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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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Creekland, while we're on "richest person I know" anecdotes, the richest person I know (and I know many) happened to attend U of R

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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.

The top student I mentioned before (who made it in to Stanford) turned them down for a completely full ride with perks at another very good school (private).  She had her choice of several free options. 

 

Creekland, while we're on "richest person I know" anecdotes, the richest person I know (and I know many) happened to attend U of R

:hurray:   Maybe there's hope for my guy providing me with a personal chef and a private island after all!  ;)

 

I suppose that's AFTER we pay for med school though.

 

The wealthiest person I know IRL never went to college... he was a farmer who sold land, some of his plus other investments.  Actually, I think one of my sister's classmates will have him beat, since he's in Hollywood (TV).  He went to USMA.  Some who are more into TV than I am might be able to guess who he is from that clue as I doubt many went from USMA to TV.  I've no clue as to his personal fortune though.  I do know how much the farmer sold his investments for (public info published in newspapers here).

 

I'll admit to not knowing many wealthy folks...

 

I do wonder how much the higher income from top schools comes from having family "ins" to high paying jobs rather than making it on their own with normal networking.  I've no idea, but it seems plausible.

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Something that I've noticed from talking to American friends is the amount of hours that playing a sport or being in an orchestra seems to involve.  Of course, there will be people who have extraordinary talent and who will want to spend three or four hours on it every day.  But I really like the way that I was able to be in a school play, play the violin, sing in the school choir, play in the orchestra, and still devote a lot of time to academics.  

 

Calvin's school has a similar pattern: he sings in the school choir (75 minutes a week) and the show choir (75 minutes a week); he is a member of the jazz band (an hour a week) and takes bass guitar lessons (45 minutes plus practice).  He volunteers in the library (45 minutes) and goes running (an hour or two).  All of these are fun and enriching, but he's able to do them at a level that doesn't eat up his life.

 

All those experiences are going into his university application essay.  But he didn't do any of them for that purpose, and none of them have got in the way of a time-consuming and rigorous education (IB).

 

L

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I do wonder how much the higher income from top schools comes from having family "ins" to high paying jobs rather than making it on their own with normal networking.  I've no idea, but it seems plausible.

 

FWIW, in my anecdote, the individual does not come from a family of wealth or connections (e.g., had zero financial contribution from the family for college).  I hope the U of R financial aid packages are as generous now as they were then.  After college, this person headed to NYC and made his own connections.  (In any event, sorry but med school was not involved :tongue_smilie:)

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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.

I'm sure many, many people looking at our family think that our children "played" the game by taking more APs than the average. Yeah well, they also were accepted everywhere they applied and received substantial merit awards, in all cases either the largest or next-to-largest awards possible, varying from full tuition to half tuition. The schools were large research universities, smaller private universities (American, William & Mary), and LACs of all flavors including some from CTCL.

 

And I'm sure people are rolling their eyes and huffing at the thought of what we are "forcing" our eighth grader to study.

 

We all want to do what is best for our children.

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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've read some interesting research on this. There are all of these studies that show that, in general, people who go to the most selective, most prestigious colleges earn more money and do better on a variety of measures. However, it was only recently that someone noticed those studies had failed to isolate some pretty significant variables: an individual's own competence and personality traits.

 

There have now been a couple of studies that compared the lives of people who were accepted to Ivy League and similar universities but chose to go elsewhere with those of people who actually graduated from those schools. And it turned out there were no measurable differences.

 

In other words, it's possible that the idea that attending one of "those colleges" provides a significant advantage may be largely a red herring. The brightest, most enthusiastic, most capable and driven students -- traits that happen to overlap with things that tend to make one successful in seeking admission to the most highly selective schools -- did about as well over their lifetimes, regardless of which institution's name appeared on their degrees.

 

Obviously, there are a relatively small number of majors/careers/specialties for which name recognition may matter more. But for most of us, it matters a whole lot less than we tend to think.

 

I always tell my kids that, barring some really dismal situations, a great education is available at pretty much any college, if you as a student are willing to go seek it out.

 

For what it's worth, which may not be anything, I have not put pressure on either of my kids to "play the game." I'm aware of the rules. In fact, I've spent a lot of time and energy researching those rules. I've read pretty much every book our county library system has about college admissions and can recite all kinds of advice about getting into elite colleges. However, I do that because:

 

1. I find it interesting.

2. I consider it my job, as my kids' guidance counselor, to understand the expectations they will face heading into the admissions process.

 

I don't think I have ever -- with the exception of nudging about test preparation -- pressured either of mine to do something "because it will look good on an application."

 

As someone else said, I instead encourage them to get out into the world and be interesting, interested people who enjoy doing interesting things. And I quietly keep their records and make notes to myself about how I might "package" that information when the time comes.

 

Of course, neither of mine aimed at an Ivy. My daughter was in a special situation. She applied to exactly one school, because it had a program that accommodated her needs. She was accepted, enrolled and graduated in four years.

 

My son is looking for some pretty specific things in a college, also, but will have a few more choices than his sister. Because money is a more pressing issue for us this time around, my plan is for him to apply to good-but-not-highly-selective schools with an application package that presents him as a student who could aim higher. (And he could, but we have yet to find any super prestigious school that actually offers the program and training he wants, anyway.) My hope is that this will result not only in enough admissions to give him choices about which school to attend, but also enough merit aid for us to be able to pay for the one he picks.

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I started to reply twice now and just erased them because I was just reiterating what others were saying. However, I find myself drawn to this thread, so I figured I should just post and get it out of my system. :lol:

 

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. 

 

This is us.

 

Ds could have jumped through the hoops in order to apply to a tip top school, but he chose not to for several reasons. First, he didn't want the kind of stress that involved (all the testing--- he hates testing) and bothering people for LORs (he hates asking for those). Another reason is the distance. Only one school is within a 4 hour drive of us (ds' distance preference) that would be considered a "wow" school. Like all (most?) the tippy top schools, the only 'aid' given is either for the star kid who cured cancer or who built houses for an entire village in one weekend out of trees they felled themselves with a pocket knife, OR it is given to those whose family income falls under a threshold. Since ds is your fairly common "white-born-upper-middle-class-non-stand-out-academic-but-who-took-a-rigorous-high-school-courseload-and-has-done-very-well" kid, the tip top schools, if they admitted him, wouldn't offer a dime. Plus, they wouldn't have taken his cc classes nor his AP score (loads of cc classes, one AP class).

 

Ds instead chose to attend a state uni with a very good regional reputation (engineering). He recieved a great scholarship based on his ACT score, and every one of his cc classes transferred. Because of the scholarship, we should be able to cash flow his entire degree (mostly some room and board). He should graduate with no debt.

 

For us, this made the better choice. If things hold steady, he will have no debt, and we will have no debt. He will have a good (great?) paying job, and he wasn't driven crazy during high school (mostly) trying to be the 'at the top'. :tongue_smilie:

 

Had he chosen the nearby private school, he would have needed a ton of tests and LORs just to *apply*. Chances are he would have been accepted (what private school doesn't want a full-pay kid with good stats?), but man, oh man, $60K per year for tuition and room & board, not including incidentals? Nope, no thank you. Plus, grads from that school work at the same places as grads from the uni ds attends now, and they all start at the same salary. The company ds interned at over the summer had grads from GA Tech, VA Tech, Ds' uni, local uni, and the "Big Name Private" all making the standard new-hire salary.  Over time, maybe it will differ, but will it have been worth all the cost & stress? Probably not for us/ds.

