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Summer 2018 Parent Newsletter

From Your University & Career Advancement Counsellors


Dear CIS Parents,
Inside Summer 2018
As we bid a fond adieu to our Year 13 graduates and their parents,
we’re mindful of the fact that our cohort of current Year 12s are well on
their way to progressing through their college process in anticipation SAT Subject Tests:
of submitting applications in the coming months.
What Parents Should Know
Including a Recommended
In addition to our work with the Class of 2019, we’re excited to Testing Schedule
announce a couple of initiatives that are coming your way.

From Our ‘Dumb Idea’ Dept:


Annie Yung, our Career Advancement Counsellor recently met with
CIS Hangzhou administrators and teachers to formulate a plan for Using a Gap Year to Reapply Is
upgrading the Career Education program there. In addition to NOT Recommended
spending more time at Hangzhou during course selection times, Annie
will be providing assistance in helping the Year 10s better understand Advice for Parents of Our Recent
their talents and interests and where they might lead in terms of Graduates:
potential careers.

What Do Students Who


Hangzhou Year 10 students will also be given an opportunity to better Successfully Transition to
understand our University Counselling program goals in the hopes of University Have in Common?
allaying fears while encouraging a positive outlook on the coming
university process.
Survey Results from Our Recent
Graduates:
Another initiative is most appropriately introduced by employing an We Asked: If You Had to Start
entirely different script!

Your College Process Over, What


Would You Do Differently?
為了了與每位家⻑⾧長進⾏行行良好有效的溝通,有關升學輔導的⽂文章將被翻譯成中
⽂文。我們建議您耐⼼心閱讀。相信通過閱讀未來來數數⽉月的中⽂文信件,以中⽂文為
Expected Grades:
⺟母語的家⻑⾧長們將會獲得更更豐富的訊息。
 Your Frequently Asked Questions
Are Answered
點擊此處查閱所有⽂文章。如您有任何問題,歡迎隨時與漢漢基升學與職業輔
導⽼老老師聯絡。 How Do Our Primary Students
View College?:
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and restful summer break, It’s Clear That Parents Play a
Your University and Career Advancement Counseling Team Huge Part in Shaping Views

Our Featured Book:


Your CIS University Counsellors: The Drama of the Gifted Child:
Sow Fun Dawson - sfdawson@cis.edu.hk
The Search for the True Self
Robert Mansueto - mansueto@cis.edu.hk

Marc Marier - mmarier@cis.edu.hk

Regular Feature:
Your CIS Career Advancement Counsellor • University-Related Articles
Annie Yung - ayung@cis.edu.hk
from the Web

Administrative Assistant
Brankie Wong - bwong@cis.edu.hk

Helpful Resources: “Some people get an


University Counselling Website
education without going
Index of past newsletter articles
to college. The rest get it
Recommended reading available in our UC Library
when they get out.”
Mark Twain
Home
SAT Subject Tests: What Parents Should Know

For a comparatively small number of highly selective US institutions, Subject Tests are commonly required,
so careful consideration should therefore be given to choosing the most appropriate test(s). In all, there are
21 possible Subject Tests to choose from based on four major domains including Math, Languages,
History and Science.  Click here for a complete list.

We are often approached by students and parents inquiring as to which


Basically, subject tests tests will make the best impression.  Unless a university specifically
requests that students complete a specific test for a specific program,
should be viewed as an universities will not give admission preference to students sitting for
opportunity for students particular exams.

to showcase strengths in
specific content areas. IMPORTANT: the student’s transcript weighs much more in the
admission process than performance on standardized tests.  Test
preparation which interferes with academic performance is therefore
strongly discouraged.  See our recommended Subject Test timetable below.

Questions to consider when determining which subject tests to sit for. Basically, subject tests should
be viewed as an opportunity for students to showcase strengths in specific content areas. When
considering which Subject Tests to complete, we ask students to consider the following:

• Do the student’s colleges of interest require subject tests?  In the spring of Year 12, as
students engage in the university research process, we ask them to track application
requirements for any and all potential schools of interest.  This research is indispensable.  It
makes no sense to sit for unnecessary tests, nor should a student be blindsided at the last
minute by application requirements they should have researched in a much timelier fashion.

