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Gwen in VA

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Posts posted by Gwen in VA

  1. My kids took the GRE cold with no studying. One thing -- do make sure your student knows about the timing. Writing a 60-minute essay in 30 minutes because you thought the essay was only 1/2 hour long does tend to lower the writing score! (Ask my son how I know this!)

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  2. We never paid for a sample lesson.


    Maybe it was dd's instrument, maybe it was because we didn't offer to pay, maybe it was because she knew all the profs beforehand from competitions and summer programs, but no one asked and we didn't pay.


    Our big expense was the travel, since there were lots of trips -- a preliminary trip to each of schools she was considering and then the auditions.

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  3. And double-majoring in music is challenging.


    Dd thought she wanted to double-major. After talking with LOTS of people, she decided not to. Apparently most people who double-major love music but their main focus is the other major, so the music department often won't take double-majors seriously.

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  4. 1) Dd sat in on a few classes -- mostly music ones but others if relevant music classes weren't convenient.


    2) My dd is very friendly and definitely approached people and talked about the program, the professors, etc.


    3) When possible, she attended concerts and master classes, but since she did a few of her visits over the summer it wasn't always possible.


    4) YES! Do take "sample lessons"! Teachers are VERY different from one another, and just because someone is a great teacher doesn't mean he/she will be great for your student! Dd ended up not applying to two schools that she thought she would apply to because she didn't like the "rapport" in the sample lesson.


    Bonus for taking a sample lesson -- the profs know you in the audition. There is nothing like being escorted out of an audition at a big-name music school and hearing the words, "We hope to see you in the fall!" But during various music camps she had worked with all the profs and they had seen what she could do, so the audition was just a formality.


    5) Dd has been "cut off" during some auditions. If time is at a premium, they will cut people off! And in my dd's experience, being cut off has no relation to acceptance or merit aid.......

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  5. My dd is attending a conservatory. She needs a total of ten liberal arts classes, including two semesters of a foreign language, a writing class, and some other classes that fall under categories that have strange catch-all titles like "self and society." Math is only required through Algebra 2, and the science requirement is similarly lame.


    Dd ended up fulfilling almost all of her liberal arts classes (including science and math) through her AP's, her dual-enrollment classes, and the classes she took as a freshman at a LAC.



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  6. My son applied to a school several states away from our home that was well below his stats. This college found out that he was looking at other schools by asking what other colleges he was visiting on his college tour.


    While the school accepted him, they took an interesting approach -- they told him at his college visit / interview that if he didn't get awarded any merit aid, he should contact the admissions office since his not receiving any merit aid would have been a mistake on their part. He wasn't offered any merit aid and he didn't contact them since by that point he had other offers he preferred.


    Since he wasn't accepted, this approach didn't affect their yield, but it did save them offering merit aid to someone who they felt wouldn't come anyway. (And presumably if he had really pursued this college he might have been able to negotiate a good merit aid package -- had had multiple full-ride offers from higher-tier colleges).

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  7. How many and what kinds of tests you need depends entirely on the college.


    Which tests, how many, and how many repeats depends completely on the kind of school you are shooting for.


    What she said!


    Look at the colleges your student is thinking of applying to. For top merit aid, you want to go over and above what they recommend.....


    My kids' route --


    PSAT both sophomore and junior years

    SAT -- one and done, March of junior year


    ~5 AP's -- scattered over sophomore, junior and senior years, though you want at least some during sophomore and junior years so colleges can see the scores


    ~4-5 SAT-2's, taken as relevant classes were finished. They did bio after 9th grade, chemistry after AP chem, physics after AP physics, English lit after their junior year, US history after APUSH, and math after precalculus. They took the SAT-2's scattered over enough years that only one kid ended up once doing two on the same day. Cautionary note on the SAT-2's -- get a study guide and use it so that your student knows that his/her classes are rigorous enough to score well. Usually only honors students take SAT-2's, so challenging coursework is a prereq for scoring well.


    We probably went overboard, but my kids sort of enjoyed the SAT-2's and they really needed the merit aid.....


    While some merit aid is given purely on academics, a lot of merit aid is given to students for their overall desirability on campus. Do remember that for many colleges extracurriculars are an important part of the merit aid equation!



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  8. My kids went the "all of the above" route -- AP's, SAT-2's, and dual-enrollment.


    My kids found the SAT-2's to be high-satisfaction tests. Studying for them allowed them to really cement the material and organize it in their brains coherently. They seriously enjoyed studying for them!


    SAT-2's are intended to test material at the advanced high school level. Usually only honors-level students take them, but SAT-2's are relatively straightforward if the student has a solid background in the subject. Do buy a prep book and have your student work through it before taking the test!


