March 30, 2009

When *I* Was a Kid, We Used Stone Tablets

When my children were younger, I used to tell people that in general, it was stress free, because any decisions we made, if deemed not correct, could be altered.

Other than a couple trips in an ambulance due to breathing issues, there were no life altering decisions that were being made.

Your two year old doesn’t want to pee in the potty? Fine. He won’t go to college in a diaper. He’ll get potty trained.

Your three year old doesn’t want to eat vegetables? Fine. You’ll work your way around it and with vitamins and other ways, such a pureeing veggies into food, most certainly your child will not end up with scurvy, beriberi, or some other odd disease from not getting the right nutrients.

You hate you four year old’s best friend? Chances are they won’t be friends next year, and if you can’t stand the punk, chances are it’s because they are spoiled or whiney, and that’s a far cry from a kid who looks like he’s doing Meth, reeks of booze, and whose parents are in the Federal Pen for armed robbery.

Your five year old is struggling to read? Unless there is a learning disability, it’s going to click. It will. Some kids just develop neurologically at different rates. And if there is a disability, we have SO MUCH now that can help. Catch it early… and they’ll struggle, but they’ll be fine in the long run. Mostly.

It’s perspective.

I was at a party Saturday night where I saw a woman I’d not seen in a few years. She is in her mid 50s and she and her husband don’t have children. She asked me how my sons were doing.

I told it was crazy and I feel half insane, but I thought the biggest stress was that for my eldest we’ve moved into the realm of all the decisions being so damn important.

We’ve moved into potentially life altering. Grades, friends, extracurricular activities, they all have to be at a premium to get into one of the really good schools.

I went to what is perceived as a very average college. Don’t get me wrong, I got a great education, I had some fantastic professors, I had experiences that kids at big schools would kill for. I like to joke that I sent out one resume, had one interview, and got one job, and that job happened to be at a Fortune 50 company. (Slight exaggeration… I had 500 resumes printed, sent out a few blindly, interviewed on campus a couple times, and then bagged the big job by accident.)

I graduated in December, by mid January my job was lined up, and I was working by mid-February.

But… as great as it was for me, as much as it all worked out, I want better for my children.

Not to live vicariously through them… but I want them to have the opportunity should they CHOOSE to take it.

It’s one thing for them to decide on their own to go to a college like my alma mater. It’s a whole other thing if they go there because they can’t get into where they had their heart set.

And therein lays the stress of the late 20th century and the current 21st century.

As I told my Tech Lead today, who has two kids, the eldest being 8, ‘no longer do you get into a great school with a 4.0, having been in Key Club, Band and some awesome SAT scores’.

When we were in high school they had just started offering AP classes and I didn’t take them because my view was, “I’m GOING to college… why do I want to take college courses now?”

IB hadn’t been invented.

Community Service hours? Those were done by the kids in Juvie Hall.


To get into the great schools, you have to graduate from high school with a 6.5 having completed two years of college at the end of your senior year in high school, meanwhile spending five hours a week working at a homeless shelter, while also working with a team of kids to invent an alternate fuel source, and spending your summers in some remote village of Africa trying to find a cure for Ebola.

Or something close to the above.

Oh and you have absolutely PERFECT SAT scores.

And you spend your time wondering, how your kids can do better when the better means they can really not be children?

When did it become mandatory for kids to complete college classes in high school to get into the great schools and some of the just good schools?

I missed that.

I was talking to on of our Eagle Scouts the other day, inquiring how it was going getting ready for college. He got accepted to University of Florida, which is a BIG deal now as it’s tough as hell to get in there.

He informed me that even though he took all those AP classes, anything in his major (engineering) he was required to retake.

So he’ll take Calculus… again. He’ll take Physics… again. And at first I thought, “Damn, it would suck sitting next to him. He’s going to be snoozing in class making A’s as he’s had all that crap before…” when I realized, the class will probably be FILLED with snoozers.

I believe… it’s become… the norm.

I wonder if college will be a cakewalk for them.

Posted by Boudicca at March 30, 2009 09:15 PM

AP courses are not all that they claim to be.
2 semesters of HS AP = 1 semester of college course.

We didn't have AP courses when I was in HS. You had to make arrangements to take regular college courses at a local college or community college.

When my eldest was in HS, one of her friends finished AP Calc in his sophomore year, then went to a local college (GVSU) for the rest of his maths. The school system paid his way as he was still a minor. He managed to finish all of Calc and much of Real Analysis before he graduated from HS. He ended up entering college as a Junior.

Remember the the links to my brothers writing at Dr Pion.
The difference in pace between HS and college is phenominal.

The kids who have taken AP Calc I and placed in to Calc II may wish they hadn't.
The colleges are not obligated to teach exactly the same information in Calc I as the AP course has. The students may find that the college's expectation for Calc II is more than they covered in their AP Calc I.

My eldest took AP Calc in HS and I insisted that she not comp out of Calc I in college. She was happy when she got to the end of her college course and found that it covered all of Calc I and half of Calc II, including integrating donuts (toroids). If she had assumed that it was all the same, she would have had to teach herself that half of Calc II all on her lonesome.

