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2E high school - pushing a highly gifted low-energy teen?

2e gifted teen high school asd autism aspergers

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#1 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 08:56 AM

I'm very thankful for WTMF community! I'm seeking wisdom from parents of any 2E kids who have experience with this scenario:

1) DS (or DD) homeschooling through high school to college;

2) highly gifted, loves learning, willing to work hard;

3) but is "low energy" (like many Aspie/ASD), needs plenty of down time alone;

4) considering pursuit of admission to top tier STEM colleges;

5) is very capable of the LEVEL of work that requires, but parents have doubts about ability to handle QUANTITY needed to be a competitive applicant;

6) Christian (student and parents). Ultimate goal is to most glorify God and benefit man, by best use of God's gifts.

 

Specifics - DS finishing 10th grade. 11th grade is "make or break" year if he's going to load up on dual-enrollment, AP, etc. Given 3-4 subjects, he could handle all of them at a high level - math, science, writing, reading, foreign language - literally anything. His only time-consuming extracurriculars are Boy Scouts (starting Eagle project this summer), church service and youth group. He's not a kid with a spectacular "hook". Stellar academics and test scores, his ability to write quality essay answers on apps, and just being a good kid that adults really enjoy are his strengths. DS and I had a conversation about "big fish in small pond" at college, garnering more attention, opportunities, professor relationships, etc., vs. being around more resources and people as smart or smarter than himself at a top-flight place. He wants the latter.

 

Dilemma: he will be happier the next 2 years if we don't press his curriculum too hard, meaning no more than 2 DE or AP classes at a time. I think he'll be happier long term (college and career) if we push him beyond his comfort zone for 2 years. He's not lazy, and doesn't have a traditional learning disability (he can read, write, type, etc. quite quickly); he's just inefficient and has a true neurological need for more down time than most. Our counselor believes DS is on the autism spectrum (though no formal diagnosis), but it's a close call. 

 

Any experience to share? Wish you had pushed a little more or less? Did he/she land in a college that is/was too easy or too challenging? If you did push, what effect did it have on your home? And one more thing - did you have DS/DD report to Student Services on campus for any "disability" assistance?

 

We're starting to feel like we're obsessing/idolizing these issues. Once 11th grade starts, we won't have much room to course-correct.



#2 EKS

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 09:08 AM

You want to be careful about pushing your student to be an attractive "top tier STEM college" applicant if, without that prodding, once he finally gets to the school, he will flounder.

 

What you should be doing is giving him opportunities to push himself, and if he doesn't take those opportunities, then he probably doesn't belong at a selective STEM school.

 

As for disability services--they won't give accommodations to students who don't have an official diagnosis.  


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#3 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 09:22 AM

You want to be careful about pushing your student to be an attractive "top tier STEM college" applicant if, without that prodding, once he finally gets to the school, he will flounder.

 

What you should be doing is giving him opportunities to push himself, and if he doesn't take those opportunities, then he probably doesn't belong at a selective STEM school.

 

As for disability services--they won't give accommodations to students who don't have an official diagnosis.  

 

Thank you, EKS. We agree; our questions are from hearts that are trying to be careful! He does push himself. The issue is how much to steer him. His ambition may be larger than his capacity. So I guess what we're after is similar to your concern: is some "pushing" (really meaning "loading up"; he's not resistant) helpful in terms of assessing fitness for what he aspires to do, or is the danger as you say - he does what it takes but ends up at a place where he won't succeed. We don't have the answers, so here we are on WTMF. :-)



#4 EKS

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 09:36 AM

It's hard to know (we had the same issue).  You need to try to tease out what is due to teenage inertia and what is just him.



#5 wapiti

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:10 AM

Completely random thoughts (usual disclaimer, I have not BTDT; my oldest is in 10th and selected her schedule two months ago):

 

Is this the AoPS kid you were mentioning in another thread just now?  I would be wondering about how to present the big picture, his story.  (Not that I have any idea how to do that.)  What does he love, what drives him.  It feels a little early to know what that might look like - you have another year.

 

In part it depends on how selective he is aiming for.  The tippy-top schools are lotteries for everyone (see that thread 8 started recently), but there are many other good choices where most of the students, especially in STEM majors, are very very sharp, and accordingly where he might "find his people."  And many excellent STEM schools are also public universities, where I'm not sure how much ECs come into play; maybe this is where you consult the Common Data Set on importance of ECs and such (section C7) for each college under consideration.  The more I look at college admissions, the smaller the margin seems between selective schools and squeaking into the state flagship. Indeed, our state flagship's engineering school has middle 50% for GPAs at 3.87 to 4.0, pretty much the same as selective colleges - though that stat doesn't provide specifics about schedule rigor like AP/DE (*if AP/DE info is in the CDS someplace, can anyone point me to the section number? I can't find it).

