Parents of the HS Class of 2023

Welcome, add me to the list of near by neighbors, I love UMBC but neither of my older boys ended up in state, still some hope left for the twins. UMBC seems to meet kids where they are and push them to do amazing things, plus the President is inspirational.

Twins are in public school so haven’t set foot in school since March. Somewhat jealous when I hear my neighbors kids starting their car at 7am to drive to a Catholic HS.

@mountainsoul One of my twins attended Williams Math Camp virtually last year. It went better than expected, of course in-person would have been great. He is applying to several this summer, the only one that has said they will try to be in person is Hampshire.

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Thanks for the update about WMC. Glad the online option worked out last year but I know my S would not like the format. After USNA Summer Stem went online last summer, he declined his spot. He is so done with remote learning of any sort. It’s been challenging. I’m going to look for in-person summer enrichment opportunities close to home.

The pandemic is changing mine and my sons attitudes about school and the future I think. Hes the kid who used to love being in lots of ECs and now hes letting some go. He skied on the team last year and dropped out this year to focus on the musical as it was hard to do both at the same time.

Now, they cancelled track freshman year and hes thinking of not doing it this year. He thinks the pandemic will decrease the amount of persons able to compete at each meet which means he may get little to no actual competition time. I dont want to force him to do it as I kind of get his point and I wonder if all the practice time would be worth it as in the end its just something to put on a college app and allows him to see his friends.

He has band, choir, football, musical, voice lessons and he has a job. Perhaps joining another club would better suit him than doing track? In the end he isn’t going to be a super competitive candidate for any top schools but thats not his goal anyway. Hes been focusing more on school/activity/life balance and maybe that isnt a bad thing? Hes undecided on future major and wants to go to college somewhere in a new town with different scenery and meet people. He has a solid work ethic and gets by just fine in school so I think he will do okay in the end. With the pandemic and him not being a 4.0 student I have to let go of any hopes of Tuition Exchange assistance anyways I think. But letting go of that means I have to focus more on my own finances which I hope allows him some options he will thrive at even if they arent his top choices. Im just rambling again but I think most of you parents get it.


2plustrio - i don’t have much to offer; but my daughter’s attitude is changing too. Looking at your son’s list of ECs - I want to say its great he can still do all those things. Can he still change his mind about track? it’s too bad he’s not wanting to try it. . . . but I GET IT as well. the kids are just bummed out about things, and don’t know if the efforts are worth it. running is hard and slightly solo. The team atmosphere in track is a little different than other sports . . . so I do get that.

My D23 switched to a small private school after 18 yrs straight for our family in our local public school this year. (in the name of equity, the low-income public district quit all teaching in March; and I just didnt trust their fall plans). My d has no interest in doing any EC virtually, and is just poo-pooing the few opportunities that do exist. It’s frustrating. I waiver back and forth on it all . . . like “don’t give up. stay strong. do things you love even though its in a strange, slightly lonely format” . . . . . and then I think “I wouldn’t want to be doing virtual speech or virtual debate or virtual DECA as well, honestly. No fun.”

so - no, no answers or advice, except to be the home base and strong support of your kid in the academics side. In the end, very very few of these activities get a kid into a college . . . they are really for development in the kid, right? good luck.

Thats hard for your daughter being in the new school with no in person EC options.

My son is very fortunate I guess that he has been able to do these activities in person. Im glad another parent gets the track debate. I think the physical release is good for his mind and body. But I understand putting in hours of practice each week and not being able to compete. He has been skiing on weekends with friends versus racing and he enjoys it. He is doing the voice lessons and musical rehearsals as well (even though the musical will likely be no audience and just videotaped which is a disappointment). He said there are no clubs at school he has interest in joining as he would “rather work and make money” which he is doing.

Like you said, most of what we ask kids to do in high school is really for personal development or to get into college. Being that this is kid #2, I know there will be college options for him. Maybe not top20 or even top50 schools but Im sure he will find his way and the right fit for him. With the future so unpredictable, Im done pushing him to “do more”.

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I know I am sounding like a broken record but I am getting concerned with my son’s lack of ECs - I have reminded him repeatedly that he needs to find something. On his own, he is ALWAYS learning about this or that - reading, watching videos or tinkering with his arduinos, Pi thing (sorry, I don’t know what it’s called), coding, and he also helps his peers (I hear him on the phone with other kids helping them with computer science, math or chemistry). The school doesn’t seem to be actively recruiting kids into ECs - probably because of COVID? He did want to try robotics, but he was told it was on hold this year. I have encouraged him to ask his comp sci/engineering teachers for EC ideas, summer camps/workshops, etc. I have been looking at camps but with his father out of work, we really cannot sign him up for anything expensive at this time. Such a hard place to be in…

One positive is that he really is doing well in all of his classes - if all goes well with finals this week, he should pull a 4.0 for the semester (which is a first for him!!). He also expresses interest in the college mail that he gets which is way more than his older brother/sister ever did. He has also commented that his friends’ parents don’t even talk about college with them and that they don’t know what they want to major in…but he did say they are all the oldest in their families. So hopefully his talking with them will help them get into gear sooner. However, this concerns me in that it seems like the school is failing them by not doing some encouraging on their side? Am I wrong? Just seems like they need to be more prepared - otherwise it’s going to be an avalanche their junior/senior years.

