I don't have much to write about these days, because the children are so, so private about everything. And Sebastien is so private about everything. And all my fascinating daily adventures (like talking to strange men drunk-dialing me from hotel rooms) are already posted in explicit detail on Facebook. I just don't have much material for the blog. But I will take a minute to chat about Calvin's school.
I love it so much. It would be nice if it were closer, but at least it is in our part of the country (although eleven hours away). What I love about Kettering University:
Co-op program: This is where Kettering is different from other engineering schools. The co-op program is required. Calvin has to finish at least six work terms (three months each), without getting fired, to graduate. He has to find a job, send in his resume, interview, and land it. Apparently, he can do this without getting a haircut for four months, but I digress. The school partners with companies who offer excellent co-op jobs. Calvin got a great job as a first year student, one that pays well and comes with a furnished apartment. He will learn everything in the business, from the basic factory work to the business side. He can choose to stay with that company for all four years, or move on. His particular company has several factories, so if he stays, he will have worked in OH, PA, IN, IL and MO before he is done. The school really helps the students land jobs, but they don't do it for them. Calvin was being booted out of his dorm at the end of his first school term and had no job to go to. Good thing that he had a comfortable car to live in. He had to find a job because he knew that it was his responsibility. This is great for brainy kids like Calvin who spend a lot time living in their heads without recognizing that the real world exists.
Academics: Challenging. We expected him to be challenged once he got to college (it has been an ongoing challenge to challenge that boy--ha!), and he is. He got his first C since flying out from under the wing of his mean homeschooling teacher five years ago. He also got some Bs. And his parents were happy to see those letters.
Individualized program: This is big. We looked at well-known engineering schools in California, but they required all the students to take the exact same classes for the first 1.5 to 2 years. That has never worked for our boy. It was very important to us that he be treated as an individual in college. He is. They gave him credit for AP classes. They are also allowing him to dual-degree, which means pouring over the degree requirements for both (mechanical engineering and applied math) and putting them into a plan that gets him finished in the normal Kettering time frame. This can be tricky, as some classes are only offered during certain terms. And that leads me to...
Advisors: Calvin has an advisor from the math department, who is the head of the department. He has an advisor from the mechanical engineering department also. I love this. When we visited the school, the math department head met with us to discuss combining the two degrees. We got right into the nitty-gritty of the required classes and the labs and how things are taught. It was a totally different experience than meeting with other educators over the years. I know that he is in good hands and has someone guiding him. And I am finally done with that job! Finally! Yay!
Size: Kettering is small: 1900 students and only 1/2 of those on campus at any time. He wanted a small school and he got it. This is a boy that got lost on the campus of a university that was all contained in one city block. Small is good for him for many reasons. I also like the dorm: There is just the one and rooms are all singles, fridge and microwave provided. That boy only had a roommate for a couple of years (the little brother that he begged God to send him) and it didn't go well. He is used to rooming alone, and I think that it is best for him.
Schedule: Year-round. This is rare for colleges. He gets about six weeks off: two in summer, two in winter, and one each in spring and fall. This means that he doesn't come home to live anymore. He is out of the house. While he is always welcome here and always will be, I think that it is important for college students to realize that they are grown up and out there in the world to get educated and skilled and make lives for themselves. The time has come, so concentrate and get on it. The other aspect of the schedule that I like is the flip-flopping: three months school...three months work. This is excellent for my child who has always studied very hard (well...except for that one year in public school). I feel that, to be a well-rounded and healthy human being, he needs to take a break from that. He does a school term with very difficult classes (what is matrix algebra anyway?) for eleven weeks and then steps away from that to work full-time, using his brain in a different way. Then, after twelve weeks of work, he is ready to dive back into the books and the brain, hopefully more appreciative of his opportunity to attend a private school and get an excellent education.
Real world experience: During his work terms, Calvin has to live in an apartment on his own and take care of himself. So far, he has learned that food is expensive and disappears so fast! Books are expensive! Things need to be washed! Cars need to be taken care of! Some of his challenges have been: a broken computer, a car accident, and credit cards that suddenly stopped working. He is learning what it is like to live on his own and take care of himself, but in baby steps. This learning is gradual and will take place over four years; life after graduation won't be so shocking because he will be well-prepared for it. (I hope and pray!)
Value: This is a biggie. We looked at a lot of schools. He turned down full-rides at large universities (plus a free computer!) and free tuition at smaller schools (plus a stipend to study abroad!) so that he could go to a small, engineering-specific school. We were looking at costs in the range of $55,000 per year. We would have paid that for this boy because he is so academic-minded and has always proved himself to be a hard worker. We knew that he needed it. I would have even gotten a job to pay for it. But Kettering is cheaper and offered a scholarship (due to high test scores and GPA). We end up paying about $25,000 per year. Plus, Calvin is earning money by working full-time (at a decent wage) for 24 weeks of the year. He does have to pay his living expenses during his work terms, but he will still come out way ahead. In the 4.5 years (standard length of the program), we will have to pay about $112,000 and he will come out with two degrees, two years of work experience, and cash in the bank. That is a great value.
I think that is it. We are so happy with the school because it is perfect for him. He is so at home there.
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