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Halcyon

Anyone's child NOT play the college admissions game...and still get into a good college?

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I am reading a lot about the cr*p that kids have to do to get into good colleges nowadays, and frankly, it p*sses me off. I remember my high school years fondly. I had a lot of free time, learned a lot, played sports, had friends, read a TON, traveled a bit. I did do Princeton Review for the SAT but in those days, it was pretty unusual. It helped me, and my scores jumped quite a bit. Anyway, I got into an Ivy League and had a wonderful experience.

 

My step sister just graduated from high school (a private boarding school in the Northeast) and her experience was awful. The pressure, the stress, the endless exams, the endless resume primping, volunteering to "look good", exam prep, AP exams up the wazoo. She suffered severe depression and anxiety, as did many of her peers. And these were the "elite", so to speak. 

 

Now, I want my kid to go to a great college. Not Ivy League, necessarily, but somewhere with great professors, a great education, independent, intelligent students who go on to do wonderful things with their lives. I don't know where that will be, but I really want my kids to have an excellent college education, wherever that may be.

 

I am torn between my Tiger mom self and the idea that things just don't have to be this way, especially if we homeschool through high school. But I can't envision how one would do this without forging a brand new path, and also "risking' quite a bit of your child's future simply to "march to the beat of a different drummer". Is there a middle ground? Or have any of you had high schoolers who went on to great colleges but did something RADICALLY different with their high school years?

 

Please share. 

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We don't "play any games."   I simply give my kids a well-rounded education that matches their abilities.   I have never pushed my kids to be anything different than who they simply are.  My older kids got into the colleges and programs they applied to and wanted (neither wanted Ivy.  Ds applied to the state tech university and dd applied to several LACs.)   Our oldest ds had offers from multiple Fortune 500 companies when he graduated.   So, obviously by their corporate standards, he received a good education.

 

Whether or not our philosophy will gain our youngest ds admission into his top choice (which is an Ivy) is yet to be determined.  ;)   But it is irrelevant from my perspective b/c I wouldn't change anything about what we did and I have no intention of changing what our younger kids are going to do.   He has already been accepted into one of the top in-state schools, so you know, it is what it is when all is said and done.  :)

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I greatly regret overemphasizing college admissions with my olders. The reasons they did not go to the Ivies had nothing to do with their abilities. I will not be doing that again with my little guy.

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I am reading a lot about the cr*p that kids have to do to get into good colleges nowadays, and frankly, it p*sses me off. I remember my high school years fondly. I had a lot of free time, learned a lot, played sports, had friends, read a TON, traveled a bit. I did do Princeton Review for the SAT but in those days, it was pretty unusual. It helped me, and my scores jumped quite a bit. Anyway, I got into an Ivy League and had a wonderful experience.

 

My step sister just graduated from high school (a private boarding school in the Northeast) and her experience was awful. The pressure, the stress, the endless exams, the endless resume primping, volunteering to "look good", exam prep, AP exams up the wazoo. She suffered severe depression and anxiety, as did many of her peers. And these were the "elite", so to speak. 

 

Now, I want my kid to go to a great college. Not Ivy League, necessarily, but somewhere with great professors, a great education, independent, intelligent students who go on to do wonderful things with their lives. I don't know where that will be, but I really want my kids to have an excellent college education, wherever that may be.

 

I am torn between my Tiger mom self and the idea that things just don't have to be this way, especially if we homeschool through high school. But I can't envision how one would do this without forging a brand new path, and also "risking' quite a bit of your child's future simply to "march to the beat of a different drummer". Is there a middle ground? Or have any of you had high schoolers who went on to great colleges but did something RADICALLY different with their high school years?

 

Please share.

I'm listening in. I feel the same way (although I was at a Seven Sisters School, not Ivy League). I want them to have the same experiences in college that you enumerated. I DO NOT want to play the game. I am hopeful that that experience is available at schools that are not ones with an "elite" name. I am hopeful that there are schools that want my kids even without 12 APs and some fantastic "hook". (If one of my children did excel/develop a passion in one area, of course we'd support it. I just don't see grooming an interest in order to "get in". So far, I don't see any extraordinary passion. And you know what, until I discovered teaching, I didn't have one either.) I'd love to hear others experiences.

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Time will tell for us (as in: ask me in April), but we also do not "play games". I consider the four years of high school too valuable a part of life than to have my kids spend it solely on grooming themselves for college admissions.

My DD pursued the education she was interested in. She challenged herself through college courses in subjects she wanted to take at a level I could not provide at home. She is engaged in extracurricular activities that give her joy: she sings in choir, rides her horse, volunteers at the tutoring center - because it is fun for her.

 

The only thing we are doing is to package the things she has done as well as possible and show them off in a good light. For example, if she rides several times a week, she might as well fill out the paperwork to get her certified status as a USEF high school equestrian athlete. If she takes rigorous math and physics courses, she might as well take the subject SATs and have outside validation. If she volunteers at the tutoring center, find somebody who can highlight this in the recommendation letter.Stuff like this.

I have not made her study anything "just for college admissions", nor have I encouraged her to participate in activities to "look good".

If all she has done will not suffice for an Ivy, so be it - at least she had four very good, productive, and fun years of high school. I can not imagine how miserable it must be for children who spent their high school years solely focused on the elusive goal of admission to a selective school and then do not get in. it must be devastating. My children's lives are too precious for this.

 

 

 

Now, I want my kid to go to a great college. Not Ivy League, necessarily, but somewhere with great professors, a great education, independent, intelligent students who go on to do wonderful things with their lives

 

This is an education students can obtain at good public universities with high acceptance rates. I teach at a public university; we are #2 in our state. Students do not have to jump through ridiculous hoops to be admitted. I know many faculty who are passionate about teaching, have many students who are independent and intelligent, and who will go far in their lives. If my son decides to attend our school, I am sure he would get a good education and then go on to wonderful things in his life.

 

If I can offer one single bit of advice it would be:RELAX. Competition is fierce at the very top tier, but a student with a solid college prep education WILL get into a good college without "playing games".

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My older two have gotten into their first choice colleges without playing games. Oldest had no AP and one DE class - taken senior year.  Middle had two APs and three DEs - all things he was interested in.  Middle son's school is ranked in the Top 30's, and I don't know if that's "elite" enough for those who want "elite," but he loves it there and had no interest in Ivies.

 

Youngest certainly isn't playing any games for admission - no APs and 3 DEs.  He's in ps, but even studying for the SAT isn't in his "plan" no matter what I wanted him to do.  Sadly, that MAY mean he doesn't get enough $$ to go to his top choice schools, but time will tell.  I do expect his scores are high enough to get into all but one he is considering (and he may not even apply to that one).

 

 

 

 

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I am hopeful that there are schools that want my kids even without 12 APs and some fantastic "hook".

:iagree:

 

I always love the books and articles that talk about kids needing something that will set them apart from the other applicants, and the examples they give are always of the kid who discovered a new rare species of tree frog on one of her frequent scientific expeditions to the Amazon rainforest, or the one who is raising and breeding white tigers as a sideline while he writes yet another best selling novel. :rolleyes:

 

So right away I'm trying to figure out a way to find a great hook for my ds, but it's not as easy as you might think to put a really positive spin on "likes to play video games" and "always seems to be hungry." ;)

 

Fortunately, my ds is still only 13, so there's still time.

 

I'll let you know if I figure it out.

