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Great essay in WSJ - "To all the Colleges that Rejected me"

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http://online.wsj.co...0064578654.html

 

I'm not sure whether you have to have a subscription to read it, so here it is just in case:

 

 

 

Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It's simple: For years, they—we—were lied to.

 

 

Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.

 

What could I have done differently over the past years?

 

For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it. "Diversity!" I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would've been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.

 

I also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people's pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you're using someone else's misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you're golden.

 

Having a tiger mom helps, too. As the youngest of four daughters, I noticed long ago that my parents gave up on parenting me. It has been great in certain ways: Instead of "Be home by 11," it's "Don't wake us up when you come through the door, we're trying to sleep." But my parents also left me with a dearth of hobbies that make admissions committees salivate. I've never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn't last past the first lap. Why couldn't

Amy Chua have adopted me as one of her cubs?

 

Then there was summer camp. I should've done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don't have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you're able to talk about what other people have to deal with.

 

Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. "Assistant Director of Mail Services." "Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics." I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!

 

 

To those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe: My parents make me watch your "60 Minutes" segments, and they've clipped your newspaper articles for me to read before bed. You make us mere mortals look bad. (Also, I am desperately jealous and willing to pay a lot to learn your secrets.)

 

To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I sayshhhh—"The Real Housewives" is on.

 

Ms. Weiss is a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh

 

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It is interesting she was able to identify that many people reading it may think she is taking for granted the wonderful gifts she has been afforded. I bet there is a pretty good chance her situation next year (both the college she will be attending and the financial situation she finds herself in) is something the majority of students would envy.

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Wouldn't count on it. The article never does say she was accepted anywhere. It sounds more like a last ditch effort to get off someone's wait-list.

 

I can't imagine anyone in admissions reading this and being inspired to let her in. Bitter, and perhaps entitled, doesn't make a very good impression.

 

I guess part of what rubs me the wrong way about the essay is that it seems to snipe at kids who have found meaning in activities or volunteering in high school. I'm thinking of a young man I worked with last year who on paper could sound a lot like someone she's mocking. He interned a massive number of hours with a community organization... and yes, it did result in some pretty significant scholarship awards. His reason for volunteering wasn't a plot to get into the Ivy League (he didn't apply to those schools at all) He volunteeered becuase he's a great kid - likes to be busy, challenged, and contributing. Admissions officers are looking for kids who are going to contribute to the college community. The hard working intern is more appealing than a kid who spends a lot of time watching Real Housewives or playing video games. And I say that is as it should be.

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I don't think her concept of what adcoms want is accurate.

 

"I should've done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life."

Everything I've heard/read/watched lately says that adcoms are not impressed by kids who spend a week digging latrines in Costa Rica and write essays about how discovering that there are poor people in the world changed them forever. They're much more impressed with kids who do meaningful, ongoing volunteer work in their own communities. She couldn't have found any local projects to work on?

 

I also probably should have started a fake charity. ... Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you're using someone else's misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you're golden.

As if kids who do these things can't possibly be genuinely involved? My nieces and nephews have all done tons of fundraisers for breast cancer and autism because they genuinely care about those causes — they have cousins with severe autism and have lost loved ones to cancer. Is there really no cause this girl cares enough to have gotten involved with?

 

"Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. "

I recently watched some youtube videos of a former Stanford adcom critiquing some applications. She was actually suspicious of the kid who listed a dozen different ECs, which were all in different areas, and said she didn't see how he could have had time to make any real contribution to all of them. She said she preferred to see kids who were deeply involved with just a few ECs that tied in with their academic and career interests, so that the application "told a story."

 

"Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. "Assistant Director of Mail Services." "Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics." I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!"

Maybe she should have — work experience is good. (And maybe working for minimum wage for a while might have given her more incentive to work harder towards getting into college.)

 

"my parents also left me with a dearth of hobbies that make admissions committees salivate. I've never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn't last past the first lap."

Why was it her parents' responsibility to create hobbies for her? :confused1: They paid for karate and swimming and she quit before she even got started? And she couldn't find anything else that interested her?

 

I don't know, she just comes across as really whiny and entitled to me. I'm guessing from the sentence about needing "killer SAT scores" that her scores weren't that high, and if she had no real ECs, sports, hobbies, community service, or work experience, why would a college want her?

 

I think adcoms really do want you to "be yourself" — but if "yourself" happens to be a whiny teenage girl who spends her time watching reality TV and thinks that charity work is "fake" and work/internships are beneath her, then she should be prepared for the possibility that colleges don't want her. Maybe she should take a look at herself instead of whining that life is unfair because she didn't get what she wanted without putting much effort into it. :nopity:

 

Jackie

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I had the same negative feelings as some previous posters. The article sounded simply whiny.

This pretty much sums it up:

 

To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I sayshhhh—"The Real Housewives" is on.

 

Yes, I know that a Caucasian girl from a middle school background can be at a disadvantage when it comes to "diversity".

But that does not mean one can not have interests, extracurriculars, passions, volunteer or work experience (and good test scores)- any or all of the above. These do not guarantee admission to the school of her dreams, but at least a student who has those has lived during her high school years, and not just wasted them.

 

And a high school student's parent should not be held responsible for finding hobbies and interests for the kid. How can a 17 y/o not be interested and invested in something?

 

Basically, it sounded "sour grapes".

