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What extracurricular activities for the High School years?

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What extracurricular activities are available during the High School years?

 

The High School years are some years away for us. However, we like to provide some social interaction through extracurricular activities.

 

In the elementary and early middle school years meeting this goal is easy. There are many obvious activities to choose from - for example boy/girl scouts, local park and rec sports, art classes, church youth groups etc.

 

It is less obvious to me what extracurricular activities are available for the late middle and especially high school years (here in CT public and private school sports are not an option).

 

What scheduled extracurricular activities have you done during High School?

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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DD rides horses; she is daily at the barn for several hours, interacting with the other young women working there. Nothing builds teamwork skills and responsibility than shoveling manure together, caring for animals, helping each other train horses.

She also sings in choir.

 

Other teens are active in community theater.

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Both of mine do a lot of theatre. Each has also been very involved in our church youth group.

 

In addition, my daughter was active with the local anthropological society and a nature club for homeschoolers. She sang with two choirs and a Glee-type performance group, took piano and classical guitar lessons and served as the editor of our homeschool group's newspaper.

 

My son takes several dance classes and private voice lessons. He, too, sings with a choir and is a member of a performance group. He also does a little bit of model rocketry, and he recently joined a Lego robotics team. He volunteers at our church and applied this year to volunteer at the science museum.

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Besides those already mentioned:

 

Speech & Debate

Art classes/workshops

Sports

Bible Bowl or Bible Bee

 

I am praying that we can find some really great ministry/community service options for our kids as well.

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My Ds will continue horseback riding and dog training into high school. I was just saying this morning nothing teaches patience and perseverance and builds character like learning to work with animals. As another poster mentioned he is also learning teamwork skills through both activities. Since he belongs to both a 4h horse and Dog Club he is learning leadership, event planning, public speaking and many other skills.

 

There are many different types of 4H clubs and most do give the kids lots of opportunities for building skills they will use for the rest of their lives.

 

There was a recent article, however, that exposed the fact that the more elite colleges and universities look down their noses at 4H involvement. So, if your thinking of trying for one of the best schools, 4H may not look good to them. I don't care b/c I know it's good for Ds!

 

Shannon

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What extracurricular activities are available during the High School years?

 

The High School years are some years away for us. However, we like to provide some social interaction through extracurricular activities.

 

In the elementary and early middle school years meeting this goal is easy. There are many obvious activities to choose from - for example boy/girl scouts, local park and rec sports, art classes, church youth groups etc.

 

It is less obvious to me what extracurricular activities are available for the late middle and especially high school years (here in CT public and private school sports are not an option).

 

What scheduled extracurricular activities have you done during High School?

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

 

The boy/girl scouts are still an option, though fewer girls take part later. Youth groups are still an option as well.

 

Around here, there are still a few rec league sports - soccer is the biggie. And they have challenge and classic teams as well. (Try-out type teams.)

 

There are also groups of teens that just get together. They connect via facebook. No, back up. They originally meet each other through class, teen pact, etc and then they set stuff up through facebook.

 

Co-ops. National Honor Society for homeschoolers.

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Not all athletics revolve around school teams. There are quite a few club sports that don't require affiliation with a "school" to be fully competitive. Colleges also widely recruit outside the "high school" venue in many sports, such as:

 

USA Swimming

USA Diving

US Rowing

Sailing

Fencing

Gymnastics

Skating

 

Many areas also have homeschool leagues for the sports that would more typically take place in a school setting such as football, basketball & baseball. At least in the South, the homeschool teams compete against private schools/christian schools.

 

Nancy

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My dc are/have been involved in:

 

-martial arts classes

-theater/acting

-teen book club

-chess/strategy games club

-church youth group

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Specifically in the high school years, our teen DSs have:

- been class representatives on our homeschool group's Student Council

- attend social events (organized by the Student Council) with gr. 6-12 homeschool group

- played in an after-school bowling league

- played tennis for the local public school team

- go to weekly Church Youth Group (gr. 6-12)

- enjoy a weekly peer-led ballroom dance class

- participated in Youth & Government

- attended a JSA event

- gone to Worldview Academy summer leadership camp

 

 

More Ideas:

- community sports team/club

- public/private school sports team

- public/private school after-school club

- public/private school band or orchestra

- homeschool group: co-op; Youth activities; Student Council; etc.

