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Is it neccessary to graduate at the top of the class?


LuvingLife
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I have been asked many times whether or not I am going to go to Harvard or Yale someday. I always tell people no, that I don't want to kill myself studying to become a doctor or scientist. I just about kill myself now getting all A's in my classes, I couldn't imagine what it would be like in one of the ivy league colleges.

 

But I do want to get a good degree and everything, I just don't want to focus just on academics but also what I am interested in. That is why I like to homeschool, whether I do 6 hours of school a day or three, I know I am doing good in school.

 

Is it necessary to graduate at the top of the class (so to speak) with all ap/honors classes, and be valedictorian and everything like that? I want to go to a small private college that is focused more on the students than unecessary things.

 

What do you think?

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Well, this is just my opinion, of course. I did graduate at the top of my class (although only a smaller high school), was valedictorian, took honors classes, all that. Overall, I do not think it was all it was hyped up to be. My classmates who got B's in school and went to state colleges seem to be plenty successful as adults. I wish I had been more balanced during my time in school, not solely focused on academics. That said, I am very glad to have taken AP courses; getting to skip some of the English and math courses was well worth it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think it's fine to just coast; I think you should work hard and do well, just not at the price of killing yourself or of excluding other valuable experiences in life. (Graduating at the top of your class at college might be more beneficial, as that could look good on a resume. Again, though, at what cost?) Just MHO :).

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... I always tell people no, that I don't want to kill myself studying to become a doctor or scientist....

 

Not everybody who becomes a doctor or scientist "kills himself" studying. With any kind of good college, however, you will be expected to work hard and put in more than 3 or 6 hours a day.

 

But I do want to get a good degree and everything, I just don't want to focus just on academics but also what I am interested in. ...

Why do you separate academics from "what you are interested in"? If you want to get a good education, you need to be interested in it - nothing else produces good results. So the key would be to identify the area you are interested in, and then, yes, work hard in that area. The primary purpose of college actually is focusing on academics.

 

 

Is it necessary to graduate at the top of the class (so to speak) with all ap/honors classes, and be valedictorian and everything like that? I want to go to a small private college that is focused more on the students than unecessary things.

What do you mean by "unnecessary things"?

How high the bar hangs depends on which kind of school you choose. There will be small private colleges for which average classes and an average SAT score are sufficient - and there will be small private colleges which are very selective with regards to their applicants and which can afford to pick the people who are "top of the class".

Again: you need to specify your goals first.

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To get admitted to a non-Ivy (or similar) college, no, you don't have to graduate at the top of the class nor take all challenging courses.

 

That said, the better at these things you do (or have), the more a college is likely to want you (you've proven yourself to be an academic student who can do well) and offer various types of financial aid (if they offer it). People who donate for scholarships are more likely to want to "sponsor" a student that loves to learn (and shows it) over one who is ho-hum about it all and barely making the grade. Remember, an "A" is not just a letter. It's supposed to show you know 90+% of the material you've studied. Whereas a "B" shows you've only learned 80+% (or 4/5ths).

 

It never really hurts to learn and know more... the education itself is rather priceless IMO.

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Well, this is just my opinion, of course. I did graduate at the top of my class (although only a smaller high school), was valedictorian, took honors classes, all that. Overall, I do not think it was all it was hyped up to be. My classmates who got B's in school and went to state colleges seem to be plenty successful as adults. I wish I had been more balanced during my time in school, not solely focused on academics. That said, I am very glad to have taken AP courses; getting to skip some of the English and math courses was well worth it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think it's fine to just coast; I think you should work hard and do well, just not at the price of killing yourself or of excluding other valuable experiences in life. (Graduating at the top of your class at college might be more beneficial, as that could look good on a resume. Again, though, at what cost?) Just MHO :).

 

I like the hard classes that I take right now, I am not saying that I won't take challenging courses, I am kinda asking is it really worth it all. I get all A's, and always have and hopefully always will, I like to be able to challenge myself, but if I start to feel overworked I get too stressed out and start to have a nervous breakdown.

 

Not everybody who becomes a doctor or scientist "kills himself" studying. With any kind of good college, however, you will be expected to work hard and put in more than 3 or 6 hours a day.

 

Why do you separate academics from "what you are interested in"? If you want to get a good education, you need to be interested in it - nothing else produces good results. So the key would be to identify the area you are interested in, and then, yes, work hard in that area. The primary purpose of college actually is focusing on academics.

 

What do you mean by "unnecessary things"?

How high the bar hangs depends on which kind of school you choose. There will be small private colleges for which average classes and an average SAT score are sufficient - and there will be small private colleges which are very selective with regards to their applicants and which can afford to pick the people who are "top of the class".

Again: you need to specify your goals first.

