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Are these high school plans competitive enough?


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#51 Jazzy

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:00 AM

It doesn't mean students have to pursue that direction. It is really a far better option to let the student drive what they accomplish bc they want to vs expecting them to pursue something bc school Y says they need it. If that is what they naturally do, then pursuing school Y is a good option.

 

I agree!  It has been interesting to realize over the past couple of years that I'm not really in the driver's seat anymore.

 

I've outlined 2 options to present to him that not only make him a bit more competitive, but give him a chance to discover what type of college courses he'll enjoy.  And by using summers and at home courses, I think it can be done in a way that sets him up for success. I even dropped athletics down to 1 credit.  We know college ball isn't in his future so I'm going to encourage him to scale back on that a bit.  It is time consuming.

 

Now I also have a better idea of how to think things through and plan for my younger children.

 

Your feedback has been helpful!


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#52 Gr8lander

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 12:38 PM


His ECs can be work and volunteering. We'll do our Econ/finance/ecommerce projects for fun and maybe that will give him interesting things to discuss in essays and interviews.

So I'll have him study like crazy for the SAT and we'll choose a plan, pray and see what happens!

 

And if he can take on any sort of leadership position at his job or volunteer gig, all the better. It doesn't have to be major, but if he could manage something or instruct something, that will fill in the leadership blank on the apps. Not absolutely necessary, but it's another way to create a more competitive package.


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#53 fourisenough

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 12:39 PM

Well, the basketball IS part of school, IMO. It is just as if he were playing on a private school team. We live in a large city with private schools that have their own football stadiums and gyms. We drive to these schools and play their school teams 2-3 afternoons a week, and practice on non game days. We occasionally play public school teams at their schools. The schools get on buses and drive to the gym we rent for our "home" games. It's a school activity. Those kids are getting a full credit for athletics. I'm only awarding half because the season is just short of a full year. This is only 1 credit above the minimum PE credit that I'm talking about, and without it, he'll still have at least 24 credits. I just don't want it to seem like I'm trying to be dishonest.

I like the way you described the transcript, and I'm sure the application, essays, etc. should reflect the same. I will keep that analogy in mind.


Sports participation is an extra-curricular, regardless of whether it is affiliated with a school or not. I have had two nationally-ranked swimmers: one swam exclusively with her club team and is now swimming in college. The other will have competed on her high school's varsity team for four years and was rookie of the year, MVP, captain, and earned the league's scholar-athlete award twice. Neither of them got/are getting academic credits for their athletic accomplishments. Unless your area is unlike any other place I've ever heard of, those public & private-schooled basketball players are NOT earning academic credit. I think including it on a transcript looks like you're padding the number of credits and only serves to detract from your student's overall 'package'. Playing ball at that level is a great EC, but it is not credit-worthy no matter how you slice it.
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#54 Gr8lander

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 12:47 PM

Sports participation is an extra-curricular, regardless of whether it is affiliated with a school or not. I have had two nationally-ranked swimmers: one swam exclusively with her club team and is now swimming in college. The other will have competed on her high school's varsity team for four years and was rookie of the year, MVP, captain, and earned the league's scholar-athlete award twice. Neither of them got/are getting academic credits for their athletic accomplishments. Unless your area is unlike any other place I've ever heard of, those public & private-schooled basketball players are NOT earning academic credit. I think including it on a transcript looks like you're padding the number of credits and only serves to detract from your student's overall 'package'. Playing ball at that level is a great EC, but it is not credit-worthy no matter how you slice it.

 

For what it's worth, the public schools in my district do put sports participation on the transcript. The students are not graded, but it does replace a certain portion of the PE requirement.

 

FWIW, I don't think colleges are all that interested in PE or health or "life skills" credits on the transcript, past the student fulfilling those obligations as graduation requirements (I also don't think they are counting up numbers of credits so much, especially if it is composed of fillers. They are looking at the overall quality of the coursework.) If the state law requires homeschoolers to put PE on the transcript, by all means do so. Otherwise, it is fine to list sports as extracurricular, as long as it is documented in some fashion, in a way to tell the student's story.