 

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

 

Very good point. We qualify for zippo, but I am always quick to point out when I hear others talking about the cost of college not to ignore the private schools. One of our friends is paying scant more for their child's private uni than we are for our son's. They qualified for aid-based scholarships where we didn't.

 

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.

 

This is the way it is at our local high school. The school is constantly on the list of Top 100 high schools in the US, but they have the AP track or the "regular" track. Back when I was in school, the "regular" track would have been remedial.

 

Because the kids in the 'regular' track aren't serious about school and tend to disrupt class and drop out, if my kids had been in public school, they would have felt pressured to take the AP track, and I guarantee you that they would have burned out. It is *required* that AP students take the test, and once you are *registered* for the AP class, there is *no* dropping back to a regular class. Also, if one takes AP World History, all history classes forward MUST be AP, so that would mean AP European History, and APUSH. It's insane.

 

Because of that policy, the The kids are just so, so burned out, and my kids panicked when they thought they would have to go there. On the soccer teams, my kids hear story after story about the stress involved. Not to mention that the AP scores aren't "all that" in my book. I would rather see lots of 4s and 5s, but the combined number of 4s and 5s don't add up to more than the combined total of 1s, 2s, and 3s. That tells me that an awful lot of the kids in the AP classes are really "regular kids" looking for an honest-to-goodness good education and don't need/aren't ready for the actual AP class and what its goal is.

 

Tha part I bolded is what we did (see my reply in this post above your quote box).

 

Until an Ivy education guarantees lifetime employment at a great salary, we won't be considering that for our family. We prefer the best education at the lowest cost. That doesn't mean I think those who take loans to attend are necessarily wooed by an Ivy League name/crazy/whatever. It just means that for *my family* we choose something different.
 

 

 

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Y'all posted while I was typing my "book". LOL.

 

I'm sure many, many people looking at our family think that our children "played" the game by taking more APs than the average. Yeah well, they also were accepted everywhere they applied and received substantial merit awards, in all cases either the largest or next-to-largest awards possible, varying from full tuition to half tuition. The schools were large research universities, smaller private universities (American, William & Mary), and LACs of all flavors including some from CTCL.

And I'm sure people are rolling their eyes and huffing at the thought of what we are "forcing" our eighth grader to study.

We all want to do what is best for our children.

 

This is us, but we went with cc since it is almost impossible to find a place here that will allow a hser to take an AP test-- in fact, the closest place I have found is two hours away. I routinely have people tell me that we "do a lot" or "I'm too hard". I am just structuring a rigorous education for my kids. If I didn't 'push' a bit, they would be couch potatoes with a remedial education.

 

How many times can I "like" the bolded? :thumbup1:

 

I've read some interesting research on this. There are all of these studies that show that, in general, people who go to the most selective, most prestigious colleges earn more money and do better on a variety of measures. However, it was only recently that someone noticed those studies had failed to isolate some pretty significant variables: an individual's own competence and personality traits.

 

There have now been a couple of studies that compared the lives of people who were accepted to Ivy League and similar universities but chose to go elsewhere with those of people who actually graduated from those schools. And it turned out there were no measurable differences.

 

In other words, it's possible that the idea that attending one of "those colleges" provides a significant advantage may be largely a red herring. The brightest, most enthusiastic, most capable and driven students -- traits that happen to overlap with things that tend to make one successful in seeking admission to the most highly selective schools -- did about as well over their lifetimes, regardless of which institution's name appeared on their degrees.

 

Obviously, there are a relatively small number of majors/careers/specialties for which name recognition may matter more. But for most of us, it matters a whole lot less than we tend to think.

 

I always tell my kids that, barring some really dismal situations, a great education is available at pretty much any college, if you as a student are willing to go seek it out.

 

For what it's worth, which may not be anything, I have not put pressure on either of my kids to "play the game." I'm aware of the rules. In fact, I've spent a lot of time and energy researching those rules. I've read pretty much every book our county library system has about college admissions and can recite all kinds of advice about getting into elite colleges. However, I do that because:

 

1. I find it interesting.

2. I consider it my job, as my kids' guidance counselor, to understand the expectations they will face heading into the admissions process.

 

I don't think I have ever -- with the exception of nudging about test preparation -- pressured either of mine to do something "because it will look good on an application."

 

As someone else said, I instead encourage them to get out into the world and be interesting, interested people who enjoy doing interesting things. And I quietly keep their records and make notes to myself about how I might "package" that information when the time comes.

 

Of course, neither of mine aimed at an Ivy. My daughter was in a special situation. She applied to exactly one school, because it had a program that accommodated her needs. She was accepted, enrolled and graduated in four years.

 

My son is looking for some pretty specific things in a college, also, but will have a few more choices than his sister. Because money is a more pressing issue for us this time around, my plan is for him to apply to good-but-not-highly-selective schools with an application package that presents him as a student who could aim higher. (And he could, but we have yet to find any super prestigious school that actually offers the program and training he wants, anyway.) My hope is that this will result not only in enough admissions to give him choices about which school to attend, but also enough merit aid for us to be able to pay for the one he picks.

 

I really like your post. Your observations about "Ivy vs State" (my words for simplicity's sake) have been ours, as well.

 

Dh interviews people for highly technical senior-level jobs. He is part of a team of interviewers, since the people they look for need certain skills and it helps to have several opinions. He says that without fail, he and the others look at job history. The college comes up more as a "oh, I went there, or so-and-so went there" sort of thing. It does not play into the hiring process. In his (and the others on the hiring team) experience, the college you went to helps get you your first job, but after that, it's the name you make for yourself in your career. Not too long ago, they interviewed an MIT grad (I think it was) and wound up hiring a grad from our state U. The guy from our state U was a better fit for the job. The MIT guy didn't have a 'leg up' just because of school's name on his resume. The salary would have been the same no matter who they hired.

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At this point in the discussion, I feel like somebody ought to point out that for some students, AP classes are a lifesaver. They are the only place where they are challenged and receive recognition for their hard work. Extended family is very grateful that AP classes exist. They aren't sure they want their children to take nothing but AP classes because of the workload involved. I am sure there are some students out there for whom all AP classes is the closest their school system is able to come to providing something like a good education. And who can blame colleges for latching onto such a quantifiable way of rating lots of unknown students from unknown schools? They are hoping to get that outlier student for whom lots of AP's are a pleasant challenge, rather than the ones who have lots of AP's because they are pushed and aren't spending any energy on anything else. It is sort of like the problem of grade inflation.

