Bucket List Update

by Rhode

I’m hitting a milestone year soon… and thinking of creating a list of things to do ahead of that birthday.

What are some of your bucket list items? Did you create a “50 things to do before 50” list? What did you put on it?

126 thoughts on “Bucket List Update

  1. Well, I’ve missed the 50 things by 50 deadline, but I am increasing aware of time passing. I veer between trying to figure out a way of only doing things I really want and figuring, well, why not try, I’m not getting any younger.

  2. We are planning to go to Italy.

    I think I’ve spoken here about spending a few weeks in various cities–getting a longer term VRBO. We might try Breckenridge/Tahoe (DH) and NYC/London (me).

  3. I rarely make lists like that, because I would look at all the things I hadn’t done yet, and that would cause me stress.

    Once our kids came along, I did make a short list of trips that I wanted to take with them before they grew up. We have done most of them, but two remain: (1) spend a week at a dude ranch, and (2) hike down the Grand Canyon and stay overnight at Phantom Ranch. We are thinking about doing (1) this summer, Covid permitting. Not sure when we might be able to do (2). I was thinking April 2022, but DS might be in the thick of deciding about colleges then, so he might want to reserve that April break for college visits. Once he goes to college the schedule gets trickier, since his breaks won’t match up exactly with DD’s. Summer is out, because I don’t want to hike to the bottom of the Canyon in 100+ degree heat. So that one might not end up being a full-family trip, but I do hope to do it before my knees give out.

  4. I too have missed the 50 things by 50 deadline. The pandemic has reinforced that time is passing and things we planned being postponed or likely permanently cancelled. With SO unable and/or unwilling to do some things he enjoyed or was willing to tag along to do, I am looking for travel with a friend, one of the DDs, or a group of solo travelers. I would like to plan trips, but am finding that hard to feel excited about until our numbers start coming down.

    Not exactly a bucket list item, but the 5 year anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up this Spring. In the back of my mind, I had set this as a deadline for finishing going through her and my dad’s things and organizing/clearing out our storage unit. I know I would still have some smaller projects like sorting through family pictures – was hoping to be able to visit my cousin who is becoming the family historian on one side of the family to figure out who some of these folks are and add them to her Ancestry documentation. But, to meet that deadline, I need to get on the stick! I was just looking at the calendar and am considering working 1/4 days (1/2 of 1/2 days) so that I can keep things moving at work, but also work on this decluttering project.

  5. When I turned 39 I decided I would run a 5k every month and a 10k in the month I turned 40. That turned me into a runner and refocused me to keep my body and mind in shape.

  6. I rarely make lists like that, because I would look at all the things I hadn’t done yet, and that would cause me stress.

    Same with me, but it would make me depressed, not stressed. I’m turning 50 next week and I’m extra glad I don’t have the list because I wouldn’t have been able to do anything on it last year.

    Most of the things I would like to do involve travel of some sort. Not just big trips, but things like seeing a game at Lambeau Field.

  7. DD – seeing a game at Lambeau is worth it! I’ve been to a few and I’m not an NFL fan, so I didn’t care who won or loss. The tailgating is as good as it gets, the fans are beyond friendly and out to have a good time. So entertaining!

  8. The death of a youngish (40 or so) colleague, someone I was very friendly with, 2 years ago made me suddenly cognizant that none of us know how much time we have left. The fact that two of my kids are now in college made me even more aware that time is passing. I feel like I never take time to do things for myself – not the little, daily things like exercise, but more goal oriented.I was a reasonably good artist as a teen, and a good photographer in much of my adulthood and I would like to get back to those activities and develop further. I have a beautiful hurdy gurdy, an exotic musical instrument that I badly want to play but haven’t even had time to set up. Even at work, I had some great research projects going that I had abandoned for lack of time. So I keep thinking, I have to find time for this stuff because I may not have time in the future. Alas, the pandemic hit and my workload doubled, and I still haven’t found time. I took some online drawing classes in the fall but never had time for the homework, and even while doing the class, half the time I was frantically answering email from students or trying to get a report out by a deadline at the same time I was pretending to draw.

    During the break, I have had time to visit some museums and take some long walks with DS2. Before he goes back to school, I am resolved to do something with him that we used to do when he was younger – sit and look at art books together. He has a couple of new ones of fantasy art and has been asking me to look at them with him. That is on my weekend list.

    Also, after DS1 came home at Thanksgiving, we sat did some drawings together (he is quite good, and has gotten very involved with the art club at his college).

  9. When the pandemic ends, we will travel of course. Kids want to go to Hawaii, but are also interested in seeing the Viking stuff in York and further north. We would love to go back to China and see the area DD hails from (photos I have seen make it look utterly beautiful, very mountainous), and also Xi’an, but the atmosphere is so tense nowdays.

  10. Some regular posters might remember that one of my college friends died in her early forties and it was a wake up call for me. It was one of the main reasons that I was willing to leave a job that was making me miserable after the financial crisis in 07/08. Until that point, the money was always more important to me than the quality of how I was living my life.

    That choice resulted in several other decisions such as staying in our starter home and delaying some other large purchases. I don’t have regrets about my choice, but I still wish that my home was nicer. As soon as it is safe, we are going to take some of the upgrades that we’ve talked about for years.

    I’ve also posted about the large number of funerals that I started to attend and unfortunately they some were for peers or younger folks. I also watched my inlaws die and I spent a lot of time in hospitals before Covid. Add in Covid, and I really don’t feel like I need or want more stuff. Travel and spending more time with people that I like is what would be on my bucket list.

