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Old 03-20-2020, 12:45 PM
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My kid is enrolling in college this year. So I decided to pen a letter to Admissions.


The one copied is for St. Johns, but I also sent the same to Hofstra, Adelphi, and Rutgers. We'll see if they respond!

Names changed to protect the unknown. Formatting is as it appears on original email.
I did attach an image... the graphic on page 19 of the Imperial College Report... which does not display below.

Quote:

Subject: Questions re: Enrollment and COVID-19

Body,

Ma'am:

These questions are based on a scenario where the COVID-19 pandemic extends beyond the "few weeks" most Americans are telling themselves it will last. Having read the Imperial College Report (link below) on COVID-19, I personally think this optimism is overblown: I hope it is *not*, but the US's response to this - effectively leaving it to Mayors and Governors who made decisions based upon the political and health needs of their locales only - has all but guaranteed a widespread pandemic the likes this country hasn't seen since the worse of the polio outbreaks of the 1950s, not to mention the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919.

Given the projections on Pages 8, 10, and, especially, Appendix A, there is a very strong likelihood that the pandemic will appear in stages, with another ballooning of cases to begin starting in September, peaking in November and/or December, finally tapering down by January 2021 - March 2021. (c.f. pages 8, 10, and 19 (Appendix A)). The only mitigation strategy which prevents this projected flareup is... no mitigation strategy at all, letting the virus rage through the population, unchecked.

Do note the conclusions in this very report caused the entire United Kingdom to dramatically change their approach towards COVID-19, forcing the entire country to change from the US approach to the approach used in Italy, S Korea, China, and other Developed Countries.


Ma'am, as parents of a Texan child, sending her to NYC is a dream for her as well as us. As is natural, we are concerned about this transition in all the normal ways parents could be, but the COVID-19 situation is truly making us rethink some things, especially the wisdom of sending our child to a large city with few family members around when this pandemic flares up again this Fall.

I do know that events and decisions by St Johns President Grempshaw may answer some of these questions for us, and they may become moot as the situation develops, but as we are expecting to make a ~$250,000 commitment of resources within 6 weeks... both our resources and St John's (thank you for the very generous scholarship offerings!)... I feel that answers to these questions are necessary, given the May 1st deadline.

1. Is St Johns developing plans for an interruption of the 2020-2021 school year, including not just instruction, but housing and dining interruptions?
2. If we select housing... and we likely will... if Daughter and the rest of the students are forced from their housing in October - January (for example), will the housing fees be prorated? How is the University handling this currently?
3. How is St Johns feeding the students currently who are on the meal plan?
4. If St Johns has closed down their dining areas, are the meal fees being prorated as well?

Assuming Daughter and her family decides a "Gap Year" is best for her health and safety, but still commits to St Johns starting Fall 2021 instead of Fall 2020:

5. Do the scholarships and other grants 'carry-over'? If not, how will they be determined?
6. Can we pay a commitment fee for 2021, or do we have to wait?
7. Would Daughter have to re-apply to St Johns, possibly causing her to lose her spot?

Assuming Daughter and her family decides that starting in January 2021 is the most optimal solution:

8. Can Daughter commit to 2020, but begin her schooling in January instead of September?
9. Would her scholarships and grants still apply, and if not, how will they be determined?
10. Would we be able to apply the May 1st commitment fee to starting in January, 2021, or is there a different schedule for mid-term enrollees?

10. What other information should we know... which may not be covered in the above questions...that will allow us to make a proper decision?

<Ma'am>, Daughter, Ex-Wife, and my dreams are to see Daughter in St. John's red, and we wish to work with the University to make this happen. However, given this unprecedented situation, information is needed which will help us guide to a decision, especially with the clock ticking towards May 1st.

We greatly appreciate your concerns and responses.

Thank you,

JohnT
Mom
Daughter


* https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imp...16-03-2020.pdf

I refer you to page 19, Appendix A, of the report for probable timelines of pandemic surges in the United States based upon differing containment scenarios. Also attached is an image of the projected US timeline.

