Gas station without pumps

2013 August 28

Advice I needed

Filed under: home school — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:20
Tags: , , ,

Kevin McMullin, in his blog post For parents: Leaders need to hold it together, has some advice that I needed today:

Parents, how would you feel if you were preparing for the biggest sales presentation of your career and instead of supporting you with reassuring encouragement, advice and confidence, your boss became progressively more stressed and emotionally unglued? You’d feel more pressure and less confident. And you’d probably resent your boss.

If you’re the parent of a student applying to college, don’t be like the anxious boss.

I completely understand why parents feel stress and anxiety during the college admissions process. Nobody is more invested in your student’s success and happiness than you are.

But the most important job for parents of college applicants is to be just that—the parent of a college applicant. The stress of college admissions isn’t happening to you; it’s happening to your kid. Be calm and maintain your perspective. Offer support, guidance and encouragement. Cheer from the sidelines and remind them that you’ll love them no matter what Northwestern or Brown or University of North Carolina decides about their application.

You’re in an important leadership role now. And leaders need to hold it together.

I have been getting a bit stressed about my son’s application to colleges.  As a home-schooling parent, it is my job to put together his transcript, his counselor’s letter, and the school profile.  The transcript is still missing some course descriptions (for the courses my wife did with him—I’ve not been able to get 1-paragraph descriptions from either my son or my wife all summer!), but I have complete drafts of the other documents.  I would estimate that I’ve spent about 20 hours preparing these documents, maybe more.

I’ve also been “encouraging” him to get at least his current top-choice application done before his workload increases.  (So far, only one of his classes has started, the ChemAdvantage AP chem course, though it looks like he’ll be working on the Arduino Data Logger and the Bluetooth light gloves all year as for-credit projects.)

We’ll be doing 4 more college visits starting Sept 6: CMU, Brown, MIT, and Olin College of Engineering.  CMU and MIT are obvious top-rated computer-science schools, Brown has a pretty good CS department and the lack of make-work distribution requirements is very appealing, and Olin has a project-based approach that is appealing.  Last year, the lack of a pure CS major at Olin made it a bit less appealing to him, but over the summer he’s found that embedded systems and computer engineering can be fun, so Olin moved up in his internal ranking.

From what we can tell on the web, CMU may not be a good fit, despite having top-notch CS and theater departments—the problem is that it seems that (like UCLA) non-majors get shut out of most acting opportunities.  We’ll check on this more carefully when we visit.  Acting looks quite feasible at Brown and at MIT, and Olin allows students to register for courses at Wellesley (2 miles away), which has 4 acting courses (though whether Olin students can fit them into their schedules is not clear).  I don’t know whether we’ll have time to visit Wellesley on this trip—we haven’t scheduled it, but if the MIT shadow day falls through, we might have an extra day.


  1. Lots of Olin students take Wellesley courses (it’s allowed for anyone but first semester freshmen). There’s a required humanities/social science concentration, and using just Olin classes to fill that requirement is rare. Acting classes might be a bit harder to fit into the schedule than other Wellesley classes because it looks like they tend to be longer, but it still shouldn’t be a problem.

    Olin’s theater group, FWOP, puts on two or three shows a year, and Olin students also participate in Babson and Wellesley productions. Last year a senior directed Much Ado About Nothing as her humanities capstone project.

    I’d be glad to meet with you and your son if you’d like to talk to a current student when you’re at Olin, or I could put you in contact with someone in FWOP.

    Comment by Josette — 2013 August 28 @ 22:18 | Reply

    • We’ve been reading your blog for the past year and would be interested in meeting you when we visit Olin. I’ll send you e-mail separately.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2013 August 29 @ 08:41 | Reply

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