 

- start a local teen ministry/mentoring group like this one

- local Young Life group

- Teen Missions

 

- google search for teen group with your interest (air-softing or paintballing; orienteering; geo-cache-ing; hiking; biking; skiing; sailing; etc.)

- pull together a team of like-minded teens and form a band; make a film; do community service; etc.

- start or look for a local community teen club: book club, young authors, chess, robotics, electronics, etc.

- host a weekly teen night for girls: watch a Jane Austin film, bake, make jewelry, scrapbook, quilt, do hand crafts, etc.

- volunteering at local organizations

 

- local Parks & Rec class

- local classes in dance, martial arts, or specialty sport/activity (fencing, horseback riding, electronics, etc.)

- join a local history reenactment group

 

- Christian Youth Theater

- community teen theater group

- community junior strings or junior orchestra group

- community or regional science fair competition

 

- summer program in science, tech, or arts at local university

- Worldview Academy Christian apologetics & leadership camp

- Summit Ministries Christian worldview & leadership camp

 

- President's Challenge (physical fitness program)

- Congressional Award (combo of personal development, exploration/expedition, physical fitness, and community service)

 

- 4-H (also includes dog training; gun and archery marksmanship; as well as animal husbandry)

- DECA (high school business-career oriented)

- FIRST Robotics (high school robotic team competition)

- National Science Bowl (middle school/high school knowledge competition)

 

- Youth & Government (model legislation program)

- TEEN Pact (government and the political process; Christian)

- Junior State of America (civics and politics)

- National Model United Nations or Model United Nations (mock U.N. session)

- Teen Court, Youth Court, Mock Trial (mock judicial)

 

- National Forensics League (speech/debate)

- National Christian Forensics and Communication Association, Christian Communicators of America (speech/debate; Christian)

 

- Civil Air Patrol (teen U.S. Air Force auxiliary -- leadership, scholarships, etc.)

- U.S. Naval Sea Cadets (teen Navy prep -- leadership, scholarships, etc.)

- Junior ROTC (teen Air Force prep -- leadership, scholarships, etc.)

- U.S. Army Junior ROTC (teen Army prep -- leadership, scholarships, etc.)

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4-H has lots of activities available for high school students, both in rural and more urban settings. Involvement in 4-H projects and creating 4-H portfolios can also lead to college scholarship opportunities. You can find local information at the national 4-H.org website here (scroll down to "Find 4-H").

 

DS has learned skills such as public speaking and group leadership through our club and has gotten involved in activities such as building and launching model rockets, designing computer games, and volunteering in the community. If there's not a 4-H club near you that meets your family's needs, you can also train to be a volunteer 4-H leader in a fairly short amount of time and create a club that engages in the type of activities you and your high schoolers prefer. It's an extremely adaptable organization.

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Boy Scouts can be done until age 18. I think it is so much more fun than Cub Scouts.There are some fantastic High Adventures which provide interesting challenges for the boys. My oldest will be aging out in 2 months (sniff, sniff), but it has been a good experience for him. He really prizes his trip to Philmont.

 

Karate - my boys have been doing this for 8 years and will be testing for Black Belt this weekend.

 

Church volunteering - my boys are altar servers and help out in other capacities.,

 

Food Pantry - Another great volunteer opportunity.

 

Piano, Guitar - They take lessons. Ds15 would love to be in a rock band. If I hate the music, I am sure he would love it;).

 

4H - we discovered this late - I wish we had started this sooner. It has been a great experience for my kids. My oldest has been able to take on some leadership positions in a very supportive environment. This goes up to age 19. My other two really love it as well.

 

Art classes - The Art Institute has had some very interesting art classes for teens.

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What extracurricular activities are available during the High School years?

 

The High School years are some years away for us. However, we like to provide some social interaction through extracurricular activities.

