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The Most Active Posts Since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 29, 2024 11:53 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included University of Maryland early admissions, a teen who wants a Stanley water bottle, University of Michigan early admissions results, and a 17-year-old daughter who is having sex.

The most active thread over the weekend was titled, "UMD EA Results" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. I've written several recent blog posts on topics dealing college "Early Decision" admissions. But, that admissions round has passed and colleges are on to "Early Action" which is something entirely different. Students can only submit a single Early Decision application and must commit to attending the school if accepted. Early Action has neither of those restrictions but has the advantage of receiving an admissions decision earlier in the cycle than regular admissions. This thread is about Early Action decisions from the University of Maryland. However, the results being reported in the thread have a twist. Rather than being accepted for the Fall of 2024 as would be expected, many posters report being accepted for the Spring of 2025 or, in some cases, the Spring of 2026. Posters are understandably confused about this. Other posters note that these students will be eligible for UMD's "Freshmen Connection" program which allows students who are accepted for the Spring semester to live on campus and take classes in the preceding Fall. There is some discussion about the purpose of Freshmen Connection and I don't think there was ever an adequate explanation. Some posters suggested it is a way to manipulate admissions statistics. Posters whose kids went through the program praised it and assured those being offered the option that there is no stigma or other negative connotation attached to it. Other posters received admission for the Fall of 2024 and much of that discussion was about the specific program to which the students had been admitted. UMD seems to have a host of Living-Learning Programs which group students with specific interests together. This includes the Honors College and something called FIRE to which several posters reported being admitted. As always in admissions results threads such as these, there are posters who are thrilled because their kids were accepted and those who are disappointed because their children were not. Rejections normally generate complaints about the admissions process, in this case there was anger that in-state students are not being prioritized over out-of-state applicants. Both those accepted and those rejected were asked to provide statistics which were then analyzed as posters attempted to read the tea leaves for any insight into admissions decisions. Offers for merit aid or other assistance come later in the process which somewhat spoiled the news of acceptance for many because they were not sure what attendance would cost them. Every university discussed in the forum attracts haters and UMD is no exception. Though, in this case, the most vocal critic mostly bashed it for the quality of its housing, especially off-campus housing. Coinciding with the criticism was a discussion lamenting that UMD's prestige is not widely recognized outside Maryland.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "Teen won't drink water in school unless I get her a Stanley Cup", the original poster, as the title says, explains that her eighth-grade daughter refuses to drink water at school because, if she does not have a Stanley brand water bottle, she will be judged by others for having a "trashy" bottle. The original poster had hoped to raise her daughter not to be concerned about material things and asks if she would be sending the wrong message by giving in. This is at least the third thread about which I have written that deals with brand name water bottles. This obsession must have started after my kids left high school because it is completely alien to me. But, plenty of those responding are sympathetic to the girl and advise the original poster to give her a Stanley bottle. A few suggest having her "earn" the bottle by doing chores. Others suggest giving it as a holiday gift. A number of posters question the need for students to drink water during the day. Some of these dissenters are so vehemently opposed to water that I wonder if drinking water has entered the realm of vaccines or LGBT-themed books and has become part of one's political identity. Apparently since the pandemic, drinking fountains have been turned off in many schools and, instead, there are "water stations" that allow water bottles to be filled. This explains the need for water bottles and, according to several posters, TikTok is to blame for the fixation on Stanley bottles. Like me before reading this thread, a number of posters don't seem to understand why school kids need water bottles and insist that because they survived just fine without a water bottle, the original poster's kid can as well. Because these posters have either ignored or not bothered to read multiple posts explaining that water fountains have been turned off, they are more or less raising their arms and waving their hands to draw attention to their ignorance of the current situation. The changes in school water situations is so new that very few posters seem familiar with them and some don't even believe the posters — including teachers — who confirm it. In contrast to the "water truthers", some of the posters with more knowledge of water bottles were sympathetic to the need to fit in, but advised that the Stanley leaks and that Owala is a better choice and also popular on TikTok. As an old fogey, I rely on the Wirecutter to tell me what to buy instead of TikTok and it recommends the Owala over the Stanley as well. But, this creates a dilemma. If the girl is required to earn the water bottle, she should be able to choose what she earns. If she wants a leaky Stanley, that should be up to her.

The next three threads which dealt with the Gaza war, Jeff Selingo's observations about "target schools", and former President Donald Trump's blocking an immigration bill were ones that I've already discussed and will, therefore, skip today. Following those was a thread titled, "U Michigan EA results" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Much like the UMD thread that I discussed above, this thread is focused on Early Action results, though this time from the University of Michigan. Some posters say that Michigan doesn't reject early action candidates, but instead postpones or defers them and the thread is full of responses saying that applicants were "deferred". But, other posters say that they know of applicants who were rejected. Sprinkled through the thread were responses from those whose child was accepted. As usual, there were demands for stats for both those accepted and those rejected. A lot of applicants with high grade point averages and strong test scores were postponed. Those applications will be considered during regular admissions, but that means waiting longer for a decision. The students who report being accepted have extremely high stats and likely have many options for highly-ranked schools. Moreover, UM is very expensive for out-of-state students and there is likely little hope of merit aid. As such, it is fairly clear that the university is competing directly with highly-ranked private universities. This is a big change from the time that state universities were looked down upon and considered "safety schools" for those who were aiming for Ivy or other top private schools. Some posters seem astonished by this and have a hard time accepting it. They urge those who were accepted to consider other options. Because there are so few acceptances and rejections and, therefore, lots of posters trying to decide whether to wait around for regular admissions decisions, the thread is perfect fodder for potential participants in my proposed fantasy college admissions league. Just read this sentence: "these schools have over-rotated on 1G/LI/URM in the early round with these kids sitting in many EA/ED offers and most waiting for RD (financial aid) so that it’s entirely possible to see some kids getting acceptances to all T15 or T20 schools." Posters who have not gone down this rabbit hole have to ask for a translation.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "How do deal with 17YO DD having sex", the original poster says that she found out that her 17-year-old daughter has been having sex with a boy and she is now uncomfortable with them hanging out together. She says that they are being careful, but the behavior violates the original poster's morals. She asks for advice in handling the situation. Advertisers are understandably wary of discussions involving sex and children, so I can't guarantee that this thread will be around for very long. Moreover, I am fairly certain that the original poster abandoned this thread after the first post. The responses strongly lean toward accepting the sexual relationship with many posters praising the daughter's maturity. They urge reinforcement of the need for birth control and disease protection. In this sort of thread there is a tendency for posters to view the topic through the prism of their own experience. For most of these posters, age 17 was some time ago so it is not clear what relevance their own experience may have in today's world. Moreover, the experiences the posters had at that age were frequently much different fro one another. This results in a debate about how frequently 17-year-olds have sex with some posters thinking that it is a lot and others arguing that it is somewhat rare. One of the messages that is stressed by many of those responding is that parents cannot control the choices their kids make. A 17-year-old may or may not listen to a parent's advice, but there is little hope of the parent controlling the child's behavior. So, these posters suggest offering advice to the daughter, but understanding that she will ultimately make her own decisions. Moreover, rather than attempting to stop her from having sex, advise her how to do it safely. Several posters describe having to overcome their own moral objections and, if not accepting their children's sexual activity, as least finding comfort that the kids were taking proper precautions. Most of this thread is simply posters repeating the same things over and over and most of the thread could have been understood from just the first page. But, if you are interested in reading several pages of posters describing their own sexual behavior as teenagers, this is the thread for you. Spoiler, most of them didn't have any such experience.

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