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I have a friend whose son got in to UNC-CH early admissions. In state UNC is not thought to be home school friendly. I asked her once if he did anything much. She told me no, he was just his "geeky" self (her words). So, yes, I think it can be done.

 

But I suspect the higher up the chain you go, it becomes next to impossible because there are so many applicants and unlike a state school (like UNC) which is more strict in terms of using numbers for admittance, private schools use more factors. 

 

On the other hand, I suspect that the two strongest entry points are academics and essays neither of which are all the extras you detail above. A rigorous course of study, a high score on the SAT (and some APs or SATII) plus a wonderful essay will take you almost all the way if not all the way to admission. That can be really good for strong essay writers, but less so for less emotive types. 

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:iagree:

 

I always love the books and articles that talk about kids needing something that will set them apart from the other applicants, and the examples they give are always of the kid who discovered a new rare species of tree frog on one of her frequent scientific expeditions to the Amazon rainforest, or the one who is raising and breeding white tigers as a sideline while he writes yet another best selling novel. :rolleyes:

 

So right away I'm trying to figure out a way to find a great hook for my ds, but it's not as easy as you might think to put a really positive spin on "likes to play video games" and "always seems to be hungry." ;)

 

Fortunately, my ds is still only 13, so there's still time.

 

I'll let you know if I figure it out.

 

LOL!!!   Thank you for the laugh.   This needs to be at the top of the college board during the application process!!  :lol:

 

FWIW, I 100% agree with Regentrude.   Getting accepted into state universities is really not that difficult.    The biggest issue for employment after graduation is work experience and GPA, not college name.   So either co-oping or internships or research while in school is really important as are grades.  

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:iagree:

 

I always love the books and articles that talk about kids needing something that will set them apart from the other applicants, and the examples they give are always of the kid who discovered a new rare species of tree frog on one of her frequent scientific expeditions to the Amazon rainforest, or the one who is raising and breeding white tigers as a sideline while he writes yet another best selling novel. :rolleyes:

 

So right away I'm trying to figure out a way to find a great hook for my ds, but it's not as easy as you might think to put a really positive spin on "likes to play video games" and "always seems to be hungry." ;)

 

Fortunately, my ds is still only 13, so there's still time.

 

I'll let you know if I figure it out.

LOL

 

Your 13 yo and my nearly 13yo should hang out. They would have a lot in common.

 

The other thing is that all these hooks cost a lot of money and we fall in between the "not enough money so we can't expect awesome activities" and "let's sign them up for everything and start a private zoo in our backyard bc they are interested in zoology." My daughter is very athletic but isn't interested in the rec sports. She only loves horses and skiing and we can't support those to the level that counts no matter what we want. She could do volleyball through high school if she wanted and I know she'd do very well. But she doesn't want to and I just don't want to force her. (She's only 10, though, so she may change her mind.)

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I personally love the advice in this blog post from MIT's website:

 

Applying Sideways

 

1. Do well in school.

2. Be nice.

3. Pursue your passion.

 

That about sums it up!

 

As homeschoolers, we get a chance to step off the crazy treadmill that your step sister experienced at her boarding school.  We homeschoolers have more hours in the day to pursue step 3 (the fun part!) as long as we don't pack our days with too much busy work. 

 

Don't try to mold your kids to fit any particular college. There are all kinds of schools out there, something to fit everybody. It's only terribly stressful if you decide early on the desired outcome. Each kid is different and it's great fun to watch them grow. No single thing such as what college they attend is going to be the defining thing in their lives.

 

 

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I personally love the advice in this blog post from MIT's website:

 

Applying Sideways

 

1. Do well in school.

2. Be nice.

3. Pursue your passion.

 

That about sums it up!

 

As homeschoolers, we get a chance to step off the crazy treadmill that your step sister experienced at her boarding school.  We homeschoolers have more hours in the day to pursue step 3 (the fun part!) as long as we don't pack our days with too much busy work. 

 

Don't try to mold your kids to fit any particular college. There are all kinds of schools out there, something to fit everybody. It's only terribly stressful if you decide early on the desired outcome. Each kid is different and it's great fun to watch them grow. No single thing such as what college they attend is going to be the defining thing in their lives.

Kathy, can you give us tips on how you did it or link to any posts of yours on how you did it. I am thinking of withdrawing my ds from a top charter school possibly. He is only in 6th grade and is an amazing kid. I want him to be able to have fun and his current school may take up too much of his time. We have homeschooled before but I am worried about him getting into a top flight or a near top flight school with homeschooling. I appreciate any advice.

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I personally love the advice in this blog post from MIT's website:

 

Applying Sideways

 

1. Do well in school.

2. Be nice.

3. Pursue your passion.

OK, but what if your kid doesn't have a "passion?"

 

I didn't have one when I was getting ready for college. In fact, when I think back on it, only one of my friends was passionate about anything. The rest of us had a few hobbies or interests and a bunch of extra-curriculars that were fun but that we didn't really care much about.

 

I'm truly not trying to be snarky. I'd just like to know if it's somehow unusual that my ds13 doesn't have a "passion" and if it would be truly awful if he doesn't develop one within the next couple of years.

 

Heck, I'm not even sure that I have a "passion" and I'm 50 years old.

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My kids have skipped all the entering freshman things by using community college as their launching place. My kids got into great schools as transfer students, and received almost full scholarships. It was much less stressful in the long run.

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I've been trying to think of how to respond to this. I fear the onslaught of tomatoes.

 

Examining acceptance rates over the past several years shows just how much more competitive things have become. Can one get into a tippy-top school without jumping through all the hoops? I have no idea. But, if it is important to you to have that option, do you really want to close doors just because you disagree with how the process has changed over the years? If you know what is generally required and choose not to pursue that, you are risking limiting what your dc may want and be able to do. You are aware that all of these items (multiple tests, APs, service hours, committed ECs, and all the rest) appear to be on the resumes of the students who apply AND get accepted to elite universities.

 

Let me give an example of something more drastic that I have seen homeschooling friends do, particularly with regard to daughters. The motivation for their choices is different, but the likely outcome (fewer opportunities) is the same. I have had friends who want their daughters to marry, have children, and be homeschooling moms. Certainly nothing wrong with that!!! But they do NOT want their daughters attending college, living in a dorm, being in a secular environment, going off to school, etc. etc. They therefore make their daughters' educational decisions based on these assumptions of marriage and child-rearing and homeschooling so their daughters don't *need* a college education. Thus, they don't give their girls a rigorous high school education. It's not that they are slackers or unschoolers, but they are not working with the goal of college admission in mind. The problem is what if their daughters decide that they want to go to college? Any college? Even if they have to do it on their own? Their parents have limited their ability to do this. Yes, they can go to a CC, but they may be stuck taking remedial courses because their parents closed some doors along the way. They may be able to achieve it, but the choices their parents have made will make it much, much harder for them to get into and have success in a college environment.

 

Likewise, if you decide, I don't want my child to have to endure the stress, the extreme test-taking, the hoop jumping, etc. of getting into an elite university you are possibly limiting *their* choices when the time comes. Not as severely as my above example, obviously!!!! But, it's kind of the same thing. If you decide, "it's just not worth it," and don't position them through high school to be competitive, you have made a decision that may limit what they are practically able to accomplish.

 

It's not unlike the thread where folks are complaining about SAT Subject Tests. I feared tomatoes if I posted on that one, too. We don't make the rules. If you don't want to play by the rules you don't have to, but you may be out of the game altogether. And, it's not YOUR game to play.