Last edited by JohnT; 03-20-2020 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 03:47 PM
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I think the questions are all valid, but I'm not sure if a parent sending the letter in is the correct course of action. Admittedly, I went through the old Ontario system which went up to grade 13 so I was 19 when I started university, but shouldn't this have come from your daughter?
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Old 03-20-2020, 03:53 PM
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Perhaps. Who knows? Given that there is a $20,000/year expense coming directly from me, I'm fine asking these questions as it is, in fact, my money going to these schools.

Given the uniqueness of the situation, the only difference is this letter would've been signed by Sophia - she's a smart kid, but she's still 18 and not really understanding of the impact all this is having.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
I'm fine asking these questions as it is, in fact, my money going to these schools.
I'm curious how fine your daughter is with you asking these questions. I know that if I were in her shoes, I'd be cringing hard.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:09 PM
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That's is kinda... odd?

I mean, she approved the letter, so I don't even know why she would be "cringing hard". Do your kids 'cringe' when you discuss finances and long-term decisions with them? Did you?

A typical HS senior, Sophia is worried about Prom being cancelled. A typical Dad, I'm worried about her not having a dorm come November. Check out page 19 of the link to see what the projected COVID-19-based ICU utilization rate will be for the US. Note the fall-winter spike?

Last edited by JohnT; 03-20-2020 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
That's is kinda... odd?

I mean, she approved the letter, so I don't even know why she would be "cringing hard". Do your kids 'cringe' when you discuss finances and long-term decisions with them?
Discussion is not what I find cringy.

It's sending a letter to schools on her behalf that I find cringy.

You could have at least ghost written it for her and let her sign it to create the illusion that she doesn't have a Helicopter Dad hovering over her.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:35 PM
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I don't know how things go in your workplace - mine (a university, although not any of the ones you named) is scrambling to figure out what Spring Quarter 2020 looks like, given that we've never done online-only instruction before.

Expecting us to have a plan for conditions in Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 is fine, but unrealistic.

It's possible you'll get an answer, however, if you do get an honest answer, it will probably be unsatisfying.


How's your own workplace planning for Winter 2021?
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:37 PM
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duplicate post removed in the edit

Last edited by wevets; 03-20-2020 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Discussion is not what I find cringy.

It's sending a letter to schools on her behalf that I find cringy.

You could have at least ghost written it for her and let her sign it to create the illusion that she doesn't have a Helicopter Dad hovering over her.
This was my point exactly.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:59 PM
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When do you have to make decisions about the school by?

This thing is developing so quickly, I very much doubt anyone can give you an even vaguely accurate answer now about what they're going to be doing in November. So who gives you the best answer now ... won't even help you in your planning!
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:06 PM
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I think you should take things day by day John. I know the instinct is to control and fix, but this is not the time for it. Try to let things go for a bit. We are all in shock on some level. So just take a pause for yourself.

Last edited by The Undeposable Hand; 03-20-2020 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:17 PM
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I think you should take things day by day John. I know the instinct is to control and fix, but this is not the time for it. Try to let things go for a bit. We are all in shock on some level. So just take a pause for yourself.
Agreed. JohnT, do you really think they've formulated answers to this yet? Every college probably has hundreds if not thousands of other parents demanding the same info.

Have you checked their websites for updates? Maybe they're posting updates as they occur.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:24 PM
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I don’t think it’s cringey for a parent to Contact college administration on behalf of a prospective first-year student. That kid is still in high school at this moment and so is a kid, not a full adult. That kid’s not going to go to Princeton or any other top school without the financial and other commitments and support of es parents.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:55 PM
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I can answer what a large University will do for leftover time on dining cards and dorm payments, nothing. A big fat 'Zero'.
My daughter's (she's home doing her work online for now) scholarship will stay intact as long as she finishes this semester and doesn't flunk out.
You should look into online classes for her until you're ready to send her off or the crisis subsides.
Good luck.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 03-20-2020 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:41 PM
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I work at one of those schools. We're working as hard as we can just to make sure that, come Monday, when our classes resume, all online, everything goes as smoothly as possible. (It won't.) You're asking reasonable questions, but we may not yet have answers. Things are changing quickly—the governor just announced today that he's ordering most businesses to close as of Sunday evening. Nobody knows how long this is going to last. As for us, we're starting to move our summer courses online, and we just don't know what's going to happen in the Fall. Everything now depends on the course of the pandemic.


