'm the mom of one child - a boy, a high school senior.
I am divorced, and am not a college grad.
My ex is.
My son has always lived with me, and is a very good student.
He is unsure where to apply, and never having gone thru the process - I'm not a lot of help.</p>

<p>He's smart. He's never gotten anything but A's. Literally. After 6th grade, I enrolled him in a private school - I wanted him to know what it was to earn an A. It’s not a prestigious school – couldn’t afford that – but it is a 2 time national Blue Ribbon award Catholic Jesuit Academy with a very challenging curriculum.
He has continued to earn straight A's and A+'s.
His unweighted GPA is 4, and weighted GPA is 4.397 as of end of last year. That GPA though is somewhat deflated due to two electives that carry credit – but offer only a pass/fail grade. If I take those out, his weighted GPA rises to a 4.598
He's taken all the honors or AP classes his school offers in the areas he is interested in.</p>

<p>Activity (Grade)
Junior Varsity Tennis (9,10,11,12)
Christian Action Program (Community Service) (11,12)
Acts XXVII – Peer Ministry (12)
Sr. High Band Wind Ensemble (9,10,11,12)
Sr. High Boys A Cappela (9)
Sr. High Hand Bells (10,11,12)
Sr. High Chess & Games Club (9,10)
Service Club (11,12)
Boy Scouts of America (9,10,11,12 -Eagle Scout Candidate)
Academic Tutor – Math (9,10,11,12)</p>

<p>Positions Held, Honors Won, or Letters Earned (Grade)
Co-Captain of the Jr. Varsity Tennis Team (11)
Published in Teen ink: Music Review (9)
Excelsior Honors (all 4 quarters ea yr) (9,10,11)
Varsity Letter for Wind Ensemble (11)
Vice President Student Administrative Council (12)
Catholic HS Math League JV Div 2006 Award Outstanding Achievement (11)
State Finalist National History Day: 4th Place Documentary (11)
Student of the Month – May 2006 (11)
National Honor Society (9,10,11,12)
1st Chair – French Horn - Mt. St. Charles Sr. High Wind Ens. (12)
1st Chair – French Horn - RI Youth Philharmonic Wind Ensemble (12)
The Rensselaer Medal (11)</p>

<p>His test scores were a combined 1430 (old scale) and 2110 new scale.
He's taken 3 SAT Subj tests, and earned a 700 (Literature), and two 720's. (Math I, US History)
He took 2 AP exams, and earned a 4 (Literature) and a 5 (US History).</p>

<p>He's thinking engineering, as he loves physics, "it's easy, and it's fun", but loves Liberal Arts/English and Music. He wants to be able to continue playing his horn, and be located somewhere where he can snowboard.</p>

<p>He loves learning, and of all the schools we visited, liked Lehigh Univ. the best.
He's a cheerful person with a wonderfully dry sense of humor, a very non-geek geek who is even tempered, patient, and incredibly hard working. </p>

<p>Money is a major issue, and so I'm hoping he'll do well with merit scholarships.</p>

<p>Any thoughts greatly appreciated, re chances, school suggestions, etc.

<p>Welcome, MomMary.</p>

<p>If he likes physics and snow, I'd suggest Williams, Cornell and St Olaf to start with. They have terrific physics departments. I don't know enough about finaid to be helpful, but I'm sure other CC posters will chime in.</p>

<p>Since your son has always lived with you, I think it is appropriate to describe him as a first-generation college applicant unless his dad has played a role in supporting him and advising him in his education.</p>

<p>At Lehigh they told us merit awards were for freshman year only. Definitely confirm whether this is true before attending (anywhere!) especially if money is a major issue.</p>

<p>Lawrence could be worth a look. It has a music conservatory and a strong physics program, though not as elite as some mentioned above. And it has a five-year double degree program if he is interested in studying (not just playing) music.</p>

<p>(Oops forgot the snowboarding part. Definitely snow, but I'm not sure how far to closest slopes.)</p>

<p>Thank you Marite - I've wondered about whether or not he could be described as a first generation college applicant. </p>

<p>His Dad is not at all interested in his schooling. Has never supported it financially or in any other meaningful way.</p>

<p>Thank you NJres - didn't realize that that was even something to watch out for!</p>

<p>Don't know either St Olaf - I'll look them up. We visited Cornell and were both underwhelmed. I read up on Williams awhile back - I'll revisit that one as well.
Thanks Marite. Greatly appreciated.
One question - by suggesting these - does that mean that you think he'd have a chance getting into these schools?</p>

<p>I will second Lawrence University for an excellent Physics Department and Music Conservatory. There are skiing facilities in the area, safe, beautiful campus, good transportation to other parts of the U.S. Another plus, professors take the extra time to help the students in their quest through education. I can't say enough good from watching my son progress. And for us single parents who need help in the financial aid department, they are wonderful. </p>

<p>Another school my son looked at with great financial aid, a sound music department and I am not sure on the Physics department (?) was College of Wooster in Ohio. Like LU they have a mix of merit and financial aid awards. Check out their web site for the type of awards available.</p>

<p>Hi Mom58 - please clarify - you mentioned Laurence - not sure which school you mean? St. Laurence Univ?</p>

<p>I just noticed he got the Rensselaer Medal. He should apply there. I don't know about snowboarding in that area (Troy is a rundown city) but RPI is an excellent school. Originaloog's son got good merit aid there.</p>

<p>I don't know what made you feel that way about Cornell. Some particular aspects? One of my S's friends is a math major there and we know a Princeton physics grad who is in grad school at Cornell. Both seem very happy. </p>