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Imagine you are a shortsighted, self-centered, somewhat lazy teenager. Typical, in other words. You aren't getting into trouble so your busy parents, who are probably moving into the next, non-child-oriented stage of their lives, gratefully leave you to manage yourself. Or perhaps you bite if poked and they are tired of being bitten. But anyway, you hang out with your friends and generally try to be doing something fun as much as possible. Being grown up seems a long way off and there doesn't seem to be much you can do about it yet, so you ignore it. Teachers like you because you are polite and do your homework. If you don't do a stellar job, you can keep everyone's expectations comfortably low. Most of the girls in your class are just like you, except for a few teachers' pets who are working really hard or who are upset about the uncomfortable things like loss of habitat or starvation in third world countries or wars, the more fools they. Everyone generally says you are a nice kid and you are well liked and your parents went to good colleges, so when it comes time to fill out those college applications, you naively believe that when the admissions officers say "Just be yourself" they mean "Just be yourself and we will like you and let you in." It's worked so far, anyway. You have no idea that "just be yourself" really means "just be yourself so we can figure out whether we want you or not" and you somehow tuned out the ominous implied second half - "we have enough experience to know if you are faking it and won't want you if you do". The application process turns out to be invasive and asks either things you've never thought about before like "what are your strengths" or stupid, irrelevant questions like "how will you contribute to our school". You thought they were supposed to be contributing to you, or at least your education, not the other way around. Who do they think they are? Your parents are no help. They have no idea how competative admission to the good colleges is now and have been telling you not to worry, you're smart, if they got in, you won't have any trouble. Your guidance counselor has her hands full and knows your parents went to college and assumes they will do any guiding needed. I can see how it might be a pretty nasty surprise to get those rejection letters. I hope somebody made her apply to a safety. Yes, she was short-sighted and self-centered and wasted as much time as possible, and now she is whining. I can see why she might be angry now, though, and feeling that she was lied to. It was probably more a lie of omission, but it still would leave her feeling that her parents and her teachers should have told her that being grown up was coming up soon and helped her to form some sort of realistic expectations. Perhaps they did and she just didn't want to hear. Some teens are like that. I think her big crime here is being immature, something pretty common to teens. At this point, she is looking at the classmates who did get into good colleges (by good I mean highly selective) and thinking that somebody must have told them something they didn't tell her, something other than "do your homework and everything will be fine".

 

Either that, or she is hoping someone will spot her essay and let her in.

 

Nan

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I hope this is just a failed attempt at satire, instead of the whiny self-righteous screed it comes out as.

 

I know that college admission is very competitive these days, but it is much more transparent than it ever was, between all the official channels and statistics available: want to know that the 25 and 75 percentile scores are for the SAT for your favorite school? Google it in under a second. Better yet, with collegeconfidential and other sites, there are a ton of unofficial channels available -- thousands of real world reports of what kind of application makes it and what doesn't, for any particular school.

 

Also, I find it very telling that there's no mention of SAT/ACT scores in her rant.

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You thought they were supposed to be contributing to you, or at least your education, not the other way around. Who do they think they are? Your parents are no help. They have no idea how competative admission to the good colleges is now and have been telling you not to worry, you're smart, if they got in, you won't have any trouble.

 

Yes!!

 

How many of us have said we wouldn't get accepted to colleges today? My dh often says he wouldn't get hired at his Fortune 50 Company today.

 

It would be interesting to know where she got accepted.

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I think adcoms really do want you to "be yourself" — but if "yourself" happens to be a whiny teenage girl who spends her time watching reality TV and thinks that charity work is "fake" and work/internships are beneath her, then she should be prepared for the possibility that colleges don't want her. Maybe she should take a look at herself instead of whining that life is unfair because she didn't get what she wanted without putting much effort into it.

 

Jackie

 

 

Hear, hear! I agree entirely.

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She most likely either is not as good a catch as she thought - or she only applied to Yale, Vanderbilt, Harvard etc., without trying for any back-up schools.

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Wouldn't count on it. The article never does say she was accepted anywhere. It sounds more like a last ditch effort to get off someone's wait-list.

 

I didn't say where. ;)

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I had the same negative feelings as some previous posters. The article sounded simply whiny.

This pretty much sums it up:

 

[/font][/color]

 

Yes, I know that a Caucasian girl from a middle school background can be at a disadvantage when it comes to "diversity".

But that does not mean one can not have interests, extracurriculars, passions, volunteer or work experience (and good test scores)- any or all of the above. These do not guarantee admission to the school of her dreams, but at least a student who has those has lived during her high school years, and not just wasted them.

 

And a high school student's parent should not be held responsible for finding hobbies and interests for the kid. How can a 17 y/o not be interested and invested in something?

 

Basically, it sounded "sour grapes".

 

I'm not crazy about this "essay" either but the discrimination elite colleges practice in race selection is a serious matter. Asians especially are routinely discriminated against for not being the "right kind" of minority and admissions standards, especially in SAT scores, for blacks and hispanics are much lower than for whites and asians. Swap some of those races around in the last sentence & see how it sits with you. It's a disgusting practice.

 

As far as the fake charity... lol... I know someone who did exactly this. She set up a charity, raised $5,000 from relatives, gave it away to her noble cause and once she got into her elite college of choice the charity closed up shop. So she basically bought her admission for an extra 5k from family.