    Members of the Totebag have also helped me define what is important to me. For example, splurging on some of these trips for better rooms, meals, experiences etc. I have convinced DH that our comfort while getting to/from our destination is just as important as the trip since it sets the tone for the entire vacation. When I think about what I want to do as soon as Covid restrictions are lifted – almost all involves travel and special experiences.

  11. Ditto to Lauren’s:
    – we are going to take some of the [house] upgrades that we’ve talked about for years
    – I really don’t feel like I need or want more stuff.
    – Travel and spending more time with people that I like
    – When I think about what I want to do as soon as Covid restrictions are lifted – almost all involves travel and special experiences.

    A close colleague called me the other day to personally tell me that he’s retiring June 30. I think he’s 67. I asked my usual question “so what are you going to do with your time?” His response was that he plans to expand the number of community/professional volunteer boards he’s on. Good, whatever floats your boat. I’m glad he has a plan beyond clean the basement, do a little travel, fix up the house to prepare it for selling as they want to downsize and/or move to a lower tax state.

  12. I’ve also posted about the large number of funerals that I started to attend and unfortunately they some were for peers or younger folks

    In addition to that I’m also seeing people with debilitating health problems and injuries in their late 50 and early 60s. They aren’t housebound. But the window of trips and activities they can comfortably enjoy has narrowed considerably.

    At this point I think the last two items left undone are Australia/New Zealand and a safari.

  13. With Rhett’s inspiration, I might be up for another safari. And going to the Galapagos again….

  14. I really want to go to Italy. I keep talking about it, but that would be my first choices. Hawaii is still on my list, but it isn’t as important to me as Italy. I also don’t want to rush around the country, and I want to make multiple trips to different parts of the country. I’ve been to Paris several times, but my DH has never been there even though he spent a lot of time in other parts of France. We probably have at least ten places that we want to visit in Europe and we will have a lot more flexibility once DD is in college. She is interested in Greece and UK, so we can hold those trips for her college breaks.

    All of our trips in the next twelve months will involve school visits, but we are hoping to get to a warm place for the December break if the virus is under control. We already know that we have a wedding in Mexico in March 2022 so at least we have a couple of fun trips on the horizon.

  15. Sadly, my bucket list has kicked the bucket itself. The 70th birthday short hiking trip in Quebec next fall is unlikely to happen (and that was a compromise Ive been there before) and I an going to need a lot of internal fortitude to make myself keep up walking and hiking without an external objective to inspire me. I simply cant leave DH alone for even 8 or 9 days. It is 3 weeks since he cut his foot and didnt notice, and it is not fully healed, 2nd course of antibiotics. He fell in the house 10 days ago, just bruises, no head, but not sure how long it would have taken him to get up without me. He is a combination of oblivious and crafty, as is common in the infirm elderly. They dont judge what is important to deal with, and often hide what they do realize to preserve dignity. He is not my daughters responsibility, she’ll have plenty of time for that job when I get old. And even if I hired someone to come in every day for a couple of hours, he cleans up fine and would just charm her with sweetness and praise her cooking, if he even agreed to such an arrangement.

  16. ‘And even if I hired someone to come in every day for a couple of hours, he cleans up fine and would just charm her with sweetness and praise her cooking, if he even agreed to such an arrangement.”

    Would that be so bad if it gave you a regular break to do your own thing?

  17. Meme – you need a break. You may have to try out caregivers to come in and keep an eye on your DH while you get at least a few hours outside the house. Hopefully Covid vaccines start to make this sort of arrangement possible. Maybe you could manage a longer trip if you had in home care and your DD as a point of contact.

  18. Meme- Tagging on to Louise – My aunt did exactly what Louise suggested when her husband was terminally ill. She hired at home care givers and was able to take 1-2 brief trips away for a few days at a time. It gave her a very much needed break. Her daughters were around to check in on the caregivers and their dad.

  19. MM – I agree about finding I am not even doing the small things for myself. I rejoined my book club more than a year ago, but have gotten more regular about attending meetings and setting aside time to read the books. I have been invited to re-join a club that I didn’t have time for when the DDs were little. I am attending via Zoom this weekend to see if I am still interested. We had some wood left over from our deck and SO is making me some Square Foot gardening boxes. I have picked out my “winter” veg and just need to go get them likely next weekend (store has only morning 9-1 hours with COVID). Its been years since we really spent any effort tending plants of any sort.

    I had a time sheet issue today and it brought to my attention that when our fiscal year ends, I will have time (first in 7 years) that I have to use or lose. It likely isn’t a problem with moving both DDs into apartments next August. But, it made me think about not letting my balances grow.

  20. Meme, a big ditto to Kerri and Louise. Get him used to having other caregivers. You need breaks.

  21. Meme – I can relate to your situation. I see SO having minor mental lapses. At this point, it is nothing dangerous to himself or others. In other ways he has started to perk up and be a bit more active. I will suggest that while taking care of your DH is not your daughter’s problem, there comes a point where you need a break – a few hours, a few days, a week – to recharge and be able to continue to caregive.

  22. I am not a bucket list person. I can go out and do all these marvelous things, and then I’ll die and be dust in the wind just like everyone else is, eventually. The more experiences I build up, the more that will die with me. (As the joke goes, “And you wonder why you’re not invited to more parties!”)

