Looking back, skipping DC1 two grades has accomplished exactly what we set out to accomplish. DC1 is being challenged an appropriate level in school. Zie has to work to get As in many of hir classes. It would be nice if zie always succeeded, but I’m not sure that two additional years would fix the stupidity, capriciousness, or sheer right-wing craziness of some of these English teachers or that one Spanish teacher. I do think that getting high grades in the other classes would take less work if zie had a couple more years under hir belt, but it is good to learn how to study.
What we are missing out on is DC1 being clearly one of the top genius students in the school for hir year. Zie is definitely in the top 10% and is taking all 5.0 courses (except one required semester of PE and the first two years of Orchestra which are only 4.0) and a packed schedule of AP classes, but zie is not Tabitha (valedictorian, name changed) or Rylan (top junior, name changed). Zie isn’t blowing away scholastic bowl (name of team changed) or qualifying for nationals at all three exams for math, chemistry, and physics (in fact, DC1 FORGOT to even take the qualifying math exam last year!!!!). DC1 isn’t much of a joiner and hates competition… I assume with a couple of extra years zie would have more free time and it would have been easier to bully hir into one of these things. With more free time, I suspect DC1 would have a bigger sound-cloud and maybe more stuff on hir youtube channel, as well as a potentially viable video game or two under hir belt. I don’t know how attractive those would be to colleges, but …
Skipping two grades in many ways is much less impressive than single-subject acceleration would be. (But soooo much easier on the parents who don’t have to drive to middle school to drop a kid off at the high school in the middle of the day.) It’s more impressive to be a freshman in AP physics than it is to be a junior of the same age in that class.
With two more years, DC1 might have been more attractive to schools like MIT and Harvey Mudd. (And depending on how viral hir hobbies got, maybe someplace like Stanford, who knows!) Zie could always take a gap year to explore life and become more attractive to top schools, and that may still happen.
But, I think having skipped two grades, it’s ok to go to a college that isn’t insanely difficult. Like, I understand why Obama had to transfer from Occidental. Occidental is great, but I would literally have run out of classes to take at my level before I hit senior year. I’d have had to transfer or graduate early (or get a third major if that’s allowed…). If DC1 had not skipped a couple of grades and done single-subject acceleration instead, I think zie would be in the same situation that I would have been in given college credit as a high schooler. Skipping two grades means that it’s ok to get that additional difficulty while picking up a masters (or maybe a PhD, who knows what DC1 will end up doing?). So going to one of these smaller schools that is likely to take hir is not off the table (for example, zie was really impressed with the love letter the Fiske guide wrote to Grinnell). I don’t know how competitive zie will be at the regional ivies (ex. Northwestern, Vanderbilt. etc.) but those would probably be fine too, though DC1 seems less interested in them. I mean, sure if you’re going that level it would be nice to have the cache and excessive grade inflation of a Stanford or Harvard, but these top private universities give excellent educations.
Sidenote: In the larger scheme of things I’m glad my (prestigious SLAC) alma mater got rid of legacy admissions, but at a personal level I’m a little annoyed! I do think that it would be perfect for DC1 in terms of difficulty level and support networks, but DC1 is not really that good a fit from a what-they-say-they-want in admissions standpoint. (I really was a perfect fit in terms of what they wanted outside of grades and test-scores in a way I wasn’t for the prestigious SLAC I was waitlisted at.) DH’s uni still has legacy.
Before I get too derailed about college admissions, let me get to the part that inspired this post.
So DC1 is a junior now and is the same age as the average Freshman, give or take (younger if there’s a lot of redshirting). Spanish 3 was so awful (see above note about the terrible teacher) that a ton of current juniors just decided not to go on to Spanish 4. That means that DC1 is one of two juniors in a class with a bunch of dual-language Freshman who took Spanish 1-3 in middle school. Originally Tabitha was in that class, but she decided to drop and take study hall so she could devote more time to being the best at sports and extracurriculars. The other junior in the class was thinking about dropping too, but DC1 begged hir not to– “Don’t leave me alone with all these freshmen!”
There’s also a Freshman in hir AP Physics class. I’m like, this is great, what’s hir name? You can get to know other high achieving people your age. And DC1 is like, but zie’s a freshman!
Zie completely and totally identifies with the junior class and with being a junior. Because of some course selection choices and being in varsity orchestra, zie also knows a few of the high achieving seniors. Zie mostly socializes with what I would call “normal mostly college-prep kids” and not the other kids who are taking all AP courses. Zie seems to fit in with them just fine, though this semester in order to protect hir sibling zie is not sitting at their lunch table because they are ignoring social distancing protocols. Zie says they talk across the table and wave. Zie does not get invited to things (there was a birthday party once pre-pandemic at a friend’s mom’s apartment, but that’s really it) and doesn’t go to dances or anything like that. Zie doesn’t text hir friends (I don’t think?) but does have an active life on Discord on a minecraft forum playing and hosting text-based mafia-style games (I think?). Zie seems really happy with hir level of socialization. Zie is just kind of a low-key chill person (much like DH). Most of my friendships throughout my life have been situational as well– just whoever is around without any deep connections. DH may have been my first really close friend.
Sidenote 2: DC1 also noted that zie sleeps a lot more than hir friends and gets teased about it. (Zie is usually in bed by 10pm. But gets up on hir own around 7am every day including weekends.)
One part of the high school experience that DC1 is missing is the drama(!) My colleague is always telling me about the dating tribulations of her senior (the salutatorian) and their friendship group (which includes Tabitha). I reported back to DC1 and zie said, “Why would it take so much time to get over being dumped? Shouldn’t it be like just a few hours?” Which… there’s something to be said for doing hardcore AP classwork while *not* worrying about your crush or any of their drama. (DC1 mostly hangs out with same-gender peers who are also not dating, whereas the super high-achieving friendship groups are mixed gender and sound pretty incestuous in terms of dating– meaning they all date and dump each other. I am so glad I am not dealing with teenage dating angst either as a participant or first-level observer anymore! The stories through my colleague are more than enough!)
I do feel a little bit guilty that DC1 is unlikely to be finding true love in high school because we skipped hir two grades, but there’s no guarantee that zie would have followed DH’s family norm (they all have married their first significant others that they met in high school) instead of the more random could happen at any time norm in my family (or indeed, most families). And zie will still be a good catch in college or out or may decide never to date at all. That’s up to hir.
So, as a whole, no regrets so far. DC1 seems to be happy too. Would zie have gotten into Stanford with another two years? Who knows. Is that worth it over wherever zie will end up going instead? No idea. We made these decisions for DC1 back when zie was 4 and 5 years old (and zie would have started Kindergarten even earlier if zie had been the decision-maker!) What comes after is up to DC1.