Selecting colleges rant

Avatar for ribrit
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Registered: 02-24-2001
Selecting colleges rant
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Thu, 07-15-2010 - 1:31am

My daughter has me so frustrated. Her older brother is at the point where he needs to get an idea of where he wants to go to college or what he wants to do as far as supporting himself if he does not go to college and so on. My daughter is going in to 9th grade, but is quite advanced in school. She was offered grade acceleration previously, but in the end, we decided against it. She was in agreement after I explained to her why. (high school offers so many AP courses and such, it won't be so boring being in school the extra year and will simply make her more prepared and more competitive for college). So she is taking 11th grade level math and 10th grade level science and gifted 9th grade English(if she had accelerated in English, she would have been defined the higher grade level).

OK...so....she googles to find lists of top universities and then decides those are the ones she wants to attend. She goes to the college board website and will do searches but will only accept the most competitive of schools. She assumes her SAT scores will be the same as her dad's and mine (700's on all tests) so she should only go to a college where her scores, as she thinks they will be, will be average. She is guessing, she has not taken the SAT yet.

About my daughter, she does so well in school because she is driven. She does not always score tops on tests. She generally will get 99th percentiles on ITBS, but last year, she got 98th. Then, she oddly scored lower on high school entrance exams, which shocked me. Regardless, I have tried to point out that certain schools will offer scholarships and such, which she will need to fund going to college, so she needs to be open minded. She informed me that she refuses to attend certain schools. I have also tried to explain to her that she needs to have a reason for picking a particular college that goes beyond it being on the top of some list, she flew off the handle at me over that. I tried to pull up one college that I saw on various lists, that was not a top top college, but was reasonable and known to have a good program for what she says she wants to major in. She closed her mind and refused to really look at it. Right now, she is focused on Juilliard, Yale, or Stanford. Each one of those schools has a less than 10% acceptance rate and are incredibly expensive. I tried to point this out to her, but she flew off the handle again saying I had no faith in her.

I am guessing she has PMS right now which is why she is flying off the handle. But I am afraid with these ideas, she is setting herself up for horrible disappointment when it does not happen. Plus, we have read somewhat about suicides and such on this board, what will she do when the only school she gets in to is an average area state school? I am not saying that will happen, I am just saying that she needs to keep her mind open. She also needs to realize that over the next couple of years, she will mature and maybe won't even want to major in what she is planning.

But also, what if she does keep this up? I am not sure we can afford the cost of transporting her to Yale, let alone all the other things that come along with going there. She does not seem to realize that college is about growing, coming of age, finding out who you are while getting the education for your career, and so on. I do not think she will be very happy getting on an airplane to a part of the country she has never been to, with no parent to take her and just a suitcase to take along because I am most certainly not paying to ship a bunch of dorm room supplies.

Since she will not even look at with an open mind any other colleges beyond biggest name schools, I am afraid she will just be miserable. She will either get in and be miserable because the school is not a fit, or she will not get in and be miserable because she has convinced herself that these are the only colleges she can go to. It seems as if time goes by so quickly and before we know it, it will be time for college. I feel like if I do not prepare her now for the possibility that Yale might not be where she goes, or it might not be where she wants to go for real, she will face huge disappointments soon. Plus, what happens when she only applies to those 3, or ones like them, and gets in to none? It is not just the chances of not getting in that bothers me, it is also the fact that she is not even looking at aspects of these schools to figure out if they are even schools she wants to attend.

There are some colleges we will be visiting over the next year or so for her brother where I wanted her to come along and check it out too. (we cannot really afford to go and then return a year later, as long as we are there, she can look around too) She says no way, she will not go to those colleges. And I love this, I get a lot of the "you are not listening to me." In reality, she is not listening to me. I tried to explain, do you really want to attend a college in the north east? It is cold there, she has never been in such cold and does not even own a coat. She won't go outside as it is when the temp drops below 60. She doesn't even like the a/c on when it is below 90 degrees (we live in Texas). Plus, she is quite conservative, not sure she will find much of that in Northeastern schools. I have also mentioned how she will feel living so far away that Christmas will likely be the only time she can visit home, and she says she is fine and happy with moving across the country from her brothers. Such a sweet girl she is, LOL

Ok, seriously though, should I be worrying? Is she setting herself up for a huge disappointment?

