by Honolulu Mother

We haven’t had a post on family calendar systems for a while. This may risk bringing the Cozi hordes back down on us, but has anyone changed calendaring system? Still happy with the one you have? Looking for a change?

We’ve long used a paper calendar in the kitchen as the main family calendar, supplemented to some degree by Google calendar that only I ever looked at or got notifications from. Since changing the kitchen Echo out for an Echo show, though, the Google calendar notifications are very visible for all because they’re part of the rotating newsfeed on the Show’s screen when it’s idle (with a slideshow of family photos in the background). It’s also easier to ask to show a specific date in, say, April, than to flip forward in the paper calendar. As a result, I’m now making the effort to get everything into my Google calendar so it’ll show up in the newsfeed. We basically have two parallel systems going now, the paper one and the electronic one.

What’s your calendaring news?


199 thoughts on “Calendaring

  1. We’re still using Google calendar. I don’t like the new interface so I reverted back to the old one. We’ve shared it with the kids as well.

  2. I use Google calendar and since everyone in the house has a Google account, I add family members to any events they need to know about. That way everyone gets notified.

    My oldest kid, the inattentive type ADHD kid, had very serious issues with remembering assignments. The paper planners they use in school never have enough space for all the detail he needs to write down (it isn’t enough to just jot down a quick memory jogger for him – he has to capture everything about an assignment). So he designed his own, with plenty of space per class, and columns to indicate new assignments, stuff that has to be handed in TODAY (because remembering to hand things in was a big issue too), a place for teachers to sign off, and some other stuff. We print it off at Staples at the beginning of each year. His brother liked it so much that he decided to use one too.

  3. We do Outlook — works great for me and DH, since we both have it and use it for work. Makes it easy to just send each other an appointment and have it all in one spot.

    The only pain was that my mom doesn’t use it, so we had to email back and forth with her, and the dates wouldn’t show up in her calendar. Minor issue, but it is becoming more problematic now, because now that DD can drive herself places, she can take over all of her own scheduling and such, but she doesn’t always think to tell me until the last minute, and she doesn’t have Outlook to check to see if something else is already scheduled for that time. We will have to figure out something — right now, everything still runs through me, and it is my job to render myself irrelevant except as Provider of Hugs on Sucky Days (along with my occasional side hustle as Giver of Unwanted Advice).

  4. DH and I use Google Calendar and also discuss the upcoming weeks with our sitter and the kids from time to time. I’ve been relying on FB for birthdays recently as well but that doesn’t work as well when I want to give someone a gift. I need to update my Google calendar for birthdays.

  5. Was just having this discussion with DH because we need a new system. I use the one on my iPhone which syncs with my work calendar. He has an android and (sometimes) uses the Google calendar. We made a group Google calendar that I add things to and he gets the notifications, but since I don’t use gmail, I never get the notifications for. Really wishing there was one all encompassing calendar system, but can’t seem to find it.

    We still use the paper one on the fridge, it’s right next to the coffee pot, so easy to check every morning. More of a reference than a planning tool though since it’s not with us all the time.

  6. The other thing that is nice about Google calendar is that it has this feature where you can click on a date in an email, and it will create the calendar event for you. Since the school district sends out a lot of notices by email with dates in them, this is pretty handy. I also can import the district calendar into Google, as well as my university academic calendar.

  7. This year, our dept chair FINALLY figured out how to do meeting requests in Outlook (which we use at work) so that now, when he calls a department meeting, it shows up in our calendars.

  8. Mooshi – great your oldest found a system that worked for him. The kids’ school has a system but they haven’t quite gotten on board with it. They’re still young so I’m encouraging them to use the school’s system (which I find a reasonable one). If it continues to be an issue next year, I’ll take it up with the school.

  9. “Google calendar that only I ever looked at”

    Same here. Every time my H calls and asks “do we have anything going on on xyz date”, I’m thinking “why don’t you check the calendar?”. But I’ve stopped saying anything because he’ll never look. :)

    Can you input Google calendar items using Echo show?

  10. I’ve been using an app called CalenGoo, primarily because I like the weekly display on my phone. It shows the actual events instead of just a block of time. Everyone in the household has gmail accounts and I’ll invite them to specific events as needed, special dinners, events, etc.

  11. I keep everything on my work Outlook calendar. Which is great for having everything all in one place. But for some reason, my brain flat out cannot process the information that way. So each Sunday, which I am generally planning for the week, I write down all my appointments onto the weekly paper calendar that sits on my desk. It’s the only way I can really get a handle on what the upcoming week looks like.

    DH doesn’t keep an electronic calendar at all. He carries around a printed out month in his pocket, and writes everything down on that or just keeps it in his head. Every few weeks we sit down together and go over the calendars so we each have important dates written down.

  12. Older kids school has an online portal where grades, upcoming assignments and school information is posted. Kid has adjusted well to that. Younger kid still has a paper agenda that works. Teacher also sends parents a weekly email, so they know what’s upcoming.
    All other home related appointments I keep in the notes section of my phone. I just delete them when they are done.

  13. Louise, our district does not have any kind of universal portal like that. They have both Google Classroom and Moodle set up, and some teachers use one or the other. Some post the assignments, others just have pretty pictures. Some teachers use completely different systems. It is all over the place. I am on the district technology committee as a parent rep. and at every meeting, we go back over the fact that a universal portal with assignments is the feature most requested by parents. The administrators always say that they can’t make the teachers use these systems, but then they proudly add “we are making progress and most teachers use one of the two supported applications”. Well, I pointed out last meeting that none of my high school senior’s teachers have anything online, and only two of my 10th grader’s teachers have online sites. That made them get quiet.

    One of the big issues, and here I sympathize with the teachers, is utter lack of IT support. They just hurl these sites at the teachers with no guidance. Our district is too tiny to have more than a couple of IT people and they are trying to do everything from networking issues to purchasing to planning for the future. This is an area that would really benefit from merging districts.

  14. I use outlook at work; a paper weekly calendar/planner for both my work and personal appointments, and a wall calendar at home for family stuff. The rest of the family mostly uses me. DH uses outlook for his work stuff. I like my weekly paper calendar because it gives me a good sense for everything coming up (i.e. I can just glance at it and see the whole week). Also, writing everything down helps me remember things more easily.

    Mooshi, that is great your son came up with his own system!

  15. I use outlook at work and Google at home. I have to input my work meetings onto the Google calendar though, so I remember to go in when I have a meeting!

    DH gets annoyed sometimes if I put things on my calendar but not his – this is why we *share* the calendars!

  16. We use iCal (Apple). It works really well for us because everyone is on the Apple ecosystem and because both DH & I diligently use it. I even put our meal plans in there because usually, I do the planning/shopping/prep, but DH does the execution on weeknights. (he gets home earlier than me) When I use my work phone, I can see both family AND work calendars together, but on my personal phone, I do not and no one else has to deal with my Outlook appointments.

    This year, at school we have a great, organized teacher plus an amazingly Type-A room parent (who is awesome – I say Type A as a compliment). So we got a great, detailed school calendar at the beginning of the year AND the room parent keeps on top of the day-to-day and sends reminders/posts changes. DS uses a paper agenda – they all do, it is how they manage the classroom work/work plans for the kids. He’s gotten used it, and it works well. I hope this will make the transition to MS a little easier because he is absolutely not a naturally organized kid.

  17. Can you input Google calendar items using Echo show?

    Yes. You’ll need to go into the settings in the Alexa app and set the calendar you want it to use. I have it using my Google calendar as the main one, and my work Outlook calendar importing also (my personal one, which isn’t crammed with stuff). So when I ask Alexa/Amazon to add an appointment, she adds it to my Google calendar. That’s handy because anyone can add an appointment by talking to the nearest Echo.

    You don’t need to have an Echo show to use the calendar feature; it’s just that I find it way more useful to have a calendar I can actually see, so I hadn’t even bothered to set it up before.

    Funny thing about the calendar items showing in the newsfeed — it’s been showing “BBBS donation on curb” since there was a pickup scheduled for this morning. My youngest saw that and thought it was a headline about a downturn in donations (thinking “on curb” might be another way to say “curbed”) and said, “Amazon, tell me the story about BBBS donations.” She got all confused.

  18. Every time my H calls and asks “do we have anything going on on xyz date”, I’m thinking “why don’t you check the calendar?”. But I’ve stopped saying anything because he’ll never look. :)

    Ah, I see we have the same husband.