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Adding (since rereading my post I can see that I sound overly sympathetic towards the silly kid who wrote it) -

 

I am not saying that I like her essay. I am not saying I can't understand why colleges didn't pick her. I am not saying *I* would pick her if I were a college. I am not saying I don't think she wasted her high school years or didn't take advantage of all the opportunities offered to her (like those piano lessons). (LOL - have you managed to untagle all those double negatives?) I am just saying that I can see why she might be angry because when I was in high school, most of the girls were just like I'm guessing she is. I know some teenagers now who are like this - self-centered and willfully blind and overly optimistic about the future in order to avoid doing hard things. Lots of kids are like this - immature. Naturally the top colleges would rather have somebody who grew up early and DOES things, genuine things, with an eye either to improving the world or improving themselves. And equaly naturally, unfortunately (human nature being what it is and with competition so fierce at the top), ambitious people try to analyze what makes a student attractive and do that, genuine or not. Her essay sounds very much like some popular books on the subject of college admissions.

 

I'm not saying I think what she says in the essay is RIGHT. Not everyone applying to extremely selective colleges approached everything they did in high school with the sole intention of making themselves look good. Most ARE good, I'm sure. And mature...

 

It sounds to me as thought, when she didn't get in, she read a few articles or popular books about ivy league college admissions (or watched that video that was posted on the boards recently) and then wrote the whiny article based on that. Is she a regular poster? Is this her first article? I would like to know how something she wrote wound up in the WSJ, because if this isn't her first article (or her first successful article), then that is the answer to Regentrude's observation that she had to be doing SOMETHING with her time - she writes. And she is probably exaggerating her lack of activities for the sake of the article.

 

Nan

 

ETA - A bad grasp of statistics doesn't help. If she was at or near the top of her class, then she might have assumed that she would go to a top college, without taking into account that there are far fewer top colleges than there are high schools.

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Nan, I'm 100% with you on this. I see this young lady as being "normal" for her age - and without helicopter parents to guide her in her college pursuit.

 

I feel sorry for her - yet I still see her teenaged brain in her process of analyzing it all.

 

Her thoughts about the discrimination out there is spot on - though I fully agree that not all students involved are "not capable" or "faking it." She may see many in her world who are though as they are definitely out there.

 

I know my boys were able to do far more BECAUSE I took the time to educate myself - then them - about the process. If they had been in our ps with "normal" parents, none of that would have happened. I suspect it's quite similar for most of us here.

 

There are far, far too many students who are fully capable of going places and doing great things, but the info they are being fed (or not - pending the info) is totally incomplete or lacking. Then they get to their senior year and wonder what happened. I feel for them. They are NOT always just lazy or whiners.

 

I liked the gal's essay (for what it was). Sure, it wouldn't be exactly what I would write by any means, but I can fully understand her situation having worked in an average public school and seeing it happen. Most kids just sigh and move on. She took the initiative to write about it. Kudos to her. She's not an adult, so I don't expect to see the knowledge that comes from laps around the sun. I actually suspect she'll do well wherever she goes to college. Even if she didn't apply to safeties, there are always schools with room open and the list usually comes out in the spring (not highly selective places, but often decent places). Or she could do a gap year and come back with a stronger app.

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IMO this essay is total satire, very tongue-in-cheek.

 

Tiger Mom's daughter did go to Harvard, after all.

 

Suzy says she does cross country but she's slow. So maybe she's doing a sport because she likes it. She also mentions working in a pizza parlor. Then there is school work. Plus, she learned how to eloquently express herself in writing somewhere along the way.

 

As for watching The Real Housewives, can't say I blame her for that. ;)

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I had to laugh. After watching the helicopter moms here, this gal is spot on with some of her observations. The student who set up the charity here -- her mother read a book on how to get in to Ivy League and told her to do it. She strung a few beads and made bracelets and a nice sign about how the bracelet profits go to her charity that supports research into her friend's genetic condition. They are sold at her mother's job (in local govt) by her mother and her mother's co-workers. Good payoff for two hours of work. The internship that is really someone you're related to's annual spot for relatives only...lol. Sounds great, until you realize the qualification and selection process..the writer has good vision if she figured that one out herself at this age.

 

'as much diversity as a saltine cracker' is not a wise phrase to use. Too close to the actual racist phrase, which makes me think she is what she says...a deliberate underacheiver and what she doesn't say..a partier. What's new when it comes to rich,shallow girls? Perhaps she has a future as a columnist writing about socialites.

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IMO this essay is total satire, very tongue-in-cheek.

 

I completely agree. To me, she seems to be writing to represent the whiny...if you think about it, someone like she is purporting to be probably wouldn't take the time and effort to write all that out. They would just whine to those around them and post brief snippets on social media and the like.

 

Edgy and rude satire.

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Yes!!

 

How many of us have said we wouldn't get accepted to colleges today? My dh often says he wouldn't get hired at his Fortune 50 Company today.

 

It would be interesting to know where she got accepted.

 

This is my biggest worry about it all. In the old days, you could be a good student, perhaps have an extra curricular or two, and know that you could get into a reasonable college, even if not an elite one.

 

I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

Isn't the Supreme Court looking into admissions criteria including race? It will be interesting to see what comes of that. I'm one who doesn't think admission preferences should be given to race, or other demographic-type criteria. For the most part, I think admission should be based on grades and test scores alone, perhaps combined with one admissions interview, unless an outside activity (extra curricular) is critical to success in a particular field.

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I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

 

 

Maybe at a private school.

 

At public school, unless he's highly gifted or among the local elite, he's not going to get the coursework he needs to get the SAT score or to succeed in college. The seats in those classes are already filled; he will get the poorer teachers and if he's not in honors, so much makework that he won't be able to study.

