Moment of clarity?

<p>Or just more confusion? I need some understanding from those who have been here. I either reached a stunning realization, or have stumbled on something the rest of you may have known all along. It's probably both. Long ago a banker friend said something to me I took to heart, "there are things you can buy that you cannot afford". Watching my over-achieving progeny reach crisis point over a stinking 2 page Spanish essay tonight , and thinking about her stressing out 2000 miles from home on a much more difficult task ,it hit me- "There are schools she might be able to get in that she really shouldn't attend". At least not unless this next year magically changes her.</p>

<p>She has a high IQ, a reasonably mature perspective, but very little proven ability to "wing it". She takes the hardest curriculum available to her. When faced with a twenty page paper, a calc test, and a 3-d project all due on the same day she starts days, or weeks ahead when the assignment is first given. She just overpowers it with dogged diligence, her ability to work quickly, and her admitted intelligence BUT (and here's the problem) she has shown little ability to "wing it" ,to be wholly unprepared and still somehow B.S. her way through to a good grade or get just enough on paper to avoid a death knell grade. "Live to fight another day" is not a phrase that leaps to the front of her mind. Neither is "good enough". And this concerns me as she intends to go to one of several schools that appear to be near the top of the "work you to death" ladder. </p>

<p>I read (lurked )with horror around the Yale posts, I believe it was where a veteran CC'er was deservedly fretting over their freshman's schedule, and the number of lengthy papers due all at once. I guess none of us know how they will react till they are there .I have to think that at the heaviest workload schools that "triage" and "live to fight another day" are concepts surviving students must master quickly as there appears to not be enough hours in the day to "overpower" the tasks no matter how smart and diligent the students are. </p>

<p>Do these "wing it" skills come on their 17th b'day? With their class ring? I will always remember a no-account drunk friend of mine who slept through most of undergrad asking me outside the door of a "code" final for any "buzz words" or "words of art" ( as he had sold his text for beer money early in the semester). I gave him my best 5 minute synopsis of 4 months of classwork. He made a C+. I made a B+. ( a real lesson in efficiency, his 5 minutes in the hallway to my 15 hours of cramming ). I was good at "winging it", this guy made it an artform. (By the way , he's now #2 at a Fortune 500 . Go figure.)</p>

<p>I really appreciate her studious ways and her desire to always put good-looking product on the floor but... what happens when there just isn't time?Those extremely heavy workload , 20 page papers in every class posts really have me thinking that maybe a slightly less onerous college trek may be more appropriate. Well, anyway, I don't get a vote.</p>



<p>No. I think that learning those skills is part of the college experience.</p>

<p>I understand what you are saying. It is a big reason that I think the pass/fail grading policy for first semester freshman year at my daughter's school is such a well-conceived idea. I think it is a particularly relevant issue at ultra-selective schools where the concepts of not getting an "A" or not being physically able to complete every assignment to perfection are foreign to the majority of the incoming students.</p>

<p>Exactly. The P/F semester sounds like a very good idea. If you don't mind me asking, how did the transition from "I can do everything at 'A' level " to college reality go?</p>

<p>Totally agree...if they haven't learned it as a HS senior, then it is trial by fire during the 1st yr of college. It is just one of those rite of passages that is painful for parents to watch. Over the yrs, her dad and I shared our own collegiate experiences...but even D was a bit surprised at the "bump"...which she readily shared with us (wow!) and reassured us that she "knew what to do." I just smiled over the phone and reassured HER that it was a normal transition.</p>