 

Slinking away and ducking the tomatoes.

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OK, but what if your kid doesn't have a "passion?"

 

I didn't have one when I was getting ready for college. In fact, when I think back on it, only one of my friends was passionate about anything. The rest of us had a few hobbies or interests and a bunch of extra-curriculars that were fun but that we didn't really care much about.

 

I'm truly not trying to be snarky. I'd just like to know if it's somehow unusual that my ds13 doesn't have a "passion" and if it would be truly awful if he doesn't develop one within the next couple of years.

 

Heck, I'm not even sure that I have a "passion" and I'm 50 years old.

 

I do understand what you're saying. Only one of my kids knew what his "passion" (don't you sort of hate that word?) was at 13. The other one is now 21 years old & still wrestling with it. ;)

 

I think what the writer means is to carve out free time & see what develops. We always aimed to finish our homeschooling by early afternoon in middle school and by dinner time in high school. Then the kids had to find something else to do.  At first it was very hard; they'd been in public school previously and were used to having their whole day planned out for them.

 

But over the years, they found stuff to gravitate toward: for ds it was computers & electronics; for dd it was a whole variety of things. :001_smile: It doesn't have to be just one big, huge thing. The key, I think, is that they both learned to take initiative in pursuing what they liked, to contact others (both kids and adults) to collaborate with, and to see things through to the end, even through rough patches. They couldn't wait for summers to have more time to do their own stuff. That's some of what I think helped them later on in the college game.

 

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Well, I suppose we did.  It depends a bit on what you mean by "playing the game" and what you mean by "good school".  We opted to do what we thought was best education-wise and leave college admissions to take care of itself, other than SAT scores and making sure we had some outside validation for the mummy transcript. No grades except cc classes, undated transcript because some classes were completed over the course of the whole four years by doing 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, extended travel during the school year, no SAT2s, no APs, lots of unusual classes on the transcript, lots of independent projects, and emphasis on the things *I* thought were important rather than the standard high school requirements, weird things like using a middle school text book from France for high school history all four years.  We managed to keep college application stress to an absolute minimum until the time to apply came close.  Youngest, despite all that, got into what we consider a good engineering school.  Now that he is there, he says he thinks he must have gotten in because of all that because he is feeling like he is entirely too ordinary to have gotten in any other way and his SAT scores are mediocre for this school.  We didn't even submit the paperwork for the application in the standard format.  I think I filled out half the common app blanks as "see transcript" or "see school profile" or "not applicable".   We were honest and open with the admissions people.  We asked them what they wanted and believed them when they told us rather than trying to second guess them.  The school is about as expensive as they come and he got good scholarships.  It isn't exactly what I would call elite or prestigious but it has an excellent reputation  and shows up in all those books that list "good" schools, and we keep meeting people, very cool people doing extremely interesting things, who went there.  School is a bit funky, like our son.  He just started there but we've been very impressed so far.  Cal Newport (think I got that right) wrote a book on getting into a good college without playing the game.  I wish I had found the book earlier than after my youngest applied to college lol.    I made my decisions when we began homeschooling high school.  The more I read about what people were doing in order to produce a good college application, the more I upset I felt.  It seemed like we were going to have to give up all the good things about homeschooling.  I finally got angry and decided we were going to focus on giving our children a good high school education and teaching them to be good people, rather than producing a nice sounding college application.  I think it depends on what you want for a college, though.  And you have to be careful not to make the mistake of having the interesting things instead of having a solid academic education.  You need to have the interesing things on top of a solid academic education.  It doesn't necessarily have to be the typical one, but it needs to be solid enough that they have the academic skills to survive college when they get there.  And you need to be able to convince colleges of that.

 

Nan

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I agree with Kathy.  A major goal for my children in high school was to get them time - time to do their own projects.  I had to work to protect that time.  They didn't necessarily have "passions".  (I hate that word.)  They did things - they traveled, they worked on inventions, they tried experiments, they drew, they played piano, they sailed, they did gymnastics, they did research, ...  With time and encouragement, they thought up plenty of things they wanted to do.  In the process of doing those things, they learned tons and they turned into interesting people.  I think for most people, passions don't just arrive.  They happen when you do things.  Often, the beginning part of doing something is pretty boring, so this can take awhile.  I like the emphasis on being nice.  Being nice is way way underrated. : )

Nan

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OK, but what if your kid doesn't have a "passion?"

 

I didn't have one when I was getting ready for college. In fact, when I think back on it, only one of my friends was passionate about anything. The rest of us had a few hobbies or interests and a bunch of extra-curriculars that were fun but that we didn't really care much about.

 

I'm truly not trying to be snarky. I'd just like to know if it's somehow unusual that my ds13 doesn't have a "passion" and if it would be truly awful if he doesn't develop one within the next couple of years.

 

Heck, I'm not even sure that I have a "passion" and I'm 50 years old.

Thanks for asking this. I went to a state school for undergrad, and a top 10 law school, and yet I would be hard pressed to answer the passion question.

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I'm sure everyone has a different definition of what "playing the game" or "hoop jumping" is excessive. I've met parents who feel any standardized testing is excessive and any test prep is a form of cheating.

 

There is some icky stuff written about college that makes it seem like it is all a game. Don't read that stuff. Instead try to help your kid live a meaningful four years and do the little bit of following the rules it takes to get into college.

 

What I think is reasonable expect of most kids who want to go to selective or who want to earn scholarships:

 

1. Do high school. Four years of meaningful college prep high school work in core subjects. They don't have to hit it out of the park for every subject and if they are organized about their time it should take less time than high school. Some will go further in math because they like it, some won't. All should leave high school with good competency in reading, writing, and math. Some courses might be online or at a community college. Some courses might end in some demonstration of mastery like the AP or SAT subject test - not for everything, but maybe for a few things, it depends on your goals.

 

2. Spend a reasonable amount of your time doing something beyond just hanging out with friends or surfing online. Sometimes just hang out - but sometimes do other stuff too. It doesn't matter so much what that pursuit is, but part of growing up is to do something. I don't care if it is soccer, internship, writing poetry, small business, building iphone aps, playing guitar at a coffee house, volunteering to make the world a better place. Do some stuff you like that gets you with other people and has you learning and growing. Don't do it because you think it looks good for college. Do it but because people who are alive don't just play video games. Start to think about goals you might want to set for yourself to learn stuff you like to learn. It doesn't have to be your life passion. You don't have to win a huge prize or save the world, but you are a person who has something to contribute to yourself and to other people so don't just waste years of being alive doing nothing.

 

3. A little tiny bit, you play the game. Little bit of test prep, PSAT, SAT or ACT and to completing college applications. Treat it like a job that has the potential to pay very well. Jobs that pay well you don't generally do while you are texting and on Tumblr. You sit down and do the job. Kind of like you will be doing for the rest of your life, except if you play this job right you actually figure out it is a pretty tiny investment of your time and has the potential to pay much better than any other job you'll have for many years. I've seen kids put five hours into test prep or a scholarship application and come up with thousands of dollars for that effort. That's a lot more than you make at McDonald's.

 

 

 

 

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I didn't do anything special. I am attending my first choice university on a merit scholarship. I went to a community college, worked hard and got decent grades, most of my volunteering was informal and went undocumented. I joined clubs, made friends and attended lots of on campus events. I applied to the only school that I wanted to go to, I applied for the scholarship I qualified for. I got in and I won one of the scholarship slots.

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Whether we are or are not "playing the game" depends on how you define "playing the game."

