Son now doesn't want to attend Harvard...what to do?

<p>I have twin kids just graduating from college. My daughter didn't get into her first choice, GW but is going to BC and now very excited, she thankfully is all set.
My son was accepted into 7 of the 8 schools to which he applied, 5 were ivies. He chose Harvard but Stanford (the one he didn't get into but was wait listed) was his top pick. Harvard made sense in terms of location, reputation, engineering program,etc.....so he chose it. However this past weekend we went to the admitted students weekend, and we left there on Sunday night when he finally admitted on the ride home that "it didn't feel right" and he is having serious second thought about going there. Panic set in, because A.I trust him like I do any 30 year old man, he is very mature, and rational, he doesn't say anything without having giving it serious thought. B. I don't want him to start any school on this note, thinking it might not be for him.
I asked him where he would want to go, and he said he wants to pursue the Stanford wait list or consider trying UVA (his cousin to whom he is very close attends) I must say I felt a little "deflated" only in that I felt Harvard was such a good match for him, he is a very driven kid, and the kids we met including his host all seemed to be cut from the same cloth. He can't pinpoint what turned him off, but for one he wasn't sure about being in a big busy city, he felt the school lacked any warmth and he said it was the overall feeling....I am thinking maybe he was overwhelmed as most would be, there is a lot to see, a lot to take in and there were plenty of kids that were his competition or superceded all that he has done, and perhaps it was a humbling experience, unlike what he expected.
So here we are at a crossroads....decisions need to be made and quick! He called/emailed the admissions director at S. yesterday and wants to deposit with UVA.
I guess my question boils down to.............to what point should I continue to offer my two cents and encourage him to try H? Do I let him make this decision entirely on his own?
Any good sound advice would be most appreciated.
Thanks.</p>

<p>Another parent here: the best advice I can think to give anyone making any kind of decision is to go with their gut (for guys) or their heart/intuition (girls). It sounds like your s is someone who has weighed all the outwards features (programs, size, location, etc.) and is now having a gut reaction.</p>

<p>"I trust him like I do any 30 year old man, he is very mature, and rational, he doesn't say anything without having giving it serious thought."</p>

<p>His gut instinct is telling him that College A is not for him. He'd rather wait to hear from College B, and failing admissions at College B, would rather attend College C. </p>

<p>Take the name "Harvard" out of your posting, and re-read it.</p>

<p>Harvard is not for everyone. Not even for everyone who is accepted there. Your son can thrive wherever he lands. Step back, and give him a chance to do just that.</p>

<p>Students do turn down Harvard -- he needs to do what is "right" for him -- isn't that what fit is all about?</p>

<p>kay, Some people just don't relate positively to Harvard. UVA's a very good school, but just out of interest what were the other four that accepted your son? Maybe there's a compromise here? </p>

<p>I detest waitlists but in this case I think your son ought to see Stanford through to the resolution.</p>

<p>Thanks for the fast replies...the thing is though do most 17 years really know everything that there is to know about college and what is or is not a good fit? I dont' want him to regret the chance he has gotten. I am afraid he will pass it up, then regret it........I think some of this could be nervous energy, excitment, butterflies...I don't know but then as I did say I do trust him, and want him to be happy....I think we are both so confused it is ridiculous!</p>

<p>I'm a bit leery of counting on being accepted off a waitlist, but there is no reason to attend Harvard if the student does not feel it is a right fit. I'd suggest he puts a deposit at UVA and see if Stanford will take him off the WL. My S would not consider Stanford because it is too sprawling, too suburban, too CA laid-back. But these may be the very qualities that would appeal to someone else!</p>

<p>
[quote]
I have twin kids just graduating from college.

[/quote]
From the OP</p>

<p>Do you mean graduating from High School? There is apparently a very big difference between Harvard undergrad and Harvard grad school. Many people have found the Harvard undergrad experience to be somewhat disappointing. But the Harvard graduate experience is, supposedly, a different story. If you mean HS, and Harvard undergrad, then yes, it's definitely not for everyone, and people do, unbelievably :) turn down Harvard. For grad school, probably people turn that down too!</p>

<p>My son loved the suburban atmosphere, loves the CA laid back vibe...spent the last three summers at UCLA in the research dept. and loved it. He got into UCLA as well but says it's far too big. Having experienced CA. and living there, he fell in love with everything about it, and on that note...Harvard is quite the antithesis of what Stanford is. So I guess there really is something for everyone. I agree he shouldn't count on being plucked off the waitlist, we will likely deposit with UVA today and cross our fingers with Stanford.
Thanks everyone...will let you know how it pans out.</p>

<p>yes he is graduating from high school, and going to H as an undergrad...sorry for not clarifying.</p>

