Gifted vs. high-achieving

by S&M

“Giftedness” does not mean “likely to come out ahead in any competition”. Gifted children often are non-neurotypical in other ways as well, in ways that make learning in standard classrooms difficult. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy (setting up classes according to it)?

The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

Advertisements

183 thoughts on “Gifted vs. high-achieving

  1. Gifted students often frustrate teachers because they don’t quite live up to their potential, especially in classes that are too easy for them.

    That’s a bit of a cop out. In many cases, it’s not that the class is too easy, the kid simply doesn’t care.

    A totebagger once mentioned that they just loved homework and they had a hard time relating to a daughter who didn’t care nearly as much. I’m fascinated to know what the high achieving mentality feels like cognitively.

  2. I agree that there are asynchronous learners who are “special needs” not by reason of intellectual deficits and/or learning process disabilities, but who are “special needs” by reason of high intellectual abilities unmet by the mainstream classroom, often coupled with organizational, social, or other personal challenges that will seriously impact their ability to learn/succeed. I also think that the term “gifted” has been debased in many contexts to mean above average and on the college track. However, I find ludicrous the idea that we should redefine yet again the term “gifted” so that only the quirky qualify for the designation.

  3. Giftedness in my Dad’s side of the family, often came with introvert/very shy tendencies. Some gifted family members were afflicted with schizophrenia in their 20s. So, I am actually very wary if my kids were gifted. Now, the family has a good idea of what’s going on but in previous generations it was very hard to come to grips with a child’s life being totally different as they entered adulthood.

  4. “In many cases, it’s not that the class is too easy, the kid simply doesn’t care.”

    And many cases the kid may not care BECAUSE the class is too easy.

    “However, I find ludicrous the idea that we should redefine yet again the term “gifted” so that only the quirky qualify for the designation.”

    I agree! But are gifted children more likely to be quirky?

  5. In any case, I’d rather have a gifted/quirky combination than a slow leaner/quirky combo.

  6. And by quirky I mean what was indicated above: “organizational, social, or other personal challenges “.

  7. I have a cousin who is truly gifted and he never got it together enough to even graduate from college – he’s bipolar and probably undiagnosed aspbergers. I’ve hidden his posts on my FB feed because he’s such a train wreck.

    I don’t think most schools are at all set up for the truly gifted but it’s such a small percentage of the population that I’m not sure they can be. In DD’s school the gifted program is called “Challenge” and it’s mostly the high achievers (it’s 40 and 50% of the school population so obviously the number of truly gifted kids is probably pretty small). I’m not sure it’s all that challenging but parents clamor to get their children in because that puts them on the best track for public middle school or makes their middle school private school application look better.

    DD’s school was using a pull out model but that’s been found to be in violation with the IB program, so they are phasing that out and will just “train” the homeroom teachers to offer accelerated material to the advanced kids. I have my doubts on this being achieved, but it’s only elementary school so I’m not too worried about it.

  8. The way my kids’ school is set up is that there is a test all through elementary to determine reading and then math levels. If you score high you get into the top group. The top group definitely has more challenging work and more independent work assigned. Some parents pulled their kids out of that group because their kids were either not motivated or the parents thought it too much work. I think the way they determined that group was fine, not everyone qualified. It was usually the same set of kids from K to 5.

  9. And many cases the kid may not care BECAUSE the class is too easy.

    Some cases? Perhaps. In most cases? No, they have their interests and things they aren’t interested in just aren’t worth their time. You can love calculus but have absolutely no interest in Silas Marner.

  10. I think what the author is trying to get at is that her definition of “gifted” is replacing the “special needs” title that can often be associated with the smart but quirky kids. If you have one of these kids, you know that the school may refer to them as special needs, which can and does, have negative connotations among their peers.

  11. CoC, “for the totebag” was intended for you, not as part of the post. And I made a typo. It should be non-neurotypical.

  12. Lemon, I can understand the effect of labeling, but it didn’t work that way in my anecdotal experience. Attendance at speech or occupational therapy or even returning from a three year special needs placement of the smart kid type to which the article refers ( 3 or my 4) had no effect on their peer acceptance. The unpopular misfit never had a formal label or any services.

  13. My sister has been written up in books because of her absurdly high IQ. But she’s really not quirky. She had a solid 35 year career as a special ed teacher. So, uh, there’s my anecdatum.

  14. Our public schools use the term “gifted and talented” or more recently “talented and gifted” because it become TAG. This distinction is what gets you into higher level classes. Unfortunately, all too often that means the same level of instruction with more work. In high school this term falls away because TAG kids have had some high school classes in middle school and, if successful, are already starting with sophomore level classes and/or are generally initially slotted into Pre-AP classes.

    The problem, IMO, is that schools are treating all of them as high achievers and completely ignore the quirky parts. My DD#1 has the academic and organizational skills, but is very introverted, so leadership and social is lacking from the high achiever description. My DD#2 has been diagnosed with some mild learning disabilities, but she tends to be more vocal about what is boring in school and does just what needs to be done, which sometimes isn’t quite enough to get the A’s she is capable of.

  15. DS2 likes his advanced classes because the kids are usually better behaved and do the work.

  16. I agree with Houston, both my DDs prefer the advanced classes for the same reasons. Also, the pace is fast and/or in depth enough to keep their interest. The exception is DD#2’s advanced classes taught by coaches.

  17. Despite my quibble with the use of the term gifted, I do consider it a serious question as to what a broad based school system can do to help non typical learners. For those with options and resources, either they find a specialized private school (and some of our posters, including two from FL, have hands on experience with the limitations of those schools) or live in a high tax suburban enclave such as Newton Mass (this applies to the youngest of my nieces) where there are almost ten on site special partial pull out or fully separate high school programs for all sorts of adjustment and learning needs and academic potential. But I don’t think it is possible for public education in general to offer a complete set of options. I do think that at the secondary level public school systems should band together to provide programs in which families can make use of both on site and online resources, plus perhaps some home schooling that involves parental time and/or financial commitment, so that those who have the bandwidth to recognize their youngsters’ atypical needs also have some taxpayer provided resources to help out.

  18. Lemon, I can understand the effect of labeling, but it didn’t work that way in my anecdotal experience. Attendance at speech or occupational therapy or even returning from a three year special needs placement of the smart kid type to which the article refers ( 3 or my 4) had no effect on their peer acceptance. The unpopular misfit never had a formal label or any services.

    This. The quirky gifted kids probably won’t fit in with or without labeling.

  19. I’ve mentioned this before, but I consider my brother gifted (as did the school district, they just didn’t feel obligated to provide services). He struggled in middle school and nearly failed a few classes in high school. He had significant social and emotional deficiencies, organizational problems and perhaps in on the Spectrum. He went to Land-grant U (guaranteed admission with a HS diploma) graduated from a tough program in 5 years and has had a very middling coding career. It’s not the most tragic story ever written, but for a kid who was trying to get his little sister to understand relativity in the elementary school years, he never approached his potential.

    Not to sidetrack onto college conversations, but….the University he attended produces top notch research and possesses the ability to deliver a great education at a low price. However, for a student that struggles with non-academic issues, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think many gifted kids benefit from a SLAC for this exact reason.

  20. And many cases the kid may not care BECAUSE the class is too easy.

    I would challenge the notion that you can do poorly at anything because it’s too easy. To use an adult example, I was reading about the duties of a junior investment banking analyst. One of the duties was to help prepare pitch books that are several hundred pages long, have a short turnaround time such that you need to work 18 hours a day through the weekend, and they must be perfect. Any sort of mistake or typo is totally unacceptable. That said, the vast majority of it isn’t exceptionally challenging intellectually. The primary challenge comes in the combination of tedium, boredom and stress.

    Would you say the folks who wash out, as most do, do so because it’s too easy/not challenging enough?

  21. The Totebag is basically a group of gifted and/or high-achieving adults. If we define high-achieving as a financial or educational attainment in the top 10%, almost everyone here qualifies. The ones who don’t (perhaps WCE?) are likely just plain old gifted.

    I imagine most of us spend our time with spouses, co-workers and friends who are also high-achieving. So, when we produce spawn who are gifted (or even worse, have to hear from other parents who think their kids are gifted), we assume that most people like us end up high-achieving, so let’s not fuss too much about labels and services for smart kids.

  22. Rhett – even among the high achievers there are those who will not want to put up with tedium, boredom and stress. They’ll just look elsewhere.
    I see the levels of high achievers in one of my kid’s classes. Some will go through the online piece of the curriculum and move onto next year’s work while the rest will pace themselves and prefer to spend their time on other things.

