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So, what would you do with this kid? (Long. Sorry!)


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A quick bit of background for anyone who hasn't followed the saga of my son's high school career to this point:

 

My 15-year-old son is very bright, but not especially interested in academics. Due to a combination of his general smarts and the fact that he's part of a close-knit group of friends who are all one or two years older than he is, he has ended up a little ahead of his age peers, academically. We started what we "officially" called 9th grade about a year early (because he was ready and wanted to stay with his friends), and he has acquired a few extra credits along the way in some subjects. However, school had become increasingly miserable for both of us, partly because he was bored and largely because he just didn't want me as his teacher. So, after years of butting heads about schoolwork, we finally abadoned the eclectic and rigorous curriculum I had planned for him and enrolled him in all online classes as of this past November. Despite some concerns I had at the time, he has been doing quite well -- one might even say thriving -- with the new regime. He feels ready for a new challenge, though. So, just this past week, we got permission for him to dual enroll at the local community college this fall.

 

Meanwhile, after eight or nine years of dance classes and youth and community theatre and so on, he decided this year, firmly, that he wants to major in either dance or musical theatre in college. (He would prefer dance. We are encouraging him to consider and explore musical theatre programs, too.) He realizes this means really buckling down in the next couple of years in order to be ready for auditions for those programs. He is very excited about the opportunity to pursue that.

 

There's the background. Here's the current situation:

 

Leaving aside algebra I and a couple of other theoretically high school courses he did while still early middle school aged, he will have 16 high school credits by the end of this academic year. Florida's public high schools require 24 to graduate. In terms of course distribution requirements, all he needs are two English credits, one more math, one more credit of social sciences and a second year of foreign language (total of five credits). The other three slots may be filled by electives, just to round out the 24. Obviously, eight credits is not enough to keep him busy for two more years.

 

If academics were all there was to consider, this would be a no-brainer. We'd just have him finish up with a combination of dual enrollment and FLVS, graduate him at the end of next year and send him off to the four-year program of his choice.

 

However, there are a couple of wrinkles. First, he is a very social kid, very close to his buddies, very involved in church youth group and activities with this same group of kids, very plugged into the local community in a variety of ways. He has always felt strongly that he wants to stay local as long as his friends are here, timing his graduation to match theirs so they all scatter at the same time. We are completely supportive of this choice. His friends (even the one who is a year older) will all be juniors next year and due to graduate spring 2015.

 

Only one of the four-year programs he's considering is local, and it is one that would require them to toss merit aid at us in buckets in order for him to be able to afford it. Any of the other five or six possibilities will mean leaving town. He really, really doesn't want to go away to school before the rest of the group is also leaving.

 

And, probably even more significant, I have serious doubts about whether he would be ready by next spring to audition into most or any of the performing arts programs on his list. Up until the dual enrollment thing became a possibility for this fall, the plan had been to have him take a just-barely-full-time schedule of FLVS courses, leaving a few requirements still to do the following year, while simultaneously stepping up his dance training as much as we could afford. Then, his last year would have been dual enrollment to finish up high school requirements and get a jump on some gen ed stuff while spending most of his time and energy on training and audition prep.

 

My husband did express concerns about that plan, because he worries our son will lose momentum, academically, if we let him have two years of such a light class schedule. I do think this is a valid concern, particularly for a kid who isn't really into school, anyway.

 

We toyed with the idea of enrolling him in a pre-professional dance program for that last year. However, he isn't aiming at a career in classical dance (and might well not be accepted into the pre-pro program at the local ballet school, anyway, given that he hasn't been ballet focused for the last few years). And, having visited the dance school that offers a more eclectic and more open program for a few classes last week, my son is unimpressed. He truly loves his current school, but it is not a pre-pro school and doesn't aim to be. Our plan had been to approach the studio owner/director toward the end of this season and discuss with her the possibility of laying out a personalized program for him, with the goal of having him ready for college auditions in two years.

 

Once we toss dual enrollement into the mix, though, there is no way to stretch out the remaining few high school credits to last for two years without outright and obvious fillers and stalling. Even taking a relatively light schedule, he will easily finish those credits by spring 2014.

 

For both personal and training reasons, he won't be ready to move on to an out-of-town, four-year program at that point.

 

This is not a kid who likes school for school's sake. He will resent any attempt to stall or kill time or keep him busy just for the sake of keeping him in school.

 

We have reason to believe that alllowing him to slow down too much, academically, may make it difficult for him to maintain momentum and get into the swing once he does begin college full time.

 

All of which brings me back to my original question: If this were your kid, what would you do with him?

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For the four-year colleges he is interested, how does he match up academically with their incoming freshman? Would taking a second math credit or extra science credit make him more attractive and (ideally) more likely to get scholarship money? A vocal performance or vocal theory class might be advisable for a dancer if he doesn't do that already.

 

For my DD19's senior year, she concentrated on that course work that would a) pay off in scholarship money and B) give her a headstart in studying music in college. That meant doing a Calc AB course so she could test out of the math requirements, doing music theory and taking many, many music classes.

 

Your son is a little different with dance, but I would concentrate on having him choose the courses that make him look *amazing* to the colleges he is interested in over the next two years. Personally, I would have him knock out as many of those *requireds* as possible next year in case he changes his mind and decides to go early. Things may look totally different to him next spring.

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Since any of the options are acceptable to you, so long as he's doing something, why don't you let him figure it out? It's really only his problem anyway, since he's the one not wanting this, not wanting that. I left home at newly 16 and charted my life from that point on. I wouldn't bother figuring it out. It's his problem.