<p>I think there is a chance he will get into at least one of these schools. I also have heard good things about Lawrence. <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;br>
Since his dad has played little or no role in his life, he should certainly describe himself as first-generation.</p>

<p>MomMary, it is Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. There are some trip reports on it. I had never heard of the school until my son who grew up in Europe found it on I think this website. It has a large international student population (11%) and kids from both coasts, some from the southern US as well as the great midwest (I finally got to visit this summer). It is worth a look.</p>

<p>Thanks to all. I will check out each of these suggestions - my only concern is I'm not sure he'll want to go so far away - we live in Massachusetts, right near the Rhode Island border - and Wisconsin or Minnesota sound awfully far away! (can't exactly come home on a weekend...) Still, I will check them out - and suggest he do the same. Greatly appreciated!!</p>

<p>MomMary, Welcome! You have an accomplished and talented son. I'm sure that many colleges would consider him a person of interest. </p>

<p>In my opinion he shouldn't be focused on where he could get in, but rather on what he wants. Once that's defined then he can build a balanced list of schools that includes various levels of selectivity -- or what I'm sure you've heard referred to as reach/match/safety schools. </p>

<p>Does his school have a counseling department who can help with guidance?</p>

<p>Basically with his grades and scores he has the foundation to get into many, many schools. The deciding factors will the intangibles like his extracurriculars (which are EXCELLENT), his essays, his recommendations. </p>

<p>You mention merit aid. Is that because you already know that your son wouldn't be eligible for need based aid? This is a MAJOR consideration in making his list. If your family is entitled to need based aid then your son's list could be quite wide. If he'll need merit based aid then his list will be much, much narrower. So the first step is to use one of those on-line calculators and figure out what how much a private college will cost you. Please be aware that his father's income will be considered in calculating aid, even if the father has no intention of contributing.</p>

<p>I agree that Williams would a good choice for your son: Rigorous academics, excellent physics and music, lots of performance opportunities (even for non-majors), a high concentration of Eagle Scouts, focus on athletics and outdoorsy activities and plenty of snowboarding. No engineering and no merit based aid. (Good need based aid, though).</p>

<p>Some other schools that I would consider in the same general character/ambience range would be Hamilton, Dartmouth, Amherst, Kenyon.</p>

<p>Also consider the University of Rochester--excellent opportunities in music and physics-- less selective than Cornell--plenty of snow. Also maybe Hobart in upstate New York for merit aid??</p>

<p>Your son sounds terrific. You might also, besides asking here, go the college counselor portion of this website. I know that one of our great posters, Curmudgeon, felt the advice was extremely helpful and accurate. Best of luck. Wish he'd think of coming to Stanford! But DEFINITELY not close to Massachusetts. How about Amherst too? I remember on our tour that it sounded like the choral and instrumental music programs there were strong? From what you've posted, it sounds like he may have a lot of schools to pick from.</p>

<p>Thanks so much for your detailed response MomRath.
Not sure about need based aid. I actually make a pretty good salary - I'm just caught in the cycle of poverty which is largely invisible when making application for financial aid. We've never been awarded any.
My credit rating is terrible as I can rarely make timely payments. My ability to maintain our household is dependent upon child support which arrives with great irregularity. So, I have borrowed from my small 401k to get us thru tough times - and of course that has reduced our monthly income. I have 2 small credit cards - which are max'd, and which charge me 30% interest - even though I haven't made a late payment or missed a payment to them in over two years. We live in a house that I pay 1/2 the mortgage on, all of the insurance on, all of the upkeep on - but I am not on the mortgage, and so get no benefit (credit-wise) from that. Financially, we're in a sort-of no man's land. I'm 52, and my ex is 60 - maybe that will help?
His situation is even stranger...he has a non-existant credit rating. He's never had a loan in his life. He live in his parents house (both now deceased), and drives one of their cars. He works for himself, and I currently have no idea what his finances are.
So....this is a big grey area at present.</p>

<p>Here is a link to some merit scholarships available that you might want to read. <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Hi Patient - thanks so much. Funny you mention Stanford - I would never have dreamed of reaching for that - but we recently learned of something called questbridge, and Stanford is on their partner schools. Unfortunately we learned of them too late to (most likely) complete the application process by deadline. My son worked all day on their application and when he went to post what he had, the servers werent' responding. (11:59:59 10/1 pdt is the deadline - so their computer systems are sending out steam at this point I'm sure)...</p>

<p>MomMary, I'm not an expert on financial aid and your situation is certainly complex. You need to seek help in this area fast, as the difference between a college list with need based aid and merit aid is enormous. </p>

<p>Your ex's finances are a further complication. Each school will treat his unwillingness to contribute differently. I'd suugest that you use an online calculator to get an general idea of what you'd be entitled to, both with and without what you guess is your ex's income, then make an appointment with a financial aid counselor at one or two of your son's targeted schools. </p>

<p>If you are eligible for Questbridge you would most likely be eligible for need-based aid. I hope your son manages to enroll. Williams is also a Questbridge school. </p>

<p>Good luck and let us know how it goes.</p>

<p>I am also not an expert on financial aid but I have a friend in a similar situation. She is at Georgetown this year but only because she got a ton of local scholarships, her non custodial father was supposed to pay 10,000 but refused...each school handles the ex's unwillingness differently, as momrath said. Choose a school that is of interest and close enough to visit and go face to face with financial aid, definitely.</p>