  23. The ones who don’t (perhaps WCE?)

    Oh, her HHI is well into Totebag territory. She just poor-mouths it a lot. Same as Finn. Seems to be an engineer thing.

  24. ITA with the author’s definition of “gifted.” This was basically me all through school, sort of wicked fast in picking up stuff, yet still unable to remember to put on a coat in winter, keep track of assignments, or focus on boring shit. Of course, back then it wasn’t “gifted,” it was all about “potential” and “laziness.” The teachers that got me were my saving grace; the box-checkers thought I was lazy and underachieving. And, yeah, Rhett, most of it was too easy, or just taught in a way that didn’t make sense (e.g. teaching history as a series of disconnected trivia dates and names); if I cared, I’d dive in and do extra reading until I figured it out, but most time if the teacher was bad or just flat-out stupid, I didn’t care that much. I was lucky that my issues were offset with a crippling fear of failure and a tremendous ability to cram, which got me through with generally good grades — I was just that smart kid who always had some stupid B in something.

    OTOH, I totally disagree with the author’s supposition that the school G&T programs are actually designed for gifted kids. Everything I have seen first-hand says that they are set up for the kids she defines as “high-achievers” — the kids who follow the rules and pay attention and do the work consistently (and remember to turn it in) and earn straight-As. Our system has a lovely Catch-22 where if you are getting good grades, you don’t require accommodations, but if your grades drop, you must just not be smart enough to handle the advanced work. I know of no school that is actually designed to manage the truly gifted-and-off-center kid — too many teachers are rule-followers who see any kind of “different” as a sign of incompetence, laziness, or acting out.

    Now off to rum-tasting — hi from Puerto Rico. Not as exciting as Down Under, alas, but at least there’s liquor.

  25. I have an uncle who is also gifted now that I think of it. I forget about him because he’s pretty estranged from the family. He had the wherewithal to go to Yale and graduate but because of personality traits (thinking and acting on the feeling that he was smarter than everyone else) career success did not ensue. He sold software for a while and then after his wife died, he made some poor marriage decisions and last I heard he was working in a Cumberland Farms convenience store which was preceded by a stint selling mattresses.

  26. Also, in the continuation of our own schooling drama, one gifted snowflake brought home a terrible report card (we get them in thirds for the year). It is all based on teachers’ impression of whether the student is meeting a certain standard – not on assignments or test scores. The teacher thinks that the child is struggling with “uses key details from a multi-paragraph text to identify the main topic of the text and of each paragraph within the text” and “participates in shared research and writing projects”. This is a steep decline over the past 3 report cards (glowing at the end of last year, mediocre for the first report of this year and now struggling). Without debating the veracity of the report, it shows that a child with high capabilities is unable to perform well in that environment.

    So [insert washing hand gesture and turning palms up, then down, then up, for all the cameras in the sky], we’re out. The homeschool adventure starts Monday.

  27. I was chatting with my oldest’s teacher and talking about some of the ways she could improve her organizational skills and her teacher noted that she often finds with the smarter kids that they just can’t be bothered with organization (almost like they’re just thinking about bigger things). My daughter is not gifted, she’s just high achieving. You can get in to the program by either getting over a 96% on the IQ test or getting over a 90% on the 3 other tests (Iowa tests, creativity test and something else). I suspect most of the kids in the program just pass the other three tests (my DD included).

    Dh’s brother is also mensa level IQ wise, but he is so lazy he’s done nothing in life. My MIL tells the story about how he refused to do something in 1st grade because he already whatever it was in Kindergarten and didn’t see why he should have to demonstrate he knew how to do it again

  28. Oh, and ITA with Ada on the SLAC thing — I chose one because I was at least sufficiently self-aware to recognize I would get lost at BigStateU. This is also why I am focused on DD finding the right fit, as she shares many of my bad tendencies.

    @Rhett: yes, that assignment is massively too easy — I would fail miserably. There is absolutely nothing that would keep my mind engaged in the work, and I would drift off to Planet Zuton, and before you know it, there’d be typos galore that I missed in the five times I proofread it, and the binding would get messed up, and I’d be fired almost immediately. When I am trying to force myself to pay attention to things that do not engage my mind, it is
    Iike trying to force together the south poles of two magnets — I can feel my mind skittering off to find something more interesting, and I consciously try to rope it and force it back, and then it skitters off the other way, and I swear sometimes even the process of trying to rein in my mind gets so engrossing that I suddenly realizes I’m five pages further along and I have zero idea what they said.

    OTOH, you put me in that same time pressure where I have to, say, read a bunch of reports/data and develop a strategy/theory/response, etc., I am totally going to kick ass. Just don’t put me in charge of typo prevention.

  29. ‘just “train” the homeroom teachers to offer accelerated material to the advanced kids. I have my doubts on this being achieved, but it’s only elementary school so I’m not too worried about it.’

    But what happens in many cases is the advanced kids become bored, disillusioned with school, and fail to develop good work habits from an early age if elementary school does not engage them at their level. Then they get to the higher grades and some find it hard to adjust to working hard. Our school did a poor job of teaching advanced/gifts students in elementary and most of middle school.

    S&M — I changed the post. Thanks!

  30. Wow, Ada, you don’t fool around. Good luck with the homeschooling and keep us updated.

  31. Wow Ada – that’s nuts. Good luck on the homeschooling.

    I regret not pulling one of mine out to homeschool during the onset of the tough times. I realize I’m sort of a black and white thinker, but it never dawned on me that homeschooling could be a temporary solution, with a return to traditional schooling later.

    Our school district’s gifted program is definitely geared toward high achievers. My son qualified based on testing, but because of his handwriting issues and frustration when he couldn’t keep up, was denied the program.

    I also agree that given the budget cuts most districts are experiencing and the lawsuit-driven expectations that they meet the needs of other special needs students, that public schools will not generally be able to meet the needs of truly gifted kids. The elementary principal, and later a middle school counselor both told me that as long as my child was not failing, they would not provide any help or accommodations. (Although they were more than happy to punish him for not writing when they wanted him to write.) As has been mentioned, some parents can provide enrichment on their own, or spring for private schools, but low income gifted kids are on their own.

    On the not completing high school, I did see some rebellion from kids I knew. One who is now a college professor wrote an essay upon the death of another from my school, saying before he even read the obituary he knew it would say suicide, and detailed his own determination to be as bad as he could be in high school, and all the drugs he ingested along that path. I had another NMSF-eligible friend who failed a class or two, making her ineligible for the award. She did not fail because the work was too difficult for her. I think schools have the attitude that bright kids will be fine without any special attention, and focus their limited resources elsewhere. I can’t say I think that’s the wrong decision given their constraints

  32. “And fail to develop good work habits from an early age”

    And then eventually have kids, to whom they are completely unable, or unaware of the need, to teach good work habits because their experience is you just show up and do school.

  33. Wow, Ada, you don’t fool around.

    I think the alternative narrative is that I am fooling around far too much. Updates to follow.

  34. I have struggled the past few weeks on a work project that is beyond boring and what is worse is what is next if I finish this before the next big push of work hits. It is all stuff I am totally competent to do, but finishing the first project only punishes me with the next one. Why do I procrastinate? Because if I do so long enough the next one will go away. But, if any one cares to look at my productivity, they might question my pay rate.

  35. And many cases the kid may not care BECAUSE the class is too easy.

    I would challenge the notion that you can do poorly at anything because it’s too easy.

    My middle one stopped reciting the numbers 1-100 in kindergarten because she had proved it for several months, the teacher wouldn’t move on and she.was.done.

    My oldest figured out that what the teachers wanted was incorrect answers. The class was supposed to predict what would happen in a story before they read it. She was bored enough that she had read the entire reading textbook, and so couldn’t predict anything because she already knew the stories, so she proudly told me that she had figured out a number of wrong answers to give the teacher because that was what the teacher wanted.

    When I was a similar age, I knew enough to make sure I got some answers wrong on spelling tests.

  36. Ditto MBT. I also agree with Meme that homeschool/online options are a good resource and some public support (or Bill Gates’ support, as in the case of Khan Academy) is appropriate. I don’t know how good the SAT study options are on Khan Academy but at least they exist and are accessible via Internet.

    I think there have always been lots of people who have high aptitude and low achievement and public schools have never been chartered with helping them much. The world needs ditch diggers too. (And related to MBT’s second comment, I might be raising the ditch diggers.)