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For the four-year colleges he is interested, how does he match up academically with their incoming freshman? Would taking a second math credit or extra science credit make him more attractive and (ideally) more likely to get scholarship money? A vocal performance or vocal theory class might be advisable for a dancer if he doesn't do that already.

 

 

He sings with a fairly rigorous teaching choir that incorporates theory lessons. (They were invited to tour last summer, sang at the White House for the holidays the Christmas before that and are currently raising funds to participate in an invitational event at Carnegie Hall summer 2014.) He's also had some private vocal lessons, although he had to quit that this year in order to devote our resources to additional dance training. He plans to take a few acting classes as electives while dual enrolled.

 

Honestly, he's already in the range for incoming freshmen for a few of the schools. He just re-took the ACT, and we'll have him do it at least once more before he applies, but his scores are aready distinctly good enough. He already qualifies for the highest level of merit aid I can determine from the calculators on a few of the colleges' websites, or will if he can raise that ACT score by two points. The path we've mapped out for him for the next year already includes an additional credit each in science and math . . .

 

I mean, of course there's always "more," but my strong feeling is that he will lose interest and/or momentum if he feels like he's just filling in for the sake of it.

 

The way I figure it, he would have trouble maintaining anything resembling a normal level of enrollment and NOT finishing his required courses next year. So, I won't have to press that issue.

 

Thoughts to chew on, though. Thanks!

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Would he be at all interested in studying for AP exams in any subject so that he could take fewer general education requirements?

 

 

He has no interest in AP, but he will be dual enrolled at the community college as of this coming fall. And, whenever possible, he'll be choosing courses that meet gen ed requirements.

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Since any of the options are acceptable to you, so long as he's doing something, why don't you let him figure it out? It's really only his problem anyway, since he's the one not wanting this, not wanting that. I left home at newly 16 and charted my life from that point on. I wouldn't bother figuring it out. It's his problem.

 

 

We're actually not okay with a couple of options. His first choice would be to simply dual enroll next year, finish his high school requirements and then skip school entirely for the following year while dancing as much as possible and waiting for his friends to graduate. His dad and I do not consider that an acceptable choice, because we strongly suspect he would lose momentum and academic focus and find it difficult to get back into the swing of school the following year.

 

And I guess, as someone who feels I've paid something of a price for not getting enough guidance during a similar period in my life, I'm not willing to dump this on the shoulders of a 15-year-old kid and let the chips fall.

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Just out of curiousity (not saying I disagree with you on the momentum thing) isn't that the whole POINT of a gap year? And what if he had to say do a few correspondence classes or something during that dancing gap year? Not like it has to be NOTHING. Or maybe it does for a reason I don't realize? Might bring more options.

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Just out of curiousity (not saying I disagree with you on the momentum thing) isn't that the whole POINT of a gap year? And what if he had to say do a few correspondence classes or something during that dancing gap year? Not like it has to be NOTHING. Or maybe it does for a reason I don't realize? Might bring more options.

 

 

What would be the point of correspondence classes rather than continuing with FLVS or the dual enrollment he already has planned?

 

The point is that, for this particular kid, a gap year is not a good idea.

 

The problem I forsee is that he is a very goal-oriented kid. If there isn't a specific goal to reach, he won't be motivated to keep moving forward. It's why, I think, he does so much better with the online courses than with the warm, fuzzy, eclectic curriculum I prefer. It's all very clear cut and laid out in advance. Complete these lessons. Turn in these assignments by these dates. Earn this many points. Get the specified grade.

 

Once he realizes that he's "done" with high school and not yet "really" in college, that he's essentially treading water, academically, I predict he will see no reason to go to school or to take it seriously. After all, there will always be time to catch up once it matters, right?

 

What I'm trying to brainstorm, I guess, is a reasonable, meaningful, academic goal that requires exactly one additional year to complete and that he will care about achieving.

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The point is that, for this particular kid, a gap year is not a good idea.

 

 

 

 

I do think gap years can be a bad idea for some children. My dh planned on going back to school after some time off. Never happened. Ds has some similar traits that lead me to believe a gap year would not be good for him.

 

No real advice, but I understand about the momentum and kids who are not overly academic by nature.

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Eight credits needed over two years? If you don't have a big enough carrot or stick to be more insistent, my thought would be four and four, spreading the academic requirements (ie, don't do all electives senior year). Four credits (five if you count dance as PE) is fairly close to a full-time schedule. Combine that with a fairly intense extra-curricular schedule, and it's as likely as anything to keep him on track.

 

It's possible that he will change his mind and take more, or more challenging, courses in senior year or last half of junior year. If not, you've done what you can, and it will be up to him to do what he can at that point.

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I do think gap years can be a bad idea for some children. My dh planned on going back to school after some time off. Never happened. Ds has some similar traits that lead me to believe a gap year would not be good for him.

 

No real advice, but I understand about the momentum and kids who are not overly academic by nature.

 

 

Thank you. Yes, I feel pretty strongly about this, and my husband (who never did manage to go back to school) agrees.

 

And I do recognize that it's a small sample, but the only kids we know personally who took gap years ended up taking longer to graduate even once they did get to college. I know one girl who did not get into the performing arts program she wanted and so took a gap year to train and re-try, still didn't get into her preferred program but did get into a different school. She enrolled but was miserable and decided to transfer after a single semester, which required essentially starting over at the next school the following year. The last I heard, she was taking a semester off in the middle of what should have been her third year at yet another college.

 

Most of the kids my daughter knows who took gap years have wandered similarly.

 

I'm sure there are kids for whom it makes sense. I don't think this particular kid--my son--is one of them.

