DD15 wants to quit dance....but should we show this on her college application??

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
DD15 wants to quit dance....but should we show this on her college application??
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Sun, 11-17-2013 - 8:57am

We are originally from India and this is classical Indian dance I am talking about. After several years of learning this, DD now wants to quit asap. She does not practise but is keeping up with the dance  class and the teacher keeps telling her not to quit, that she has talent etc etc. Now DD is doing a sport activity where she is doing great, is an assistant instructor and I can see the attitude difference between dance and the sport. So I also think she can quit dance and spare me all the early Sat. morning driving.

I heard that high school students have to list activities to show they are well-rounded and have other interests besides school. So is DD making a mistake if she quits dance now? She did ok in dance but is not star student and has no trophies/medals but I think her teacher will give her a recommendation letter. DD is in grade 10.

Thank you so much,

Chimi

PS: I guess  for her college application, DD can list the sport, her Youth Council volunteering, piano lessons. But I don't how this will help her stand out  - she does piano only for fun (not much practice, no trophies) and volunteering is a few hours  here and there. What else should she do? She gets As in school.  Since the world is so competitive now, I am just nervous about this whole college application.

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999

Colleges are NOT looking for a grocery list of activities, or lessons, ever.  What colleges want to see, are activities that show the person's passions and involvment.  She doesn't have to be a star, but she should be INVOLVED.  I make that in caps because she should be in things that she cares about.  If she cares about the new sport, and puts time and heart into it, that will mean more than desultory involvment in dance and Youth Council.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998

When the time comes, she will only list the activities that are valuable to her. There won't be room to list them all. She can stand out by being passionate about one or two things. Colleges do not want well-rounded students, what they want is a well-rounded class, made up of students with different strengths. There will be a place for her.

If, however, your idea of college is limited to the Ivy League, then she's going to have a miserable high school experience trying to be someone "special" enough to get in and losing herself in the process. She has the best chance of getting in anywhere by focusing on her own growth and development and enjoying these years rather than looking at them solely as a stepping stone to college.

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000

Ok, thank you. 

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Thank you, Ashmama. We are not thinking of Ivy League etc because it is too stressful for us. I was confused about whether we should think in terms of DD's growth/devlopt vs "what she would bring to the college."
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

Sophomore year is a great time to start thinking and seriously planning for college admissions. Part of that is trying to figure out what it is you want to do in life career wise.

Most competitive (exclusive) universities, including ivy’s, look at GPA and SAT scores and then other things like clubs and activities. From what I have read, they look at SAT scores to compare students from one Podunk high with graduates from other Podunk high schools around the country. Somewhat like with golf, you have to have certain scores to make the cut for further consideration. The college guide books (available at most city libraries) give the range of GPA and SAT scores for the students accepted at most universities. The more selective the university is, the more the university also looks at the quality of classes taken, honors, AP, number of advanced math and science, languages, etcetera. Because lots of people want to attend their university, they use clubs like French, extracurricular activities like band and sports, outside experiences like internships, letters of recommendation, etcetera, to thin the heard down. (Probably helps to be a Bush, Kennedy, Clinton, Obama, or have a family member who can donate a $100 million to the university. I’m sure some admissions have been bought.)

Lots of students that have ZERO chance of making the cut spend a $100 to get a rejection letter from Harvard or Yale to put in a frame over their dorm toilet and hopefully over the toilet in their private bathroom in their executive office when they make it big. Go figure? LOL (At least two of the partners where our couples work part time, have Harvard Law rejection letters over their private toilets. Youngest SIL and his dad think they were serious contenders for admission though. There is life after failing to get into #1.)

As Ashmama noted above, the Ivy’s require lots of sacrifice as well as smarts, which may or may not be worthwhile to your daughter. (We had one in our extended family that was seeking such until two years ago this month when he took his own life during his senior year, after a breakup with a girlfriend. I doubt the quest to be the best, had much to do with that decision, however. I even question if the girlfriend issue was that important, but he left lots of people in a heap or hurt, and I am one who still thinks about what could have been done differently.)

There are tons of books out there on the subject of “getting into the college you want.” Start by looking into the local library system. If you live near a major city, look into their holdings vie the web. Most large cities will allow people from around their city to check out books for little or no money. The price is right. As with anything, all books are not equal. Some are better than others. Some will or will not address your areas of concern. So, check out many books and at least scan them. Also, go to a bookstore or maybe Amazon to research for books that may be on topic with your and your daughter’s thoughts. You might also ask the guidance counselors at her school for book titles to look at. The school library may have these books for checkout.

