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National Honor Society or horse?

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  • #41
    Originally posted by Altamont Sport Horses View Post
    Colleges look for applicants that have a consistent dedication and involvement in extracurricular activities. Being an equestrian that is so devoted that he works to support his activities and has shown the initiative to do related volunteer work is, IMO, better than NHS. I've known people that reviewed the college applications and they actually like to see something different. The fact that he has done volunteer work outside of a framework like NHS speaks *very* highly of him. I would certainly like his application more than the typical bookworm who got involved with the NHS just so he could improve his chance of getting into college. How many students do THAT every year? Ho hum.

    But...what does your son want to do? He will put his heart and utmost effort into what he really wants to do and therefore do it well and that is what is important.

    When he submits his college application essay it will most likely lay out his long term interest and involvement with horses and what he would like to do in the future which you say is also horse related. It will be easy to see that this kid has direction in his life and that is what the schools want to see.
    Yes, yes, and yes.
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    • #42
      Wow. Our NHS did nothing.

      A someone who looks at college applications, A well written essay, solid grades and SATs, good references count for more than the NHS, especially since that varies so much from school to school.

      If he's got the grades to be in NHS, he'll be fine, and frankly, probably better off with the horses - and remember, these are the words of a die hard academic.
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      • #43
        I did both NHS & rode when I was in HS. Our NHS wasn't that active. I also rode just about every day with maybe a local show a month during show season.

        I would think with some balancing both could be done.
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        • #44
          While it was years ago, I managed to do both. And work at the barn. And ride on the A circuit. And graduate from high school a year early, for which I had to take a weekly night class at the local community college. With the exception of Harvard, I was accepted at all the colleges I applied to, including an Ivy. Just thinking about all that makes me tired And god bless my mom, because I graduated high school before I got my driver's license - it was a balancing act on her part too.

          My horse-related volunteer work counted as community service for honor society - I'd certainly ask his guidance counselor/advisor about that. I agree with others that it can be done. Balancing my high school schedule meant that I didn't really have time for a social life outside the barn, but that just prepared me for the fact that owning a barn and being a trainer wouldn't leave me much time for a social life in my adult life either

          I'd think long and hard about giving up the horse. Personally, I think that horse ownership and working at the barn as teen taught me much more about responsibility and life skills than anything school related.
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          • #45
            Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
            My son will be a junior next year, and he has been invited to apply for the school's NHS group. It seems to not only require a lot of community service, but school volunteering as well. Since he now works every weekend to pay for his horse's board, plus he will be taking 2 AP classes next year, the choice looks as though it will be NHS or horse. Any advice? Any college admissions folks out there? Is this really a make or break decision?
            Honestly...With sixteen horses and lots of land, it is all because my husband and I put our education BEFORE everything else. That included horses and kids and stability. For us the long term goal of being educated and able to make lots of money doing things that we love paid off. We have had incredible careers, amazing educational experiences and I haven't regreted having to put off horses for years to make that possible.

            If your son absolutely wants to do horses as a career above all else, it might be a different formula than education first. Those are decisions that he needs to think about hard.
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            • #46
              If your NHS is anything like the one at our school, they SAY there is a lot of volunteering and community service but they don't actually DO it. I didn't apply this year because I thought the same thing- how am I going to have time for that, school, work and the horse? Had I known it wasn't as much work as they made it sound like, I would have applied and dealt with it. I have several friends in it and I think they did all of three things this year- working at the blood drive- which was during school, working at the elementary school's fun fair and then they worked on a recycling project- which was during school. I know that they said you had to have a certain number of hours in order to stay the following year- but I also know that NOBODY even came close to having all those hours.

              I wouldn't ask him to give up his horse... often times that is the only 'outlet' from the stress of school. I"m going to be a senior next year and am seriously thinking of applying for the NHS next year. I'll be taking 2 AP's (Bio and Chem), I have a job on the weekends to pay for my gelding's board, I do volunteer work through another club at school etc. My dad was practically begging me the other day to sell the horse sooner rather than later since I'll be leaving for college in a year... he doesn't understand why I want to keep him through college.... my plan and hope is to be able to find a place to keep him while I'm in college that is afforadable for my college student budget and be able to keep him and eventually retire him. I didn't have my license last year, but do have it now. I don't, however, have a car- so even though I have my license, my mom does sometimes have to drive me to work or the barn if she's going to need the car that day. For the clubs- they met in the morning, and since I didn't drive at the time, my dad drove me in before he went to work.

              So, long story short- I'd let your son decide, honestly. He sounds like he's really responsible... so I'd let him try both... and if it does turn out to be too much, then you can talk about giving up his horse.
              "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

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              • #47
                The thing to keep in mind about NHS is that there are "inside" and "outside" service hours. Junior year you only need to total 10 total hours, 5 of each. "Inside" hours are events proposed by officers that society members sign up for, generally on a weekend. "Outside" hours are any volunteering the member does on his own time.

