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Why do you have to be so accomplished to get into college


Dmmetler
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Actually, to get into top ranked colleges it helps if:

      A. Your parent is an alumni making generous contributions to the college

      B. Your parents can pay full tuition

      C. You're an athlete

      

After the above gain admission, there are huge number of super smart kids vying for the remaining limited number of slots. Being smart does not guarantee admissions into higher education anymore, nor do accomplishments make or break an application.  Even when super smart kids apply to 12 different colleges ranging from reach to safety, they may be accepted to only 2 colleges or universities in March/April.

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Timely...I just finished reading How to be a High School Superstar. The irony of it is that the very things the author recommends doing seem to be the *in* things right now. It's what everyone is doing, thus losing the WOW factor. (Why are so many people doing these things? Probably because they read the book... ;) ) I'm becoming a jaded cynic...

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Honestly? You don't. There are plenty of solid universities that take average students. We determined early on that we weren't going to ask him to participate in activities just for the sake of college applications. He had two extra-curricular for his freshman & sophomore high school years and none for his junior and senior years. His grades and SAT scores are just slightly above average. He knocked the ACT out of the ballpark. He did no test prep other than to read about the types of questions and scoring the day before he took each test.

 

He was admitted to his first choice university in the first round of acceptances and invited to compete for merit scholarships. This university is well thought of in this state and we know many people who graduated from there or are attending there. He will get a good solid education there.

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Actually, to get into top ranked colleges it helps if:

      A. Your parent is an alumni making generous contributions to the college

      B. Your parents can pay full tuition

      C. You're an athlete

 

??? How would the college even know whether parents can pay full tuition? The application does not include financial information.

 

And yes, students can be accepted without being an athlete, having rich parents, or a having a parent who is an alumnUS.

 

But most students will not attend top ranked colleges - nor should they.

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Not everyone cares about getting into a "top ranked" college. Finding a good fit for the student is more important than getting into a "top ranked" college. 

 

Yup

 

There are plenty of colleges who take average students.  There are even plenty of programs out there who take average adults who were lousy students and decided later in life to go to college. 

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??? How would the college even know whether parents can pay full tuition? The application does not include financial information.

 

 

The college application asks whether the student will be applying for Financial Aid.  If ability to pay was not a factor, the colleges would not ask for this information.

 

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I've wondered too.

I was "just a smart kid".    I didn't found a research facility, or start a nationwide charity, or play at Carnegie Hall. 

 

I'm glad I'm not applying today.  I have been reviewing essays for accomplished students applying to HYPSM, and those students are intimidating! 

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The college application asks whether the student will be applying for Financial Aid.  If ability to pay was not a factor, the colleges would not ask for this information.

 

But the mere fact that a student will be applying for financial aid says absolutely nothing about the financial situation and abilities of the family.

I have, in the process of our college search, not found any credible information that supports the assumption that answering "no" gives students an advantage in admissions to selective schools.

 

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But the mere fact that a student will be applying for financial aid says absolutely nothing about the financial situation and abilities of the family.

I have, in the process of our college search, not found any credible information that supports the assumption that answering "no" gives students an advantage in admissions to selective schools.

 

 

I agree - here's a list of schools that have need blind admissions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need-blind_admission#U.S._institutions_that_are_need-blind_and_meet_full_demonstrated_need_for_both_U.S._and_international_students

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I don't know if they do, but it wouldn't be that hard for them to get a really good guess.  All it would take is your 9 digit zip code and subscription to a marketing service that figures these things out.  There will be errors, of course.  The kid of a live-in housekeeper will show as very wealthy.  But, then you also have the essay.  Many kids give that away in the things they discuss.  I am a judge for an essay-based scholarship.  I'd say about half of them, I can name which of the 7 classes they are from.  

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In addition to plenty of schools for good, solid, avgs students, there are solid avg schools accepting top kids and rewarding them with merit $$. The honors programs within those schools offer additional resources to those students.

 

 

After following the posts about your son, I've checked into honors programs at universities we probably wouldn't have considered in the past. We're definitely considering them now! Thank you!