Some of the non-academic things to consider are: How far away from home will your daughter and her parents be comfortable with? Will she have friends there? If not, will she be able to make them there? How large or small of a college will your daughter be happy with?

A major consideration is, where your kid wants to go career wise? If she wants to go into something like Nuclear Physics, she may want to go to a major research university, at least for the junior and senior years of her undergrad. If she wants to go into elementary teaching, a commendable profession, she may not need the major research university and a smaller liberal arts university might be more suitable. Remember this is her life, and you want her to be happy in her career—and happy during her college years. Another consideration is how much money the family has to invest?

Our state has two major state universities (some would argue four) where the total instate tuition for all four years is something below $60K, and maybe another ten local state universities where four years of tuition costs below $40K. It also has a fairly good community college system that allows less financially well-off students to cut total tuition to below $35K and $25K respectfully. Federal tax credit benefits can reduce these lower amounts to below $28K and $18K. Our daughters and SILs went the cheapest route and finished up, thirty months ago, at around $15K after tax credits for each BS with sixty units at community college and sixty units at local state university (and they allowed us to live in their home during that time LOL).

We have a dozen or more private universities where it is real easy to drop a mere $100K to $150K into tuition alone. Add another $80K for living expenses and we’re beginning to talk about some serious money. I would question how many of those higher priced degrees are worth the extra cost. Maybe they are worth the extra cost, but it takes a long time to pay off an extra $100K or $150K in student debt; money that might be better spent on other things, like grad school or the purchase of a home. Some families can pay this type of money, hubby and I could not, and the parents of both SILs, who were still reeling form the sticker shock of educating two older siblings at some rather expensive universities, were most happy to miss being hit by a third such bullet.

This is a book I would recommend that you might want to look at: “PUSH HAS COME TO SHOVE: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve—Even If It Means Picking a Fight” by Dr. Steven Perry. You will probably find it in the city library. There is a chapter about “the myth of AP classes” and avoiding them by taking classes at the local community college vie “duel credit” enrollment that allows the student to get credit for the class towards both the high school diploma and the future BS. His point is that AP classes are more stressful and more difficult than the college classes. This book was published in 2012, after our daughters and SILs had graduated with BS degrees in 2011.

This is both “mommy boast” and also encouragement for you to explore this as a possibility for your daughter. Youngest SIL and our youngest daughter are one year younger than the older daughter and SIL. The younger two were finishing the 7th grade gifted and talented classes when they decided to skip out and join the older two as 9th graders vie testing. They did this because youngest SIL had devised a plan to accelerate the four of them into a “duel credit” enrollment program. The parents never doubted that the younger two could pull it off, but they all did. They graduated from high school well over halfway to their BS degree at local state university. Contrary to what many people assume, they did it with minimal effort above that required of the traditional high school college prep path.

Something else to keep in mind is this: “Be willing to go where you can and do what you must to reach the goal.” Be flexible. When a door is closed to you, start looking around for an open door somewhere else. Take the above mentioned partners with Harvard Law rejection letters; they went to lesser law schools and are just as miserable as they would have been had they attended Harvard Law, maybe less so. LOL Joking about the miserable part, but who knows it may be true. Seriously, lots of good things happen when you have to change your plans and go elsewhere. One of those two above lawyers ended up marrying the younger sister of one of his law school classmates. One of those blind dates. Odds are they would not have met if he had gone to Harvard Law. Looking back with the clarity of time, he calls that Harvard rejection a “lucky break.” A lot of life is how you choose to view it, react to it, and accept it..

My point is that there are MANY PATHS to success and happiness. Each of us has to find the one that’s best for us.

Back to your question of dance, I doubt replacing it with another activity will make much difference. However, you and your daughter are very wise to start thinking and getting ready for college. These years pass so quickly.

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Wow, Kimmy, thank you so much for the detailed reply. ROFL about the law school rejection letters. We are also very open to community college credits and I am glad it worked out for your SIL and DDs. Did you live in their homes or did DD/SIL live in your homes?! I will definitely get the books that you recommend. Both DH and I think that our kids should cherish knowledge and not get caught up in the rat race but obviously we want to be smart about it and not be naive:-). THank you again for spending so much time in answering my question.
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

Kimmy is correct about where one door closes looking for another to open. My ds applied to 5 U's. He was accepted by all but his first choice, which is a highly regarded public in our hometown with a great reputation in his intended major. He was pretty disappointed, and confused because some of his classmates with lower GPAs were accepted. (turned out that his intended major was "impacted" meaning that so many students applied for that major that the U was extremely selective, also that one had to be admitted into it as a freshman--no transferring in later. Other majors were easier to get in, thus kids with lower GPAs getting admitted). So, he took his second choice which turned out to be a great fit for him and gave him opportunities that he would not have had at #1.