                Does your son do anything at the barn for which he does not get paid? Supervise kids tacking up, clean lesson tack, groom? It sounds like everything he does is put toward his board bill, but if not, anything of the above nature qualifies as "outside" hours.

                This year (junior year) all my classes were pre-AP or AP and I managed to keep up with horses. I only ride twice a week since I don't have my own horse, but even in that amount of time I was able to gather all the outside hours I need.

                Inside hours are a much bigger pain in the butt, but such is life. Most of what was offered at my school was akin to stuffing bags for Walk For The Cure or delivering Valentine cards to retirement homes. The biggest problem is that there is very little prior notice, and so can be difficult to schedule.

                I would advise trying to work NHS into his schedule. It's only 10 hours over 9 months. Your son will be able to whip those out over winter break if he can't manage it during the school year. He can even get rid of all the inside hours in one go if he takes two shifts at an event and takes a half-day at work.
                "This is not make-up! This is like art class on my face!!"

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                • #48
                  Originally posted by pacificsolo
                  He turned down quite a few people who had excellent grades, excellent SAT scores and had NO EC activities. I understand Harvard is similar.
                  We have a family friend who works in admissions for Penn. She says they have a name for those kind of kids-"snipers"

                  On a more serious note, I was a very busy high schooler and NHS was a total afterthought. For ours, there was one meeting a month and you had to get a certain amount of "credits" to stay in it. Credits meant anything from volunteering every day after school....to donating $20 to a certain charity. Really, no big deal. We also had ways to earn credits during school, such as tutoring or teacher aiding during study halls. So I really wouldn't worry about it that much. As others have said, I'd guess most kids applying to upper echelon schools were in their NHS chapter. But how many of those kids work their tails off to support their passion and volunteer using their knowledge?

                  You said it yourself, his heart's in the horses. Even if NHS did necessitate leaving the horse and could get him into a better school (which, from my experience, I would doubt), at what cost? Giving up something you love is no way to live, whether it's at age 16 or 67. In many cases, there are ways of putting education first without abandoning your passions. I hate what the admissions rat race is doing to high school-it's become one big competition for ivies. And Penn State can get you into vet school just as well as UPenn!

                  [Sidenote-I didn't drive until my senior year, my mother was stay at home and we also carpooled a lot. Letting him drive may help you out, but isn't crucial]
                  "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

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                  • #49
                    Originally posted by Cielo Azure View Post
                    Honestly...With sixteen horses and lots of land, it is all because my husband and I put our education BEFORE everything else. That included horses and kids and stability. For us the long term goal of being educated and able to make lots of money doing things that we love paid off. We have had incredible careers, amazing educational experiences and I haven't regreted having to put off horses for years to make that possible.

                    If your son absolutely wants to do horses as a career above all else, it might be a different formula than education first. Those are decisions that he needs to think about hard.
                    I agree that education should come first, but plenty of students manage to excel at school and sports at the same time. I attended a very rigorous private school in NYC and rode on the A circuit throughout high school; I only attended school 4 days a week and had straight As and was accepted to nearly every college I applied to-- four Ivies, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California's film school (which offered me a full scholarship). The only time I haven't had horses was when I was a fashion designer in Paris, and while in law school immediately thereafter. Now I have my dream farm and balancing that with a very demanding work schedule at a major law firm is no problem for me whatsoever; my lifestyle and schedule is very similar to what I was used to growing up.

                    If the OP's son were having difficulty balancing academics with other pursuits, that would be different. But he is not (sorry, I don't think NHS is the same thing as taking AP courses and doing well in all classes). To the extent the school has a separate honors curriculum, that kind of thing is significant, but that is different than NHS. College admissions people know what an "A" is, they don't need NHS to see the applicant is a good student (they may need the SATs to validate the grades, but that is a different issue). Trust me, my husband is a tenured professor and we talk about this stuff all the time. Tulane, where he teaches, had 36,000 applications last year. They turned down many, many students with perfect academic credentials. The ones that will be attending in the fall also brought something else to the table.
                    Last edited by YankeeLawyer; Jul. 6, 2008, 10:48 AM.
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                    • Original Poster

                      #50
                      Originally posted by kateh View Post
                      We have a family friend who works in admissions for Penn. She says they have a name for those kind of kids-"snipers"

                      You said it yourself, his heart's in the horses. Even if NHS did necessitate leaving the horse and could get him into a better school (which, from my experience, I would doubt), at what cost? Giving up something you love is no way to live, whether it's at age 16 or 67. In many cases, there are ways of putting education first without abandoning your passions. I hate what the admissions rat race is doing to high school-it's become one big competition for ivies. And Penn State can get you into vet school just as well as UPenn!

