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Private Schooling Is Not a Requirement for Gifted Students

College/Career Expert Advice from Carol Carter

Q: My oldest daughter is an excellent student with many interests and activities. She attends a public school with an above-average reputation in a semi-urban area. Over the years, we have balked at private schools for her, in large part due to expense, while many of her peers at school have transferred to private "prep" schools. She is gifted in all her subjects and also excels at music. Her SATs and PSATs through ninth grade put her on a trajectory to score high enough to make National Merit Semifinalist.

In general, she has always been among the top five students at her school, but although she likes school, she has seldom been challenged in any subject. If she continues this course, will she be afforded the opportunity to attend any college of her choice? Or by attending a high school recognized as mediocre, will she not be able to attend the most selective schools should she choose to apply to them?. Or should we just relax, enjoy her achievements, and support her as she explores what she likes to do and wants to be, and trust that she will find a college experience that will let her grow to her full potential?

A: You should relax and support your daughter. Far too many parents these days are concerned with getting their child into a "brand" school at the expense of emphasizing the importance of what you do during the four years while you are in school, regardless of where you go to college. For example, my oldest brother graduated from the University of Arizona and went on a few years later to win a Rhodes scholarship.

Again, what students do during those four years -- where they intern each summer, whether or not they study abroad, the leadership roles they play in college -- count the most. On my website, caroljcarter.com, you can read a description of my book, Majoring in the Rest of Your Life: Career Secrets for College Students. Supporting your child, asking her the right questions for her to answer on her own and then letting go so that she can begin the process of becoming an adult is the most sure-fire way to raise a well-adjusted, confident, and stress-free child; one who will succeed in college and graduate with many career options and a positive attitude to match the demands of today's world.

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Carol Carter is the author of many books on college and career planning. She is the cofounder of Lifeskills, Inc., a nonprofit organization that encourages high-school students to explore their goals, career options, and the real world through part-time work and internships. She also gives workshops around the country on career exploration and other issues directly related to helping students succeed in college, career, and life.

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