 

In the elementary and early middle school years meeting this goal is easy. There are many obvious activities to choose from - for example boy/girl scouts, local park and rec sports, art classes, church youth groups etc.

 

It is less obvious to me what extracurricular activities are available for the late middle and especially high school years (here in CT public and private school sports are not an option).

 

What scheduled extracurricular activities have you done during High School?

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

 

My oldest, who just started 9th grade at the beginning of this month, is involved in dance classes and a performing company (approximately 10 hours per week), National Homeschool Honor Society, youth council through our church, youth group, Bible Study, and regular volunteer work through various ministries and community groups.

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What extracurricular activities are available during the High School years?

 

The High School years are some years away for us. However, we like to provide some social interaction through extracurricular activities.

 

In the elementary and early middle school years meeting this goal is easy. There are many obvious activities to choose from - for example boy/girl scouts, local park and rec sports, art classes, church youth groups etc.

 

It is less obvious to me what extracurricular activities are available for the late middle and especially high school years (here in CT public and private school sports are not an option).

 

What scheduled extracurricular activities have you done during High School?

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

 

I've just signed my 8th grader up for Boy Scouts. So that's going on our highschool list. Youth group here doesn't start until 9th grade, so that's on my highschool list. AYSO soccer goes through highschool, though my 9th grader is going to play for a homeschool varsity team. We have homeschool band/choir in our area. So that's on my list. My oldest son (9th grade)is in the Civil Air Patrol.

We are trying to get a debate club started to compete in the national homeschool debate league. Can't remember the letters.NCACS? don't know. (ETA: Oh, there it is in Lori's post...NCFCA)

 

I'm finding highschool to be extraordinarily more busy than the younger years. Maybe because I think my older kids have reached a stage where this has become a priority for us. I prefer to be a homebody and enjoyed the years we didn't do much of anything. My youngers don't do a whole lot yet. once a month homeschool group, church stuff, adding scouting this year for everyone (except the 9th grader and pre-schoolers), AYSO soccer for some. Everyone does band/choir etc. one day a week. Even that is starting to look like a lot. YIKES!!

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Oldest ds did karate, participated in leading worship, played on a homeschool baseball team, Toastmasters, and did a lot of drama.

 

Second oldest ds has volleyball on a club team , Odyssey of the Mind, Toastmasters, and volunteered at church.

 

Third oldest will do drama, Boy Scouts, and Odyssey of the Mind.

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There was a recent article, however, that exposed the fact that the more elite colleges and universities look down their noses at 4H involvement. So, if your thinking of trying for one of the best schools, 4H may not look good to them. I don't care b/c I know it's good for Ds!

 

Shannon

 

Do you have any links for this? Has anyone else heard this?

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DD 15 is a violinist and is hoping to become a professional musician, so music related activities take up much of her time. She has violin lessons, plays in a community orchestra, and is in a quartet with some other teens. She's also planning to get involved in our new parish's youth group.

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What extracurricular activities are available during the High School years?

 

The High School years are some years away for us. However, we like to provide some social interaction through extracurricular activities.

 

In the elementary and early middle school years meeting this goal is easy. There are many obvious activities to choose from - for example boy/girl scouts, local park and rec sports, art classes, church youth groups etc.

 

It is less obvious to me what extracurricular activities are available for the late middle and especially high school years (here in CT public and private school sports are not an option).

 

What scheduled extracurricular activities have you done during High School?

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

 

Looks like my oldest will continue to pursue swimming and boy scouts.

Middle son is developing an interest in running. School cross country is out, but I may try to steer him toward running with groups from the local running store (which is close) and in local 5K races. He is also a scout.

 

They are both interested in a local theatre group, which does a couple plays a year.

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Do you have any links for this? Has anyone else heard this?

 

I did see something several months (maybe a year) back that indicated that select colleges tended to pick fewer students who had participated in groups like 4H, Boy Scouts and JROTC. The point of the article I read was that the groups being excluded tended to be more conservative, which might lead a school to think that the student wouldn't add to the intended overall flavor of the school.