    My anecdata confirms Louise’s anecdata about the association between gifted quirkiness and mental illness.

  37. Ada,

    Good for you. My biggest parenting fail was not pulling out the oldest to homeschool.

  38. I don’t think our district has a gifted and talented program in elementary or middle school. If they do, I haven’t heard about it. For DS’ class, next year (which will be 8th grade) they’re going to have an “official” advanced math class for the kids who are excelling in math, but that’s the first I’ve heard of an entire class that’s being segregated due to ability.

  39. CoC – I think my oldest will be fine with anything (she has told me that she doesn’t think Challenge is all that challenging anyway and she’s a rule follower who would never not complete something because it’s boring). I’m not sure whether the other two will qualify for gifted services yet and this change will really affect them (as the new way is starting with K next year). DS is happy to learn as long as it’s fun (so that may not work well for him in any school) and my youngest is a lot like me with less inclination to follow the rules than I have.

  40. @Rhett: yes, that assignment is massively too easy — I would fail miserably.

    But it’s not too easy, it’s too hard. I don’t think it’s helpful to say the problem is external, that the class is the problem. You are the one with the problem. I think it would be far more helpful to say you have a problem with executive function, here are some coping strategies, than to dismiss it as the school or class’s problem.

  41. MBT – now there are definitely more resources for homeschooling. There has to be a parent to direct learning but there are several ways this is done as described to me by a lot of homeschool parents. Following a certain curriculum, some subjects online, using tutors or being a part of a small group. Just whatever works for the family and the kid.

  42. My district used to have a GATE program in elementary school, but the teacher who was running it quit and they discontinued it. It wasn’t a great program. They did some science and went on a trip to a college, but it was something. In its final years, kids could be in GATE or they could be in student government, but not both.

    One of the issues with gifted kids is the confusion between well behaved and smart. I have smart kids. I often have well behaved kids, but not always. DH is at least borderline gifted, and did not use his powers for good in school. He and his siblings were notorious for ingenious bad behavior. I have one child is a high achiever, also intellectually and emotionally gifted. It has been a struggle to direct her powers for good. She is very good at getting people to do what she wants, she is outgoing and beautiful. In the past, when she was bored, she has encouraged others into mischief, with the explanation that it is not her fault that they did what she told them.

    I do not know why is is controversial to teach kids material they don’t already know in school. I know it is easier to sort kids by birthday and stick them in a room and show them material that they may or may not have already mastered. It is not easy to be a kid in a room like that, or to face bored, unhappy each day as a teacher.

  43. I do not know why is is controversial to teach kids material they don’t already know in school.

    Because they are being graded both on demonstrated intellectual achievement as well as their level of executive function.

  44. Rhett, your comment about executive function and the observation that junior investment bankers are often chosen from Ivy League schools make perfect sense in a way I’ve never considered. I can’t think of a better process than the Ivy pipeline for identifying people who are willing to work hard and get every detail perfect.

  45. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy (setting up classes according to it)?

    My kids school is terrible about this. See the last several years whining.

  46. Pseudonym,

    Think of it his way. You have employees on the farm and for a given job they need a certain level of intelligence and executive function. I don’t know what the most tedious farm job is but lets say it’s planting almond tree saplings. You want someone that you can teach to properly plant them who will also remember how to do it in a week. But, you also want someone who, if you say spend the day planting saplings, will plant a lot of saplings.

  47. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy

    What makes you think most people consider it something that needs to be addressed?

  48. @Rhett – Whatever. I would prefer to phrase it as I don’t have the patience to tolerate the boring shit. And luckily, I have a high enough IQ that I have found other jobs that pay me considerably more to do the things I am good at.

    Put simply, I think it is inefficient to force all people into a single mold. The world needs rule-followers and rule-breakers. It needs people to come up with the ideas, and it needs people to make sure the ideas are presented perfectly. I mean, you need someone to make sure the train runs on time, but someone has to invent the damn thing first. Or in a modern office context, my assistant has amazing organizational skills; I don’t. OTOH, I have conceptualizing and writing skills she does not. Our office is much better off for recognizing that different jobs require different skills, and hiring people with optimum skills for the specific position.

    The problem comes when school, and many employers, see patience with detail as a necessary precondition to jobs/options that don’t actually require it — in fact, some people I have run across view patience with minutiae as an actual marker of high intelligence, and thus anyone who can’t conform is either stupid or lazy (and in either case not someone we want to hire). So they discourage and turn away people who might be effing brilliant because they have too many typos. And that is a loss for the company. And, on a much larger scale, for society as a whole — yes, the world needs ditch diggers, but when those jobs are filled with people who could have been Einstein or Mozart, we are doing something tremendously wrong.

    Tl;dr: The best guy for a boring job is someone who doesn’t think it’s boring.

  49. Concur with LfB. But it seems more employers value credentials (including where said credential was obtained) over skills. Mr WCE didn’t get a PhD, because he wasn’t particularly interested in jumping those hoops, but he is a tech lead in a sufficiently booming business that he is not only providing design expertise but designing around existing patents, working with the patent attorneys to determine the optimal design space and may become an expert witness if the situation goes to trial. My employer highly values a PhD in its new hires but when you look at who the leaders are 20 years later, it is not highly correlated with having a PhD.

  50. Mine certainly lean more gifted than high-achieving according to the OP’s definition. But I think they are capable of learning, and it is very important to learn, to do the often tedious and picky work of moving into the high-achieving column. And using the comparison to athletics we’ve often made, it’s tiring and tedious to swim laps for two hours every day. It’s not exactly exciting to spend an hour repeatedly kicking a ball into a wall. That thing where you all jog for an hour, but with “breaks” to sprint flat-out for a couple of minutes, is not fun. And yet many many kids put in all these unexciting hours because they’ve realized that’s how to improve on what nature gave them.

    Now mind you, my kids are middle and high school now so they can be expected to be able to deal a little better with boredom. And I have known my kids to also throw in the “tedious” category stuff that has clear educational value, like writing essays, or doing problem sets for material that they have not actually mastered. I guess my point is that the world is a lot more interested in their ability to perform than in whatever innate qualities or abilities they may have, and it’s best for them to realize that and learn how to put in the tedious work that’s necessary to be in a position to do the stuff that really engages them.

  51. Think of it his way. You have employees on the farm and for a given job they need a certain level of intelligence and executive function. I don’t know what the most tedious farm job is but lets say it’s planting almond tree saplings. You want someone that you can teach to properly plant them who will also remember how to do it in a week. But, you also want someone who, if you say spend the day planting saplings, will plant a lot of saplings.

    True enough, but, even though there are lots of worse jobs than planting trees, I see your point. However, if all an employee had to do was plant trees every single day, there would need to be sufficient recompense and gratitude, or they would find another position. There is boredom and tedium in everything, however, the issue is how much is too much, and what is the expected compensation?

    Expecting a kid to write and rewrite spelling words they have known for years has little to no recompense. They learn nothing, and face the real danger of being told they are a hassle. Learning that there is something wrong with one’s self as a person because of an innate quality is a BAD thing, and it can be really difficult to overcome.

  52. Re the analogy to athletic practice…yes practice is necessary to maintain and develop a skill and physical fitness. However, I suspect that very rarely to never is an athlete ever expected to practice walking. Some of the unnecessary repetition is akin to practicing walking. After all, how often do any of us practice the alphabet, or days of the week, or months of the year?

  53. Pseudonym, I know your school is something of a special case in the degree of mismatch between where the average student is and where your kids are, and I wasn’t meaning to argue that a kindergartener is wrong to be frustrated with spending the entire year on stuff s/he already knows. I was speaking more generally, and more directed toward the middle/high school experience at a school that has a fairly standard college prep curriculum or track.

  54. We had student-led conferences and one thing that’s good for my kids is the self-evaluation. They have to assess how good they are at certain skills (classroom skills, not academic skills) and discuss with parents. One of the things I hope to teach is how to know when you need to be competent vs. when you need to excel in light of your goals.

    In HM’s example, I worked hard at debate in high school, because it was fun, but I did not work hard at chemistry problem sets, because I didn’t need to and thank heavens the teacher didn’t require that they be turned in.

  55. Put simply, I think it is inefficient to force all people into a single mold.

    Oh I couldn’t’ possible agree more. This doesn’t change the fact that totebaggy suburb high school is the single mold and you need to find a way to fit in it.

