« Not normal | Main | Do Better, NYT »

July 17, 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I like this approach for the most part. A bit of our issue is that he will choose the tablet over hiking with me or playing with friends at this point. He is very physically lazy (until we get him moving - so maybe it's actually mental laziness) and some of restricting the time is getting him to move and be active.

*sigh* We're new to having him full-time so I'm sure we're still having growing pains with this. He's used to entire days of video games (he's been playing Halo since he was 3 or 4!!!) and movies. We are the proud owners of one television and an old Atari-throwback system.

Alas, my college worries come almost entirely from our peers' crazy race to do Too Much in case it's Not Enough. You have colleagues assembling insane tenure packets. I have neighbors hiring college counselors in tenth grade and withholding electronics if their child doesn't do a set number of extracurricular activities each year.

I know in my heart that putting the children firmly in charge of the process is essential to their long-term success. We said years ago that we would tell the kids what might be needed to be admitted to different schools, but that they were going to have to decide what to do about it. Two children have been diligent in their choices, wanting to fill in all the Common App boxes with as many shiny accomplishments as possible. One child is happy to participate casually in the small number of groups that meet their interests, but chooses hobbies at home over extra volunteer hours or campaigning to be club secretary. One child spent hours preparing for standardized tests. One requested a tutor. One requested a review book, left it lying on their floor, and never got around to opening it.

We live in a world where a lot of parents intervene extensively to prepare the child for the application. After all, they argue, teenage brains can't grasp the consequences of their decisions. I firmly believe that kids don't magically become someone new the day they move into a dorm, and they have to attend a college that matches their own abilities and energies and drive -- as demonstrated by _their_ choices on the path they took to get there.

But there's so much fear in holding onto our principles and letting the choices lead to the outcomes. What if this isn't sound theory? What if I'm just too lazy to teach my children self-discipline? Here's where I confess that we no longer impose limits on cell-phone use. Maybe I'm just wrong about _all_ of it.

Hi, Jody,

If it helps, I came out of an environment kind of like your kids' when I was in high school (and that was the early 2000s! My boyfriend's mom thought he wasn't going to amount to enough because his overall average was a 97%, and here he was taking some subjects two years ahead of schedule), but my dad worked in college enrollment and so had a pretty good idea of the process, and I work for a community-college now. I'm not a full-on expert, but I will say for what it's worth that your strategy sounds fine to me. You probably know, but schools take very different approaches with whom they'll admit (and with how much internal-scholarship money) and why, and there's no way to predict in advance what a college's applicant pool will be like. I think where parental intervention can be valuable is at helping kids find a college that meshes the best with who they are (I was smitten with a school that was probably not a great fit for me, as I now see, but partly on my parents' urging went somewhere else that I thought I might hate but ultimately I loved), but I think the actual prepwork academically and extracurricularly should largely be up to the student.

I hope your kids find places they love that teach them true and useful things, and I hope you feel some peace during the craziness of the process! Thanks for permitting some unsolicited opinions. :)

The comments to this entry are closed.