March 29, 2012

Juniors

We are in the throes of SATs. We're bracing for the roller coaster that is ... college apps.

Any parents out there that have experienced this know, having your teenager apply to college is a level of hell unto itself. We are hereby... on the cusp.

All year I've been hearing from my friends whose children are seniors, of schools they've applied to, been rejected from, accepted to, accepted to but with no scholarship.

It's not a little cup of crazy. It's a big frickin' gallon of insanity.

To spectators, there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason at times. I took a class earlier this year (surprise!) so I could try to get a handle on what works, what doesn't, and what to expect in my first born's toe dipping into the college application hell process.

Grades, extracurricular activities, the difficulty of classes, volunteer hours, class rankings, sports... it was a swirl of information we waded through. I was overwhelmed.

Was it too late? Why didn't I know the depth of the insanity when my son was in 8th grade? Would I have changed something? Would HE have changed something.

I made peace with it when I realized, we are where we are, he is who he is, and even if we knew then what we know now, we'd probably still be... right... here.

In Palm Beach County, where every child is obviously beautiful, brilliant and athletically inclined, mine are simply better looking than average, smarter than normal and not clumsy. Nothing about my children stands out and screams, "EXCEPTIONAL!"

My son has never really enjoyed team sports. He doesn't play them unless you count his playing football with his buddies in the backyard. He is quick as a rabbit and his friends who play ball constantly chide him to play as a receiver on their HS team. Dear old Mom and Pop have ultimate rule and have negated any thoughts and aspirations he may harbor.

My son is in band, but not one of those stand out musicians. He won't major in music. He doesn't even want to play in college. People don't hear him play and weep. He's just solid.

His grades are OK. He takes disorganized to such a level that he defines it.

He has the volunteer hours, will make Eagle Scout this year, and his class ranking is... well... he didn't drop out. Top 25% is where he seems to be settling.

So where does that leave us? That leaves us hinging on the SAT and the ACT. That leaves HIM hoping his mad test taking skillz will see him into the only State college he wants to go to... UCF, the second largest school in the United States, Arizona State being #1.

Say it isn't so. Say my son doesn't want to just blend with the masses; the college experience of 1000 testosterone and estrogen filled bodies in one giant auditorium. Although, I hear that has changed. I hear you can now take your classes from your laptop, while still wearing your jammies, in your bed... and never have to face society. Although, clothing is probably optional...

I fear for this future generation.

I digress.

But that's where he wants to go, so he took the SAT for the first time a few weeks ago. And scores came out today. By Noon I had a text from him, "MOM. Go online and find my scores, please. I have to know." I didn't get fired from work, so evidently collegeboard.org isn't an illegal site although I do wonder what the IT guys think at times when going through the Stats.

His scores weren't bad for the first take, but they are so crazy lopsided, every college is going to look at his application and think, "Wha?"

He must retake. I informed him of that via txt and got a "Ergh".

Math and Reading both hovered around a 600 (math being the lesser), both of which can be brought up. So he'll be studying and retaking, hoping to bring them both up by 50 points.

Because... he scored a near perfect score in writing. My boy scored 750 on the writing portion. They're going to look at his SAT scores and scratch their heads. I don't know another kid whose scores were as lopsided as his...

He'll be pushing to get Eagle Scout by September. He needs it for his College Apps. I know if he applied to all the out of state public schools, he'd get into all of them. That seems to be a common thread. Schools love out of state tuition. But he needs to get into his in state school and so that's our big push.

The roller coaster that is College Applications starts in September. Good, bad and indifferent... it'll all be in our home.

And... I found out tonight... he's going to Prom. With a GIRL. Hunh.


Posted by Boudicca at March 29, 2012 08:58 PM
Comments

"And... I found out tonight... he's going to Prom. With a GIRL."

That's the way it's supposed to happen.....

Posted by: Angus of Morvern at March 30, 2012 07:59 AM

I was stunned. I knew he was going with a group of kids, but today it fell out of his mouth that their is a ... girl... involved. Hunh.

I've already started to prep him. I guess they're meeting at someone's house because one of the girls rented a 'bus' to take a whole group of them at once. I said, "If her Mom and Dad show up to drop her off, you walk immediately to their car, shake their hands and introduce yourself. Don't wait for them to come to you..."

Posted by: Bou at March 30, 2012 08:10 AM

Regarding your last line ... Yeh I surprised my Mom also.

Posted by: The Thomas at March 30, 2012 08:38 AM

Took one of our two valedictorians.

Posted by: The Thomas at March 30, 2012 08:38 AM

I was so worried when Heather (my niece) was going thru this. And that first year in college? Holy Smoly, the hardest thing I ever did was keep my mouth shut. But...she surprised me. Really surprised me. Yeah, she does some things that make me just scratch my head and think WTF? but over all? She is rockin' it.

And she didn't do any of the prep y'all are doing. She wanted an in-state school and all that, but her mother is the Queen of Procrastination and it still worked out. She is where she is supposed to be.....

