Dear Dr. Wallace:
What’s better for college acceptance: very high grades and no extra activities, or pretty good grades plus participation in many high school activities? My parents and I disagree on this question. I just completed the 10th grade and am a pretty good student at my high school, for the two years I’ve attended there so far.
— College Student to Be, via email
Dear College Student to Be: Somehow, I think you favor the extracurricular plan for college entrance! But it is possible to earn the highest grades and also participate in an activity program.
I can tell you that many high school valedictorians took part in at least one extracurricular activity, and some were involved in two or more. Top students usually have many school interests and participate in activities they enjoy. Colleges and universities — including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Knox — look favorably upon students who participated in a variety of school activities while still maintaining good grades. Such participation demonstrates the ability to multitask, which is a highly desired trait most employers greatly covet in their new hires.
Since you are in the 10th grade, you still have time to earn top grades and diversify your free time successfully. Do your best to achieve that goal. That way, you and your parents will all be extremely happy, and your odds of being accepted to the university of your choice will be enhanced.
Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m 17 and live alone with my mother, who is an alcoholic. My parents divorced several years ago because of my mom’s drinking problem. I stayed with her because I thought I could help her to overcome her drinking habits, but this didn’t happen at all.
I graduated from high school this past June and will be attending college in the fall. I plan on becoming an elementary school teacher. My father will fund my education, even though he remarried and has a young son with his new wife.
My grandmother, my dad’s mom, strongly dislikes my mother. Yesterday, she called and offered me $1,000 toward my university education if I would move out of — as she calls it — “Duffy’s Tavern,” and move in with her and my grandfather.
It’s tempting because there are indeed times when my mother’s behavior drives me up the wall. I’m really the woman in the house here and the person who holds things together. Basically, I’ve been on my own since my dad left. I set my own curfew, cook my own meals, do my own (and Mom’s) laundry and drive the family car. My mother gets her booze by using Uber when I’m at school. I asked my dad’s opinion, and he said it was all up to me. What do you think?
— Unsure of What to Do Now, via email
Dear Unsure: Stay at home with your mother until you leave to attend your university. Grandmother’s offer is nothing but a bribe. She should give you the money to help with educational expenses regardless of where you live. It appears she’s more interested in hurting your mother than she is in helping you. You’re mature and living like a responsible adult right now. You don’t need Grandma’s money under the circumstances it is being offered to you. Your sense of teamwork with and compassion for your mother puts your grandma to shame.
Write to Dr. Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org