• What does the student know?  In which subjects does the student perform best and is most
knowledgeable? Students know better than anyone which courses they perform best in,
where they have the deepest background and interest.  If
they’re unsure, we encourage them to review sample tests
and speak with their teachers as they are in the best position
to make subject-related recommendations. Students know better
than anyone which
• What classes is the student currently taking that will best courses they perform
prepare him/her for the Subject Test by the end of Year best in, where they have
12?  The level of preparation a student is receiving in class the deepest background
may be a deciding factor.  Students are advised to be familiar and interest.
with the subject areas covered by the test and determine if
the class will have provided the necessary knowledge by a
particular test date.  

• How advanced are the student’s language skills?  Students with keen language acquisition
skills or with a deep background in a particular language will be advantaged with a language
test.  

• What academic strengths and interests does the student want to highlight?  Some students
are very much oriented toward STEM subjects, others are more Humanities oriented, while
other students have strengths in both areas.  For these students, a science/math Subject Test
paired with a Humanities-based test is recommended.

• Is there a relationship between a Subject Test and the student’s future academic and
professional goals? There can be. If a student is interested in engineering, for example, a
math subject test is almost always required. For students with unformed career aspirations,
linking with an appropriate Subject Test is not a necessary consideration.

• Can students re-take subject tests?  Will universities see all of the student’s subject

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student’s subject test results?  Students can re-take subject tests and they can resubmit scores.  

 
Recommended timetable for completion of Subject Tests.

We recommend that students sit for Subject Tests in Year 12 and not before. For most of our students, the
Chinese Subject Test is best completed in November of Year 12.  Our students generally score extremely
well on this test without lots of practice time.

For other Subject Tests, we generally recommend that students sit for them at the June test date. Students
have been studying intensely for their end-of-year exams, so the Subject Test will come at a time when they
are potentially best prepared.

Sitting for the June session in Year 12 (application deadline for the June 2018 exams is May 3rd) also gives
students who are unhappy with their results an opportunity to review over the summer before again sitting
for the test in the fall.  

For a recommended timetable of standardized test completion including SATs, ACTs and Subject Tests, click
here.

Other FAQs

Is a student disadvantaged by sitting for the Chinese Language Test?  No. Universities have a
longstanding relationship with CIS and are fully aware that Mandarin is not the local language.  The only
exception to this is if Mandarin is the language of the home, then we recommend that students not sit for
the Chinese Language Subject test unless there is literally no other viable option.

Math I or Math II: do universities have a preference?  Unless a university specifically requires a
particular Math exam, no additional weight is given to the completion of one or the other.  Students are
advised to select the Math exam which best reflects their exposure to
the topics. Our Higher Level Math students have traditionally opted for
Unless a university the Math II. Our Standard Level students are urged to look at mock
exams to determine which best fits what they’ve been learning in class.
specifically requires a Most opt for the Math II, but some will opt for Math I. Math Studies
particular Math exam, no students are advised to opt for the Math I Subject Test. To better
additional weight is given to understand what is covered in each exam, click on the following links:
the completion of one or Math Level 1 and Math Level 2

the other.  Students are


advised to select the Math For Biology, there are two options, the Ecological Subject Test and
exam which best reflects the Molecular Subject test. What’s the difference?  Click here to
learn more.  As with Math, students need to know which test reflects
their exposure to the topics.
what they have studied in class.  We’ve found that the IB curriculum
better aligns with the Molecular Subject Test.

If a student has strengths in both the Humanities as well as Math/Science, would he/she be better
off completing a Subject Test in both domains?  Yes. Showcasing academic strength across a
broader range of disciplines is recommended for students who have the requisite skills and knowledge.

