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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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We've played it with some and not for others. My first went to a not terribly selective college, but it was a perfect fit for her. They gave her enough $$ that it was cheaper than our state schools. She never did anything to look good--it was just what she did.

 

My next aimed for the very tippy top--the service academies and the apps were a nightmare (though someone will come on here and tell me that they aren't so bad...). We went through NARS and that was part of the hassle. She definitely had to play the game of the app, but she never did anything to look good on paper. She had the stuff, but it was because that's who she is. She was rewarded with three Appointments.

 

The next was a bit behind because of my supposed-to-be sil's death and she did do a bit of pushing for the paper. And didn't get an Appointment. She did get a prep year to USMA but turned it down in favor of her AROTC scholarship and is right where she should be.

 

Next one--he's never done anything to look good on paper--again, what he has is because of who he is. However, being a white male is tough. We'll see. Two more letters of recommendation and he's done! And then we can start regular apps. He's gotten invites for quick apps for all the schools he's interested in and that will help.

 

My kids have never added a sport/orchestra/comm service etc. for the paper trail, but they might have felt more motivated to take a leadership role in the things they were already doing. The thing my kids have all had in spades is DE--they've averaged 35 college credits each. We did rearrange ds's schedule in order to take a math, a science and an English at the uni in order to have letter writers. Looking back, it sure made life easier and the classes were valuable--no regrets there.  

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I saw the post, but I definitely missed the humor.     I'm guessing you needed to click on the images ...  lol

If so, I would have missed it too.  There's no way I'd click on anything from someone I didn't really "know" on here. 

 

Thanks for the info.  I'm not bummed about missing it any longer!

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It wasn't the images that I found funny...I don't click those. It was the timing of the troll's posts. He/ she posted something about being helicopter parents right after Margaret in CO post so I assumed it was referring to her avatar (although the line in itself was probably copied and pasted from someone else's post). It could have been coincidence. But this troll also posted some other spam messages in other boards that I found had quite funny timing yesterday...can't seem to remember exactly what they were referring to today. It was also on one of Halcyon's threads. Something about a primal scream. It was copied and pasted from another boardie's post but the timing, copying that particular line from the post and pasting it at that particular moment after someone had said something...it was funny to me. :)

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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. 

Haven't read this through yet, but wanted to thank you for starting this.   :thumbup:  I've started and deleted several threads on this because I haven't figured out exactly what I was trying to say. THIS is it. 

Planning for high school I find myself torn between what's expected on transcripts and what would interest and excite him. 

 

Can't wait to read and see what everyone says. 

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We've got time before dealing with this with my kids, but I've been discussing this same issue recently with a sister in law whose kids are hitting the college application stage. From what I have seen in my own family and among people I know attending an elite college over just an ordinary good college doesn't have a huge impact on quality of life. Certainly getting into the perfect college is less important than choosing a major that is a good fit. The reality is that there are good educations and experiences to be had in many different places, though of course experiences will not be the same. Some of my siblings attended elite schools for their undergraduate degrees (Stanford, USAFA), some of us (me!) attended BYU--which I would classify as an excellent school but definitely not in the elite tier, and certainly much easier to get admitted to. ALL of us had excellent undergraduate experiences with unique opportunities, and were well prepared for the paths we chose to pursue after graduation.

 

For my own family, unless I have a child who is personally driven to attend an elite school to take advantage of some particular resources and opportunities, I have no intention of pursuing admission to a super selective university. I really hope my kids will chose to pursue interests and develop talents because those things are of personal value to them, not because they are trying to create the perfect high school resume to hopefully get past the gatekeepers of one of the tippy-top schools in the country.

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My daughter applied to four schools: two good private schools, and two state schools in two different states. She was accepted to all four, with good scholarships (full tuition at one private school, much of tuition at the other, and a free ride at the local state school). I doubt she would have gotten into the one high-ranked technical school that she considered applying to; her scores and documentation were good, but not that good. (And I doubt she would have thrived there, anyway.) She chose the state school because it was the highest ranked for her major.

 

Did she play the admissions game? That girl will hardly play by the rules to save her life! But she had outstanding test scores, and she'd been active in a lot of activities—not because of the college game, but because that's what she and I both believed was best. We were sure to have her do rigorous schoolwork, and to have some sort of outside validation of her efforts in a number of different subjects; I figured that if she had strong test scores and outside validation of a number of things, the things where we didn't provide validation would still be taken seriously. She had three AP scores (including one where she took no official class), an SAT subject exam, excellent SAT scores, a couple of grades from a co-op class, a recommendation from a STEM camp that she attended, and a grade from an online class.

