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My son was just turned down by his first-choice college, which is a bit of a surprise to everybody who knows him - he got a 33 on the ACT and is very, very bright.  He has a few Asperger traits, but not as much as mine, and his mathematics are stellar.  I had been working hard to build him up on applying to college and getting geared up to go because he is something of a homebody, and he had finally reached the point of really hoping to get on at this school.


Then, boom.


I initially passed it off by telling him, "Look, son, it's a game, and we may not have played it very well this time, but you can get your first year out of the way somewhere else and apply to transfer for next year" but it sounded hollow even to me, and I know there's no guarantee.  I feel like I've failed him utterly, and it's deepened my depression about five notches ever since we found out.  I can't stop thinking about it.  What if the other two schools he applied to reject him as well?  I shudder to think what that will do to his self-esteem.  I won't be able to fix that.  Plus, I had banked on this school in more ways than one, because if one of the others does accept him, that would mean him moving hundreds of miles away, which is going to quietly kill me.


When he's gone, I will still have his sister for two years before she goes, but she will want to be with me less and less, and then off she'll fly, and then... it'll be like taking a long walk off a short pier.


I don't know whether this question is about him or me.  Sorry.  I'm a mess about this.  These two are the only thing that keep me afloat.

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I am sorry for both of you, Cerberus. I know you feel it was hollow comfort for your son about transferring after a year, but it's realistic that could work. He must be very disappointed. And I really feel for you about him leaving the area for college. Thinking of you both.

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I have thoughts from a Student's perspective but I'm terribly scrambled now.  I will post more about it when less scrambled soon.


Thinking of you and your son.

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I initially passed it off by telling him, "Look, son, it's a game, and we may not have played it very well this time, but you can get your first year out of the way somewhere else and apply to transfer for next year" 


This this this this this!!!!!!!!!


My sister, who is the top know it all of know it all's, said to me yesterday that her financial advisor recommended that ALL kids go to a Community College for two years and THEN transfer into college.  Going to a university is extremely stressful and most kids, even 'normal' kids, need the comfort of the easier school first. Her kids, like your son, did very well in High School. Her oldest just started this year as a freshman and had a whole semester of panic attacks and cutting. Now she is adjusting. But she is taking her son, who is only in TENTH grade, to a university this spring break. I was flummoxed. She said it was because she wants to make sure he really can handle college.


I am already stressing about my girl because she is in a milieu where everyone goes to fancy schools but she most likely will not get in being un academically oriented. But there is a very good community college nearby and if she goes there for a couple of years, or even one year, she will definitely get into a better school. And also, I think emotionally, she is not really ready for college. I wasn't ready for college. I had a 4.0 grade average and had accomplished more in high school than many do their whole life. But I STILL was not emotionally or socially prepared. ANd most of all, I had NO idea what to study. I took history because I thought I should go to law school. What a waste.


It is really important that you son not feel that a community college is second rate. It IS NOT!  So many people I know have to spend their whole adult life paying back their college education that was a waste to being with. Not saying this will happen for your son, but.....



Now there is you. Feeling like you failed him?  How is that even possible. The reason his ACT score, his grades, his math are stellar is because of YOU. The fact that he even applied is because of you. and YOU have NO control at all over what the college decides.


Even more so, It Is Their Loss. Your son sounds amazing. He would do great. The school is missing out!  Not your son. 


One day at a time. You have NO idea right now what the other schools will decided. It is out of your hands. No projecting. All that will do is stress out your son. And remember, even if he DOES get into the other schools, he can still put it off for a year and go to a local school first.


My girls' boyfriend just got accepted to a wonderful school that is all the way across the country. THis kid was psyched. But...he told me that he was not going to start until January because he did not feel ready. Now his mom is making him go to a local community college first, and then transfer into the school he wants. My girl said he sounded okay about this. I think more and more families are sending their children to community colleges and then transferring them out because of money and immaturity.


And from your description, it does sound like your son may do better going to college close to home, even staying at home for the first year, and then transferring to a live=in type of school. 


I used to be one of those who pooh poohed community college. No longer. I work at a university. I see so many kids that are completely unprepared and also have no idea what they are doing, but their parents are spending tens of thousands of dollars. For what? To learn Chaucer? Have cool seminars?  


For sure they are many 17,18, year olds who are ready. But there are just as many who are not. And if your son is into math, well, that field is wide open. 


Find a backup community college in your area that specializes in the stuff your son wants to learn. And talk it up to him. He will take his clues from you. If you are excited, he will be excited.  remember to tell him, this college is losing a great guy. It is their loss. 