  19. Our school has an amazing on-line portal. It has literally everything in it. You can filter by kid, by extracurricular, by class, etc. I can see what assignments the kids have (though I very rarely check), the overall school calendar, sports schedules – it’s all there. That’s how oldest DS keeps up with his assignments. Teachers are really good about keeping it updated.

  20. @MM — we do have the universal portal, but the teachers just don’t use it, and those that do frequently don’t post the actual assignments. My current beef is that one of DD’s teachers posts all of the grades in chunks, so DD went on last week and discovered that she has a B in a class where she thought she was pulling an A, and she doesn’t know why. Meanwhile, she is required under the grading policy to be given an opportunity to redo any quizzes or projects that she screws up, but the teacher same says that time runs from the time the quiz is taken/project is turned in, NOT the time she gets around to grading them and posting the grades. I told DD to ask for a re-do on whatever it was that she messed up on, and that if she ran into any guff on being past the deadline, to let me know, and mommy will have a little chat with the teacher and Principal about children not living in Vonnegut novels.

    And before this devolves into the typical “OMG a B she’ll be living on the streets” discussion: yes, I do normally let DD handle her own schoolwork and grades now; she has finally gotten mature enough that (knock on wood) she seems to be doing a good job of it. But one of her biggest remaining flaws is a little too much deference to authority; she will take whatever the teacher says as gospel, even when it makes no sense whatsoever or is clearly wrong or inappropriate. So she’ll come home and vent and have a mini-fit about how “unfair” it all is, but she won’t ever talk to the teacher about it. And half the time things like this come up, she has misunderstood the policy/requirement/expectation, so if she just thought to herself, “hmm, this doesn’t make sense, maybe I heard her wrong” and asked one or two questions, she’d get it cleared up. So yes, I am absolutely pressing her on this particular incident — not because of the grade, but because “don’t just accept what people tell you if it doesn’t make sense” is a critical life skill.

    Plus, y’all know me: stupid rules just piss me off.

  21. And half the time things like this come up, she has misunderstood the policy/requirement/expectation, so if she just thought to herself, “hmm, this doesn’t make sense, maybe I heard her wrong” and asked one or two questions, she’d get it cleared up.

    Sometimes it’s the kid misunderstanding something, but I’m pretty sure that some other times it’s the policy/requirement/expectation suddenly getting more flexible and reasonable when a parent asks for clarification.

  22. On the subject of calendaring, I will say this for Totebaggers whose kids are younger than mine: one of my great surprises about middle school (vs. elementary school) is how much variation there is in the evening/weekend schedule for sports and extracurriculars, and how little notice there can be.

    So much of what my kids did in elementary school was 100% predictable (tennis every Monday, swim every Tuesday, etc., and it was a schedule that was year round, because much of it was clinics or lessons, not team play). Now, sports schedules change weekly, band schedules change, things are switched around to accommodate plays or playoffs. I have learned to make as few plans as possible, particularly travel plans or weekend commitments, and this was new for us.

    And just so I’m clear, this is not in any way a complaint. It’s just the nature of these years, but it was a constant surprise to me in our first year of middle school.

    That’s my PSA for the day.

  23. For android users, there’s a great app called CalWidget. It displays your appointments in a very easy to read format on your homescreen.

  24. I use google calendar, but I’m not a fan for a few reasons. I think it’s creepy that Google is obviously reading stuff and making suggestions based on some of my entries. I know it’s free so I accept it, but I still feel like they have too much information.

    I am the only person that uses the calendar. DD likes to store everything in her school planner, and DH uses a work calendar for his stuff. We’re a small family so this works for us. It wasn’t as simple when I was working full time, but now I’m responsible for most household stuff so it works.

  25. Still using Apple’s default calendar. Have an identity on it linked to my son’s phone, so he sees anything I schedule for him.

    I’ve also begun to ask him to take a little more responsibility for his own schedule. He still doesn’t/can’t set it up, but as we have moved from me just being happy he’s going to him really wanting to participate, I’ve refused to pester him to be ready on time and begun having him be the one to say when it’s time to get ready. Not a huge substantive change, but it feeels so much different/better/easier.

    Here’s an off-topic article for when it’s time to kick back and relax

  26. I think I must use iCal at home, because all my appointments pop up on my apple watch. This can be good or maddening.

    I was really looking forward to syncing all my work and home appointments on one calendar system until I started work and found out we use an old version of Lotus Notes, which is un-sync-able. (I know, Finn, I just made that word up. But you all know what i mean.)

    So far I do not bother tracking any of the kids’ school assignments. I’m hoping that if I never start doing it for them, they will never expect me to do it for them.

    And in other news, I just cracked and told the cleaning lady to come every week instead of every other week. I can’t keep up.

    Meme, you missed a great scene yesterday when the kitten we are cat-sitting fell into a full bathtub. It was hilarious. (Unless you were the cat. She was not amused.)

  27. I use outlook for work, but being in the public sector if I put personal stuff on their and someone makes an open records request for my calendar, they get all my personal stuff too. So, my work calendar only has time off coded as the type of leave I am taking. If I have an event that is not work related, but means I must leave work on time or I cannot flex my hours in anyway that day, I have a block that just says PERSONAL APPOINTMENT.

    For years, I did the paper calendar/planner, up until I retired and had no reason to carry it around. After a few hits and misses, I use the Readdle Calendars App. It was suggested by DD#2’s OT to use as a assignment book app. (I can talk about this more if anyone is interested). But, you set the default calendar and then you can link many other calendars to it. I have – my personal, a google work calendar (can’t link to outlook for at least privacy reasons), one for each DD and one for my parents (no longer in use). Everyone can see the DDs calendar, but DDs and SO didn’t want to see my calendar and SO doesn’t share his (which is generally not an issue as he never puts anything on it anyway). And, it color codes each calendar a different color, so in effect, each person is color-coded. If it sees their calendar, it allows me to put appointments on it. When I open my google calendar on the PC, I see it all as well.

    I stopped putting any paper calendar up that I expect anyone to write on, but we do have one in the kitchen, sometimes just to figure out what day of the week something is. I am the one who does most of the updating to the calendars.

  28. LFB, my guy also refuses to be tall poppy. I hate that, just hate it. He knows it, but doesn’t respond well to prodding, and feeds me just enough half info that I have tried to complain and gotten it wrong a couple times. I also am driven to distraction by teachers posting a bunch of grades long after the fact. If my young’un had a better track record of turning in corrections when he knows they are an option, I’d be discussing grade posting policies with teachers and admin.

  29. AM, I hang up the calendar Mom gives me every Christmas for much the same reasons as you have your kitchen calendar. It’s just the way it’s done. Back in the day, our mom used hers religiously.

  30. DD’s schools each have a portal. DD#1 school has gone to Google Classroom using it solely and away from teacher websites. The only thing that gets posted on RenWeb is grades – no more lesson plans, homework assignments, etc.DD#1 likes it and no longer needs a paper list to keep track of the various ways teachers were handling things before – website, Classroom, Renweb, or just verbal. DD#2 school has been transitioning to a single portal for the kids for about 12 months – but I can’t see it so I don’t know how consistently it is used. The parent portion just launched this month – and I still haven’t gotten my login to work right. The grades still available on the “old” system, but I think they will take that away as soon as they get the parent side kinks worked out.

    The issue at both schools is the timing of the teachers entering grades. A few teachers are very regular and timely. The majority enter a few things, but then enter a ton of stuff right before the grading period ends. DD#2’s portal is worse, because it sends out the “bad grade” emails even when not warranted. Examples – teacher enters grades for half the students in the class before the batch update to the portal. Half the kids get the grade entered, the other half get a 0. If the teacher has put a due date for something in the portal and no grades are entered by some fixed number of days later, it shows up as missing or a 0 (haven’t figured out the pattern yet). DD#2 who has executive function issues is keeping up well enough, but I admit I am not exactly sure of her system.

  31. We use Google calendar, and I am a fan of the upgrade. You can view other calendars from this interface if that calendar maker gives you permission. Thus, I can look at the Scout calendar and the work calendar at the same time I am seeing my calendar. You can also pick and choose which calendars to view. Our high school kid will enter his own events on his calendar so we can schedule around them, but this is hit or miss.

  32. Besides Google calendar on my laptop and phone, I have this small 3×4″ Quo Vadis calendar that I use to jot daily tasks and appointments. For some reason I like to use this in addition to the phone apps.

