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rbk mama

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  1. I just read a funny anecdote about a guy who claimed to have an inside connection at Brown and would guarantee admission for a certain fee.  He took money from several students, knowing that some of them would get in.  Then he did absolutely nothing as he had no such connection.  He simply cashed the checks of those students who got in, and returned the others.  Made some decent money by doing nothing.  I guess these guarantees don't necessarily mean there are unethical connections (which 15K isn't really much for anyway). 

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  2. The Rick Singer scams bring to mind the college consultants that "guarantee" admission into Ivy's.  Like the one put out by College Confidential -- "College Karma" which guarantees admission into one of your top two choices for $15K.


    You first have to have the stats, but then I still don't see how they can make that guarantee without (unethical) connections on the inside.  Am I missing something?

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  3. 14 minutes ago, regentrude said:

    For almost all students, it does. The student who masters the material solely by studying the textbook is the rare exception. I have encountered those, by they make up less than one percent. 

    And it is actually much faster to have the professor extract the most important points from the 1000 pg text rather than trying to work through the book. 🙂


    Again, skipping won't work unless the professor gives very clear notes about what he or she feels is most important to learn.  And I think this is a very odd student who digests textbooks.  Not defending it - just explaining. 

  4. 3 hours ago, elegantlion said:

    My son is a math major and discusses how one of his professors assigns a text but rarely uses it or goes into way more depth than the textbook can. So it's not just humanities.


    Personally, I find most textbooks bland and too general. It takes a person with a passion for the subject to engage students, that requires moving beyond the text.  


    This is why its not possible to skip unless you have a professor who gives very clear notes about what he or she thinks is important to know.  I'm not defending it, just explaining.

    And my son likes well-written textbooks - he's strange that way.

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  5. 1 hour ago, ClemsonDana said:

    I think that in the math-like classes, if you know how to do the problems, you might be OK.  But, you mentioned the prof giving 'good notes' and being able to do all of the problems in the book...the prof isn't obligated to limit class to that material.  In an intro class, that may e all that they do.  But, the prof is entirely within their rights to give a syllabus and no class notes, or for the class notes to only be an outline.  When I taught at a CC, I never would have given class notes because every lecture was different.  I might need to cover a specific topic, but examples or the 'interesting anecdotes' added for color depended on questions from the students.  If there were no questions, I'd use standard examples, but if students said 'What about?' I'd riff on that.  

    If you're in an intro class that has multiple sections but a common syllabus, you could probably get away with missing more easily because those classes sometimes have a standard test, so profs can't require you to know much outside the book/syllabus.  But, those types of classes go away after "intro to'.  In a class that I took as a jr, I had a prof come in holding data from that week in his lab, and he explained the thinking behind interpreting the result (it used the techniques that we were discussing).  We had enough information to figure it out ourselves, but none of us would have been able to put it all together and arrive at the answer - it took the prof and his grad students a day.  

    I knew a couple of students who used the 'don't go to class' model and it seemed like they got a different education.  They did fine on the major concepts, but they seemed to lose the color of the topic - how it applied to a prof's research, the prof talking about a good/bad day in the lab, the stories about common or weird mistakes to avoid, the explanations about how grades were determined (everything was curve), etc.  And, profs can get testy when students come for help during office hours if they weren't there for class (and it wasn't a one-off because they were sick), especially if the student's ask questions about something that they've explained (when they say 'Do you remember the example of X? Y is an extension of that...'  you need to remember X unless you follow up with 'That's the day that I had the flu, and I got notes from my friend but still dont understand').  And, finally, should you miss the test due to illness, the prof is far less likely to believe you, the one who is not in the habit of being there.  