<p>There is more involved than learning how to cope in the freshman year and I think curmudgeon poses a very important question. Given two students who both get As in their classes, should they both attend the same very challenging college?<br>
This is a question that adcoms seek to figure out as they sort through applications from students with seemingly perfect grades and perfect scores and choose some and not others. We may think that the chosen ones have something extra in the way of extracurriculars, tips or hooks, but sometimes, the extra lies in the way the As were earned. Faculty who serve on graduate admissions committees have learned to interpret recommendations that include words such as "conscientious" "hard-working" as really meaning " a plodder lacking in creativity and imagination." I believe the same kind of concern is at work when adcoms read college applications. We know that adcoms do not want brilliant slackers, the students who get 1600 on SATs but so-so GPAs. But they also want to avoid students who will just be plodders or worse, get in over their head.
As parents, I think we need to consider our children's personality. It all goes back to the issue of fit. We should seek for our children a school that will be challenging but not so overwhelming that they are set up for failure. I have actually seen cases of students who, once admitted into the most selective schools, are totally overwhelmed. First is the "imposter syndrome," the sense that they do not really deserve to be there, that a mistake was made; second is the sheer difficulty of the work. They're the students who have to take time off, take make-up exams (not because they're sick but because they cannot function) get incompletes on their papers, go to UHS for counseling, and so forth. I know one case of a student who literally could not put a sentence together toward the end of his second semester.
Let's face it, we learn coping skills as we grow older, but our fundamental personalities do not change that greatly. I think there are reasons why some schools are considered reaches and super reaches. It's not just because more students apply than can be admitted. Personally, I feel that a student will be better off where s/he will be comfortably in the middle or top of the pack rather than consistenly at the bottom.</p>

<p>Ths is a wonderful post. I've known kids who study and take classes to earn that 1600, who study all the time to earn their A's, and others that seem to glide thru HS not being challenged. I heard MIT asks this Q to the teachers, trying to differentiate between the gifted and truly gifted.
Nevrtheless, good study skills will always be helpful. The difference will be their happiness in college. If they have to spend twice as much time doing homework, they won't have time for fun or ECs.
Just being aware of this will help sensitive parents focus not just on the elites, but on really good fits.</p>

<p>Curmudgeon makes a very good point that I wish some of the kids and parents here understood. We have a friend whose daughter got into Harvard. She was Valedictorian from her high school and had fine SATs. However, she went to a mediocre high school that did not have the same tough standards as the better high schools. She also was more of a plodding type of student who bulled her way through all assignments with grit and determination. </p>

<p>Sadly, when she got to Harvard, she was completely overwhelmed with the work. She tried to do each project to perfection, which was impossible. She found out that there was not enough time in the day. Moreover, she wasn't accustomed to the large work load that suddenly hit her in the freshmen year. She almost had a "melt down."</p>

<p>I wish there were a way for kids to understand this problem and be able to make more informed choices about their schools. Certainly, this girl is over her head unless she makes some personality adjustments</p>

<p>On a similar note - I was really glad when my kid ditched MIT off his list on his own. He can wing it - but he just doesn't have the raw math brilliancy for the school.</p>

<p>Attending a school where your son/daughter can succeed as well as have an enjoyable experience is my definition of a good fit. It sounds like your daughter's personality should lead you in the direction of a school where she would be at the top 75%. If she stresses in high school, she will doubly stress in college. While our son's friends are looking into Cornell & MIT for engineering, he's happily focussed on Virginia Tech where he's closer to the top of the student body acedemically (althought probably midrange for engineers). He says he can get a great education there & that he doesn't want the competition of an MIT or Cornell.</p>

<p>Sometimes they do learn to "wing it" and other skills at college when Mom is no longer around. I would not have bet a cent that my son would get through his school in 4 years. I would not have been surprised if he had left after a semester or a year. But he stuck it out though he did have a couple of rough semesteres. That said, I think he might have been a heck of alot happier at a less intense school.</p>

<p>I think it's important to keep in mind that the 2 "issues" running through these posts are separate and very distinct. One issue is whether the student can actually handle the workload at the school s/he is considering attending; the second is whether the student can handle earning/receiving anything lower than an "A." I think the former concern is valid. If a student will need to work 24/7 and be miserable doing so, then perhaps that "top" school s/he was accepted into might not be the best match. On the other hand, if the student is capable of doing the work and the drawback is that s/he might actually get some B's (or dare I say even some C's), then I think the concerns about the school choice are much less valid.</p>


<p>Excellent point. I am living proof that attending the BEST college you get into is is NOT necessarily the way to go. I too had high grades in high school and worked (too?) hard, but from a pretty mediocre school (didn't realize that at the time though). When I got to college I was completely blown away by the competition - in spite of working my tail off. I ended up majoring in a subject that I really had no interest in, because what I wanted to do was "too hard." I always think, if I had gone to a smaller, or less competitive, school I would have ended up where I wanted to be.</p>