 

Halcyon - Don't rule out AP classes or any of the other "pushy" things entirely. It may turn out to be the right path for your child. But also, be reassured that there is no reason to take that path if it isn't the right one. There are lots of very good (just not tippytop) colleges that are small enough that they can take the time to assess a less than standard application packet. And be reassured that many of us hit the point where you are now, the I-don't-think-this-is-right-for-my-family point. Concentrate on doing lots of interesting things, getting a good solid high school education (whatever that may mean to you), and aquiring good solid academic skills so your child will be able to survive college when he gets there, or if he chooses not to go, will be able to continue educating himself the rest of his life. Go to the library and look at some of books of colleges that offer an alternatives to the US News top ten. Try to find some where the students are doing interesting things and are lively and active, not apathetic. There are lots of them. Many of them have acceptance rates between 30% and 70% and are places where the students didn't kill themselves getting in. Or kill anybody else in the sort of cutthroat competativeness that leads them to sabotage their classmates and other nastiness. There are some really nice schools on the list of test-optional schools. They probably won't be test-optional for homeschoolers, but being on the list gives you some indication of the application process. The most apathetic college I know doesn't appear in any of those library books except the huge Boston phone-book sized one. Try not to worry. : )

 

Nan

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My older two just started in our local community college. They're 15 and 17.  Each student (no matter their age or if they have a high school diploma or not) has to take the same placement test.  It tests Reading, Writing and Math.  You must be at least 13 years old.  Once you finish the test you are given a list of classes in each subject you're eligible to take.  They have high school level classes and regular college level 101 classes and up.

 

Students are considered minors until they turn 16.  Minors are required to see a guidance counselor and need permission from the professor to enroll in the class (because of adult content issues and maturity levels required to not harm yourself or others in science classes.) It's easy to get it. Ours has a large population of minor students-some homeschooled, so not.  It's a homeschool friendly place.

Our community college is a well oiled machine for what class credits are accepted at our 3 state universities (ASU, NAU, UofA) and what most state universities accept across the nation.  Students only need a certain number of accepted community college credits to transfer to a state university. That's it.

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I find it interesting how parents' college experiences play into how they guide their children through the college process. Both my Dh and I lived at home while we completed our undergraduate degrees and used the money we saved on living expenses to spend several semesters abroad and travel extensively during the summer. Unless our children are passionate about following a different path, we think that sticking close to home for undergrad is the best option. We live within walking distance of a "Public Ivy", where our oldest attends, and within 30 miles of two other public universities.

 

Ds15 has been interested in going to a specific Ivy League school for several years. We're supportive of this, because it is truly something he wants, not something he's expected to do or pushed toward. He's very bright and well-rounded, so he'll have a solid (somewhat unique) transcript, good test scores, and a few APs and SAT IIs to validate his grades. Beyond that, it's really up to him to set himself apart from the pack. Whether he gets into his top choice or not, I'm confident that he'll get into a "good" school. If he does well there, he can always apply to his dream college for graduate school. 

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Just to answer the OP's question - yes.

 

None of ours have played the "college admissions" game the way it is described in those articles.  Both of my older two are at good schools and DD19 has a full ride scholarship based on her ACT score.  DS17 has already been accepted to one of his choices for next year - we are just waiting to see what aid is offered.  My kids were involved in a variety of activities in high school - all their own choices, btw.  Music, scouts, volunteer work - all things they would have been doing even if college wasn't in the picture for them.  And they all have had plenty of time to goof off, hold down a part-time job and hang out with their friends.  None of them ever did SAT or ACT prep, but that's mostly because all three of them test well.

 

So - yes, it is quite possible to get into a good school without going all insane about it.

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I don't plan to play the game to the extent we all go insane.  Nope.  Don't really care if my kids get into a top notch/ivy league school because there is no way in hell we can afford that. 

 

Another angle though, IMO, is to be unusual.  Meaning, you aren't the star athlete with perfect grades who is president of 10 clubs.  But...you traveled as a homeschooler with your trucker mom for years and learned the trucker culture (a story I heard on NPR of a girl who got into Harvard).

 

Going insane and selling my soul to the devil (figuratively) is not a route I plan for my children to take. 

 

 

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 My kids were involved in a variety of activities in high school - all their own choices, btw.  Music, scouts, volunteer work - all things they would have been doing even if college wasn't in the picture for them.  

 

So - yes, it is quite possible to get into a good school without going all insane about it.

 

:iagree:    I agree, based on our experience, that it is quite possible to get into a good school without going "all insane". (Perfect terminology, btw!)   My ds is thriving at a small LAC, with a nice merit scholarship and very unique opportunities (studying in Iceland last summer, being listed as a co-author on academic papers at the end of his freshman year).  He didn't take a single AP or SATII.  He only took the ACT once, took hard classes and got A's at community college (calculus, chemistry, economics), and did things he thought interesting.  Sure he closed the door on certain colleges through his high school choices, but knew those colleges wouldn't suit him.  

 

The part I bolded above is especially important.  Admissions counselors must see thousands of applications padded with all kinds of activities designed simply to impress, and those applicants must start morphing into a homogeneous blur.  A teen who does something he loves, sticks to something out of passion, would be a welcome breath of fresh air.   

 

One point that hasn't been brought up yet on this thread is that there are hundreds upon hundreds of good schools in this country.  And while admissions statistics makes it look like it is more and more competitive, there are still many good schools that have high acceptance rates.  The birth rates didn't exactly explode in the late 90s, did they?  There isn't a shortage of spots on campus because of a huge bump in the population, there are just more students applying to 10 or more colleges.   Look at the lists of schools our WTM kids are getting into, read Colleges That Change Lives, and consider the very viable option of transferring from community college.

 

By the way, all of you with 13yos who posted you are worried that your kids lack any kind of passion -- relax!!  Not many 13yos have any passion of kind.  They may not discover a passion until late in high school, or you may have to arrange some different volunteer opportunities or activities for them to try til they discover something that clicks.  And 13 is often NOT the age to start unless there is something specific they want to do.   Give them time to come back out of their puberty shell, time to mature into wanting to be part of the greater world out there.     

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My kids did lots of APs, etc. as a way of demonstrating what they had learned.  We studied the material for the sake of learning; they took the test to prove it to a college.  You can call that "jumping through hoops" I guess, but why not do it?

 

As far as why we encouraged our kids to apply to Ivies:  It had NOTHING to do with how much money they'd earn.  We wanted them to be at a place where they'd be stimulated by other students and get the best education possible.

 

Remember the recent thread (maybe it was on the college board) about having to do labs and group projects with unmotivated slackers?  My kids have never, ever run into that at Harvard or Princeton.  They are surrounded by kids who are motivated to succeed.  Isn't that enough of a reason to jump through a few hoops????

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Remember the recent thread (maybe it was on the college board) about having to do labs and group projects with unmotivated slackers?  My kids have never, ever run into that at Harvard or Princeton.  They are surrounded by kids who are motivated to succeed.  Isn't that enough of a reason to jump through a few hoops????

 

Well, my son is at a small LAC, one of the schools described in Colleges that Change Lives and he is also surrounded by students who are motivated to succeed.  No name brand prestige, but an excellent education with like-minded students led by faculty who are passionate about teaching undergrads. Interesting, too, that it is a school filled with the offspring of faculty of top-tier and Ivy schools.  