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Eight credits needed over two years? If you don't have a big enough carrot or stick to be more insistent, my thought would be four and four, spreading the academic requirements (ie, don't do all electives senior year). Four credits (five if you count dance as PE) is fairly close to a full-time schedule. Combine that with a fairly intense extra-curricular schedule, and it's as likely as anything to keep him on track.

 

It's possible that he will change his mind and take more, or more challenging, courses in senior year or last half of junior year. If not, you've done what you can, and it will be up to him to do what he can at that point.

 

 

The challenge is that, with the addition of dual enrollment, four credits is only two classes per semester, which is simply not enough to hold his attention.

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What would be the point of correspondence classes rather than continuing with FLVS or the dual enrollment he already has planned?

 

The point is that, for this particular kid, a gap year is not a good idea.

 

The problem I forsee is that he is a very goal-oriented kid. If there isn't a specific goal to reach, he won't be motivated to keep moving forward. It's why, I think, he does so much better with the online courses than with the warm, fuzzy, eclectic curriculum I prefer. It's all very clear cut and laid out in advance. Complete these lessons. Turn in these assignments by these dates. Earn this many points. Get the specified grade.

 

Once he realizes that he's "done" with high school and not yet "really" in college, that he's essentially treading water, academically, I predict he will see no reason to go to school or to take it seriously. After all, there will always be time to catch up once it matters, right?

 

What I'm trying to brainstorm, I guess, is a reasonable, meaningful, academic goal that requires exactly one additional year to complete and that he will care about achieving.

 

 

 

For exactly the reasons you mention, though, he might be better off with a gap year. Better to work hard, then take a break, then work hard, than to keep plugging along with only half hearted effort. He could work to earn money for expenses/fun money/etc and dance. That would be logical given his goal. If he knows how to work hard when it matters I imagine he would then step it up and do what was needed once back in school.

 

the other option is graduating him, having him attend college courses at the community college, then transferring to the out of town dance school the following year.

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For exactly the reasons you mention, though, he might be better off with a gap year. Better to work hard, then take a break, then work hard, than to keep plugging along with only half hearted effort. He could work to earn money for expenses/fun money/etc and dance. That would be logical given his goal. If he knows how to work hard when it matters I imagine he would then step it up and do what was needed once back in school.

 

the other option is graduating him, having him attend college courses at the community college, then transferring to the out of town dance school the following year.

 

 

You're just going to have to trust me when I say that the gap year would be bad. Every time he's ever taken a break from school for any reason, it's gotten ugly. And, if he sees he can earn what looks to a 16-year-old guy like good money without even going to college, that will be the end of it.

 

One of the things we have on the list to discuss with various dance program people, too, is whether transferring in is advisable. I know that many of the theatre programs my daughter considered told her outright that, although they technically allowed transfers, in practice coming into the program part-way through was a disadvantage. And, even when the schools, themselves, were not up front about that, she heard from students that transfers who entered programs one or two years in often missed out on chances to make connections and learn the ropes and, consequently, got fewer roles and fewer opportunities.

 

So, that's an additional wrinkle we need to iron out before he can choose a path.

 

The community college actually offers a two-year, associate's degree in dance. One obvious and tempting possibility is to have him try and audition into that program (which might be slightly less demanding than the four-year programs he's looked at thus far) and just start the A.A. after his first year of dual enrollment. However, I don't want him to do anything to hurt his chances of getting into or getting the most out of a four-year program down the road.

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The associates in dance sounds like a good option. But even if he gets his associates, he can still apply to colleges as a freshman, assuming all the courses were completed while dual enrolled. Whether he gets his AA or not, I'd just suggest that he take more dual enrollment courses to provide him with an interesting, varied and full academic schedule. Even if the credits don't all transfer, he'll have gotten a great education.

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You're just going to have to trust me when I say that the gap year would be bad. Every time he's ever taken a break from school for any reason, it's gotten ugly. And, if he sees he can earn what looks to a 16-year-old guy like good money without even going to college, that will be the end of it.

 

One of the things we have on the list to discuss with various dance program people, too, is whether transferring in is advisable. I know that many of the theatre programs my daughter considered told her outright that, although they technically allowed transfers, in practice coming into the program part-way through was a disadvantage. And, even when the schools, themselves, were not up front about that, she heard from students that transfers who entered programs one or two years in often missed out on chances to make connections and learn the ropes and, consequently, got fewer roles and fewer opportunities.

 

So, that's an additional wrinkle we need to iron out before he can choose a path.

 

The community college actually offers a two-year, associate's degree in dance. One obvious and tempting possibility is to have him try and audition into that program (which might be slightly less demanding than the four-year programs he's looked at thus far) and just start the A.A. after his first year of dual enrollment. However, I don't want him to do anything to hurt his chances of getting into or getting the most out of a four-year program down the road.

 

Ok, gotcha. Some are more motivated after working at say, Taco Bell, some are just blown away by having money. So I get that. Hmm...Does he know/keep track of what credits he has? Will he know/complain if he continues doing "highschool" beyond the most basic number of credits needed to graduate? 24 might be the minimum, but college bound students generally have at least 28...7 classes a year for 4 years. And students that took Algebra 1 or Spanish 1 or whatever in Jr. High would have even more. I know most of my friends in highschool would have graduated with 30 credits, at least. So it isn't like you are being weird or a slave driver to expect him to do 4 years of highschool, regardless of credits. If he has most of the requirements done he can fill those credits out with interesting electives. A personal finance course, more theater/dance courses, etc. Is he desperate to just do the minimum to graduate or does he understand the importance of making himself as attractive as possible to college admission offices, so he can have his pick? Cause the only other viable option is to go to college, and if he has just the absolute minimum credits plus hasn't had that extra year to work on his dance that seems dicey, and it isn't what he wants anyway.