 

Did we do testing? SAT-2's? AP's? YES -- and lots of them. But my kids LOVED the "putting their knowledge together and tying it with a bow"feeling that studying for those tests gives them.

 

Did we make sure that they had "outside" verification for each type of high school class? Yes! But as a parent I needed to have that outside verification too!

 

Basically we just focused on giving our kids a great education that developed their talents and intellect, and we let the chips fall where they might. Our kids consciously made a few choices that we were concerned about the ramifications of -- dd1 only did 3 years of science, dd2 only did 3 years of a foreign language, etc., but there were good reasons for those choices and we supported our kids' decisions. That is definitely NOT playing the game!

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A book discussing the whole 'passion' thing....

http://www.amazon.com/Good-They-Cant-Ignore-You/dp/1455509124

 

I had an entire post written about my dc, and how the college process has gone for us so far, but I am not sure it would have added anything more to the points pps have made. I will say, though, that I think the quality of college education that anyone 'receives' has a lot to do with the individual student. One can glide through school, disengaged, ignoring good opportunities to participate in whatever college community one lands, even a college with a name everyone knows. Alternately, one can seek out the best professors, the most interesting clubs, research or internship opportunities, community responsibilities (RA, EMT, Peer Counselor, etc....) and 'suck out all the marrow of college life' (apologies to HDT) even at a school without a stamp of approval from US News and World Report. The quality of the education will be almost entirely up to your student, in a way.

 

If one is the kind of kid that did something 'radically different' for high school, I would imagine one would be primed to get the most out of any college and life in general. :)

 

Edited to correct my poor grammar. :p

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 I will say, though, that I think the quality of college education that anyone 'receives' has a lot to do with the individual student. One can glide through school, disengaged, ignoring good opportunities to participate in whatever college community in which they land, even a college with a name everyone knows. Alternately, one can seek out the best professors, the most interesting clubs, research or internship opportunities, community responsibilities (RA, EMT, Peer Counselor, etc....) and 'suck out all the marrow of college life' (apologies to HDT) even at a school without a stamp of approval from US News and World Report. The quality of the education will be almost entirely up to your student, in a way.

:iagree:   Had to quote as I liked it so much...

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It depends a bit on what you mean by "playing the game" and what you mean by "good school". We opted to do what we thought was best education-wise and leave college admissions to take care of itself, other than SAT scores and making sure we had some outside validation for the mummy transcript.

 

.

And you have to be careful not to make the mistake of having the interesting things instead of having a solid academic education. You need to have the interesing things on top of a solid academic education. It doesn't necessarily have to be the typical one, but it needs to be solid enough that they have the academic skills to survive college when they get there. And you need to be able to convince colleges of that.

 

Nan

I love your post, Nan.

 

The 2 parts I have quoted are key for us. The first one.....it is rare that a school isn't going to require the ACT or SAT. It may be playing the game, but it is a given in our household. You just take them. They don't take them numerous times, but at least a couple.

 

But, providing an individualized education that was built upon a solid, well-rounded academic foundation, that was what we focused on and beyond that, we also have the attitude that the application will take care of itself.

 

My kids don't have14 APs or pages of honors or activities. They have helped design their high school academics and what they have achieved is representative of who they are.

 

Some of my kids have passions, some don't. I'm just going to be honest that guiding our dd who did not have a passion was way more difficult than for my kids that have.

 

Fwiw, Halcyon, when they hit high school age, some kids have a pretty good idea of their goals and what they want to do to achieve them. I see my job as more of showing them the options of how to achieve those goals and letting them make their decisions vs. telling them this is what they need to do or making decisions based on perceived possibilities over being a kid.

 

For example, I would never have enrolled a child in our local gov school. Those kids have no life and do nothing but hrs of homework every single day. Would having a diploma lead to a different college application? Maybe. I am not convinced. But either way, at what cost? 4 yrs with no time for interests, no time for exploring their own ideas? The kids we know there are constantly stressed and unhappy. Give me my kids relishing in hours of independent research for fun any day.

 

College is just one piece of the puzzle. It is not something that has only one acceptable path to a single outcome. Time will tell whether or not the non-cookie cutter approach w/o the typical application profile is enough or not. We can't change (and I wouldn't even if I could) who our ds is and how he functions. He will hopefully end up someplace that appreciates just how much he has to offer just being who he is without trying to package him into something not quite real.

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I have had friends who want their daughters to marry, have children, and be homeschooling moms. Certainly nothing wrong with that!!! But they do NOT want their daughters attending college, living in a dorm, being in a secular environment, going off to school, etc. etc. They therefore make their daughters' educational decisions based on these assumptions of marriage and child-rearing and homeschooling so their daughters don't *need* a college education. Thus, they don't give their girls a rigorous high school education. ........

 

Likewise, if you decide, I don't want my child to have to endure the stress, the extreme test-taking, the hoop jumping, etc. of getting into an elite university you are possibly limiting *their* choices when the time comes. Not as severely as my above example, obviously!!!! But, it's kind of the same thing. If you decide, "it's just not worth it," and don't position them through high school to be competitive, you have made a decision that may limit what they are practically able to accomplish.

 

 

 

Not throwing tomatoes, but there is a huge difference between extreme test-taking, hoop jumping, and a goal of getting into an elite university and not providing a solid college prep education.   Some kids are just not cut out for 14 APs and cut-throat admissions.   They are equally not equipped for the atmosphere on a campus where all the applicants meet that definition.  

 

It does not mean that they aren't great students and that they won't get a great education elsewhere that accepts that for some students high school is high school. 

 

I have kids that could not have functioned at the AP level during high school.   I also have kids that would be bored to tears w/o being very accelerated.   Why try to force them into being something they simply aren't?   Perhaps your child fits into the latter category and you really don't know what it is like to have kids in the former?   I can also imagine people having kids in the former not understanding kids in the latter.  :)   But, there is a whole range of ability, drive, and emotional maturity and all of them need to be factored in.

 

I agree 100% about not closing doors.   But, all doors don't have to be the same.   What you are describing about not educating daughters is simply ignorance.

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I have a daughter who will be graduating from a college prep school this year. I homeschooled her through 8th grade - but always had these lingering doubts that I couldn't make her competitive for a good college/university - even though I believed she was smart enough. For acceptance to competitive schools - at minimum - a student needs great SAT/ACT scores (National Merit anything helps), rigorous classes, MULTIPLE AP (this is huge), SAT 2 above 700 on at least 3 exams, VERY HIGH GPA, volunteer hours, and leadership positions in clubs/ sports (class president/officer, editor of school paper, etc.). Even this may just get you in the running - then you need something to really set you apart - e.g. founding an organization - or organizing a race for a cause -or national awards in anything - art, music, debate, sports, etc. - or even taking like 5 AP classes your senior year - 3 of which are for a different foreign language. (chinese/latin/greek - simultaneously)... this is just the way it is. This is what kids are doing who are getting into these elite schools. If your child wants to go to an IVY or selective school - this is their competition.

 

Thus, I think it is very hard for homeschoolers to get into these really selective/elite schools  -  I have been told that homeschoolers, in general, don't have the same rigorous course of study that the top students who are selected to attend these schools have - and therefore have a lower rate of acceptance. 

 

Now, for less selective schools -with names not as big - I think homeschoolers do fine. 

 

This is just my assessment - and probably not perfect - just what I am gathering as I go through the college application process with my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some kids are just not cut out for 14 APs and cut-throat admissions.   They are equally not equipped for the atmosphere on a campus where all the applicants meet that definition.  