 

ETA: I need to go do algebra with my own scout, so I can't do a lot of searching. I did find a column that addressed the study I was thinking of. (The column is from an opinion site.)

 

Here is a sample quotation:

 

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call "career-oriented activities" was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission."

 

The study being cited is by Espenshade and Radford and is mentioned as being recent in July 2010. I don't see the study title mentioned in this column.

 

ETA: It looks like the study was published as No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life (Princeton University Press) Here is a NYTimes column on the study.

 

From the NYTimes column:

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

 

This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars “for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students,” leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites.

 

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

 

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.

 

[NB: The columnist is now a NYTimes staff columnist, who previously wrote for National Review.]

 

Our family's attitude is that a college that would be that unsure of the merits of the undervalued groups for fostering leadership, ability to plan and wider thinking skills is probably not a school at which our kids would feel very welcome anyway. And I wouldn't want to put such a college into the untenable position of having to accept tuition money earned through the military service of my kids' father.

 

I find it a shame that this discounting of more traditional groups is a factor. But it is hardly news. I had classmates who were in grad classes in the early 90s who encountered similar attitudes and a good friend of ours had some very strange interviews when he applied to law school. Some interviewers were unable to get beyond his enlisted USMC service before college.

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For other ideas, the book What High Schools Don't Tell You by Elisabeth Wissner-Gross, is loaded with options. The problem with this book in particular, the reason for all these options is so that way your child can get into an Ivy League College. But if you take that with a grain of salt, it will give extracurricular ideas that should appeal to any child.

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Our family's attitude is that a college that would be that unsure of the merits of the undervalued groups for fostering leadership, ability to plan and wider thinking skills is probably not a school at which our kids would feel very welcome anyway. And I wouldn't want to put such a college into the untenable position of having to accept tuition money earned through the military service of my kids' father.

 

I find it a shame that this discounting of more traditional groups is a factor. But it is hardly news. I had classmates who were in grad classes in the early 90s who encountered similar attitudes and a good friend of ours had some very strange interviews when he applied to law school. Some interviewers were unable to get beyond his enlisted USMC service before college.

 

Wow. Thanks for posting. This is the first time I've heard this, and I am quite disappointed :(

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Can I encourage you to take this list and go back to your local home school community and find out what is offered there. Different places have different things.

 

Some things you might be interested in might not exists but you could do them on your own, what you'll want to weight is the amount of extra time and energy that will take and balance that with your whole family.

 

So knowing what is out there now is helpful.

 

I'd also think ahead, don't wait until you want to do something to support it. Support it now or may not last until you need it.

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Wow. Thanks for posting. This is the first time I've heard this, and I am quite disappointed :(

 

I don't spend a lot of time being disappointed. Many of the schools that would have this attitude are the same schools that I have crossed off our lists because I don't intend our tuition dollars to support the type of agendas that they hold.

 

But then while I very much want my kids to go to college, and will prep them to meet the demands of competitive admissions, I also think that there are many schools living off a reputation earned by generations past. The price premium for an Ivy may not represent that much better of an education or even that much better networking.

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Boy Scouts/Explorers/Venturers- all of mine have been Venturers.Boy was also Scout, older dd was also an explorer

Robotics team

Speech and Debate

Soccer

Theater

Choirs

Bands

Volunteer work

National Homeschool Honor Society

Science Fair

Swim and Dive teams

 

I am sure I have missed a few and I still am homeschooling one in high school so we'll see all that she will end up doing

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With regard to 4-H and college, participation in 4-H in high school is a good way to win college scholarship money. A quick search online of the words "4-H" and "(your state) college scholarship" is evidence of that. Whether or not a few schools recognize the value of 4-H, many other universities and institutions certainly do - and are willing to pay for 4-H members to attend college.