Rigor of transcript is compared to other kids within the same school, so presumably rigor is compared to other homeschoolers (regionally?).  This is a key question I don't know the answer to.  A while back there was a thread on whether homeschooling is a hook and while I still don't believe it is, I wonder what a pool of homeschool transcripts might look like to a regional admissions officer.  I know what the transcripts at my kids' school will look like and they are easy to compare to each other; I doubt the AOs are really distinguishing between students who had that one more AP than someone else, though two or three more may be obvious.

 

In addition, from reading over at CC, for highly-selective schools there seems to be a sort of bare minimum expected AP/DE course load *where available to the student*, somewhere in the neighborhood of, say, 6.  4 would seem a bit too slim for top-something (20 or 30?) schools, though I imagine there is a continuum.

Maybe the junior schedule answer lies in careful selection of course provider.  If you are trying to decide 2 vs 3+ for AP/DE courses for each of junior and senior years, perhaps you can find efficient courses where quality is valued more than quantity - not all courses have identical workloads - there will be differences.  If he is game, I'd certainly hunt around, see what you can come up with for course options, try to keep the door open for now.


Edited by wapiti, 29 April 2017 - 10:24 AM.

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#6 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:30 AM

Also no BTDT but one idea is to do a block schedule, so less subjects overall, but for longer each day and for a trimester rather than semester.  You could hopefully get in everything you want without the day feeling like it's going in 10 directions as once.  

 

As mentioned earlier, I'd look at some of the research out there on big fish in small ponds vs small fish in big ponds when college hunting.  Fascinating stuff and possibly a game-changer.  


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#7 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:42 AM

Thanks, wapiti! That hits a lot of good topics. Agree with much of what you said.

 

Yes, same kid. Right now, math drives him, big time. As in, discussing complex number proofs and AMC 12 problems at dinner table.  :glare:

 

As I've asked or commented in other threads, we are trying to figure out where DS will thrive. It may very well be Letourneau, Grove City, Cedarville or dual degree program Covenant-Georgia Tech. No disrespect to any of those schools or others like them, but I think he's a almost a lock for those. But he wants to gun for GT as freshman, Carnegie-Mellon, maybe even MIT. My sense is based on his trajectory, ACT, etc., depending on next 2 years, he'd be competitive for GT, could push himself for CMU if he really wants it (summer math camps, USAMO qualify, more AP/DE, etc.), and almost no-one but patent-holder/national prizewinner/child of alumni or faculty should ever feel confident of MIT chances. :-) I'm gently setting his expectations in those directions, to guide his own motivation. I told him if he truly wants MIT, investigate what it takes and see if he wants to do it. Also told him it comes down to "for class of 2019, we want x homeschooler(s) from Mid-Atlantic; how many do we have applying this year? How do they fit into our overall class demographics of gender, ethnicity, income, religion?" It truly is a crap shoot, once you're "over the bar".

 

NC State is probably our best state STEM option, and that's on his list. Admission there is not really a question, though he could save me a lot of money by pushing himself for scholarships. :-)

 

I agree that the line seems fine for some of these "tiers" - 4 vs. 6 total AP/DE, or 2 ACT points, for example.

 

But, to bring it back to the center of my questions - there's admission, then there's thriving (or not) afterward. I don't want to stress out our home for 2 years, then make a $70K one-year mistake, just because DS can "get in". But he might totally love a place like CMU. There may not be God-given clarity for a while. We don't believe God's will is a "dot" - there' only one right answer, but He gives us a path to walk in wisdom. We're just seeking that wisdom. Perhaps we "load DS up" for fall if he is willing, and see what happens. If he gets a lower grade or two, well, we probably have our answer.



#8 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:44 AM

Also no BTDT but one idea is to do a block schedule, so less subjects overall, but for longer each day and for a trimester rather than semester.  You could hopefully get in everything you want without the day feeling like it's going in 10 directions as once.  

  

 Thanks, Monica! That is a good idea. We discussed doing DE US history fall semester with no English, then DE English Comp in Spring with no history. That gives him 2 high school equivalent "units" with only one more intense class rather than 2. As one example. Is that what you mean?



#9 wapiti

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:55 AM

FWIW, for college workload, I'm not sure there's any difference in volume between more and less selective schools.  So that part wouldn't worry me; I think it is what it is.  The depth is another question, would it be the tipping point to make the work take too long for a snail, or would it be the very thing that engenders enthusiasm and motivation.

