Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making Dreams Realities

A few weeks ago I emailed the Assistant to the Director of Meteorological Studies and Weather Center of the Meteorology Department at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT asking if he could give Grace and I twenty minutes of his time to explain to us what his ideal college applicant is like.

Grace participated in the Meteorology Bridge program, a program led by college students whose goal it is to connect middle school students with various departments on campus.  Grace was allowed to participate even though we do not reside in the towns that the program is offered for, and she is not a public school student.  I explained to him that as a homeschooled student, it is imperative that I find the courses that she will need to achieve her goal of becoming a meteorologist.
He accepted my request and Grace prepared her questions.  She really thought that 7th grade was entirely too early to have this conversation.  To her weather has always been an independent study and something that is 100% interest-led.  It has taken her down amazing rabbit holes.  She has learned fascinating information about Hurricane Katrina and how the erosion of vital wetlands in Louisiana contributed to the intensity of this storm. She read Ninth Ward, a historical fiction novel that we highly recommend.  She can tell you in detail who Isaac M. Cline is and how his forecast affected the entire community of Galveston Island in 1900.  From this storm she leaned of Clara Barton and President Lincoln.  The trail is endless and each turn is fascinating to watch.  However, this rabbit trail won’t get her where she needs to be.
Her five year plan was very clearly laid out in front of her.  For math she will require, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus 1.  That covers years 8-12.  For science; chemistry, physics and earth sciences.  She should take every opportunity to learn technology, especially computer programming.  She should continue her studies in music.  We were told that most students come into their program with exemplary math scores.  Many score perfectly on the SAT test in math, but their writing skills are sorely lacking.  I asked if he was looking for technical writing skills and he replied that in order to succeed in college (and in life) writing proficiency is a must.  Grace just smiled knowing that I will outsource most of her math and science classes at the high school level, but reading and writing I have covered.  This confirmed what I have always told my children, that in order to be successful, in whatever career you choose and in life in general, you must be able to express yourself eloquently.   
Grace was invited to the Tri-State Conference in Meteorology being held at the University in the fall.  She is very excited to attend.  This will give her additional exposure to the field of meteorology and the many diverse applications of study such as forensic meteorology, climatology, broadcasting, and more.  
Walking to the car after our meeting, Grace and I talked about what we learned.  She admitted that she now understands why we came and why it is not to early to plan for her middle school and high school courses.  Having this list of pre-requisites come from a respected professional rather than her mother gave it credibility and validity.  This is not my dream, it is Grace’s dream.  She now understands exactly what she must do to make it real.  I can offer her every opportunity.  I can drive her to the community college in Norwalk next year for math classes.  However, it is she who must put in the effort to accomplish this lofty goal.  She is certainly intelligent enough, now we must see if she is passionate enough.  

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