    Yes, skipping like this can't be done if there are not clear notes given; DS can't do it for one of his classes for this reason.  But the bolded is definitely a concern of mine!  He actually started out the semester with the flu.  He was very sick and missed 8 days (we live far away and I was going crazy - stays in a crowded triple, on a loft-- climbing his weak feverish self up and down, getting friends to bring him food... aaargh).  He is nearly caught up about a week later, which has in his mind confirmed his choice to skip.  But I have been concerned about the future, his handle on the content for the rest of the semester, and his relationship with his instructors.  When I've mentioned this latter bit his response is that attending every lecture would be a fun, easy way to learn, but is still not the best use of time, since he can learn it much faster on his own and fit more into his schedule.  When I mention getting time to interact directly with the professors, he says lectures are not the place he'd do that anyway - it would maybe happen right after lectures, or at office hours.  But as you said, how would a professor feel about him showing up at office hours when he's skipped lectures?  I'm sure less than thrilled.  

  6. 1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

    Yes, but that wasn't really my pt. This isn't a CC where classes are often expected to be taught at a rudimentary level. One would expect Cornell's classes to be taught at a higher level than straight out of the textbook. 


    I don't understand how a textbook can be necessarily rudimentary or somehow lower level?  Surely a good university will be using quality textbooks that cover the subject matter in depth.  I don't know what "deeper material" would be necessary to add if it really was a good textbook.  For something like engineering physics, understanding is shown by ability to solve problems, as the PP mentioned.  If one can successfully complete the weekly assigned problems, and the assigned text is understood, I'm not sure where the gaps in understanding would be.  

  7. 1 hour ago, RosemaryAndThyme said:

    When I was an undergrad, I often took 19 or 20 credits, and once had a 21 credit semester. Anything over 18 credits was by special permission only, and usually for engineering/double major students only. What that looks like in reality is going to class 5 days a week from 8:30 in the morning to 6 pm at night 4 days a week, and then 8:30-4 on Friday. It was also my highest GPA term, and there is simply no way I could have done well if I did not go to class unless I wasn't able to physically drag myself out of bed due to illness. I was also a student grader that term, and I had to maintain a high GPA in my major to keep my job.

    Reading through textbooks and working problem sets was the base. You had to do this before you came to class. Professors assumed this was done and proceeded with deeper content not found in books. Those who did not fell behind quickly. I can read books on my own without paying expensive tuition. I came to school to learn from experts.

    Sure, I could get by with a C or maybe a C- and skip lectures, but then I would miss out on so much. If missed one lecture, I would probably be ok, but any more and the material would be going over my head. You get out of school what you put into it. 


    2 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:


    Books should not be covering 100% of the content. Professors don't just explain a textbook in oral review.

    Fwiw, an engineering major should need to attend class to master course content. Definitely not a reason to argue in favor of not needing lecture.

    I just went and looked to see if I could see which school. Is this the student at Cornell? For that amt of tuition, the book should definitely NOT be the sole source of teaching content.  


    I don't think it requires experts to teach lower level courses, at least in engineering physics.  I can see how it would be different in a humanities class.  If the instructor gives good notes, you know what material he or she thinks is important to know, and if you are good at self-teaching, you can make sure you know it (with the textbook that was written by experts).  There are weekly assignments, and it is obvious if he understands the material and can do the work or not.  Yes, this is Cornell.  And he's averaging over a 4. GPA.  He attended every class last semester, but he always covered the material on his own first, and found the lectures didn't add much.  Again, these are lower level courses, so I don't think that's surprising.  (And not that it's relevant, but Cornell gave us a very generous financial aid package, making it cheaper than our best in-state option.)

  8. Yes, this is definitely not the scenario I had envisioned!  But at the same time, I know my kid.  He is a super intense student who will not fail to keep up with each class and thoroughly master the material.  I know the 26 and 27 credit students are extreme examples - they are definitely not the norm.  But his 21 is not terribly unusual.  Two of those credits are for a project team.   I'm also wondering if he's able to do this now because he is only in his first year, and the material is not terribly difficult for him.  I don't know, though.  What if you are someone who learns best by reading and not by hearing?  So you read the textbook and complete the assignments without hearing the verbal explanation of the written material.  He's an engineering student, so its not like he needs to hear the professor's personal opinions at this point.  We'll see -- he may change his mind further into the semester.