  56. Expecting a kid to write and rewrite spelling words they have known for years has little to no recompense. They learn nothing

    They aren’t expected to learn, they are expected to demonstrate there sapling planting ability, up to and including their willingness to not questioning why it’s almonds and not alfalfa.

  57. During the back to school night each year, our TAG director stands up and basically tells us that regardless of how wonderful and high achieving our special snowflakes are they are not truly “gifted”. That is in only 2-3 percent of the population – she does note that in our district since a certain type of person moves into the area, it may get up to 4 percent but that’s it. Furthermore, the school will identify the kids by testing and such so don’t bother to try and lobby to get your child into the program. Basically don’t contact us, we will contact you. It is funny to watch the parents’ faces.

    The term being used in our area is “exceptional” and many of the kids have more than one exception. I have a couple of friends how have children who are twice or more “exceptional”. One friend’s son is doing complex math but he turns into a spaz (her words not mine) when he encounters a brand new situation and he cannot tie his shoes and is in 4th grade. He has not been able to learn the skill. So that is what the “exceptions” are. Yes your are gifted in one or two areas but there is usually an area either social or within motor skills where the aptitude is low. For another friend whose daughter was gifted but did not have any of the other “exceptions”, they left the program. They felt it was too focused on trying to teach social and other cues she didn’t need. She now goes to private school.

    They group kids even in ES into cohorts at 3rd grade so the high achievers get harder work but they are not pulled out for TAG activities that will either go well above what the high achievers get for work or focus on the other skills that the neuro-typical kids have already mastered.

  58. They aren’t expected to learn, they are expected to demonstrate there sapling planting ability, up to and including their willingness to not questioning why it’s almonds and not alfalfa.

    Maybe this is where the disconnect is. Our employees do ask the almond v alfalfa question, and I want to hire someone who can look at a situation and politely, of course, ask, why are we doing x instead of y. The last thing I need, in kid or employee is someone who follows directions mindlessly.

  59. We are only in elementary, but I’ve been very pleased with how the school handles the variety of learners. In some ways it is a bit like Montessori (or what I understand of Montessori). There is clearly a base level of knowledge that the teacher has to teach, but there are lots and lots of options for extra work and challenging work. For kids that are excelling in an area they are free to remain at their desk and read or work on more challenging items (or move around at the back of the classroom, or use their fidget tool). For the students that are struggling to just understand the base level, or struggling to find their best learning accommodation, they are pulled into small groups for extra help.

    At this time, this arrangement is working for us.

  60. My friends who got Math easily spent their class time with paying attention to teachers face but filling their notebooks with Archie and Veronica sketches. The teachers let them be and everyone pretended nicely.

  61. We have enrolled kiddo in a charter school where they have evaluation week for kindergarten class. Kids with similar abilities or preparedness will be grouped in one class, where they will receive appropriate level of instruction in maths and/or language. sounds promising for now. Apparently there will also be a yearly (or twice a year) re evaluation to see if the fit is still there or the kids need to be moved to other class.

    If my kid is anything like me, I would be happy with decent grades. At least we will not face these problems related to being gifted or high achieving. Phew.

  62. The last thing I need, in kid or employee is someone who follows directions mindlessly.

    I wonder if that explains the underemployed post doc? They just stayed on academic path until the end, never questioning The System along the way.

  63. Wow, and to think it wasn’t all that long ago.

    Right? And she accomplished all that stuff despite having annual nervous breakdowns.

  64. The last thing I need, in kid or employee is someone who follows directions mindlessly.

    I wonder if that explains the underemployed post doc? They just stayed on academic path until the end, never questioning The System along the way.

    It is also an explanation for the United debacle as well.

  65. NoB – One kid starts homeschool Monday, one will complete K and start in the fall. The one who is working hardest on “not hitting” and “taking turns” will likely still go to kindergarten – I think that is more effective than home-based instruction for those skills.

    (In case you missed the first post on this, there will be a ton of outsourcing of the homeschool. 3 days a week in full-day enrichment programs. I don’t want to lose my tote bag cred).

  66. Mr WCE told me the boys are now members of the local rifle and pistol club… I’m pretty sure that loses me any tote bag cred I ever had.

  67. One of the factors for having both kids in homeschool is that the middle child didn’t qualify for the TAG program based on achievement testing. Our school requires 98%ile on standardized test + 95%ile on achievement testing. IQ/aptitude testing had her in the gifted range, but her reading skills are only above average (which is accurate, in my estimation).

    Kumon is clearly the answer, which means the TAG people are asking the wrong question. To put one kid in the TAG program and keep one at the local school would mean wildly diverse schedules. We would leave the house at 7:15a and complete morning drop-off at 10a, leave for pick up at 1:45 and complete at 4p.

  68. Mr WCE told me the boys are now members of the local rifle and pistol club… I’m pretty sure that loses me any tote bag cred I ever had.

    Would you believe that many Totebaggers understand that hunting is not morally different from eating meat from your local farm collective, that target shooting is entertaining and not morally wrong, and that the military is, in fact, necessary?

    ALSO, I know someone (who is close to 70 now, so probably not relevant) who got a scholarship to a small liberal arts college in part because of winning marksmanship competitions?

  69. “One of the things I hope to teach is how to know when you need to be competent vs. when you need to excel in light of your goals.”

    I agree.

    “The last thing I need, in kid or employee is someone who follows directions mindlessly.”

    Totally agree with this as well. But I also need someone who is willing to do the actual work, on time, with a fairly high level of accuracy. It’s easier to do that well if you can see some of the pitfalls and ask good questions.

    I’m with HM in a lot of ways. I am not okay with my child sitting in a classroom all day being taught things that he already knows, which was my elementary school experience. But I am also okay with him being forced to do tedious things, to do things the hard way in some cases even if he knows the easy way, and to learn some good organizational skills. We have been happy thus far with how his school handles differentiation and learning styles. Being Montessori, he is able to work at his own pace when it is faster than others, which has worked well. He is pulled out for math enrichment, which is a special arrangement that we worked out with his teachers & the teachers of the higher level classes at the beginning of the year.

    I don’t know if he is “high-achieving”, “gifted” or just a bright kid who does well in his school environment. I don’t know if I care what the label is. I do want to make sure that he stays challenged and focused.

  70. RMS, I believe you and respect you for thinking through many of these issues through far better than I do. But there have also been discussions about whether you’d permit your child to have a playdate in a home with guns, so the range of opinions is wide.

  71. But there have also been discussions about whether you’d permit your child to have a playdate in a home with guns, so the range of opinions is wide.

    Kinda depends on if the guns are in a safe or if they’re lying around loaded within easy reach, I would have thought.

  72. The book “Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students” by Christine Fonseca does a much better job explaining the unique psychological needs of highly gifted children than this article – there are some traits, such as anxiety and perfectionism, that study after study correlates with high IQ. Failing to address these issues because the child is “succeeding” does not make the issues go away, and often it gets harder and harder to change. But our public schools want to dedicate the available resources to the kids who are not succeeding by any metric, and I can’t blame them even though it means I will have to pay out of pocket when my kids need help.

    The disengagement that comes from not being challenged is a real and serious problem for several friends and relatives I have had with 140+ IQs. Very few people have the patience to sit through seven hours a day of material they have already known for years. Some of them just stopped showing up in high school, and others in the first year of large lecture courses in college. Then they cannot get challenging work without a diploma, and soon enough they check out of the market economy altogether.

    I also know a lot of former I-bankers and BigLaw associates who were very bright ivy grads and got the heck out of the junior level jobs for other fields because the boredom and frustration of checking documents for typos on Christmas Eve in an “emergency” made them want to gouge their eyes out with a spoon. I decided it was a form of well-paid hazing, as there really isn’t any reason you need a Harvard grad to do document review.

    Back on the original article, there is also some evidence that sensory processing issues can be linked to high IQ in young children. My guess is that the lack of/delayed neural pruning that is causing the sensory over sensitivity is also driving the extra processing power, but I haven’t done any fMRI studies on that :)

    Excuse disjointed paragraphs, I’m on my iPad and trying to persuade the children to leave me alone :D

  73. RMS, her memoir ( Song in a Weary Throat) was exceptional.

    On gifted kids, the biggest problem can be that the kids are smarter than most of their teachers. Certainly that is usually the case when the kids are in regular classes. And quirky gifted kids can be very difficult to teach, even for teachers who are themselves gifted, because their other challenges require special handling. And very few quirky but gifted kids will get sorted into K-12 teaching because teacher training programs (at least in their standard state university mold) are very highly regimented.