    The odd thing is that I feel fine about it. I’m not depressed. I’m fine and I enjoy lots of little daily gifts, like sunshine and friends and pics of the grandbaby and getting into a complicated yoga pose and everything else. I just recognize that it’s pointless and we will all return to ashes and none of it will matter.

  23. Meme, maybe I’m reading too much into your comment about your DH not being your DD’s problem, but it sounds similar to DW’s feelings about not wanting to ask other people for help. She said her parents always said that you should be able to handle things yourself, so she has a hard time accepting help from other people. For example, her aunt is paying for a monthly house cleaner for us once a month, and she feels incredibly guilty about this. But as I always point out to her, she’s always offering to help other people when they need it.

    Don’t feel bad about asking for help so you can get some breaks. You need them, and so does your DH.

  24. Meme – joining the others – start now, slowly. 1 day a week for a couple of hours even. Build from there. We (sis & I) are having to battle our strong-willed 100% there mother to start having someone come in to help/watch out for our step-dad. It’s not going well. She didn’t need the help probably till 5yrs ago, but no progress/agreement has been made. Your daughter will thank you.

  25. I’m not depressed.

    Are you sure? You comment sure sounds like something a depressed person would say.

  26. Are you sure? You comment sure sounds like something a depressed person would say.

    I know it does. But I’m really quite cheerful. I stay on my meds, of course. I think it’s more the view from 1,000,000 feet. There’s a big difference between saying “It’s all pointless, so I’m going to stay in bed forever” and “It’s all pointless, so I might as well not worry about how I’m not filling up my bucket list. I’ll just do my little domestic things that I enjoy and not worry about going to Mongolia.”

  27. Meme,

    I just want to chime in to say that you have every right to deal with this and feel about this anyway you want. However you choose to manage it is totally OK.

  28. RMS, I kind of get what you are saying. I love to read books, especially big historical tomes, but lately I have been wondering what the point is, especially with DS2 not around as much to discuss with. I have all sorts of great factoids about Vikings stuffed into my head right now after finally finishing a book about them, but what good does that do? It is just stuff in my brain attic. Maybe that is why I am more interested in finding time to create things. No one may appreciate my bad artwork, but when I am gone, they will all have to sift through it, dang it!

  29. Back to Mémé’s issue: Hire a caregiver and have your daughter as the point person. DH doesn’t have to “agree” to it. My parents never agreed to anything, but one day there was a caregiver in the house and they got used it.

  30. Meme, I echo others saying I agree that it would be good to have a care giver come even if it is for only a few hours and even if you don’t really “need” it right now. I think it may be easier to incrementally add care giving help versus going from nothing to needing a lot later. Your SO may not be your daughter’s responsibility, but I’m guessing she worries about you and the stress you are under. A care giver may be a gift to all of you.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Rhett at 1:17.

  31. Meme, I agree with Rhett that whatever you choose to do is fine. Only you know what is most important and what you value the most.

  32. I don’t feel it’s all pointless but at this time, I feel like so much is up in the air that I will enjoy the ability to do little things rather than start to plan future big things.

  33. Meme – I agree with Rhett but just offered my suggestion , based on experiences in my own family.

  34. Since I suggested this post, my list has 57 things on it. Some are already crossed off (and many will have multiple check marks next to them): family hikes, exploring a new light display (Blithewold Manor), reading 1 book per month… Next month I’ll cross of the helicopter ride (we’re touring the Newport mansions from the sky).

    Some of my things are very normal – exercise 3x per week, ditch that 10 lbs, read 1 book per month, etc. Others are pretty big – taking DH to Harry Potter land in FL, visiting my friend in CO, throwing myself a birthday party, a girls’ weekend, etc. I doubt I’ll get to do them all this year, but I’ll just keep going.

    This list has turned into a way for me to take a look at things I want to do or experience. It could be something I don’t make enough time for or something completely new. Free or costly. I’m having a lot of fun thinking of new things, and finding friends to help me complete them. (I have drive a luxury car on my list… my friend owns a Porshe Panamara and has graciously allowed me to take it for a spin :) )

    Meme – not to pile on here, but you need you time. Take the others’ advice to heart.

  35. @Meme – I just want to say that you are in a tough position, I feel for you, and I agree with the others. It’s okay to get help if you would like to, and I agree with TCM that your daughter probably worries about you. I do as just your friend, so I can’t imagine how I would worry if you were my mom. Or if you just want to vent a little, mourn the vacations you won’t be taking, and ignore all the well-meaning advice – great! And tell us all to shut the heck up.

  36. “This list has turned into a way for me to take a look at things I want to do or experience.”

    I’ve been feeling like life is a bit of a Groundhog’s Day lately and need something to look forward to. Rhode – I like your suggestion of a list of things to do/experience. It may help get me out of this “different day/ same shit” rut.

  37. I get what Rocky is saying. I don’t have a bucket list, just a few trips planned for our “empty nest” phase, which will start in the Fall (!!). I think DH and I will need something to plan so that we don’t focus on how empty the house will be.