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Just a thought, ladies: while it is a good idea to be aware of these particular institutions, DON'T let it stop you from participating in and benefitting from wonderful extracurriculars that develop your student in such valuable LIFE skills as maturity, leadership, confidence, knowledge, responsibility, public speaking, etc. If you really need/want students to attend those schools, just tailor your transcripts and application essays specifically for those "snooty schools" by not mentioning the activities they look down on. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

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My daughter is 14 and in her first year of BSA Venturing. She loves it!! They have been camping, kayaking (both the Caddo and the Rio Grande),hiking, skeet shooting, and orienteering. They also attended hunter education safety (which was fascinating for those of us whom have never hunted) and got to teach adult leaders at Philmont. Because we have a large family and a special needs child, league sports has not been a good fit for us. Boy Scouts has given us the most bang for our buck. We have one in Venturing, two Webelos Scouts, and a Tiger Cub Scout. Dd 4 will probably do American Heritage girls and then switch over to Venturing when she is 14. Ds 2 will follow behind the others. I wouldn't want my child to attend any college that had a problem with BSA. Before considering Girl Scouts, please look into how they are restructuring the program. (I was a leader for a few years.) They are phasing out earning badges in favor of "Journeys." My dd quit at twelve, because she said it was not much learning of skills, but a lot of cookies and self-esteem. One of the things she likes about Venturing is that the leaders are advisors and chaperones, but the crew is the one planning everything, setting budgets, making reservations, getting certified for things like scuba, first aid, etc...

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Just a thought, ladies: while it is a good idea to be aware of these particular institutions, DON'T let it stop you from participating in and benefitting from wonderful extracurriculars that develop your student in such valuable LIFE skills as maturity, leadership, confidence, knowledge, responsibility, public speaking, etc. If you really need/want students to attend those schools, just tailor your transcripts and application essays specifically for those "snooty schools" by not mentioning the activities they look down on. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Good counsel.

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Just a thought, ladies: while it is a good idea to be aware of these particular institutions, DON'T let it stop you from participating in and benefitting from wonderful extracurriculars that develop your student in such valuable LIFE skills as maturity, leadership, confidence, knowledge, responsibility, public speaking, etc. If you really need/want students to attend those schools, just tailor your transcripts and application essays specifically for those "snooty schools" by not mentioning the activities they look down on. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Good advice.:)

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I did see something several months (maybe a year) back that indicated that select colleges tended to pick fewer students who had participated in groups like 4H, Boy Scouts and JROTC. The point of the article I read was that the groups being excluded tended to be more conservative, which might lead a school to think that the student wouldn't add to the intended overall flavor of the school.

 

ETA: I need to go do algebra with my own scout, so I can't do a lot of searching. I did find a column that addressed the study I was thinking of. (The column is from an opinion site.)

 

Here is a sample quotation:

 

But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call "career-oriented activities" was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission."

 

The study being cited is by Espenshade and Radford and is mentioned as being recent in July 2010. I don't see the study title mentioned in this column.

 

ETA: It looks like the study was published as No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life (Princeton University Press) Here is a NYTimes column on the study.

 

From the NYTimes column:

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

 

This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars “for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students,†leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites.

 

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.â€

 

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.

 

[NB: The columnist is now a NYTimes staff columnist, who previously wrote for National Review.]

 

Our family's attitude is that a college that would be that unsure of the merits of the undervalued groups for fostering leadership, ability to plan and wider thinking skills is probably not a school at which our kids would feel very welcome anyway. And I wouldn't want to put such a college into the untenable position of having to accept tuition money earned through the military service of my kids' father.

 

I find it a shame that this discounting of more traditional groups is a factor. But it is hardly news. I had classmates who were in grad classes in the early 90s who encountered similar attitudes and a good friend of ours had some very strange interviews when he applied to law school. Some interviewers were unable to get beyond his enlisted USMC service before college.

 

Thanks for posting this. I haven't been paying attention to this thread lately and didn't realize anyone wanted the info. Another poster on WTM posted quotes from the NYT article for me a while back....because I just couldn't believe it!

 

Shannon

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DDs in high school:

Violin lessons

Youth orchestra

Youth group at church

Docent at local living history site (gives summer tours and school group tours)

Dance (includes helping the little kid class)

Science Olympiad

 

DS in 7th grade this year:

Boy Scouts

Karate

Science Olympiad

Youth Group at church

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My 18yo did very little. She did kickboxing classes for one year, but that was part of her P.E. credit. She also attended Anime' Club (monthly meeting) in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades, but got tired of it.