I think that colleges will be more “forgiving” about lack of ECs in the “post Covid” era (whenever that is is) than they will about lower grades being blamed on covid. Great that your son is maintaining A’s at least @JaceyK!!


This is just a friendly reminder that ECs don’t really count for anything admissions-related at the vast majority of colleges, including the hyperselectives.

And for those where they do count, they count very little, and even then it is better to have a small list of ECs that the student is fully invested in than to feel like they need some crazily padded list.

Just because the Common App has space for 10 ECs does not mean that it’s optimal to fill all of those slots.

(BTW, if you’re still worried, informal ECs totally count. Tinkering with Arduinos and Pis? If it’s not part of the high school curriculum, it’s definitionally an extracurricular, even if it isn’t a school club.)

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Kids came home with the course selection for next year. Decisions decisions. S23 isn’t happy that the counselor “locked him in” to certain courses already. This means to get them changed he has to email her. He gets annoyed when he isn’t able to just sign up for things himself.

He’s not loving precalc so he’s looking at taking AP Computer Science instead. They have him signed up for a “college math” thats transcripted credits meaning its basically a tech school math course. They know he isnt putting in max effort and that AP Calc likely wouldnt be super successful for him. Or we could consider him retaking precalc if he ends up with a C.

His english they want him to take AP but hes digging his heels in the sand and saying no. So hes going to ask to take the regular english next year. Sigh. Theres other battles to have so Im giving up on that one.

Science. They have him signed up for a state school credit chemistry class (hes in basic chem this year). While its great to earn the college credits, they arent guaranteed to transfer. 10 credits though (at a cost of $100/credit to transfer them). He says he would rather do AP Physics as it interests him more.

He will take his usual spanish, band and choir electives as well. For his last course selection, he really wants to take AP Music Theory. He is trying to decide if he wants to pursue more music and thinks that class will help him decide. Its only one semester though so he would either take a “filler elective” or hes thinking of just being open to a one semester study hall as he could potentially be taking the AP courses for the first time.

Hes taking his last of his social studies requirements over the summer is the plan. But then might consider taking AP Gov Pol his senior year.

I disagree in regards to selective colleges. Data point of one but 30+ kids from D’s high school applied to her college and she was the only one admitted. I think her ECs worked in her favor: team captain of two sports, national recognition, and tons of leadership and community service. Contrary to CC advice, she used all ten spots on the common app. She fits right in at her college as most of the students there are like her and were super involved throughout high school. We didn’t know all of the kids who applied from her year, but the ones we did know relied heavily on their stats for admission.

However, these are extraordinary times and I don’t feel a lack of ECs will be held against our kids. Everyone is in the same boat. It’s wonderful that your S tutors others and is maintaining a high GPA, @JaceyK.

Sounds like he has it figured out - I don’t understand the counselors meddling though. I know that the advisors at my older kids’ college does the same thing but they are grateful for it - especially my older son who is “deer in headlights” with any type of planning.

We are expecting course selections soon so we have already talked about what he will do. He plans on pursing mostly AP maths/sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics and Computer Science/Engineering) while doing dual credit for the socials and English. He wants to do DC English 3 and 4 over the summers so that he doesn’t have English his senior year.

Our school has such limited summer courses which stinks. Theres only so many hours in the school day.

Our school district collaborates with a local community college which helps expand choices offered for dual credit. What’s frustrating for us is that they don’t allow kids to take AP courses in their Freshman/Sophomore years - they push PreAP first then they can take AP their Junior/Senior years. I really think this is such an inefficient use of time and energy.

As a college professor who’s a bit skeptical of the worthwhileness (to coin a word) of AP courses generally, I think this is a much better strategy than to push as many students as possible into AP courses as early as possible. Yeah, doing so makes schools look better on Jay Mathews’s stupid, stupid “Challenge Index”, but doing it the way your school district does, ramping up to them by giving time for the requisite skills to build? Yeah, that’s a much better thought out way to have the AP courses actually provide useful skills and knowledge that last beyond the sitting for the exam.

Okay, generally speaking, I see your point. I think it’s just more frustrating for those who are already bored at the preAP level - I think they spend the first quarter of the AP class reviewing what occurred in the PreAP class. While I can understand that this path is good for most, my son is very bored in some of his STEM based PreAP classes. At least this is the last year for it so he will see challenges starting next year (hopefully).

The 2 classes my son is struggling in, both teachers are out the week before and of their midterm. So any review was done by videorecordings. My son tanked his one quiz the week before and teacher is unavailable for feedback so he is clueless to what he did wrong. Paid for tutors just to see if he can hold a C. Now if only I can get the kid to start looking at instate schools.