A lot will come down to crafting the list.  There are a lot of quite excellent options in between CMU/GT-level and regional universities.  We probably need to wait for actual test scores to really dig into that... my 10th grader will be doing SAT prep this summer.


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#10 JennW in SoCal

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:41 AM

As one who has been there and done that, I only have to say that there is no right answer to how much you should push.  And don't forget that your ds still has a lot of growing and maturing yet to do in the next couple of years. What might seem like the right thing this week might feel totally wrong next year. What's a thoughtful, sensitive homeschool mother to do?

 

First of all. From what you've described it does NOT sound like your ds is on the spectrum. Someone who needs more "down time than most" is most likely, quite simply, an introvert. I've dealt with both issues as a homeschool mom, and they are completely different. It may be that the amount of down time he needs recently has increased as his body readies itself for the final big physical and developmental growth spurt. 

 

I didn't push my gifted ds. He took community college classes starting his junior year, never took a single AP, only took the ACT once. He attended an excellent small liberal arts school where his professors challenged him and where he was surrounded by equally bright and equally non-driven students. It was the perfect fit for him, he received an excellent education, he thrived, graduated with an armful of honors, and I'm so very, very happy I didn't push.

 

Was it easy to not push? NO! I was weighted down by guilt during the college admissions process when I'd hear of other homeschooled kids heading to MIT, wondering if I'd done a disservice to my ds by not pushing him. But I know (and my friends all reminded me at the time) that it was not the right path for my ds -- I was doing what fit him best. I still wince when I read college threads here as far, far too often posters are dismissive and disdainful of the types of school my ds attended. The bottom line is that both my kids are happy adults whose company I happen to enjoy and best of all they are both gainfully employed.

 

My advice to parents of high schoolers is to stop obsessing about college admissions and instead focus on what is right for your child today. What kind high school program would you do with your ds in the fall? What books would you have him read? What kind of internships or outside activities or projects would he pursue?  What are you doing together to enjoy these last few years of your homeschooling journey? I found the last few years of homeschooling to be as thoroughly enjoyable as the first few -- it was like the payoff for surviving the middle school years! And sometimes, just because we could and we needed the break, we'd spend a weekday afternoon at the zoo or at the movies. 

 

Don't feel like you are going to make or break your child's life by what you decide to do in 11th grade. Treat it like every other year of homeschooling -- do what feels right, relax and enjoy your ds. The right path will show itself, even if it is the most unexpected path. 


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#11 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:45 AM

 Thanks, Monica! That is a good idea. We discussed doing DE US history fall semester with no English, then DE English Comp in Spring with no history. That gives him 2 high school equivalent "units" with only one more intense class rather than 2. As one example. Is that what you mean?

 

Yes, essentially that.  

 

If in a given year he wants:

1 yr English

1 yr foreign language

1.5 years math

1 yr history

1.5 yr science

 

Then you'd divide your school year into trimesters of 12 weeks but only teach 4 of those topics each trimester.  In the example above, he'd continue math and science through the full year.  So any given week, he'd have 4 subjects rather than 5 to focus on, and could devote more time to them either by doing each for 1.5 hours a day or doing an every other day type schedule and spending  a full half day on each subject.  


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#12 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 12:42 PM

Thanks again so much for these helps. Truly appreciate the wisdom of a multitude of counselors.

JennW, you are so right and I appreciate the correctives. We tell ourselves all of that but need to repeat it often. And BTW, I'm the homeschool dad. :-) DS and I just had conversation since my last post about some of these things, and how he needs to set the goal and then we decide how much "fun" versus "work" we have the next 2 years.

I know it's hard to say it all after living with our sweet DS for 16 years. But his down time needs are due to sensory overload, not just introversion. Education experts and counselors believe he is on the spectrum, and we're getting a formal 2-day assessment this fall. His issues are just mild enough - and he's gifted enough - that he's had no academic issues until the complexity of life exceeded his executive functioning, if that makes sense. Even now, an "issue" means he takes way too much time to get some things done, school and otherwise. Grades are fine. FWIW I'm a physician (though that doesn't guarantee objectivity or autism expertise), and also have read extensively on SID and ASD the last few years to better understand DS. Please don't misunderstand; I'm not saying "I'm right, and you're wrong!" and I don't mean to sound defensive or imply that I'm the foremost authority. Just saying it's a reasonably informed opinion.