If a student is applying Early Decision, should the Subject Tests be completed by ED/EA
application deadlines for the student’s institution(s) of choice?  With rare exceptions, universities will
accept Subject Test scores (ie. from the November test date) if they arrive shortly after the EA/ED
application deadline.  Students considering EA/ED are strongly advised to be aware of specific university
Subject Test submission deadlines.

Should the student send subject scores to Subject Test optional institutions? Will he/she be
disadvantaged if results aren’t sent?  If universities are subject-test optional, then a student’s
application will not be affected by a decision not to send Subject Tests.  If a student has scored well, we
recommend that the score be forwarded to test-optional institutions. Click here for a complete list of
test-optional, test-flexible and test-blind institutions.

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Do universities weigh the SAT and ACT science tests equally? If they accept both, then no distinction
is made.  They are regarded as equally valid.

Can university course requirements be waived as a result of a strong Subject Test score? In some
cases, yes. Once a student has received an offer from a university, it’s a good idea to ask.

How do students prepare for Subject Tests?


There are several on-line test-prep resources. Our students typically make use of Kahn Academy which
is free and offered through CollegeBoard, the very people who design the test. Test-prep manuals are
readily available in HK or can be ordered online. We have several in our UC office. We also have mock
exams for the more popular tests. Students remark that these are very useful, particularly for the
Chinese Language Test.

Using a Gap Year to Reapply? We Asked Several Universities What They


Think of the Idea

A more recent approach to what some observers have wryly coined “the university admission arms race”
has some students, disappointed by their college offers, opting for a gap year during which the student will
re-apply to highly-selective institutions in the hope of gaining more desirable offers.  Given the distorted role
that university prestige can play in the minds of many, it’s not at all surprising that some might consider
leveraging a gap year to enhance admissibility to more selective universities, but as we discuss below, this
approach is as ill-advised as it is likely to be ill-fated.

How a gap year can help

Generally, your CIS University Counsellors are enthusiastic about gap years
if entered into for the right reasons.  A well planned gap year can be highly Generally, your CIS
beneficial in many ways. Career exploration, internship opportunities, University Counsellors
community service, a chance to recharge from academic demands before are enthusiastic about
entering university, a chance to explore the world and oneself - all are gap years if entered
perfectly valid reasons to give a gap year serious consideration.  Universities into for the right
appreciate the fact that students who arrive enter with a quality gap year reasons.  A well
experience under their belts are more focused, mature, and readier for the
academic demands they are about to undertake.
planned gap year can
help a student in many
What do universities think?
ways.
The university representatives we reached out to expressed decidedly little
enthusiasm for the the “let’s re-apply during
a gap year” approach.  Typical of the feedback we received was this
“Heard of it? Yes. comment by Jason Nevinger, Director of Admissions at the University of
Rochester: “Heard of it? Yes. Condone it? No. Unless the student can show
Condone it? No. concrete examples of some meaningful reason why they took a gap year, I
Unless the student can think it works against the student. A year spent practicing exams does little
show concrete to help the student.”  (It needs to be underscored that for some universities,
examples of some standardized tests completed after a student has graduated from high
meaningful reason why school are inadmissible.)

they took a gap year, I


For Mary deVilliers, Associate Director of International Admissions at Notre
think it works against Dame University, a gap year doesn’t change how an application will be
the student.
evaluated:  “Every student has different situations that might be prompting a
Jason Nevinger, gap year, but they all must still, holistically, be a fit for our institution.”  John
Director of Admissions Nesbitt, Vanderbilt University Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate
at the University of Admissions concurs. “In my opinion it would be foolish to turn down the
Rochester offers that you have to try and ‘improve’ and reapply the next year, because
more than likely nothing you do will be able to change the outcome at any
selective school.”  Or as Karen Kristof at Smith College succinctly puts it,
“...simply taking a gap year would not enhance admissibility.”