    One of my Google calendars is the Totebag, which I use for scheduling posts.

  33. Lotus Notes. Blast from the past. I used it for so many years at work, but I didn’t realize that it was still being used for email.

    I remember when I used to get a new blotter calendar and a small day at a glance for my desk at work. I would write all of my meetings in this paper calendar. This seems like a lifetime ago. I used a Filofax for my personal stuff and I loved it!! I got a Filofax on a trip to London in my 20s. I would save all of my old calendars. I finally tossed them when I got married, but there was so much “history” in those pages.

  34. “We do Outlook — works great for me and DH, since we both have it and use it for work. Makes it easy to just send each other an appointment and have it all in one spot.”

    We do exactly the same thing.

  35. I do not like to mix personal and work items – no reason why our IT staff should have access to information on when my kids IEP meeting is scheduled, for example. I also detest Outlook and would never use it again if I could.

  36. A question for Fred, Risley, Becky, and others who’s kids have moved out recently and Rocky, Meme, July, and others whose kids moved out years ago and might now have significant others/children of their own:

    Pragmatism is the main reason to keep and sync calendars. As Lauren alluded to with paper calendars, there can be sentiment as well. When I used a paper weekly calendar similar to the one July posted, I was reluctant to throw it out at the end of the year. It was the closest thing to a diary I had. My last ones included things relating to my son and my life as a single working parent. When I visit someone I care about, I like to see the spaces where they regularly spend time, so that when I think about them, I can envision them walking across the quad or sitting in their office or whatever. I can imagine electronic calendars being similar. Instead of picturing their physical spaces, it would lead to thinking of them in real time.

    Did you share an electronic calendar with your child(ten) when they lived at home? At what point did you stop sharing it? Did any of your kids intentionally transition to using it primarily as a way to keep you informed about those things they wanted to tell you about (while using something else to keeping track of everything?).

    My kid would die if I called to ask how a date or exam went, but if he told me a couple days in advance that he was excited or nervous, then I’d be excited or nervous for him too. It isn’t that far fetched for me to think I might jot it down somewhere, similar to the way I put my parents’ trips on my calendar. I might even look up the weather forecast where they are. Sharing a calendar across the miles could be a way for us to be in touch about events in his life.

    Have you used electronic calendars that way?

  37. I do not like to mix personal and work items

    I always felt the same way, and so resisted until ta-da! I am The Man. One of the many, many benefits of working for yourself.

  38. My mom has access to my general calendar (the same one DH and the Au Pair see), and she is always asking about things…”Oh did you have lunch with Sarah? I saw DS went to the doctor this week?” It makes her feel connected, and I don’t mind. She also schedules visits and phone calls around stuff, so there’s some utility. And I have Secret Ada Calendar that I put my massage appointments on.

  39. So, I have about 20 one-off things that I enter into the Google calendar each week (child care hours for the Au Pair, kiddo appointments, work shifts, social engagements). The new calendar interface has made that incredibly cumbersome. I switched back to the old, but feel like I am living on borrowed time. I don’t think my needs are that weird, so I figure I must not understand how to use the new interface appropriately.

    Old calendar: click new event, type Babysit 12p-8p, click calendar and scroll to “Au Pair”, click done.
    New calendar: click new event, type Babysit, click edit, unclick “all day”, click start time, scroll to 12p, click end time, scroll, scroll, scroll to 8p. click calendar. click done.

    It may seem trivial, but it is a lot more work to enter five quick baby sitting shifts than it used to be.

  40. “We do Outlook — works great for me and DH, since we both have it and use it for work. Makes it easy to just send each other an appointment and have it all in one spot.”

    DW and I do that too. I also use Outlook at home, which makes it even more useful.

    However, this is where I miss my Blackberry. The BB would take calendar appointments from Outlook and automatically put them into its calendar, and I could send calendar events from the BB to Outlook.

    I now have an iPhone, and if there is a way to create a calendar event on its calendar and send it to my and DW’s Outlook calendars, I haven’t found it yet. I can send calendar events from Outlook to my email and get them to my iPhone calendar, but it’s not automatic– I have to open the email and open the calendar invitation attachment.

    We also need a way for DD and DS to send calendar events to the rest of the family, and get them to use that.

    Any ideas for how we can improve our calendar system?

    DW and DS have iPhones. DD has DW’s old iPhone without phone service, which she uses where she has wifi. We’re about to move her Android phone from a prepaid voice/text plan to an unlimited data/text/voice plan.

  41. Ada, ditto on hating the new Google calendar layout and for the same reason- when I type “Twin1 Indoor Soccer @ 6:30 PM” I want to have it just show up on the calendar as a 6:30 PM appointment. I don’t know why Google can’t figure that out.

    Since the last post on this topic, we have a family Google calendar and we also both let our work calendars (in Outlook) sync to our phones. Any deviation from our standard work schedule where the other parent has to cover goes on the work calendar.

    Mr WCE looks at the calendar but he doesn’t live by it like I do.

  42. SM – My husband keeps all of his paper date books. We have them back to the 70s in some box or other. I used to keep my paper planner calendars as well for some of the happy reasons you cite. Also address and telephone books. But mostly I was just weird. I always thought I would need them to refresh my memory in case I was required to testify. I used to keep all my movie ticket stubs and food receipts as well just in case I was falsely accused and needed to have proof of an alibi.

    As for my kids, they range in age from 36 to 43. Our home life predates electronic syncing of calendars and none of them had mobile phones in college. My youngest tried to use one but in those days there was almost no service in Santa Cruz.

    I ended up using Google calendar, although it can displays through other calendar programs on various devices. I keep an entire electronic calendar for the two of us. DH’s appts are blue, mine red, joint appts purple, and there are imported default colors for public event calendars of various sorts. My adult daughter lives with us and I cannot conceive of linking her electronic calendars with our own. That would be an invasion of each other’s privacy. When I get so old that someone needs to mind my affairs, I suppose I’ll allow the local responsible child access to my appointments, but keep the reminders and other silly stuff in a second private account.

  43. However, this is where I miss my Blackberry. The BB would take calendar appointments from Outlook and automatically put them into its calendar, and I could send calendar events from the BB to Outlook.

    The thing I hated about it was that you couldn’t lock the times, it automatically adjusted everything for whatever timezone you were in. So if I was traveling to NY, and the return flight was at 2 p.m. I would enter it for 2 p.m. But blackberry assumed it was 2 p.m. mountain time, because that’s the timezone I was in when I entered it. Then when I was in NY, it would show up as 4 p.m. All my other entries would show up as two hours later as well. There was no way to tell it to not use timezones at all and just leave everything at the time you entered it.

  44. Denver, that is staggeringly stupid. Live sporting events are the only thing I can think of where the time zone adjustment would be helpful, and even they are advertised “at 8, 7 Mountain time” or whatever.
    The iPhone calendar has a similar little hiccup, but nowhere near as extreme. It assumes that everything starts at the time of day it is when you enter it. The time might go back to that time if you set it before setting the date. I’m not sure. I just know i have to remember to check it three times before posting any calendar event

  45. Logistically, how have you handled college admissions materials?
    We are starting to receive recruitment materials. I assume some are from colleges my kid might go to and some from places looking to raise their admissions numbers so they can cut more and look more selective.

    How did you handle the flood of emails and printed materials? Did they influence your/your child’s choice of what schools to look at? When you schedule a tour, do they have any info re who received what packet? What is the best way to make use of these?

    Until now, I’ve approached this process like it was up to us to decide where to apply. It doesn’t feel that way now.

  46. S&M – College Materials – My DD#1 did NOT list a major on the PSAT, so we got stuff from everywhere. Initially, we had 4 piles – (1) mailing specifically offered summer programs that might be of interest in attending prior to graduating HS, (2) schools whose materials “showcased” her areas of interest (Engineering/Computer Science) either as possibilities or something for comparison, (3) schools where something random caught her attention (these were used later to come up with ideas for comparing schools – such as non-music major fun band clubs), and (4) trash.

    Over time, she became clearer that she didn’t want (1) a huge school (like UT Austin or Penn State) or (2) a school affiliated with any particular religion (like Liberty, Holy Cross or Cal Lutheran) or (3) schools offering only need-based financial aid/no merit aid she could qualify for.

    Lastly, as she got better at Naviance and the school match section, she would find a school of interest and then see if they’d sent something. If so, but then she ruled out that school, it went in the trash pile. In the last 6 months or so, most of it has gone in the trash.

