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    #245245 - 04/10/19 07:52 PM Fitting in...
    thefallenstar Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/09/19
    Posts: 4
    So I've just been through the college application process and am now considering how best to challenge myself and find intellectual peers next year. All my life I have been held back in school, denied any form of acceleration save a few community college courses (including physics and the full calculus sequence including differential equations) late in high school. These are subjects I taught myself long ago at ages 8-9, so understandably I've been getting straight A's in those courses with no effort. In fact, I have never received less than an A for a course as long as I can remember (dating back through at least kindergarten).

    To clarify, I've been homeschooled since third grade. I taught myself to read at an advanced level by the end of first grade (having read and understood such books as A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Othello). I had been upheld as a sort of trophy by my teachers (before my parents homeschooled me), having won two consecutive district spelling bees along with various achievements such as a perfect score on my second grade standardized test. Later I confronted my parents, expressing my concerns that my formalized schooling was woefully inadequate given my abilities at the time, but they would not take me seriously. When they finally did acknowledge some inadequacy they refused any remedy on the grounds of "maturity", making a blanket statement based on my age and an excuse to continue the torture.

    Ten years this persisted. Now I just wish to undo some of the worst damage caused by my education, particularly the lack of work ethic and study skills caused by no challenge. In that time I took education into my own hands, learning from math, physics, computer science, and philosophy textbooks. Recently I published a research paper as a result of my study of the AdS/CFT correspondence and its relationship with computation, despite having no academic affiliation (including no outside support at all) and facing belittlement. Meanwhile I hide behind a moderately gifted persona in the classroom (at the community college) and dare not shatter this image lest I be taken as even more of an outcast than I already am. I am extremely isolated and have not had even a distant friend (which most would consider an acquaintance) since I was homeschooled.

    I wish to start over in life next year by finding appropriate classes and intellectual peers. The former may be obtained if I am permitted to begin with advanced undergraduate math courses and proceed with graduate level courses. The latter is much harder to achieve given the college's relative lack of academic rigor (at least compared to well-known top tier institutions). I don't want to provide too much information since I am easily distinguishable based on certain details; in fact, I may have said too much already. Can you advise me in how I should improve my lot while in college, particularly regarding academic challenge and obtaining a social life (for the first time)?

    Thank you,
    A voice

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    #245432 - 05/08/19 11:20 AM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4224
    bump

    Welcome, thefallenstar!

    Sorry for the delayed response. To reduce the presence of spambots on the forum, the first 5 posts of new members do not appear immediately, but are held for moderation. Once approved, these new member posts may not be listed as "Recent Posts."

    Hopefully forum members' responses can help you get back to being a shiningstar, rather than feeling like a fallenstar.

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    #245433 - 05/08/19 12:26 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    aeh Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3612
    Welcome!

    It sounds like you already have some of the pieces in place for academic challenge, since you have college credit for the first two years of math. Make sure those have transferred in, or are at least recognized for placement purposes by the college of your matriculation. That should e all you need in that regard.

    As to a social life...it may be useful to acknowledge that, while the likelihood of meeting an exact intellectual peer at your college may be miniscule, this would be the case even at many institutions with a higher reputation for rigor. So allowing for partial matches is important. By this, I mean individuals who have one or two points of commonality with you, even if there isn't a comprehensive meeting of the minds. You're starting out, building social skills and a social circle. No one person can or should meet anyone's social-emotional needs, anyway, but this becomes even more critical when you are at the beginning stages, as it is easy to want to attach oneself excessively to the first friend made.

    I would suggest that you start by looking for campus interest groups or clubs, perhaps ones associated with your field of study, career interests, sports, hobbies, cultural or faith communities, or community service. There may be an honors program, which may bring the intellectual match a little closer, but will certainly increase the likelihood of meeting colleagues who are academically motivated. If you haven't already, join honors if you have the opportunity.

    Then, in whatever group with a common interest that you join, let relationships and interactions unfold naturally. Introduce yourself to a few people, and then see how they respond. Spend some time observing how others interact, and consider who makes you and others feel the most accepted, and how they do so. You may find that meaningful human connections do not require intellectual parity--just a single point of commonality. I have a wide range of meaningful relationships, both close friends and friendly acquaintances, some of whom are PG, and some of whom are moderately intellectually impaired. I find them all precious, and believe them to be mutually satisfying.

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    #245437 - 05/08/19 01:03 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: aeh]
    thefallenstar Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/09/19
    Posts: 4
    Thanks for the reply! I may not have made it clear, but even though I've taken two years of college level math, this was in no way challenging to me since I taught myself those subjects 9 - 10 years ago. As a result of my early efforts I'm well ahead of the curriculum imposed by my parents, making it far more difficult to find intellectual peers in any one topic of interest. I have been very lenient in my consideration of the possibilities, it's just been highly improbable to find anyone with at least one common interest.