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I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

 

I wouldn't count on help from a school guidance counselor. There are great ones out there who work really hard, but the odds are stacked against them. The average counselor is helping over 400 students with a wide range of concerns everything from kicked out of the house, failing math class, to don't have enough credits for graduation. This doesn't leave much for college counseling.

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Serenade - There is more competition for the top colleges, but all the rest are fine. Look at the acceptance rates. Many, many colleges accept 70-80% of the students that apply. They look at gpa and test scores and see if the student is doing something, anything, with their spare time. If they think the student can handle the classes they offer, they accept them. This applies to both private colleges and state schools. Our state flagship accepts 63% of their applicants. Then there are a whole slew of places like Boston University that accept about 50% of their applicants. When you hear people panicking, it is because they are considering small, highly competative LACs like Williams College and specialized places like Harvey Mudd who accept more like 15% or 20% of their appliants, or ivy league which accepts less than that. Most colleges are much easier to get into. The standard advice seems to be to apply wherever you want and then pick some safeties and apply there - look at the statistics and apply to a few schools where your statistics land in the top 25% of students. Unless there is something unusual on your record, you will probably get in. Think about applying to some financial safeties, too, places where you are likely to get in and can afford without scholarships. As long as you aren't looking at those highly competative colleges, you should be fine. It just gets scary at the top. : ) (And as somebody whose students had that "something unusual on their records - homeschooling in a less than traditional way, I have to admit it was pretty scary applying for us, too.)

 

Nan

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I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

This honestly played into my decision to send my older two to school for high school - the thought of having to navigate the maze of college admission requirements on top of all their academics was totally overwhelming. I mean, back in my day, I applied to one school, got in, and went there. Our local ps is a highly competitive (some say maybe too much) top-rated school with lots of Tiger Moms - I figured the guidance counselors would be well-versed on what's needed to get into good schools.

 

Yeah, well, maybe not. My first encounter with dd's guidance counselor made me realize I'm going to have to ignore her as much as possible and treat her as an obstacle to be gotten around rather than an ally. :glare: Fortunately the school as a whole is very helpful; as soon as I did an end-run around this woman, things were worked out with no problems at all. But guess I'm going to have to do the heavy lifting on the guidance/college admissions work after all. Or figure out how to get them reassigned to a good counselor (there have got to be some good ones there!) without getting people upset.

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This is my biggest worry about it all. In the old days, you could be a good student, perhaps have an extra curricular or two, and know that you could get into a reasonable college, even if not an elite one.

 

I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

Isn't the Supreme Court looking into admissions criteria including race? It will be interesting to see what comes of that. I'm one who doesn't think admission preferences should be given to race, or other demographic-type criteria. For the most part, I think admission should be based on grades and test scores alone, perhaps combined with one admissions interview, unless an outside activity (extra curricular) is critical to success in a particular field.

 

For my kids, the one who opted for ps is the one doing the worst (for college). The courses he is taking sound great, but provide poor preparation compared to his actual ability (the same as my other two who were homeschooled for high school). I realize other areas may be different. If opting for public school, investigate carefully. Many people in ours know how to use great words, but I work in it. I get to see what really goes on.

 

As for admissions - I'd kill race, but I'd leave in socio economic status (generally income) and location. Kids who come from less wealthy parents simply do NOT have access to all those wonderful things middle and upper class parents can provide. Kids from rural areas generally are not going to have much in research ops or advanced classes. I think colleges should be diverse - I just don't see that race (alone) should be a factor as income and location matter far more in getting that diversity.

 

And for your first statement... being a good student and having an EC or two (or not) will often get you into a decent college - just not a selective college. Many of those "decent" colleges work just fine. The "game" tends to be for the selective colleges - and scholarship offers. Whether one needs to play it or not depends upon their goals. But to expect an average - non helicopter family nor great school - teen to figure out the game in time to play it is ludicrous. The vast majority of those who "win" the game have a great cheering (and leading) section at home and/or school. I doubt my own guy at a selective college would have gotten in if left to his own to figure it out - then couple it with our "average" ps where very few get stats to make it in.

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I'm so clueless on this new process, and the things that seem to matter for admission, that I'm beginning to feel I should put my older son back in school so that he could have the help of a guidance counselor.

 

I was top student of my ps back in the day. guidance counselors were of little help. I still had to go figure it out on my own. I think there are good places for homeschoolers to get information on the process. I know my cover school has stuff on line to help.

https://www.homelifeacademy.com/highschool/

 

and love 'em or hate 'em.. this place does.. check the college info column and now you have tools needed in the process

http://www.hslda.org/highschool/

 

and various people at all kinds of homsechool conventions are giving talks these days on the basic process, and there's this forum and other forums... so you can be a good guidance counselor while homeschooling.

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Satire would explain the inconsistencies (like a journal article in WSJ as a student who does nothing) that make the article sound less than genuine. (I prefer the less-than-genuine theory to the rich, shallow, partying, good future as a columnist writing about her fellow socialites theory, since I prefer to think the best of people lol.) I still think, though, that satire or not, she is speaking, albeit perhaps more eloquantly and rudely, for many perfectly ordinary students, ones who are doing fine in the top classes at their high school and who then draw a level line between their class rank and a college's rank and assume that is where they belong, neglecting to take into account that there are many more high schools than colleges so it doesn't work that way.

 

Nan

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I know my boys were able to do far more BECAUSE I took the time to educate myself - then them - about the process. If they had been in our ps with "normal" parents, none of that would have happened. I suspect it's quite similar for most of us here.