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Thyra Briggs, Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvey
Mudd College feels that a gap year can help a student’s re-application but “Sometimes we do see a
only with the following considerations: “I will say that occasionally we have nice maturity and
looked favorably on students who have re-applied to us after a gap year perspective in these
mostly because it has confirmed a student’s interest in HMC, and they’ve students, but in other
often done a better job of explaining why they’re a good fit for us.” But she situations their
remains leery of ‘trophy hunting.’ “Sometimes we do see a nice maturity explanations have come
and perspective in these students, but in other situations their across more as a search
explanations have come across more as a search for prestige rather than a for prestige rather than a
search for a good fit which is more off-putting.”
search for a good fit
which is more off-
Bottom line
putting.”

Delaying entry to university in the hope that a second round of applications Thyra Briggs, Vice
will result in more desirable offers means delaying a student’s entry for a President of Admissions
year with no certain outcome that the attempt will bear any fruit.  It also and Financial Aid at
needs to be underscored that for the most selective universities, Harvey Mudd College
“admission selectivity increases each year” as Jason Nevinger points out.
Kyle Downey, Associate Director
of Admissions at Cornell University, agrees. “In my experience,
“In my experience, taking a gap taking a gap year in hopes of becoming a more competitive
year in hopes of becoming a more applicant the next year is not very effective because our admit rate
competitive applicant the next has dropped nearly every year during my 14 years here at Cornell.
year is not very effective because While a candidate may have some additional attributes to present
our admit rate has dropped nearly after the gap year, that's potentially neutralized by the increased
every year during my 14 years number of applicants for the same number of seats.” Any
here at Cornell. While a candidate deliberation given to re-applying a year after an initial denial needs
may have some additional to take this math into consideration.

attributes to present after the gap


year, that's potentially neutralized We maintain that the best reason to take a gap year is to take
by the increased number of advantage of the many opportunities for personal growth that a
applicants for the same number of well-planned year can offer.  As we’ve often stated in these pages,
seats.”
prioritizing university prestige as the #1 factor in university selection
Kyle Downey, Associate is a problematic approach for many reasons. If students and their
Admissions Director at Cornell parents make it a priority to only apply to desirable institutions with
University a range of admissibility in the first place, there should be no need to
undergo another college application process and delay a college
career.

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Hitting the Ground Running: Qualities of the Student Who Successfully


Transitions to University

Research into how students successfully transition into university suggests that the first semester, in
particular, can set the tone for the rest of the university experience. Out of a desire to learn those elements
and qualities critical to a successful transition from the university perspective, we’ve asked several of our
visiting university representatives a simple question: what separates the successful versus unsuccessful 1st
year university student?

Their helpful responses can be separated into two distinct categories: the academic, and the social/
emotional.

Starting first with the academic, they advise students to:


•Step up their organizational skills. 1st year university students are typically transitioning from a more
supportive secondary school environment to one where they need to be more self-reliant. Professors are
not going to remind students about deadlines, upcoming assessments,
etc. “No one’s chasing after you” was a common observation. Keeping
Step up their organizational track of both short and long-term assignments is not only going to be
skills. 1st year university helpful, but critical.
students are typically
transitioning from a more •Be proactive. No university wants their students to struggle mightily
supportive secondary much less fail. Even though students need to be more self-reliant, they
are most definitely not academically on their own, without any supports.
school environment to one This support can vary from institution to institution, but universities
where they need to be typically will feature some or all of the following including academic
more self-reliant. advisors, study groups, a learning support center, etc. Successful
Professors are not going to students routinely seek these supports whenever necessary.

remind students about


deadlines, upcoming •Focus on their academic passions. Students are urged to research who
assessments, etc. their professors are over the summer before arriving at university,
particularly students who have a definite major in mind and are keen to
get involved in research. This will help in the course selection process
and possibly open up doors to research opportunities.

College isn’t just about academics


A common observation about international students is that they tend to focus much more on the academic
piece and sometimes neglect to appreciate the importance of making strong interpersonal connections. They
advise students to:

•Get involved. An eagerness and openness to being engaged in new clubs, organizations and
experiences can build long lasting and supportive connections.

•Find the balance between academics and non-academics. Craft a schedule that isn’t too
burdensome.

