The Norman Transcript

January 31, 2014

Parents doing something right for son


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: My high school freshman maintains a 3.0 GPA and a slate of outside activities without much pressure from us.

But living in Norman, I find myself surrounded by parents who believe that successful college admission depends upon their children earning extremely high GPAs while balancing a mind-boggling list of activities.

I know college admissions have become much more competitive since my husband and I were 15, but do we really need to start pushing our son to make perfect grades as he prepares to apply to OU and other state universities?

— Underachiever Mom, Norman

Dear Underachiever Mom,

First of all, we would like to tell you that you are not an underachiever mom. You should congratulate yourselves for raising such a conscientious, well-rounded teenager.

A 3.0 GPA is very respectable, and chances are good it will go up even more by the time he graduates from high school. It has been our experience that the freshman year is a tough transitional year.

As students adjust to high school life and settle in, they become more comfortable and know what is expected of them. Keeping an eye on this is always a good idea. As courses become more difficult and frustrations set in, a drop in the GPA could be detrimental.

We believe activities are important. They not only occupy youngsters and keep them out of trouble, but they also give kids ownership in their school if these activities are related. With that said, we also believe that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another.

Look into opportunities for volunteer work. This is a typical question asked by colleges. Let him choose something of interest — helping the elderly at church, nursing home or hospital work, and many local organizations welcome high school volunteers.

Both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have recently changed to a holistic approach for admission, meaning they look at the entire person and not just GPAs and ACT scores. Those are important, but colleges are realizing they aren’t the only criteria that predict students’ successes.

Colleges make campus visits to high schools and talk to the juniors and seniors about admission practices. If he continues like he has been for the rest of this year and his sophomore year, it sounds to us like he is on the right track.

Make sure he signs up to visit with the recruiters of the various schools when they visit his particular campus. Specific questions can be addressed by them at that time. If he doesn’t feel comfortable asking in front of other students (which, honestly, they probably have the same questions and feelings), then you can always call the admissions office at any of the universities and perhaps set up an in-person meeting.

As long as you have a happy, healthy 15-year-old, you and he are definitely doing something right.

Please send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.

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