<p>My son turned down Harvard for Carnegie Mellon two years ago. He enjoyed the accepted students weekend, but still felt it wasn't the right place for him, especially since he's interested in computer science. Harvard isn't for everyone - and it's not a warm and fuzzy place, though I had a great time there. My son has no regrets.</p>

<p>Just piling on ... I'd vote you go with your sons gut. If he has also visited UVA then if it were my kid then the outcome would really be obvious ... if he had not visited UVA I'd be tying to schedule a trip ASAP.</p>

<p>I like the suggestion someone else made ... take your orginal post and switch the places of Harvard, Stanford, and UVA in the post and see your reaction. Your son must be an amazing student to have such great choices ... he will do great at any of those great schools.</p>

<p>One last thought ... I live in Boston about 2 miles from Cambridge and went to Stanford for grad school ... the "feel" of the Harvard and Stanford campuses are dramtically different to me. Yes, the kids are smart and ambitious at both schools. However, one is sprawling beautiful suburban campus with a laid back feel ... while the other is gritty city fast paced feel ... a student having different reactions to the two places seems quite reasonable to me.</p>

<p>FWIW, when I picked my undergraduate school I turned down a much higher ranked school and one of parents was very mad and judgemental about my choice ... I went with feel and it was one of best decisions of my life ... I LOVED my undergraduate school and knew it when I first stepped on campus ... and I had the exact opposite reaction at the higher ranked school when I visited.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I dont' want him to regret the chance he has gotten. I am afraid he will pass it up, then regret it.

[/quote]

Don't we all sometimes regret the choice not taken? Even the 30 year old man?</p>

<p>But ask yourself this - do you really want him to be able to blame you for a choice that didn't work out? Let's assume for the moment that he's right and Harvard isn't for him. Do you want to take responsibility for having convinced him to go? Do you want him to be able to say, "Mom, I knew it was wrong but you made me go?" That kind of regret lasts forever. (I know - my mother convinced me to go to a school that wasn't my first choice - it was OK when we visited, but I didn't really like it. She loved it. I got a good education, but I still wonder to this day what my life would have been like if I had gotten the college experience I wanted, and I'm a heck of a lot older than 17!)</p>

<p>Make sure that any regrets he has are his regrets, based on what he decided, and not on what you decided for him.</p>

<p>The impression I get from the Op is as if college at Harvard was graded on a pass/fail basis. Graduate from H is pass; anywhere else is fail.
Not so. More happy, successful adults have not graduated from H than happy successful adults that have!</p>

<p>But he did not get into to Stanford. Liking Stanford better is irrelevant.</p>

<p>What colleges that he did visit at length, and that he did receive admission were more to his liking. His choices are only those schools that offered admission.</p>

<p>There are still a few days until May 1. I'd encourage your son to ruminate on his decision a bit more. But he sounds like a responsible young man, and I agree that ultimately, it's his decision. And on a practical level, if he goes to Harvard at your insistence/request and winds up unhappy, he may blame you -- or you may blame yourself -- for every problem, large or small, he encounters over the next four years, possibly beyond. I couldn't handle that kind of burden.</p>

<p>Listen to his gut. There's nothing wrong with going to UVA. And he'll be happier there than H because it's a better fit for him (for whatever reason . . .)</p>

<p>And if Stanford comes calling, even better.</p>

<p>I am not sure right now is the time to talk about "gut" feeling. Now is the time to ask him what he wants to do with his life. </p>

<p>I think mathmom's son made an excellent choice of turning Harvard down for CMU because CMU could offer him a better education in CS. Harvard isn't right for everyone. My D didn't have a good reaction to it either. But she has aspiration of going into Wall Street. If she was admitted to Harvard, she would have gone because what it could do for her later on. </p>

<p>College is more than just 4 years of "experience." It is the quality of courses, students, people you meet, and how it could help you in business and graduate school application later on. For 50,000 a year, I would want more than a gut, I would want a few concrete reasons - not just the weather, location, or looks of the school.</p>

<p>I think there is a very slim chance of him getting off Stanford's WL, especially in this economic environment. Stanford has one of the best FA program.</p>

<p>He could also blame you later on for not talking him into going to H.</p>

<p>I think you know the answer to your post - but sometimes you just have to see it in print. It is pretty heady stuff getting the t-shirt that says Harvard Parent 2013 or whatever year it happens to be, it is hard to be indifferent.</p>

<p>You said the kids seemed like him & perhaps that is what made him pause. Our DD loved the kids she met there, but she said she was intense enough on her own and she didn't want to spend her entire four years of college thinking of the next phase of her life.</p>

<p>So, trust your son & celebrate the accomplishments of both of your kids.</p>

<p>kaywarn -- I just re-read your OP. You say your son was accepted to four other Ivies in addition to Harvard. Why UVA? Might he find a better academic and cultural fit at one of the other highly selective private universities that admitted him?</p>