 

It does not mean that they aren't great students and that they won't get a great education elsewhere that accepts that for some students high school is high school. 

 

I have kids that could not have functioned at the AP level during high school.   I also have kids that would be bored to tears w/o being very accelerated.   Why try to force them into being something they simply aren't?  ...  But, there is a whole range of ability, drive, and emotional maturity and all of them need to be factored in.

 

I agree 100% about not closing doors.   But, all doors don't have to be the same.   What you are describing about not educating daughters is simply ignorance.

:iagree:   I definitely have kids in both "worlds" and I see kids in all facets of both worlds (and then some) at school.  The best spot for any student is within their niche.  Trying to force high academics upon a student who is not "wired" that way is worthless at best and very stressful (or more) at worst.  (BTDT - still learning.)  Letting them fly within their niche (still being educated, but really, it's not the same as for those in the other group) is far preferable AND likely to give them their best chances at life.

 

There are different levels and types of colleges (or none) for different niches of students.  Put one type into the wrong niche and they are likely to be bored or stressed.  It's worth it to spend some time figuring out fit.  One really can succeed (or fail) at all types.

 

Each of my boys has been different with their niches.  It's been "work" but it's also been fun going along with them on their journeys.  It's definitely been "easier" with the driven, high academic niche (easier for acceptances and high merit aid + his knowing what he wanted to do), but it's just not the same niche for the other two - and the other two shine just as much when in their niches.

 

VERY honestly, I rejoice with each of our (Hive's) children when they find their niche.  I always hope we can find them (affordably) for our kids.  The world benefits when everyone is happily in their niche.

 

The driven academic kid is driven internally (NO prodding needed from parents or others).  I don't see depression or stress with those kids (when allowed to fly - I see it when they are held back).  In general, I see depression and stress in kids whose parents (or other outside factors) send them into niches they don't particularly like.  This may be Top 10 or it may be "no" college - no matter what - it's just "wrong" for that student.

 

Again, BTDT.  My original line of thought was that all students could do well (academically) and reach "top."  I struggled as a parent when I wasn't seeing what I wanted with one of mine. He struggled trying to fit into a niche he wasn't wired for.  The stress almost killed him and definitely wasn't worth it.  I now have redefined "top" to have different meanings for different students.  If I had only had one type of student, I'd forever wonder "why" the other side "did what they did."  It's not "doing."  It's allowing them to be who they are - whether academically driven and happy or not.

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MULTIPLE AP (this is huge),

Is this the time to mention that a student from my below average public high school made it in to Stanford (last year's MOST selective school) without any AP?  Our school doesn't offer them...

 

While I suspect most students applying to very selective schools do have them, I don't think it's a deal-breaker if everything else is there. 

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"Thus, I think it is very hard for homeschoolers to get into these really selective/elite schools - I have been told that homeschoolers, in general, don't have the same rigorous course of study that the top students who are selected to attend these schools have - and therefore have a lower rate of acceptance."

 

As a parent of kids who have been accepted at (and graduated from) top tier colleges, I have to disagree with that.

 

The acceptance rate at tippy-top schools is well below 20%. No one is a shoo-in -- including my niece, who graduated valedictorian from an uber-selective uber-expensive prep school but didn't get into any Ivies. (I assume heads rolled in that school's guidance office that year!)

 

In some ways, homeschoolers have advantages in the college admissions process. Many school say that we can send in all the supporting documents and recommendations we want! We have been able to select the best, the most awesome materials and classes for our kids, including classes at CC's and 4-year colleges. Our kids have been able to be involved in the community in ways and at times that other high schoolers can't due to lack of time or meetings during school hours. At one point a few years ago Stanford accepted homeschoolers at a higher rate than it did other students! (That was years ago and probably isn't true now since they have many more homeschoolers applying.)

 

The conversations I've had with admissions counselors (some social, others in the admissions office while my kid is having an interview) all run along the lines of "We love homeschoolers -- they are motivated and self-directed. Many of them don't bother submitting the test scores or have enough outside classes that would make us feel comfortable accepting them. Please give us ALL the information you can about your dd's education. We would love to accept more homeschoolers!"

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"Thus, I think it is very hard for homeschoolers to get into these really selective/elite schools - I have been told that homeschoolers, in general, don't have the same rigorous course of study that the top students who are selected to attend these schools have - and therefore have a lower rate of acceptance."

 

As a parent of kids who have been accepted at (and graduated from) top tier colleges, I have to disagree with that.

 

The acceptance rate at tippy-top schools is well below 20%. No one is a shoo-in -- including my niece, who graduated valedictorian from an uber-selective uber-expensive prep school but didn't get into any Ivies. (I assume heads rolled in that school's guidance office that year!)

 

In some ways, homeschoolers have advantages in the college admissions process. Many school say that we can send in all the supporting documents and recommendations we want! We have been able to select the best, the most awesome materials and classes for our kids, including classes at CC's and 4-year colleges. Our kids have been able to be involved in the community in ways and at times that other high schoolers can't due to lack of time or meetings during school hours. At one point a few years ago Stanford accepted homeschoolers at a higher rate than it did other students! (That was years ago and probably isn't true now since they have many more homeschoolers applying.)

 

The conversations I've had with admissions counselors (some social, others in the admissions office while my kid is having an interview) all run along the lines of "We love homeschoolers -- they are motivated and self-directed. Many of them don't bother submitting the test scores or have enough outside classes that would make us feel comfortable accepting them. Please give us ALL the information you can about your dd's education. We would love to accept more homeschoolers!"

:iagree: At most schools I think homeschooling is a hook - something that helps acceptance.  We've heard the same comments from admissions folks and the couple of preliminary studies I've seen (Baylor did one that someone put on here) show that homeschoolers do better in college.  I think admissions folks have taken note.

 

One does need some sort of outside confirmation of grades/ability for selective schools and the ACT/SAT for almost all schools, but I don't think one needs as much as some think if their app has attractive other things on it.

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Not throwing tomatoes, but there is a huge difference between extreme test-taking, hoop jumping, and a goal of getting into an elite university and not providing a solid college prep education. Some kids are just not cut out for 14 APs and cut-throat admissions. They are equally not equipped for the atmosphere on a campus where all the applicants meet that definition.

 

It does not mean that they aren't great students and that they won't get a great education elsewhere that accepts that for some students high school is high school.

 

I have kids that could not have functioned at the AP level during high school. I also have kids that would be bored to tears w/o being very accelerated. Why try to force them into being something they simply aren't? Perhaps your child fits into the latter category and you really don't know what it is like to have kids in the former? I can also imagine people having kids in the former not understanding kids in the latter. :) But, there is a whole range of ability, drive, and emotional maturity and all of them need to be factored in.

 

I agree 100% about not closing doors. But, all doors don't have to be the same. What you are describing about not educating daughters is simply ignorance.

Not throwing tomatoes, but there is a huge difference between extreme test-taking, hoop jumping, and a goal of getting into an elite university and not providing a solid college prep education. Some kids are just not cut out for 14 APs and cut-throat admissions. They are equally not equipped for the atmosphere on a campus where all the applicants meet that definition.

 

It does not mean that they aren't great students and that they won't get a great education elsewhere that accepts that for some students high school is high school.