Wapiti - thanks again. DS did take ACT earlier this month. Green light for whatever he aspires to. :-)

Edited by tj_610, 29 April 2017 - 12:52 PM.

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#13 JennW in SoCal

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 02:19 PM

Homeschool dad!! I stand corrected!

 

I totally understand the circles you are going around in trying to decide about your ds, wondering what is due to being possibly on the spectrum, whether he is gifted enough to compensate for and therefore disguise a disability, and he should be pushed into doing more. I've got one who is 2E, and another who is gifted but doesn't have a "type A", driven personality, so really, I do understand!!  Both of mine are college grads and I still occasionally walk that tightrope of wondering if I should push or bite my tongue. It is career and grad school topics that come up now, but it is the same challenge of knowing what they are capable of, but uncertain if what they could do is the same as what they should do.

 

Not much help, just some empathy and encouragement!


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#14 Pawz4me

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 02:24 PM

Your DS sounds a bit like my DS18 (ASD-1). He's intellectually gifted in some areas and low average/borderline in others. That discrepancy means he also has a nonverbal learning disability diagnosis (or technically an atypical learning disability since NVLD isn't an official diagnosis). He tires much more easily than NT kids his age and needs a lot of solitude to recover from social interaction. He also has generalized anxiety disorder, but that is controlled with medication and I don't think really contributes now to the need for solitude. I don't have any good answers for you. For us it has always been a fine line between pushing/encouraging enough and not overdoing it. DS does attend an early college high school program and will get his AS degree in a couple of weeks.  Was it a push out of his comfort zone to get him to apply (as an eighth grader) to and then agree to attend the early college high school program? Absolutely! And you bet DH and I worried that it would backfire. DS was totally exhausted the first few weeks. Completely wiped out when he got home. And it did cause his anxiety to flare enough that he required medication. However, I think him needing anxiety medication was something that was inevitable. Anyway, for the last two years he's been carrying a fairly full college schedule. He's been able to handle that quite well, and I do think the experience is going to be very beneficial for him when he goes to a four year school in August. So . . . pushing worked out pretty well for us.

 

DS didn't receive any disability services in his early college program because we only formally had him diagnosed last year. Several factors led to us deciding to pursue a formal diagnosis, and the main one was that we didn't want to risk him suddenly hitting a wall when he goes to a four year school. We saw that happen to our niece (who'd been diagnosed with ADHD as a preschooler but hadn't had any recent testing). There was much scrambling to get an updated evaluation/testing so that she could get some needed accommodations. We did NOT want to go through that with DS. So we pursued testing while he was still in high school. His psychologist recommended several accommodations, but at this point the only ones he has chosen to pursue are to be allowed to use a smart pen and to get a private dorm room. I don't anticipate him needing more, but it's good to know we have the documentation in place in case he does.


Edited by Pawz4me, 29 April 2017 - 02:29 PM.

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#15 tj_610

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 03:12 PM

JennW, you are more help than you know! And empathy is vastly underrated, and worth much. :-)

Pawz4me, that's all extremely helpful and applicable. Thank you.
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#16 EKS

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 04:10 PM

FWIW, for college workload, I'm not sure there's any difference in volume between more and less selective schools. 

 

There is a huge difference between the workload at the local (well regarded) CC and the school my son attends now (fairly selective STEM school).  My son could get As and Bs without really trying at the CC (in STEM courses), but he needs to work *really* hard at his current school just to pass.


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#17 wapiti

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 06:38 PM

There is a huge difference between the workload at the local (well regarded) CC and the school my son attends now (fairly selective STEM school).  My son could get As and Bs without really trying at the CC (in STEM courses), but he needs to work *really* hard at his current school just to pass.

 

I hadn't though of it that way; that makes sense.


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#18 Lilaclady

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 08:21 PM

Along the lines of block scheduling, you may also want to look at maximizing summer. You can use that to know I out some credits like PE, health, art, government or economics. That will free you up for some more time during the year. Also volunteer hours may be easier to attain during summer.
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#19 TerriM

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 06:10 PM

Thank you, EKS. We agree; our questions are from hearts that are trying to be careful! He does push himself. The issue is how much to steer him. His ambition may be larger than his capacity. So I guess what we're after is similar to your concern: is some "pushing" (really meaning "loading up"; he's not resistant) helpful in terms of assessing fitness for what he aspires to do, or is the danger as you say - he does what it takes but ends up at a place where he won't succeed. We don't have the answers, so here we are on WTMF. :-)

 

If he's going to push himself, and you feel that he is ambitious, I'd leave it up to him.  If you feel that he needs more push to do what he's capable of, then give him a nudge. 