<p>Interestingly, my own kids have an exact opposite take on life. They are both "winging it" types, and that can be nerve wracking too. It takes a lot of patience for a parent to deal with a kid who doesn't seem to feel pressure, or isn't apparently overly concerned about deadlines, big exams, etc. Sometimes you just WANT to see them sweat a little!</p>

<p>The issue of intensity was the most critical worry I had about my over-achieving D when she went through the application process a year ago.
I can so relate to the OP...who could be describing my D. She didn't always handle stress well, had several minor "melt downs" as a senior over her incredible load. An emotional kid.</p>

<p>When she was accepted to several high-intensity colleges, I really worried
about the "fit". I worried about stress management so many miles from home. I worried that she wouldn't truly be able to ENJOY her first year (or more). As it turned out, after a difficult decision-making month or two, she accepted a top scholarship awarded at a less prestigious institution. </p>

<p>I think the biggest challenge for this type of student is feeling good about going to the less prestigious college...especially after being accepted to ones that are. This is where a parent, who knows his kid at that gut-level, can really provide a guiding voice. Finding the balance between gently guiding without pushing has never been more important. I can't claim that I somehow
deftly managed through all this, but I can say that providing feedback,
sharing researched information about the climate of each school--some of
it from this very Board--did make a difference.</p>

<p>I'm convinced her ultimate choice resulted in a kid who is thriving, feeling confident, and is HAPPY. This is an emotional kid, whose personality didn't change between 17 and 18, and so there are still melt-downs, but they're relatively tiny. She's still learning and growing, but it's a healthy type of challenge--not one that is destructively overwhelming.</p>

<p>Going to a particular college just because you can doesn't make it the right choice. The discussion of "fit" may be seen by some as trite, common-sense pablum. It isn''s THE most important component. </p>

<p>Glad I learned this already as I face a 2nd round with my hs senior son. Thanks to all on this Board who helped me in this introspective process.</p>

<p>(Gee, now I am doubting everthing. LOL. Please bear with me while I have a crisis of faith.) "If it can be learned, your D can learn it." That is probably the most telling review of D I have heard from one of her teachers. It probably is more important for what it doesn't say, don't you think? While D's IQ has always consistently been scored in the top percentiles ( mensa levels) , she has rarely been described as genius or brilliant (except in Math, or by her fellow students). Always in terms of her "unyielding pursuit of excellence" or her "consistently pushing the standard upward".</p>

<p>I guess I'll pose my query this way for now. Do the most selective schools require across the board "brilliance" to succeed and be happy ? Is the adcom's search really trying to find those incredibly precious few who just "know" without hard work, and then are hardworking on top of that?Think about the playing of a musical instrument for a moment. Are the admissions reps at the most selective schools only looking for that student who can play by ear any piece of music upon first hearing it AND are master artist at recreating that sound faithfully AND have the creative genius and feel so they can impart personality to the piece? If so, then I think a lot of folks including me need to take a long look at our children's college lists.</p>

<p>My second Q? How do you decide whether or not D is aiming too high to be happy? (Because you can mark my words she will work herself into one or more of the highly selective colleges. Along with everything else, she tests very well. Usually top 1 or 2%.) Is it possible I just can't see the "brilliance" because I live with her? I certainly don't want her to aim too low. Darn, this is harder than I thought.P.S. We do try to look for schools where she would be in the top 1/4 to top 1/2 of admitted students but those ARE the most selective schools.</p>

<p>Kudoes to your daughter, curioser. This thread is very important. We are blessed with a daughter with a laidback attitude, who could appear to be a real set-up for this type of stress, but whose personality prevents it. I just hope years of "good enough" is good enough to get her into the schools she wants to attend, her Dad worries she won't rise to the occasion.</p>

<p>I'm reminded of a couple of friends of hers, one of whom is much like Curioser's daughter - she is making a similar decision, also for the right reasons, I think.</p>

<p>Interesting post.</p>

<p>Sometimes I think the answer to the question can be seen in the board scores. The diligent grinders often have boards that are a notch or two below what you might expect for their grades. Lets say GPA is top 12 students out of say 250 (top 5%) but board scores are say 1420(which I'll postulate at about top 33 out of 250. </p>