    Agree with Meme that it’s simply not realistic to expect public schools to be able to meet all of these unique combinations of gifts and challenges. There are more high-achieving students than gifted quirky students, so it makes sense to focus scarce resources on that group, who often need extra attention in order to continue being high-achieving, especially when most of their peers are not.

  74. “I had another NMSF-eligible friend who failed a class or two, making her ineligible for the award.”

    Failing a class or two wouldn’t prevent someone from being NMSF, which is based only on PSAT score.

    It will likely prevent making it from NMSF to NMF, although over on CC I’ve read posts from several kids, terrified that the Cs (plural) they were getting would keep them from making NMF, receiving the letters telling them they’d made NMF, keeping the doors open for generous merit aid.

  75. “I have struggled the past few weeks on a work project that is beyond boring and what is worse is what is next if I finish this before the next big push of work hits. It is all stuff I am totally competent to do, but finishing the first project only punishes me with the next one. Why do I procrastinate? Because if I do so long enough the next one will go away. But, if any one cares to look at my productivity, they might question my pay rate.”

    Do you have other projects you can work on while you procrastinate on the one that punishes you for completion?

  76. “But are gifted children more likely to be quirky?”

    Not necessarily, but I do think that gifted kids’ quirks are likely to be different, and much more unique, than other kids’ quirks.

    “And by quirky I mean what was indicated above: “organizational, social, or other personal challenges”

    OK, by this definition, yes. [Academically] gifted kids probably have more social challenges than most other kids because they are different. And gifted kids who are different in other ways have exponentially more social challenges. I believe SM has experience with this.

    Kids who are both academically and socially gifted are extremely rare, and potentially very dangerous (right, Pseudo?). Of course, that can be mitigated with good (vs evil) peer groups.

  77. Would you believe that many Totebaggers understand that hunting is not morally different from eating meat from your local farm collective

    It most certainly is different. A farmer provides food, water, medical care and protection from non-human predators. A wild animal is on its own.

  78. It most certainly is different. A farmer provides food, water, medical care and protection from non-human predators. A wild animal is on its own.

    And happy til it gets shot.

  79. Finn, Mr WCE joked about “pasture fed rice” yesterday when he bought a bag of dog food that contained pasture-fed lamb and rice. It made me think of you.

  80. “I can’t think of a better process than the Ivy pipeline for identifying people who are willing to work hard and get every detail perfect.”

    For many of the Ivy grads, that is absolutely correct, and on top of that, you’d be getting some of the brightest people around, the top few %ile if judged by SAT scores.

    But there are others who got in by some hook that didn’t necessarily involve not just checking the boxes, but excelling at them. Jared Kushner is apparently one example.

  81. Sky – it was DH and I’s standard joke when DA was young and couldn’t tolerate the smell of whatever or would melt down over something new that “it’s a sign” because we had a neighbor who excused her sons idiotic behavior with “it’s a sign of his giftedness” all the time. For a few years there we had a LOT of signs.

  82. I would let my kids shoot guns and join the local club if they so desired. However, when I up with the grandparents and the mountain people, I absolutely ask where the guns are stored. I visually confirmed at the neighbor’s NYE party last year. I’m also not letting my kids go into a house with guns if I haven’t verified their storage method. I grew up in a house with an unsecured pistol in a drawer next to my Dad. Probability and luck meant that no one got killed, but the stats are scary to me.

  83. One thing I like about this blog is learning new things:

    Oh, NOW all of a sudden you’re all “language is an organic entity, it’s not fixed, grammar isn’t fixed, it grows and changes.”

    Well you just screwed yourself out of the next ten thousand weird-ass little prescriptivist nitpicks, sonny jim.

  84. We were once told on a tour that the local chocolate factory only uses “free-range” cocoa beans.

  85. “So it’s good to know that this is a controversial area of language, but I can’t recommend modifying absolute words with qualifiers in phrases like very unique, completely destroyed, or most fatal. ”

    Although I’ve heard the claim that 9 months is more pregnant than 1st trimester.

  86. “This doesn’t change the fact that totebaggy suburb high school is the single mold and you need to find a way to fit in it.”

    No, one of the things totebaggers are known for is their exploration and use of schooling alternatives for their kids. E.g., Ada will be exercising an option not geographically limited, whether to a suburb or anywhere else.
    Private school is another option commonly exercised by totebaggers.

  87. “very few quirky but gifted kids will get sorted into K-12 teaching because teacher training programs (at least in their standard state university mold) are very highly regimented.”

    That may be the case for public schools, but it doesn’t necessarily apply for private schools.

    Many of my kids’ teachers, especially in HS, are not education majors; I don’t believe they’ve been subject to this sorting process.

  88. “For DS’ class, next year (which will be 8th grade) they’re going to have an “official” advanced math class for the kids who are excelling in math, but that’s the first I’ve heard of an entire class that’s being segregated due to ability.”

    FYI, that’s how it is at my kids’ school. 8th grade math is the first honors class kids can take.

  89. “My employer highly values a PhD in its new hires but when you look at who the leaders are 20 years later, it is not highly correlated with having a PhD.”

    That mirrors my experience in your industry; the longer someone has been working, the more important the work experience and results, and the less important the school record.

  90. “But it’s not too easy, it’s too hard. I don’t think it’s helpful to say the problem is external, that the class is the problem. You are the one with the problem. I think it would be far more helpful to say you have a problem with executive function, here are some coping strategies, than to dismiss it as the school or class’s problem.”

    This is a logical approach to the issue, and perhaps suggests a way to frame it to some academically gifted kids. I believe more than a few regulars here have described their experiences with this approach.

    It’s also consistent with 7 Habits, and Machiavelli.

  91. Jared Kushner is apparently one example.

    His dad spent $2.5 million to get him into Harvard. But isn’t most of the value in Harvard having that kind of peer group?

  92. “But isn’t most of the value in Harvard having that kind of peer group?”

    But that means of gaining entry isn’t consistent with the screening process most students go through, and thus doesn’t identify him as someone “willing to work hard and get every detail perfect.”

  93. Finn, it’s definitely true in the public schools our kids attended. But our experience in private schools is like yours. Most teachers had degrees and advanced degrees in subject areas rather than education. But they also weren’t challenged in the social and executive function areas. I don’t think it’s possible to be an effective teacher if you can’t pick up social cues or keep track of assignments and paperwork.
    It is, however, quite possible to be a successful academic despite such challenges.

  94. “My employer highly values a PhD in its new hires but when you look at who the leaders are 20 years later, it is not highly correlated with having a PhD.”

    That mirrors my experience in your industry; the longer someone has been working, the more important the work experience and results, and the less important the school record.

    I think the point is that the employer thinks people with PhDs will produce better results than those without the degrees, but they aren’t.

  95. Some people with PhD’s do a great job, but the type of people who choose to get a PhD changes over time. People who got PhD’s in the 1970’s or 1980’s were different from people who get PhD’s now. It seems that more brilliant people back then were curious about how things worked. Now, more people either come from cultures that value a high level of academic achievement (Asian!), get a PhD as an immigration ticket or enjoy school. Andy Grove did groundbreaking work as part of his dissertation and that almost can’t happen anymore. The guy who phone-screened me (link below) is weird-fun.

    http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2006/jun/osu-professor-embarks-biodiesel-powered-cross-country-road-trip

  96. Finn – If only I had something else to work on that could be done at this time. My boss, who doesn’t delegate well, is extremely busy and stressed. I am able to competently to many of the tasks that could be delegated. However, a combination of external deadlines, some poor planning and a high need for control mean that it doesn’t happen. This situation will be in place for another 6 weeks. I do have a “back burner” project, but it requires coordination with another department who has told my department that it can’t get to its part for another 4 weeks. What I can do until I get their part is complete.

    Almost every job has some tasks that are tedious. While ideally tasks in this category are only a small portion of your time, they tend to get delegated to people lower down on the food chain. In some cases, employers realize that some people thrive with those tasks and everyone can be more productive if they find that person to do all that stuff.

    In totebag land, you do want people to speak up (politely and well-timed) about things, but there are many jobs and bosses where they want some one to just do X a specific way and do at least Y many a day.

  97. ne “willing to work hard and get every detail perfect.”

    When you inherit $700 million, you can hire people for that.