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#55 Jazzy

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 01:48 PM

Sports participation is an extra-curricular, regardless of whether it is affiliated with a school or not. I have had two nationally-ranked swimmers: one swam exclusively with her club team and is now swimming in college. The other will have competed on her high school's varsity team for four years and was rookie of the year, MVP, captain, and earned the league's scholar-athlete award twice. Neither of them got/are getting academic credits for their athletic accomplishments. Unless your area is unlike any other place I've ever heard of, those public & private-schooled basketball players are NOT earning academic credit. I think including it on a transcript looks like you're padding the number of credits and only serves to detract from your student's overall 'package'. Playing ball at that level is a great EC, but it is not credit-worthy no matter how you slice it.

The document linked to previously regarding distinguished high school diplomas in my state said they wanted to see at least 1 PE credit and sports can be a substitute. I know all states are different.

I texted 2 moms from the team yesterday who have older kids who have graduated. 1 gave 1/2 credit per year. 1 gave a full credit per year. We hadn't discussed this before, so it can't be that uncommon.

I reduced the credit to 1 just to be on the safe side, but I think the the bigger issue was that ds needed a few academic credits. So I dropped health (which was just a compilation of stuff we were going to do anyway), and added a couple of full credit courses that relate to his two areas of interest that should help him finally decide on a major.

Those things, plus another foreign language and a stronger science DE, make the transcript reflect him accurately and well. If he can't get in on that, then the university probably isn't a good fit and it's probably better he go elsewhere. He is not a super intense, 6 AP course a year student so no point in trying to make him fit that mold.

It is funny that 2 athletic credits (.5 credit per year even though it takes up WAY more time than that) seems padded. I thought that if a college said they want 22-26 credits and student has 32-36 credits, plus 5 EC w/leadership roles, plus 2 varsity sports and 4 national awards, etc. - that would seem padded. So when I saw 22-26, and planned 24, I thought I hit the sweet spot! Lol!

Edited by Jazzy, 22 April 2017 - 04:01 PM.


#56 Jazzy

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 02:01 PM

Clarifying that I'm not saying those types of transcripts ARE padded, but that I previously thought they could SEEM that way. This thread helped me understand why people include all of those things.

#57 swimmermom3

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 03:09 PM

Sports participation is an extra-curricular, regardless of whether it is affiliated with a school or not. I have had two nationally-ranked swimmers: one swam exclusively with her club team and is now swimming in college. The other will have competed on her high school's varsity team for four years and was rookie of the year, MVP, captain, and earned the league's scholar-athlete award twice. Neither of them got/are getting academic credits for their athletic accomplishments. Unless your area is unlike any other place I've ever heard of, those public & private-schooled basketball players are NOT earning academic credit. I think including it on a transcript looks like you're padding the number of credits and only serves to detract from your student's overall 'package'. Playing ball at that level is a great EC, but it is not credit-worthy no matter how you slice it.

 

 

For what it's worth, the public schools in my district do put sports participation on the transcript. The students are not graded, but it does replace a certain portion of the PE requirement.

 

FWIW, I don't think colleges are all that interested in PE or health or "life skills" credits on the transcript, past the student fulfilling those obligations as graduation requirements (I also don't think they are counting up numbers of credits so much, especially if it is composed of fillers. They are looking at the overall quality of the coursework.) If the state law requires homeschoolers to put PE on the transcript, by all means do so. Otherwise, it is fine to list sports as extracurricular, as long as it is documented in some fashion, in a way to tell the student's story.

 

Ds swam varsity a couple of years until he had shoulder surgery and he sailed.  Those were ECs.  However, one year he passed his life guard certification, his dive certification, his boater's license, and his US Sailing Level 1 instructor's certification. Three of those require instruction and all 4 require testing. I generously gave him a half credit for all his hard work. :D  I think I called it "Water Safety." It's an elective that is definitely part of his story.



#58 katilac

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 03:29 PM

I guess I've also tended to focus on having them do a few things well rather than cover a high volume. I wanted them to be really strong in the basics, and otherwise enjoy their high school years. That's why I looked at the basic requirements and called it good. How do you all find that balance while remaining competitive?

 

Some students thrive on an intense schedule, or they are so smart and focused that they can accomplish 7 credits in the time it takes other students to do 5. Other students like it less, but they do it in pursuit of a specific goal. Or bc their parents force them, lol.

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing less, it's just that few students are going to make it into an extremely competitive university by being really strong in the basics. People just need to make the decision with their eyes open.  

 

 

Now if your  student is working to their maximum potential in each of those five core areas and you increase the challenge and the work load each year, how are they not competitive?  