Contrary to Beck's experience, I know that we're refunding students for the time this spring semester when they won't be in the dorms. I haven't heard what we're doing for the meal plans but I'm assuming something similar. It's going to cost us a ton.


As for whether you should be asking these questions or your daughter should, these days nobody will be surprised to see these questions coming from the parent. Parents are much more involved at this level than they used to be, and we've just come to expect it.
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:49 PM
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I would have re-written the letter just to ask whether your daughter can defer admission until the spring semester, or a full year. You can add a sentence at the end about the current circumstances. I guarantee you that they'll understand why you're asking.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:02 PM
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What wevets and Topologist said. Nobody knows what to expect months from now; we have much more immediate concerns.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:21 PM
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John T, I'm sure the admissions offices will get many queries from parents, all of which will probably get answered with a generic note along the lines of , "At ____ U., student health is our primary concern, and we are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure the health and safety of our student body. We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 developments and take actions accordingly. Please consult the university website at ________. edu for the most up-to-date and accurate information on ___U.'s response to this public health crisis."

This would be a good time to start making the transition from you being the responsible parent to your daughter being responsible for herself. When she does go off to college, you will be very limited as to what you can do on her behalf, no matter how much you're paying for her education.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:25 PM
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Oh, poop. I was hoping you meant the St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md.

That was one of the campuses we visited with our son. By the time we finished the tour, I was ready to enroll and earn a second BA.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:30 PM
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Please don't. That's a huge wall of text explaining things to them they already know and asking them questions they can't possibly answer now.

Just ask about gap year and a delayed start. You don't have to rationalize why. They know why. This is like explaining to the waiter, in grueling detail, why you don't like sweet potato fries, and why you should be allowed to substitute the mixed veggies. To the degree that he needs to know, he already does; you explaining doesn't change his opinion. Just ask.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:18 PM
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Is it a request for information, with a whole bunch of rhetoric added to make if more confusing? Or is it the text of a speech, telling them what your concerns are, with some rhetorical questions?

If it's the first, cut out the rhetoric and just ask the questions.

If it's the second, well written, but a bit long for me.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
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Please don't. That's a huge wall of text explaining things to them they already know and asking them questions they can't possibly answer now.

Just ask about gap year and a delayed start. You don't have to rationalize why. They know why. This is like explaining to the waiter, in grueling detail, why you don't like sweet potato fries, and why you should be allowed to substitute the mixed veggies. To the degree that he needs to know, he already does; you explaining doesn't change his opinion. Just ask.
Ah, you've waited on my mom... "Now, if the sweet potato fries are limp... are they limp?...it's probably because they're fried in hydrogenated oil. I just don't digest sweet potato fries the way I should. Ever since I turned... well, the decade I'm in. So if they're limp... would you call them limp?... I'll eat them all, I can't stop, but I'll call you when I'm up at 3 am. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like all types of fries. Well, I like them, but they just don't like me..."

But I agree. I'd have the daughter send a short question.

I teach college freshmen, and when I get an email from a parent, I reply that in my experience when the parents speak for their student, the student eventually ends up bailing out. And I say "So, in hopes of helping your student grow up, I didn't read your email. Sorry! But tell your son/daughter I'll watch for theirs and reply immediately."
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Please don't. That's a huge wall of text explaining things to them they already know and asking them questions they can't possibly answer now.

Just ask about gap year and a delayed start. You don't have to rationalize why. They know why. This is like explaining to the waiter, in grueling detail, why you don't like sweet potato fries, and why you should be allowed to substitute the mixed veggies. To the degree that he needs to know, he already does; you explaining doesn't change his opinion. Just ask.
This post nails it.

They already know your concerns but unfortunately they can’t read the future. You want answers that no one has.
I’m embarrassed for you, that you’re writing and not the student. They might be willing to engage with a student over these concerns. But a helicoptering parent looking for ‘hard answers’ that flat out don’t exist? I very much doubt they currently have time to engage with you if it’s not self evident they don’t yet have answers to these questions.

Everybody’s normal has been disrupted. What will happen? HOW will it work out? You’re just gonna have to do the same as everyone else, be calm and wait and see. A few weeks or months from now answers will come.

Yes, it sucks to not know. Everybody is in the same boat, it’s unsettling, but manageable if you make an effort.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:42 AM
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TLDR. Jeebus. All it needs is a reference to your political party and a mention of the designated hitter rule to be complete.