 

Seems he has some adult decisions to make (go to college before friends do versus doing extra schoolwork to improved options for college, etc).

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Will he know/complain if he continues doing "highschool" beyond the most basic number of credits needed to graduate? 24 might be the minimum, but college bound students generally have at least 28...7 classes a year for 4 years. And students that took Algebra 1 or Spanish 1 or whatever in Jr. High would have even more. I know most of my friends in highschool would have graduated with 30 credits, at least. So it isn't like you are being weird or a slave driver to expect him to do 4 years of highschool, regardless of credits. If he has most of the requirements done he can fill those credits out with interesting electives. A personal finance course, more theater/dance courses, etc. Is he desperate to just do the minimum to graduate or does he understand the importance of making himself as attractive as possible to college admission offices, so he can have his pick? Cause the only other viable option is to go to college, and if he has just the absolute minimum credits plus hasn't had that extra year to work on his dance that seems dicey, and it isn't what he wants anyway.

 

 

:iagree: There's no reason one cannot go over the minimum number of credits. Couldn't he just take some more electives he's interested in to round things out? If he balks, you can tell him that doing the bare minimum of credits isn't going to be as attractive in an application. 28 credits is standard here too (which doesn't count Spanish or Algebra done in middle school). Is there anything he's interested in outside of dance and the check the box courses?

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Will he know/complain if he continues doing "highschool" beyond the most basic number of credits needed to graduate? 24 might be the minimum, but college bound students generally have at least 28...7 classes a year for 4 years. And students that took Algebra 1 or Spanish 1 or whatever in Jr. High would have even more. I know most of my friends in highschool would have graduated with 30 credits, at least. So it isn't like you are being weird or a slave driver to expect him to do 4 years of highschool, regardless of credits. If he has most of the requirements done he can fill those credits out with interesting electives. A personal finance course, more theater/dance courses, etc. Is he desperate to just do the minimum to graduate or does he understand the importance of making himself as attractive as possible to college admission offices, so he can have his pick? Cause the only other viable option is to go to college, and if he has just the absolute minimum credits plus hasn't had that extra year to work on his dance that seems dicey, and it isn't what he wants anyway.

 

 

:iagree: There's no reason one cannot go over the minimum number of credits. Couldn't he just take some more electives he's interested in to round things out? If he balks, you can tell him that doing the bare minimum of credits isn't going to be as attractive in an application. 28 credits is standard here too (which doesn't count Spanish or Algebra done in middle school). Is there anything he's interested in outside of dance and the check the box courses?

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After thinking of this, I agree with Matryoshka, I would require more credit for graduation. Remove the credit issue and require 3 classes minimum at CC. The only issue would be if that messes with freshman status at a 4-year college.

 

Our state requires 24 credits to graduate, our local district (rural, small town) requires 28.

 

If that is not a possibility, I would require one class per semester at home. Personal Finance or business studies might be good, something that would be beneficial with his dance experience. Thinking long term, as if he ever wanted to have his own studio.

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I too would be inclined to have him add a couple more classes each year over the bare minimum. (Or would that be the barre minimum for the dance enthusiast?)

 

History of dance?

A different foreign language? (though I seem to recall there have been challenges in that area in the past)

Psychology?

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Gosh, there are so many more classes I would have added if we only had an extra year... Astronomy, Arabic, Cooking, Forensic Science, Ancient China... Classes that aren't required and that we certainly don't need, but would be very interesting and fun (and some of them -- like cooking, would be very practical of course). Could you just add a couple of those each year, so that he at least has 6 credits/year? You and he could pick some fun ones together.

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If he were mine, I think I would tell him that high school has two requirements - be enrolled full time and fulfill the minimum requiements to graduate. Then I choose my high school graduation requirements: I would EITHER explain that if he is going to use community college classes for high school, he has to be enrolled in enough that the community college considers him a full time student (probably 12 credits/semester) OR I would explain that a semester of community college is worth a year of high school classes, therefore he needs to take three classes per semester in order to be considered a full time high school student. If he balked at that, I would tell him his other choice was to leave his friends a year early and I'd have him apply to 4-year colleges. When it comes to which classes to take, I like the idea of adding business classes as fillers with the thought that he might have his own studio some day. That would avoid the dance classes that might interfere with his 4-year college.

 

I think I would also do some risk analysis on a better degree six years from now versus a lesser degree in two years (that associates in dance with the disadvantage if he wants to continue to a 4-year degree). Strike while the iron is hot, a bird in hand, and all that. The two year degree might be all you are going to get out of an academically unmotivated child. As part of that risk analysis, I would call dance programs all over and ask whether he can enter as a freshman if he earned an associates in dance as a dual-enrolled student, and how that would affect his ability to retake the normal freshman basics at his new college. You might be able to find some schools with dance programs that don't transfer community college classes. That would allow you to have your cake (that two year degree just in case) and eat it too (the full four year college experience). He could enter as a freshman and take freshman classes. It would be as though he had come from a performing arts high school.

 

I know nothing about this (except the part about wondering if your child is going to run out of steam before he finishes his degree and wondering if after a break the child would go back part - been there and done that) so if this makes no sense, please ignore it.

 

Nan

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Not a dancer, but a musician, and I'd say that, in performing arts it's generally not going to be to your benefit to enter early. The caliber of talent and skill in high level programs is amazing, and every little bit helps.