  47. SM, I imagine your DS will get a huge amount of recruiting material.

    I don’t know how much my DS got in his email, but as the person who brings in the USPS mail, I went through all of that as it came in. I passed it all to DS, because I believed it was ultimately his search and his decision to make, but I did point out material from certain schools.

    I suggest that you get as familiar as you can with the schools recruiting him. Whether or not you agree on the search and decision ultimately being his, you definitely have a role in providing guidance, as well as help.

    I think there are two basic processes that will go on in parallel. One is filtering the incoming information, and the other is going out and gathering information.

    If you start getting overwhelmed by the physical volume of material, keep in mind that most of what your DS will receive is also available on the colleges’ websites, so unless there’s some piece of information that seems particularly interesting or relevant, or is from a school of particular interest, I’d suggest feeling free to discard.

    Also, some of the key information could be captured on a spreadsheet that could also obviate the need to keep the recruiting material.

  48. SM, Austin mentioned Naviance.

    If you and your DS get access to that, I suggest you both jump in as soon as you can and start familiarizing yourselves with what information is available there.

    That information varies from school to school, so others here can’t tell you what’s available to you, but we found information there that was specific to my kids’ school that was quite helpful and informative.

  49. Until now, I’ve approached this process like it was up to us to decide where to apply. It doesn’t feel that way now.

    Why not?

    As for what to do with all the stuff, flip through it and if anything looks interesting, keep it, otherwise toss it. For the emails, there’s a delete button.

  50. I usually do “toss right away”, “keep for further consideration”, “likely”. Usually the “keep for further consideration” gets whittled down as time passes. At the end there will be just a handful of schools left.
    (Using my organization skills here plus what I know of the college admissions process ;-)).

  51. Re Google Calendar: I just noticed that the phone app may have recently updated so that “all day” is not the default and now it allows me to simply click on the day to make an entry. On my laptop “all day” is still the default. Maybe I can change that but I have not investigated.

    I’m a weird pack rat and save paper calendars and agendas.

    Neither of my kids shared e-calendars with me. One kid hardly shares anything in general, and the other shares too much. Except when she doesn’t. ;) I have to rein in my snoopiness. I used to check campus webcams when my oldest was away at college, both to see the weather and thinking maybe I would see him walking across the quad. Yeah, weird.

  52. “Logistically, how have you handled college admissions materials?”

    Most of it is electronic and goes into that Google category intended for advertising. My kid never looks at it. Paper stuff comes most days too, and goes straight into the trash. The only thing he keeps are the official admissions materials (btw, now also accepted at Rutgers)

  53. Naviance was useless for my kid because he is such an outlier. It may be a better tool for #2.

  54. @Finn: DH and I both have our work outlooked synced to our iPhones, so whenever I open up the calendar, it automatically pulls up my Outlook appointments, and anything I enter on my phone appears on my work computer.

  55. My experience is that mailed college marketing materials are useless. We threw everything away for the first two sons and now continue to do that for DS# 3. Colleges are trying to increase their applicant numbers.

  56. Thank you all for the responses. I can’t think of a better crowd to ask that question.
    Most of what he’s gotten is electronic. It’s the information that I’m wondering about keeping–probably would recycle the physical pamphlets in any case.

    Mooshi, I’d like to talk to you more, because I think mine will be an outlier in the same way your first one was.

  57. July, I can so relate!
    otoh, whenever my son has been away from home, he has called me every single night. Enough already!

  58. It sounds like everyone who has already done this is saying not to be influenced one way or another by the recruitment stuff, right?

  59. S&M, send me a FB message. Basically, a lot depends on knowing what he wants, and if his grades are spotty, getting the test scores up as high as possible. So far, my kid has had success, but he is now waiting on some reach schools so we shall see.

  60. Lots of people are getting a ballistic missile take shelter warning on their phones, but no sirens no news announcement. Everyone’s freaking out. Probably a hoax?

  61. Tulsi (congresswoman) just posted she’s confirmed w/ officials it’s a false alarm. Phew.

  62. I’m actually really grateful now for those freaky siren tests every month because that was the reason I felt reasonably sure it wasn’t real, the lack of siren.

  63. HM, that would get my heart racing!

    Does anyone happen to know what a groom’s toast party is? Is it a new trendy thing or just something I’ve missed along the way? Someone I know is attending one tonight but he doesn’t know exactly what it’s about. It sounds as if it might be a bachelor party for a large group of friends, with plenty of drinking. Maybe all attendees give toasts?

  64. We’re OK.

    DD and I had actually gone over how we’d respond to such an alarm. I’m very proud of how she took control and directed DS and DW while I was outside moving a cabinet to block the window in the bathroom we’d selected to shelter in place.

    I think we’ll spend part of today outfitting that bathroom, e.g., store some food and water there, so we’re more prepared for any such real events. It would also serve us in the event of a hurricane as well.

  65. HM, yeah, the lack of sirens was kinda confusing. I turned on the TV right after we got the alert, and I went through CNN, HLN, Fox News, and a few local stations before I found one that had anything about the alarm. In hindsight, I should’ve turned on the radio to KSSK.

  66. That’s very scary. I’m glad it appears to be a false alarm.

    I am spending the day in the only mall that remains so popular that it’s impossible to park on a random day in Jan.

    We had to drop DD at a camp thing in NJ and it was near Garden State plaza. This mall gets larger every single time I am here and it’s a little nuts. There is even a Chik Fil a. We are staying to see The Post. We’re below the average age of most people in this theatre.

  67. “Most of what he’s gotten is electronic.”

    In that case, I’d suggest he create a folder for them and move them there. As he goes through the selection process, he’ll become interested in schools, at which time he can go to that folder and see if he’s received any email from them, which could include stuff like waivers for application fees.

  68. “I think mine will be an outlier in the same way your first one was.”

    It’s sounding like that’s not atypical within the population of our kids.

  69. “I used to check campus webcams when my oldest was away at college, both to see the weather and thinking maybe I would see him walking across the quad. Yeah, weird.”

    I don’t think it’s weird, I think it’s a good idea. I just bookmarked the webcam feed for the camera between DS’ dorm and some buildings where he has classes and likes to go to study.

  70. Mooshi — Congrats to your DS! So glad to hear he already has a couple of good options. I know you were worried about how it would all play out for him.

  71. “DH and I both have our work outlooked synced to our iPhones, so whenever I open up the calendar, it automatically pulls up my Outlook appointments, and anything I enter on my phone appears on my work computer.”

    How do you sync them? TMK, there’s two ways to do that. One is through iCloud, and the other would involve a direct connection between your iPhone and your computer, typically via a USB cable. I think the iCould method would require less action on your part once it’s set up.

  72. It’s sounding like somebody pushed the wrong button.

    It’s also getting irritating hearing so much ignorance on cable news. Most people here are not Hawaiian; that’s limited to those whose ancestry traces to those here pre-Cook.

  73. “It sounds like everyone who has already done this is saying not to be influenced one way or another by the recruitment stuff, right?”

    I don’t think I’d go that far.

    Some of the stuff DS got was helpful in his selection process; in particular, he got some pretty detailed information from some of the schools in which he was interested.

    Also keep in mind that the stuff received likely includes things like scholarship information/offers and waivers of application fees; the amount of stuff your DS receives is a reflection of how much schools want him to apply and possibly attend, and more stuff likely means more such offers. An offer of, say, a full tuition scholarship is something that perhaps should influence you and your DS.

  74. Whew – so scary HM and Finn! So glad it was a false alarm. You two were the first people I thought of when I saw the alert.

  75. The only application fee waivers my kid got were from schools he had no interest in. Same thing with the scholarship information, and it was all couched in terms of “you *could* get up to XYZ amount *if* we accept you”.

    We did pull out some of the sillier recruitment material to snicker over. Some of these schools pay way too much to advertising agencies, I think. And some of them inundate. There was a school called Sewanee from down South that was bombarding us. Every other day for a couple of months we would get something.

    My kid found the good old Peterson’s Guide, which he had a paper copy of, plus some firm guidelines, to be most useful. He had also attended a regional CS education conference with me last spring which had a lot of student research presentations. He walked around and noted which schools the presenters were from, and chatted with them. That was helpful. Also, he and his brother had gone to a couple of engineering open houses a year or more ago, and he had compiled an initial list from those. Once he had a basic list, he hit the websites to see information on the program he was interested in, costs, and when the open houses would be. The open houses were most useful for the computer science breakout sessions. We also met with the department chair at SUNY Albany. So overall, the web sites and the open house departmental presentations were very useful.