Manda JO nailed it. My son is starting college this year too, and we discussed this matter last night. We agreed that we’re just going to have to wait and see.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:43 AM
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I have a few friends who are professors, and they have talked about how much they hate direct communication from students' parents, because people over 18 have confidentiality, and they are not allowed to discuss the situation of someone 18 or older with their parents without a signed waiver.

I realize you are asking only for general information, not anything specific about your daughter, but because parent communications are a "trigger" for a lot of academics, I strongly suggest you reword this so that it could either come from all of you, or your daughter alone. Sign it appropriately.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:46 AM
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Or of course, not send it at all, as others have urged, but I'm advising on the assumption, that you won't take that advice even if it's shoved-- that you won't take it.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:52 AM
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Parents communicating with professors directly, such as over grades or student performance, is completely different situation from the OP’s.

I wouldn’t consider it embarrassing at all for a parent of a new student to contact administration over administrative matters such as those the OP is writing about.

This is not anywhere near the same ballpark as a parent contacting a professor over classroom matters.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Parents communicating with professors directly, such as over grades or student performance, is completely different situation from the OP’s.

I wouldn’t consider it embarrassing at all for a parent of a new student to contact administration over administrative matters such as those the OP is writing about.

This is not anywhere near the same ballpark as a parent contacting a professor over classroom matters.
In my experience, what is normal is for both parents and the kid to be involved. The kid should be at the very least cc'd on the conversation. Having them cut out entirely, as if they aren't mature enough to be part of the conversation, is unusual and suggests a certain over-involvement of the parent.

What's embarrassing is acting like potentially paying $300K makes you a Gold Card customer who deserve special treatment. Yes, it's a shit ton of money, but it's the same shit ton of money everyone affluent pays, and what a "selective" school means is "lots more people want to pay all this money than we can accept". So if you want to take your money and go home, they don't care.

Again, nothing wrong with the questions--as long as you recognize that they may not have answers. But "I DEMAND you answer these questions and in care you haven't heard about it, let me explain that there's pandemic" is humorously pretentious.
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:49 PM
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LOL @ all of y'all.

I got answers. The Universities are on top of this more than y'all are and more on top of it than you think they are. All five universities have answered, and they've all (largely) given me the same answers.

I don't understand the hostility - don't y'all, as families, work together? But that's OK. I have a high school senior who is more concerned about her prom than the Fall of 2021, and that's fine - I'll handle the grown up stuff as parents are expected to.

Last edited by JohnT; 03-23-2020 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:25 AM
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LOL @ all of y'all.

I got answers. The Universities are on top of this more than y'all are and more on top of it than you think they are. All five universities have answered, and they've all (largely) given me the same answers.

I don't understand the hostility - don't y'all, as families, work together? But that's OK. I have a high school senior who is more concerned about her prom than the Fall of 2021, and that's fine - I'll handle the grown up stuff as parents are expected to.
It sounds like they all sent the same stock reply they sent to every parent who wrote to them.
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Old 03-24-2020, 03:50 AM
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Parents communicating with professors directly, such as over grades or student performance, is completely different situation from the OP’s.

I wouldn’t consider it embarrassing at all for a parent of a new student to contact administration over administrative matters such as those the OP is writing about.

This is not anywhere near the same ballpark as a parent contacting a professor over classroom matters.
My point was that parent communications push buttons for academics.

Quote:
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It sounds like they all sent the same stock reply they sent to every parent who wrote to them.
Yup.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:16 AM
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It is a letter from someone who is in the process of spending a great deal of money for a valuable service, asking what will happen to the money if the service is not rendered. It is fully appropriate that the letter be written by the person who is spending the money.

And yes, the answer will probably be "we don't have a plan yet" (albeit, not phrased that way). But if they get enough such letters, they might realize that they had darned well better come up with a plan. And yes, there are a lot of uncertainties involved. That means that they need a plan with contingencies in it.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:51 AM
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You have two question #10s.

The questions you asked were reasonable. Your presentation on the state of the pandemic makes you kinda look like an ass. I'm sure you wanted to give the impression that you're not some silly chicken little but you went waaaay too far.
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