#20 TerriM

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 06:15 PM

and almost no-one but patent-holder/national prizewinner/child of alumni or faculty should ever feel confident of MIT chances. :-) I'm gently setting his expectations in those directions, to guide his own motivation. I told him if he truly wants MIT, investigate what it takes and see if he wants to do it.

 

Is MIT's reputation that bad or are colleges getting that competitive nowadays?  

 

When I applied, you needed good STEM grades, good SAT scores, and to have taken Calculus and done well.  


Edited by tiuzzol2, 03 May 2017 - 06:19 PM.


#21 wapiti

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 08:08 PM

Is MIT's reputation that bad or are colleges getting that competitive nowadays?  

 

When I applied, you needed good STEM grades, good SAT scores, and to have taken Calculus and done well.  

 

The acceptance rate for MIT in 1979 was around 33%.  In 2003, the acceptance rate was around 16%.  In the current admissions season that just ended, the acceptance rate was 7.1% (early action 7.8%, regular decision 6.6%).

 

Admission to tippy-top schools like MIT is extremely competitive.  See e.g. this current thread http://forums.welltr...ent-rejections/

 

There's a video on youtube where an admissions guy explains that at Yale, more than half the applicants have the stats to be accepted, and from there they have to cull out another 80% of those qualified apps.


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#22 TerriM

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 12:19 AM

The acceptance rate for MIT in 1979 was around 33%.  In 2003, the acceptance rate was around 16%.  In the current admissions season that just ended, the acceptance rate was 7.1% (early action 7.8%, regular decision 6.6%).

 

Admission to tippy-top schools like MIT is extremely competitive.  See e.g. this current thread http://forums.welltr...ent-rejections/

 

There's a video on youtube where an admissions guy explains that at Yale, more than half the applicants have the stats to be accepted, and from there they have to cull out another 80% of those qualified apps.

 

Wow......

 

Although, nowadays, I think kids apply to way more schools than we did in the past.  I think I applied to 3.  I talked recently to someone who applied to something like 10-12.


Edited by tiuzzol2, 05 May 2017 - 12:29 AM.


#23 tj_610

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 09:35 AM

It's definitely different than when I applied. Last MIT stats I saw were even more discouraging for men; I assume due to skewed applicant pool but school's desire for gender balance, a man's acceptance rate was half that of a woman. It was around 6-7% for men, 13% for women. We're not too worried about it, and we're not going to try to make DS be someone he's not in order to possibly boost his chances.

After much wrangling and prayer, here's where we've landed. We're very appreciative of the shared wisdom here.
1) I told DS to research colleges' and independent web sites to discover "best" places to launch him into math PhD/career (that's what he wants to do), and what it takes to be competitive there. He took me up on this with zeal. He understands it's very competitive, but he at least wants to aim for MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, CalTech (last one gives his mom palpitations due to distance). His ACT score this April and AoPS classes have inspired him.
2) I told him we would support that, and if he struggles next year, a B or two (which he's never gotten), would not be a disaster but would be received as God's direction. Math honors program at NC State is a wonderful option, and would get him into lots of graduate programs, if he does well.
3) He learned that a prestigious summer math camp may boost his odds. He can't do one this summer, so he'll plan that for 2018. We enrolled him in AoPS 2017 summer class for AMC 12 test prep, with that test another way to impress.
4) He'll take SAT subject tests, Math 2 and probably physics, next year.
5) After much counsel from older like-minded homeschool parents, and feedback from colleges, we're preferring AP to dual enrollment, for now, and prioritizing what he best likes. So presented for feedback, here's his 11th grade plan:
- AP calculus BC (Potter's School; we decided AoPS absorbs him too much.)
- AP physics 1 using edX Rice Univ free online; will see how he does with workload and decide if he can do this in 18 weeks and proceed to AP physics 2, or needs year for AP 1 only.
- AP English (Potter's School; though not STEM, he's a strong reader and writer and takes rigorous English every year. This won't be that much extra than his norm. Might as well get college credit and credibility.)
- German 2 (Excelsior online)
- Notgrass US history. Really liked Cedarville dual enrollment option for this, but need to prioritize rigor in other subjects.
- BSF Romans (2 hour class night + 3 hour weekly study = 1 credit)
We thought some synchronous work was good for him to transition to college and be in some contact with others. The physics and history classes give us the option to flex/pause if needed so he can excel in the AP and German classes. He is willing to spend 2-3 evenings each week on school, something he's never had to do, and to start his day at 8 AM. The horror!



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