    AP's are intended to test material at the college level. AP scores can be a bit unpredictable, and the tests are only offered in May, and normally students take an AP class first, so if going the AP route fits into your high school plans go for it, but it is a more involved than just taking an SAT-2.


    My kids did both the SAT-2 and the AP exam in multiple subjects. The SAT-2 is a lot easier, but it doesn't earn any college credit. A decent AP score may help your student get credit for the subject once he/she enters college (depending on the test, the score, an the college -- no promises!). While my kids found a strong correlation between the AP score and the SAT-2 score, an 800 doesn't guarantee a 5 and a 5 doesn't guarantee an 800! (Trust me on this!)


    Some kids prefer dual-enrollment; some prefer going the AP route. My older two did only a handful of dual-enrollment classes but did 5-6 AP's each. My younger ones preferred dual-enrollment though they still did 2-3 AP's. My kids think that dual-enrollment is a LOT less stressful than AP classes in general, but that obviously depends.


    Find the route that works for your educational objectives, your kids' interests and everyone's time commitment. People have succeeded doing all different combinations.


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  9. I think that the music supplement is meant to be that -- a way for musicians to show their talent, an indication that they would be interesting people to have on campus and maybe participate in a choir, orchestra, band, etc.


    Music majors at schools that have remotely decent programs will do auditions entirely separately.


    Dd applied to two LAC's, one of which had a very strong music program, and one conservatory. She auditioned at the conservatory, she did a "visit" at the LAC with the strong music program, and she just submitted the music supplement to the LAC with the less-strong music program.

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  10. During my growing up years, my dad was a professor. Having a professor as the main income earner in the family meant we didn't live in the lap of luxury, BUT my dad was around.


    While he did work during the summer, he took lots of three- and four-day weekends in addition to actual vacations. He was there to drop me off at summer camp. He was there when the weather was too good for working and we took a spontaneous day trip. I had some medical issues that required lots of appointsments in "the big city" (about 45 minutes away), and he was the parent who took me to work with him for the day and then took me to doctors' appointments. His presence in my life was a gift that I wanted to pay on to my own kids.


    I will never forget the shock I had when I first had a "real" job at a low-brow chemical consulting company and realized that these people had to clock in at 8:30, got thirty minutes for lunch, and then clocked out at 5:00 for fifty weeks a year. Even taking time out during the day to enjoy the solar eclipse was not allowed, and tardiness was punished. Somehow I thought that everyone had the flexibility my dad had!


    Academia may not be the best-paying career path, but it comes with perks that are beyond value.

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  11. Funny warning -- do make sure someone will be in a position to spend it!


    I have a friend whose child is attending more of a trade school and it is not accredited. 529 funds can't e used for it. Her younger sibling went ROTC and so didn't need any aid. Thankfully her oldest got married and the spouse is going back to school and so can use the money, but for a bit they thought they were really going to lose that money completely!

  12. Dd2 just mader her grad school decision public -- she will be attending the Master of Sacred Music program at Notre Dame, a two-year program for organists that focuses not only on organ performance but also sacred music, theology, and liturgy. It prepares students to be directors of music in liturgical churches with strong music programs.


    She will have a two-year internship at the basilica there.


    And best of all, it is fully funded and comes with a stipend! :-)


    :hurray:  Happy mama dance!  :hurray: 

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  13. My kids' only experience was at a college that had less than 33% eligible for work-study, so all students who were interested and eligible got positions.


    My son had a great position in IT that helped him get used to large-scale computer systems. He is now a computer software engineer at Google.....


    My daughter was interested in museum studies, and she had a position at the college museum involving logging acquisitions. She was able to list it on her grad school application, and it was mentioned by some NSF people as one of the reasons why she got her NSF grant (multi-year worth hundreds of thousands.....)


    So yes, our family thinks work-study positions rock.....

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  14. My kids participated in a scholarship weekend without acceptance letters. I am close friends with a prof there, and I asked why. She said that the admissions office has told the professors loudly and clearly that --


    1) These are the tippy-top applicants. Barring something weird, they will be accepted.

    2) If the profs notice anything seriously odd with any of the students, they need to contact the admissions office immediately.


    My friend knew of only two students (oveer well over twenty years) who were invited to the scholarship weekend but weren't accepted. One was an odd duck -- wore only black, didn't talk to anyone the entire time, and generally made a convincing case that he would be a "problem student" -- possibly with serious psychiatric issues -- if accepted. The other was idiot enough to end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning while attending the scholarship weekend. (Obviously he may have been talented academically but he was seriously lacking in self-control and common sense!)