 

But I totally agree with your point that your kids learned material for the sake of learning and just used APs as a means of demonstrating that.  It is the same message we veterans all seem to want to convey in this thread.  

 

That message?   Give your high school students the kind of education you want to give them regardless of what you think the college admissions officers want, full of activities and solid academics.  If you are a regular here on the WTM boards you are likely a very conscientious homeschool parent with high standards. And the high school years are a special time in life that is worth savoring without constantly feeling stressed and frantic about college admissions.   It is simply a matter of figuring out, as Regentrude so succinctly put it,  how to package your student.   Start with the idea that any and every college is a possibility and winnow things down as your child matures and you both get a feel for what kind of school will fit.  

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Remember the recent thread (maybe it was on the college board) about having to do labs and group projects with unmotivated slackers?  My kids have never, ever run into that at Harvard or Princeton.  They are surrounded by kids who are motivated to succeed.  Isn't that enough of a reason to jump through a few hoops????

If it fits your students, sure it's enough of a reason, though FWIW, middle son hasn't hit that either at his 4 year - he did see it at cc.  Oldest never needed lab sciences for his major, so I'm unsure if he's seen it there. 

 

Youngest detests "book learning" unless it's a subject he really enjoys (then he's super motivated).  He would not do well at any school with high emphasis on reading, but he'll (likely) do superbly at a more "hands on" college in a field he enjoys.  Therefore, his "best" is not in a typical "Top 10" unless you search for a list solely ranking his major.

 

 

Give your high school students the kind of education you want to give them regardless of what you think the college admissions officers want, full of activities and solid academics.  If you are a regular here on the WTM boards you are likely a very conscientious homeschool parent with high standards. And the high school years are a special time in life that is worth savoring without constantly feeling stressed and frantic about college admissions.   It is simply a matter of figuring out, as Regentrude so succinctly put it,  how to package your student.   Start with the idea that any and every college is a possibility and winnow things down as your child matures and you both get a feel for what kind of school will fit.  

:iagree:   No path or college is right or wrong in itself - it's only in one category or the other when matched with the student.

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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!"

 

I am glad to hear that you have had a different experience, personally, with top tier colleges, because the latter part of my sentence ..."I have been told that homeschoolers...acceptance." -   is taken directly from an email I personally received from a homeschool admissions officer from a "fairly" selective school (acceptance rate somewhere around 30%). Maybe it is just this particular school that has a lower acceptance rate based on their perception/assessment of homeschoolers as compared to B&M students.

 

 

 

 

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My kids did lots of APs, etc. as a way of demonstrating what they had learned. We studied the material for the sake of learning; they took the test to prove it to a college. You can call that "jumping through hoops" I guess, but why not do it?

 

As far as why we encouraged our kids to apply to Ivies: It had NOTHING to do with how much money they'd earn. We wanted them to be at a place where they'd be stimulated by other students and get the best education possible.

 

Remember the recent thread (maybe it was on the college board) about having to do labs and group projects with unmotivated slackers? My kids have never, ever run into that at Harvard or Princeton. They are surrounded by kids who are motivated to succeed. Isn't that enouugh of a reason to jump through a few hoops????

I agree but with qualification. What about high school students that are simply not ready for AP type classes? What might be uninspiring and below level for some might be the right level for others. Those lower level kids can still be highly motivated to succeed. Simply bc they are not ready for APs does not translate into their being slackers.

 

My 19 yr old dd is absolutely nothing like her 17 yr old brother when it comes to being accelerated. She plodded through school at a very normal pace, struggled with learning to write coherently, is a good but not advanced math student, is a horrible "stresser" tester (the kind that you have to pull over to the side of the road so they can throw up on the way), etc, BUT she is hard- working, diligent, and determined.

 

She would never fit in at a school like Princeton or Harvard. And, that is perfectly fine. She has found her own path and is excelling where she is. (And is in a program that she told us over the holiday weekend had over 200 applicants, they only accepted 35 and 2 have already dropped out.)

 

Our ds, otoh, would be ready to poke his eyes out if he had to progress at dd's pace. APs, 200-300 level college classes, 8-10 credits per yr at least, multiple science courses every yr.......that is normal for him. It is as normal for him as dd's completely avg classes were for her. (Eta: to be completely fair to dd, i should clarify that my definition of "avg" would probably be honors level in most schools. ) It isn't as if he spends his days putting in triple the hrs and working triply hard.

 

At some pt innate intelligence and ability have to be factored in. All motivated individuals are not going to be capable of the same levels of achievement. Our ds is a very hard worker. He is not skating through his classes. BUT simply bc he has achieved much higher levels at much younger ages does not prove that he is more hard- working than his sister.

 

Anyway, for our ds, taking exams, hoop-jumping, whatever you want to label it, it fits him. Those types of schools are where he is going to find peers on his intellectual level. That type of school would have crushed our dd. Our oldest ds who is now a chemical engineer is more like his brother than his sister, but he still was not his younger brother. He also would not have fit in at Princeton or Harvard. But, he thrived at the university he went to and graduated near the top of his class. The companies that recruited him recruit from top engineering schools around the country as well. He still had an excellent education, was not surrounded by slackers, and industry respects the graduates from his university.

 

It is the either--or factor that disturbs me. Not all kids are or should be on the same path. That doesn't make the other paths wrong. I'm extremely proud of my 12th graders accomplishments. But I am just as equally proud of my oldest ds's and dd's. All of them strive to be the best they personally can be. That is all you can hope for as a parent.

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I am glad to hear that you have had a different experience, personally, with top tier colleges, because the latter part of my sentence ..."I have been told that homeschoolers...acceptance." -   is taken directly from an email I personally received from a homeschool admissions officer from a "fairly" selective school (acceptance rate somewhere around 30%). Maybe it is just this particular school that has a lower acceptance rate based on their perception/assessment of homeschoolers as compared to B&M students.

My homeschooler is at a school with an approx. acceptance rate of 30%.  He was homeschooled from 7th to 12th.  He had high stats (top 25% for ACT), two APs (though only one test score - 5 - at application time), three DE classes (only grades for two - As - at application time).  He did not submit (or take) SAT or SAT II tests/scores.  All but the DE classes were completed at home.

 

He also received a high merit aid award (not the school's highest, but higher than many, unusually high for the type of scholarship it is), high need-based aid (characteristic of this school), and has been doing VERY well since there (one A-, the rest As taking what was considered a "tough" schedule).

 

The only potential "hooks" he had were homeschooling and a rural zip code.

 

YMMV

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It is the either--or factor that disturbs me. Not all kids are or should be on the same path. That doesn't make the other paths wrong. I'm extremely proud of my 12th graders accomplishments. But I am just as equally proud of my oldest ds's and dd's. All of them strive to be the best they personally can be. That is all you can hope for as a parent.

Same here...  One should be just as happy/proud of the Top 10 student as they are of the "no college" student if they are doing their best in a niche that fits them.  Some segments of society like to put people on a ladder based upon labels or $$.  Yuck!  Folks should be placed on the ladder for many other things (people skills, assisting society, fulfilling their niche well, etc), but not due to labels or $$. 