  38. Thanks folks. As Rhett said so sweetly, I have to balance many things.

    1. There is no one in his family to help out. We (and his ex) are life back up for his son.
    2. My daughter is certainly sufficient and willing back up for a short trip. She knows him well and would manage his placement in a facility if I am not able or die. I intend to call on her when I go away to see other family or friends for a long weekend, unless we get to a point where needed physical assistance is a bit much to ask of anyone but me and would be humiliating for him.
    3. I expect to leave the house for hikes and kayak trips several times a week by late spring . I may consider a waterproof smart watch so that he can reach me easily.
    4. When travel and face to face bridge resumes, he will be able to travel to bridge tournaments. He may be impractical and weak, but the mind is doing okay. A plus of Covid has been the chance to elevate my game to a much higher level. I would choose to put my yearly travel budget toward good times in his company and excellent accommodations, rather than respite caregivers and short but expensive solo trips that are not really where I would travel if unfettered.
    5. He may get worse in two years and linger, although it more likely his ticker will just give out one day. At that point if we have regular helpers or he goes to a facility, I can consider a bucket list trip.

  39. I don’t necessarily have a bucket list exactly. I’m not opposed to the concept, but maybe I’m just not a big dreamer. But we are trying to hit every MLB stadium, which makes for a nice list of places to go. DS also really wants to go to London – I think the interest comes from a combo of Harry Potter and some British You Tubers.

  40. “just a few trips planned for our “empty nest” phase, which will start in the Fall (!!).”

    I really hope it does.

    Ours was supposed to start this past August, but given the situation near DD’s campus, our nest isn’t empty yet.

  41. “I may consider a waterproof smart watch so that he can reach me easily.”

    A lot of phones are IP68 rated (1.5m deep for 30 minutes).

    And there are all sorts of after-market options for keeping a phone dry.

  42. The pandemic has led me to focus more clearly on some of the things I want to do.

    There’s a couple trips I’d like to make within the first few years after travel resets to some sort of normal.

    One is a family trip to Korea.. During the pandemic, DD has gotten the rest of the family interested in Korean food and culture. Perhaps we’ll travel with DD’s BFF’s family; they are part Korean.

    The other is to go skiing somewhere.

    The other thing that’s risen on my list is to clean up and better organize our house so we can host people.

  43. NoB– he’s in the area, sharing a 3BR unit with two friends, but still in quarantine, so not on campus. It’s unclear at this point if/when he’ll actually be on campus. All his classes are online.

  44. Finn, going to Korea is on my list too. I have a good friend/co-researcher who is Korean, and her descriptions have made me want to go.

  45. Mooshi, any thought to combining your desired travel destinations of Hawai’i, China, and Korea into a single trip?

    Given your job, you might be able to swing several weeks off during the summer, and while your kids are still in school that might work for them too. You’d just need your DH to be able to get that time off too.

    Among other things, that would make practical a shorter stay here than if this were the sole destination. Or you could stay a couple/few days each way to break up the trip.

  46. All of us were in a rut with the groundhog day feels, so last weekend we spent the night at a local Westin. I knew this location had a very nice pool and would not be crowded. Sure enough we had a wonderful time, the pool to ourselves, and the kids felt like they were rockstars because we typically stay at Hilton Garden Inns and the like. I was told that we need to do this trip every year. Oh, and hotel rate was ridiculous cheap thanks to Covid.

  47. “I think DH and I will need something to plan so that we don’t focus on how empty the house will be.”

    You and me both. Becoming a parent was frightening. Becoming an empty nester feels kind of the same way.

  48. “Mooshi, any thought to combining your desired travel destinations of Hawai’i, China, and Korea into a single trip?”

    I am not a Grand Tour kind of traveller. I like to go to one place and focus. A trip like that would need 4 weeks at least.

  49. The sad thing is, this is likely the last summer to be able to go places with DS1, unless he heads straight to grad school. And I don’t think anyone is going to be travelling much this summer

  50. Pandemic times have resulted in too many of us being home all at once. It’s a good thing in some ways but just not such a good thing in other ways. I am hoping school for the kids resumes in a normal fashion like we had Sep through November. Our county numbers have come down and our vaccines are picking up so I am hopeful.
    There are six of us on computers, phones, talking etc. etc and although we can close spaces off, it still feels tight.

  51. Finn – exactly, no kids. They are too little to enjoy any of it. And yes, the butter beer is good. I’ve been to the first HP land in Orlando, and the same HP land in CA. Since then they’ve opened that second HP land in Orlando connected by the train. I’ve been promising DH we’d go since 2016. Time to make good on that promise (pregnancies, PPD, work, and two tough kids made it a challenge for us to get away alone at all). Plus, I’ve been saving up a ton of miles this year using my Southwest card. We can fly for free!

    MM – I think you’re right about travel. I hope our Acadia trip gets the green light. It was postponed last year by the rental company due to COVID. I do have a couple of things on my bucket list for there too – a few hikes (one family friendly, one not), and I want to try rock climbing there. I know they have experiences for all levels so I’m hoping to just go and have fun.

    I pre-emptively apologized for how expensive this year will be…. our house addition is under contract, this list, new mattress for us, and probably a new stove…. I haven’t even thought of things that will pop up this summer… :)

  52. Rhode, when we went to HP Land in Orlando, only the first half was open. We could see parts of the second from one of the rides, and they let the kids climb on the Howarts Express train, but it wasn’t running yet.

    We’ve also been to the HP Land in Osaka. It’s closer to us than Orlando.

    “I pre-emptively apologized for how expensive this year will be”

    No need to apologize– you are providing the economy with some much-needed stimulus.

  53. “During the pandemic, DD has gotten the rest of the family interested in Korean food and culture.”

    My DD has gotten very interested in Korean culture over the past year or so. When school was iffy last spring and she had time on her hands, she started teaching herself Korean with Mango and DuoLingo. I think she’s actually learned a fair amount. She really wants to go to Korea, and has been actively lobbying DH and me. If her interest continues, I would love to go.