<p>Add on the issue of curriculumn (bio and chemistry are different from math and physics) and the fact that high school grades seem to me to have a fairly material component of comportment and teacher pleasing behavior that is unrelated to mastery of the subject, and you do raise an interesting question in the original post.</p>

<p>The most "pat" answer to the question is probably that if the student is admitted, the school feels they can do the work. Many of the "over-acheivers" are weeded out in the admissions process. Michelle Hernandez's A is for Admission book talks specifically about how negatively they look at students who simply outwork the competion. If the student's acheivements truly aren't the proper preparation for the school, he'll probably not be admitted.</p>

<p>Curmugeon: If your daugter is smart, diligent, and a perfectionist, I wouldn't worry too much about her inability to ********. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it sounds like she's got more than her share of qualities that top schools value. I liked your B+/C+ anecdote very much, but not everyone has that guy's talent. Why am I not surprised that your man has had great success in the corporate world. I've bought a few stocks in companies run by guys like that, I think, much to my detriment.</p>

<p>To me, a very real question is: would she be happier and more productive surrounded by other brilliant hard workers, or would she rather be one of the best in the class? My son, a freshman at a top school this year was very convinced that he would be happier and more productive at the former. Now he's facing the consequences of his choice, and, well, the jury is still out on that one. He seems both stressed and happy.</p>

<p>Meanwhile, I would certainly take comments on the workload expressed on the CC Yale forum with a grain of salt.</p>

<p>This thread is great!</p>

<p>I just had a brief aim conversation with our son last night. I could tell in his "voice"? that he was having a hard time dealing with not being at the top of the class, and sailing through exams as he had in HS. I reminded him to consider his classmates. Being only "average" in such a highly qualified student body is no shame either!</p>

<p>Something bothers me about the both ability and the desire to just "sail through", however. There certainly comes a point when priorities must be made. However, we saw students in HS that would only start a major project days before it was due. One particular assigment required students to make journal entries over the course of the year at various intervals, and to see how life changes (the world and your own). It was not collected until the end of the course. Many students just made up their entries several days before the due date. Others did all the work...on time...over time. Another project required photographing plant samples. My guess is that some students just borrowed pictures from older classmates (or siblings). Others took the time to visit arboretums, etc. and collect their own. I'd like to say the teachers could tell the difference in effort. I doubt they could. Those who made it up, or borrowed it, received high scores as well as those who took the extra time. In the long run, my hope is that those who took the extra time and effort also learn more in the process. I'm sure the OP who studied 15 hours for the exam can at least recall much more of the information than the student with the 5 minute summary. Perhaps that is naive! </p>

<p>I guess it is all a matter of priorities. Effeciency -- or true learning ....and the ability to balance the two!</p>

<p>Boy, this hits close to home---</p>

<p>Wife & D just got back from a visit to a highly ranked university with a top 10 physical therapy school, which is direct-entry as a freshman & the student receives a doctorate in 6+ years, after basically earning a bachelor's degree in three years instead of four. There are a handful of programs similar to this around the nation.</p>

<p>My D, who is a senior, has many EC's and wants to continue that type of thing in college. Unfortunately, during the visit, a professor said that the direct-entry program is extremely rigorous & leaves little room for club sports, the arts, etc. Although this may have been somewhat of a scare tactic, it made me think about the 'college experience' itself and how my D, a high-achiever to be sure, would fare in this type of environment, and being thousands of miles from home to boot.</p>

<p>Fortunately, the university provides a scaled-down version of the program where the student makes a decision during first semester sophomore year, after taking most of the course load beforehand, and I think this is what I'm going to advise D to do.</p>

<p>Just my .02.</p>

<p>I worried about this a lot when my son was considering Swarthmore and one other college in April last year. But he is so laid back that I can't tell when he is under stress. He seems to be all right. </p>

<p>But we also told him not to take an insane course load and to have time to enjoy his other activities as well.</p>

<p>But this thread has me worried a bit. What if he's like the duck that paddles a lot underwater and appears calm even though his legs are tired?</p>