  98. Don’t confuse the want to be Ivy pipeline with the actual Ivy enrollees. And I am not talking about the very small marginally qualified percentage who bought their way in , or the 20 per cent of students whose academic qualifications parents of rejected applicants would assume should be discounted as legacy, URM, athletes or artists. I would estimate that less than 25 percent of the student body is pulled from the ranks of the dutiful pipeline. The remaining 50 per cent stand out in some other way, and are not necessarily good at coloring within the lines.

  99. Pseudonym, I found this chart comparing the percentage of students working a year ahead ELA and math in Wisconsin vs. California to be interesting. Google for better formatting
    Wisconsin Smarter Balanced Assessment
    Table 1.
    Percentage of Wisconsin Students Scoring One or More Years Above Grade Level17
    Grade ELA % scoring 1+ years above Mathematics % scoring 1+ years above
    3 32% 38%
    4 36% 25%
    5 41% 30%
    6 37% 33%
    7 44% 34%
    8 45% 26%
    At the end of the 2014–2015 school year, between 25% and 45% of Wisconsin students scored at
    or above the next grade level in the spring of their current grade. Remarkably, more than one-third
    of eighth graders in Wisconsin scored at or above the Grade 11 proficiency level.
    California Smarter Balanced Assessment
    Table 2.
    Percentage of California Students Scoring One or More Years Above Grade Level
    Grade ELA % scoring 1+ years above Mathematics % scoring 1+ years above
    3 21% 19%
    4 27% 18%
    5 33% 11%
    6 33% 27%
    7 36% 27%
    8 37% 34%
    Between 11% and 37% of California students scored at or above the next grade level in the spring
    of their current grade level. The percentages tend to be higher for students in the higher grades.

    from How Can So Many Students Be Invisible? Large Percentages of American Students Perform Above Grade Level By Matthew C. Makel,Michael S. Matthews,Scott J. Peters,Karen Rambo-Hernandez,and Jonathan A. Plucker

  100. Total non-sequitur. Spain in our Hearts is terrific. Hochschild is a professor of journalism, and he spends a lot of time dissecting the way in which all news sources lied and distorted the facts of the Spanish Civil War. He doesn’t cut anyone any slack; Nationalists, Republicans, Communists, Anarchists — all come in for harsh criticism in the way journalists just ignored the truth in order to support particular political and ideological viewpoints. Scary echoes of the current situation.

  101. I have concerns about the chart comparing students and grade level ability. Was the assessment test the same in both states? Some of the assessment tests in certain states are ludicrous and many parents opt out their kids. That brings up my other concern. How many kids opted out and did not take the test? This now varies wildly in NY state. Wealthier and higher educated parents in NY state tend to opt out their children more often than the parents of students from lower income families.

  102. Most students accepted by HSS have stratospheric test scores and nearly perfect GPAs. That takes a lot of coloring within the lines.

  103. Scarlett – what about Meme’s suggestion that they stand out in other ways ? Are those interests real or are they the resume builder variety ? or may be a combination of both ?

  104. The nearly perfect GPAs may require coloring within the lines but the high test scores do not.

    “The remaining 50 per cent stand out in some other way, and are not necessarily good at coloring within the lines.”

    But getting stellar GPAs is required for almost all admitted students. I would say that indicates they must learn how to color within the lines. Of course many of these students receive considerable support in achieving their high grades, with parents or tutors or butlers ;) stepping in to help.

  105. Drift– What kind of weather should a visitor to the northeast be prepared for next week? E.g., no need to pack shorts, need a heavy jacket, etc?

    TIA.

  106. CoC, I would argue that, for many students, the high test scores also require a certain degree of line-abiding. You have to show up to the test site on time, sit still, follow instructions, and finish within the allotted time. If you think too much outside the box, you may over think the question and choose the wrong answer. Most kids will also have endured tedious hours of test prep in some form. If the GPA is a marathon slog, the SAT is a 100 yard dash completed only after several Ironman triathlons. Both tend to reward high-achieving hoop-jumpers, which is why the HSS are full of them.

  107. Many HSS students and/or their parents have also done a lot of discovery work to determine the hoops through which to jump.

  108. Finn – I would look at the forecast. ;) Highs here will be 50s-60s but it will be as cold as 35 at night.

  109. Lauren, the comparison is Smarter Balance in Wisconsin vs. Smarter Balance in California. Opt out rates weren’t specified and I didn’t look to see what year the data is from, but where I am, opting out isn’t a “thing” so I didn’t think about that. I suspect California has higher percentages of ESL students than Wisconsin and if English language learners don’t take the test, that would affect participation as well.

  110. Finn, the weather changes a lot this time of year, and your best bet is layers. The weather for Boston is chilly next week so I wouldn’t skip a jacket. We’ve been getting a lot of rain in NY and it has been chilly with the exception of a few days. I don’t think you’re going to have much use for shorts in the northeast next week. It does look like you will need an umbrella.

  111. It appears that Wisconsin, California and several other states are part of a “Consortium” with the same cutoff scores by grade on Smarter Balance.

  112. Finn, I agree layers are good. My go-to combo is a fleece or light down jacket with a water-resistant jacket/windbreaker. If you’re packing light I’d skip shorts unless you tend to get warm in 50-60s weather. Now or later when you’re in the area I’m always up for a meeting with other totebaggers. Enjoy your trip and keep us updated.

    I’m curious if your son anticipates enjoying or simply dealing with northeast winters since he’s never had to deal with them as he was growing up. For some kids a change in climate is a big deal but most seem to adjust just fine.

  113. Happy Easter everyone! I’m off to a family brunch later and looking forward to an unseasonably warm mid-80s day. What are you all doing today? (Hmm, on second thought maybe Finn should pack shorts because it could hit the 70s later this week.)

  114. Happy Easter. It’s really just a regular Sunday here.

    For those of us in index funds, the WSJ sez: “Indexes Beat Stock Pickers Even Over 15 Years
    New data show that 82% of all U.S. funds trailed their respective benchmarks over 15 years”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/indexes-beat-stock-pickers-even-over-15-years-1492039859?emailToken=JRrydfF%2BaXmRh9AybMw90lElfqQTTuWET0%2BSN2zNMUuJrH3eou%2B73OA4mdax5GSxSFw/vo1B/mM2XyaU2TY7BpfKyu4iwA%3D%3D

    (That’s the “email this article” link rather than the regular link, so you might be able to read it without a subscription.)

  115. So on topic momentarily, re: the earlier comments about teaching the gifted kids to suck it up and deal with the boring/tedious things that are beneath their current abilities: I wasn’t actually advocating for anything different than that, although I realize it sounded like it. What I was trying to convey was that when you are smart, *everything* falls into that category. Most of your school life involves sitting on your butt, finding ways to keep yourself entertained while the rest of the class figures it out. So all you do, all day, every day, is build your tolerance for following stupid rules and doing boring shit that is beneath you. So by definition, if you graduate with good grades, you have developed sufficient tolerance of boredom and attention to detail to survive in the real world.

    Personally, I did fine, because I go inwards when bored, and I am enough of a rule-follower to figure out that I needed to finish my work and then not bother the teacher. But my point was more of a plea to give these kids *some* kind of attention and outlet, some part of their school life that is not just drudgery. I always had at least one awesome teacher who got me and pushed me, and I had a mom who repeatedly told me that it would get better and I would find my tribe in college, and that made all the difference. If I hadn’t had that support at school and at home — well, I can 100% see why a smart kid would turn to drugs to make it through the day.

    Off-topic, happy Easter. I am very, very happy to be back home after a, um, difficult spring break week with all of the inlaws (too many people in too small a house for an introvert). But the kids had a blast with the cousins, and I think MIL enjoyed it, which was pretty much the point, and I managed to keep the anxiety under control to try to avoid ruining it for everyone else. Apparently, one beer at all times is the key (two in a row loosens things up too much). Today I am enjoying being alone with my recliner and my DVR, to be followed by an Easter egg hunt for the kids later at my mom’s. And weeding, lots and lots of weeding, as apparently everything went boom while we were gone.