  76. My second kid is considering doing a high school summer program in architecture at either Cooper Union or Parsons. He has done architecture programs before but they have mainly been enrichment style, while these are aimed at kids who are considering a career in that field. The programs are expensive but might be worth it so he can decide if he really wants to pursue this. He has also considered civil engineering, urban planning, and has talked a little about economics. He loves to design things but he is also a budding policy wonk. I am thinking urban planning might be a sweet spot for him

  77. Architecture’s a tough field. In addition to being talented, you also have to fit in.

  78. I have a friend who got a degree in Urban and Regional Planning at CU Denver. He really enjoyed it. He works at Denver Regional Council of Governments now.

  79. “Same thing with the scholarship information, and it was all couched in terms of “you *could* get up to XYZ amount *if* we accept you”.”

    I’m surprised. I supposed that his NMSF status would lead to more direct offers.

    “He had also attended a regional CS education conference with me last spring which had a lot of student research presentations. He walked around and noted which schools the presenters were from, and chatted with them. That was helpful.”


  80. Not sure what you mean by understatement.

    And the only schools that had dollar amounts in their letters were schools he was never going consider, like Oklahoma. The one school that he might have considered very much phrased things in terms of *if* you are admitted.

    OTOH, the school that has offered him the full scholarship never sent him anything before he applied. I knew they were likely to offer because I have a contact in their honors college, and I knew this was their policy. But he still had to get admitted, and since they have a cutoff GPA, that wasn’t completely for certain!

  81. “Not sure what you mean by understatement.”

    It’s hard to think of a better way to learn about CS programs at schools in his region of interest.

  82. “He had also attended a regional CS education conference with me last spring which had a lot of student research presentations. He walked around and noted which schools the presenters were from, and chatted with them. That was helpful.”

    This is fabulous. Very few students will have this kind of inside access. I also didn’t know that high school students could collaborate with local professors, so that’s another I learned.

  83. HM & Finn,

    I’m so glad the missile alert was an error. My parents are currently staying at the Hale Koa. Is there a website where they can register their cell phone numbers so that they can receive text messages for 808 incidents? My father happened to go downstairs to get coffee and he learned of the alert from staff there. On the way back to his room, he heard from another guest who said his USAF son said it was an error, but my parents hunkered down until the official all clear. Many thanks.

  84. Hm, Mooshi and Finn, it’s hard to tell if the differences in what you’re saying about recruitment materials is based on differences between how the two of you interpret and say things, or if your kids got different materials. I guess I should lol through the half-dozen that arrived this week.

    One other question—I’ve seen mention on here before of public u’s recruiting out of state. My son has heard from SC, and his cousin is accepted at U Tenn (of all places, Idk why she applied there!). Have any of you whose kids are in college now included a state school from a different state in your search, and how did it compare with the others, in the end? It’s great to learn from others experiences.

  85. “My son has heard from SC”

    Which one? Gamecocks? Trojans? I’m guessing Gamecocks, since Trojans is private.

    “U Tenn”

    I worked with a couple of very good engineers who apparently were well educated there.

    We looked at some state schools that offered generous merit aid and had honors colleges, but in the end they didn’t offer the sort of experience DS was looking for. But not everyone’s looking for the same thing, and I’ll repeat that I’ve heard some good things about those schools, in particular, UA(RT) and its honors college. Others include ASU, UK, USC (Gamecocks), and OU.

  86. SM, my understanding is that those notifications are supposed to go to all cell phones here. News coverage suggested that a lot of tourists got the alarm, and my guess is that they did not all register their numbers, nor do they all have 808 numbers.

  87. Finn, you read the context correctly. I was referring to the “USC” that is a state school. Another context clue would’ve been the location of the UsCs you mention relative to my location.

  88. “Logistically, how have you handled college admissions materials?”

    Throw it all away and apply to school that are a good fit for the child’s interests. The marketing material means nothing.

  89. “The programs are expensive but might be worth it so he can decide if he really wants to pursue this. ”

    I agree Mooshi. The programs will be a good way for him to learn more about the field. Are they competitive to get into?

  90. “Another context clue would’ve been the location of the UsCs you mention relative to my location.”

    Has your DS decided to limit his options to regional schools? I don’t recall you mentioning that.

  91. “Throw it all away and apply to school that are a good fit for the child’s interests. ”

    I disagree, especially since most of the material is via email. He’s pretty early in the process, and SM’s posts suggest he hasn’t yet narrowed down his interests. He could easily save the emails and go back to them as he defines the schools in which he’s interested.

    Another thought for now, while the volume isn’t very high, is to open them before moving them to a folder. Some of the schools may keep track of demonstrated interest, so if it turns out that he is interested in any schools that have been recruiting him, that demonstrated interest could help him in getting aid as well as getting accepted.

  92. As I was reviewing the calendar for the next several months, I was surprised and amused to learn that DS1 had entered “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on it.

  93. USC (Gamecocks) is trying to raise its profile similar to UA(RT). Kids from our state are giving it a second look, whereas in years past they may have opted for another OOS (regional) public university.

  94. USC’s Honors College is consistently rated top in the country for public honors colleges. It gives NMF $10,000 per year in merit aide. It also gives in state tuition as a starting point to out of state students who are accepted to the honors college. And for totebag parents, USC is extremely good at communicating with parents. I would encourage SM and her son to visit USC Columbia (Gamecocks).

  95. “Throw it all away and apply to school that are a good fit for the child’s interests. ”

    “I disagree, especially since most of the material is via email.”

    I also did not throw out material because I was looking for financial offers related to my kid’s profile. YMMV.

    MM, congrats to your son on the Rutgers acceptance!

  96. So far, the boy has no idea what he wants, or where, primarily because he finds the entire topic too overwhelming to think about. He has recently been interested in the northwest, but has sort of assumed for years that the northeast would be home. Most of the schools that are have sent things are in the southeast.

    We’ve been talking about traveling for spring break. I may try to work a campus visit in wherever we go, or might just go to open houses of schools around here, not because I think this is where he wants to be, but just to get him comfortable with what a campus visit /tour is like. Last summer I thought we had an easy chance to slip one in and he absolutely did not want to, so getting him past that point will be the first step.

    It’s a good weekend so far. Last night was his first night in an older age group league at the Y; in the car on the way home, he said he should get the other guys’ numbers to start a group chat. That is huge! And it looked like he will be fine with going to Disney today. Seeing him open up like this is so exciting! I don’t want to force him into college stuff; he will get there at his own pace. I’d rather have him do a gap year than get rammed into college because “it’s time”. I hope he’ll be interested once I get him to do a visit or two, but if not, that’s ok.

  97. HFN & Louise, thanks for the scoop on that school.

    July, good point about kids’ specific profiles possibly leading to differentiation in the “stuff” coming in.

  98. Ok, I’ll admit, we were not looking at any kind of aid offers. However, the one caution I would add about marketing materials sent to your son that both you and he should be wary of (I say this because this process is very fraught some kids.) 1) receiving material from a School does NOT mean they are interested in you. Many kids who are afraid of rejection see the materials as some kind of clue that the School may want them and it skews their interest in the School. 2) Not receiving materials does NOT mean the School would not be interested in your application.

    That’s why it’s better to independently research schools and look up info, visit or speak to alums for the ones you are interested in. Talk to the college counselor about whether a school is a “reach” or a “good chance” or a “safety” on admissions chances, and don’t take any material received as indicative.

  99. Mafalda, by “college counselor” you mean at high school level, not somebody on campus, right? My confidence in his high school counselor for this is weak, especially because my kid is like Mooshi’s first, except with lower numbers. I’m not interested in private college admissions counselors, because guidance counselors seem generally unable to grock how that kind of kid ticks. Still, I can certainly use and appreciate your (& Houston’s) overall points on not being swayed either way by the materials and applying to “reach”, “likely good fit” and “safety” schools.

    So I revise my above comments: sounds like I should stick all the info somewhere without looking at it long enough to let it make an impression on me/us, and pull it out only when we’re getting close to applying.

  100. I’m just dipping my toes in on this stuff but Naviance has a great chart where you enter in your grades and scores. You can then choose colleges of interest and see how other students from your school did relative to admission and where you sit in that distribution. It isn’t the be all end all but it seems a good tool to manage expectations.