 

What I WOULD do is to, in addition to the classes he's already taking, look at the academic core that dance and music theater majors need, and lay the groundwork. For music (and I sound like a broken record, I know), that includes looking at writing ABOUT music-because that's a major obstacle many great music majors face. I imagine dance and theater folks have to do the critical analysis side as well. If the degree requires classes in classical theater literature, spending time reading and viewing those plays would be helpful. Same if he's going to have to take classes in dance history-getting a good grounding in those styles and periods he doesn't have experience with now would greatly make said classes easier to manage in conjunction with a performance/rehearsal heavy schedule. You do NOT want do DE or AP out of said classes-but having the background is helpful, and also helps indicate that a student is very, very serious about the degree and has thought things through.

 

Finally, and again, this is coming from the music side-he needs to plan a schedule at the college level that allows for his plan B. If that plan B is going to be to open a dance studio, he needs to look at business classes, marketing classes, and pedagogy classes. If it's going to be to teach dance at a school program, he needs to allow the coursework needed to get a teaching license in whatever state he goes to school. If it's opening a dance store, same deal. Performing arts majors NEED a plan B-because your career is so short even if you're extremely successful (and dance is shorter than music theater or music performance), and the lifestyle required isn't conducive to having a family, so even if you're good at it, you're not necessarily going to want to do it long-term. If he takes a year and works on his plan B, that will benefit him in the long run. If his plan B involves needing business or marketing, he can do the coursework/activities without actually needing a credential, and can avoid getting college credits if that will be a detriment to getting scholarship money. Online, reading business books and writing papers on them in a mom-led class, at the local college/CC as an auditing student, going to those weekend workshops...you get the idea.

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What if he picked a plan .. maybe C?... that had nothing to do with dance or music or theatre? He could work on that. I liked that our oldest had lifeguard training and experience plumbing. If his career as an engineer doesn't work out or if he needs weekend work, he has other options. Our cc has certificate programs that can be completed in a year. He'd have those college credits, but not a degree, and the credits wouldn't have anything to do with dance. There are also lots of community classes in a nearby large town. These aren't for college credit but do result in some sort of certificate or license. Something like that wouldn't interfere with his freshman status and would give him something he could do between gigs (or whatever the dance equivalent is). I think, considering the circumstances, I might mix his high school requirements and his plan C requirements together, though, so that the completion of his plan C happens AFTER (hopefully) he is accepted to a 4-year program. That might prevent him from venturing forth to do the plan C INSTEAD of the 4-year program.

 

Nan

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Why not visit several of his 4 year schools and let him talk to the dept and those in it? I have found that those in the midst of trying to get the degree often can give advice. Like I wish I had learned this or done this or taken the classes so I could have an easier time now. Maybe between that and the dept telling him what goals need to be met to get in, to stay in, and/or make the studies easier will help plot out the next two years. Then it might be easier to remind him of the talk and keep him on tract. I personally would send him to cc to get an associates in business and let that count as the last two years of high school. Lays the groundwork for any future degree outside of science and math, gives him plenty of time to devote to his art and has an end goal that can be checked off. And can be useful to managing his own career. Can he teach at his dance studio? Can he do one semester of course work and then go with a dance group for the reminder and then come back the next year and do the next semester and another dance troupe? Then you are the cool mom who let him take off from school to live his dream :). LOL! Any local theater group? He will need to minor in something. What are minors that would go with dance? What will he do for money if he can't get into a dance group after college? Can he develop that in high school? I'm finding myself that 15 year olds need to develop their own motivation or it is a losing battle. Just the other day I had to tell mine "you are the one who wants to do this. Not me. Drop the dream and we can do this instead. Stay with your dream and this needs to be done." Sigh! Fortunately his dream is very important to him or that probably wouldn't work.

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Gosh, there are so many more classes I would have added if we only had an extra year... Astronomy, Arabic, Cooking, Forensic Science, Ancient China... Classes that aren't required and that we certainly don't need, but would be very interesting and fun (and some of them -- like cooking, would be very practical of course). Could you just add a couple of those each year, so that he at least has 6 credits/year? You and he could pick some fun ones together.

 

The problem is that, although he loves to learn on his own, anything that is turned into a "class" automatically ceases to be "fun," as far as he is concerned.

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I think I would also do some risk analysis on a better degree six years from now versus a lesser degree in two years (that associates in dance with the disadvantage if he wants to continue to a 4-year degree). Strike while the iron is hot, a bird in hand, and all that. The two year degree might be all you are going to get out of an academically unmotivated child. As part of that risk analysis, I would call dance programs all over and ask whether he can enter as a freshman if he earned an associates in dance as a dual-enrolled student, and how that would affect his ability to retake the normal freshman basics at his new college. You might be able to find some schools with dance programs that don't transfer community college classes. That would allow you to have your cake (that two year degree just in case) and eat it too (the full four year college experience). He could enter as a freshman and take freshman classes. It would be as though he had come from a performing arts high school.

 

This is not a kid who is motivated by prestige value of a degree from one school rather than another. And, if we're being honest, the truth is that it likely won't actually matter that he has a degree at all when he's out in the world trying to get jobs as a performer. What will matter is his auditions.

 

We have told him all along that we expect him to get some kind of post-high school education or credential, preferably a four-year degree. Part of that guideline is the knowledge that the world of traditional work generally now requires a degree, any degree, to get a foot in the door. Our thinking is that he might as well major in something he loves and get training that will help set him up to pursue that dream. But, if push comes to shove and he just needs a job at some point or wants to transition to a teaching or administrative role, he'll have something to write in the "degree completed" blank on the job or small business loan application.

 

So, yes, better training in the next few years will likely help him be a better dancer and, thus, perform better at auditions. But that training doesn't have to come from college. This is just the compromise we struck in order to get him at least a little bit excited about going on to college at all, telling him he could major in dance.

 

He is conscious of the fact that dancers have a limited number of years to perform, meaning the trick is to balance the time up front necessary to get good enough to dance well and compete for parts versus the number of potential dancing-while-he's-young years he'll lose while in school.