•Actively engage in further developing their cultural sensitivity, awareness and inquisitiveness.

Further Reading:

How high school differs from college

The best advice for students attending their first year of college

10 tips for first-year university students

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We Asked Our Recent Graduates, “If You Had to Start Your College Process
All Over Again, What Would You Do Differently?”

Each year as part of a final survey for our graduating class we ask:: “If you had to start your college
process over again, what would you do differently?”  While most students from the Class of 2018
expressed satisfaction with their process as well as their results, there is always something to learn
from those students who feel that they could have handled things better.  

Not surprisingly, many of the student responses related to time management and making better use of
the summer break.  Typical responses included:

• “I would try to do more work during the summer holiday including my personal statement and
prepping for standardized tests.”

• “I would have completed all of my applications not so close to the deadline.”

• “Started earlier instead of cramming the work into the last month.”

• “Start US essays earlier.”

• “Spend time on my essays earlier and set myself earlier deadlines.”


Several students commented on the fact that they wished they had done a better job of researching
potential schools of interest including participating in college visits:

• “Go on university visits and tours.  I was never able to do so because of time and travel
constraints.”

• “I would have considered visiting colleges.”

• “Do more research on OUAC.”


As counsellors, we urge students to take an open-minded approach when considering potential


programs, schools and countries of choice.  A few students felt that they could have done a better job
of this.
• “Be more aware of the Canadian college process.”

• “Apply for Oxbridge.”

• “I would apply to UK universities.”

• “Should’ve been more open minded about various programmes outside of what I primarily
applied for.”

• “Be more open to schools that I had not heard of before.”


Finally, for some students there was a realization that how they handled communication with parents
and peers could have made things easier.

• “Communication with peers about results - it was stressful.”

• “Keep my parents more informed about the process so that they don’t stress out all of the time.”


Congratula+ons to Our Wonderful Class of 2018 Graduates!!

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Expected Grades: Your Frequently Asked Questions Are Answered

For IB Diploma students applying to the UK, HK, Canada, and Australia,
expected grades will play a major role in admission decisions; in fact, An expected grade is
they can factor into admission decisions at some US institutions as based mainly on
well.* Parents understandably often have questions as to how they’re assessment
derived and what they mean in the university selection and admission performance since the
process. Below, we answer frequently asked questions. As always, student entered the IB
please contact the University Counselling office if you have any diploma program
additional questions.
whereas transcript
grades take into
What are expected grades? Expected grades attempt to determine as account additional
accurately as possible what a student is likely to score on each of his/ factors into
her IB subject results at the conclusion of Year 13.
consideration.

How are they derived? Individual teachers in each IB subject make a


best estimate on what a student is likely to achieve based on class performance, mock exam
performance, internal assessments, etc.

When are they assigned? Expected grades are assigned at the conclusion of Year 12 (late May-
Early June). All Year 12s will know their expected grades before they leave for the summer break.

Is the June assigned expected grade final? No. Teachers will review all expected grades during
the fall before they are sent to universities and can change them if warranted.

What if a student is “on the cusp”? Teachers have the option of assigning a split grade in June
(ie. 5/6) with the understanding that the student may receive the higher mark if warranted in the fall
of Year 13.

Exactly when are expected grades finalized? It depends on the application deadlines of the
institutions the student is applying to. With Oxbridge applicants, for example, the expected grade
is finalized by the end of September-early October. For remaining Yr 13 students, they’re finalized
by the end of November. Expected grades cannot be changed after they are finalized.

How does the expected grade differ from the transcript grade? The transcript grade is a record
of a student’s performance in each class during the specific term being graded. It takes into
account the same factors used in deriving the expected grade. Additionally, the transcript grade
includes consideration of other factors including such formative assessments as participation,
effort, group work, attitude towards learning, etc.

So a student’s expected grade can differ from his transcript grade? Yes, because the two
aren’t using an identical set of assessment criteria. An expected grade is based mainly on
assessment performance since the student entered the IB diploma program whereas transcript
grades take into account additional factors as mentioned above.