  9. 3 hours ago, elegantlion said:

    I agree that it is a bad habit. I TA for an American History course, general studies, 100 level course. Attendance and participation in my breakout (separate from lecture) is worth 15% of their grade. During lecture, the professor covers so much that is not in the textbook. The text is for context. We're heading into week 3 and already students are behind because they've missed lecture and/or breakout. Also, this professor takes absences into account. Anything not excusable goes against the student and she will drop their grade when absences are excessive. I'm not sure how I feel about that overall, but it's clearly stated in the syllabus and she discusses that in class, which you have to attend to know. 

    The class I tutoring for in my undergraduate had no attendance requirement. People thought they could slide by on exams and the paper with the information on the slides. Nope, didn't work and those students did not do well. 

    These are generally the students who end up making MORE work for the professor. I field emails about things they would know if they'd 1. check the syllabus, 2. attend class because we talked about that very thing. It irritates me because I spend more admin work focused on those students than working with students who have potential to do well but need a bit more guidance. 

    It can also come into play if a student is really borderline on earning the next level of grade. I know of cases where the professor didn't penalize a student for iffy absences but also didn't round up the 89.3% either. 

    My son strategically skips class and it drives me batty. He knows to check for participation and attendance requirements and he doesn't run to the professor for what he missed. Still. (where is that toe tapping emoji?). 


    Thanks for sharing this!  I can see how this would be very annoying for the professor, which is why I asked about it.  DS knows a few students who are taking 26 and 27 credits (??). He is taking 21, including a 6 hour lab each week, in addition to research and a few other extracurricular commitments.  I think what I'm most concerned with is that loss of time to interact with instructors, which is what he was initially very excited about.  He's all about efficiency right now- learning and doing everything he can possibly fit in (while still getting good sleep).  He did find out that one of his professors puts very little online, so he cannot skip that class.  We'll see how this semester's plan works for him.

  10. Apparently its fairly common where DS is, mainly among those who are taking a crazy amount of credits.  DS agrees this is the best way to maximize time.  Nearly all his classes have the notes and assignments available online, and he learns best and quickest by reading, so.... that's his plan.  Has anyone heard of this?  Wondering how instructors feel about it.

  11. So happy and proud of DS.  He LOVED his first semester and jumped into several extracurricular activities that he's enjoying.  He is a wizard at time management, keeping basketball time and good sleep each night as priorities.  Grades haven't been a priority for him, and he fully expected a B going into his freshman writing seminar, as writing is difficult for him.  He recently got his grades back:  2 A's and 2 A+'s in addition to passes in two P/F classes.  He's found homeschooling to be excellent prep for college, BTW.  He was told that prelims would be killer, but he realized that he naturally self-teaches to a fairly thorough level of understanding, and so prelims were manageable.

    We've been talking about sending our younger two to a local school for high school, but my parents, who were very hesitant about homeschooling, are now wanting us to keep them at home.  It's nice having a "success story" to pull out to validate homeschooling. 😊

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  12. We used our friend's recommendation.  He teaches AP Calculus at a high school and says this: 

    My favorite Calculus book is a Pearson/Prentice Hall book called "Calculus: 
    Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic", written by Finney, Demana, Waits, and 
    Kennedy.  Dan Kennedy is one of the writers of the Calc. AP tests, and the 
    book is easy to read (as far as math books go!).  It is the one math book 
    that I think is clearly the best for its subject.

    DS found it very simple to use for self study.  He used a suggested schedule from the College Board and a Barron's review at the end to prepare for the BC exam, but it's fine for AB also.  My friend also recommended this course, which is free:


    DS never used it though, so can't comment on how good it is.

  13. Thanks everyone so much for your thoughts!  Very helpful.  DH doesn't have a really strong opinion on this either way, just was tending to want to protect the kids.  The kids are ambivalent, but leaning towards not wanting to see him (they'd go if we said it might be good for them.)  They had one really bad experience with him after he came home soon after surgery (we were at his house to support MIL and weren't expecting him home so soon) -- he was a completely different person - angry, raging, didn't even notice the kids were there.  After he recovered, they've had only positive times with him.  They are a bit scared to see him if he's not going to be the same person they've known and loved.  FIL is dying of brain cancer, so his mental state is affected (though since he's recovered from surgery, he's been mostly fine mentally.)  I think it makes sense at this time to keep them home.  Thanks again everyone!!