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Hey Cerb - 


I don't usually post on this board, and I don't know if this will be worth anything but I figured I'd say it anyway.  I did my high school in the states, and my dream school was a little all female liberal arts college.  I desperately wanted to go - loved it during the tour, thought it would give me exactly the education I wanted.  I wanted somewhere smaller so I could have the extra attention and the community feeling, and I thought I wanted to keep living in the US at the time.


I got in, but I didn't get nearly enough financial aid, so I went to a school that was not only in a different country, but exactly the opposite in every way.  It was an excellent school and I am so grateful to have had the privilege of being able to go - but it wasn't what I wanted.  It was massive.  Some of my first year classes had upwards of 700 students.  And it was hard to watch some of my friends go off to my dream school and others like it because their families had money and mine didn't.


But, I went, and I made a good experience out of it.  In some ways, it was what I expected.  But you never really know what to expect when you embark on a journey like that.  There were so many good things about it.  I met good people and did exciting things that I had no way of knowing would be available.  And at the end of four years, I had my degree and I moved on with my life, because in the end, four years isn't all that long.


It sounds almost like you're feeling like you've ruined his life - and I don't see how that could be true.  You must know this, but admissions systems are unspeakably arbitrary.  Nobody can control all the factors, and probably some of the factors aren't even known to you, so how could you be responsible for controlling all of them?  I don't know your son, but people recover from ego blows like this one without being scarred for life.  He has clearly been successful in so many ways, and will be successful in even more ways in the future.

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Thanks, everyone, for the replies.


The reasons I feel I've failed are complex, having to do with the fact that his mother left me because she couldn't  take my Aspergers-ness and my depression, plus a whole suitcase full of other unbelievably horrible shit that has happened to me in the last 15 years that has wrecked my faith in God and humanity and try as I might to bury my feelings in rationality I haven't been able to completely keep my sadness and gloom from affecting my children's lives.  It has been difficult to instill a sense of personal pride and fearlessness in them toward a universe that I have learned can hurt a person so cruelly and indifferently.  I have not been the best role model because I'm really bad at lying.


My son isn't very social.  He has a mind of wheels.  He programs computers and he builds robots.  My field is information and language - I have bachlor's degrees in English and Journalism, and a Master's in Libraries and Archives.  I've worked for 20 years in graphic design and database development.  I am not an engineer.  But I taught myself basic electronics so I could help him, and made sure he had everything he could need to tinker to his heart's content in the house.  His mother and I co-parent, but it hasn't been quite as smooth as I'd hoped, especially since she remairried.  I feel - no, I know that he's suffered from the split, though it could have been much worse and we've tried very hard to keep things level for them.  But I never heard the word Asperger's until we'd been separated for a while, and when I finally understood why I hadn't been able to 'fix' what was causing my marital problem, it was too late.


I'm supposed to be pretty clever myself.  I was the only member of my high school class to be a National Merit Scholar, and I didn't get into my first-choice school either. Or second- or third, for that matter.  But that was a different era, and my scores weren't up to my son's level, especially in math.  I didn't know what I wanted to do, whereas he absolutely does - he wants to go build robots, and study artificial intelligence.  All my shortcomings, all my failures, these take on meaning if they become ladder-rungs to him climbing to a better life than mine.  If they don't - then it's just all been pointless suffering.  And it's not as though he wants to own the Moon or something; he just wants to go build robots and be happy.


(My daughter's the one with the dangerous intellect and designs on world domination, but I still have a little time to work on her to prevent her from co-opting her brother into building her an Implacable Army of Death-Droids.)


It's not that we're staring at the possibility of community college; he's already been accepted into one of the state universities, and is being considered for the Honors College there, but there's no university in our entire state that specializes in robotics.  And because they're the state institutions, they take just about everybody.  There's no self-esteem value in that.  It's his last-hope fallback school, but that's not the worst - it's where his mother is on the faculty.  The shame of it all.


I do know that the system is arbitrary.  I'm not rich, and I'm not connected, so I can't game the system, and knowing only leaves me feeling helpless.  I know it's not my life to live - God knows mine turned into a dog's breakfast - but a dad can't help hoping, you know?

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I don't usually chime in on this board either but I care, Cerb.

My FiL taught for about 25 years at our equivalent of community college (we just call it college). He taught communications and electronics and while robotics wasn't his focus there was a fair bit of that as well. Being a (community) college they had to take a lot of people - but I applied four times before getting into (community) college for this year so there's that, too. They do still have standards. As University/(college) has gotten to be more out of reach the (community) colleges are filling that gap.


There's nothing that says that he has to go this year. He could try again next year for the one that he wants most desperately. Or he could go where he's going, and still apply to transfer next year. All is not lost, even when it feels that way.