  54. Thanks, Finn! I had never heard of that program. I will definitely encourage DD to look into it.

  55. Rhode – Happy early milestone birthday!

    DH and I have never waited for milestones to take big vacations. In fact, we both had milestone birthdays a few years ago and we didn’t even realize it until the end of the year! Travel was always important to us so we took at least 1 overseas vacation per year for many years. A few years ago, I realized I had not traveled much within the US so we started exploring more domestically. Wow, the US really is a beautiful place!

    Over the past few months I’ve started falling into the RMS and MooshiMooshi camp of what is the point. And I don’t mean this in anyway as I’m depressed and giving up. For the record, I didn’t read RMS’ comments as depressed at all. I see her living her best life everyday and not waiting for some big experience to fulfill her. We’ve traveled a lot in the past year (by 2020 standards), and it’s been fun, but now I’m longing just to be with friends and family. I look forward to the day when I can just hang out at my parent’s house and “visit” as they would say. I’ve talked with others here who are having the same realization. In the past one of my friends would take month long trips overseas with her family. Now she says she just wants to go to “family camp” and let her kids relax and hang out with friends for a few weeks away from home. I’ve made a goal when I return home to invest more in relationships, make more time for friends and get more involved in my church. Before we left, we were always so “busy” (I put that in quotes because that was always the excuse in my head whether it was true or not is debatable) that I never made time to develop deep friendships. I’ve made a close friend here, and it has reminded me how great it can be to have someone outside your family who you can just be yourself with.

  56. “I enjoy lots of little daily gifts, like sunshine and friends and pics of the grandbaby and getting into a complicated yoga pose and everything else.”

    I tend to agree with RMS about bucket lists and I also didn’t read her comment as depressed. Clearly I’m unusual in circumstances and in outlook, but I’ve always been an “enjoy every sandwich” type of person. For me it doesn’t have to be a big trip or experience that is most meaningful. We took great family trips, but sitting around the dinner table enjoying a meal and each other’s company is as precious as any other experience I had with my son. Oh, and I like sunshine a lot. These days focusing on little daily gifts is a way to cope, but I don’t think it’s necessarily an indicator of depression. It’s a form of mindfulness, which is just a good approach for many people.

    And believe me I’m not criticizing anyone who has big goals on their bucket lists. Those are also meaningful.

  57. Finn – I’ll add Osaka to the list… if we ever get to Japan. :) I also like your spin – that I’m stimulating the economy!

    My list has no “big” trips. I have a bunch of small scale ones, but nothing that would be big in our world. My list is things I don’t want to forget to do in the drama and life with two small kids and a demanding job. I’m trying to be RMS and remember to live life to the fullest now and let the little things fill my cup.

    Maybe I’ll add cleaning and organizing my basement… or kitchen. We just have too much stuff. :)

  58. I agree with Denver, don’t continue to write to the person.

    DD just returned from her final driving lesson and the instructor mentioned that she just saw that a snowstorm is now forecast for the same day as her road test. I think the road test is the only thing she feels positive about it figures that the snow will probably screw everything up. I am not depressed, but I am getting sick of everything being a hassle or even a potential life threatening event.

  59. Lauren – I hope the weather is OK and you don’t have to reschedule the test. I feel the stress that every appointment has to go perfectly because it is not easy to schedule or reschedule things, where once it was walk in.

  60. Lauren, reschedule the rest now, so she’s not on line and neees until the last minute, or continue to enjoy stressi my over small stuff.

  61. “I am not depressed, but I am getting sick of everything being a hassle or even a potential life threatening event.”

    I know, right?? I can’t wait until everything doesn’t seem like a threat.

    Good luck to your DD, Lauren. I hope the storm doesn’t interfere with her driving test!

  62. Thank you for all of the good wishes. I am going to see if it is possible to navigate the DMV website to make a change.

    This article reminded me of Finn because he shared this information with us years ago. Many of you have also shared similar stories when your own kids selected a school.

  63. Lauren-
    Maybe the forecast won’t come to pass?
    DS1 took his test in a snowstorm; no problems.

  64. Lauren, thanks for posting that, I like the comparison he made of merit aid to athletic aid. I see merit aid less outrageous than athletic aid, especially for sports that are not profitable or that do not provide significant publicity benefits.

    IMO, summer after 8th grade is about the latest to have the first conversation about college and paying for it. IMO, that conversation should take place some time before starting to select HS classes. which for my kids was January of 8th grade.

    He also glossed over test scores, perhaps because the pandemic has made them less important for merit aid, which may persist post-pandemic.

  65. “He also glossed over test scores, perhaps because the pandemic has made them less important for merit aid, which may persist post-pandemic.”

    This makes his article feel stale and NOT “An Entirely New Road Map” as the title of his upcoming book attests. Yes, merit aid is “new” news to the latest crop of parents just learning about this, but the “entirely new” news would include how test scores will now factor into the merit equation.

    Wait any longer than the start of high school, and the vicious math of grade point averages may not allow them to catch up if they are aiming for merit aid at more selective institutions. And grades and curricular choices — unlike ZIP codes or other demographic information — are something that is mostly within a teenager’s control.

    While I agree that parents should have a conversation about the role of financial aid before their kids start high school, I question how much grades are really mostly within most teenagers’ control.