 

Maybe it's just my quirk. I like fewer classes with greater depth. I found it more effective to build important-to-me cultural literacy issues like fine arts, philosophy, or world religions into existing classes spread out over more than one year.

 

 

They are not competitive because there are plenty of students working to maximum potential in 6, 7, or even 8 rigorous academic classes instead of 5. I'm not saying everyone should attempt that, it's just that one needs to be aware of what makes you competitive at certain schools. For the record, my kids go above the 4x5, but nowhere near the standard transcript for highly selective schools. 

 

A transcript with more academic classes is not always superior in reality, but it is almost always superior in terms of admission chances. Again, speaking of competitive to ultra competitive schools here. Also, if you are putting in the work and the hours on philosophy or art through history history and literature, you can certainly create another credit even if all of the material was interwoven. You do not have to say, we are now pausing history and moving on to philosophy, kwim?  

 

Some schools are absolutely adamant that they want to see the student taking rigorous classes, and plenty of them. Their answer to you saying you prefer fewer classes with more depth would be that they want to see more classes with the exact same depth. When we are at a presentation with University of Georgia, a boy with a stunning number of advanced classes already told the rep that his amazing ECs were so time-consuming that he couldn't take all of the available APs in his senior year. Should he eliminate A or B? The rep's answer? "We want to see you take all available APs." But I'm curing cancer in my spare time, and I want to really delve into my classes . . . "We want to see you take all available APs." 

 

So, there are definitely specific things that certain schools want to see. You can get a good idea of what these are by visiting their web site, visiting the campus, going to on the road presentations, and checking out sites like College Confidential. 

 

I don't think one approach is superior to the other. You just have to know what will increase your odds of getting into certain schools, and then decide if that fits in with what you want high school to look like. 


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#59 Gr8lander

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 07:22 PM


I don't think one approach is superior to the other. You just have to know what will increase your odds of getting into certain schools, and then decide if that fits in with what you want high school to look like. [/quote]

I agree. No one should be forcing a kid into an ill-fitting mold. But it's wise to be aware of the ramifications of curricular and extracurricular choices during the high school years, and plan accordingly.
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#60 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 08:32 PM

Some students thrive on an intense schedule, or they are so smart and focused that they can accomplish 7 credits in the time it takes other students to do 5.


Exactly. I have a couple of kids who thrive on intense schedules whom I have had to tell "no" when they have asked to take more courses. My college student was like that in high school and he graduated with something like 38 or 40 credits. How? Taking crazy intense DE loads and a full load at home. I think he has taken at least 18 hrs every semester since he started college. He is a kid who thrives in overdrive.

Not all of my kids are like that. I couldn't make them be like that AND they have zero desire to be like that. It is just how they operate. All is good, but all don't have the same pursuits or goals.

When it comes to competitive admissions, there are plenty of kids just like him. You just have to know they are out there and they are the other kids applying for a limited number of spots.
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#61 swimmermom3

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 08:50 PM

Some students thrive on an intense schedule, or they are so smart and focused that they can accomplish 7 credits in the time it takes other students to do 5. Other students like it less, but they do it in pursuit of a specific goal. Or bc their parents force them, lol.

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing less, it's just that few students are going to make it into an extremely competitive university by being really strong in the basics. People just need to make the decision with their eyes open.  

 

 

They are not competitive because there are plenty of students working to maximum potential in 6, 7, or even 8 rigorous academic classes instead of 5. I'm not saying everyone should attempt that, it's just that one needs to be aware of what makes you competitive at certain schools. For the record, my kids go above the 4x5, but nowhere near the standard transcript for highly selective schools. 

 

A transcript with more academic classes is not always superior in reality, but it is almost always superior in terms of admission chances. Again, speaking of competitive to ultra competitive schools here. Also, if you are putting in the work and the hours on philosophy or art through history history and literature, you can certainly create another credit even if all of the material was interwoven. You do not have to say, we are now pausing history and moving on to philosophy, kwim?  

 

Some schools are absolutely adamant that they want to see the student taking rigorous classes, and plenty of them. Their answer to you saying you prefer fewer classes with more depth would be that they want to see more classes with the exact same depth. When we are at a presentation with University of Georgia, a boy with a stunning number of advanced classes already told the rep that his amazing ECs were so time-consuming that he couldn't take all of the available APs in his senior year. Should he eliminate A or B? The rep's answer? "We want to see you take all available APs." But I'm curing cancer in my spare time, and I want to really delve into my classes . . . "We want to see you take all available APs." 

