Parent of two gifted kids who are in the throes of selecting colleges.  I like to read, rant and rave about gifted education.

My eldest is “twice exceptional” (is gifted and has a learning disability), loves history & economics, has a great sense of humor, writes FanFiction for fun, reads over 100 books a year, and will be attending one of the colleges featured in the book, Colleges That Change Lives. The youngest is highly gifted, loves math & science, has an ironic / sarcastic wit, is in an “early college” program and still has to finalize which colleges he will apply to.

After guiding these two through their public school education and now the college selection process, my husband says I should graduate from dispensing free advice to becoming a paid college counselor. Maybe I will!

My Bias Toward Small Colleges

“Promise me you’ll will not go to the state university.  You’re just a number there!”   My older sister practically yelled at me, when she came home from the University of Minnesota during her senior year after finding out she would have to do a 5th year because her advisor  misinformed her about her graduation requirements.

I took that advice to heart and went to a small college, Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.  It’s the second oldest women’s college in the country.

My own experiences have also caused me to encourage my kids to pick smaller colleges.  While at Stephens, I took 3 courses at the University of Missouri.  At Stephens, there was always dialogue in the classroom.  In my first class at Mizzou, I was one of 3 people to speak up in the entire semester.  In the other two classes, I doubt if the professor learned the names of even 5 of the 65 faces in my junior-level course; and then he handed the class over to a teaching assistant for the rest of the spring semester who took even less interest in us as people.  Granted, my experiences at Oxford and at the business school at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs were much better, but still my small school bias persists…especially for introverts like my kids.

My Background

In case you’re wondering…

  • B.A. in Business Administration, French and Spanish from Stephens College
  • Studied Spanish at the Universidad de Valencia in Spain for a summer
  • Studied English drama during summer school at Cambridge University
  • Read English Economic Thought and Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre at Oxford University
  • M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • Charter member of Coppell Gifted Association, high school campus rep, and membership chairperson

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debi Gordon  |  May 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I just stumbled upon your website and it has been incredibly helpful already.
    I’m still in need of some information that will assist us in our unique situation and I hope I can find it through you or one of your sources.
    Here’s the ‘ ‘Cliff Note’ version of our situation:
    My son is a gifted 11 year old and in the public school system.
    He will be entering the local high school in the fall as a freshman.
    I’m told he will most likely complete high school in three years or less – so graduating at age 14. I was told we should start doing our college research now. I’m not sure where to begin and I’m told that the college counselors at the high school will not be able to handle such a unique situation. As a side note: We live very close to Northwestern in Evanston. My son has taken summer classes there and would love to attend there full time. Any guidance, suggestions, and or links would be very much appreciated. Kindest regards, Debi

  • 2. She-Bear  |  May 17, 2009 at 6:12 am

    A few thoughts on very early entrance to college:
    1. Sign up for the Davidson Young Scholars program. They probably have more experience than anyone with your situation.
    2. Consider the colleges that run the Talent Search programs, like Northwestern U., as they have faculty with experience with highly gifted kids….Duke U., Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Iowa State, U of Denver.
    3. Some of the colleges with official Early College programs (see link on the right) might be a fit…U of Washington & Simon Bard are two that I know a little about that might be a fit. (I’m assuming that you want your son to finish high school in the public schools so he woudn’t be attending an Early College program, but rather would be enrolling in college at a young age.)
    4. The extremely selective colleges all end up with a number of young students and thus have experience with your situation. For instance, our tour guide at CalTech started at age 16.
    5. Mensa’s gifted student discussion list has at least one parent in your situation who would gladly give advice. You don’t have to be a Mensa member to join the list.
    6. Because of his age, you might prefer to have him attend a college within driving distance, like Northwestern or maybe Washinton U. Or, look for a smaller college where he’ll get more personalized attention….but you may sacrifice some more advanced classes.
    7. There’s nothing wrong with a gap year – live abroad, for example – that helps maturity and experience catch up wth knowledge.

  • 3. Robin  |  June 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Enjoy reading your “College Counselor” pages! Lots of good stuff!
    I am a big fan of smaller colleges too! Anyways, for anyone just starting the process, or already behind, I wanted to share the name of a great college counselor. My son has had the privilege of working with her at his school (North Hills Prep.) but now she is returning to full time college counseling.
    She does one on ones and also seminars for rising seniors. The seminars help them navigate and begin the application process and those all important essays. She really knows her stuff. Like what schools have merit aid and who’s a good candidate to receive it. Her name is Catherine Marrs # 214-350-8581 or e-mail http://www.yourcollegiateadvocate.com. I know she’d love to help you.

  • 4. Abel  |  October 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I have a HS freshman who shadowed last year and spent a month this summer at SMI @ TAMS. She loved the experience, but also loves her new Arts High School, she will have a tough decision to make in the future. Thanks for the site.


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