 

I have kids that could not have functioned at the AP level during high school. I also have kids that would be bored to tears w/o being very accelerated. Why try to force them into being something they simply aren't? Perhaps your child fits into the latter category and you really don't know what it is like to have kids in the former? I can also imagine people having kids in the former not understanding kids in the latter. :) But, there is a whole range of ability, drive, and emotional maturity and all of them need to be factored in.

 

I agree 100% about not closing doors. But, all doors don't have to be the same. What you are describing about not educating daughters is simply ignorance.

Not disagreeing with this at all. I do NOT think all kids should take multiple APs or be forced to do things they don't want to do just to craft a good college application. However, the OP specifically asked about "good" (an obviously subjective and vague term - heaven knows there are MANY "good" colleges out there) colleges and referenced herself as having attended an Ivy League school.

 

:

 

There are different levels and types of colleges (or none) for different niches of students. Put one type into the wrong niche and they are likely to be bored or stressed. It's worth it to spend some time figuring out fit. One really can succeed (or fail) at all types.

 

The driven academic kid is driven internally (NO prodding needed from parents or others). I don't see depression or stress with those kids (when allowed to fly - I see it when they are held back). In general, I see depression and stress in kids whose parents (or other outside factors) send them into niches they don't particularly like. This may be Top 10 or it may be "no" college - no matter what - it's just "wrong" for that student.

 

Again, BTDT. My original line of thought was that all students could do well (academically) and reach "top." I struggled as a parent when I wasn't seeing what I wanted with one of mine. He struggled trying to fit into a niche he wasn't wired for. The stress almost killed him and definitely wasn't worth it. I now have redefined "top" to have different meanings for different students. If I had only had one type of student, I'd forever wonder "why" the other side "did what they did." It's not "doing." It's allowing them to be who they are - whether academically driven and happy or not.

This. All of it. :)

 

Not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Not everyone wants to attend a top tier school. But if that is what the OP and, more importantly her children, desire you can't wish away the cr@p, craziness, whatever you want to call it! that has become college admissions.

 

I 100% agree with the clipped quote from Nan's post as well.

 

As to students getting into high-ranking schools without APs - we have been told over and over again at admission sessions that the lack of APs at a school will NOT be held against a student. However, colleges are going to look at what a student did with the resources available to them. If you are in an isolated area, and a school offers no APs, and there is no CC or university near you, then yes, you are quite limited. However, if APs are not an option either because of homeschooling or lack of resources at your school but there is a decent CC or Uni down the road that allows dual enrollment....well, I think a top school will wonder why you didn't avail yourself of that opportunity. Many students also self-study for APs as well. An AP course is not required to take an AP exam. Yes, I know you have to find a school that will administer it for you.

 

I do not think this applies to ALL colleges. Not ALL students need to play the game. State schools want grades and test scores. That's about it. College is not for everyone (see Creekland's great post). Any school in the top twenty or so is a reach for EVERYONE - whether home, public, private, prep, or charter school. Yes, having all those great "outside-the-box" things is wonderful! But you better have the stuff they expect to see, too.

 

ETA: Oops! My first attempt at a multi-quote. Epic fail!

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My son's original goal was to go to a place like MIT (meaning top tier science/engineering school).  We (I) designed a program for him with that in mind.  Everything he did was with an eye toward that goal.

 

Then in the middle of 10th grade, it became apparent that homeschooling was not the best option for him.  So we enrolled him in a private school in January of that year.  

 

Mid way through 11th and one semester in to the IB diploma program, he was totally miserable.  When I discussed with the head of school our plan to withdraw him and send him to the local CC to pursue study in science, math, and engineering (his passions), she expressed concern that doing so would eliminate his chances of going to a place like MIT.  At that point I had finally come to the following realization, which I expressed to her this way in an email:

 

"Honestly, I've finally decided that I'm done with doing things just to please college admissions committees.  I figure if [son's name] follows his heart on this, the opportunities (college and otherwise) will present themselves."

 

Frankly, if a college wants to reject him because he followed his heart, then it's not the right place for him.

 

A good book on the subject (though we haven't yet tested its ideas) is How to Be a High School Superstar.

 

 

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Not disagreeing with this at all. I do NOT think all kids should take multiple APs or be forced to do things they don't want to do just to craft a good college application. However, the OP specifically asked about "good" (an obviously subjective and vague term - heaven knows there are MANY "good" colleges out there) colleges and referenced herself as having attended an Ivy League school.

 

Cynthia,

 

The other side of this is recognizing actual abilities of the child and whether or not the desire for an Ivy comes from the parent or the child.

 

We know a family that pushes, pushes, pushes their ds. Everything he does is instigated by the parents. He was pushed through Eagle (he does not even like scouts.) His afternoons are spent with tutors. He does homework until 1 am almost every day, etc. He is a nice young man, but I don't believe he has a clue who HE is. He knows what is expected of him. He goes through the motions, but when I say he has no passion.......it doesn't mean he doesn't have a specific interest.....I mean he lives life deflated. I see it as a tragedy. To be 17 and not see life as full of options but only drudgery. Is pushing him toward an Ivy in his best interests or abilities? If he is accepted into their dream school for him, it isn't really reflective of him being driven toward the goal (except as a passenger.)

 

Fwiw, I have no idea if ds will be accepted into the top schools he is applying to. His standardized test scores don't fit the profile bc of his dyslexia and our not pursuing extra time. But, he is passionate about learning and life. He is a happy young man and everything he has accomplished has been under his own ambition. All we have done is provide him the way to make his own path. If it isn't good enough for admission into an Ivy, it is what it is. He is academically capable of that level of achievement w/o prodding, pushing, or pulling. He finds it joyful. But, I would not have done anything differently over the past 3+ yrs to "market" him differently. If he is accepted, it will be bc it was all under his own volition.

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What do you mean by a "great" school?  There are a lot of good schools out there that are fairly easy to get into, just because they're not hyped.  They still provide a quality education and graduates go on to do all the things kids from the Ivies do.

 

Also, as my oldest has gone through high school and into college, I've watched her cohort.  A lot who worked REALLY hard to get into fancy schools are now burning out -- either just as they're finishing college or as they're entering grad school.  They didn't have fun.  They aren't happy.  Maybe 4 years of hard work in college is enough -- prefacing it with too much stress in the high school years made it completely unbearable and they lost all the drive to actually learn and then go on and get a job.  Sure, a rigorous high school education can be good, even fun -- but to spend all those years obsessing about getting into the right college takes all the fun of learning away.  (These were the kids parents bragged incessantly about -- talking about how much their kids were driven to do this.  Now I don't know how much of that drive was actually internal.  I wonder if the parents knew.  Some kids just aim to please, and are very good at picking up on parental signals.)

 

And forget that advice about focusing on your kid's one passion.  A lot of kids are just hopping around trying different things out.  They should.  If they have a passion, sure, follow it.  But don't force a passion on a kid just because the college admissions books say you should.  All those directionless teens out there?  Most do get into college, if they just manage to apply (and graduate from high school).  The primary job of the college counselor at our local high school these days seems to be to tell kids to stay calm -- that they WILL get in somewhere.  And it will be a place that will work for them.

 

However, I also wonder if kids in prep schools have to work extra hard to stand out if they want to get into an Ivy or something similar.  LOTS of prep school kids apply to those schools so it takes something more spectacular from one of those kids to get in.  The Ivies may not be all that interested in just replicating the prep school population.

 

Short answer to your question, though -- no -- our kids haven't gone the route of trying to impress colleges.  They just did their thing.  My oldest got some nice offers from some nice colleges.  My second may not even bother to apply to many colleges, so we'll never know.