  66. Extra curricular activities have been zero or extremely curtailed during the pandemic. This is another area of admissions that needs revisiting. Just yesterday a teen who will be applying to college in the fall started an online fund raiser for a type of cancer. I saw this similar starting of charitable works in junior year by another teen in my circle just in time for college admissions. If teens want to be involved in something all through high school and even before it’s great but these types of one year resume builders have arisen because colleges sent such a wrong message. It’s time for a correction, IMO.

  67. Louise, I agree. There are many things that didn’t change because no one wanted to deal with the “that’s the way it’s always been done” or the loss of money. I have no sympathy for the College Board since they were trying to keep this machine growing and they just kept expanding with more tests and fees.

    There are a lot of things that have changed that I hope are here to stay. For example, my friends in Bergen and Hudson counties in NJ are able to reserve vaccine appointments on line. They drive to a designated parking lot and six cars enter. They are vaccinated and then they wait in another area for 15 minutes to make sure there is not a negative reaction. They never leave their cars. The same is done in NY for many of the state wide testing sites to determine if someone has the virus. This is awesome for the elderly or anyone that would have trouble walking into a test site. I know they need a ride, but it is still so much easier than forcing an 80 year old to get to the Javitz center, navigate a large convention center and then get home. This was the situation facing my dad until I offered to drive him to another location.

    College counseling, tutoring and even virtual tours are things that DD is doing from her computer in her room. Her ACT tutor lives in another state. I haven’t used telemedicine, but my parents, DH and others use it all of the time. This saves time and makes sense in some cases. I believe that without the virus, it would have taken years before telemedicine was possible.

    Almost every part of the college admissions process and experience was disrupted by the virus. The four or five years before college that create a mad dash for some kids isn’t possible right now. How can athletes gain early admit/scholarships if no one sees them play? The crazy ideas that I’ve seen some of my my friends come up with for extracurriculars is so typical of my faux friends. For example, one created a snow angels program for her daughter to clear the driveways and sidewalks of elderly neighbors. That is great, but the email to help came from the mom. The email about whether I could shovel a driveway came from the mom. The same was true for my friend that created a zoom series about the careers of finance professionals. She recruited the parents, she wrote the bios, she set up the zoom and she even asks the questions during the Q & A when the students don’t ask questions. Parents of juniors around here are scrambling to create resumes because they saw the huge increase in college applications due to test optional. Last week, several colleges had to push back the date that they will notify students about admission because they received 30-40% more applications vs. a year ago. Schools need a new plan for merit aid and admissions if there is a push for test option in 2022.

    It isn’t fair to base meri

  68. I’m also seeing a lot of requests via email and Facebook about high schoolers charity events…. fundraising, food drives, adopt a senior. They started in March and it has been just overkill since then. It’s one thing if it is a student that has always been involved in volunteer efforts, but most of these requests aren’t from them.

    Sadly, I’m usually skeptical of fundraisers, ever since a high school friend wanted to take a mission trip to Ireland (which was such an odd choice) and begged my parents, and me, multiple times for money.

  69. I plan on showing the merit aid article to #1, who is in 7th grade.

    What’s not clear to me is if you have to give out any financial information for the “merit aid” qualification. For those of you who have gone through the process and weren’t eligible for financial aid, did you fill out the FAFSA? Based on our income right now, we wouldn’t get any aid.

  70. What’s not clear to me is if you have to give out any financial information for the “merit aid” qualification. For those of you who have gone through the process and weren’t eligible for financial aid, did you fill out the FAFSA?

    3 kids through college and we have never filled out FAFSA. Merit aid didn’t require it. Schools vary on this, YMMV.

  71. DS’s high school recommends that all students submit a FAFSA. I looked at it as documenting that we could be full pay. DS has received merit offers.

  72. Kids school has recommended that everyone fills out the FASFA.

    Lemon Tree – I am against high school mission trips that are volunteer tourism. There is plenty to do in a kids own community if one wants to volunteer. And if the parents can afford it, just send the kid with their friends on an overseas trip that is fully tourism.

  73. “Sadly, I’m usually skeptical of fundraisers, ever since a high school friend wanted to take a mission trip to Ireland (which was such an odd choice) and begged my parents, and me, multiple times for money.”

    Lemon Tree — I often find myself wondering why high-school kids around here who want to do such trips, and whose parents can’t or won’t pay for them, don’t get a job and save up for the trips themselves. In my area, my DS’ employer (which is a large one) hires lots of kids starting at age 14. Opportunities at many places expand a lot once kids hit 16. Minimum wage in Massachusetts is $13.50 an hour, so if a kid doesn’t have to contribute to his or her household’s expenses, they really can save quite a bit by working even a couple of shifts a week. (I do realize that the situation would be different in places where (1) there are fewer opportunities for younger teens, and/or (2) minimum wage is a lot lower.)

  74. NOB, a close family friend majored in Korean and Japanese at Indiana U. They had a phenomenal language school with immersion dorms at that time (~25-30 yrs ago — I assume it is still very good). He had no basis in either language before going. He worked in Korea for 5 years after college. Maybe there are summer programs.

    Meme, you should really get some help as a Plan B or C at least to help you with some housekeeping. It can be hard, though, to find someone who is willing to take 1 or 2 days of work a week. Finding someone to help is harder when you are in a jam.

    I think eveyone is rethinking priorities this year. My company announced it is being acquired at the end of last year. I personally think my group will be dissolved or spun off, but nothing will be decided for at least 6-12 months. I’m debating a career pivot/change and figuring out a strategy, if a package is offered. My workaholic boss even floated the idea she may retire early.