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 7:04am
removed by poster


Edited 7/18/2010 8:26 am ET by windrush54
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 7:09am

Realistically, she has a couple of years before she needs to think about these sorts of things, and could change her mind a dozen times before then. If cost is a real concern, lay out to her exactly what you can afford to spend on her education, what she can realistically expect for a financial aide package and go from there. But maybe lay off for a year and let her dream for now. Arguing with her is getting you nowhere. She's only going into the 9th grade, and she doesn't need to start seriously looking for colleges until she's going into the 11th grade. Once she KNOWS her SAT scores she will have a much better idea of her chances of getting into one of those top schools, and getting scholarships to help fund them. Kids change so much throughout high school, it's very possible that she will have a completely different attitude in a year or two. In the mean time, send her to northern Minnesota for a week in January... that experience alone my change her mind about going to a northern school. ;) But seriously, there are enough other things to deal with (and fight with her over) in the next 4 years, that I'd let this one alone for awhile.

As for getting away from her brothers... I think that's pretty normal at her age, but she would be able to accomplish that at a school an hour from home just as easily as she could accomplish it at a school 1200 miles from home.

Avatar for coldfingers
Community Leader
Registered: 04-30-2000
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 9:42am

I would limit my conversations with her on this.

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Avatar for ribrit
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Registered: 02-24-2001
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 10:50am
I am not lecturing my son about going to college. My son knows what he is going to major in. I have not been making an environment where only test scores matter. She is the one who obsesses over these things while I have asked her to stop. You did a lot of reading between the lines about things that were just not there.


Edited 7/15/2010 10:57 am ET by ribrit
Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 10:55am

LOL..I was going to send her to Minn in Sept, mid-MN and not Northern, maybe I should wait until January.

I have tried telling her stop looking and there is sooo much more to college than just who is on the top of a list and so on. She does not get it. I want to say she is just not understanding what she is doing and please let it go for a while, but since she keeps blowing up at me already, I am sure that would just set her off too. This whole thing has been all her doing. The closest thing I have done to even encourage this was to suggest she come along with us when we look at certain colleges for her brother. In reality, she cannot stay behind. I am not leaving her at home while I drive someplace that I will be at overnight.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2006
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 11:11am

At this point with her just starting high school next year, let her dream! At 14/15 the reality of college I think still has not set in, it seems like some magical time. When I was that age I was SURE I was going to Harvard, I had good grades and it sounded cool. Reality was I would NEVER have been accepted and couldn't have afforded to go anyway. My parents never said anything. As she matures and goes through HS hopefully reality will hit her. Pick your battles, at this point this is not worth arguing with her about.
Perhaps as she sees her brother approach his college choices and experience she will get a better understanding of college.

When it comes times for her to seriously consider which colleges she applies to in 2 years or so, then discuss the reality of finances with her and the choices she will have to make if she is accepted and chooses to go to an elite school. She will face many disappointments in life, in the grand scheme of things not getting accepted at her top school will be a minor one.

I applied to Brown knowing I wouldn't be accepted only because my guidance counselor thought I should...and ironically one of my profs at the local state university I attended also taught at Brown, so for far less money I experienced the same teacher.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 11:23am

I would definitely relax and even ignore it for awhile. She is young yet and doesn't have to make any decisions yet. Let her dream about colleges, that's fine. But don't say she cannot go to any of them. My mother did that to me and it completely blew me out of even looking at any other schools. I went to a local state uni/commuter school and didn't finish until 22 years after I started! Let it go.

She will get guidance in school from her counselor when the time comes. There will be college nights that you and she can attend that will give you both info on expectations, what to look for in schools, etc. You just never know what will happen with her grades, her interests or her test scores. She could completely surprise you and get a full ride to one of her top choices. You can't eliminate that as a possibility.

Don't argue with her about this, it's just not worth it. Look at the info with her and talk about the booklets she gets sent. My dd/16 has been looking at colleges for the year now and has changed her mind several times about where she wants to go. Only this year did she finally settle on her major choice (French Education) so now she can concentrate on schools that offer that.