                      You say it well - the rat race is something else. My husband grew up in another country and is having a very hard time with all the hype - he doesn't know what to believe and what not to believe. I have a difficult time imagining my son without a horse. But, I feel that we will all be able to have a good discussion about this when he gets back next week (he is grooming at a horse show and having a blast!), with all of your comments. I do think that if we gave up his horse, he would lose an important focus.

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                      • #51
                        Reality Check: The issue here is money. It's not being well rounded or getting good grades or being socially active.

                        Go with the NHS. It will lead to a higher skill level that will lead to a higher income level. Then re-aquire the horse.

                        The young lad should have an input into all of this, but if he's under 18 then it's not his call. Parents still have to be PARENTS.

                        This is also a fine time for him to learn one of life's hard lessons: money may not be everything, but it's way ahead of whatever's in second place.

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                        • Original Poster

                          #52
                          Well, I certainly hope that he doesn't learn that money is a priority! He has financed just about everything for his horse since he was 12 (I paid board, but he paid for trailering, showing and tack through barn work). Now, at 15, he pays for just about everything except feed. I think that is a great lesson - work for what you want. He has also had incredible support from various folks (as has my daughter) that has given him confidence and poise to interact with people. I wouldn't trade that! As a trainer told me once "It's cheaper than rehab".

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                          • #53
                            Originally posted by Guilherme View Post

                            Go with the NHS. It will lead to a higher skill level that will lead to a higher income level. Then re-aquire the horse.
                            I completely disagree with this.
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                            • #54
                              Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
                              He has also had incredible support from various folks (as has my daughter) that has given him confidence and poise to interact with people. I wouldn't trade that!
                              That is another very important benefit of being well-rounded as opposed to a library nerd. People skills are one of the most valuable things you can have in many lucrative professions (if we are going to insist on making that the end goal). Top executives and partners at law firms, for example, typically are not shy, socially inept bookworms. Do you want to be a leader or a drone?
                              Last edited by YankeeLawyer; Jul. 7, 2008, 08:42 AM.
                              Roseknoll Sporthorses
                              www.roseknoll.net

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                              • #55
                                We have several family friends who are college admissions counselors, and the general consensus is that things like NHS no longer really "count" as special extracurricular activities that make an individual stand out. Some school systems are more stringent than others, but in most cases kids can put "NHS" on their college application with a decent GPA and a minimum of community service. Honestly, I was in the NHS, and I remember doing maybe 10 hours of service all semester, if that. Not to mention the number of classmates who very easily forged their service hour forms.

                                It's getting harder and harder to get into college, and the admissions officers want to see things that are out of the ordinary and reflect singular dedication and hard work. The horse has a better chance of reflecting that than the NHS. Kids with an honor society on their transcript are a dime a dozen; kids who take it upon themselves to support an equestrian career are quite a different story.

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                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
                                  He loves it, wants to be an equine surgeon, and has maintained honor roll with all honors classes at a very competitive local school.
                                  The sad truth then is he should give up the horse. All board certified equine surgeons I know don't ride. They don't have the time. At the same time, if he wants to go to vet school he will need around 1,000 hours of work in a vet clinic (large and small) on top of getting top (3.5 or better overall GPA in college). What I am saying is that to even in to get to vet school after getting into college takes a huge amount of time and commitment.

                                  I will give a word of advice that several vets (including former presidents of AAEP) gave me years ago. "It is not about the horse. You have to love the MEDICINE, not animals, if you want to be a good veterinarian."

                                  Reed

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                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by CallMeGrace View Post
                                    Well, I certainly hope that he doesn't learn that money is a priority! He has financed just about everything for his horse since he was 12 (I paid board, but he paid for trailering, showing and tack through barn work). Now, at 15, he pays for just about everything except feed. I think that is a great lesson - work for what you want. He has also had incredible support from various folks (as has my daughter) that has given him confidence and poise to interact with people. I wouldn't trade that! As a trainer told me once "It's cheaper than rehab".
                                    If he's not paying for EVERYTHING then he's not yet learned the Lesson of Gold.

                                    We are such an incredibly wealthy society that we can afford to be cavalier about money. At least the "tastemakers" can. The folks doing the "dirty jobs" that allow the rest of us to luxuriate in our big houses and big cars would disagree on the importance of money.

                                    Again, I don't want to see a promising young man lost the sport and art. But reality sux and an important life lesson may be on the horizon (assets have limits). Teaching the lesson gently beats the Hell out of learning it in the School of Hard Knocks.

                                    Once again, NHS gets the nod if there's not enough to go around (and the OP has already said that).