  101. SM: Have you checked out the book Colleges that Change Lives? I can see Saac flourishing at one of those colleges.

  102. “1) receiving material from a School does NOT mean they are interested in you. Many kids who are afraid of rejection see the materials as some kind of clue that the School may want them and it skews their interest in the School. 2) Not receiving materials does NOT mean the School would not be interested in your application.”

    THIS is extremely true. Universities buy lists of student addresses from a number of sources, most notably the College Board. They then use a lot of analytics to create a custom list of students to send mail to: students whose demographic resembles current students, students from geographic areas that the university is trying to establish a presence in, students of particular religious backgrounds (we do well with Muslim families, for example, as well as Mexican-Americans from Texas and California), students with test scores in a particular range, etc. They also of course use addresses provided at college fairs or entered directly on the university website. Less discussed, but also true, are addresses collected from click-bait sites “The Top Ten Programs in Duck Economics” and sold to whoever wants them. This is done more often by for-profits but I have heard that non-profits will also do business with the owners of these websites, if they want to get a list of students interested in a particular field such as Duck Economics.

    Here is an article giving a lot of detail on how university direct marketing works

  103. S&M, one other thing you need to keep mind of: diversity. I think Saac is going to feel more comfortable at a highly diverse school. Some schools are simply not great places for students of color, no matter what their marketing literature says. For example, the SLAC where my husband taught for 6 years was overwhelmingly Irish, with almost no black students and even fewer Hispanic or Asian students. I just checked their current stats, and they now have more Hispanic students, but are still mainly a white school. That can be a difficult kind of place for a biracial kid who has grown up in two different countries. So, just a head’s up.

  104. I should have studied duck economics. It sounds fascinating.

    They’re strong on supply and demand, based on my personal observation.

  105. Mooshi, that’s a huge part of why he needs to take an even more active role in this than most kids. There have been times when he’s felt something in his gut that I haven’t picked up on until a disaster happens. I also want to have him meet with members of black student organizations. He will resist that, and after the first couple I’ll let it go if he doesn’t want to do that at other campuses, but I think he should at least check them out.

  106. Everyone’s flocking to Duck Economics. It’s going swimmingly now, but I don’t want to get stuck with a big bill if it’s not all it’s quacked up to be.

  107. I don’t get the whole Colleges That Change Lives thing. It is just a listing of very small, goodish but not totally elite, liberal arts colleges. In fact, Grinnell College, which I think is a fantastic place, used to be on the list and was removed because it got too selective. These schools are good fits for kids who want a very small, traditional, liberal arts college, but would not be good fits for many other kids.

    For a real list of colleges that change lives, consider the Social Mobility Index instead. This ranking looks at the number of low income students who move into middle income jobs after graduation. The top school on this ranking is CUNY – Baruch College, followed by Touro College, Cal State Fresno, and San Jose State

  108. S&M, if it is a school with fraternities, look for a good black fraternity presence. And open houses or visits when school is in session is going to be important. If a school is truly diverse, you will know it. Come sit in our student union cafeteria, and diversity will knock you over with a big stick :-)

    Always look at the posted activity flyers when you do your visit. The flyers will tell you if there is a strong presence by organizations that support students of color, as well as organizations that conform to your kids interests in general. My kid was impressed by one of the engineering schools he visited when he saw that the official end of year school dance was going to be a cosplay event.

  109. Assessing the true diversity of a campus is why it is SO important to visit colleges when school is in session and not make these visits on holiday weekends or during the summer. And yes, kids get a feel for things and rule out colleges for unexpected reasons. One friend’s daughter ruled out a college because she saw girls wearing heels to 8 AM classes. My middle son ruled out a college because too many people were wearing the same North Face jacket.

  110. I remember the discussion of that list, but hadn’t saved the link. I think liberal arts schools are likely to be his best bet to figure out what he’s interested in. One thing I do know that he wants is a college that’s bigger than his high school (2700). He has said many times that his school is like a small town/community, and he thinks that’s great. If the “small liberal arts college” stereotype is true, then we will be able to cut a lot of them out. Just looking for medium-large liberal arts schools might give us a manageable sized list to start checking out on Naviance and something like Peterson’s that gives test scores & gpas of incoming students.

  111. HFN, my son thanks you for not screwing up his summer vacation with college visits :) That’s a very good point you just made. Even though the heels and Northface reasons sound odd, I can see where they are both coming from.

  112. It’s really amazing how the SMI is dominated by the Cal State, IF, and CUNY systems.

  113. “I think liberal arts schools are likely to be his best bet to figure out what he’s interested in. ”

    Unless he realizes that he wants to major in engineering or nursing or business, or speech therapy or landscape design… One of the problems with small liberal arts colleges is the small number of potential majors…

  114. Mooshi, that’s why I said weeding out SMALL liberal arts colleges could give us a good list to start with.

  115. I don’t think DS ever looked at any of that mail. He knew he wanted to be within a certain drive-time of home, and that we could likely only afford state school or a place where he qualified for merit aid (and you can get that info on the school’s website), so he looked at schools that fit those criteria. I think the big benefit of him looking at a high level now is to get an understanding of admissions criteria, so he can decide whether he wants to make more effort on grades or test prep. So not so much trying to pick a school, but more to understand that he can shut off opportunities by making certain decisions.

  116. Did anyone ever find a fix to the constant pop-ups on this blog indicating that you have won a prize?

  117. Becky, it isn’t just my phone? It might be a bug that phones catch from this site—it pops up on one of mine but not the other, and not on my laptop.

    That is a great point about getting him to see that he’s closing off opportunities. I’ve told him that, but he doesn’t listen.

  118. Denver, I scanned the list, didn’t see any obvious candidates for “IF”. Glad I didn’t waste any more time—never would’ve guessed that one.

  119. The pop ups are related to the browsers on the phone. I got them in spanish and italian while traveling.

  120. No but when I clicked on my shortcut to the Totebag via Chrome, the browser on my Android phone, my location gave me the foreign language version of the pop ups. I had won things or needed to clean my phone of viruses in the local language. I don’t log in via a wordpress account, or use a wordpress app, just anonymously via the default browser for the device at hand. I only have free Norton as protection on my phone, not sophisticated blocking software. But other sites accessed on the phone rarely give me the annoying popups, and I have no issue with wordpress on my Mac.

  121. SM – if a largish liberal arts college with other options is what you think might be a good fit, take a look at Wake Forest. It is still in the southeast though….

    From their website.
    Wake Forest is a collegiate university that balances the personal attention of a liberal arts college with the academic vitality and broad opportunities of a research university.

  122. “Did anyone ever find a fix to the constant pop-ups on this blog indicating that you have won a prize?”

    They don’t seem to pop up if I use private mode on Safari on my iPhone.

    What liberal arts schools don’t have a business department?

  123. Ivy. Most Ivy League type schools and in the Northeast high tier SLACs expressly do not offer business or teaching or other so called vocational majors. Some are caving ever so slightly in offering some individual courses to facilitate entrepreneurship, but that carries classist overtones. No accounting 101.

  124. They do of course have grad programs, which are often located away from the undergrad campus. The Wharton School at U of Pennsylvania does offer joint management degrees at the undergrad level with the univ. It is an exception to the general rule.

  125. Right, but that is just a handful of schools. As Rhett says – the marker is that you got in, not what you studied. I suppose you don’t go there trying to get a job at a Big 4 firm like the poor little plebs.

  126. To be an accountant, you need to take actual Accounting courses. To sit for the CPA, you need more credits than undergrad (but not necessarily a full Masters). A lot of grads who are on that track study for the CPA & take classes while working as juniors and getting their grad classes/CPA prep classes paid for by their employers.

    Back in the dark ages, when I was in school, you only needed a bachelor’s to sit for the CPA, so a lot of my peers took it right after graduation and spent a good chunk of senior year studying.

    I chuckle at Accounting being thought of as a “vocational” degree that is not respectable. It’s so Downton Abbey.

  127. Sorry, but even in this context, I don’t think so. Maybe I just don’t know what I’m talking about. What are the basic questions about the world and the main schools of thought in accountancy? What would one do with an accountancy degree besides be an accountant?

  128. “Most Ivy League type schools and in the Northeast high tier SLACs expressly do not offer business or teaching or other so called vocational majors.”

    Yes, these schools are also not necessarily great for engineering or CS either.