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  14. Agree that its best to have skills before serving overseas, but if college doesn't feel like a good fit right now, a shorter term overseas (6 months or one year) might be a great experience, giving her a taste of life wherever she wants to go, as well as showing her ways she can prepare herself to go there longer term.  I have friends who have been working in Tanzania for many years - you can PM me for contact info.

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  15. DH's father is dying (aggressive cancer).  They live a few hours away, and we've been trying to see them every few weekends.  My younger two are 11 and 8, and they recently had a really nice visit with their grandparents - grandfather was lucid, able to joke with them like he usually does, etc.  He is now slipping fast and very confused.  DH feels like its better for the girls to have their last memories of their grandfather be happy ones, and that they don't need to see him now.  I can see his point, but am wondering if it would be good/better for them to see for themselves that he is fading and leaving soon.  Would love to hear others thoughts on this. 

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  16. One thing that was an unexpectedly HUGE help for DS was a pre-orientation overnight retreat with a Christian group on campus.  Not only did he get to move in a day early (super peaceful, parking right next to his building, tons of time), but he also made some great friends right away.  He has been eating, exploring, and having fun with kids from that night every day since.  I know there was a similar option for Jewish students.  There may have been other groups doing this, too.  We found out about it from contacts familiar with the campus - I don't think we would have known about it otherwise.  Its definitely something I will be looking into for our next kids.

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  17. DS is so happy, and we're all still feeling thrilled for him, though I tear up now and then.  He's been calling often, just to chat and fill me in on random things (called today to express his disbelief at dropping over $100 for a stack of papers in a plastic bag!).  He is beyond thrilled to be in a place where the purpose is to learn - it still feels like a dream to him.  He was laughing because he keeps getting warned that college is not like high school: there will only be a few exams along the way and then one final.  He was pretty much on his own with one AP test at the end of the year, so those few exams along the way feel like more structure than he's used to.  We never lived in a place where he could take in person college classes, so he is giddy about being able to interact with real professors.

    And thanks to this thread I just ordered a bed rail!  DS was glad - he's used to being in a loft, but not without rails.

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  18. On ‎6‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 7:01 PM, Corraleno said:

    Thankfully they have just changed that policy — beginning with the September test, each section will be timed separately (exactly 150% time for each section), with everyone starting and stopping at the same time, just like the SAT. There will be one 15-minute break between Math & Reading.

    I thought their previous policy of just giving one huge block of time, and putting the onus on the student to figure out exactly how much time to allot to each section, when to take breaks, etc., was crazy — especially since one of the most common reasons for accommodations is ADHD! So you take a room full of kids with a poor sense of time and a propensity for distraction, and expect them to not only keep perfect track of time with no reminders, but also resist being distracted by other students who are all starting and stopping and taking breaks at different times. ?

    What good news!  This is exactly why I was thinking my dyslexic DS should take the SAT and skip the ACT altogether.

  19. My mom wants to give him a long wool overcoat that used to be my uncle's.  DS's comment:  Great!  I'll be all set for when I make a presentation in the snow! ? I'm guessing there may be more than a few items remaining untouched at the back of his closet, but I still would rather he have them just in case.

  20. 2 minutes ago, jdahlquist said:

    Much depends on what types of activities he might be involved in.  Will he be in a major that would have events that require business attire?  (For example, finance majors may be invited to a special meeting of professionals and would want to wear a blazer.)  Some fraternities require members to wear dress clothes on certain days.  

    He is not planning to go Greek, but I know that he will have a few formal events related to his scholarship and research programs (engineering at Cornell).

  21. 29 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

    Is he going to be doing activities where a suit or blazer is needed? Interview for co op job, presentations, formal dinners, ....

    Yes to probably all of those.  Should he have a full suit?  Just a blazer?  Both?  I don't really know what is required for these.

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