 

 

I agree wholeheartedly with this, particularly the portion I bolded and made red.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Serenade - There is more competition for the top colleges, but all the rest are fine. Look at the acceptance rates. Many, many colleges accept 70-80% of the students that apply. They look at gpa and test scores and see if the student is doing something, anything, with their spare time. If they think the student can handle the classes they offer, they accept them. This applies to both private colleges and state schools. Our state flagship accepts 63% of their applicants. Then there are a whole slew of places like Boston University that accept about 50% of their applicants. When you hear people panicking, it is because they are considering small, highly competative LACs like Williams College and specialized places like Harvey Mudd who accept more like 15% or 20% of their appliants, or ivy league which accepts less than that. Most colleges are much easier to get into.

 

Nan

 

A lot of this reflects the fact that most our media that writes about college is on the East Coast - just reading the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. it is easy to get a very skewed idea about the competitiveness of this process. It is true most colleges accept most people who apply. Scholarships and paying for college is the more pressing issue for most families.

 

That said, we need to acknowledge there are huge variations from state to state. Some state flagships are very difficult to get into and out of state public colleges can be one of the more expensive options for many students. The recession has driven up stats many more mid-tier public schools as more students find their in state public a better financial option. So, we are are all a bit at the mercy of where we live. I have seen some very strong students not get into their state flagships this year (or get accepted but not get into the Honors College or not get any merit aid) while they were quite successful in admissions at other types of schools. These were kids with strong academic records and strong test scores. I just don't want anyone who to assume the state flagship is a slam dunk for admissions or affordability. It isn't always.

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Lately I have bumped into several high school students lately (not hs'ed) who thought their 97th-98th percentile SAT scores translated directly into an acceptance letter from Oxford or Harvard. So many people just don't realize that there are only a handful of "top" schools and that even 97, 98th, and even 99th percentile scores aren't good enough to get a kid into those schools unless accompanied by stellar recs and interesting EC's.

 

Spreading the word about honors programs at state schools and stellar second-tier colleges that just aren't "name" can be a huge blessing to strong but not tippy-tippy-tippy-top students!

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I thought her essay was hilarious! It was a welcome relief around here after all the worrying we've done about college acceptances and rejections. Take it with a grain of salt. I'm pretty sure that's the way it was intended.

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Since she got published in WSJ, she's not doing TOO badly. ;)

 

I imagine it's a lot easier to get published in the WSJ if your sister (Bari Weiss) is an assistant editorial features editor there. ;)

 

WSJ also did a feature on her parents' lovely $700,000 custom-built house, complete with Modernist Italian furniture. Funny how the one group she doesn't rail against in her article is students who exploit family connections.

 

Her high school, BTW, is highly rated: "Allderdice is considered a high-achieving school by the district. It was awarded a Silver Medal by US News & World Report in their 2009 Best High Schools issue.... Allderdice was presented with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the US Dept of Education, the highest award an American school can receive."

 

I vote "whiner."

 

Jackie

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I imagine it's a lot easier to get published in the WSJ if your sister (Bari Weiss) is an assistant editorial features editor there. ;)

 

WSJ also did a feature on her parents' lovely $700,000 custom-built house, complete with Modernist Italian furniture. Funny how the one group she doesn't rail against in her article is students who exploit family connections.

 

Her high school, BTW, is highly rated: "Allderdice is considered a high-achieving school by the district. It was awarded a Silver Medal by US News & World Report in their 2009 Best High Schools issue.... Allderdice was presented with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the US Dept of Education, the highest award an American school can receive."

 

I vote "whiner."

 

Jackie

 

 

Seems like Suzy's sister used to work for the WSJ. She now appears to work here: http://www.tabletmag.com/about. Suzy does appear to lead a relatively charmed life if we decide that sort of thing based on the trappings. Digging a little deeper reveals that her father is diagnosed with MS, so I'm sure like the rest of us her life hasn't been without some difficulties. http://www.post-gaze...-site-319099/��

 

Lots of people use their connections to their advantage. Based on Suzy's essay, I bet she can hold her own, too, if need be.

 

I'm now really impressed she's working at a pizza place and willing to tolerate being the slow one on the cross country team. Oh, wait, maybe that was all planned to impress colleges? :huh: LOL.

 

And FWIW, Suzy's sister Bari graduated from Columbia. http://topics.wsj.co...bari-weiss/5476

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Well, as someone whose kids are not seemingly able to capitalize on the advantages we've worked extremely hard to provide for them, I found the article funny. My boys are NOT slackers. They are good, good kids, but the kind of ordinary interests they have, and the lack of any true commitment to making the world a better place, yet, has and will cost them. I truly don't believe that there are that many 16 year olds out there who start charities that are not doing it with an eye to their resumes. Call me cynical. None of the kids I personally know who've been super high achievers are the kind of people I'd want to live with or meet for a cup of coffee. But...I live in an area where college admissions are most definitely a contact sport (for the parents) and truly-no kids here are really doing anything: ECs, charity work, summer camp, without thinking first about how it's going to look on their resume.

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I'm now really impressed she's working at a pizza place and willing to tolerate being the slow one on the cross country team.

 

If you reread the article, you'll see that she never said that she did those things. She listed them as an example of a "low achiever" in contrast to her example of a high achiever; I believe both examples are hypothetical and meant to be snarky.