    ” Some are caving ever so slightly in offering some individual courses to facilitate entrepreneurship”

    Some are creating or expanding engineering and CS programs, or trying to. But as Mooshi has mentioned before, it is difficult to staff CS departments.

    “No accounting 101.”

    I get the impression that these schools may not be good fits for kids who aspire to become practicing accountants.

  129. There are a ton of jobs in Corporate America where it is easy to start off if you have a degree in accounting, economics, stats, math etc. Those majors will get a better resume reception than other non quantitative fields (I use the term quantitative loosely). And this does not apply to Ivy League degrees where presumably the college name gets you past the gatekeepers.

  130. “What would one do with an accountancy degree besides be an accountant?”

    My sister went into hotel management and became controller, before later going back to school to facilitate a change in career.

    BIL started as a CPA doing audits, then parlayed contacts made there to a position as a hotel controller, before moving on to running a company.

  131. I’m chuckling picturing the Dowager Countess being told that someone was studying accounting. “How vulgar!” Then her son, the Earl, pipes in with, “Well it is rather vocational, isn’t it?”

    Same for engineering or other subjects not befitting the landed gentry. One wouldn’t want to do something so dreadfully middle class as to be a partner in an accounting firm.

  132. “What would one do with an accountancy degree besides be an accountant?”

    When I was in IT at a bank, we had a CPA in our group. She was a great business analyst and liaison with the business folks.

  133. I was an accounting major in college. I joined a large global bank and only my first position was related to my undergraduate degree. I thought it was helpful many times to have an understanding of financial statements, but it didn’t define any position that I held for the remainder of my career.

    I just received an invitation to honor one of college classmates. He was an accounting major and he went back to law school after working for a few years. He combined his knowledge from accounting and law to create a new financial product that is used in by hundreds of companies involved in mergers and acquisitions.

  134. BTW, you can study accounting as an undergrad at several of the Ivy league schools. it was always possible at Penn and Cornell, but Dartmouth and Columbia allow undergrads to take financial accounting in their business schools. Even some of the highly selective SLACs have added some accounting course offerings to their economic programs.

    Finn, I found this comment to be offensive.
    “I get the impression that these schools may not be good fits for kids who aspire to become practicing accountants.”

    I could introduce you to plenty of people that went to “these schools” that are still involved in finance or eventually became CPAs and worked for large firms or corporations.

  135. The dad of one of DS’ best friends got an accounting degree then went to law school and is now name partner in his firm. He said that accounting background is very useful in the running of the firm.

  136. Lauren, that’s just my impression.

    I’m also thinking that many who “are still involved in finance or eventually became CPAs and worked for large firms or corporations” didn’t spend most, if any, of their careers as actual practicing accountants.

  137. In the home country the Chartered Accountancy certification is quite respected and tremendously better than having just a general business undergrad even if you don’t practice as an accountant. The exams are tough and if you have a high rank in them you get flooded with not only job offers but marriage proposals from family run accounting firms hoping to bring in not only new talent but also a qualified daughter in law (happened to one of my friends).

  138. Finn – I’m confused by your definition of practicing accountant.

    “are still involved in finance or eventually became CPAs and worked for large firms or corporations”

    A CPA who works for a large firm or corpoaration in finance is, to me, a practicing accountant. As is someone with the title “Controller” which generally requires a CPA or equivalent and would involve doing accounting work on a daily basis.

  139. The accounting comments are interesting. I have a degree in Accounting and passed the CPA back in the day. I have never worked in the “Accounting Department”, but I have always had jobs where I needed to know accounting: external auditor, management consultant, FP&A, financial systems integrator, internal auditor. In my current role I am the unofficial intermediary between the internal and external auditors and the accounting and operations teams.

  140. Sounds like you all agree that an accounting degree is vocational/professional. I still don’t see why that offends Ivy.

  141. I admit that I’ve never worked in accounting. I’m assuming that an accounting manager, e.g., controller, does mostly managing and little if any actual accounting, like how an engineering manager, especially at higher levels, does very little engineering.

    BTW, the engineering manager needs to understand engineering to be effective, but that doesn’t necessarily mean actually doing engineering work.

  142. Finn – It sounds like you are equating “doing accounting” with bookkeeping/entry level tasks or actually physically completing month end tasks in the ledger system. A Controller most definitely spends time on “actual accounting” – by which I mean reviewing standards and rulings, developing and defending a company’s point of view for how to interpret them, developing and maintaining financial controls, reviewing and approving entries and financial statements, overseeing and approving financial reporting, liasing with internal or external auditors, etc. This is exactly what the study and professional certification is for.

    I don’t know enough about engineering to provide an equivalent example.

    S&M – I’m not offended. I just find it incredibly snobby in an over-the-top way that makes me chuckle and think of Downton. And yes, in this context “vocational” is meant as a slam. Something that is beneath the true intellectual who is not supposed to worry at all about working for money – just the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. I think college should be somewhere in between, personally.

  143. I think that some of you are not aware that there are 100s, and possibly 1000s of jobs that are done everyday by people in financial firms or corporations by people that might have an undergraduate degree that has absolutely nothing to do with their current position. There are many people that study accounting because they think it will provide a solid foundation to enter many different careers. I have no idea of the percentages, but they don’t all become CPAs or stay in any field that is directly related to accounting.

    Once you enter some of these larger companies, you can move into different positions based on your performance and interests. It isn’t based on something that you studied 20 years ago.

    I am not sure why there is an assumption from some people here that many students that receive an undergraduate degree in accounting will spend almost two years studying the same stuff as other students at the university. This is typically the university core courses and will generally include liberal arts core classes too. This is the usual stuff such as introductory classes in Psych, English, History, etc. I am not sure where you are getting the idea that the large universities allow their students to graduate without taking classes in other areas of studies. These universities and colleges are NOT vocational schools and the degree shouldn’t be confused with someone that might obtain an associates degree and work as a bookkeeper or payroll etc.

  144. I attended an ivy and later went to a local business college for a masters in accountancy, which gave me the courses required in MA to sit for the CPA exam. I am proud to be an accountant, with a specialization in international corporate tax planning. But my first husbands family still looks at accounting and finance as being in trade and used to ask me if I wasn’t bored to death. Finn apparently conflates accounting with bookkeeping. Now entrepreneurship is in vogue, but for many years I was one of only a few alumnae with the slightest connection to the business world.

    Each state CPA society and the national group give out medals for top scores on the exam. In MA the winners were all people like me with elite liberal arts degrees who came to accounting later on.. I went to my firms nationwide awards banquet and the winners from the Midwest and South were top of their class 22 year old accountancy majors who studied at Tulane or Washington U St Louis or smaller colleges. The academic culture has regional differences, just as does the wider culture.

  145. “And yes, in this context “vocational” is meant as a slam.”

    One might consider Law and medicine to be vocational as well.

    I’ve heard of med school and law school (as well as business schools in places like those Mémé referenced without undergrad business schools) differentiated as “professional programs,” or something similar, apart from more generic grad school.

  146. “Each state CPA society and the national group give out medals for top scores on the exam.”

    One of my old coworkers won this years ago when he sat for the exam. FWIW, he went to the state flagship which has a top accounting program. (So probably fits your profile for winners from the Midwest, Meme.)

  147. Not sure about Ivy League schools but small liberal arts colleges are by definition focused on the “liberal arts” and offer a Bachelor of Arts – and thus generally don’t have engineering, business or accounting classes. I went to a SLAC on the east coast and loved it but it’s not for everyone. DD for example who is interested in engineering or computer science and wants a school around 20,000 students or so. DH is an engineer and did a 3-2 engineering program – 3 years at a small liberal arts college and 2 years at a larger school that offered an engineering degree.

    S&M – have you considered historically black universities like Howard? Could be interesting to check out with Saac to see what he thinks. From what I’ve read, some alumni who grew up going to mostly white schools loved the opportunity to go to a place like Howard and feel what it was like to be part of a majority.

    Also, I love the Pacific Northwest but it has a very, very small black population. Which is a good reason to come out and visit for yourself (which it sounds like you’re doing) to get a sense of what it’s like. Let me know if you’d like suggestions of schools to tour – and if so, what sorts (small liberal arts vs big universities). There aren’t really any medium size liberal arts places that come to mind. Most of the liberal arts colleges in WA/OR are probably 3,000 or less.

