Category Archives: college search

Shameless bragging

2013-04-29 20.17.50It’s the last month of high school for Carolyn. This means AP tests, prom, reviews, field trips, and, in Carolyn’s case, awards ceremonies.

This is a very sweet and precious time for us.  Carolyn was home schooled until 10th grade was over, and we made the choice together for her to go to the public high school for grades 11 and 12.   She needed more advanced instruction than I could provide, as I was chasing 6 kids, and yet someone needed to discuss the intricacies of literature and physics and calculus. She was ready for new experiences, I was headed into major neurosurgery with Caleb, and off to school she went.

A person can’t just go from homeschooling  to public school high school here. They 2013-04-29 20.18.21don’t accept unaccredited credits for transfer. To gain accreditation, she took credit by examination test  for a bunch of credits.  She did very well, except one low score on a a Latin test, but it was good enough for credit so she took it. That one score makes her meteoric rise even more impressive now.

She found when she got there that she was well prepared, ahead, really, in most everything but Spanish.  She struggled with her entry to Spanish 2 in 11th grade. She

Presenting the Top Students

Presenting the Top Students

worked very hard at it, though, and she began to pull that grade up, and the others as well.  At the end of her first semester, she ranked in the 70s out of 500.  At the end of junior year, she ranked in the 30s. She scored amazingly on 3 AP exams as a junior; this year she will take 5.  (She will rack up enough AP credits to start at University with more than a year’s worth of credits.)

Then she took the SATs and knocked them out of the park.  She got a perfect verbal score. Her math was almost perfect.  There was great rejoicing across the land, and the college hunt began in earnest. In the preparation of applications, we found out there were 5 errors on her transcript – and they were not in her favor.  The grades 2013-04-29 20.18.44were not accurate. We went in to the school to complain, and after 3 different meetings, we got it fixed.  At the semester break of senior year, she had risen to the top ten in rank.

Now we find ourselves at the end of senior year. Final Ranks were announced on Monday – she is #3 in her class of 477. She was invited with the other top ten to a Rotary luncheon in their honor on Wednesday, and she was handed a microphone to tell the group about her future plans, and she did great in spite of her fear of public speaking.  She is a poised and delightful, intelligent and kind, a beautiful young woman and we could not be more proud.

Speaking at Rotary Club

Speaking at Rotary Club

I would narrate the awards she has received, but they are too many.  I am leaving out the scholarship offers from schools she is not attending next year; none were as helpful as the Texas State one.  So here they are in list form.

Texas State University President’s Honor Scholarship, which covers full tuition !!!!!!!!

Sally Karnau Educational Scholarship administrated by the local school district

AP Scholar Award, National and Local

University Interscholastic League Scholar Award

Rotary Club Outstanding Student Award

National Merit Scholarship Commended Award

National Honor Society

Top 10% award

Summa Cum Laude designation

Carolyn’s College Choice

Carolyn at Texas State’s Bobcat Day

Carolyn is now a senior in high school, and she’s been working through her options for college. She’s looked at several; Houston Baptist, University of Mary Hardin Baylor, University of Texas at Austin,  Baylor, and Texas State University. Carolyn could be accepted anywhere she wanted to go.  Her SAT scores are amazing, her grades fantastic, her demeanor charming. She’s a National Merit Commended Scholar, and already an AP scholar due to superior performance on AP tests she has already completed in the11th grade.  With so many options and about 10 pieces of college mail everyday to go through, it’s a little overwhelming.

We briefly considered, and then dismissed, the idea of her leaving Texas.  She wants to pursue a history and education degree, and there are many great programs right here in Texas. There’s really no reward in going out of state for school, and a lot of advantages to staying here.  In state tuition, lower travel costs, opportunity for family support outweigh having an exotic college experience.  She can travel later on in life, and I am sure she will. She is thinking she will go on and get a graduate degree, but wants to get some experience first to decide if she wants to go on to be a teacher, a  professor, or something else.  With a history bachelor’s degree, she could go any of those directions.

So she narrowed her search to the school I mentioned above. I am disheartened to report that even someone with Carolyn’s numbers doesn’t qualify for anything in the way of guaranteed scholarships from UT.  Houston Baptist, UMHB, and Baylor did offer nice amounts, but the bill was still going to be steep, since the starting prices for those school are so high to begin with.  Also, Houston Baptist is urban but isolated – with out a car, she would be trapped on campus, and the Houston bus system and neighborhood were scary.  UMHB is beautiful and Christ-honoring, but she wanted something a little more metropolitan and diverse. Baylor is metropolitan and diverse, but their price tag and logistics of that became too much.

Here’s her Acceptance Letter!

Part of the interest in a metropolitan setting to her is that she doesn’t care for cars.  The upkeep, the parking, the expense, are best avoided, in her opinion, and public transport would simplify her life.

Carolyn also started doing research on which schools would accept her AP credits, from both last year and this year, and found that it’s widely varying.  All of the schools would take some credits, but only one school would take them all.  That’s 38 credits we’re talking about here. This school has a large and diverse campus, buses, decent class sizes, and has a great history program.  It also is offering her a scholarship that covers all of her tuition, and more scholarships she can apply for that will  possibly cover room and board too.  Wow – now that’s a great deal.  Carolyn is very excited to announce that she is going to Texas State University in San Marcos! She got her acceptance letter in the mail this week., and she is very content with the plan.  It’s nice to be recognized for her achievements so far and find a place that will offer her scholarships, and Paul and I are very happy with her decision.  We’re very proud of her.