 

I doubt she would have have chosen to work in a pizza joint when she admits that she has relatives (like her sister?) she could have arranged to work for, and she mocks the very idea of "Work experience!" And since she says she didn't last a week at karate or one lap on the swim team, I'm kinda doubting she was a member of the cross-country team.

 

Jackie

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Serenade - There is more competition for the top colleges, but all the rest are fine. Look at the acceptance rates. Many, many colleges accept 70-80% of the students that apply. They look at gpa and test scores and see if the student is doing something, anything, with their spare time. If they think the student can handle the classes they offer, they accept them. This applies to both private colleges and state schools. Our state flagship accepts 63% of their applicants. Then there are a whole slew of places like Boston University that accept about 50% of their applicants. When you hear people panicking, it is because they are considering small, highly competative LACs like Williams College and specialized places like Harvey Mudd who accept more like 15% or 20% of their appliants, or ivy league which accepts less than that. Most colleges are much easier to get into. The standard advice seems to be to apply wherever you want and then pick some safeties and apply there - look at the statistics and apply to a few schools where your statistics land in the top 25% of students. Unless there is something unusual on your record, you will probably get in. Think about applying to some financial safeties, too, places where you are likely to get in and can afford without scholarships. As long as you aren't looking at those highly competative colleges, you should be fine. It just gets scary at the top. : ) (And as somebody whose students had that "something unusual on their records - homeschooling in a less than traditional way, I have to admit it was pretty scary applying for us, too.)

 

Nan

 

 

Well, this is encouraging. Thanks for sharing. I want to hide my head in the sand every time I think of college admissions. My son is only in 7th grade, so I have a little time, but not enough to keep my head in the sand for much longer... We won't be looking at elite or specialty schools, so maybe I don't have to worry so much.

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Maybe at a private school.

 

At public school, unless he's highly gifted or among the local elite, he's not going to get the coursework he needs to get the SAT score or to succeed in college. The seats in those classes are already filled; he will get the poorer teachers and if he's not in honors, so much makework that he won't be able to study.

 

 

I wouldn't count on help from a school guidance counselor. There are great ones out there who work really hard, but the odds are stacked against them. The average counselor is helping over 400 students with a wide range of concerns everything from kicked out of the house, failing math class, to don't have enough credits for graduation. This doesn't leave much for college counseling.

 

 

Good to know. I guess I better start educating myself. It's just so overwhelming, and I feel like I'm too old for this. More and more, I'm regretting having my kids late in life so that all of this stuff is so foreign to me. I entered college in '81. A lot of changes have happened in those 30-plus years, and there will probably be even more by the time my kids start.

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I imagine it's a lot easier to get published in the WSJ if your sister (Bari Weiss) is an assistant editorial features editor there. ;)

 

WSJ also did a feature on her parents' lovely $700,000 custom-built house, complete with Modernist Italian furniture. Funny how the one group she doesn't rail against in her article is students who exploit family connections.

 

Her high school, BTW, is highly rated: "Allderdice is considered a high-achieving school by the district. It was awarded a Silver Medal by US News & World Report in their 2009 Best High Schools issue.... Allderdice was presented with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the US Dept of Education, the highest award an American school can receive."

 

I vote "whiner."

 

Jackie

 

I'm voting satire then - or maybe she's putting into words what many of her friends have been going through. There's still a TON of truth to what she wrote without saying ALL successful students are that way. I know MANY kids at school who only join clubs or volunteer because they are told they need things for their college apps. Hopefully they also find out they like what they are doing. Who knows?

 

Well, this is encouraging. Thanks for sharing. I want to hide my head in the sand every time I think of college admissions. My son is only in 7th grade, so I have a little time, but not enough to keep my head in the sand for much longer... We won't be looking at elite or specialty schools, so maybe I don't have to worry so much.

 

None of mine aimed for the elite - even middle son who had the stats to do so. It sure made spring far more relaxing! Both who are in college love where they are going.

 

As long as the student selects for fit and finances, kids at school end up loving where they go even though there are a multitude of schools they choose and some are vastly different from each other. Those who don't end up liking where they go are those with excessive debt, those who didn't select for fit (urban/rural, size, etc) or those who go to schools that are far too easy/hard for them (in the far top over 75% or low 25% barely getting in).

 

Stick to decent fit, low debt, and stats that match (even being in the top 25% isn't a problem as long as you aren't really, really top) and kids tend to love college.

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If you reread the article, you'll see that she never said that she did those things. She listed them as an example of a "low achiever" in contrast to her example of a high achiever; I believe both examples are hypothetical and meant to be snarky.

 

I doubt she would have have chosen to work in a pizza joint when she admits that she has relatives (like her sister?) she could have arranged to work for, and she mocks the very idea of "Work experience!" And since she says she didn't last a week at karate or one lap on the swim team, I'm kinda doubting she was a member of the cross-country team.

 

Jackie

 

Suzy Weiss does indeed participate in cross country. http://www.athletic....spx?AID=1557995 http://pa.milesplit.com/teams/1423

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I vote for satire. With an incredibly sad underpinning.

 

Saltine Cracker / White Bread / Caucasian. Assuming that a modern teenager even knows the racist epithet "cracker" is a bit of a reach, no? And if the writer *is* caucasian, why would he/she be using it as an epithet?

 

What does her sister's job or alma mater have to do with any of what she wrote? What does the last tax record listing price of her parent's home have to do with anything? Especially since the housing bubble has collapsed. Her father has a fatal disease - that probably has a LOT to do with her "worldview" of life, but little to do with her essay. I noticed no one mentioned mom.