 

Keep in mind that he is not aiming at a career in classical ballet, where I do think the name-dropping value of certain programs is significant when it comes to finding a place with a dance company. He is much more interested in musical theatre, but wants to enter that world through the dance door. (Yes, he understands about the triple threat thing. As I've mentioned, he also sings and plans to continue doing so. And he already has acting classes on his list of electives for the community college.)

 

As we understand it (remembering that my daughter already walked this path on her way to a theatre degree), there are a handful of well-known musical theatre programs in the country, and they are extremely selective to get into and even harder to actually finish. None of them emphasize dance. He does not appear to have any motivation to shoot for one of those. And, basically, if you're not coming out of one of those programs, it'll be your actual training and talent that get jobs.

 

I did spend some time last night sifting through the websites of some of the schools he's considering, and it looks like most of them specify that students with even quite a number of college credits may apply as freshmen as long as the credits were completed while dual enrolled.

 

The first item on his action list once we get past the end of competition and recital season is to write e-mails or make phone calls to the dance department of each school asking specific questions about how dual enrollment might affect his application at that college and also how welcoming they are to transfers coming in with an associates in dance from elsewhere.

 

I'm going to talk to the owner/director of his dance studio tomorrow and book a "private lesson" time with her when we can come in and get her full attention for an hour to discuss his future plans and his dreams and do a serious consult with her about where he is now and how much and long it will take to prep him to move forward.

 

Ultimately, this will have to be his decision, since it's his education and his life. I just want to make sure we've done enough research and brainstorming to present him with good options or at least jumping off points for more discussion.

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I don't know, Jenny. I think if prestige and degree aren't going to matter for a career in dance and he is unmotivated academically, I would be very tempted by that community college two-year dance degree. That way:

 

-He would be thoroughily motivated and challenged for the next two years.

 

-He could stay with his pack (I understand this consideration).

 

-He could continue living at home.

 

-It wouldn't cost the earth (I would think entering the theatre world with college debt would be a very bad idea?)

 

-It would maximize the chances that he will have some kind of college degree, unmotivated as he is academically.

 

-It would maximize his dancing years.

 

In a theatre/dance career, the ability to graduate early is an advantage, right? He has that ability (being so bright), but perhaps doesn't have the inclination. A two year degree that can be done from home and coincides with the end of high school sounds like it might be just what he needs right now? Maybe? He could continue school for a 4-year degree later, if/when he finishes dancing and needs it. I know how hard it is to contemplate having a child not go to a 4-year school, having had my oldest refuse to go to college, but perhaps, like my oldest, he would go back later when he is through dancing and decides to do something else that needs a degree.

 

Would going into the community college dance program interfere with the (perhaps better?) training he is receiving at his current studio? Is it possible to do them both?

 

Nan

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Here are some ideas:

 

A Senior Project - This could be volunteer work, research, writing or any combination of the three. He could do something related to arts education in the schools, work with a local museum, research the history of performing arts, whatever.

 

Here are some elective ideas that could be helpful to round out his schedule:

AP Art History (PA Homeschoolers)

The Physics of Dance - there are a couple of books on Amazon on this, if I remember correctly. He could pull from different dance disciplines & put together a presentation - some written, some on video, perhaps. Or he could broaden it and do physics of stage production.

Public Speaking (Toastmasters would be a good, inexpensive resource)

Music History - Carol Reynolds' Program

Stage Design & Construction - can he work with someone in the community theater to learn about this?

Sports Medicine/Exercise Physiology (did he do this already, though? Seems I remember he did it last year?)

Personal Finance - helpful for anyone

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We have told him all along that we expect him to get some kind of post-high school education or credential, preferably a four-year degree. Part of that guideline is the knowledge that the world of traditional work generally now requires a degree, any degree, to get a foot in the door. Our thinking is that he might as well major in something he loves and get training that will help set him up to pursue that dream. But, if push comes to shove and he just needs a job at some point or wants to transition to a teaching or administrative role, he'll have something to write in the "degree completed" blank on the job or small business loan application.

 

 

It is possible that he may one day want to be a dance professor at a university. For that, he would need at least the four year degree, a more advanced degree for many universities, but a four year degree might get him in the door as an adjunct while he works on his advanced degree.

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Exactly.

 

The professor argument is a good one. Hopefully it will seem good to your son, too. : )

 

For what it is worth, I'm not disputing the desirablilty of having a four-year degree. Not at all. It was a severe blow when it looked like my oldest wasn't going to have one. I just know that something is better than nothing and sometimes the path where one gets something half way through is safer than the path where one gets nothing half way through, if there is a possibility of not finishing. I myself have sons who although brightish, range from not particularly academically oriented to very un-academically oriented. Getting them to buy into that four-year degree and then stay bought in is not a sure thing. They have friends who are even brighter and who are more academically oriented who are home now, not having finished. They tend to quit at about the half-way point. In these cases, it was because the students had something else they were doing (like a small business). I can't help but think about the possibility of not finishing. Sorry. I don't mean to be discouraging. I just think you have to look beyond being accepted, beyond to the four years of hard work and think about whether your son will actually do that work and finish. In your son's case it is six years so it might be worth doing a little risk analysis. But I don't know your son. Perhaps my suggestion is ridiculous. : ) I hope do hope so. Mine were particularly unmotivated at about your son's age, but your children, in many ways, are on a completely different time table, so that probably isn't helpful. I can tell you that you can be very very grateful that your son has definate ideas about what he would like to do in the future. Having a son who is impatient to get started with his adult life would seem like heaven to some of the parents I know, who have students who don't have any adult interests and can't imagine being grown up and just want to escape into video games. Try not to worry. Life may be exciting for awhile, but that sort of person tends to land on their feet.