    The college I'll be attending is relatively weak compared to my current academic ability. I plan to address this by getting permission to start with advanced undergraduate math (skipping the introductory proofs course for placement purposes) and introductory graduate physics courses (which would merely be advanced undergraduate level at most top programs).

    Clubs are practically non-existent at the college due to the lack of motivation of most students there; the few that exist only cater to URMs/women in STEM movements. I will be part of the honors program there and as a result will be taking different general ed courses. I appreciate the important skill of teaching other students about challenging subjects; I just wish I could really push myself intellectually and realize that in many ways my classes are holding me back in that regard.

    No faculty member does research in any of my main topics of interest, however there are a few who study subjects tangentially related to my work, in the sense that there are minor details in my published physics research that could be better understood with greater general knowledge of the related mathematics.

    I expect to have a rough semester soon when I can no longer rely on instantaneous learning and must gain study skills. Hopefully at the end of next year I'll be feeling better about all this; I'm just finding it hard right now to stay optimistic.

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    #245443 - 05/09/19 02:36 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1528
    You mention the lack of challenge. Academically that may be the case but there are many social challenges ahead. I also recommend some counselling to help you through it. And the idea of clubs is a good idea.

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    #245456 - 05/10/19 03:21 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: Wren]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4224
    You've received great tips and advice from the forum members above. I'll just add a few thoughts...

    For continuing growth and development, kids need:
    1) appropriate academic challenge
    2) true peers
    For typical kids, these needs may be met in a general ed classroom, however for children with higher IQ/giftedness, these needs may not be met without intentional effort in providing advanced curriculum, and grouping for instruction with academic/intellectual peers. Some negatives which may occur when a child is not learning something new every day include these observations or signs that a child is not appropriately challenged.

    Unfortunately, many gifted kids go through school without having their needs met for appropriate academic challenge and intellectual peers. (This current thread provides several examples.) Some gifted kids have their needs at least partially met by families whose members may also be gifted and/or high-IQ. If you are in a family which does not "get" gifted (whether its members may be gifted or not), it is possible that reading the book A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children may provide helpful insight and understanding... which may help healing wounds, moving forward, bonding with others.

    There are many who seek academic challenge and true peers in their college experience, careers, and throughout adulthood.
    Several posts on the Adult forum touch upon this ongoing search. You are not alone. You are on the right track. I commend your resolve. I encourage your efforts. smile

    Originally Posted By: Wren
    some counselling to help you through it.
    You may want to be cautious in choosing whom to discuss gifted isolation with.
    Hoagies Gifted Education Page provides a list of Psychologists/Testers and Professionals which may be a good place to begin creating a list of people to reach out to for guidance. This SENG article by James T. Webb, posted September 14, 2011 provides some thoughts on choosing a counselor: Tips for Selecting the Right Counselor or Therapist For Your Gifted Child

    Please feel free to post again, and we'll see what ideas pop into mind which may be of some help and support.

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    #245462 - 05/11/19 04:03 AM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    thefallenstar Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/09/19
    Posts: 4
    Thank you for the advice! Part of the problem with the schooling so far is the difference in how I and my parents view it. One time when we argued over the at the time current system's merits, I held that the education should match the student's abilities so that he/she would still be able to develop study skills, else there would be problems later in life when the learning becomes too difficult to rely on genius alone. They dismissed this question out of hand, saying that I should just worry about it when it becomes a problem (which in my case will be during advanced undergrad or grad school). I have one sibling who also wasn't challenged in high school. She's now taking junior and senior-level math courses at a competitive college and is really struggling due to her lack of preparation in study skills. I am now worried that the same will happen to me.

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    #245560 - 05/22/19 01:41 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    Cookie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/28/14
    Posts: 599
    Just curious, could you find a better college and transfer. One that is a better match for you?

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    #245562 - 05/23/19 06:01 AM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    thefallenstar Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/09/19
    Posts: 4
    There are better colleges academically speaking but they are very hard to transfer to due to selectivity. In light of the fact that I applied to several in-state public universities and was waitlisted then rejected by the flagships despite having grades/test scores/curriculum/extracurriculars far exceeding their reported middle ranges, I strongly doubt I will be able to obtain admission. My interests (such as independent research in theoretical physics) simply make me look one-dimensional to the admissions committee, and my demographic doesn't do me any favors either.

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    #245569 - 05/23/19 03:22 PM Re: Fitting in... [Re: thefallenstar]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1528
    From experience, there is a major difference between being able to do it and really learn. It took me decades after school to figure that out. And the lack of discipline of doing the work -- the work you think you don't need to do, (and I have been there) will be a habit that is hard to kick as you enter the workforce and think you are smarter and going deep is a pain, and why can't they see what you see. Maybe I am wrong, it just sounds somewhat familiar. That attitude is not conducive to keeping jobs. experience speaking.

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