                                    G.
                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #58
                                      Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                                      The sad truth then is he should give up the horse. All board certified equine surgeons I know don't ride. They don't have the time. At the same time, if he wants to go to vet school he will need around 1,000 hours of work in a vet clinic (large and small) on top of getting top (3.5 or better overall GPA in college). What I am saying is that to even in to get to vet school after getting into college takes a huge amount of time and commitment.

                                      I will give a word of advice that several vets (including former presidents of AAEP) gave me years ago. "It is not about the horse. You have to love the MEDICINE, not animals, if you want to be a good veterinarian."

                                      Reed
                                      Good point - that's one of the things that makes me think he will make it. He loves the science of it all, hopes to work in research. He met some vet residents at a local event and they spoke about the time commitment for work with all types of animals (they said a pig farm is the best place), so he is aware of that. But he is still in high school - I am hoping that he can still be a kid, at least until graduation. He has spent days this summer already with our vet, the vet at the local zoo, and at a big clinic. I support him in all that investigation so that he can be somewhat sure about his commitment before he begins!

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                                      • #59
                                        Most other posters covered the salient points here. I don't know what he is looking at doing. With some schools, NH is a moot point. Also, there are plenty of good colleges/universities with equestrian programs. If finances are not driving this discussion, I would take a moment to talk with his guidance counselor about what his school really does with all of this, and ask a few NH parents as well. That could effectively end the discussion before it ever begins.

                                        A short story here:
                                        My niece is very good academically, loves music, dancing, writing and art. She also loves horses, specifically mine. For years, my in-laws, horrified that she would stray from their idea of a successful career in math, did everything in their power to insure she would never go into the arts, or into horses. When she succeeded at dancing and was to go on pointe a year early, they cancelled her lessons. Ditto for french horn, the summer writing camp she got into at Amherst College, and refused to give her art lessons they could well afford until she was 16 years old, and only then did they do it then because a grandmother stepped in because she had had enough of this. The horse fix was restricted to a once a year, 15 minute ride (they live 45 minutes away). All of our quiet offers to finance lessons related expenses at a local facility for her were terminated. Board games at home were limited to Life and Monopoly (buy an insurance policy, buy stocks, buy a house, etc). Scrabble, etc were never purchased, and not allowed. I kid you not. I couldn't believe it either, but that's what it was.

                                        Long story short, the kid went through hs with great grades, got into NH, which turned out to be no commitment, took 2 art courses at school (they figured in a public school it wouldn't really lead to anything), told her parents she was going out with her friends when she was really going to a weekly art group that walked around town and sketched whatever they saw for an hour a week, and scrambled working at two pizza shops to "learn the value of money" (my BIL's terms). She applied to some top notch art schools in Boston and Georgia against her father's wishes, got into two, both with four year half-scholarship offers, with one tossing in a large renewable achievement award on top of it all, and will be on her way to study art full-time in Boston in September. Last night she asked to live here with us for the summer so she can quit her job for the next two months and learn all about horses. She wants to "learn everything". My husband almost swallowed his teeth. To keep my in-laws from clawing us all to shreds and pieces, he turned her down, but carefully explained to her that this had been offered for years to her while she was growing up, who had terminated it, and why. He then offered to allow her to come over a few times during the summer to help him with the horses. She had thought we were the ones who weren't allowing her to come for all of those years. I can imagine the discussion in the car on the way home.

                                        Horses are like art and music. It's either in the blood, or it's not. If he is really passionate about it, you may end up doing more damage than good by terminating it for something that has more hype than substance. Do more on the ground research first before approaching him.
                                        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

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                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                          And, as a final insult, most college equestrian teams are women only. This is an unfortunate outcome of Title 9, but there it is.
                                          Really? Are you sure?

                                          Our equestrian team was always put under women's sports when you looked for it on the website, but we had men on our team too. I think the reason most teams are all or mostly women is not by design, but by who is interested on being on college riding teams.

                                          This is a toughie- if your son was driving I would say do both. I did both, but our NHS requirements weren't so time consuming that it was a problem.

                                          If it must be a choice I'd say choose horse.

                                          If college admissions people don't know the front end of a horse from the back and don't appreciate the work and time involved, it's up to your son to make them understand via very well written admissions essays and personal interviews (even if interviews are not required). NHS is wonderful, but since it functions differently at different schools, is not QUITE the line on the resume that many think it is. At his school it's a service organization. At my school it was just a recognition of GPA (a local version of the "who's who of high school students" really).

                                          His GPA and the type of classes he takes will be there for all to see. He does community service. And he has a deep commitment to something that many wouldn't understand. And if he picks colleges carefully, there are those that do understand horses and the commitment. I really believe the key is getting to KNOW the admissions people- go to the schools and meet them before applying. Have an interview before applying. The more they see him as a person and not as a name on paper, the better, and the less NHS will matter.
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