  75. ” I question how much grades are really mostly within most teenagers’ control.”

    I totally agreee. I also think 8th grade is too late in heavy tracking school systems like ours but also NYC (at least unless they manage to reform middle school admissions). The parents need to understand the system by 6th grade at the latest and do whatever they can to keep their kid in the right track. That is, if they want to play the merit aid game. Quite honestly, I am glad I fought so hard for DS1 because it saved us a boatload of money.

  76. I detest those voluntourism trips. They are often so ill conceived that they do more damage than help. And colleges are hip to them.
    I think extracurriculars look more impressive if sustained and somehow relate to the kid’s life. My DS2 has been involved in ped cancer fundraising and survivor awareness stuff for years.It is pretty obvious how it relates to his life. He did that Congressional lobbying trip his junior year and was sorely disappointed that it was canceled last year because of the pandemic. He did the trip because he was just so excited to do it, but he did note it in his essay for CUNY honors, and thinks it helped put him over the top for the scholarship. It wasn’t the trip per se, it was the fact he could make a case in his essay for sustained interest and involvement in the ped cancer community

  77. Lemon Tree — I often find myself wondering why high-school kids around here who want to do such trips, and whose parents can’t or won’t pay for them, don’t get a job and save up for the trips themselves.

    They might have parents who think that the jobs are a waste of time and the kids should be using their free time to do more extracurriculars to boost their resumes.

    I think extracurriculars look more impressive if sustained and somehow relate to the kid’s life.

    I’ve mentioned before that my aunt used to be involved in admissions at a T30 school and they really wanted to see a commitment to one thing instead of dabbling in a lot of things just to check boxes.

  78. Qqqq, about 2 years ago I got in touch with a firm to arrange a senior care manager on retainer, because I saw this day coming. He declined at that time to cooperate with that project. This weekend frank talks were held at our house. He doesnt really get it, but he loves me and knows I am upset so wants to restore domestic harmony. I have regular house cleaners, am very adept at remote delivery, and enjoy cooking, I have a well suited to me brassy NYC online therapist. I spend my Covid risk budget on massage and grooming. But when we both get vaccinated and in person evaluation of him is possible, I plan to find those old emails and move forward with the plan. Let the professional make recommendations about the Miata, about hygiene, about in home PT/exercise, and refer us to in home help if advised. For me to go away my daughter would be like someone who comes in for the cat once a day, but he may need a “dog sitter”.

  79. I am glad to have learned about the concept of the Senior Care Manager from Meme. I’ve never heard of that specialty, but when I looked into it, there are options in my area. Good to know for the future.

  80. L, our experience WRT FAFSA and merit aid is consistent with others here.

    We didn’t fill out FAFSA for DD, but she still got merit aid. Her school doesn’t require it for the NM scholarship, although there is an earlier application deadline to be considered for any kind of aid.

    We did fill it out for DS, as one or two of the schools to which he applied in hope of aid required it.

  81. Both my two college kids have to do the FAFSA every year to keep their merit scholarships

  82. Qqqq — Thanks for the tip about Indiana U. DD has had a bunch of obsessions come and go throughout her young life, so we’ll see if the current Korea obsession sticks; but if it does, I can definitely see her wanting to go to a college with a strong Korean-studies program.

  83. Tonight I cheered myself up a bit. After disparaging my pasta machine the other day, I decide to make shrimp in garlic lemon sauce tonight but had no angel hair pasta, so I made some. Everything was perfect.

  84. “I can definitely see her wanting to go to a college with a strong Korean-studies program.”

    You and she might have a hard time finding such a college. Ethnic studies programs in general, and Asian studies programs more specifically, aren’t very common. I’d guess that just finding some Korean Studies classes, much less a full program, could be a challenge.

    DS’ school is an example of one that does not have an ethnic studies program, much less an Asian studies program. You might recall that was a topic of discussion here maybe a year and half or so ago.

    DD’s school does have a Korean Studies minor.

  85. The merit aid discussion casts a bit of a different light on the classic question: Take the honors/AP class and get a B, or take the non-honors/AP class and get an A?

    Ignoring the standard college counselor advice to take the honors/AP class and get an A, there’s the various merit aid formulas to consider. Many schools were recently doling out aid, or determining aid eligibility, based on a combination of test scores and GPA. However, it’s not always easy to determine how GPA is calculated for such aid, e.g., weighted vs unweighted, all classes vs core classes.

    And in some places there’s also the impact on class ranking, which directly affects admission to certain state schools.

  86. Finn, Oregon state schools look at unweighted GPA, so you’re better off with an A in Algebra than a B in calculus. However, I think they only look carefully at grades through junior year. I suspect other states are similar that a B in an AP class senior year is less harmful than a B in an AP class junior year.

  87. “DS’ school is an example of one that does not have an ethnic studies program, much less an Asian studies program.”

    I’m surprised. I went to a college much like your son’s, and there was an East Asian Studies major. I had two friendly acquaintances who did that major – one focusing on Japan, the other on China. Of course that was back in the 1980s. Maybe things are different now that liberal-arts majors seem to have fallen out of fashion.

  88. “The merit aid discussion casts a bit of a different light on the classic question: Take the honors/AP class and get a B, or take the non-honors/AP class and get an A?”