  116. And I, as usual, wrote a convoluted essay instead of getting to the main point I wanted to make about WCE’s original statement that she could understand how the Ivy league was a fertile recruiting ground for investment banking firms. There were a number of articles 3 years ago when some guy wrote a book on it that posited that the firms created the 2 year and out program just to channel the competitive urges and risk aversion of Ivy League grads who were not actively pre law or pre med and needed to use their well honed application and resume building skills to ace yet another competition – that for a Goldman or McKinsey job. Of 30 percent of Harvard grads who followed that path upon graduation, only 6 percent expected to stay in the profession. The extreme hours and tedium were considered just another rung on the lifelong training ladder. In estimating the percentages, I guess I was thinking of 30 to 50 years ago, not today, It is probably more like 50% extraordinary kids with all the hoop jumping skills, 25% those who are targeted admits of all kinds, at least half of whom have to show perseverance either against adversity or in music/athletic training (plus the rich, famous, and legacy), and 25% who demonstrate a lot of grit and/or quirkiness or are simply brilliant but not conventional. The recent grads I meet at alumni events are almost exclusively of the non hoop jumping ilk. Entrepreneurs, inventors, cutting edge tech types, trust funders doing good. I guess the others are just too busy.

  117. I was stereotyping based on what I’ve read about the Ivy pipeline so I’m glad to get more information. Thankfully, my area doesn’t have parents focused on Ivies. I’ve worked with many people from Cornell (Cornell offers degrees in material science) and they are fine, not extraordinary and not noticeably different from people who went to a solid state school like UT Austin, UC Davis or UC Berkeley. I suspect Cornell admits more “regular” bright people than Harvard.

  118. Cornell has that odd feature that it’s partly a state school. One of my high school buds went there and I believe it does have a different mix than some of the other Ivies.

  119. It is slightly easier to get into Cornell vs.some of the other Ivies. The main reason is that they have a larger freshman class than some of the other Ivies. It is slightly easier to get admitted to the state schools, but the admit rates are still extremely competitive. The difference between the stats for kids that are admitted to the College vs. the Ag school are tiny. My cousin got admitted to the College, but transferred to Ag to save money. It’s still very tough to get into Cornell, but I would agree with WCE about the kids that get admitted there vs. Harvard or MIT.

    Finn, we are driving back to NY. I’ve never visited OSV, but I just saw the signs on I84. Seems like it would be a very easy stop for you if you take 84 through CT to get to 90.

  120. Easter is so late this year that it falls on Marathon Sunday. No one wants to buy the red sox tickets, so since we have no observance today, we are at the game watching our pitcher walk the first two batters. Daughter has finally acquiesced to the request of her dads sole client that he bring her to Easter dinner. There are two 40ish sons one single and one recently divorced. Her good deed for the quarter

  121. Finn I am not a big OSV fan, so take this accordingly. In April it closes at 4pm, and many of the exhibits are seasonally closed. The target weekday audience is school outings The costumed staff renactors are always very professional informed and friendly. Now i did like Mystic, and Plymouth Plantation many years ago, so it is not that I dislike history.

  122. If you do go to OSV this summer, I’d recommend you check out the watermill — I think you’d enjoy seeing how all the gearing works together.

  123. Meme, we may both be right about hoop jumping. Once the jumpers get to Harvard or another HSS, those with no interest in biglaw or med school or another narrow path to a credential can finally stop jumping and explore their other gifts. They all get A’s in college and if they don’t have huge loans, they can take a few detours. Those are probably the recent grads you have in mind.

  124. “unless you tend to get warm in 50-60s weather.”

    hahahahahaha. 60s is really cold; 50s is record territory and really freezing.

    “I’m curious if your son anticipates enjoying or simply dealing with northeast winters since he’s never had to deal with them as he was growing up. ”

    I think he’s looking forward to it. We spent a couple of winter breaks in cold climates, dealing with snowdrifts and icy sidewalks, and he had no problems with that. Those experiences helped him conclude that that sort of weather is something he could deal with.

    BTW, I’m not making the trip. DS is going to some admitted student events, and DW will accompany him.

  125. Happy Easter everyone. Today, I have a head full of cotton with these seasonal allergies. ILs coming over for dinner. I had nothing to contribute to this discussion. Nobody in our family is gifted. Not even sure we are high achieving. We get by. : )

  126. “It is slightly easier to get into Cornell vs.some of the other Ivies. The main reason is that they have a larger freshman class than some of the other Ivies. ”

    Very roughly, Cornell’s freshman class is on the order of twice the size of the other Ivies’.

    Not as sure about this, but my interactions with Cornell alums suggest that engineering is more part of the core DNA there than at other Ivies.

    And WCE, don’t forget the Cornell alum from big city Montana.

  127. College update: I’m on the fence about sharing TMI, but here goes. DS, the NMF, got shut out and is attending his “safety school”, which DH and I really like. DS is getting over his disappointment, but I hope he will turn around. Another Totebag parent (I think) has a child at this college. If this is the case, I am happy to invite said Totebag child to our house for Thanksgiving or help in any other way. Let me know, if you feel like reaching out.

    Moral of the story: Love your safety. Moral #2: College applications are a bitch. Moral #3: The Stones were right–You can’t always get what you want….

  128. Finn, from listening to people talk on this blog, I think the whole college experience in engineering (generally) is different from the experience at a SLAC (including Ivy) where people are more peers than competitors. When I entered my major, I knew 75-80% of people entering my major wouldn’t graduate in it, and that was/is? typical of competitive programs at land grant universities. Getting admitted to a land grant university isn’t that difficult, but graduating with good class rank in a competitive program is more difficult than just getting admitted.

  129. Houston, it’s just incredible that your NMF son didn’t get into the state flagship. But hopefully he’ll enjoy his school — a school that many kids rank #1 on their lists of colleges.

  130. Houston, congrats on getting through the process and on your DS making NMF (which seems at odds with your comment about your kids not being high achieving or gifted, as NMF indicates he’s in the top 1%ile, but not at odds with your (and I assume his) modesty).

    I think the school your DS will be attending is well known for its engineering school and the average salary of its graduates.

  131. It’s my understanding that NMF, and more generally, test scores, don’t really figure into flagship acceptance; it’s all about class rank, and going to a competitive HS makes it difficult for even gifted kids to get in, although I believe the school I think he will attend also has a very tight acceptance window and, as RMS mentions, is also ranked very highly.

    I’d thought he might be considering/considered for other options like SMU or UT-Dallas that actively recruit NMF and have strong engineering programs; IIRC, Houston had also mentioned family nearby as positives for those schools.

  132. Houston, my condolences to your son. Hopefully he will have a great experience at his safety.

  133. Houston–several kids from DS’s high school are going there and love it; they are also getting some very impressive internships even as freshmen, with very high pay to match ( one kid was making more per week than we pay our first year lawyers).
    (This is Benefits Lawyer–for some reason my posts don’t go through when I enter my name. I probably just need to change names, but haven’t thought of anything catchy yet).

  134. Unrelated to anything, I finally went with Geico for homeowner’s insurance. It’s $450 less than Progressive for slightly more coverage. And that’s without a multi-policy discount. When I have some energy I’ll price out auto insurance with them as well.

  135. WCE, at my undergrad land grant U, we knew that there would be a lot of attrition in the CoE, but that was because of the difficulty of the curriculum, not the competitiveness of the program.

    I’ve heard that is very different than the situation at many of the top engineering schools, where pretty much everybody they admit has demonstrated the ability to handle the curriculum.

  136. Congrats to your DS, Houston !
    NMF is an awesome achievement.
    I think I know which college is being referenced and even though geographically I am far away, it is a well known name.

  137. The Totebag kids seem to have their college choices narrowed down or have decided.
    One of my colleagues is having to deal with several changes regarding which college his DS wants to attend. It started off being an OOS flagship (accepted him), then he didn’t want to go there, decided firmly on an in state school (accepted him), then decided that it was a party school, so no go. Applied to NC State – late app (waitlisted), applied to city branch of UNC (accepted) – the plan is now to study at the city branch and then transfer to the NC State.

  138. Houston, congratulations to your son and also on being done with the process! I’m sorry he didn’t get his first choice but as you know the college he will attend is a top-notch school. I can’t help but feel frustrated for Texas students for the way admissions are handled at state universities. Oh, and I hate to break it to you but your son is gifted by most definitions. ;) Maybe it’s hard to see that when you hang out with totebaggers.

  139. I agree with Coc on NMSF and NMF. So few students make the cut. After I became aware of it on the Totebag – I looked for mentions.
    Here most schools go without ever having one or in a good year maybe one student. The two well regarded city public high schools may have less than five.
    The private schools here have between five and ten.

  140. Houston – sorry about your DS’s top choice. I hope he ends up loving his safety. And that’s great that he’s NMF — impressive!

  141. Houston, I’m sorry your son is feeling that sting. I didn’t get into my top choice either and I still remember the feeling of disappointment when the thin envelope showed up rather than the thick one.

