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National Honor Society or horse?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Janet View Post
    It is my impression that colleges are favorably impressed by students who are fanatical about SOMETHING, and able to balance that with school and work.
    That was certainly the case with my alma mater - the University of Virginia.

    BUT, I don't think it's really a matter of having to choose one or the other. I was the President of my school's National Honor Society and kept up with my horses just fine.


    • #22
      Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
      He loves it, wants to be an equine surgeon,
      This quote is key: the horse has much to teach him that no school nor college ever could. Let him stick with the horse, no question.

      However, his father believes that "lines on an application" are more important.
      NOT TRUE. As others have mentioned, admissions people look for novelty, dedication, perseverance, and a *well-rounded* background -- the horse will count for far more than yet another (yawn) NHS applicant. His grades and test scores *show* that he can handle the academics, they'll look to see what ELSE he's done with his life up to now. The fact that horses have been a long-term interest for him that *also* helps to prepare him for his future plans as a vet demonstrates that this kid knows what he wants and where he's going. Don't interfere by taking him away from his horse for a mere line on an application.


      • #23

        Most college admission people don't know which end of a horse bites and which end kicks. They DO know about community service. They'll likely judge equestrian pursuits as a passtime like riding a mountain bike or playing beach volley ball. If you get lucky and get an admissions officer that does know then MAYBE they'll have some influence on a final college admissions decision. I wouldn't make any bets on this, though.

        The above can change, too, if he goes to a school with an ag program or goes into equine science. But even here the NHS will likely be much more valuable that equestrian experience when it comes to looking for scholarship money (a VERY important consideration).

        And, as a final insult, most college equestrian teams are women only. This is an unfortunate outcome of Title 9, but there it is.

        On balance, the NHS is the way to go.

        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


        • #24
          This is not an either/or situation. Hundreds of thousands of kids have done both over the years, yours can too. The benefit is that Kid learns to allocate his time wisely and prioritize. Heck, I was a straight-A student, NHS and a couple other hard core extracurriculars, rode, taught, trained, showed EVERY weekend, kept my own at home and groomed for others, and organized my local 4H horse show series. IMO you're teaching the kid to fail if you expect anything less. If he wants to keep the horse, he has to bust his butt. End of.
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


          • #25
            Originally posted by Guilherme View Post

            Most college admission people don't know which end of a horse bites and which end kicks. They DO know about community service. They'll likely judge equestrian pursuits as a passtime like riding a mountain bike or playing beach volley ball.

            What they DO know is dedication and community service.. both of which this kid is already demonstrating.

            And to those saying "let him do it all," how about he gets to enjoy some time with friends in jr and sr year? AP courses plus afternoons and weekends with horse related activities sounds busy enough. There have been plenty of articles on how to look good to admissions committees and they usually emphasis focus rather than padding in a variety of activities intended just make an application look better.


            • #26
              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
              This is not an either/or situation. Hundreds of thousands of kids have done both over the years, yours can too. The benefit is that Kid learns to allocate his time wisely and prioritize. Heck, I was a straight-A student, NHS and a couple other hard core extracurriculars, rode, taught, trained, showed EVERY weekend, kept my own at home and groomed for others, and organized my local 4H horse show series. IMO you're teaching the kid to fail if you expect anything less. If he wants to keep the horse, he has to bust his butt. End of.
              I respectfully disagree. I'm sure your situation is different and having your horse at home offered some logistical benefits that I don't think this boy has including the fact that he has to work to cover his horse's board. There is a great deal of value in knowing your limitations and working within those parameters so that you can do the best possible job instead of doing too much and perhaps not being able to put forth enough effort to do them all well. He'll have plenty of time to be overworked and multi-task during every waking moment of his life in college, vet school, and in the working world. It's not like he is lazy, he is already working hard. But you have to ask him if *he* thinks he can do all of it and do it well and if not then he can prioritize what is most important to him (horse or NHS) and move forward from there. If he tries to do all and it's too much for him his grades could suffer and that would be worse than if he had never done the NHS stuff at all. It is much better to do a few things very well than do several things subpar.
              Altamont Sport Horses
              Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
              Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
              Birmingham, AL


              • #27
                I did both, and honestly NHS didn't take much time at all- but if your chapter does, by all means let him keep riding if thats what he wants.

                I got into a top 10 law school off of an essay about my riding. I rode my horse, rode IHSA, and had one other activity in college. I didn't end up with high honors because I prioritized riding and missed a few more classes than I should have at a small school. In fact, riding definitely helped because the Dean called with my law school acceptance specifically so he could tell me how impressed he was with my essay about my riding.


                • #28
                  As I understand the issues it IS an "either/or" as there is not enough money to do both. If I'm wrong then maybe the OP can correct me.