How and when are universities notified of a student’s expected grades? At application,
universities will learn the student’s expected grade. In some systems, the student submits the
expected grade as part of his application which is subsequently verified by his University
Counsellor (HK); in other systems, the University Counselling office will forward the student’s

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expected grade in the recommendation letter (UK.

How should a student use the expected grades in determining universities to apply to? Conditional
university offers of admission are usually contingent on the student meeting his/her expected grade
performance. CIS University Counsellors work with students to insure that they apply to schools that are
within an acceptable range of their overall expected grade. For example, if a student is expected to achieve
a total of 36 points (with bonus, we would typically recommend that the student apply to institutions in the
35-37 range to assure that he/she will ultimately meet conditions and receive offers.

How do universities use Expected Grades in determining


Some universities employ a admissibility? In general terms, they’re very important and the more
strict cut off; in other words, if competitive the university or the program, the more important they are.
the applicant’s expected grades That said, there are differences in how they’re employed by individual
fail to meet the university’s institutions. Some universities employ a strict cut off; in other words, if
requirement, the applicant will the applicant’s expected grades fail to meet the university’s
not receive an offer regardless requirement, the applicant will not receive an offer regardless of how
of how he might perform he might perform subsequently in his IB coursework. Others might
subsequently in his IB extend a conditional offer even if the applicant’s expected grades fall
coursework. Others might below their requirement and withhold a confirmed offer contingent on
extend a conditional offer even IB results.

if the applicant’s expected


grades fall below their What happens if a student’s final IB results fall short of the
requirement and withhold a expected grades? Students who fall short can request for the exam
confirmed offer contingent on to be remarked which typically takes two weeks. It should be noted
IB results.
that a re-mark can result in a student receiving a higher, same or lower
grade. Students are strongly recommended to seek the advice of our
IB Diploma Coordinator who will consult the component results of the
IB subject in question to help the student determine if a re-mark is advisable. It needs to be noted that a
small but growing number of US institutions reserve the right to withdraw an admission offer if an
applicant’s final IB grades fall significantly short of the expected grades.

What happens if a student’s performance on his IB exam falls short of meeting the university’s offer?
In the UK, clearing is a process wherein students who have not met the offer conditions can find and apply
to other universities. It typically becomes available in July-August. Click here for a complete UCAS
explanation of clearing procedures and timetable.

What happens if a student’s performance exceeds his expected grades? UCAS Adjustment allows
students to negotiate with individual universities. Adjustment is highly unlikely to result in an offer from the
more popular/competitive universities; in fact, we’ve never had a student enter a more competitive
university as a result of performance which exceeded his/her expected grades. Click here for a complete
explanation on from UCAS.

There’s also something called a predicted grade. What’s the difference between a predicted and an
expected grade? Predicted grades are generated for all Year 13 students following mock exams (late
February) and are shared with the IBO. Predicted grades are not shared with universities and therefore have
no role in college admissions.

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For These Primary Students, Parents Play a Huge Role in Shaping What They
Think About College and Their Futures

In a recent and wide-ranging conversation with a handful of Year 6 CIS primary students, it was readily
apparent that parental expectations play a large role in shaping their understanding of college and the role it
will play in their futures.

For these kids, university is a frequent topic of conversation in the home


For these kids, university with one girl claiming that her mother “nags me about getting into a good
is a frequent topic of college.” They were keenly aware of their parents’ desire that they not “have
conversation in the home a hard time in life.” And they seemed eager to meet parental expectations.
with one girl claiming that Except for one boy who claims that his Dad expects him to “live in the
her mother “nags me basement and eat pizza for five years after college,” these 11 year-olds had
about getting into a good already formed views on ideal careers and the role college will mean in
college.” attaining them. They agreed that medicine and law were the best because
“you can do good and earn a lot of money.”

The desire for success and good income was uniform, and they also agreed on the fact that they didn’t want
to hate their job or become a “cubicle person.”