    But I’m thrilled for you that you’re finished with the process and he’s going to a place that you, with your experience and insight, think is a good place for him.

    Interestingly, I have talked to 2 other parents this week, whose highly qualified kids didn’t get into their top choices. Both of those parents also said their #1 advice is to encourage kids not to have a “top choice,” but to do enough research/visiting to have around 3 schools they’d be delighted to attend.

    We are years away from this as oldest DH is only in middle school, but I appreciate everyone here sharing their experiences. It’s helpful for seeing the road ahead of us.

  142. Next up: The Battle for Prom. Convincing DS that if he wants a date, he has to actually *ask someone* more than a few days in advance.

  143. I missed this whole thread because I had a relative visiting this weekend. But this last part of the comment chain is feeding into my anxiety. We have now done two university visits – SUNY Albany and Stony Brook. Albany is a safety, whereas Stony Brook may be a reach. The son of one of my colleagues was rejected from Stony Brook engineering this year.He was rejected with a 29 ACT and a 91 average. All I can think is, geez, it has gotten so impossible.

  144. @Houston — combined sorry and congratulations. If it helps, I did not get into my first choice for either college or law school (also as a NMF), and now I wouldn’t trade my choices for anything. Of course, at the time I thought the world was ending. :-)

  145. Just catching up from the weekend and agree with Mooshi Mooshi about anxiety about all this stuff. In part, there is not a lot more that can be done to improve her application resume that isn’t already in progress or completed.

    DD#1 applied for a local intership, made it to the interview stage, but won’t know until next weekend if she got it. The city has 170 STEAM interships, but they don’t decide where you go until after the interview process. If that falls through, she is working on the application to a camp at WPI this summer as it is due before the city makes its announcement.

    We completed two school visits and have 2 planned to the northeast this summer and may be catching a third one en route. Of the 5 that are currently on her list 3 are private, 1 in state public and 1 OOS public, but selective. I think she has too many selective and not enough safety on her list.

    Based on what the guidance counselor said, if she finishes this year strong and does not fall victim to senioritis, she should be in the correct percentages of her class for automatic acceptance at all state public schools. However, that NEVER guarantees you the major you want as that comes generally through a more holistic sorting process.

    I don’t know how kids with uninvolved parents or other adult manage this process. Watching a FB friend’s daughter go throught he process. She was accepted to 5 very good schools for her desired major and is now trying to evaluate financial aid/cost of attendance to make her selection. So far, one has been knocked out. Seems like there is a lot of stress in that household.

  146. AustinMom,

    Is your DD applying for the Frontiers program at WPI? DD attended the past two years and had a great time. It is what sold her on the school.

  147. I don’t know how kids with uninvolved parents or other adult manage this process.

    They aren’t applying to the same tier of schools as totebaggers so it’s a much simpler process. SIL’s stepson who I’ve mentioned before applied to 20 schools with minimal involvement from his parents.

  148. For some reason this whole discussion about Cornell has irked me. The engineering college there is a private college, not land grant. We had a whole conversation about how schools should be lauded for reaching down the economic ladder to bring bright kids up – something a mixed land-grant/private University is poised to do – and yet here we’re dismissive of Cornell for doing just that, for being easier to get into, and the like. Make up your minds people!

    And why wouldn’t a really gifted student choose a state school/land grant over private? Shows financial savviness to me.

    The snobby and classist tone of this discussion is annoying.

  149. My colleague whose situation I mentioned is typical for the level of involvement that I see. The classes, grades, choice of college (within what the family can afford) are up to the kid. The parents will make college visits to whichever schools the kid wants to attend. They will not weigh in on which school is better, look at rankings, majors or any of that.
    My other colleague has a DD who did very well and has been accepted to very good schools with little parental input.

  150. The only public program at Cornell is the Ag school. The rest is private. I always thought it was really hard to get into. And I have never thought of them as a school that was particularly reaching down the economic ladder – but maybe I am wrong? I usually think of CUNY, and honestly, my own employer, when I think of schools that are moving students upwards. Remember all those stats I posted a while back on which schools were actually moving poor kids into the middle class?

  151. The snobby and classist tone of this discussion is annoying

    Try going to a U.C. I mean, they’re not even on the East Coast!

  152. @Houston – Same thoughts from me. I am sorry your son is feeling stung, but he is still very impressive, and I’m sure he will be successful at his 2nd choice.

    “I appreciate everyone here sharing their experiences. It’s helpful for seeing the road ahead of us.”

    Agreed. Not sure what DS’s interests/aptitude will be as we are pretty far away. I’m more worried about where he will go to MS/HS right now (which is still a couple years out), but the years seems to move at lightning speed sometimes.

    Like Meme, DS & I spent a lovely Easter afternoon at the ballpark. The weather/company was perfect, even if the outcome of the game was disappointing. And DS picked out a bunch of World Series gear at the huge new store at the ballpark.

  153. Mooshi – Hum Ec and Industrial Labor Relations are also land grant/state supported. As is the Vet graduate school.

  154. Cornell has four “contract colleges” operated by Cornell under contract with New York state:
    – College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, College of Human Ecology, School of Industrial & Labor Relations
    – College of Veterinary Medicine (Graduate)

    The rest are private. Tuition for undergrads at the contract colleges is somewhat lower than in the private colleges. It does not = regular SUNY schools’ in-state tuition ~$6-7k.

  155. RMS – My own mother was dissing the Vet school, trying to tell me one in Canada was more highly ranked. The Cornell Vet program is 1st/2nd in the world, yet her friends’ son went to the Canadian one and she said it was the best, so end of story. Grrr. Fact impervious.

  156. For what it’s worth, my land grant comments were based on my experience in low population states. I didn’t mean to imply anything about the experience in Texas or other high population states. At Iowa State, the 25th/75th percentile ACT scores are 22/28. At Oregon State, the 25th/75th percentile ACT scores are 21/27. Totally different ball game than what you are describing.

    Finn, you are correct that the material, more than competitiveness, is what drove attrition in engineering. I remember being very fear-driven, knowing that many people from my high school had attempted engineering unsuccessfully and trying not to be one of them.

  157. I first heard of Cornell due to their Hotel Administration program. A few people from the home country were in that field and they had taken courses at Cornell.

  158. “And why wouldn’t a really gifted student choose a state school/land grant over private? Shows financial savviness to me.”

    Yes. I feel like we’ve talked about this before. Also – what doesn’t come up as much here theoretically (but does with the parents who have college-aged kids) is proximity to home depending on the student’s interests. I know that I was not interested in going to school on the coasts – only to places within pretty easy driving distance. That’s something that the guidance counselor at one of the top City schools told me as well – the kids there tend to go to Big Ten schools (including our flagship) even though they may have the aptitude to go other places because they don’t really want to move that far away from home. Boston and Palo Alto are really far from Chicago – especially for truly middle class kids who would only be able to afford to fly home at Christmas break.

  159. The official line in our house is that the kids can go anywhere. However, I am secretly glad that DS1’s university is fairly close. : )

  160. As someone who grew up in the Midwest and went to a really solid state school, I was no more going to go to Boston or California for undergrad than I was going to ride a unicorn to my first job. I had never even been to those places. And even if the financial aid would have made the tution/room & board manageable, there are still a bunch of other costs that would not have been covered. Like flying there for a visit. Not happening.

  161. “The official line in our house is that the kids can go anywhere. However, I am secretly glad that DS1’s university is fairly close. : )”

    I would be too!

  162. Houston, hopefully he’ll be really happy at 2nd choice. That was my DS first choice and he didn’t get in, despite grades/test scores that were within/above the middle 50%. And I agree with you – close to home is nice. Right there with you on prom…

  163. My son’s friend moved back after 6.5 years, a few weeks before the end of jr prom ticket sales in January, and still came up with a prom date. I asked my son about prom plans and he seemed unaware that there was a prom or that tickets for it had been sold over the past couple of months, and in fact surprised that I would think he might be interested in such a thing at all.

    Houston, congratulations to your son on the NMF, and I hope he’s getting excited about his college plans!

  164. “Boston and Palo Alto are really far from Chicago”

    “Far” is a relative term.

  165. “We are years away from this as oldest DH is only in middle school”

    As I’ve mentioned before, I suggest the wheels start turning about the middle of 8th grade, during planning for HS classes.

  166. DS’ prom was a couple of weeks ago. And we didn’t have to pay a cent for formal wear for the event!!

Comments are closed.