 

I have no problem congratulating those with high scores or who get accepted to low percentage acceptance colleges, but my congratulations are no different than those I offer to students who get winning scores in sports, play a great piece on an instrument, do a wonderful community service project, work to help support their family, or anything else that they are particularly talented at.  To each their niche - and do it well while keeping some great people/life skills if possible.

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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!!!

 

No tomatoes here.  So, I'm on the opposite side of this little fence in two ways.  I am the above mother in that I'd love for my daughters to get married, have babies, and be home to enjoy them.  However, I "translate" it a little differently, lol.  IMO, I need to prepare her EVEN MORE because I want her to get a good education so that she doesn't have student debt so that she CAN stay home with her kiddos.

 

My DH and I put ourselves through school.  I didn't finish.  He put himself through for his B.A., his M.B.A. and his M.S. in two areas.  He was supporting a family at the time, working a full time job, and sometimes delivering pizzas.  We still have student loan debt.  

 

I'm reading this about not playing the games, and we didn't.  No APs.  No primping.  But I have to tell you, I'm working on transcripts today and I'm deeply regretting it.  She had a great education.  She's an amazing girl.  I'm not worried one bit about her getting in - her essays will be fantastic, her grades are awesome, her SATs in Reading and Writing were stellar, Math was sufficient.  She'll get in.  But her school of choice is $28,000.

 

$28,000 x 4?  That's a hefty load for someone who wants to get married and stay home and homeschool her kiddos.  She's going.  We'll bleed to make it happen.  And we want her at a small, private, Christian university. 

 

But we didn't play the game and we are going to pay for it.  She'll get in to where she wants to go, but it's going to cost us for not primping.

 

But I'm also willing to admit that if we had done all of the fluff to make her resume loaded with things she didn't really care about ...  Well, maybe I'd be sitting on that side of the green grass thinking it was astro-turf???  I wonder..........

 

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No tomatoes here.  So, I'm on the opposite side of this little fence in two ways.  I am the above mother in that I'd love for my daughters to get married, have babies, and be home to enjoy them.  However, I "translate" it a little differently, lol.  IMO, I need to prepare her EVEN MORE because I want her to get a good education so that she doesn't have student debt so that she CAN stay home with her kiddos.

 

My DH and I put ourselves through school.  I didn't finish.  He put himself through for his B.A., his M.B.A. and his M.S. in two areas.  He was supporting a family at the time, working a full time job, and sometimes delivering pizzas.  We still have student loan debt.  

 

I'm reading this about not playing the games, and we didn't.  No APs.  No primping.  But I have to tell you, I'm working on transcripts today and I'm deeply regretting it.  She had a great education.  She's an amazing girl.  I'm not worried one bit about her getting in - her essays will be fantastic, her grades are awesome, her SATs in Reading and Writing were stellar, Math was sufficient.  She'll get in.  But her school of choice is $28,000.

 

$28,000 x 4?  That's a hefty load for someone who wants to get married and stay home and homeschool her kiddos.  She's going.  We'll bleed to make it happen.  And we want her at a small, private, Christian university. 

 

But we didn't play the game and we are going to pay for it.  She'll get in to where she wants to go, but it's going to cost us for not primping.

 

But I'm also willing to admit that if we had done all of the fluff to make her resume loaded with things she didn't really care about ...  Well, maybe I'd be sitting on that side of the green grass thinking it was astro-turf???  I wonder..........

 

 

I wouldn't dismiss the idea of scholarship $$.   Our dd that I referred to the post a couple above yours received $18,000 in scholarship offers from one school and $15000 from another.   She had no APs, a couple of dual enrollment courses, and completely avg SAT scores.   These were both small LACs and one is in  the Colleges that Change Lives book.

 

There are 100s of schools out there and there are schools that recruit students like these.   (btw, one was a small Christian school in VA, Ferrum College.  My parents retired in that area.   It is beautiful.   When they were still alive, we would visit them quite a bit and the church we would go to was just down the road from Ferrum.   Small community.   Very rural.   But, if dd had decided to go that route (she did't), she could have been very happy there.  THe other was not Christian.)

 

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I wouldn't dismiss the idea of scholarship $$.   Our dd that I referred to the post a couple above yours received $18,000 in scholarship offers from one school and $15000 from another.   She had no APs, a couple of dual enrollment courses, and completely avg SAT scores.   These were both small LACs and one is in  the Colleges that Change Lives book.

 

 

In my panic this morning, this post just kind of hit me off kilter. ;)  I'm wracking my brain trying to think of how to convey to the admins exactly HOW FREAKING AWESOME she is.    Do they do face to face interviews, lol?  That would really do it. ;)

 

Frankly, with a $28K price tag, even $15K per year is simply out of our budget to pay for her.  She's willing to do work study, but there's no way we can do $1,000 per month which is going to leave her with loan debt.  Sigh.  Yes, today I'm wishing I had played the game. 

 

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Frankly, with a $28K price tag, even $15K per year is simply out of our budget to pay for her.  She's willing to do work study, but there's no way we can do $1,000 per month which is going to leave her with loan debt.  Sigh.  Yes, today I'm wishing I had played the game.

Disclaimer: Please don't take this post as any kind of advice. :) Just a PSA....

 

There are usually scholarships and grants available to kids who are already enrolled at a school... I have been researching some for my dd who is a frosh this year. There are not many scholarships available for first-years at her school, but there are many for sophs and up. (Of course there are 14,000 undergrads there, so what are the odds? But it's worth our time to investigate....)

 

Again... not trying to advise you to send or not send your daughter to a particular school, but if you and she are determined that she go to her top choice school, she may be able to lessen the economic 'damage' by applying for scholarships and grants after she is in attendance, especially if she does well. (Plus, there's always RAing, etc.) If she researches now, she'll have an idea of what to aim for....

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In my panic this morning, this post just kind of hit me off kilter. ;)  I'm wracking my brain trying to think of how to convey to the admins exactly HOW FREAKING AWESOME she is.    Do they do face to face interviews, lol?  That would really do it. ;)

 

Frankly, with a $28K price tag, even $15K per year is simply out of our budget to pay for her.  She's willing to do work study, but there's no way we can do $1,000 per month which is going to leave her with loan debt.  Sigh.  Yes, today I'm wishing I had played the game. 

 

Have you checked your EFC to see what it  is?

 

Oldest is in his senior year at a small Christian LAC (and loving it there).  He was homeschooled from 9th - 12th, had decent/high ACT (vs high/high), a great GPA, no AP, one DE (taken senior year, so without a grade at application time, though he did use that prof for an LOR), and normal ECs.  He still got nice merit aid (his ACT was in their top 25%) and decent need based aid.

 

His only hooks would be our location (12 hours from the school) and perhaps the rural zip code.  This school has a lot of homeschoolers, so I doubt that was a hook.

 

For both middle and oldest we still paid our EFC or close to it and both boys have "basic" student loans.  We have no parent loans.  Both boys could have gone to schools costing us a LOT more, but we opted for decent finances and looked for schools likely to offer that when applying.  Both ended up at their first choice...