 

Nan

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The professor argument is a good one. Hopefully it will seem good to your son, too. : )

 

For what it is worth, I'm not disputing the desirablilty of having a four-year degree. Not at all. It was a severe blow when it looked like my oldest wasn't going to have one. I just know that something is better than nothing and sometimes the path where one gets something half way through is safer than the path where one gets nothing half way through, if there is a possibility of not finishing. I myself have sons who although brightish, range from not particularly academically oriented to very un-academically oriented. Getting them to buy into that four-year degree and then stay bought in is not a sure thing. They have friends who are even brighter and who are more academically oriented who are home now, not having finished. They tend to quit at about the half-way point. In these cases, it was because the students had something else they were doing (like a small business). I can't help but think about the possibility of not finishing. Sorry. I don't mean to be discouraging. I just think you have to look beyond being accepted, beyond to the four years of hard work and think about whether your son will actually do that work and finish. In your son's case it is six years so it might be worth doing a little risk analysis. But I don't know your son. Perhaps my suggestion is ridiculous. : ) I hope do hope so. Mine were particularly unmotivated at about your son's age, but your children, in many ways, are on a completely different time table, so that probably isn't helpful. I can tell you that you can be very very grateful that your son has definate ideas about what he would like to do in the future. Having a son who is impatient to get started with his adult life would seem like heaven to some of the parents I know, who have students who don't have any adult interests and can't imagine being grown up and just want to escape into video games. Try not to worry. Life may be exciting for awhile, but that sort of person tends to land on their feet.

 

Nan

 

 

Oh, no, no, no! Not discouraging at all! I have the exact same concerns, which is why I'm leaning toward encouraging him to forge ahead as soon as he can manage it, rather than take all of the very good advice to slow down and do more prep.

 

In his case, my gut tells me that getting a degree -- any degree -- while he's young and more willing to follow our rules/advice might be better for this one than telling him to wait around and stay focused on a long-term goal and risk having him walk away at the first opportunity.

 

It's complicated by the fact that, as a guy in a field that is always desperate for them, he often stumbles into opportunities that girls have to work three times as hard to earn. I can't just sit back and wait for him to feel the natural consequences of failure and expect he'll see the wisdom of our advice, because there's a better-than-average chance he'll be handed just enough roles or other opportunities to make it look and feel like he's on his way. Although I've convinced he'd eventually top out and run into trouble, it could be long enough before that happens that the possibility of returning to school looks unwieldy.

 

We got his most recent ACT scores yesterday. And, while they aren't Ivy League material, they place him solidly at the upper edge of the middle 50% (or even slightly higher) at most of the in-state campuses he's considering. He exceeds those ridiculously low college readiness benchmarks in every category, mostly by double digits. I know that, around these boards, his scores would be considered nothing to write home about. But my husband looked at them and mused aloud how that piece of paper said our son was ready for college in four months. Meanwhile, we're asking him to wait for a minimum of 16 and possibly as many as 28 months to get started in a real and meaningful way. Having been a teen boy, himself, he simply cannot imagine our kid thinking that sounds like a reasonable idea.

 

I found some information this morning about performance-focused college fairs and events in Florida that are happening early this coming fall and shared the sites with my son. He was surprisingly enthusiastic and really wants to attend at least two of them. Based on location, each one lends itself to having us visit at least a couple of campuses along the drive there or back. So, I'm thinking we'll plan those trips and see how my son feels after he gets a chance to meet some counselors and see campuses.

 

Of course, with him dual enrolled at that point, finding the time to do those campus visits may be a little dicey. But I'll make it work.

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Would he consider a dance academy f/t? Something like Orlando Ballet's Academy ( I think they use K12), Patel Conservatory (think Hannah Betts) or something out-of-state like Rock Academy in Philly?

If he's considering a career in dance this would afford him opportunities and open doors. I'm not saying they are lax with schoolwork, but it they have rigorous dance requirements so maybe he can focus on dance a bit more while completing requirements or taking more electives.

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What would be the point of correspondence classes rather than continuing with FLVS or the dual enrollment he already has planned?

 

The point is that, for this particular kid, a gap year is not a good idea.

 

The problem I forsee is that he is a very goal-oriented kid. If there isn't a specific goal to reach, he won't be motivated to keep moving forward. It's why, I think, he does so much better with the online courses than with the warm, fuzzy, eclectic curriculum I prefer. It's all very clear cut and laid out in advance. Complete these lessons. Turn in these assignments by these dates. Earn this many points. Get the specified grade.

 

Once he realizes that he's "done" with high school and not yet "really" in college, that he's essentially treading water, academically, I predict he will see no reason to go to school or to take it seriously. After all, there will always be time to catch up once it matters, right?

 

What I'm trying to brainstorm, I guess, is a reasonable, meaningful, academic goal that requires exactly one additional year to complete and that he will care about achieving.

So what does he see himself doing in 5 and 10 years? What would a career in dance look like? Does he see himself teaching or owning a studio?

 

Would something like a Dancemasters certification be a gap year goal?

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So what does he see himself doing in 5 and 10 years? What would a career in dance look like? Does he see himself teaching or owning a studio?

 

Would something like a Dancemasters certification be a gap year goal?

 

 

It looks like you have to be 18 to start that training.

 

He really wants to do musical theatre, not classical ballet. So, his plan is to get the degree and then figure out how to get himself to NYC to start auditioning. He's watching his big sister build a nest egg and make plans and is aware it isn't an easy or quick process. But that is the goal.