 

So, there are definitely specific things that certain schools want to see. You can get a good idea of what these are by visiting their web site, visiting the campus, going to on the road presentations, and checking out sites like College Confidential. 

 

I don't think one approach is superior to the other. You just have to know what will increase your odds of getting into certain schools, and then decide if that fits in with what you want high school to look like. 

 

So back to my slightly tongue-in-cheek example, this is exactly what the 6% admissions schools are looking for in one year:

 

 

AP English Literature (replace any of the AP with DE)

AP Stats

AP Calculus

AP Chemistry

Honors French 4

AP European History

Introduction to Philosophy - DE

Music Theory

This is to be done in conjunction with a varsity sport and a worthy 2-3 ECs like curing cancer.  Six strong academic classes don't cut it?


Edited by swimmermom3, 22 April 2017 - 08:54 PM.


#62 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 09:12 PM

So back to my slightly tongue-in-cheek example, this is exactly what the 6% admissions schools are looking for in one year:


AP English Literature (replace any of the AP with DE)
AP Stats
AP Calculus
AP Chemistry
Honors French 4
AP European History
Introduction to Philosophy - DE
Music Theory
This is to be done in conjunction with a varsity sport and a worthy 2-3 ECs like curing cancer. Six strong academic classes don't cut it?


Will 6 credits cut it? I don't think that is necessarily the same question as what have the other kids applying taken. There are plenty of very real kids who are actually taking classes at a much higher level than what you have posted and are taking that many courses and are active in extracurriculars. That is just simple fact. Whether thatbis what colleges want...depends.

Whether or not they are applying to TX universities, which is all that really matters to the OP, is the pertinent question. I don't know a lot about TX schools. But what I read on CC this yr, it sounds like yes for UT. I don't know about the others.
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#63 swimmermom3

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Posted Yesterday, 03:23 AM

Will 6 credits cut it? I don't think that is necessarily the same question as what have the other kids applying taken. There are plenty of very real kids who are actually taking classes at a much higher level than what you have posted and are taking that many courses and are active in extracurriculars. That is just simple fact. Whether thatbis what colleges want...depends.

Whether or not they are applying to TX universities, which is all that really matters to the OP, is the pertinent question. I don't know a lot about TX schools. But what I read on CC this yr, it sounds like yes for UT. I don't know about the others.

 

Eight, thanks for the clarification on this. I am still trying to wrap my brain around what that looks like, especially if the student isn't homeschooled, but that's a topic for another thread.



#64 8FillTheHeart

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Posted Yesterday, 07:19 AM

Eight, thanks for the clarification on this. I am still trying to wrap my brain around what that looks like, especially if the student isn't homeschooled, but that's a topic for another thread.

Kids are taking summer courses, DEing, self-studying APs and taking the exams. Think Tiger Mom student version on steroids. It is a reality. We met some crazy intense students at some of my dd's interview weekends. One girl that we ate dinner with had taken 27 AP/DE courses!! (On top of Quiz Bowl and a long list of ECs. I can't remember them all. Quiz Bowl sticks out in my mind.)

These kids are driven in a way that is nothing like my kids. Dd skirted the conversation of academics bc she took zero APs and her only DE course is this semester! She didn't want to explain our homeschool philosophy since we obviously don't believe that that the AP/DE route is the best or only way. Dd has an intense courseload of her own (7.5 intense credits ;) ) but some of it looks absolutely nothing like traditional education. It obviously didn't hurt her bc at that scholarship weekend she ended up being one of the 20 students awarded the top scholarship.

But, Dd also had top test scores which I think carry far more weight than they should. (It is a very real filter that the OP needs to be concerned about. The current test scores posted are not competitive.) She was also a NMF. She had plenty of outside awards, both regional and international.

I think Corraleno's description goes to the heart of successful applications: students need to weave a compelling story of who they are. Dd was able to write a story of internal drive for learning with tangible results (fluency in French after self-studying, etc) Her story was using homeschooling to its fullest to study unique subjects at great depth. It was validated by her test scores, awards, her essays, and LOR.