 

I still have youngest to go, and quite frankly, I'm concerned that he's coming from ps.  If he had been willing to continue homeschooling, I'd like his odds for finances better.  I'm pretty sure his scores + stats would have been higher too.

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In my panic this morning, this post just kind of hit me off kilter. ;)  I'm wracking my brain trying to think of how to convey to the admins exactly HOW FREAKING AWESOME she is.    Do they do face to face interviews, lol?  That would really do it. ;)

 

Frankly, with a $28K price tag, even $15K per year is simply out of our budget to pay for her.  She's willing to do work study, but there's no way we can do $1,000 per month which is going to leave her with loan debt.  Sigh.  Yes, today I'm wishing I had played the game. 

 

 

I'm just going to be honest and say that  "playing the game" still would not ensure scholarship $$ that would make it completely affordable.   For example, U Alabama is often sited as having great scholarship $$ based on ACT/SAT scores. 

 

For example: A first-time freshman student who meets the December 15 scholarship priority deadline, has a 30–36 ACT or 1330–1600 SAT score (critical reading and math scores only) and at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA will be selected as a Presidential Scholar and will receive the value of tuition or $37,800 over four years ($9,450 per year).

 

But then factor in food  $1580 + room $4400 PER semester, and that is a whopping $11,960 just for room/board.   Nuts.

 

There are very few students attending school on full scholarship and there is no guarantee that whatever you do will get you there.   (our sr has 5s on APs, 750 up scores on SAT 2s, has multiple 200-300 level college classes with a 4.0 and fabulous LOR b/c has a high school student he has made the highest grade in those classes.......and we are stressing how we will pay for him to attend college.   He wasn't playing a game.   He is just that strong of a student.   But there is zero guarantee he will get enough scholarship $$ for it to be affordable for us.)

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It's worth it for students with high stats to try other schools as well.  My guy applied to (and got) the full tuition scholarship at Alabama.  They ended up being his 3rd least expensive option and both of the others are higher ranked.  ;)  Of course, ranking only goes so far - fit means more - but many with high stats "stop" with UA thinking that's the best they are going to do (financially or academically) and it isn't always true (sometimes it can be).  The Stanford-accepted student I mentioned above also had a total free ride to UA, but selected a free ride at a higher ranked (plus better fit) school.

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DS33 was a high school dropout and one time homeless person. He is now an ER physician. Absolutely no hoops were jumped. He did go to only a state 4 year undergraduate program, however. But that ended up helping him, not hurting him get into med school. I do not know how much has changed during the past 10+ years since he started college. I have heard it is more competitive since the job market is so bare.

 

DD13 will not jump any hoops either unless she does them on her own. We are too busy to modify her education at this point. I might buy her an ACT prep book, but that's it.

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As someone who lives in an Ivy town, and is friends with people who work in admissions, I just want to chime in with a peep. Often they are looking for kids who strive and stand out relative to their surroundings. So, a kid who attends a not so great high school with no APs might have done extremely well compared to other kids from other similar schools across the country. But, a kid who attends a very good high school with lots of resources is really going to have to stand out against her peer group. A suspected shoo-in might just have had bad luck in the lottery.

 

And let's not forget that a very, very large number of kids accepted to the top schools are legacies. They have a first degree family member who attended, and that carries a huge amount of weight with admissions when it comes to comparing similar students. That is the dirty little not so secret of the top schools. The system isn't fair. Legacies are the number one entitlement program at these schools.

 

So, my FIL and my husband are graduates of the same Ivy, as is an aunt and we have a nephew attending right now. If my kids make the grade cutoffs then they will be accepted over someone else who has the same grades/test scores but is not a legacy. They have to have some way of drawing lines and that is an easy one. And even if they don't make the grade they still stand a chance. My husband did not make the cut the first time when he was in high school. But, his dad went, so my husband was a legacy, and that carries weight. So, he had a 'delayed acceptance' meaning that he had to go to a state school for one year and maintain a passing GPA (that was all, passing!) and then he could transfer in as a sophomore. FWIW, my husband got the message and did distinguish himself when he attended the school and now he works there, lol.

 

I assure you the same system is in place all all the top schools.

 

And the top schools have weird ideas when it comes to homeschoolers. As one friend who worked in admissions (now retired) told me, "Oh schools at this level, we have always had homeschooled kids. You are probably going to get a better reception at a top school than at other colleges. We have always had kids of actors and kids who have grown up all over the world who got their schooling in less than traditional means. It is something we are very comfortable with. Don't think because you are a homeschooler that your kids can't get in" She then went on to tell me stories of 'homeschoolers' she had worked with in admissions: children of minor royalty of small countries, children of oil sheiks, children of famous scientists who grew up in Africa helping their parents with tracking lions or helping out on archeological digs.  This was what she thought of as a homeschooler. :huh:

 

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People always talk about hooks- maybe your hook is you came from a bad situation and rised above, maybe it's that you're a minority, maybe it's youre good at sports, and maybe it's that your parents went/donate to the school. I've seen multiple things about how legacy admissions are diminishing, and the ones who are admitted are often more prepared than other applicants.

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I was over-prepared when it came to my oldest ds.  The problem, though, is that he wanted no part of it.  He was the type of kid who if you told him it was sunny outside, he would argue to the death that it was raining.  He applied to some schools, was admitted to one with a very competitive admissions process.  He didn't play his hook (baseball).  He did test decently on the SATs but was not a great student.  (my decent might be your failing :laugh:)

 

With ds2, I'll be happy if he decides to apply to community college.  Not a school kid, but loves the social atmosphere.  I think he'll wake up when his friends start applying.  A "C" student but has lots of school activities. 

 

Dd10 has decided she wants to go to Yale.  Apparently she overheard a conversation at back-to-school night between some parents.  I figure that will change half a million times between now and then. 

 

Admissions would rather see a long-term commitment to one or two activities instead of an overloaded resume that starts and ends with high school.   

 

Sorry for the ramble, but I really think your kids are going to be fine.  You are a very caring mother and have put a lot of thought into their curriculum choices and activities. 

 

 

 

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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 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. 

Test scores and relative rigor matter.  Colleges have an ample pool of applicants who demonstrate both, and thus are able to check those boxes for a given applicant and compare/contrast on other factors.

 

The choice to deviate comes with risks. 

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Disclaimer: Please don't take this post as any kind of advice. :) Just a PSA....

 

There are usually scholarships and grants available to kids who are already enrolled at a school... I have been researching some for my dd who is a frosh this year. There are not many scholarships available for first-years at her school, but there are many for sophs and up. (Of course there are 14,000 undergrads there, so what are the odds? But it's worth our time to investigate....)

 

Again... not trying to advise you to send or not send your daughter to a particular school, but if you and she are determined that she go to her top choice school, she may be able to lessen the economic 'damage' by applying for scholarships and grants after she is in attendance, especially if she does well. (Plus, there's always RAing, etc.) If she researches now, she'll have an idea of what to aim for....

 

But check with the school -- some colleges will actually deduct that from the amount they've already awarded to the student.  So your student might end up no better off.

 

I don't know how common this is, but I've run into it.

 

Anything a student earns shouldn't fall under this, but a student can only earn so much while going to school full time.

