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Paleo Service Hours for Prospective College Students


Uncle Siphuncle

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Uncle Siphuncle

When I went to college 30 years ago, we didn't have to present a history of volunteer work or public service to be accepted into a university of choice.  Fast forward to today, and things are much more competitive not only academically, but also service-wise. 

 

My son is a 17 year old junior and we are in the middle of SAT prep, visiting universities, applying for scholarships, and investigating volunteer/service options.  Then it dawned on me that Weston's years of helping me guide other private collectors and academic staff (for free of course), as well as collecting with family and making periodic, downsizing donations to area schools, clubs and institutions could all be brought back into play at this critical time in his life, both for what he's done already, as well as what he can do going forward.

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Uncle Siphuncle

Here is a copy of the email I sent to his guidance counselor, which I felt pitched a good case for time and effort Weston has already applied, ultimately bolstering teaching collections in his current school system and beyond.  Turns out the counselor is quite receptive to this, and confident that it will help to satisfy service requirements.

 

"Hello again, this is Dan, Weston’s dad.  As Weston forges a path toward college, we are looking for a few ways for him to accrue and demonstrate service hours.  One long term activity worth considering is our family pastime of collecting fossils and donating surplus to area schools.  This is something that Weston has participated in since he was about 5 years old, and has logged countless trips in creeks, rivers, quarries and construction sites mostly in TX, but also in WY, UT, OH, IN and Germany.  With that breadth of experience, we can’t keep everything found, and rather than sell off surplus, we have fallen into the habit of donating to many area schools, and continue to do so. 

 

When Weston was in Kim Stewart’s GT class in 3rd grade, we gave the class a presentation in which Weston participated, and we donated a teaching set of fossils to Mrs. Stewart, and provided a grab box of other fossils, allowing each student to take something home.  This was Weston’s first experience sharing his knowledge and good fortune with others. 

 

We have since made donations to Rawlinson and Clark Science Depts as well as Eleanor Kolitz Academy, Saint George Episcopal School, Dallas Paleonotological Society and Boy Scouts of America.  I have receipts on letterhead for most of these donations.

 

Weston also did a Chamber of Commerce fossil presentation with me a few years ago, and I could get a letter from the contact person to substantiate his participation.  It was interesting to see Weston take over the conversation in a hall full of interested adults crowding our table.  I have photos from that night, and I have countless photos from Weston collecting in the field and showing his finds, documenting his involvement over time.

 

In addition, one of Weston’s better echinoid (fossil sea urchin) finds was included in a recently published book entitled Collector's Guide to Texas Cretaceous Echinoids by Dr. William Morgan (UTSA).  He is credited by name in photo captions.  Furthermore, photos of Weston collecting fossils were published in an article I wrote for the German magazine “Der Steinkern” several years ago, for which I have copies.

 

In summary, I would like to know your thoughts on positioning this activity as a service project.  While this family pursuit will not be his focus of study in college, it has demonstrably benefitted others, and will continue to do so.  And if he can have these efforts recognized as service, this would highlight the breadth of Weston’s life experience in a way that might not otherwise surface, and could demonstrate a measure of diversity on college applications that could help him stand out.  Perhaps we could involve one of his friends at Clark in the process so he too could accrue service hours in this manner.

 

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing back from you both.  Photos, donation receipts, and literary credits available upon request."

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Uncle Siphuncle

My son has other interests and pursuits tugging at him as well, but I'm hopeful I can interrupt his schedule to get him back out in the field with me this spring, perhaps with a buddy, so they can both make some donations and log some hours.  

 

So my note to young people is to start as early as freshman year to understand and embrace college entrance requirements, and start allocating time and effort accordingly.  If you can combine family/recreational time in a way that benefits others, it just may qualify as volunteer work/service with minimal upheaval to your steadily more complicated schedule as you progress through high school.

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The Amateur Paleontologist
56 minutes ago, Uncle Siphuncle said:

When I went to college 30 years ago, we didn't have to present a history of volunteer work or public service to be accepted into a university of choice.  Fast forward to today, and things are much more competitive not only academically, but also service-wise. 

Just to know, is your son taking the International Baccalaureate (IB)? In this system, we also have to do something called "Creativity, Activity, Service" to get the diploma (along with regular exams)..

-Christian

 

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What fields does he have an interest in? Does he plan to stay in state, or go out-of-state? Private university, or state? Any athletics? 

 

Any thoughts about military service first, or straight to school (I only ask because the Texas Hazelwood Act paid for my entire UG education, I had very limited resources from my family - USCG). 

 

Local hospitals, seniors, & food bank great for volunteer stuff. 

 

I work at a private research institution in Texas, I may be able to provide some insight from our enrollment / admissions division. 

 

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Uncle Siphuncle
54 minutes ago, Darktooth said:

First off, you are one smart Dad. Secondly it seems as if your son has done a lot a positive things through his passion for Fossils. I wish him the best.

Fossils are more my passion these days than his, but there is latitude to be creative in meeting entrance requirements.  He’s already put forth some legit effort he can get credit for, and we’re not ones to “leave money on the table”.

 

He’s very science oriented, but many of his efforts are independent study done off the record.  He built a satellite and aircraft tracking station, and is currently trying to build a liquid fueled rocket engine in the back yard.  There were other, more dangerous science projects I had to shut down...they’ll remain off the record.

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Uncle Siphuncle
50 minutes ago, The Amateur Paleontologist said:

Just to know, is your son taking the International Baccalaureate (IB)? In this system, we also have to do something called "Creativity, Activity, Service" to get the diploma (along with regular exams)..

-Christian

 

I’ve never heard of that.

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Uncle Siphuncle
5 minutes ago, facehugger said:

What fields does he have an interest in? Does he plan to stay in state, or go out-of-state? Private university, or state? Any athletics? 

 

Any thoughts about military service first, or straight to school (I only ask because the Texas Hazelwood Act paid for my entire UG education, I had very limited resources from my family - USCG). 

 

Local hospitals, seniors, & food bank great for volunteer stuff. 

 

I work at a private research institution in Texas, I may be able to provide some insight from our enrollment / admissions division. 

 

His step mom is in the Army, and with her DD-214 we may be able to capitalize on Hazelwood, supplementwd by the 529 I started when he was a baby.

 

He’s leaning toward Computer Science with a possible minor in Particle Physics.  I got him a job last summer working under a senior Electrical Engineer at my office.  Good performance, equivalent duties to mine as an intern in Mechanical Engineering, meaning they dump the mundane stuff on the summer help sprinkled with enough cool stuff to keep you engaged.  Hoping that near career track industry experience may provide an edge for college acceptance.

 

So we are looking in state, public.  Although my great grandpa Andy Woehr played 3rd base for the Phillies back in the roaring 20s, the apple of athleticism has fallen far from the tree, me included.

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Wow! Sounds like a smart kid. I'm sure you are very proud!

 

Calculus destroyed my brain in another life, and I left science and engineering behind...

 

I see that UT Austin Computer Science program is within the top 10 in the nation. Can't beat that convenient location. Also should accept the Hazelwood benefits since not a private school. 

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Uncle Siphuncle
6 hours ago, facehugger said:

Wow! Sounds like a smart kid. I'm sure you are very proud!

 

Calculus destroyed my brain in another life, and I left science and engineering behind...

 

I see that UT Austin Computer Science program is within the top 10 in the nation. Can't beat that convenient location. Also should accept the Hazelwood benefits since not a private school. 

That is certainly on the list.  A&M looks like best fit overall at this point, but getting in isn't a slam dunk as it is pretty competitive.

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Great ideas. I've helped students capitalize on their fossil experiences in the past and have found that colleges look very favorably on any non-classroom science experience. Good luck! The sorts of experiences that you've listed above are very rarely available to students. 

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As one of the recipients of Weston's volunteer efforts I hope he gets into the school that is best for him. ( Didn't say school of his choice on purpose) I just went through that with my son in his freshman year now. He didn't get into his first choice school, but it turned out that the school he got into was so much better for him. Happy as a clam where he is and we are all thankful he didn't end up at that other place.

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Uncle Siphuncle
49 minutes ago, Scylla said:

As one of the recipients of Weston's volunteer efforts I hope he gets into the school that is best for him. ( Didn't say school of his choice on purpose) I just went through that with my son in his freshman year now. He didn't get into his first choice school, but it turned out that the school he got into was so much better for him. Happy as a clam where he is and we are all thankful he didn't end up at that other place.

(Don't tell Weston, but all the schools he plans to apply to are near good fossil hunting, so his old man just might happen to show up like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, then go fossil hunting, mua ha ha)

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Tidgy's Dad

Best of luck with this.:)

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