But you do crack me up! I would love to be a little fly on the wall for the next year. Oh, wait! We have this place, never mind..... lol

Posted by: Tammi at March 30, 2012 10:50 AM

He will probably get in everywhere. Those are decent SAT scores, Mom. Sheesh. Particularly since he is not looking at Harvard. And there's community college, too. It's a hell of a lot cheaper, and there are some good ones near you.

He's a good kid, he'll come through the wash fine.

Posted by: caltechgirl at March 30, 2012 11:47 AM

Thomas- I went with our Valedictorian. And then we had this HUGE fight. We didn't really speak for 19 years. And then he said, "Wow, I was a real jerk, but I can't believe you really blacked out my face on our Prom pictures..." to which I replied, "Yeah, I didn't handle it so great either. And I love Pentel pens..."

Tammi- That's my deal with him. I keep saying, "You may be able to get in... but can you stay?!" I just want him to get in and then I'm done...

CTG- He's going to get in to three of the six schools he's applying to. His Hail Mary pass is to Dartmouth. Bwhahahaha. Yeah. Not happening. But of the five in state, I think he'll get into three of them. Definitely... two. No way he'll get into UF. He MIGHT get into FSU. He wants UCF... but we're on the fence there with grades and SAT scores. He'll definitely get into UNF or USF.

His Dad keeps saying to me with a stern face, 'We can't afford Dartmouth" and I keep replying, 'You obviously haven't done ANY research on ANY of this or you'd know it's a snow ball's chance. Take a deep breath..."

Posted by: Bou at March 30, 2012 03:06 PM

I'm jealous. I only got 740 verbal.

Posted by: Harvey at March 30, 2012 11:38 PM

And look at the Chatty Cathy you are, Harv! LOL

Posted by: Rave at March 31, 2012 03:02 PM

My daughter is a senior this year, had awesome test scores (don't remember the numbers, but near the top), president of NHS, on math teams, many service organizations, active in theatre...well-rounded in both academic and extra-curricular activities. She applied to 10 schools...and was accepted to 6 (with scholarships), wait-listed to Vanderbilt, and not accepted to any of the three Ivy Leagues (even interviewed by Brown). Pissed her off about the Ivy Leagues, because she worked so hard for four years and didn't do as many 'fun things' because of her studies (her choice). Sometimes it's just a crap-shoot.

My advice...when the FAFSA application opens in January, do all of it immediately and make sure you complete the CSS as soon as you can. The guidance counselor at my daughter's school SUCKED!!!! Didn't give us all the details we needed, so I kind of floundered around as best I could. If I ever found out that the counselor was the reason my daughter didn't get into the 'big' schools, it won't be pretty!!! Not saying that's what it was, of course. Just frustrated.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at April 1, 2012 10:18 AM

Harvey- They changed things. It's not 'Verbal' anymore. It's critical reading, math and writing. I think my son would get a 0 on anything labeled verbal. ;-)

Mrs. Who- When I attended that class our school gave, I realized I'd not have my kids push for Ivy. First, my eldest is just not a candidate. He's just not. But second, even though my second son is one, it's such a dang crapshoot, it's not worth it. I'd rather them just get a good solid education and have some sort of life in HS.

My eldests scored in the 98% for writing. But critical reading and math were nowhere near that high. I went onto a website to determine the probabilities of his getting into the six schools he's applying to. He got HIGH for UNF and FSU. He got Medium for UCF, UF, and USF. He got slim to none for Dartmouth, his Hail Mary pass. As he said, "Mom, you gotta have one you apply to that you know there is no way you'll get in..."

So he's retaking the SAT to solidify UCF and USF and honestly, unless he scores a 2200, there is no way in hell he's getting into UF. His grades are just not good enough.

But... getting that Eagle Scout this summer will definitely help...

Posted by: Bou at April 1, 2012 10:51 AM

My daughter graduates from high school this year. I am on the tail end of what you are beginning. Here are a few things off the top of my head:

One of the lesser talked about effects of the economy is that more kids are applying to schools closer to home and in-state. Where competition used to be average, it is now fierce.

Make sure his high school transcript is correct.

I would be interested to see how your son scores on the ACT, some kids do so much better on one test over the other. SAT counts off for wrong answers, while ACT doesn't.

Read and dissect every word on the prospective student/admissions portion of the websites of each school he wants to go to. Email admissions counselors with your questions (do NOT rely on high school counselors for info). Do the essays, even if they aren't required and start them now. Most essay prompts are similar across the board and can easily be modified to fit a particular school, so you can keep re-using the same basic essays.

Learn all of the pathways to enrollment for key schools. Some allow entry to a satellite or system campus and a later transfer.

Many schools look at 'expressed interest', meaning requests for information, officially recorded visits to campus, etc.

collegeconfidential.com has good message boards for each college

I agree with caltechgirl that community college is an excellent way to start. My daughter ended up in a program that has her taking some hours at a CC and some at the university for the first two years. 12 hours at the CC cost less than 4 at the uni!

Finally, colleges communicate admission statuses via email (to the student) and on school portals. If your kid isn't pro-active and communicative, make sure you know the ID and password to check admission status and messages from the schools.

Posted by: Harper at April 2, 2012 08:33 AM