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Cynthia,

The other side of this is recognizing actual abilities of the child and whether or not the desire for an Ivy comes from the parent or the child.

We know a family that pushes, pushes, pushes their ds. Everything he does is instigated by the parents. He was pushed through Eagle (he does not even like scouts.) His afternoons are spent with tutors. He does homework until 1 am almost every day, etc. He is a nice young man, but I don't believe he has a clue who HE is. He knows what is expected of him. He goes through the motions, but when I say he has no passion.......it doesn't mean he doesn't have a specific interest.....I mean he lives life deflated. I see it as a tragedy. To be 17 and not see life as full of options but only drudgery. Is pushing him toward an Ivy in his best interests or abilities? If he is accepted into their dream school for him, it isn't really reflective of him being driven toward the goal (except as a passenger.)

Exactly!!! Which is why I wrote the following:

 

Not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Not everyone wants to attend a top tier school. But if that is what the OP and, more importantly her children, desire you can't wish away the cr@p, craziness, whatever you want to call it! that has become college admissions.

 

If I were smart I would bold the part about her CHILDREN desiring this. But, I just figured out how to multi-quote - I am not capable of bolding yet! Ha ha!

 

My child has a reach-heavy list. He has one Ivy on his list, but only because of the strength of programming in the area he thinks he wants to study. I personally think he would have better chances at some of the other Ivies, but he is not interested in an Ivy name for the sake of an Ivy name at all. But he also has some other top twenty schools on his list as well. But this has been HIS choice, not ours. In fact, because we will be full-freight at any top school (no need for us) from a cash standpoint we'd be better off if he chooses one of the Big State U's that will give him great money! Our 25th wedding anniversary coincides with Ds's graduation year, and we have joked that we have to see where he gets accepted and where he decides to go before we can figure out an anniversary trip destination. Big State U - Europe it is! Pricey, elite school - Woo-hoo Branson here we come!!

 

The reality is we have crafted a list of nine schools based on a variety of criteria. He would be HAPPY to go to ANY of those schools. That's how a list should be crafted. There is no point in applying to a school your child doesn't want to go to just because you know they can get in or solely because they will receive merit money. BUT, there needs to be reality in the crafting of the list. The first rule on College Confidential is to "love thy safety." I like loving two safeties so there is still a choice to be made. Reality has to factor in the difficulty for anyone getting into a top school as well as financial constraints.

 

I HIGHLY recommend the book Eight First Choices. The premise is to find eight schools where you would be happy within the safety (she suggests two), match (she suggests three) and reach (she suggests two) categories in crafting one's list. There is no point in having any favorites or prioritizing until all decisions are in. it is dangerous to fall in love with a dream school or a classification of dream schools, IMO. Nothing wrong with hoping for the best and no need to be a Debbie Downer, but reality has to be at play.

 

My ds is going to have some financial reality as well. IF (huge if) he gets into a top school we likely won't be able to cover grad school for him. If he picks a less prestigious school then we can fund grad school as well (he is not going into an area where grad school is covered - post likely would be professional school, MBA, MPA, law school).

 

Also, as my oldest has gone through high school and into college, I've watched her cohort. A lot who worked REALLY hard to get into fancy schools are now burning out -- either just as they're finishing college or as they're entering grad school. They didn't have fun. They aren't happy. Maybe 4 years of hard work in college is enough -- prefacing it with too much stress in the high school years made it completely unbearable and they lost all the drive to actually learn and then go on and get a job. Sure, a rigorous high school education can be good, even fun -- but to spend all those years obsessing about getting into the right college takes all the fun of learning away. (These were the kids parents bragged incessantly about -- talking about how much their kids were driven to do this. Now I don't know how much of that drive was actually internal. I wonder if the parents knew. Some kids just aim to please, and are very good at picking up on parental signals.)

I witnessed this back in the good ole days when it wasn't as hard to get into an Ivy. I went to high school with identical twins who both wound up at Yale undergrad (mom had gone to Yale undergrad and dad had gone to Harvard undegrad). One of them had a complete breakdown and had to take a medical leave for a year. Their parents pushed, pushed, pushed when they were in high school.

 

My ds is pursuing reach schools because that is what HE wants to do. Will we be proud if gets into one and attends? Of course! But we will be just as happy if he goes to Big State U (see vacation reference above! ;) ). He pushes HIMSELF in school, but he also has a lot of fun. We have a work hard, play hard mindset around here. He does an excellent job of balancing his academics with his ECs with his fun time. What a great skill to have - he'll need that wherever he goes to college.

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A good book on the subject (though we haven't yet tested its ideas) is How to Be a High School Superstar.

 

That's the book.  I couldn't remember the name. : )  I like this book's specific directions for how to build the opportunity to do something interesting.  I think it has the emphasis in the right place - skills and putting in the work.  I don't necessarily like the emphasis on packaging oneself and doing things to impress, but I suspect this is a reality one must face if one wants to apply to one of those schools whose acceptance rate is less than 10%.  Lol we definately were not trying to do that.  Older ones wanted majors that aren't offered by that sort of school and wouldn't have survived even if they had miraculously gotten in.  Youngest might have survived (possibly) but EXACTLY LIKE OUR HIGH SCHOOL DECISION, neither he nor we wanted him to go to a school where he had to spend every single second studying to keep up with the rest of the more academically brilliant population.  That would defeat the purpose of going to an interesting school.  To our relief, he set his heart on a school where he (probably, hopefully, ... we'll see) will have time to take advantage of the cool things the school offered outside the classroom, as well as have time to do some extras within any especially interesting classes.  Just scrabbling along to pass is not much fun.  Obviously, fun isn't everything, but academic fun requires having a bit of extra energy to be curious about things.  But I'm meandering.  If you are headed for the tippy top, it is probably worth reading this book and thinking about its advice for packaging oneself, and if you aren't headed for the tippy top, then you might find still find the advice on how to create interesting opportunities for yourself helpful.

 

Nan

 

PS - I have no idea if the advice is good for tippytop, but this is what we did (without reading the book) and it worked really well for our purposes.

 

PPS - Hugs Kai.  I just spent four years being sick with worry because we weren't going down either of your first two paths.

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If I were smart I would bold the part about her CHILDREN desiring this. But, I just figured out how to multi-quote - I am not capable of bolding yet! Ha ha!

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:). I am fairly confident that we read the OP's post very differently bc you hang out on this board and I have been reading Halcyon's posts for well over a yr now on the k8 forum. Her child is only 11 and I believe in 6th grade.

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In the bigger picture, I'm wondering how easy or difficult it is at a B&M school to find the right balance such that academics do not squeeze out time for other activities such as developing-the-passion or whatever.  I've been wondering something about the AP angle, if anyone knows - how much of a difference does admissions at an elite, tippy-top school see between a student who takes, say, 3 or 4 AP exams (e.g., calc BC, English, and a couple other random ones) and another student who takes several APs (e.g., 6-8)?  Assume, in this example, the same number of SAT2 tests.  Besides calc BC, is there a particular AP that they'd especially to see? a science?  Eta, maybe I'm hypothesizing that the student with 3 APs has a greater or equal chance than the student with 6-8 if the free time allowed them to do more interesting things than the student with more APs...

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I'm of the firm belief that names of the "Top 20 Colleges" varies based upon the student looking rather than any one list one happens to find.

 

I also believe it takes work/time to figure out the names of those colleges. 