Another piece of strategical advice, re Kimmy's comment about Nuclear Physicist: If your dd is considering a major that will likely require a graduate degree then she may not want to attend her preferred grad school as an undergraduate. In the sciences (and possibly some other areas) it is often considered "in-bred" to earn a B.S. and PhD. from the same institution, and the institution will sometimes not even accept the candidate into the grad program for that reason. So the student needs to have a long range plan of where she thinks she would want to end up for grad school (with the U with the better reputation as the grad school). OTOH some schools may more easily admit a "continuing student" into their grad school, this is something she would need to reseach beforehand. She may not need a grad degree depending on what she studies and what she wants to do for a career, just something to keep in mind.

I realize that this is a lot for a 15yo to be considering. But there are people who can help to guide her, starting with the HS counselor. She could contact professional organizations for the areas of study that she is considering, they tend to have local chapters with members who are willing to talk to students and recent grads about the field and career opportunities; they can give her recommendations of good schools and how to approach the process. They sometimes have mentoring programs and scholarships too, so can be a valuable resource.

Does she have any idea yet what she "wants to be when she grows up"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I wouldn't be wasting time & money on an activity that my kid didn't really enjoy just to have something to put on the college app.  You never know, she may find something else she is interested in besides sports.  When my DS was in 9th grad, he did nothing outside of school.  I did warn him that he would have a blank application and that even if he was smart (which he is) colleges probably wouldn't accept him just for that w/o activities.  I told him he just had to pick something out himself.  He did start pretty slow but he chose writing for the school online newspaper--now he is the co-editor & is writing poetry for it (something I never could have predicted).  He's pretty busy what with 3 AP classes and part time work, plus they have to do "voluntter" work to graduate so he doesn't have time for a lot of activities--I do think it's better that he does a few that he enjoys and excels in and that he can talk about.  Imagine if the interviewer (if there is one) asks your DD what she gets out of Indian dance--I could imagine some lackluster response there!

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997

I've gone through the college application process twice for my two older ones.  Maybe the most comforting thing I can say is that colleges want students who are truly a fit for them, not ones who are trying to look like good applicants but won't really do well there.  Your job is to help your child find the college that fits her, not make her fit the college - because as much as you try to force it, if it's not the right fit, your child will not be happy and will not do well.

When my oldest (now a college senior) was applying, he had a perfect SAT score but mostly B+ grades.  His only regular activities were karate (black belt), art and volunteering at the food pantry (he stresses easily and needs a lot of downtime for writing).  He applied to small liberal arts colleges that were very happy to have a future creative writing major with a perfect SAT score to boost their average and didn't care that he had no leadership positions.  The college he chose was the one where, on his second visit, he couldn't stop smiling.  *That* was how we knew it was the right place for him - and it has been.

When your DD does get around to doing her applications - which isn't for another 2 years - she should show that she did dance up to this point.  There is nothing wrong with dropping an activity in high school that you don't enjoy, especially if you pick up another that you do enjoy.  And it isn't about awards or trophies, it's about dedication to things that interest you.  My DS had a black belt in karate (dedication) and an interest in creative writing and art (he sent samples of his work in both), and he received an award from his Catholic school for his many hours of volunteer service.  That's enough to show that someone gets involved in the things they're interested in.

My 13yo DS will never achieve his siblings' academic heights - he has some learning disabilities - but he plays three instruments and volunteers at the food pantry.  He too will someday find the right fit.  It won't be Ivy League, but it will be the right place for him, and that's what matters.

So don't sweat it.  Let your DD do the things that interest her, help her to have the commitment to them, and when it's time to fill out applications and go on interviews, she will have plenty to work with.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998

It's a pretty small assortment of schools that care all that much about extra-curriculars. Most either don't ask or really just want to see that you are doing "something." The elite schools like specialists but I don't think just taking ethnic dance classes would make much of a difference unless she were president of the dance club, arranged performances to raise money for charities, competed on a national level, stuff like that. Sounds like she has a sport that she enjoys and is taking on leadership. She has piano and other activities that I assume she actually likes. I wouldn't stress about the dance.

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