 

Do you have to play the game in order to get into the Ivies? Well, it's true that there's a lot of competition. But even with the game, lots of kids don't get in. My understanding is that those colleges aren't looking for the "most impressive" applicants, necessarily—just a varied student body filled with lots of interesting, highly capable, dedicated young people. And it's quite possible to play the game very well and still lose, just because they didn't happen to need yet another musician who spent her summers tutoring at-risk middle-schoolers, or whatever.

 

Do you want to get into the Ivies? I'm sure people have great experiences there. But I went to Stanford for graduate school, and took some undergraduate classes. The easiest college class I ever took wasn't at Baylor or at my state university, but at Stanford. And I was not particularly impressed with the dedication of the students I saw there, either. (The dedication of the graduate students, on the other hand, was notable.)

 

Does that mean that it doesn't matter where you go? No, I wouldn't say so. I spent most of my undergraduate years at a large state university; my sisters went to a very small, top-ranked liberal arts school. They got a better education than I did. The biggest difference, I would say, was in the quantity and quality of writing that was expected of us. I regret not having the opportunity to write much in college. I only wrote three or four papers in all of college (having placed out of all my English requirements), and this meant that I was not prepared for the writing I needed to do in graduate school.

 

My experiences at Stanford did lead me to believe that I would have learned more about serious writing there. I also would have learned to write at Baylor had I chosen to enter their Honors Program (which I was eligible for but avoided precisely because it required the writing of an honors thesis).

 

I'm glad that I read this thread, because it has helped me to sort out what I will recommend to my younger kids: Choose a college that you really like, with serious students, that has a strong honors program. Then apply to fabulous graduate programs.

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8fill, in terms of U of AL,   many of us think 11k is doable versus what our actual EFC is and what other colleges that cost 35K or 55K and give maybe a 20K merit award would give.  Yes, U of Al does not give total free rides except for a very few students.  But even not paying tuition is very helpful.  My dd who was attending U of AL and hopes to be back in Spring, if her recovery from grave autoimmune issues continues and accelerates, was able to start doing research work with a professor her freshman year.  She could have applied to get even more merit aid and opportunities if she had decided on that school earlier. 

 

My two kids didn't jump through hoops for admissions.  Oldest didn't do any DE (not available to him while we were in Europe) and didn't do AP either.  He was accepted at many quite selective schools, got big scholarships, and started at one school at which he got a very good education.  He later transferred to another school (state university) where he also mainly got very good classes.  My second did one AP and 2 DE classes.  She got her recommendations from teachers she had at co-op.  She also got merit scholarships at each school and she had many acceptances at good selective schools and they were all affordable for us.  She chose Univ. of AL when we were not living here (we are military and she had already decided on going to an AL school before we had any idea we were moving to this state). 

 

I am still not jumping through hoops with the last one but she may actually be the only one who takes SAT subject tests. It really depends on what she decides about where she wants to apply and if there is any chance she is wanting to apply to some schools, she needs to take them.

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8fill, in terms of U of AL,   many of us think 11k is doable versus what our actual EFC is and what other colleges that cost 35K or 55K and give maybe a 20K merit award would give.  Yes, U of Al does not give total free rides except for a very few students.  But even not paying tuition is very helpful.  My dd who was attending U of AL and hopes to be back in Spring, if her recovery from grave autoimmune issues continues and accelerates, was able to start doing research work with a professor her freshman year.  She could have applied to get even more merit aid and opportunities if she had decided on that school earlier. 

 

My two kids didn't jump through hoops for admissions.  Oldest didn't do any DE (not available to him while we were in Europe) and didn't do AP either.  He was accepted at many quite selective schools, got big scholarships, and started at one school at which he got a very good education.  He later transferred to another school (state university) where he also mainly got very good classes.  My second did one AP and 2 DE classes.  She got her recommendations from teachers she had at co-op.  She also got merit scholarships at each school and she had many acceptances at good selective schools and they were all affordable for us.  She chose Univ. of AL when we were not living here (we are military and she had already decided on going to an AL school before we had any idea we were moving to this state). 

 

I am still not jumping through hoops with the last one but she may actually be the only one who takes SAT subject tests. It really depends on what she decides about where she wants to apply and if there is any chance she is wanting to apply to some schools, she needs to take them.

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DS19 absolutely did not jump through hoops and got into a good university. He did dual enrollment at University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), AP math and science, an internship, and his public high school's engineering program, which included Solid Edge/CAD. He applied at two universities, got accepted to both, and went with his first choice, UAH. His ACT scores were unexeptional and he did absolutely no preparatory work, but apparenntly they were good enough. He is now a sophmore and studying mechanical engineering. I think it helped that his interests and aptitudes are strongly focused on math and engineering.

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