 

I plan on getting a high SAT score, probably in the 1900-2000 range, and a high ACT score as well. I mean the things I like to do on the side, like photography, sports, things like that. I take some pretty hard course right now, but I didn't know if taking all AP/honors classes would help you or hurt you. I don't know if that makes sense, I am trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words right now!:D

 

To get admitted to a non-Ivy (or similar) college, no, you don't have to graduate at the top of the class nor take all challenging courses.

 

That said, the better at these things you do (or have), the more a college is likely to want you (you've proven yourself to be an academic student who can do well) and offer various types of financial aid (if they offer it). People who donate for scholarships are more likely to want to "sponsor" a student that loves to learn (and shows it) over one who is ho-hum about it all and barely making the grade. Remember, an "A" is not just a letter. It's supposed to show you know 90+% of the material you've studied. Whereas a "B" shows you've only learned 80+% (or 4/5ths).

 

It never really hurts to learn and know more... the education itself is rather priceless IMO.

 

:iagree: with what you are saying, I plan on keeping high grades, taking a few AP/honors classes and getting good SAT/ACT scores. I just didn't want to go over the top with it though. Some of my friends at ps are so overworked with everything that they have to do, AP/Honors classes, sports, music, friends, work, etc. They are actually failing a lot of their classes right now because they are so overworked, and I really don't want that to happen to me.

 

Thank you for the help!

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Keep the outside activities that you are most passionate about. Try to set your curriculum so that you learn the material the way you learn best and enjoy the most. You look nicely well rounded, take challenging classes that you can cope with by working hard but, not so challenging that you end up losing your way. Try to be creative at any rate, in whatever you are doing.

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Keep the outside activities that you are most passionate about. Try to set your curriculum so that you learn the material the way you learn best and enjoy the most. You look nicely well rounded, take challenging classes that you can cope with by working hard but, not so challenging that you end up losing your way. Try to be creative at any rate, in whatever you are doing.

 

I like your advice alot. This sounds like a nice way to go through high school, being challenged but not to the point where you can't take it anymore. I like what you are saying, and so far, high school at home has been going very well! Thank you!:001_smile:

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No, you don't have to stress yourself to the point of a nervous breakdown, but you do need to challenge yourself and stretch past what you think you are capable of handling to learn to handle more, well. Not sure if I'm making sense...

 

One of the downsides that I see in the homeschool circles that I run in is students who don't really know what they are capable of because the parents or the students set the bar too low and compare themselves to the wrong standard...for example, judging my kid's writing against that of their PS peers. No, I'm going to judge against excellent writing, for goodness sake!

 

The next bit of adivce is that I would encourage you to pick an activity or two and start narrowing your outside interests. You don't need to take a "do everything," scattershot approach. Begin to refine your interests to those that are the most important, and start prioritizing your activities. You will likely find that the college journey (from really working the SATs through making your final choice) becomes like an extracurricular activity or another course...it is a lot of work to do it thoroughly. It is a big choice, as you'll most likely invest four years in the school, and you will be setting the groundwork for the rest of your life, from mentors to friends. You are going to want to know, that you know, that you know, that you are going to be happy with your choice. :)

 

Finally, I would really prioritize your academics. If you push yourself and make choices that reflect academic excellence, you will have developed skills that will make your college work easier, and you will have opened doors for yourself (honors programs, scholarships, etc.) that will take you places you can only dream of. You don't get that opportunity a second time. The time is now!

 

Our btdt story: dd is thrilled with her honors classes. Those are the classes in which she feels stretched and challenged, in which there is exhilaration in the discussions, in which the profs really come alive in their teaching and interaction with the students...those classes bring the best out in the profs, as well. One of her t-shirts for the honors program captures the essence of it; it says, "Talk nerdy to me." :)

 

 

ETA: You might also want to narrow down the top three to five choices of schools that you have your eye on, then find out what their particular requirements are for The Big Scholarships, if they offer merit scholarships.

 

In our experience, each college was a bit different, with many colleges offering big scholarships to a select few students, some tied to certain programs. In general, the colleges dd looked at offered some merit aid, but generally the highest tier was of merit aid was less than half tuition--which is nothing to sneer at--and if they offered more to a select few, it was tied to a program that required competitive interviewing and admission to the program. Can you find out the requirements, and then set your goal to make the cut for those?

Edited by Valerie(TX)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I suggest that you take another look at how you view grades, competition, etc. School is set up as a comparison thing, pitting one student against another. It's me against you.

 

I'd suggest that instead of viewing it that way, that you view it as you trying to be the best you can be. Don't compare yourself against others.

 

It is freeing to think this way. You don't have any control over how others do. You only have control over yourself. So, if you focus on what you can control, instead of on what you can't control, you will have less stress and do better.

 

Just trying to beat the others is limiting. Trying to be the best you can be is freeing.

 

Also, I think it's good to prioritize. You only have so many hours in the day. Do what is most important to you during those hours. Your time should reflect your own values. Don't do activities for the sake of your resume. Your heart won't be in it.

