I rarely write personal stories on Minds in Bloom, but in addition to being over the moon about my daughter’s grades, there is a good takeaway for parents, so please bear with me (or just skip to the last paragraph for the takeaway).
Before this school year, my daughter Lucy’s academic career was far from stellar. She was at best a C student with little motivation to do better. Then, last summer on the way home from a road trip, we visited a university campus with her older brother who was a high school senior. An enthusiastic blond student gave us a tour, and she did a terrific job of telling us all about how awesome college life is. While this didn’t impress my son much (he chose a different college), it did leave a lasting impression on my daughter, who was going into her high school freshmen year. A few months later, we visited another university (my own alma mater), and Lucy got to stay overnight in the dorm with a family friend who is a freshman there. Of course, she had an amazing time and decided that she wants to go there. While this school isn’t the UW, it is not an easy school to get into.
This year, Lucy’s academic life changed dramatically. She has gotten straight As. And at the Recognition Assembly at the end of the year, she got special recognition certificates from four of her six teachers. But even better than the grades, she has developed a real love of learning. She frequently shares what she has been learning with me and reads me her papers. This never used to happen.
So, here is my advice to all you parents of teenagers. Don’t wait until junior or senior year to visit colleges. The summer before ninth grade is the perfect time. The universities in our state (Washington) all have short tours you can take, which, for most ninth graders, is probably a better option than the whole day seminar/tour that seniors often opt for. Maybe Lucy would have decided to apply herself without the visits…but they certainly helped!