It won't hurt your daughter to reach for the stars, if we didn't do that we would all still be sitting here on the earth! But she has to live her life, you can't do that for her. She will have to make decisions and learn to live with the consequences, we all do! As long as she knows you love her and you don't care where she goes to school, I don't think she will sink into a suicidal depression and do something stupid. She needs to know that she is important no matter what the situation is, that she comes first.

Take her on the college trips with you and make her go to the campuses. You don't have to ask her opinion tho. Just ask her brother. She may feel that you are leaving her out and volunteer her opinion anyway and that's fine.

Sorry to take so much space, but just relax, there will be bigger battles ahead!

Good luck!


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Registered: 03-23-2003
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 11:24am
Sorry about that hat!

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Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 12:07pm

I think that right now considering her age and level of immaturity, you should try as much as possible to let it go in one ear & out the other. I bet a lot of kids thought about going to Yale because it was on Gilmore Girls and looked nice. lol So since your DD hasn't even taken the SATs or PSATs yet and has no idea what she will get, it doesn't make much sense to fret about whether her scores will be good enough--wait til she takes them. If she gets in the 700's, then she has a better chance. If she gets lower, obviously her expectations will have to be adjusted. Also as far as money, if you can only afford a certain amount, then when the time comes, you have to say "this is what we can afford." Then you look at the financial aid packages and she can decide whether she wants to work or take out big loans. I bet my DD is really happy now that I pushed her to go to the state university where she will graduate w/ about $20,000 in loans total for 4 yrs. Her friend who graduated from the same school this year, but was an out of state student, has $100,000 in loans and is worrying about how she will pay that off. This girl got full scholarship offers to some other schools but she didn't want to go, so now she is burdened by debt.

Also I think it's good that she has an older brother who is going to college first. He can tell her much more than she will ever listen to you what college is really like. Maybe she can also go & visit him and even sit in on some classes. When you take him to look at schools, don't tell her it has anything to do w/ her--just say, as you said, that you can't leave her home alone and she can look at it like a vacation. I also recommend a trip to the north in winter. Snow looks really pretty in the movies but it's not so great when you have to drive in it or when you can't go out because of a blizzard, or you have to walk across campus when it's freezing. So tell her if she does go to a college in a cold climate, part of the budget will also have to go to buying winter clothes & boots--you aren't going to pay extra. Transportation costs will also be a factor. As far as shipping things for the dorm, you don't really have to do that. I know that at Bed, Bath & Beyond, you could go to your local store, order everything and then if they had a store near the college, you could pick it all up there. I do think most of the kids who go far away would end up buying a lot of stuff at stores near their campus--but then you have to either ship it home or find a storage place near the school. However, it does get better. My DD didn't have room to bring everything home, so she had friends who were staying for the summer in apts. and they are storing things like her lamps.

I would say just don't stress yourself out too much about this--try to let it go in one ear & out the other. Let her look at Yale & Stanford. At least you know if she wants to go to the top schools, then she'll be doing well in school. If you put the damper on it now, maybe she'll wonder why she is trying so hard & slack off.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2004
Thu, 07-15-2010 - 12:46pm

She an overacheiver. Not the worst thing. Except that they drive their parents crazy!!!! They are the opposite of underacheivers and so the specialists who deal with these types have to do the reverse (I was reading about this just the other day in the paper I'll try to find the link)and try to have them relax and find interests other than grades and school and test scores and colleges ect...

Since you are the mom and it's driving you crazy tell her to put a lid on it, tell her you've heard plenty enough about all this college stuff for now. Let her know you're crazy proud that she's so driven but college is many years off and then lightly tell her that she'll drive all of you crazy if she keeps this up for the next four years. Also let her know that this is DS time to look and do his thing and she needs to understand that her time will come, but for now you're going to have to ignore her constant chatter about where she will and will not go because it's not fair to anyone of course, but worse her brother.

As for taking on the tours, I'm not so sure she has to go with him. Let her stay home, so what if she doesn't see all these schools, I mean after a while they all start looking alike and when it's her time, visit what you can and let her apply (within reason of course) where she wants and if a school is too far to visit, so what? I never saw my college in person, and heck the brochures today and virtual tours pracitically let you see it all.

But like lots of the others, ignore this attempt at attention grabbing and drama. If she can't reign herself in, she may need some counseling.
http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/high-school/extracurriculars/150225.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/05/AR2007020501668.html?sub=new

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