They then talked about their desire to get into a “good college” with one boy having already targeted MIT as
his school of choice. When asked to name colleges that they had heard of, the most frequently mentioned
were Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and Stanford. What makes a college good? “Good teachers.”

What do they associate with the word college? “Fun and parties” was the general response but one student
said he’d heard that college students can have anxiety and when he raised the issue of student suicide, the
group fell suddenly quiet.

They were curious to know what colleges look at when considering an


application. They thought test scores would be important and they had When asked, “Do you know
all heard of the SAT.

what a tiger mom is?” she


They went on to talk about the many activities they participate in, mainly responded, “Yes, they’re
sports, art and performing arts. One girl who made several references to fierce, they push hard, and
parental pressure was receiving tutoring in math and Chinese. She they want their kids to
unenthusiastically described her coming summer as a series of planned become doctors.”
activities of varying sorts. When asked, “Do you know what a tiger mom
is?” she responded, “Yes, they’re fierce, they push hard, and they want
their kids to become doctors.”

But the “pizza boy” said he wasn’t doing anything over the summer. “What else is summer for?”

When talking to your children about colleges and careers…


Clearly, what and how we communicate to our children has a huge impact. Regardless of the age
of the student, managing expectations while opening up possibilities is the wisest and healthiest
approach. Targeting specific institutions and particular careers can be very problematic, especially
when those universities and career options are extremely selective and highly competitive. Our
experience has shown that pointing out the broadest range of possible options is far more powerful
and healthier than limiting choices. Be a door opener!

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Book Review: The Drama of the Gifted Child explores the lifelong
consequences of parental abuse on young minds

The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for True Self by Alice Miller

The Gifted Child which was first published in 1981, caused quite a sensation upon
its release. In it, she focuses on the effect of physical and emotional trauma on the
young child resulting in depression or grandiosity. She was especially focused on
linking childhood trauma (emotional or physical abuse) with adult dysfunctions.

Miller’s core belief might best be summarized by the following quote: “Experience
has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental
illness: the emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the
individual and unique history of our childhood.”

She also believed that worldwide violence was a product of childhood beatings and
abuse when young brains are most vulnerable and easily influenced. “Child abuse
like beating and humiliating not only produces unhappy and confused children, not
only destructive teenagers and abusive parents, but thus also a confused,
irrationally functioning society.”

About the author


Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1923 to Jewish parents, Alice Miller survived the Nazi occupation of her
homeland by taking on an assumed name. Following the war, she moved to Switzerland where she married,
had two children and earned doctoral degrees in sociology, psychology and philosophy in addition to
studying psychoanalysis. She was a practicing psychoanalyst for over two decades before rejecting it as
unviable. Through additional books and lectures, she solidified her reputation as an internationally
recognized advocate for the wellbeing of children before her death in 2010.

Quote from The Drama of the Gifted Child:


"Quite often I have been faced with patients who have been praised and admired for their talents and their
achievements. According to prevailing, general attitudes these people--the pride of their parents--should
have had a strong stable sense of self-assurance. But exactly the opposite is the case... In my work with
these people, I found that every one of them has a childhood history that seems significant to me:

• There was a mother who at the core was emotionally insecure, and who depended for her narcissistic
equilibrium on the child behaving, or acting, in a particular way. This mother was able to hide her
insecurity from the child and from everyone else behind a hard, authoritarian and even totalitarian
facade.

• This child had an amazing ability to perceive and respond intuitively, that is, unconsciously, to this need
of the mother or of both parents, for him to take on the role that had unconsciously been assigned to
him.

• This role secured "love" for the child—that is, his parents' exploitation. He could sense that he was
needed, and this need, guaranteed him a measure of existential security.

This ability is then extended and perfected. Later, these children not only become mothers (confidantes,
advisers, supporters) of their own mothers, but also take over the responsibility for their siblings and
eventually develop a special sensitivity to unconscious signals manifesting the needs of others."

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The drama of the gifted child

Review: the drama of the gifted child

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