Things just tend to work out

<p>I find CC endlessly fascinating. So many conversations on how to provide “the best” education for your child. Thought I would share my daughter’s high school experience as an example of how things just generally tend to work out, even under less than ideal circumstances.</p>

<p>My daughter attended our local public high school. It’s a large urban high school with all the problems associated with the type. 60% low income, 10% drop out rate, average ACT score around 18. No gifted or magnet program. General opinion among large portion of affluent parents in our town is go private. But we decided to give public schools a chance … at least until we felt D’s educational needs were not being met.</p>

<p>So D attended school, took typical college prep classes, participated heavily in school’s fine arts programs, joined a community robotics team, and generally enjoyed her high school experience. Even with taking a fair share of AP classes, her high school years were mostly stress free. She managed to find plenty of time to read, teach herself to knit, and download more science fiction podcasts than I want to know about.</p>

<p>She applied to seven colleges and was accepted at all. By chance, the college at the top of her list offered her a full tuition scholarship. And it’s a good college, well respected in her field.</p>

<p>Almost all our friends’ children are in “better” schools than the one D attended. My siblings’ children attend private schools or home school or have moved to suburban districts. Yet my D fared as well – ok, probably better – as any applying to college.</p>

<p>D is bright and quick, but not tippy-top gifted. She gets some bonus points for being a conscientious worker and from a family who values education (not in the “you must get straight A’s” way, but in the “tell me about how your physics lab demonstrated momentum” kind of way.) </p>

<p>I guess the point of this story is that so much of CC is about providing “the best” for our children, yet often an ordinary education works out just fine. </p>

<p>And it’s also a lament that I feel societal demand to improve public education for both bright and challenged students is diminishing as educated and professional families leave for other options.</p>

<p>My new motto is</p>

<p>“Life is all about choices. Don’t go back, just go forward.”</p>

<p>from From</a> a Stranger in an Airport Restaurant, a Decision Becomes Clear - NYTimes.com</p>

<p>20 years ago, I made a choice to live out in the academic wilderness and leave the Northeast jungle. This has had a profound effect on the lives of my children and their education. But in the end, DS (who had an incredibly easy HS career as I am finding out in comparison) is attending an East Coast Elite, and DD will likely also. It's all about choices, and sometime those choices loop around.</p>

<p>i don't know if i agree with this. sometimes things work out; sometimes they don't. a lot of different things come into play (race, socioeconomic status, environment) when it comes to life chances... </p>

<p>it's good that things worked out for you and yours, but to claim that this is a universal truism is somewhat simplistic and inaccurate. it's a complex world out here!</p>

<p>marlene- Glad to hear your daughter has done so well. Yours is a calming voice.</p>

<p>I think the salient fact in Marlene's story is that she was able and willing to pull her daughter out of the large public school and pay for private school or some other alternative if that became necessary. So the family had options that other people may not have had. Still, I'm glad it worked out for her daughter, and her story does show that there's more than one route to a good college.</p>

<p>Thanks for the story, Marlene. Our kids went to a similar kind of HS, with similar college acceptance success. I felt that it was important to stay with the local public school, and so did many other middle class families I know. I think that in these discussions of school pressure and what's "necessary" for students to succeed these days, the strength of an "ordinary" education is overlooked.</p>

<p>We had a similar experience. I think that the good ending to these stories is actually a result of efforts by some excellent colleges to have socioeconomic diversity. For selective colleges, this can be tough because kids need to be prepared enough to succeed. So admissions will favor a kid from a public school that has a large percentage of underprivileged kids, but often the kid who gets in from that school is an outlier who is not suffering the kinds of socioeconomic deprivation that they are actually recruiting. If that makes sense.</p>

<p>We have observed that in some cases, and I would not say most, but some, a kid from a low quality public school will do better with admissions than a student in a high quality private. Besides the school's recruitment priorities, another reason is that the student in the lower quality school is assumed to have made something of him or herself, without being handed opportunities on a platter, and it is assumed that they will continue to do so, and therefore get more out of the college than someone who has not had to work so hard at making opportunities.</p>