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It's not that we're staring at the possibility of community college; he's already been accepted into one of the state universities, and is being considered for the Honors College there, but there's no university in our entire state that specializes in robotics.  And because they're the state institutions, they take just about everybody.  There's no self-esteem value in that.  It's his last-hope fallback school, but that's not the worst - it's where his mother is on the faculty.  The shame of it all.


I hope you are not serious here. Because EVERYONE is accepted that means that his self-esteem should drop? When was getting accepted into college an indication of how successful you are in life? You must know all the stories about the directors, executives, Silicon Valley nerds, agents who never ever graduated HS. 


If he wants to do robotics and artificial intelligence, these companies are going to want HIM and his work, they will not care at all where he got his BA. In fact, he could go right to work, skip the college part. It is something to consider.


Since he is accepted into an honors program, there might be room for him to buid his own courses, find an internship somewhere with a company specializing in AI and robotics. My cousin is doing robotics and he got an engineering degree. He always liked that area but really wasn't sure. Went to VA Tech and is still there doing his PHd. 


Your son could go to the local place and then transfer out to a college that does AI and robotics. Those fields are hot. Which is why he could get a job now. There is an excellent article in the New Yorker about the Apple guy who basically designed all the I-stuff. They wrote about the design engineers and how they search for them. They pick maybe 2 or 3 people a year. And it is all about the guy. Not the degree. REsults. Particularly in the computer field, which is my field. They don't care about certificates. They want experience, innovation, out of the box thinkers. People with Asbergers!


I hope this does not sound harsh -- but this is your stuff Cerebus. Your critical voice, the crazy voice, the awful stupid judgmental voice. Your son is doing great. He is accepted into college, into an HONORS program. That's what I did. Am I a loser? I went to the local school. I graduated first in my HS. I was a National Merit Scholar for the PSATS. My parents let my brother go away to school but not me. I was crushed. I wanted to get away and I thought going local meant I was dumb. But what I did to make it better was go into Honors. That made a HUGE difference. I took graduate level courses as an undergraduate. I took very small seminars. And I had the right to live on campus even tho my parents were close. And as it turned out, academically I did the right thing. Socially I probably would have thrived at a small liberal arts college. 


However, I took my junior year abroad and that changed my whole life. Meaning, if he goes to the local honors for freshman, you have NO idea now where he will end up as a sophomore, junior or senior.


Is your son upset that his mother teaches there?


My hubs parents divorced when he was a teen. It was horrific for him because they did not do what you did and your wife did. 

You did everything you could except not divorce, which WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH MUCH WORSE. Ask my hubs.


Just want to say: When my girl gets rejected from college, and she will, it will bring up for me all of this same stuff.  Please just hit me with my own words when I write the same post.

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I had an experience very similar to Tryp's... I got in to the school I wanted, but wasn't offered ANY financial aid, so it wouldn't have been a good choice for me to go. I ended up going to a school that had a very different environment than what I would have wanted. But I really had a good time, and got a good education. I think to a large extent college is what you make of it. You can find the things that interest you, join clubs, and take advantage of different programs wherever you are.

Truthfully, since nowadays so many people are attending college, it seems like more and more having a million extracurricular activities is important for admissions... things are just really competitive.

I think there is a good chance your son will get into one of the other two schools he applied to.

Being accepted into a state university is not a mark of shame or failure. It makes a lot of sense, because it is SO MUCH cheaper than private schools or out of state institutions most of the time. And I'd imagine even more so if his mother is faculty. That seems to make a lot of sense to me. And I really doubt it is true that they accept EVERYBODY, especially in the honors school. There are major advantages to going to large state schools, especially because it gives you a chance to explore a variety of classes, since schools like that are more likely to have a lot of different majors offered.

Your son's self esteem will not be irrevokably wounded by being rejected from a school. Rejection is a part of life, and it's good for your son to realize things don't always fall into place easily, or the way we had them planned... sometimes we try our best and still things are not the way we want them to be. I know you want to protect your son, but you can't shelter him from the world, which can be a really difficult place sometimes. That doesn't mean your son can't follow his dreams and do what he wants with his life and grow up to be happy and fulfilled. It's just not realistic to expect for there not to be any trials along the way sometimes.

I don't think it would be too bad of an idea for him to attend a state school for a year or two and then try to transfer. The first two years of college can be a more difficult transitioin... after that I think one has their bearings more anyway. The transition to living on your own can be pretty difficult in itself. Also, our brains have not even fully developed into adult brains until our early 20's.

Also, be aware that a school's reputation is important, but how much are you paying financially for a more prestigious name? Going to elite schools may be important for some fields that are very competitive, but for a lot of things it may not be worth the extra expense. And do you really want his self esteem to be hinged on the name recognition of the school he attended?