                  If this IS an economic decision then, again, NHS has to get the nod. If there's not enough NOW to keep the animal and do NHS then how will there be enough when freshman year begins?

                  I understand the passion that the young lad may have and it's a Good Thing (there WAY too few motivated young men in most equestrian situations). But getting a sheepskin from a good school is the KEY to entering into a life where he'll be looking at more than minimum wage jobs. (Note that there are other keys, like skilled trades; but as I understand it that's not "on the table" here.)

                  If there's not enough money to do both then NHS still gets the nod.

                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                  • #29
                    His goal is Vet school and large animal experience will help a lot. He will need good grades in undegrad school so why burn the kid out now? Save him for his science classes in college. Thats what he needs to do well for his goals.

                    Leave him time for people skills. Thats what matters.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by equinelaw View Post
                      His goal is Vet school and large animal experience will help a lot.
                      DITTO big-time. If pre-/vet school is his goal, horse experience will be more beneficial than NHS. Several vets (who went to great universities) said that their advisors said since so many kids drop out of the vet programs because they don't have the animal skills/basic handling tact, the institutions give priority to those with the animal background.

                      Good luck.
                      "And now . . .off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony and there are no red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums."


                      • #31
                        Definitely horse. I decided not to do NHS and do not regret the decision at all. I had no trouble getting into an ivy league undergrad school and grad school without it. Being a part of NHS isn't *that* unique and other things about your son will be more important to admission's people. It sounds like he has some great things to list already. The admissions people were very interested in my riding and it definitely made me stand out more than NHS ever would. Besides, I partially attribute riding and it's very positive impact on me by reducing stress levels etc., to my ability to do well in my AP classes. Without it I think I might have become too wrapped up in everything college admissions and become overwhelmed, instead I could go out to the barn and "escape" that world for a while.


                        • #32
                          I have to echo a previous post that felt this does not need to be a this or that decision. I did horse 6 days a week, was on yearbook, nhs and had a job as well. Maybe NHS is different these days, but I honestly don't remember it 'crimping' my style. Yearbook is the only thing that did, but I loved that too and made it all work out. Oh yeah, I also carried 3 AP classes the year I graduated too.

                          Best of luck, and big congrats on a kid whose obviously a good student and responsible - seriously!


                          • #33
                            In my opinion, the purpose of education is to prepare a kid for real life. NHS is a nice feather in his cap, but ultimately it's a controlled and artificial environment. It's life with training wheels. Your son is already out there functioning with a high level of independent responsibility, interacting with adults, making decisions, supervising other kids in his volunteer activities. Why put the training wheels back on when he's beyond that stage?

                            You mention that finances are a concern. Kids do get into grad school from state school. If you go the NHS route, are you going to be able to pay for an elite school if he does get accepted? My nephew got scholarships to both the Ivy which one of his parents had graduated from and the local state university. The state school offered the better total package. After analyzing his finances, he chose to go to the state school so he could graduate with no debt.

                            Something to consider also, is that many colleges are very concerned about maintaining diversity in their academic programs. They want women in their engineering programs. They want men in their nursing and education programs. By sticking with an activity associated more with women, your son may actually do himself a favor when it comes to getting into a competitive program.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you all for the thought provoking replies! Yes, the issue is money - and time. I think that my son deserves some down time, and that is very hard to find. I went to elitist schools so I have no illusion that someone from a state school with a mission and a vision will do better than anyone from an elite school without either. He has both, plus a work ethic stronger than most. I want to support him in what he does. I know that he wants horse but I need some good arguments to support that decision, if it comes to that, with his father. You all have given me lots to think about!

                              A question for those who said they were able to work, do NHS, clubs, horses, etc. Did you drive? Did you have brothers/sisters who required equal support? What were the volunteer commitments required for your NHS program?

                              Thanks again for all your thoughts - it helps to "talk it out"!


                              • #35
                                I don't think it will be a problem. I was very involved in NHS my junior year, president of NHS during my senior year of high school, took 5 AP's my junior and senior year, went to every big show and spent winters commuting to WEF on the weekends to show my horses.
                                It worked for me b/c meetings were during the week (had to be present to chair) and there were plenty of community service projects that took place during the week and on 'off weekends' from the horse shows. It's not *that* big of a commitment that it should interfere with riding that much but colleges do love to see it. It was really no problem at all though, I was also VP of my class, secretary for Key Club and sports editor of the newspaper and rode every night (sometimes late) but everynight nontheless.

                                As others have said even if it was that big of a deal I think selling the horse would be a mistake. Mine certainly kept me sane during high school and are even more important now that I'm in college.