    So your student should assume that he is not only accepted but is one of the most desirable applicants. But he should also remember that he is at the scholarship weekend as a "trial" and given odd enough behavior the school will not accept him.

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    She's currently a classical performance major but is heading into historic performance


    Historic keyboard -- how fun!


    Dd2 was interested in that -- she played harpsichord at Colonial Williamsburg both solo and as part of a performing group for several years and also did continuo for an early music group so got to know something about it.


    Enjoy the journey!





  16. A third vote for career counseling.


    My older two kids' college provided it free, so they both did it during their senior year of college. They both wished they had done it MUCH sooner, and if I had any more kids I would pay for it before senior year of high school.


    It deals with not only academic strengths and weaknesses but also personality quirks.


    The neat thing about career testing and counseling is that it comes with two parts -- one is a short list of "suggested careers" but the other equally important part is a short list of "careers to be avoided".


    The test + counseling provided them both with epiphany moments. They both sort of knew they were strong in this and weak in that but they never really considered how that would impact their careers. For example, ds is good at and loves the academic field of philosophy, but the test showed that for various reasons teaching is a field he should NOT go into. He completely agreed with the assessment but hadn't considered that aspect before. Since he had seriously been considering philosophy and the only real jobs in philosophy are teaching, this was an eye-opener.


    Obviously kids change, so if money were no object I'd do the assessment before senior year of high school and then again before senior year of college.

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  17. Do be careful.


    My son received two merit aid offers that had a time limit. He had to accept it by such-and-such a date (BEFORE APRIL 1!!!!) or it would become null and void.


    The colleges do this so if a student does not accept the merit aid it can be offered to other students.


    I would be reluctant to accept an offer unless I were actually planning on attending. JMHO

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  18. We held ds#2 back a year in 8th grade due to lack of motivation / maturity issues.


    He did NOT like being 19 when he entered college. He did NOT like the fact that in high school most of his friends were a year older than him so he was "alone" for the last two years of high school. He did NOT like the fact that he spent an extra year doing academics.


    But what he did like --

    He was able to do a slightly lighter academic load so he started a company, built kayaks, won a few national championships, went to India on a trip paid for by the Indian government (!), and worked at a company directly related to his current career field.


    After all of his high school experiences, college seemed "stupid" to him so after a year he left and pursued his career. At age 24 he is married, owns his own home, and is re-starting his old company now that he has space for it again. He has even thanked me for holding him back a year so he had the time to do all those neat things in high school.


    So you never know!

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  19. My son is a seriously extreme introvert. He is solidly in one corner in the Myers-Briggs personality profile.


    He attended multiple scholarship weekends and got showered with money. The solo interviews went very well. The group interviews were much more of a challenge, but he went into them knowing that he had to speak up.


    His leadership positions in the Civil Air Patrol helped him to survive the interviews.


    Good luck -- most of the college process seems more geared to extraverts (especially fall orientation!).  Oh well!

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    Regarding Washington and Lee, it's a known BIG Greek school, so make sure the fit is appropriate.  If not, the student can end up feeling VERY alone.


    Yes and no.


    I had two kids who went there, neither of whom even considered going Greek. They found other "independents", were involved in campus organizations, had friends, and generally had a good social life. Both of them have graduated; they both say that their education was fantastic and really prepared them amazingly well.


    1) Dd went to a Ph.D. program in engineering and was very surprised to find out that women feeling discriminated against was a "thing" -- her experience both homeschooling and at W&L was discrimination-free to the point where she really didn't realize that it was an issue!


    2) Despite her not having an engineering background, she was accepted to the #2 and the #3 grad programs in her field in the country, complete with a generous 4-year NSF grant. W&L obviously prepared her well!


    No college is perfect, but my kids are living breathing examples of how independents can thive at W&L.



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  21. Washington & Lee (top 20 LAC) has excellent merit aid -- approximately 10% of their students are on full-ride scholarships, and if a student is invited to the scholarship weekend he/she will almost certainly receive a minimum of a 1/2 tuition scholarship. (One student got alcohol poisoning on the scholarship weekend and wasnt accepted, so there is no guarantee, but that goof takes a special kind of stupid!)


    The Johnson scholarships at W&L are amazing. The same person, Johnson, also set up opportunity grants for summer work so students can do really neat things over the summer and get "paid" for unpaid internships, etc.



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  22. I came home during summers during college but only because I HAD to. I hated it and vowed that I would never "force" my kids to come home.


    Some kids come home. Some come home and stay for a while. But ultimately we want them to have their own lives -- and their timetable for spreading their wings isn't necessarily ours.


    We want our kids to have wings -- and when they fly we miss them, but we want them to fly, right?


    And then when they come home, it's because they WANT to, not because they have to.

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