Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Girl with 2 Brains

Last Thursday I wrote about the Yin to my Yang exploring the synergy between my left brain and my wife's right brain.

My daughter Lara turns 17 next week and she's definitely the girl with 2 brains (or a whole brain).

I cannot draw a stick figure (my attempts at drawing a human look more like a dinner fork than the Venus de Milo).

My daughter took a blank piece of paper and a pencil then drew the self portrait above.

Her greatest academic strength is math. She can visualize problems involving vector forces, geometry, or trigonometric functions then break them into solvable component parts. To me, the hardest part of advanced math and engineering is setting up the problem correctly, not solving it.

She's just completed her first resume. Today's high school students are expected to master college level topics, develop disciplined work habits at an early age, and complement their academics with sports/music/art/volunteer work, which she's tried to do in a balanced way. My own experience as a student was that I was not the smartest student in the class, but I was the most persistent due to minimal sleep needs, a great tolerance for any kind of discomfort - cold/fatigue/hunger, and a sense of impatience for the future.

My daughter has a different set of skills - a whole brain that can process the analytical and visual with equal competency, an ability to think about the greater good rather than personal gain, and a sense that anything is possible. She does not believe in political half truths. She does not judge success by a bank balance. She does not believe the ends justifies the means. She believes that the nice guy (or gal) can finish first.

I would like to believe that idealists can succeed through persistence and determination, always staying true to their values. Watching day to day activities in Washington has convinced me that it's critically important to have a strong moral compass.

Her current college search criteria on are

Rural or Suburban location
Under 10,000 students
Strong Asian Studies/Japanese language program (for the right brain)
Strong Environmental Engineering program (for the left brain)
Studio art resources
If possible, a competitive collegiate archery team (she's ranked 6th in the US)

It's my hope that she has the best of both her parents without the downsides of either.

At very least, she can write a college essay entitled "Why I have a whole brain"!


Suki Tsui said...

If everyone has 2 brains like your daughter, the world would be a much better place! If I were her dad, I would be so proud of her - I am sure you are more than just proud of her!

GreenLeaves said...

Lara may enjoy Macalester in St. Paul. Its small ~1600, suburban, very international, and good arts.

Similar in size and orientation is Reed in Portland.

May Lara have a good time exploring the opportunities and finding her future alma mater.

Unknown said...

Nice! I particularly liked your own lack of sleep model of education, I remember well one of my senior quarters where I averaged 3-4 hours a night for 10 weeks. I may not be the brightest person in the classroom but I'm going to make the most effort.

My sisters have both just turned 18 and are going through the same decision making process except they've added (with encouragement) that they'd like to have their first year be at a local campus. Luckily my parents happen to live within commuting distance from two stellar universities but I found in 2003 that it keeps a certain perspective on life when you live at home and have responsibilities there along with a school load which I felt helped make a healthier transition of focus on school when I moved to my own apartment later on.

Annamarie said...

Well put! At 3 AM, I might add... Reminds me a bit of our 14 year old. Math wizard + musician + artist. So glad our kids can pull these things off. It's pretty inspiring. :)

Unknown said...

I've posted previously about the fine institution that is The University of Hartford. Your daughter my be the to use her whole brain to be the treasurer or secretary for the new University of Hartford Archery Club being formed as we blog!

Here's the link for her to check out:

Best of wishes to your daughter, wherever she name decide to attend.

Unknown said...

After further research discovered the request to form an Archery Club hasn't gotten started because of a lack of interest from the college community but there's always a chance that someone would come along to restart the process by being a founding member and an officer. The pioneering individual wishing to get the club going is now a junior. Here's Hadid Simmons LinkedIn account:

Anonymous said...

Lara may want to look at the Claremont Colleges. All of them together are under 10k students. Harvey Mudd College is on a par with Caltech for ungrad studies - there's the engineering piece. Claremont McKenna College (across the street) has an archery team. If she went to either HMC or CMC, she could be on that team. Students at the Claremont Colleges can take classes at any of them. Pomona College (another couple of blocks away) has a strong Asian languages department. Scripps College (adjacent to the others) has a studio art program. Hope she finds a school that's a good fit.

Salesman said...

I would look at The College of Wooster in Wooster, OH. I am from DC but I wanted a small school (Wooster is 1800) that would let me explore a lot of new things and had the rankings to be competitive as well. They are also one of only a couple schools that have an undergraduate thesis that allows students to really take hold of what they are interested in. My thesis was how to market a nonprofit speech language and hearing clinic. I do not regret one day of my college education.

GreenLeaves said...

John I would enjoy hearing how Lara went about choosing her future alma mater now that she has received the invitations?
Getting many approvals can make for a tough decision making process.