 

None of us are in this writer's head. None of us are in the heads of our own children. We do what we can with the resources available to us at the time. The kid either absorbs it or they don't. They either reach for the brass ring or they don't.

 

And sometimes, that brass ring seems very shiny and apparent to everyone but the student for whom it is intended. Not because the kid is selfish, whiny, immature, or any other adjective, but simply because what is going on in *their head* is too overwhelming. The world has been an incredibly frightening place for the last ten years or so - and that is all these kids have memories of. The US has been in two wars concurrently, the housing market has collapsed, people's savings, jobs and sometimes homes disappeared basically overnight - and now kids are being told that there has been a fundamental shift in the economy - that all of those jobs simply won't return. Forget the brass ring - I'm amazed any of these kids can even see the Carousel!

 

We wonder why kids are drowning/losing themselves in social media and escapist television programs. Think about it: if you were 16, would you rather be reading / watching about how the Cypriot banks are taking 60% of their account holder's money, watching the collapse of a major world currency - and then making the logical leap as to what that means to the greater world economy as the first major American city (Stockton, CA) gets the go ahead to declare bankruptcy - or would you prefer to Snapfish your friends a cute pair of shoes?

 

There is a reason "App creation" is so popular.

 

 

A

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I vote for satire. With an incredibly sad underpinning.

 

Saltine Cracker / White Bread / Caucasian. Assuming that a modern teenager even knows the racist epithet "cracker" is a bit of a reach, no? And if the writer *is* caucasian, why would he/she be using it as an epithet?

 

 

 

 

 

lol. white teens in a diverse high school know what a cracker is and why the term is being directed toward them on day one by lunch if they didn't have the inner city pop in their middle school.

 

ime Pulling the race card is a popular way for teens in a diverse high school to explain why they didn't get selected, as they know from experience that selection qualifications include race and family background, and those last two can trump the actual skills necessary to excel at the opportunity they are trying to qualify for. It's become hilarous, and it is pushing talented children out the door, to other venues where the gig qualification does not include skin color or 'who's your daddy', but just 'where are you in terms of talent development' in comparison to the competition and the actual requirements of the gig. It doesn't take a teen genius to observe, say, that the leads in the school musical can't hit the notes, while the competition relegated to the bit parts not only can, but does in their outside gigs and their all-state ensembles.

 

The cross country thing was funny. The slowest person on a high school varsity team can still have great times, within a few seconds of the fastest, especially if they are working together as a team to block the competition. The winning team at sectionals here this year had every member within 2 seconds of each other. Not a big difference, if the individual times are state or national qualifiers.

 

One of the interesting things about diverse high schools is seeing the student attitudes. If they know they can't win, they drop right out. If they have a chance, they stay in to the finish.

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I vote for satire. With an incredibly sad underpinning.

 

Saltine Cracker / White Bread / Caucasian. Assuming that a modern teenager even knows the racist epithet "cracker" is a bit of a reach, no? And if the writer *is* caucasian, why would he/she be using it as an epithet?

 

What does her sister's job or alma mater have to do with any of what she wrote? What does the last tax record listing price of her parent's home have to do with anything? Especially since the housing bubble has collapsed. Her father has a fatal disease - that probably has a LOT to do with her "worldview" of life, but little to do with her essay. I noticed no one mentioned mom.

 

None of us are in this writer's head. None of us are in the heads of our own children. We do what we can with the resources available to us at the time. The kid either absorbs it or they don't. They either reach for the brass ring or they don't.

 

And sometimes, that brass ring seems very shiny and apparent to everyone but the student for whom it is intended. Not because the kid is selfish, whiny, immature, or any other adjective, but simply because what is going on in *their head* is too overwhelming. The world has been an incredibly frightening place for the last ten years or so - and that is all these kids have memories of. The US has been in two wars concurrently, the housing market has collapsed, people's savings, jobs and sometimes homes disappeared basically overnight - and now kids are being told that there has been a fundamental shift in the economy - that all of those jobs simply won't return. Forget the brass ring - I'm amazed any of these kids can even see the Carousel!

 

We wonder why kids are drowning/losing themselves in social media and escapist television programs. Think about it: if you were 16, would you rather be reading / watching about how the Cypriot banks are taking 60% of their account holder's money, watching the collapse of a major world currency - and then making the logical leap as to what that means to the greater world economy as the first major American city (Stockton, CA) gets the go ahead to declare bankruptcy - or would you prefer to Snapfish your friends a cute pair of shoes?

 

There is a reason "App creation" is so popular.

 

 

A

 

 

I think that the column was partly an attempt at black humor that some of us have trouble finding humorous, in part because parts of it hit a nerve. I think there are a lot of high school seniors wondering why that kid got into that school while this kid got rejected. The stories of self-centered travel and minimalist charity work that is milked for college essays? Yep. It's definitely out there. (My local school has a Civics class in 8th grade. Evidently the service hour documentation has to be turned in by Friday. I was in the library last week and could hear the librarians field question after question in person and by phone about how someone's kid could sign up to volunteer at the library - but that they had no open slots until after Friday. Then there were lots of openings. [And now that I think of it, there didn't seem to be kids asking.])