 

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Something that I've noticed from talking to American friends is the amount of hours that playing a sport or being in an orchestra seems to involve.  Of course, there will be people who have extraordinary talent and who will want to spend three or four hours on it every day.  But I really like the way that I was able to be in a school play, play the violin, sing in the school choir, play in the orchestra, and still devote a lot of time to academics.  

 

I keep hearing this in the context of "varsity sport": Kids being told that they really need to put the same amount of time into orchestra or the play or whatever as if it were "their varsity sport".  And if a kid balks at this, they're written off as not being committed.

 

My kids have been in public school theater and sports.  What I (and they) have noticed more than anything is the sheer WASTE of time.  They're there for hours and hours, so the adults in charge don't see the point of being efficient. 

 

When the kids complain, they're told to bring their homework.  The adults seem not to understand how difficult it is to get actual work done in a crowded, hot, noisy environment, with no place to sit.  Might be ok for getting busywork done -- maybe they think that's all that homework is?  (Maybe they're right?) 

 

We've had better luck just taking the kids along to our adult band or theater or choir or whatever.  Time actually gets used efficiently.  No one is told to shut up and just do their homework.

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But check with the school -- some colleges will actually deduct that from the amount they've already awarded to the student.  So your student might end up no better off.

 

I don't know how common this is, but I've run into it.

This *can* be true. In our case, any scholarships are applied to the 'loan' part of the financial aid package first. After that, true... it would come off the school grant part. At this point I would just love for her to wipe out any and all loans. It should be doable, with some diligent searching and applying. :) The loans are small. But you're right... YMMV.

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I will add an anecdote here with regard to hooks, legacies, sports, and the like - particularly with regard to Early Decision/Early Action. It's just *one* anecdote, but I think it's worth sharing.

 

I have a friend whose daughter graduated from a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston last year. During the ED/EA rounds the my friend reported that the ONLY students from her school who got in EA/ED were recruited athletes, minority students, children of legacies, and children of BIG development parents. At all the reachy-reach schools. He said the EA/ED announcement dates were very hard on his daughter and others who perhaps had better scores, grades, ECs, etc. who were passed over in the early rounds by those with the aforementioned characteristics.

 

Perhaps this is because, as a PP mentioned, it's even harder for some of these kids to get into top schools because of the homogenous nature of them.

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Nscribe says:

Test scores and relative rigor matter.  Colleges have an ample pool of applicants who demonstrate both, and thus are able to check those boxes for a given applicant and compare/contrast on other factors.

 

The choice to deviate comes with risks. 

 

(Can't get quote feature to work so have kludged it.  Sorry.)

 

The place I suspect you can't deviate (for the better schools) is DEMONSTRATING that academic rigor.  We did something unusual, BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT we managed to demonstrate enough rigor for the schools to see that my children had that.  We did it through SAT scores and science and math community college classes early enough they had grades to show.  This particular community college was known to the colleges.  And ON TOP OF THAT my children had some unusual things.  Even so, youngest's first choice college did not want to accept him until they had seen his cc first semester calc-based physics grade or a note from the prof predicting what that grade was likely to be.  We still jumped through hoops.  They were hoops of my own choosing, but they still came with a price.  Much as we value our community college, it is not the best example of what college can be and both my sons had some doubts about whether they really wanted to do another four years of that.  Youngest had to keep reminding himself that his new uni was going to be more like his U. of Lausanne experience than his cc experience.

 

The whole things is a tricky balance.

Push or encourage or let the child do too much and you risk burning him out.

Push or encourage or let the child do too much and you risk him not having enough time or energy to develop creativity.

Push or encourage or let the child do too much and you risk him not having enough time or energy to develop interests.

Push or encourage or let the child do too much and you risk having him lose his curiosity.  You have to be hungry to want to eat.

Don't push or encourage or let him do enough and you risk him not getting into a good college, which, unless the child is strong indeed, results in him being more and more uninspired and quitting before graduating.

Don't push or encourage or let him do enough and you risk not being able to pay for that good college, even if you pushed or encouraged or let him do enough to be accepted.  You have to be exceptional to receive merit money.

Don't push or encourage or let him do enough and you risk him not developing the academic skills needed to learn something in an academic way at an adult level, either in college or on his own.

And somewhere in there comes devoloping self-discipline and taking responsibility of one's own education, although II have trouble deciding whether that is a do or a don't.

 

The right balance point depends on family culture, child's goals, available resources, available opportunities, personality and talents, and so many other things that it is very difficult for one person to say, "Do this and all will be well."  The particular path we took more or less worked for our particular children.  They received the best high school education I could manage at home, weren't dulled down (or not so much that they couldn't recover after awhile), and got into their first choice colleges.  There are some things I would do differently with each of them, of course, but in general, it more or less worked.  But it was definately a risky path, as Nscribe pointed out.  Although we did "play by the rules" for each of the colleges (except UMass), I had no way of knowing whether colleges would want to take a risk on my unusual children and there were many equivalent colleges that asked for things my children did not have, like SAT2 scores.  If my youngest had wanted to apply to one of those, then we would have had him jump through a few more hoops.  He chose not to apply to those schools.  It was a happy thing that the unusual schools appealed to our unusual children. : )  It is a happy thing that unusual schools who will take unusual students exist.  The better the school, the more experience and resources they seem to have to devote to assessing unusual applications BUT also, the larger the pool of over qualified, extra special applicants who have both the conventional proof of academic success and the interesting experiences, and the more competition your student will have.

 

I want to remind everyone that this doesn't apply to anyone who isn't trying to get scholarships or to anyone applying to most state schools.  There are plenty of private schools that are happy to take your money and in return offer your B-student with low SAT scores an opportunity to earn a degree from their institution.  There are also an abundence of state schools that accept students (on a first-come, first-serve basis) using a formula based on SAT/ACT score and gpa, provided they have the requisite 4 years of high school English, etc.  And there are lots of community colleges that will accept anyone with a GED or high school diploma.  They even offer financial aid. 

 

Nan

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And the top schools have weird ideas when it comes to homeschoolers. As one friend who worked in admissions (now retired) told me, "Oh schools at this level, we have always had homeschooled kids. You are probably going to get a better reception at a top school than at other colleges. We have always had kids of actors and kids who have grown up all over the world who got their schooling in less than traditional means. It is something we are very comfortable with. Don't think because you are a homeschooler that your kids can't get in" She then went on to tell me stories of 'homeschoolers' she had worked with in admissions: children of minor royalty of small countries, children of oil sheiks, children of famous scientists who grew up in Africa helping their parents with tracking lions or helping out on archeological digs.  This was what she thought of as a homeschooler. :huh:

I agree with your entire post, but the quoted paragraph verbalizes something I've always intuitively thought true, which is, there is no general "hook"; you are compared to your peer group. And homeschooling in and of itself, in the context of the group described above, is no special hook really. Most everyone homeschools because they believe (as I do in our case) that that is the way to provide one's child with a superior education, however defined, so I guess it doesn't matter. But I cannot imagine the "homeschooled so you already stand out" scenario is accurate.