 

My 15yo does more. She volunteers at the animal shelter 1x/week and goes to Game Day (monthly meeting) and Anime' Club (monthly meeting) at the library. She has found a soul mate who goes to both of these activities who also has Asperger's, so she's been very happy.

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My oldest spent most of her time showing Arabian horses, playing her violin and jobs: lifeguarding and library clerk. She started with kayaking long about high school I think it was. She was concertmaster at the college whilst still in high school for years. We have access to high school sports, but she also did some USA swimming. She was in several productions, one year being the fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof.

 

#2 showed lots of 4-H, but not so much the Arabian thing. She had a wool sheep flock and started with the kayaking. She also lifeguarded, was on Youth City Council and is a certified Swift Water Rescue Tech. She earned her private pilot's license. She was Principal Cellist at the local college. She did three summer seminars at the military academies. She swam and ran in high school.

 

#3 is on Youth City Council and has been just about every officer position available in 4-H. She's also on Youth City Council, a certified First Responder and Firefighter I. She lifeguards and has a registered Shetland Sheep flock. She also shows steers and horses. She and her next older sister did State Patrol Youth Academy. Her big thing is sports, but besides high school sports, she has done some half marathons and triathlons. She's up to Bar 8 in NRA shooting. She does USA swimming.

 

#4 is a Boy Scout, earning his Eagle and now up to 101 badges. His plan is to earn them all. He's almost finished with Bar 9 in NRA shooting and should be able to finish his Expert rating this winter. He's on Youth City Council, and Chapter Chief and Vice Lodge Chief of Order of the Arrow and is currently the head of the ceremony team. He doesn't do much with 4-H, but he will eventually earn his 10 year pin. He'll do State Patrol Academy this summer. He does high school swimming and some USA swimming. He's a lifeguard.

 

And #5 isn't in high school yet, but has joined the college orchestra,and has her own wool sheep and market sheep flocks. She does USA swimming and will swim in high school.

 

The oldest girls did a lot of various honor orchestras.

 

So, even without high school sports, there are things out there, if you look!

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Our family's attitude is that a college that would be that unsure of the merits of the undervalued groups for fostering leadership, ability to plan and wider thinking skills is probably not a school at which our kids would feel very welcome anyway. And I wouldn't want to put such a college into the untenable position of having to accept tuition money earned through the military service of my kids' father.

 

I find it a shame that this discounting of more traditional groups is a factor. But it is hardly news. I had classmates who were in grad classes in the early 90s who encountered similar attitudes and a good friend of ours had some very strange interviews when he applied to law school. Some interviewers were unable to get beyond his enlisted USMC service before college.

 

 

This is our attitude too. I wouldn't want to cover up who my boys are, then have them feel uncomfortable by not fitting in. I want the college to know who my boys are and accept them (or not). We've also cut a lot of colleges off our list at the very beginning of our search based on the overall vibe they are associated with. There are so many good ones out there to choose from. We don't need every last college on our list.

 

As for extra curriculars...

 

Chess

Travel

Scuba

Youth Groups (church and Christian parachurch groups)

Mission/work trips

Catch work with hubby in his engineering business

Oldest also did extensive Audio Visual stuff (and now has his work study job doing the same at college)

Middle will be doing some medical shadowing

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But what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call "career-oriented activities" was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission."

 

Oddly, I'm finding it difficult to get a copy of this book to confirm these claims. It's one thing for a book review to say this is what the book says -- but it might not be what the book actually says. And even if it is what the book says, just throwing around a few random statistics doesn't really prove anything if the statistics were done badly.

 

So I'm taking this with a big grain of salt. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are correlations going on here that would negate these particular conclusions.