 

Eventually, he would likely transition into choeography or directing. Teaching is definitely a possibility. (He already assists in two classes at his dance studio and is training to teach there within a couple of years.) But I don't think that's a calling, just something he sees as a part-time job.

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Would he consider a dance academy f/t? Something like Orlando Ballet's Academy ( I think they use K12), Patel Conservatory (think Hannah Betts) or something out-of-state like Rock Academy in Philly?

If he's considering a career in dance this would afford him opportunities and open doors. I'm not saying they are lax with schoolwork, but it they have rigorous dance requirements so maybe he can focus on dance a bit more while completing requirements or taking more electives.

 

 

Philly and Patel are out, since he doesn't want to leave town just yet. He toyed with the idea of OBA, but I don't think it would be a good fit for him, for a variety of reasons. (I'll be happy to chat about some of those in PM, but don't want to get into them publicly.)

 

We also looked at a more eclectic pre-pro program at a different dance school. However, after taking a few sample classes, my son didn't feel impressed enough with the place or the instruction to feel tempted to leave his current dance home.

 

In some ways, this kind of thing seems like the perfect solution. But it would have to be just the right fit, both dance-wise and academically, and close enough to let him stay local until his buddies are scattering for college in a couple of years.

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The challenge is that, with the addition of dual enrollment, four credits is only two classes per semester, which is simply not enough to hold his attention.

 

 

Why does he need only 2 classes a semester? I'd think about adding in electives to fill up his schedule.

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Why does he need only 2 classes a semester? I'd think about adding in electives to fill up his schedule.

 

 

Well, that's kind of the point of my original query.

 

He needs only 7.5 credits to round out his high school requirements, and only five of those are actual required courses. It hardly seems fair to "punish him" for working hard and getting ahead of his age peers by forcing him to do extra busy work in which he has no interest simply to fill up his time. If he's completed the requirements we set out for him, then he has.

 

And yet, he's likely not really ready to move on for maybe as long as two years. So, he needs to do something to keep occupied.

 

The trick is to find something meaningful and measurable, rather than just random "electives" (which aren't really electives if we require them, anyway).

 

I'm trying to figure out how to balance the need I see to keep him busy and his strong desire not to leave town until his friends graduate against the unavoidable fact that he will really and truly have completed his high school requirements at least a year earlier than I anticipated.

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I know nothing about the performing arts side of college, but I have read through your thread because I thought it was an interesting discussion. The one thing that I really picked up on on is that the college idea really seams to be yours and your dh's and not your son's. If he doesn't have the drive to do the academics, there is a real risk that he will not finish a 4 year degree no matter what path you take. Have you all looked at what other real options he has that could help him reach his goal of getting to NY and auditioning? I have known too many people who really didn't have the drive to make it and they dropped out. There is so much money tied up in going to school, are you really sure that you want to push for it if it isn't something that he really wants?

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Well, that's kind of the point of my original query.

 

He needs only 7.5 credits to round out his high school requirements, and only five of those are actual required courses. It hardly seems fair to "punish him" for working hard and getting ahead of his age peers by forcing him to do extra busy work in which he has no interest simply to fill up his time. If he's completed the requirements we set out for him, then he has.

 

And yet, he's likely not really ready to move on for maybe as long as two years. So, he needs to do something to keep occupied.

 

The trick is to find something meaningful and measurable, rather than just random "electives" (which aren't really electives if we require them, anyway).

 

I'm trying to figure out how to balance the need I see to keep him busy and his strong desire not to leave town until his friends graduate against the unavoidable fact that he will really and truly have completed his high school requirements at least a year earlier than I anticipated.

 

I would think that electives are something the student wants to study. Is there anything that he wants to learn about? Will he feel like it is a punishment if he does anything else for credit? I wouldn't think it would need to be limited to standard classes, but more along the lines of what he wants to do with his life.

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I would think that electives are something the student wants to study. Is there anything that he wants to learn about? Will he feel like it is a punishment if he does anything else for credit? I wouldn't think it would need to be limited to standard classes, but more along the lines of what he wants to do with his life.

 

As I said somewhere above, he loves to learn, and he has many interests. He reads all the time and spends hours online researching things. (One of his current passions is sleight of hand magic and card tricks. He has devoted more hours to that over the last several months that I would care to add up, reading library books and watching videos and practicing.) However, once we turn those interests into a formal "class," it sucks all of the joy out of them for him.

 

In terms of what he wants to do with his life:

 

- He wants to dance. We're waiting to find out if he will be allowed to take dance classes at the community college. The policy is that a class has to be worth at least three credit hours and has to count toward a high school graduation requirement in order to be eligible for dual enrollment. The dance classes are only two credit hours. We might be willing to pay for them out of pocket so that he can take one or two per semester, but we are still waiting to hear, officially, whether that is an acceptable compromise. Either way, he will continue taking classes as his regular dance school.

 

- He loves to perform. He does plan to take a few acting classes at the community college, because he recognizes that as an area of weakness.

 

- He has expressed interest, on and off, in exploring the more technical, behind-the-scenes aspects of theatre. And the community college does have a design and tech program. However, as he's gotten more and more interested in dance, he's become less enthusiastic about putting a lot of time or energy into tech. One possibility he's considering is earning the community college's certificate in show technology. But when we looked at the required course list, we realized it's almost entirely about running equipment, rather than about doing any of the creative or design work. It may still be worth doing, but it's not what he had hoped.

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I would make him finish the required 8 credits this year. Then you have one more year to make a decision either way. Plus, you will have the additional option to send him to a 4 year program a year early.

 

I cannot remember if your triple threat has piano training. I live across the street from a college coach for theater majors. She always recommends that the triple threats have piano experience, not just voice training.

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