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I have a friend whose daughter graduated from a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston last year. During the ED/EA rounds the my friend reported that the ONLY students from her school who got in EA/ED were recruited athletes, minority students, children of legacies, and children of BIG development parents. At all the reachy-reach schools. He said the EA/ED announcement dates were very hard on his daughter and others who perhaps had better scores, grades, ECs, etc. who were passed over in the early rounds by those with the aforementioned characteristics.

 

 

This anecdote reminds me of another anecdote that illustrates the kinds of stress our homeschool kids avoid during college application and admissions season -- the stress of being immersed in the competitive circus that is a feature of so many high schools.  Those poor kids in some high achieving brick and mortar schools have no escape from it, between visits from admissions counselors and bragging peers and competitive parents comparing notes.   

 

The worst situation I've heard of was shared by a friend who teaches science at a suburban public school.  The state's big-name, competitive admissions tech school didn't send acceptance letters to home addresses.  Oh no.  They sent literal "golden tickets", shiny envelopes TO THE SCHOOLS.  My friend reported classes were interrupted as guidance counselors came in to deliver the acceptance letters, and led cheering students down the halls in celebration.  My friend was utterly horrified, especially for those deserving students who had applied but did not receive those golden ticket acceptances.  What a crushing experience for those not accepted -- far more bruising than just getting the "thanks but no thanks" letter at home.  

 

I am so thankful that we went through this process in a relative bubble.  We were aware of the competition, aware of the admissions stats, but it was just on paper, easy to ignore.  

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If you go here: http://www.thecollegesolution.com/colleges-and-universities-that-are-test-optional/ there is a list of "ranked" uni's and colleges that are test-optional.  Halcyon (and others) - This list might you a starting place when looking at colleges that are more likely to assess your student as more than a collection of test scores.  As a homeschooler, you probably will still need at least SAT or ACT scores.  And remember, you still have to prove to the college that your student has solid academic skills and background AND give the college a reason to choose your student over that student who is applying with 5's in 12 AP classes and spent his summer chasing lions and is fluent in six languages lol.  In other words, your student still has to DO things and still has to have a good VERIFIABLE good high school education.  With these colleges, you just might have more choice about what sorts of things are covered in that "good" education and your student will be able to choose to do things that fascinate him.  And if your child is 13 and has no passion yet, now is a good time to start introducing him or her to interesting adults who are doing cool things and aren't unwilling to have a bit of admiring, excited help. : )

 

Nan

 

PS - In some ways, it might be easier just to take those AP and SAT2 tests than it is to find viable alternative academic learning situations and document them, especially if there aren't college classes nearby and the parent is averse to risk and the student hates to write and is not especially ingenious or curious or compassionate or some other desirable adjective.  (We let our children take risks that most would probably consider unacceptable, as well as putting up with soldering irons left on, refridgerators turned off, large projects all over the living room, expensive airline tickets, hundreds of dollars of smartwool socks, hours and hours of driving, and other inconveniences.  On top of all that community college tuition.)

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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.

 

I keep hearing kids can't get scholarships unless they go in as freshmen.  DD is planning on 2 year at the comm college, then either done or transfering if she decides she wants a bachelors.  People keep telling me she won't get any scholarships that way.  ????

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I keep hearing kids can't get scholarships unless they go in as freshmen.  DD is planning on 2 year at the comm college, then either done or transfering if she decides she wants a bachelors.  People keep telling me she won't get any scholarships that way.  ????

 

It depends on the school.

 

Of the schools we looked at, they all have some sort of tranfer scholarships ranging from 'great' to 'not that great', but there are fewer of them to go around than scholarships for incomign freshmen.

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It depends on the school.

 

Of the schools we looked at, they all have some sort of tranfer scholarships ranging from 'great' to 'not that great', but there are fewer of them to go around than scholarships for incomign freshmen.

 

It also depends on what the school needs the year the year you apply.  At smaller schools, some years there are more openings for transfers than others.  Big state universities always have room.

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I came to the site to get some tips on making Ds's transcript fit into expectations, and found this post.

 

Oh boy! As someone who went to Oxford, and was born and bred in UK, I can't tell you how mad the US college system makes me! I gave up the idea of Ivies for my kids long ago, as it just isn't economically viable for my kids. I do feel that they discriminate against the middle class. However, for many of the reasons listed above, not attending an Ivy doesn't really bother me. I totally believe it is the individual who determines their future success, not the institution they attend for 4 years of their life. My other pet peeve is the college board - the almight gate keeper that makes a killing from the college application process. Why does so much of this discussion hinge on money all the time? But that's another thread. Oxford, by the way, doesn't want to know what you do in your spare time. Just that you have a distinct passion and ability for your chosen major.

 

Generally, I feel that economics pressures many would-be college applicants. Like others here have mentioned, I feel that any pressure to conform that my son feels is so that we can find ways for him to attend college, period. Not talking Ivies or competitives. He has his heart set on a very small private college that is only 30 minutes from our house. And it pains me no end that he probably will get accepted, but will have to decline for financial reasons. Older brother got accepted to a *very* good engineering school a few years ago, but the $30K per year price tag, after scholarships etc. made him decline and go to a place where he really wasn't happy because of the lack of course offerings, but was at least affordable) What's worse for DS2 is that he has not had the options to get the kind of merit aid he would need, because of his early struggles with learning disabilities. The focus to overcome those was stronger than the focus on racking up high SAT scores and dual credit. Actually, his academic and activity record is pretty good, and he is such a hard worker that he ends up succeeding pretty nicely, but not in the bright and shiny way that would rain down merit $$$ on him. Said college he wants to attend suggested that I check out scholarships for people with LDs, but those I found want us to have too  low an income. State public college is going to cost perhaps as much as $23,000 per year with residency included, if he does not receive a scholarship. A more selective state publich college would only be $18,000 but doesn't offer the courses DS is looking for.  DS1's state college at that time cost more for him to go to than the small private college that ended up giving him a scholarship (and DS1 had about 52+ college (not cc) credits at the end of high school, as well as amazing extra-currics.). It just saddens me that so much of this is a money game, rather than a genuine reward for hard work and diligence, with the middle class white male and LD penalized the most. And I'm not saying that the individual should never have to pay, but that the price tag is usually beyond what an average middle class family can realistically afford. When ds1 went to college we paid $10,000 out of pocket ourselves, and ds racked up substantial student debt. That's about the best I can hope for for ds 2, yet he did not come into the world with the advantages of his older brother. Lord knows what we'll do the year after that with dd (who will need to fly across country for several college dance auditions, company dance auditions, and apply to dance college programs as well as regular college programs).

 

I agree totally with the poster above who said that high school AP classes are often the only choice for serious students. DD attends a school where she has little option but to take AP  English and History this year, even though she is not strong in those subjects. She's a future science major, but her options for AP classes in those areas are a bit harder to come by. She is currently taking 3 AP exams in junior year. This meant that over the summer she was dancing in a summer program (kind of not optional for a dancer) from 9-5 and then doing homework all evening. This was her summer vacation! Yet, she still prefers to go the traditional high school route, and it seems to work for her better than homeschooling. As a born performer, she needs an audience, I suppose! ;-)

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