Posted by: The Thomas at March 30, 2009 09:45 PM

My son took several AP classes in high school and got credit for them at Virginia Tech. He feels his AP courses prepared him very well. He also did not need a 6.5, he had a 3.8 and he was an Eagle Scout (and thankfully bagged one of those $1000 scholarships, which are uber competitive). I remember the stress of all those decisions in early high school, it is tough, no question about it! Best of luck to you all.

Posted by: Lori at March 30, 2009 10:14 PM

The Thomas- I know they have to take a test and I wonder if it depends on how they score as to whether or not they have to repeat their class in their major.

HS classes are MUCH slower than college classes. French I in college covered both my HS French I and II.

We have a lot of kids dual enrolling, and I don't know how that works with their HS GPA.

Lori- Tech is a GREAT school. Holy crap. And I'm hearing having Eagle Scout DEFINITELY helps, which is why we have it as a big goal. And we can make all these decisions and navigate through the maze of what to do next, but if he doesn't pull the grades, its all for nothing.

Posted by: Bou at March 31, 2009 06:08 AM

I am of the opinion that going to a school with a "name" verses going to a smaller only heard about within the state and maybe surrounding states doesn't matter much once you graduate from college.

I went to Eastern Michigan, a state college and with my small college degree I have gotten jobs over those that went to Michigan. They spent more money for their degree but I got the job.

And 5 or even 10 years down the road, what college you went to doesn't even come into play for getting a job.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at March 31, 2009 09:40 AM

Respectfully, I think you've got it backwards. All of the important decisions, to be made with respect to setting your child on a path, are made b/t in-utero and ~4...maybe 5.

At the stage you're at, there's marginal influence from here on out.

You should just relax...the most important part is over...unless you have another one. :-)

Posted by: Flam at March 31, 2009 12:44 PM

QW is more right than she knows in some ways. For jobs in the future, once you're out of college and in the work force, where you went to college doesn't matter. (except to check on your graduation - I don't think they even look at it) The only time it might be helpful is if the HR person went to school there and liked it - I even have my doubts about that. LOL.

My daughter went to Purdue. Oddly enough on the East coast it's considered an Ivy League... lots of kids from out east go to school there. Most people don't even realize it's a state school.

In the end, if they like college, they'll like whatever school they attend and it will all work out fine. State schools are much harder for instate students to get into because the tuition is way lower - there is more competition and they prefer out of state kids with higher tuition. Purdue grabbed my daughter immediately - we were out of state - they wanted our money. U of I at Champaign turned her down flat. Both schools were equal - one was in state. (she applied in January of her senior year...)

The one thing about big schools. If you happen to be gregarious, you'll make lots of friends and you will run into them all over the place. My daughter often runs into Purdue people. Smaller schools don't have that happen much.

Your boys will do great no matter where they go. The worry is less about school and more about the society around them... driving, dating, all that is more of an issue than school if they are doing well.

Posted by: Teresa at March 31, 2009 01:30 PM

The networking connections cannot be beat from the prestigious schools. I don't have that.

At this point, it is irrelevant where I went to college, as you're right, they look at what I've done since, but getting out of school, you have better network connections.

Plus, I'm telling you, if I were up against someone from MIT, all being equal in experience since graduation, the guy from MIT would get the job. Going for a Masters would probably be the same.

It is not hard to get into Florida in state schools unless you try to get into UF. That's the only school hard to get into. I know of a kid whose friend got into Duke and not UF. That could be the out of state influence. But truly, in Florida, UF is the only tough school to get into.

And Flam... you're wrong. You just aren't there yet. ;-)

Posted by: Bou at March 31, 2009 03:35 PM

I still have to respectfully disagree.

It would amaze you the people I have run into from all over the US that went to Eastern. Of course it helps that Eastern is THE teaching school to get into and teachers from all over the US got their education at Eastern.

Eastern is known as that college down the road from Michigan, yet it's students are all over the world.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at April 1, 2009 08:44 AM

I went to Whats-a-matta-U.

Posted by: JihadGene at April 2, 2009 10:45 AM

All of you have it wrong.

It doesn't matter what school you go to. What matters is the education you receive at the school you choose.
And it doesn't matter whether it is Ivy league (which just means they do not offer sports scholarships), State schools or a Private college/university.

What matters to employers is- did you stick out the full four years?
And in ten years after graduation, it won't matter what school to which you attended.

The 10-10-10 rule.
Will it matter in 10 minutes?
10 months?
10 years?

Posted by: Rave at April 2, 2009 10:48 AM

No, Flam is right. Joyce and I have been where both you and Flam are. The big issues aren't the ones that determine which college you go to. They're the ones that determine who you marry and how well you conduct yourself as a civilized person. Barack and Michelle got into an Ivy League school, but I'd be ashamed if any of my sons turn out to be such elitist jerks. Remember, in the end your success in life will be judged by a professional carpenter.

Posted by: Bob at April 4, 2009 07:54 AM

No, Flam is right. Joyce and I have been where both you and Flam are. The big issues aren't the ones that determine which college you go to. They're the ones that determine who you marry and how well you conduct yourself as a civilized person. Barack and Michelle got into an Ivy League school, but I'd be ashamed if any of my sons turn out to be such elitist jerks. Remember, in the end your success in life will be judged by a carpenter.

Posted by: Bob at April 4, 2009 07:55 AM