<p>I do think that kids who are raised in this kind of rich, but relaxed, manner, who get to read what they want a little instead of being crushed by an intense and competitive curriculum, can add a lot to the mix of students on a campus of achievers. They often know themselves better than those who attend the high pressure schools, and have an attitude that emphasizes learning over grades. They are also often pretty "chill" compared to others who are so used to building GPA's and resumes that they continue to do that throughout their college years.</p>

<p>But I would also agree with the poster who said things don't always work out in the end ,at least in the sense of admittance to certain kinds of schools. I would imagine that the OP's family was not raised with college choices in mind (nor was mine). The important thing was to grow up in a certain way, without all that pressure, and we would have considered that things had "worked out" no matter where they ended up in college (as long as they liked it, and as long as we could pay!) or, in the case of one of our kids, not at college at all.</p>

<p>Marlene, your comment about how your family values education "not in the “you must get straight A’s” way, but in the “tell me about how your physics lab demonstrated momentum” kind of way," is probably the true center of this story. It says a lot about your family and once anyone has that attitude and all that goes with it, their children are very likely to thrive. </p>

<p>As someone who removed a child from a public school (sent her to a different public through school choice in MA) and had to deal with some extreme unpleasantness because of it, I have a lot of sympathy for people who choose private schools. I heard a lot about "loyalty to the school"....I didn't notice the school showing any loyalty to its students! </p>

<p>But like you I'm so glad D's education hasn't been excessively pressured. She's worked hard, done well, and developed a sense of herself and the variety of her abilities and interests. She's accomplished a lot purely out of curiosity, with no reward but new knowledge and friends-- and that's the one thing I'd think is most important to do at this age.</p>

<p>On Long Island the publics are pressure cookers. There was more diversity and laid back learning in the little private we used for primary school because of my work schedule. We eventually couldn't afford the private, and it ended right at middle school, so the kids went off to the public.</p>

<p>Close friends of my kids all ended up at prestigious schools -- Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, etc, etc. and the competition was fierce.</p>

<p>My kids were the outliers at Barnard and Williams, their more relaxed style shown by their embrace of LAC's. Neither had "ivy fever" the way many of their peers did.</p>

<p>Haha. Had we wanted an experience like the OP's it would have been impossible.</p>

<p>Congratulations OP that it worked out so well for you.</p>

<p>Our family has had a very similar experience and outcome as Marlene's. Our kids got the vast majority of their educational experiences from us, from their out-of-class experiences, and from joint enrollment at a nearly college. I regret sometimes that their public school experience was not consistently challenging, but I think that the extra and sometimes extraordinary lengths to which they had to go to augment those offerings were a big contributor to the highly-selective college acceptances they got.</p>

<p>I find it interesting that so many posters are talking about the "outcome" and the "end of the story." I know CC is focused on college, but acceptance is not the end of the story, just the beginning of the next chapter.</p>

<p>I would guess most posters know that. </p>

<p>As you state, this is primarily a site focused on the college application process, so focusing on that aspect of life would not mean that posters do not realize there is a lot else in life beyond that. I know I sure do.</p>

<p>Yes things can work out despite doing things differently from conventional wisdom, local practices, family traditions, etc. There are ever so many ways to make the journey through life and there tends to be benefits in most all routes.</p>

<p>"Work out" though is a term that can apply to a designated stretch of time or a lifetime. All of us have stretches where things did not work out. College is just one small part of life and though it looms large when it is our darling kids times of life, when taken into perspective, it is not the be all to end all.</p>

<p>We weren't especially thinking of end product when we enrolled D on local public high school. We just wanted a place she would be reasonably challenged and safe. Had the school not worked out, we probably would have supplemented with classes froma nearby ommunity college. D was not comfortable with high stress atmosphere of a gifted magnet and the local private schools, while posting higher test scores, did not appear to have any more academic opportunities.</p>

<p>I do think many families don't see the full education taking place in schools with significant low income populations and find it easier to enroll in private. (And I'm not judging -- we all make decisions based our personal values and knowledge.)</p>

<p>A comment I sometimes hear is "well your daughters would have thrived anywhere." Maybe they would have. I only know that a fine education was provide at a school where the stats indicated otherwise.</p>