                                • #36
                                  Neither of my kids drove until senior year in high school and we boarded our horses until 2004 when we opted to buy a (small, very small) place of our own nearby. The key was understanding that for my kids, "downtime" was horse time. Neither felt a need for a "hanging out at the mall" social life and by-and-large, chose friends that were as motivated and focused as they were. We, too, are financially-challenged (husband downsized same week we closed on farm...) Older daughter also wrote essay about her young mare (which has not failed to elicit tears from anyone I've ever seen read it) and her work-study job at school was coaching the dressage team and teaching lessons. You also have another decision ahead of you - does his horse go with him when he goes to school? Despite warnings to the contrary, her horse DID go to school with her. She has a full plate with academics, sorority, work, riding, and a social life. Doesn't, however, stay out late getting drunk at frat parties since she has to be up early to ride or to braid or to work to afford it all. Don't make the mistake of deciding for your son what his priorities SHOULD be - let him work to establish them and maintain them appropriately. If he has trouble doing that, THEN step in.

                                  EDITED TO ADD: This is JAN speaking. Caroline was logged on and I neglected to change it back to me!

                                  Mares are like neutrons. If there are too many in an area, you approach critical mass. And then there are explosions. Loud ones.


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
                                    A question for those who said they were able to work, do NHS, clubs, horses, etc. Did you drive? Did you have brothers/sisters who required equal support? What were the volunteer commitments required for your NHS program?
                                    Yes, I drove. No, I didn't have brothers/sisters in my age range. We had an NHS meeting immediately after school once a week where we planned for whatever community service project was going on or upcoming. We scheduled the actual projects themselves for either during or immediately after school, so the out-of-school time they required was minimal. Because I was the President, I had a bit more of a time commitment than everyone else in that I had to plan meetings and polish off projects when they were done. (We had a penny war once, and I spent QUITE a lot of time counting and rolling pennies!)


                                    • #38
                                      My daughter does both! Excellent SATs, 5s on her AP exams. It can be done with a little help. The community service part is not that hard. She did clothes drives and canned food drives and helps at the school I teach at.

                                      GO FOR IT!

                                      Remember schoolwork first, then horse!


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                        It is my impression that colleges are favorably impressed by students who are fanatical about SOMETHING, and able to balance that with school and work.

                                        As a student with a passion he stands out as an individual. As a member of the Honor Society, he becomes part of an elite GROUP but does not stand out as an individual.
                                        Absolutely, I 100% agree with Janet. I actually think it would be a mistake to give up the horse pursuits for NHS. Regarding the academic part of his application, colleges care about grades and SATs -- that is it - -because that is what they report to US News & World Report and ultimately dictates their rankings. I rode and competed heavily while in high school and got very good grades, but I have no doubt that my riding helped me a lot with admissions (I went to an Ivy League school that on average turns down a few hundred valdictorians with literally perfect SAT scores every year, so I know my grades, albeit excellent, were not what impressed the admissions committee). I don't know if my university still has the same policy, but they at least used to have a separate category for "Special Talent"applicants -- those were the concert pianists, Olympic ice skaters, and whatnot that also had excellent grades. In other words, these types received special attention.

                                        Anything that helps your son stand out (in a positive way) from other applicants who also have good grades and test scores is very important. Thus, for example, while community service is always a good thing and no one would suggest it is not a plus, in my opinion, college admissions officers are not going to be overwhelmingly impressed by someone who volunteers twice a month for a half hour at a soup kitchen so that they can "check off that box" on some college admissions how-to list, but they would be very impressed if that same student instead founded their own soup kitchen, or did something really extraordinary that demonstrates passion, commitment, and an ability to balance these pursuits with their academic obligations.

                                        And, make sure that your son's selling points come through loud and clear on the application. For example, while in high school I was very interested in film, and wanted to become a director, so I made a short (12-minute) video that basically was a documentary of a year in my life on the circuit and submitted that as a supplement to my application. When I arrived on campus nearly a year later as a matriculating student, several professors who had been on the admissions committee came up to me and told me they had seen it and loved it. I don't think it is necessary to make a film, of course, but be sure that the aplication essays reflect the whole picture.
                                        Roseknoll Sporthorses


                                        • #40
                                          My daughter also maintained a heavy academic schedule and worked off her board all through school, and for that matter now she is doing it through college. There were times I think she did miss out on some of the social activities in school and felt it, but she remained committed to her horse. She has continued this through her college years as well.

                                          However, I noticed in several of your posts you brought up the driving. I think you have to ask yourself how committed you are to helping him achieve his goals. My daughter did not drive through a good deal of high school and waited a while to get her license. That left me doing a lot of driving--two hours every day in the summer and one hour every day during the school year. And yes, I did and do work full time.

                                          From your posts it sounds like your son is even more committed then my daughter was/is. I would also ask if he is forced to choice NHS over the horse are his grades and goals going to suffer?
                                          \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables