I’m updating my own story so that parents on this website know how important it is to get their kids involved in THINK and the Young Scholars Program. THINK is a challenging summer program that more than prepared me for an Ivy League institution. It was the first time I was genuinely challenged intellectually, and that was awesome. Much more importantly, I made friends at THINK. It was incredible to get along with my peers for the first time. The THINK experience not only gave me confidence in my ability to relate to other kids, it helped me adjust better to high school when I got back home. I did not start on the path to becoming the person I am today until I went to THINK, and I can't express how grateful I am to Bob and Jan Davidson and the monumental program they’ve established. I don't remember any Latin, but I am still in touch with friends from THINK nearly a decade later.
I had the unique opportunity to visit THINK while it was in session for an afternoon in the summer of 2012. I was comforted to see that very little had changed. When I chatted with the next generation of THINKers, they were having the same conversations I remember having; kids who I could imagine not necessarily fitting in at their usual school, kids who reminded me of myself, were fitting in at THINK. It was wonderful to see firsthand how this program was helping them grow. I can uniquely endorse the fact that your child will get the same experience I got as a THINKer if they attend THINK today.
As for what I'm up to these days: I haven't decided yet whether memorizing the Periodic Table as a 2nd grader was a sign or simply a coincidence. Regardless, I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern, working on cutting-edge nanochemistry at one of the finest research institutions in the world. I have no idea if I’d be here without THINK… but when I teach general chemistry here, I look back not to my teachers in high school, or even my professors at Dartmouth, but to my professors at THINK as an example of how to connect with my students and help them understand why what they are studying matters. Change your child’s life for the better and get involved with the Davidson program.
The biggest challenge in parenting an academically gifted kid is the overwhelming skepticism you face. Teachers tell you he “isn’t that gifted”. Gifted and talented administrators say his IQ test scores are “flawed” or from the “wrong test”. A pull-out program that lasts 45 minutes per day is supposed to “meet his needs”. When you transfer schools, the principal patiently tells you that “School xyz is much more challenging”, and he can’t possibly advance a grade.
At home you watch your animated second grader memorize the periodic table of elements and write 10-page stories. He zips through “Jump Start 5th Grade” in a month. School makes him miserable, with the exception of the rare teacher who gives him something challenging to do, not just more work. He takes the SAT in sixth grade, scoring higher than all but the brightest high school juniors. You wonder how to challenge him. You worry about him fitting in with his age peers. Enter the Davidson Young Scholars.
In 2006, at the age of 14, our son, Adam, spent three weeks at the University of Nevada, Reno with the Davidson’s THINK Summer Institute program. It was a summer that changed his life. THINK is a program that allows precocious young teens the opportunity to study college-level courses during a three-week, accelerated term. Adam took two college-level courses, calculus and philosophy. He worked like a dog, particularly at calculus, and received his first ever “B” in a class. He was prouder of that “B” than any A+ he ever received. Also, Adam met a bunch of other academically talented teens that embraced his quick humor, shared his love of learning, and accepted him as a peer. That acceptance gave him the confidence to fully engage his peers and build a much richer social life at home. The following summer, Adam returned to THINK. He aced college Latin and physics, enjoyed his new friends even more, and met his first girl friend.
Adam graduated from high school this spring. He will be attending Dartmouth College this fall with the goal of becoming a physician. We are so proud of his achievements: two-time captain of his varsity football team, all-conference football player, perfect 4.0 grade point average, perfect 1600 on his SAT’s, all-state thespian, all-state chamber choir member and first chair trumpet player. We are proud of the fine young man he has become. Despite his prodigious gifts, Adam is funny, humble, hard-working, and generous. Most of all, Adam is happy. We are very grateful to the Davidson’s Young Scholar program, particularly THINK, which gave him the challenge and confidence he needed during a critical time in his development.
Programs mentioned in this story:
THINK Summer Institute
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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