 

The sigh/regret/whine about saltine cracker diversity? I think that is a pretty natural reaction to an environment where someone's backstory can be weighed as just as important if not more important than their grades, test scores and ability to perform college level work. Read Acceptance where a guidance counselor helps students craft essays that show off their diverse backgrounds or The Gatekeepers where an admissions counselor in part is looking for students from specific ethnic groups to bring in to his school. Is this the case at middle of the road public universities? Probably not to the same extent. But (at the moment) being an academicly strong white girl without some standout "story" isn't a recipe for sucess at select universities. The phrase I read a few months back was "unhooked white girls" which meant they didn't have some kind of "hook" to their application or essay. From the article in Forbes:

 

The Curse of the Well-Rounded White Girl?

And why are “unhooked white girls†finding it especially tough? “Because there are so many high-achieving, nice girls who have studied hard, participated in all the right activities, and expected the top colleges to appreciate their efforts,†said Scott Farber. “Do they deserve to get in? Sure. Would they do well if admitted? Absolutely. But colleges are not looking for the well-rounded kid; they want the well-rounded class. And unless you are superstar in some area, you’re just one of thousands of smart, all-around, but unhooked white girls. It may be unfair, but that’s life.â€

 

There is a lot of weighing and measuring (and being found wanting) that is coming to teen mailboxes (and emails) right now. This writer may come from what you see as privilege. But she is still a teen. And it sounds to me like she has just gone through the buzz saw of community expectations for college not unbloodied. I hope she has a great education where ever she did land.

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What does her sister's job or alma mater have to do with any of what she wrote?

 

 

I mentioned her sister's alma mater only because *to me* that implies Suzy Weiss is probably not w/o some college options. My original post indicated that I thought the the essay was purely satirical. My later posts were simply an effort to support that conclusion. :)

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I'm voting satire then - or maybe she's putting into words what many of her friends have been going through. There's still a TON of truth to what she wrote without saying ALL successful students are that way. I know MANY kids at school who only join clubs or volunteer because they are told they need things for their college apps. Hopefully they also find out they like what they are doing. Who knows?

 

Many of the kids at my son's high school are busy creating transcripts that prospective colleges will like. I think it's problematic in that some of these kids are not finding out what truly interests them. They are presenting a false self which might not help them in the long run.

 

None of mine aimed for the elite - even middle son who had the stats to do so. It sure made spring far more relaxing! Both who are in college love where they are going.

 

As long as the student selects for fit and finances, kids at school end up loving where they go even though there are a multitude of schools they choose and some are vastly different from each other. Those who don't end up liking where they go are those with excessive debt, those who didn't select for fit (urban/rural, size, etc) or those who go to schools that are far too easy/hard for them (in the far top over 75% or low 25% barely getting in).

 

Stick to decent fit, low debt, and stats that match (even being in the top 25% isn't a problem as long as you aren't really, really top) and kids tend to love college.

 

 

I agree. Fit is incredibly important. I like to look for strong departments and some of the ones we're looking at are state schools -- namely, U of Michigan and U of Wisconsin-Madison. I know many kids who attended state schools who've done very well and took advantage of what those schools offered. My advice is to definitely go for fit.

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A lot of this reflects the fact that most our media that writes about college is on the East Coast - just reading the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. it is easy to get a very skewed idea about the competitiveness of this process. It is true most colleges accept most people who apply. Scholarships and paying for college is the more pressing issue for most families.

 

That said, we need to acknowledge there are huge variations from state to state. Some state flagships are very difficult to get into and out of state public colleges can be one of the more expensive options for many students. The recession has driven up stats many more mid-tier public schools as more students find their in state public a better financial option. So, we are are all a bit at the mercy of where we live. I have seen some very strong students not get into their state flagships this year (or get accepted but not get into the Honors College or not get any merit aid) while they were quite successful in admissions at other types of schools. These were kids with strong academic records and strong test scores. I just don't want anyone who to assume the state flagship is a slam dunk for admissions or affordability. It isn't always.

 

Part of the issue at play in the college admissions process is zipcode. One of my friends who homeschooled in Manhattan (New York City not Kansas) told me that there are so many top students from amazing private schools in The City that the best of the best often cannot get into their schools of choice. Her son's friends were applying to schools like Grinnell and Edinburgh in the hopes that they would have a better chance than they had at Yale, . I wonder what proportion of applicants to Duke comes from NY/NJ.

 

Where I live in NC, few students apply to Duke or Davidson. It is another world. Many families here set their sites on UNC-CH or NCSU as the pinnacle. This is not the case for friends and family in the Boston area. UMass is the backup not the dream school.

 

Sometimes I feel that some kids and parents are looking less for the right fit than for the prestige of the institution. (Or the prestige of the institution's sports teams.) Personally I think that a school like UNC-Asheville would be a better fit for some of the kids I know over UNC-CH. But the prestige of being a Tar Heel seems to trump all in the same way that the prestige of the Ivy is what is critical to some families.

 

It is all a tangled business and rather sad at times. I am just glad that my son found a school that fits him well.

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None of mine aimed for the elite - even middle son who had the stats to do so. It sure made spring far more relaxing! Both who are in college love where they are going.

 

As long as the student selects for fit and finances, kids at school end up loving where they go even though there are a multitude of schools they choose and some are vastly different from each other. Those who don't end up liking where they go are those with excessive debt, those who didn't select for fit (urban/rural, size, etc) or those who go to schools that are far too easy/hard for them (in the far top over 75% or low 25% barely getting in).

 

Stick to decent fit, low debt, and stats that match (even being in the top 25% isn't a problem as long as you aren't really, really top) and kids tend to love college.

 

Thanks for sharing. It does help me to feel a little more confident.

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