 

Colleges see through that one anyway. They don't want to see a ton of activities. Then, they think you are just piling on activities to look good on the application. Don't worry about looking good on the application. Do what your heart is into and then you will excel. Paradoxically, you will ultimately look better to colleges anyway because your passion and interest will show.

 

At the same time, make sure you cover the academic basics so you are well-prepared for college. Do your best at those so you will be ready for college, not so you will get into college. You will get into college.

 

And if you are stressed-out, I'd suggest that you find some healthy ways of dealing with the stress. Exercise, take a walk, meditate, see a counselor, etc.

 

Stay balanced and enjoy life. It's not about being the best. It's about being your best.

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No, you don't have to stress yourself to the point of a nervous breakdown, but you do need to challenge yourself and stretch past what you think you are capable of handling to learn to handle more, well. Not sure if I'm making sense...

 

One of the downsides that I see in the homeschool circles that I run in is students who don't really know what they are capable of because the parents or the students set the bar too low and compare themselves to the wrong standard...for example, judging my kid's writing against that of their PS peers. No, I'm going to judge against excellent writing, for goodness sake!

 

The next bit of adivce is that I would encourage you to pick an activity or two and start narrowing your outside interests. You don't need to take a "do everything," scattershot approach. Begin to refine your interests to those that are the most important, and start prioritizing your activities. You will likely find that the college journey (from really working the SATs through making your final choice) becomes like an extracurricular activity or another course...it is a lot of work to do it thoroughly. It is a big choice, as you'll most likely invest four years in the school, and you will be setting the groundwork for the rest of your life, from mentors to friends. You are going to want to know, that you know, that you know, that you are going to be happy with your choice. :)

 

Finally, I would really prioritize your academics. If you push yourself and make choices that reflect academic excellence, you will have developed skills that will make your college work easier, and you will have opened doors for yourself (honors programs, scholarships, etc.) that will take you places you can only dream of. You don't get that opportunity a second time. The time is now!

 

Our btdt story: dd is thrilled with her honors classes. Those are the classes in which she feels stretched and challenged, in which there is exhilaration in the discussions, in which the profs really come alive in their teaching and interaction with the students...those classes bring the best out in the profs, as well. One of her t-shirts for the honors program captures the essence of it; it says, "Talk nerdy to me." :)

 

 

ETA: You might also want to narrow down the top three to five choices of schools that you have your eye on, then find out what their particular requirements are for The Big Scholarships, if they offer merit scholarships.

 

In our experience, each college was a bit different, with many colleges offering big scholarships to a select few students, some tied to certain programs. In general, the colleges dd looked at offered some merit aid, but generally the highest tier was of merit aid was less than half tuition--which is nothing to sneer at--and if they offered more to a select few, it was tied to a program that required competitive interviewing and admission to the program. Can you find out the requirements, and then set your goal to make the cut for those?

 

Thank you so much Valerie, this is great advice and I am glad that you have shared it with me. I do feel challenged but it's a comfortable challenge that I know I can do and I don't feel overstressed about it. I love to take hard classes, my mind needs a challenge but I can't overdo it or my brain will fry!:confused:

 

The colleges I want to attend are great academic wise and have awesome outside classes, which is what I love about them. They require pretty high SAT/ACT scores, but I know I can do it. That's the beauty of a challenge!:D

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I suggest that you take another look at how you view grades, competition, etc. School is set up as a comparison thing, pitting one student against another. It's me against you.

 

I'd suggest that instead of viewing it that way, that you view it as you trying to be the best you can be. Don't compare yourself against others.

 

It is freeing to think this way. You don't have any control over how others do. You only have control over yourself. So, if you focus on what you can control, instead of on what you can't control, you will have less stress and do better.

 

Just trying to beat the others is limiting. Trying to be the best you can be is freeing.

 

Also, I think it's good to prioritize. You only have so many hours in the day. Do what is most important to you during those hours. Your time should reflect your own values. Don't do activities for the sake of your resume. Your heart won't be in it.

 

Colleges see through that one anyway. They don't want to see a ton of activities. Then, they think you are just piling on activities to look good on the application. Don't worry about looking good on the application. Do what your heart is into and then you will excel. Paradoxically, you will ultimately look better to colleges anyway because your passion and interest will show.

 

At the same time, make sure you cover the academic basics so you are well-prepared for college. Do your best at those so you will be ready for college, not so you will get into college. You will get into college.

 

And if you are stressed-out, I'd suggest that you find some healthy ways of dealing with the stress. Exercise, take a walk, meditate, see a counselor, etc.

 

Stay balanced and enjoy life. It's not about being the best. It's about being your best.

 

Rlugbill, this is exactly how I was comparing myself. I was always trying to be better than my friends or schoolmates, but most of the time I just wanted to do my best. I like your advice and I will do the best I can, which is working out pretty good right now. Thank you so much!

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