 

And although it might not be popular to state this, my own experience from reading college applications is that kids who were involved in these activities, even if they have similar GPAs and test scores, tend not to rank as high. There seems to be a correlation between being involved in things like JROTC etc and not having as much to write about in their personal essay. (Maybe these kids just didn't have as much time to put into other pursuits?) But there is also more "sameness" to the essays. It's as if many of these kids are getting their essays from the same source. It could just be that these kids spend so much time with each other and with the adults that run these things, that they sort of learn by osmosis how those essays "ought" to be written, and that they all, therefore, turn out pretty much the same. Maybe this code works well at, say, a service academy, but perhaps the rest of the college world doesn't understand it.

 

Also, the letters of recommendation don't seem as memorable. It's as if the people who write them letters just don't know how to write a really good letter of recommendation. They tend to restate what the goals of their organization are, but say little about the particular candidate. Nothing stands out. (I see this same sort of thing in letters written by teachers at small, rural colleges, too. It may be that they just aren't plugged into the culture of what stands out in a college application.)

 

So I suspect, based on my tiny slice of experience, that IF there is a perceived bias against kids in these activities (and I'm not convinced of this, seeing as the info we currently have is just based on a book review) that the bias isn't really against these particular organizations, but against the way these kids end up getting presented.

 

These aren't the sort of subtle things that would cause an applicant trouble at most colleges, but I can see that it might cause a slight shifting away from these kids at a college with too many applicants even though the college itself really has no bias against these organizations.

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Local park and rec sports and arts programs are available to teens, here, too. Are those not available in your area? Our local YMCA also has teen sports and exercise programs.

 

The YMCA, library, and 4-H here run teen councils that do things together throughout the year.

 

Horseback riding, bicycling, skateboarding, Ultimate, disc golf, running, swimming, etc. might be other activities to pursue, although I don't know that most of those would lend themselves to much of a "group"....

 

Volunteer work and/or a part-time job are possibilities for many teens....

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I didn't see the study online except as the book length version that Princeton University Press had listed.

 

You do make some good points about recommendations and essays that are lessons for lots of students to take on. But I'm not sure why it would apply more to the groups mentioned than, say to groups serving urban minority students. I'm sure there is a huge difference between what the guidance counselors at the local DOD base school or small rural or urban school and what the Fairfax County powerhouse secondary schools put out.

 

JROTC, however, can be an odd duck. There can be at risk kids, with no family tradition of college attendance as well as kids of career or retired military, who are eyeing service academies and other selective schools. And as with any organization or team, there are students who are taking on demanding leadership roles and others who are just filling a seat. But I don't think that is unique to JROTC, 4H, Boy Scouts, etc. I've had plenty of students sit across from me in interviews who couldn't articulate why they were a good candidate for my alma mater. (Yes, it is a service academy, but the students chose to apply, I don't ambush them on the street. So I expect them to be able to tell me about their strengths and accomplishments.)

 

I'm not suggesting that these groups should be avoided. My own kids are active in Scouts (among other groups), and I will continue to encourage them stick with scouts as long as they are interested. But I do think that there are parts of the country where the demands of 4H or Scouting leadership are understood and other places where it is symbolic of backwardness.

 

Shrug. There are lots of good colleges in the country. My goal is to help my kids find a place that will be academically rewarding, while not casting them as second class citizens or rubes for their viewpoints.

 

BTW, my point in linking to the study reviews wasn't to say that the observation is ironclad; merely to say that there had been a discussion of the topic in the press. There is probably quite a lot going on behind the stats and it might be a symptom rather than a cause. But my hunch is that it is at least as much of an issue as the much hyped dearth of women in STEM fields.

 

ETA: I did find some of Espenshade's articles available here. May not be the same data sets that the other study was based on, but may go over some of the same ground.

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For my son, 14, the answers are

 

  • Theater at the local high school
  • Co-op class once a week with other homeschool highschoolers (we pick less-than traditional topics -- This semester included Film as Literature and Bioethics courses)
  • Piano lessons
  • Karate class (Black Belt in spring!)
  • Informal "Science Friday", entering year three, with two hs aged friends. Stand back.
  • Religious ed at UU church

 

 

No wonder we struggle to get our school work done. ;)

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