Your son will be okay. Especially with a father like you.

As an aside... you said your son's major isn't offered anywhere in the state where you live. Are you aware of the Academic Common Market program that would allow him to attend an out of state school that offers his major for in-state tuition prices? I think the state in which you live is included in the common market program.


Edited by koa

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forgot to ask,


Just read The Footprints Of God by Greg Iles.

Really good book about AI. 

Was wondering if your son read the book and, if so, what he thought about it.


Just read a great quote from The Imitation Game, thought about your son:


Sometimes it's the people who no one imagines anything of..

Who do the things that no one can imagine.

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Water - Naturally I'm being facetious about the "shame of it all" in attending the local U; it's just the idea of his mom flagging him down on campus to remind him of some chore, or to give him a spit bath or fuss over his mismatched socks.  :shame: It would cramp his style, if he had any. 


Likewise, I fully appreciate that college is not the only way to excel.  My father never finished his undergrad, and is both a talented entrepreneur and a gifted scientist with considerable recognition in his field in our state.  My sister never even tried, and she's traveling across the country and abroad in demand for teaching as an artisan.  My brother didn't finish, and he's running a successful and growing company.  I could go on.  But dad always hammered into us that education was everything, and I'm the family 'intellectual'.  It matters to me, and it matters that my son and my daughter have access not just to acceptable resources, but to exceptional ones.  I've seen too many gifted and talented people amount to far less than they could have for want of opportunity.


You are absolutely right, of course, that this is all my crayzee talking.  I know that.  These concerns are irrational, and that drives me around the bend because I refuse to allow myself to be irrational.  They are emotional responses in a person who handles emotion poorly at best and usually by squashing it.  But in the case of these two kids and their mother, I am at my weakest.


Koa, yes, I am aware of the Academic Common Market; unfortunately, most of the schools he wants lie outside of our sphere.  Bear in mind that we live in the cavern-riddled wastes of Outer Hicksville, Kentucky, and even the best educational institutions here are 1) not the best in the nation, and 2) surrounded by yokels.  (I'm not being snooty, either - I can say that because my family have been Kentucky yokels since the late 1700s and I am in some cases a 7th-generation yokel myself.  I even like grits.)  I have had the privilege of going to schools in places as disparate as Dallas and Boston, and I am a firm believer that my kids need to get the hell out of here and discover that the world and the people in it are far more varied than the myopic rurals that they've grown up with.  His - and my - concern isn't at all about prestige for prestige's sake, it's just for the ability to interface with the best minds, the brightest thinkers, the most creative people, the most opportunity.  He needs so much more than I can give him.

Edited by Cerberus

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I totally get that perspective, Cerb.  There is a total lack of progressive mindedness in most parts of the South, and there are certain cultural experiences one doesn't get if one does not leave.  

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Water, don't get me started on what mediocre humans did to Alan Turing.

I can't even watch the movie because of what they did to Alan Turing.

Saw the quote on the web somewhere.


yet another coincidence:

Hubs, after his parents divorced and he made a point of graduating last in HS, traveled around the country for a year.

After working in a nursing home, he decided he should try college.


The only reason he got into college was because he went to the school where his mother was teaching.

It took tons of courage for him to major in the same subject.

He had NO desire to see her on campus and he didn't. This was a very small liberal arts college.

It was a very mixed blessing, but as it turned out, it was much less a deal than he thought it would be.


I totally grok that need for exceptional resources.  That is not your crayzee. (nice spelling btw)

The idea that your son will NOT have these resources is your crayzee, or that he cannot get the same exceptional resources a different way that you did.


I grew up in a family where academics was everything. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian chief kind of career.

I was an over achiever.

Now I have a kid who is a stop and smell the roses kind of girl. She loves life, hates dry old crumbly books. I LIVED in my books.

i have to tell myself over and over and over that she does NOT need the same stuff I did.

She does NOT have to climb Mt. Everest in order to be a mountain climber.

She can learn all  about life without being a bigwig in a youth group.


But there is a fine balance here that is hard to tread at times. 

Taking what you know, what you learned, and using that to guide your son and daughter.

We are who we are and that is ALL we can use for our kids. 

your issues, both good and bad, are all resources for your child, all things he will learn from.

My girl is now, after 15 years, beginning to understand who I am. And because i talked about depression, embraced my weirdness, was honest about my insecurities, did not try to be a super mom, took naps when I wanted, but also did exciting unusual mom type things, she is learning to appreciate my knowledge and my experience.


Our crayzee makes us who we are, both the good and the bad and your son will learn from it all.

All you need is love. da da da daaa.....

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