Realistic vs Optimistic

As most of you already know, my son is an affluent Asian from a top public school with very high stats and decent EC’s but no hook or no identified/proven extraordinary talent.

My research on CC tells me that thinking that he’ll get into Stanford/Ivies/MIT is a naive expectation. What should I be doing to save him from unnecessary heartache and put on a more viable plan?

Pick safeties and matches.

Look for schools that are easier to get into that he likes. He’s bound to find several.

@WorryHurry411 - if he has the stats - please don’t discourage from applying, but like other posters said (and like I am doing), apply to other good reach schools.

Of course we’ll apply to matches and safeties but growing up as a high acchiver he kinda had his eyes set on these schools and it would be hard to accept that he has to settle for second tier even though his stats are better than atleast 50% of accepted students and similar to 40%, probably lower than 10% or less. I’m wondering if this is going to effect his drive to do his best in future?

This may sound like a cliché, and perhaps not helpful, but I suspect many high achieving students find out for the first time in college that they will not necessarily be considered for the opportunities they think they deserve, and also might find out that to their surprise, there are a whole lot of other very bright and motivated people out there in the larger sea of humanity. In a way, it is a good lesson to receive and learn from at an early age, since life is full of disappointments and challenges as one proceeds in the work world. I suspect being a high achiever he’ll rebound quite well and be very successful where ever he ends up, and after a month of busy-ness wherever he ends up for college, thoughts of these other colleges won’t even cross his mind.

They are fantastic schools out there in the ranking 20-50 that you son could love because they are truly great schools. Go visit them - focus on his interests (major) and the schools that offer it. Focus on location and cost.

Its all about attitude and you need to have set the tone for your son.

I can perfectly relate to him, coz I am in the same boat. Do I know the statistical probabilities? Yes. Am I still hopeful? Of course. Will I feel VERY bad if I get rejected? You bet. Does my life stop there? Hell no.
Perfect example is my sophomore year science project. I Worked really hard, but placed second. My friend used other easy resources and placed first. But junior year, I workd harder, placed first and more.

@WorryHurry411 So, your son will
have “heartache” if he is “forced” to go to “second tier” schools such as for example Georgetown, Emory, Carnegie Mellon or Tufts and this will “affect his drive to do his best”? I think your son needs a bit of a reality check. Obviously these schools are full of high achievers who had the stats for the Ivy League and other tippy top schools.

Seriously though, make a list of the best schools for his intended major and make sure it has a few matches and at least 2 safety schools on the list.

You can’t “save him” from heartache, especially if he thinks anything below a top 10-ish school is failure. Parents have to let their kids learn from their own mistakes.

Be sure he understands that those schools are reaches for everyone and be sure he applies to match and safety schools that he would be happy and proud to attend.

Most importantly, whatever the results, make sure he knows you love him and are proud of him.

OP, I have 2 sons, one of whom graduated from Brown last year, chose it over Penn and Uchicago bc it was the best fit for him, and loved his experience, although it was challenging doing well bc his classmates were brilliant–and he loved that challenge. My younger son is at Tufts (was accepted ED2 after getting deferred from brown ED, and also being accepted early to WUSTL & USC as a merit finalist), and has loved his experience, although it has been challenging doing well bc his classmates are brilliant–and he loves that challenge. No difference in those aspects of their experience at their respective schools.

Both kids couldn’t be happier with their schools, and both have loved the challenge, their profs, their classmates and their opportunities. Trust me, if you’ve got a kid who loves learning and is driven, he will continue to succeed no matter where he ends up in college bc it’s a byproduct of attitude & innate work ethic. Your son will be fine.
Let go.

You can help by not making a big deal of his "achievements " and instead, fussing over the person he is. Not just to him, but to family and friends. It sounds trite, but at some level, he must be feeling like he’d be “less” if he didn’t win the prize of admission to one of the most selective schools out there. There’s a feedback loop here (and you are only one piece of it, admittedly ) that makes "winning " these highly competitive contests appealing.

Buy a copy of "Excellent Sheep ". Both of you should read it and talk about your reactions to it. It’ll be a good way to start a discussion about how he may be defining success and how both of you feel about taking risk, failure, and charting your own path.

And should he get in, he may be armed with a hair more self knowledge that will stand him in good stead when the next alluring "competition " comes along.

Have kid read “where You Go is not Who You’ll be” by Frank Bruni.
Find “Fit” schools.
Admit that “heartache” from not getting into Stanford/Ivys is a heck of a “first world problem.”
Good luck!

Who is the one having the trouble accepting this? His stats are not, nor should they be, his defining feature, and if he has attended a top school he will find like-minded friends and plenty of uber smart kids at these “second tier” schools (which ones do you consider “second tier” ?) and why would you not be surprised at his attitude if very excellent schools are perceived by his parents as “second tier”. Maybe being the middle of the top would be a good experience for him, but he may not get into the top schools with single digit acceptances for kids with top grades AND ECs…What do you consider “decent” and “nothing extraordinary”?

Looking at your posting history I wonder if it is your son or you who is obsessed with getting into top 10 schools. In one thread you ask where he can go to college so that he will not be taught by “newbies” but rather only experienced professors.

I was wondering the same thing. @WorryHurry411 my daughter also graduated from an excellent HS with very high stats. While she does attend a very good school, it is not an Ivy or MIT etc. Guess what? She is happy, has friends, finds the academics to be “just right” while still being challenging, etc.

Where is this obsession coming from? I would remind your son that his school does not define who he is and that you will be proud of him regardless. I also recommend the Frank Bruni book- my daughter read it.

Make your kid own the process of identifying and selecting schools. You can’t save him from disappointment but if he’s the one who created the plan he’ll be more likely to view the results as a success, i.e., he can say “I made this happen”.

Not getting into a school that he knows you desire will make him feel like he’s failed you. No parent wants their kid to feel that. It is really difficult to separate from your kid in this process since there’s so much at stake. It’s frightening for the kids too but you have to push him to make this process his own.

Your job is to be the pushy secretary/personal assistant who reminds him of deadlines, tactfully makes suggestions, sets up filing systems, etc.

As yet another parent of yet another high stats kid, the big lessons for me in this process are these:

  • Having high stats does not by itself make a student the most valuable admit for the college. Every book on elite admissions and dedicates about a half a paragraph to stats as in "you need high stats, that is a given. You need more than that". Pretending elite undergraduate admission is or ever has been based on stats is a big lie.
  • When you do have very high stats, you have so many wonderful, incredible, enviable options and choices that being upset about it is like complaining you have to vacation in the Caribbean instead of the Maldives like you wanted.
  • If the student truly is exceptional, then exceptional performance in undergrad will allow for elite admission to graduate school, where admission is more statistically driven and the label is more important anyway.

How is this possible? WSUTL doesnt have EA, and you cant apply to/accept 2 ED schools. IF t IF someone got into Wash U ED, they wouldn’t apply ED 2 to another school. OR am I missing something?