Details, catching up

I haven’t had much computer time this week, and when I do have the time, we are working on scholarship applications for Justin. It took more time to figure out  which ones he can apply for than it has to fill out the paper work and write the essays for the four that he’s going after.  Pray for him – he needs a little boost! It’s probably not what he had in mind for his spring break, but it it what it is.

Abigail is off in Italy on a special trip  with her grandmother(Paul’s mom) and we’re getting regular reports of the fine things she is eating. Carolyn is hanging out here with me and it’s been good to have some time with her.  Matt’s been playing with friends, and playing Age of Empires. Addictive computer games  are strictly forbidden when school is in session, but he’s on break so we’re letting it slide. Joshua is enjoying hanging out at home, and  running around the yard.  Caleb has had a few days off for physical therapy, which has been weird.  We miss Ms Alicia coming to see him, but it is also nice to sleep in some.

As for me, I am trying to get some yard work done, help Justin fill things out and get references, and keep after the little kids, and read the new book that describes Eisenhower’s presidency (documents have been unclassified! Yay!), and get some photography done with the wildflowers that are so beautifully in bloom,  which explains why the blog has gone quiet.  Also, Paul has had some knee pain and has had an MRI, which shown two meniscus tears.  He’s scheduled for surgery later this month.  So grateful for medical care, and medical insurance, at this moment.

So there’s the update.  Hopefully I will get back to writing soon. 

The College Racket

My brother Dave, Carolyn, and Me

Carolyn started her college search last weekend with a visit to Houston Baptist University; they were having a preview weekend, they have an RN program, and they’re a small school  in a big city.  So we drove over to have a look.

She had a great time.  She loved the people and thought that it was a good environment on campus.  The mascot is a husky, and that’s very cool.  On the downside, it doesn’t have much walk-ability around the campus; there’s big enormous 6 lane highways.  The public transport isn’t convenient to get to downtown.  I think everyone in Houston must drive cars; there’s no trains, and if a person wanted to take a bus from the school to the airport, it would take 160 minutes, a half mile walk, and two transfers to do it.  To get to downtown museums, it’s about an hour on the bus, with a half mile walking, and at least one transfer.  And still, after all that trouble, she’d still be in  Houston when really she wants to be in New York City.  So it’s undecided, and she has a lot more schools to go and see before any sort of decision is made.

We also made a weekend of it and went to see the my brother Dave and his family; they leave near Houston now. It was a good time all around. But the whole college search thing makes a parent turn philosophical sometimes.

Is college a racket? A definition I found of “racket” was : a dishonest scheme, trick, business, activity, etc.: the latest weight-reducing racket.  So I guess technically, they publish the prices, so it’s not dishonest, and therefore is not a racket, but sometimes it feels like one.  In many ways. though, the college situation we have in America in 2011 is an odd, unsustainable situation.  In the last 20 years, college costs have increased 130 %, while incomes have pretty much stayed the same.  In 1988, the average tuition and fees for a four-year public university were $2,800, adjusted for inflation. By 2008, that number had  to roughly $6,500 a year — to say nothing about the rise in room and board.  This year at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the room and board will run about $8000/ year.  That’s  a low-cost University.  Baylor University in Waco is costing $33,000 in tuition and fees, plus another $11,000 in room and board.

While I try to stay out of politics here on the blog, I do think our government’s student loan programs are somewhat  to blame.  When more and more student loans are available, the colleges can continue to jack up prices, and just let the kids be saddled with debt, to earn degrees that will put them out into a job market that has an average annual  income of around $40000.  Let’s just do the math.  Suppose someone goes to Baylor, and spends $44,000 X 4(years), and that’s 176,000 dollars.  It’s public statistics that 57% of Baylor students take out federal student loans , and the average loan per student is $9,627 a year.  They would graduate with around $40000, on average,  in debt.  The rest is made up with scholarships, cash, parents taking out debt, and aid of other sorts.  Meanwhile, Baylor is sitting on an endowment of 1.004 billion dollars, which they are using and I am not necessarily faulting them on it.  But I do think that overall, the colleges are getting richer and debt loads on young people are exploding, and that’s just not right.  And I’m not picking on Baylor, it’s just an example, and most universities would have very similar statistics.  The price of the University of Texas and Texas A &M is skyrocketing also.  This is not a sustainable situation, and for a family of 8 that lives on one income, there are going to have to be some hard decisions made about college, and it isn’t going to involve starting out in  life in enormous  debt.  If we can’t make the numbers work, then that’s not the school to pick.  Justin’s going to Dallas Baptist University next year.  It’s more affordable to begin with, and he’s received some very nice achievement and leadership scholarships, so it will cost what one of the more affordable state schools would for him.  It’s a good fit for him, but he’s going to have to come up with a job that adds in to the cost of the school to make it work.   Carolyn will find something that fits for her too, but they both feel strongly that they are not going to the same college as each other, and they don’t want to live at home and commute.  Hopefully, they will be working and have enough cash to make that happen for four years of college.  Only time will tell how it will all play out.