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I'm of the firm belief that names of the "Top 20 Colleges" varies based upon the student looking rather than any one list one happens to find.

 

I also believe it takes work/time to figure out the names of those colleges.

I agree. My ds's list is from hrs of researching his desired major's depts and the ability for undergraduate research. What made the top of his list would and should look very different for someone wanting a different major.

 

Honestly, if he didn't want to pursue a PhD in physics and instead was planning an engineering major, I don't think we would even be looking at any of the tippy top schools. His career aspirations are the driving force behind where he is applying.....and wanting to be at facilities with top labs and graduate level courses.

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I don't know how much difference there is in the number of APs. Again, I agree with posts about the context of the school and what is available. It's also important to note that at a B&M school the counselor will be writing your child's application letter in the context of what the school offers. "Most rigorous" are the best buzz words, I believe. If your school only offers three APs and your child takes all three that's "most rigorous," If your school offers 18 or so and your child takes three or four - well that's likely not "most rigorous." My ds is a senior and has completed five APs (six if you can't the AB Calc subscore, which schools don't, so he has six AP classes but just five exams one of which has a subpart). He is an AP Scholar with Distinction based on his scores (4s and 5s). He is taking five more APs this year, but obviously will have no scores to report with applications. No idea if that is "enough" but it would be considered "most rigorous" within his school based on the number of APs they offer and their block scheduling system.

 

I think the only places that like to see "particular" APs are engineering-type places. Most of those, I believe, want to see Math II and a science. However, there certainly is a hierarchy related to how APs are viewed. Some are perceived to be easier than others, so that may factor in as well. My ds has a couple of the "easier" ones, but a couple of his are quite tough to earn 4s or 5s in when looking at the score distribution. Chemistry is certainly tougher to obtain a 5 in than Human Geography.

 

He has chosen subject tests based on AP courses. He only has two of those. He will take more but only because Georgetown "recommends" three. Many kids take more than the required two however. No idea if his lack of more will factor in or not.

 

As many of us on this thread have said - only time will tell!

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:). I am fairly confident that we read the OP's post very differently bc you hang out on this board and I have been reading Halcyon's posts for well over a yr now on the k8 forum. Her child is only 11 and I believe in 6th grade.

Well, I missed that part!

 

Regardless, I am going to stand by my belief that if the child wants to strive for tippy top (when that time arrives) the parent should do everything possible to help the child get there. BUT, parents cannot be all pie-in-the-sky about admissions. Chances are SLIM. For everyone. Love thy safety, love thy safety, love they safety!!! Better yet, love TWO safeties!!

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It's also important to note that at a B&M school the counselor will be writing your child's application letter in the context of what the school offers. "Most rigorous" are the best buzz words, I believe. If your school only offers three APs and your child takes all three that's "most rigorous," If your school offers 18 or so and your child takes three or four - well that's likely not "most rigorous."

 

Very true for B&M schools.  Homeschoolers, however, can have far more variation and be successful.  It's 100% important that they demonstrate they have the ability to keep up at a top school, but there are many ways that can be done.  The "pool" (competition) is also smaller.  This is why I think homeschoolers can have a hook.  B&M applicants are a dime a dozen - it's more difficult to stand out.  You need oodles of what everyone else has - and then something.

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Going to an Ivy League school does not mean you are going to live happily ever after. 

 

I have a friend who graduated from University of Pennsylvania. She has a ho-hum job and has always had the same kind of job. She graduated from this amazing school but could have saved a ton of $$$ and gone to a less pricey school with the same outcome. 

 

I know people who have gone to state schools and are now multi-millionaires. 

 

I have no desire to drive my children crazy during middle/high school. 

 

They will go to college. They will be successful and no one is going to give a hoot where they went to college. 

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In the bigger picture, I'm wondering how easy or difficult it is at a B&M school to find the right balance such that academics do not squeeze out time for other activities such as developing-the-passion or whatever.  I've been wondering something about the AP angle, if anyone knows - how much of a difference does admissions at an elite, tippy-top school see between a student who takes, say, 3 or 4 AP exams (e.g., calc BC, English, and a couple other random ones) and another student who takes several APs (e.g., 6-8)?  Assume, in this example, the same number of SAT2 tests.  Besides calc BC, is there a particular AP that they'd especially to see? a science?  Eta, maybe I'm hypothesizing that the student with 3 APs has a greater or equal chance than the student with 6-8 if the free time allowed them to do more interesting things than the student with more APs...

 

(We are planning on a Jesuit high school that happens to offer many APs, taking dd to the open house in a couple months - it has crept up fast.  My general thinking is that, while time will tell if tippy-top colleges end up being a goal, if my kids are prepared to apply to a tippy-top school then I won't worry much, or worry less LOL, about admissions to less-elite but nonetheless "good" schools/programs).

 

I think it is probably still difficult.  In my extended family, the parents and children still are agonizing over the exact same choices - should I take AP Spanish or have time to solo in the chorus?  If I take AP English as well, will I still have time to do track?  Will honours English be just as bad, so I might as well do the AP?  Should I push my son to challenge himself more at school or let him continue to take it easy so he will have time to do work on blank?  I think the choices may be less structured if you homeschool, which is extra befuddling.  B&M schooled kids have the problem of fewer choices making the choices they do make more important, though.  If that makes sense.

 

Nan

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Going to an Ivy League school does not mean you are going to live happily ever after. 

 

I have a friend who graduated from University of Pennsylvania. She has a ho-hum job and has always had the same kind of job. She graduated from this amazing school but could have saved a ton of $$$ and gone to a less pricey school with the same outcome.

Just want to reiterate that out of all private schools, the Ivies and others that claim to meet 100% EFC (mostly very selective/highly selective schools) can be very affordable to many, *depending on their income*. Your friend(or if not your friend maybe her roommate) may have paid less than the cost of a state school to go there. It's a highly variable decision depending on family circumstance.

 

I am not saying that everyone should strive for the University of Pennsylvania - just wanted to put the info out there for people thinking that Ivy league or the equivalent would be completely out of the realm of affordability. It is not always so, and if it is what your student wants, you should at least do the research about your particular family situation and see if it's worth a shot.

 

Regarding the anecdote about your friend; the richest guy in my family never went to college at all. :) But, if you look up medians and averages and all that, ivy leaguers still do make higher salaries than the rest of us, on the whole. Here's one example: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/perfi/college/2011-03-05-cnbc-ivy-league_N.htm

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One thing I see with some of my local public school counseling clients is they end up taking more APs than they want to. Not because they are desperate to get into an Ivy but because the way the schools are set up the only classes with serious students at the AP classes. So, they end up taking APs for most of their core academics and rack up 10 APs which makes them live under a mountain of homework... but it is that or be in a dumbed down class with kids who don't behave well.

 

Overall I think it is much easier to have a sane, but strong college prep life, as a homeschooler because you aren't under the burden of taking APs for everything and you can pick and balance your options between homeschool, online, community college, etc. You can also skip the busy work and focus on just mastering the material.

 

My final point to consider would be that more than getting into college people need to think about paying for college. Some of the same things that make your child competitive for an elite college are the ones that make your child a good merit scholarship candidate at a good, but less elite college. So, when you hear of families who are putting some time into test prep or having their kids do a handful of APs or SAT subject tests, don't assume it is because parents have some obsession with prestige. It may be that they are perfectly happy to have their kids at the state u or mid-tier private but they'd rather do it without debt.

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