  148. Finn, law and medicine prepare one for a career, yes, but are each connected to broader studies, of justice and values on one hand and of science, which some have seen as “rethinking God’s thoughts” on the other. (That explanation of science is not common today, but it is how arts and sciences are historically joined together.)

    Ivy, what context? If there was a specific comment, then I missed it. I thought you were simply reflecting that liberal arts colleges often don’t include accounting or other business degrees. Business schools don’t have fine arts or psych programs, even if they do have marketing and management. That isn’t a slam; they are just different things. I don’t see how putting business in a liberal arts school is any different. You are arguing with the basic definition of what liberal arts is. The university I went to had two econ departments, one in the Business school and one in Arts & Sciences, because they are not the same thing.

  149. SSM, you are on my wavelength all the way through your post. What you and your husband did both sound like what I think would work for my son. No way is he ready to commit to a major yet, but if he decides on a career that needs specific preparation like engineering, then he probably would want to switch to get that. I’ve thought of Howard, Morehouse, and other HBCUs for him, but right now, he won’t hear of them. That’s part of why I want him to meet with black student organizations at the first schools we go to–that might change his perspective. And his interest in the NW does worry me a little for the reason you mention. Of course, college selection always needs to work for the kid, but in questions involving race, he needs to steer it even more; I can present him with options, but after that, I step aside. The trip over spring break is still up in the air, but I will absolutely ask for your help if we do it. Thanks.

  150. “The university I went to had two econ departments, one in the Business school and one in Arts & Sciences, because they are not the same thing.”

    DS’ school doesn’t have an undergrad business school, but he has a lot of classmates majoring in Econ.

  151. I concur with SSM and will attempt to distinguish between being Black and being African American. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, many of the people who are Black (as a race) are not culturally African American. They are from the British West Indies or Jamaica or Uganda or were adopted into white families in infancy.

    Analogously, a sixtyish church friend who is ethnically Korean was adopted as an infant by a white family after the Korean War. She once joked that people ask her for rice cooker recommendations, because she is Korean, but she’s a meat-n-potatoes kind of girl so she just memorized the brands of a couple good rice cookers- she is ethnically but not culturally Korean.

  152. “Analogously, a sixtyish church friend who is ethnically Korean was adopted as an infant by a white family after the Korean War.”

    Are her biological parents both Korean?

    If so, that sound to me like her race is Korean, but her ethnicity is white, the same as the family that raised her.

    For remembering the difference between race and ethnicity, I think of the Steve Martin more The Jerk, in which his character was racially white, but ethnically black, raised by black sharecroppers.

  153. Both biological parents are Korean- she was born in Korea during/after the Korean War. According to Google, you are probably right about ethnicity, but I was thinking of her self-description, not that of the experts who define things on Google.

  154. WCE. I think you might’ve been distracted and wound up writing the opposite of what you meant. It looks like you would not call someone who immigrated here from Uganda “African American” but you would modify the nationality of a black person from the US that way.

    Lauren, I’m not sure if I’m part of the “some people” you mention, but yes, the fact that “there are 100s, and possibly 1000s of jobs that are done everyday by people in financial firms or corporations by people that might have an undergraduate degree that has absolutely nothing to do with their current position” is why I don’t think it’s important for my son to attend a business school even if that’s the direction he ends up going. I think it would work much better if he was at a school that, in addition to the core classes required of students in all colleges in the university, there was also a program of liberal studies requiring additional hours in a given distribution of Arts and Science classes.

  155. Most/many parents by sophomore year of college need some indication from the student as to what their expected career path may be. Some career paths require entrance exams and some will most likely involve taking out of loans – medicine/(law). In those cases the student may choose to go to an undergraduate school where they can get scholarships. The other issue is internships – many students try to do an internship their junior year and it is competitive to get good senior year internships.
    The big issue for most people is financial and what the student expects by way of support from their parents after four years of undergraduate studies. This is what I have gleaned in conversations with my colleagues. Their kids have gone to various colleges and have tended towards vastly different fields but the underlying concerns are the same.

  156. Before I met you all, the idea of a trade/profession being looked down upon was not something that was familiar to me. Same with SLACs. A classmate of mine who was smart/good grades and test scores went to Williams but everyone was kind of like, ehh, weird choice, why not Harvard and he might have been the only one from my class who did. Top students went Ivy, schools like Northwestern/Emory/Duke and honors colleges in flagship state schools.

  157. Why is everyone nitpicking WCE? Her point was totally clear even if she didn’t use the exact language people would have preferred.

  158. In my ex’s family there was a clear hierarchy, and what is classically meant by the professions were not looked down on.

    In order

    Research scientist
    Engineer (classic specialities)
    Software engineer
    Attorney (almost falls to the next tier)
    (for women since education was valued but opportunity limited Teacher, Nurse, Librarian)

    next tier – SM nailed it – no “connection to broader values” plus taint of money

    Finance, Stock broker
    corporate management
    for women – semi professional such as paralegal, court reporter, etc.

    next tier – society does not reward the top tier sufficiently just the idiot brother in law

    Real estate
    Successful Business owner – any type

    grab bag for the quirky

    skilled tradesman

    Working for the government except on a drop in basis or as a public school teacher/librarian/or state U high level employee is fully assumed to mean what was implied/stated last week on the politics thread. Agriculture is completely outside our ethnic background (property ownership restrictions for centuries in countries of origin).

    So great Grandpa is at the top, great grandma and one daughter are teachers, her husband is an engineer, my ex is software, other daughter is quirky but married to a professor. My children and I are in the second tier or below. My ex always found me a bit too downtown to his uptown.

  159. My ex always found me a bit too downtown to his uptown.

    How I want to argue with him and dispute this statement :-)

  160. Meme – I have always been interested in your experience with this. It all sounds so specific, exhausting and limiting. In my family it is doctor at the top, followed by (and much lower) lawyer and anything that makes $$ but not too much $$. Totebag aspirations are highly encouraged but 7 figure incomes are not. What I did (work at $$ job followed by staying home with kids) is excellent and the right thing to do but only because I am a woman and I put in my time for school/job.

  161. “My ex always found me a bit too downtown to his uptown.

    How I want to argue with him and dispute this statement :-)”

    Right?! It is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. Sometimes when Meme writes out a long, thoughtful response, I have to read it a couple of times because it is so uptown.

  162. “Why is everyone nitpicking WCE? Her point was totally clear even if she didn’t use the exact language people would have preferred.”

    I know I have said that people should be aware enough to learn the un-offensive terms for thing, but I agree with you.

    “connection to broader values”

    It’s this kind of snobbery that makes me hate academia, and makes me forever glad that I went into Corporate America instead. “Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”

  163. “Before I met you all, the idea of a trade/profession being looked down upon was not something that was familiar to me.”

    This hierarchy notion is something I’ve learned along the way, here and elsewhere. Yet in some respects my family may have had its own version of hierarchy. My father was an auto mechanic, which I believe may have placed him higher than his father who was a farm laborer. Any accountant would most certainly have been their very rich and respected relation.

  164. July – your family backgrounds sounds similar to mine. One grandfather was a long haul truck driver, the other a welder. He may have also worked in a bakery at some point. My dad finished college and worked for a large retail chain in middle management. My sister is a physical therapist, my brother was an accountant (not a CPA) and then a police officer. Slowly inching our way up. My dad encouraged all of us to (1) not do retail and (2) have a profession that allows you to live anywhere -accountant, PT, dentist, etc.

  165. Louise – Even at an elite school, the number of premed students compared with the number of medical school matriculants, can approach a ratio of 30 or 40 to 1. It boggles my mind that anyone would do any planning based on the fact that their child (16 years old for goodness sakes) says they want to go to medical school, or law school, or not.

  166. Birdie, the hierarchy on this blog completely surprised me at first. I’ve gradually gotten used to it, but still don’t join in on ranking professions/ people according to how much money they make. People here turn their noses up at entire career paths because of that, including many that would provide a stable income, but not at the level of finance jobs. I recognize that this is likely the norm in Louise’s home country, but the way others here put their noses up is startling.

    Meme, as I explained earlier, the question of connection to other values isn’t one of esteem. It is simply an indication of what a thing is. You’ve studied the history of ideas. Some fields grow directly out of philosophies with long histories of trying to understand the world. The one that don’t are simply a different thing. I guess the people you are describing is who Ivy is talking about.

  167. “Professor
    Research scientist”

    Often Professor is also Research Scientist. And vice versa.

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