I appreciate the philosophy of the OP and what you are concerned about, but I know that for some students it is possible to do both: master subjects at great depth and do it across a broad range of subjects.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart, Yesterday, 07:23 AM.

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#65 Jann in TX

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Posted Yesterday, 08:56 AM

Please double check with the CC to see if your dd is eligible to take classes beginning in 9th grade.  Most CC's with transfer agreements (like Austin Community College) only allow DE students who are 16 yrs old AND have completed their Sophomore year in high school.

 

The CC 'Early Start' program allows 9th graders- but they have to be full time enrolled in one of the PS districts that have the program as the classes are TAUGHT at the high school.

 

My middle dd used ACC for DE. She earned 28 credit hours by high school graduation.  She was accepted into TAMU even though her SAT/ACT tests did not meet the minimum!  She did submit the first chapter of a novel she was writing...

 

Many of the classes at ACC were ADULT oriented-- so s#xually explicit and/or graphic material was presented/discussed with no substitutions allowed.  Thankfully dd's Speech instructor allowed her to step into the hall when someone presented a speech (with photos) about 'best positions for s3x'... oldest dd's English 1301 writing class had to read and write about a short story that included graphic gang rap3...



#66 Corraleno

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Posted Yesterday, 11:56 AM

So back to my slightly tongue-in-cheek example, this is exactly what the 6% admissions schools are looking for in one year:
 
 
AP English Literature (replace any of the AP with DE)
AP Stats
AP Calculus
AP Chemistry
Honors French 4
AP European History
Introduction to Philosophy - DE
Music Theory
This is to be done in conjunction with a varsity sport and a worthy 2-3 ECs like curing cancer.  Six strong academic classes don't cut it?

 
 
This is the 12th grade schedule of a student who recently posted on CC:
AP English Literature
AP Calc BC 
AP Stats
AP Computer Science
AP Physics C
AP Economics
 
Junior yr included AP Psychology, APUSH, AP Language, AP US Government, APES, AP Chem. Most classes in 9th & 10th were Honors, including 3 yrs of Honors Latin. Lots of volunteer work and ECs, including captain of the varsity debate team. Awards for debate, writing, and Latin. Weighted GPA 4.65, SAT 2310.  Accepted to UCB, UCLA, UCSD, and Michigan; waitlisted at WUSL and does not seem to have gotten into any of the Ivies he applied to.
 
The VAST majority of colleges in the US do not require anything like those stats. But for kids who are unhooked, not pointy, and applying to the most selective schools, that really is what they are up against.
 
From everything I've read by and about adcoms, the best way to stand out is to be really strong in one or two areas and have your application reflect that. Your coursework, ECs, and essays should tell a coherent story and show the adcoms that you know what you want and you are focused and motivated to pursue it. Homeschoolers are in a much better position to do that than many PS kids, who are not only stuck with whatever courses their school offers, but may be pressured to take the most rigorous of those options — not only because that's what colleges expect to see, but because that's what all the other kids are doing. Hence the AP arms race. 
 
That said, neither of my kids will have any APs. One is academically pointy with a significant (athletic) hook, and his target schools are well in range for him. The other has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up, loves art and music but is not particularly academic, and will probably start at CC and transfer to a state school. Neither will need a lot of (or any) APs in order to end up at schools that are good fits for their goals and interests. But for kids who are aiming at very selective schools, they either need to find a hook, develop a point, or face the fact that they are competing against kids like the one whose stats are listed above.


Edited by Corraleno, Yesterday, 11:58 AM.

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#67 Corraleno

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Posted Yesterday, 12:11 PM

I know this has been mentioned a few times in this thread already, but from reading CC it does seem that a lot of people fail to take into account just how much more selective some majors can be compared to the university as a whole. For example, the admit rate at UT Austin is around 40%, but admission into the school of engineering is more like 25%. I was reading a thread on CC recently where several students with high stats were shocked that they did not get into the business school at Penn State — then someone pointed out that the admit rate to the business school was 11%, versus 54% for the school as a whole.

 

So not only is it important to check the common data set for each university to see what stats really qualify as competitive, rather than just looking at the minimum requirements on the admissions webpage, but students who are applying to selective "direct admit" majors like engineering and business also need to find out the admission rates and average stats for those particular schools, and plan accordingly.


Edited by Corraleno, Yesterday, 12:43 PM.

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