    According to the “Who Gets In And Why” book that has been mentioned on this site, if you don’t have honors/AP classes on your transcript, you might not get in at all to the more desirable schools. The author emphasized throughout the book that the rigor of a kid’s high-school classes is maybe the most important thing that admissions officers look at in determining whether to consider a kid for admission.

  89. We have an Asian Studies major. It is the only area studies major that we offer. We do have a certificate program in Latin American studies.

  90. Finn you’ve just been busted. Sneer away. . Multiple studies concentrations. Africa and African American, East Asian, South Asian, Women’s. And two of the elite ones with limited enrollment. Social Studies (interdisciplinary, famous in my day for sophomores spouting Weber and Wittengenstein at the dinner table) and History and Literature, with the following sub groups

    Students work closely with concentration advisers to select a field of study at the end of the sophomore year. These fields are American Studies, Ethnic Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, Modern World, World Before 1800, and Medieval Studies.

  91. “I thought all Totebaggers were duly contemptuous of anything that ended in “Studies”.”

    Not me! If I were, I would be contemptuous of an awful lot of my college friends and acquaintances. I knew people who majored in East Asian Studies, Russian Studies, French Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, and even Film Studies! To my knowledge, none of them is living on the streets.

  92. Oh, and a good high-school friend of mine majored in the dreaded Women’s Studies.

  93. “I thought all Totebaggers were duly contemptuous of anything that ended in “Studies”.”

    No opportunity for me to take any liberal arts classes as a business major in the home country. Very few professors in non quantitative subjects were engaging. It was probably the worst stretch in terms of college education in the home country. It seems better now with a better choice of subjects that students can choose from.

  94. According to the “Who Gets In And Why” book that has been mentioned on this site, if you don’t have honors/AP classes on your transcript, you might not get in at all to the more desirable schools. The author emphasized throughout the book that the rigor of a kid’s high-school classes is maybe the most important thing that admissions officers look at in determining whether to consider a kid for admission.

    Of course the vast majority of kids aren’t going to apply to those schools.

    A lot of parents of Arizona applicants are very upset that they are not using test scores for merit aid this year and basing it only on unweighted GPA. OOS applicants who got Bs in their AP and honors classes are losing out on $10-15k per year from if they had taken regular track classes and gotten As.

  95. I don’t remember any of my friends majoring in a XYZ-studies field. However, “international” majors were popular – we had both International Relations and International Business and I knew several people in both. ONe of my very best friends majored in film, but it was not a liberal arts major. It was hosted in the school of communications and was a professionally oriented major. My friend spent about 15 years after graduating struggling along in the alternative film world -she made a number of such films and also travelled around the world organizing and running alternative film festivals. It was fun hanging out with her during those years because the coolest people went to her parties. However, after 15 years she bagged it and went to law school. She now is a personal injury lawyer.

  96. Of course, times have changed. Back In My Day, a full one-quarter of my college class majored in History (it was the most popular major). Last I heard, the #1 major these days is Biology. Not unrelated, a while ago, I calculated that in today’s dollars, my senior year of college (tuition, room, and board) would have cost about $35,000; the actual cost today for kids currently attending the school is just under $77,000.

  97. “I knew people who majored in East Asian Studies, Russian Studies, French Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, and even Film Studies! To my knowledge, none of them is living on the streets.”

    *Raises hand* Though I coupled my “Studies” major with a minor in Economics. First job out of college = corporate finance/investment banking.

  98. My land grant university tuition-only for one semester in 2020 is $7230. This is still a great deal, but what I paid, adjusted for inflation in 2020’s dollars would be $3487.

  99. NoB, When I looked up popular majors a while back, psychology was on top, followed by health sciences and business. Engineering was up there too.

  100. I’ve posted that there are many reasons why I believe the unweighted average in my hS is unfair, but now this is really an issue if it impacts scholarships. It is very unfair and I don’t live in an affluent district like Scarsdale. If you look on Naviance, the top schools that are selected most by the graduates are SUNYs and even Westchester Community College. A decent portion of the graduating class really relies on merit aid from other state schools.

  101. “According to the “Who Gets In And Why” book that has been mentioned on this site, if you don’t have honors/AP classes on your transcript, you might not get in at all to the more desirable schools. The author emphasized throughout the book that the rigor of a kid’s high-school classes is maybe the most important thing that admissions officers look at in determining whether to consider a kid for admission.”

    Yes, if ‘more desirable’ means HSS, that’s true.

    “A lot of parents of Arizona applicants are very upset that they are not using test scores for merit aid this year and basing it only on unweighted GPA. OOS applicants who got Bs in their AP and honors classes are losing out on $10-15k per year from if they had taken regular track classes and gotten As.”

    This gets to my point. Decisions on whether to take honors/AP will pit HSS admission against merit aid at many schools that are generous with it. So what’s more important/realistic, e.g., LSJU admission or generous merit aid at someplace like Arizona?

    And of course those choices also affect HS peer groups.

  102. My kids school shows weighted GPA. I had to look that up since I get confused on what they show. I feel everything has gone to pot, and it will be a miracle if DS lands up at somewhere that is not Podunk U.

  103. Louise, does he want to stay within driving distance or is he willing to travel? There are some great choices in your state!!

  104. Louise, he can go to Podunk U, be in the honors College, take advantage of some research opportunities and do well in whatever he wants.

    I was very surprised that in DD’s first two jobs out of college no one even asked for transcripts or to verify her degree.

  105. Lauren – he would want to stay within driving distance even if it’s somewhat of a longer drive.

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