 

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Honestly? You don't. There are plenty of solid universities that take average students. We determined early on that we weren't going to ask him to participate in activities just for the sake of college applications. He had two extra-curricular for his freshman & sophomore high school years and none for his junior and senior years. His grades and SAT scores are just slightly above average. He knocked the ACT out of the ballpark. He did no test prep other than to read about the types of questions and scoring the day before he took each test.

 

He was admitted to his first choice university in the first round of acceptances and invited to compete for merit scholarships. This university is well thought of in this state and we know many people who graduated from there or are attending there. He will get a good solid education there.

 

We're the same as the bolded.

 

I've always wanted my kids to enjoy the "right now" of their lives.  Not to always be striving for something in the distant future.

 

Oldest is a Type A kid who's had his future planned out since middle school.  For him doing all the extras it took to get accepted by top colleges came naturally.  He thrived and enjoyed every minute of high school.  Nothing was done just to look good on college apps.

 

Youngest is the opposite.  Smart as a whip (maybe smarter than his older brother, IMO) and intellectually curious, but not outgoing.  No real idea yet of what he wants to major in, and certainly not interested in taking over the world like his brother.  Just a smart kid who wants to get a degree in something that will enable him to earn a decent living and be happy.  He's on his school's Quiz Bowl team, but beyond that he has no desire to rack up tons of extra curriculars just to look good on college apps.  And that's fine.  He doesn't want or need a top school.  A "good enough" school is okay with him.

 

Not all kids need or want to be at a top school.  That doesn't mean they don't have lots of choices for getting a solid education.

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I've always wanted my kids to enjoy the "right now" of their lives.  Not to always be striving for something in the distant future.

 

Oldest is a Type A kid who's had his future planned out since middle school.  For him doing all the extras it took to get accepted by top colleges came naturally.  He thrived and enjoyed every minute of high school.  Nothing was done just to look good on college apps.

 

Same here. I have written about it before that we consider high school valuable life time and too important to do things just so that they can look good on a college application. My kids do activities that bring them joy - and we worry about packaging them in their best light afterwards.

 

DD is attending a highly selective top tire university. She is very ambitious and organized and strives for academic excellence. Her college is the right school for her; she is stimulated and, for the first time in her life, challenged. But that is also the kid whose favorite extracurricular activity was tutoring physics.

 

DS is equally smart, but not academically inclined. His energies go into different pursuits. He is a solid student who will attend college, but a school like DD's would be a terrible fit for him. I can see him receive a good education at a local public four year university.

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I don't think the point of the article is that there are not college options for students with fewer "accomplishments." Rather, the point seems to be that the standards have changed from when the author went to college. For elite colleges and universities, that is true. So, the piece is not nonsense. 

 

Admissions at these top schools have become so competitive that they have fostered a admissions culture that expects a very multi-faceted applicant with virtually no history of failure. You must be really good at everything you do, and you must do many, many things. This process selects for a certain type of student, and misses many others who would not only benefit from the education, but also enrich the college itself. Students who have never failed are different than students who have struggled. 

 

That's not to say that there is no where for these students to go, but rather that they are no longer part of the population of the institutions that pave the way to power and influence in this country. I think that is a loss for those institutions and for the larger society. 

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Actually, to get into top ranked colleges it helps if:

      A. Your parent is an alumni making generous contributions to the college

      B. Your parents can pay full tuition

      C. You're an athlete

      

 

My kids have gotten into top-ranked colleges with none of these things.  What they have had is close to perfect test scores and grades, lots of advanced classes (12 APs plus CC classes beyond AP level), great recommendations from CC profs, a national award, and an internship.

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My kids have been accepted by all kinds of great schools, including two at a top-15 LAC on a full-ride merit scholarship.

 

Did my kids do all kinds of crazy things to get admitted? NO!

 

Well, they did do crazy things -- but just because that's who they are, not because they wanted some college to admit them. They are interesting, passionate kids. They didn't hoop jump (see all my posts about not meeting the foreign language "requirement" and their lack of science labs). They led interesting lives, had intense interests, and lived out of the box. Colleges seemed to find that desirable.

 

i have finally decided that colleges know what they want in a student, but they don't know how to describe it. As a result, all kinds of people make rules about the colleges that don't really exist. (Everyone in my neck of the woods says you need 6 AP's in order to get accepted by UVA. Well, no, you don't. You don't even need 6 to get accepted as an Echols Scholar. But people would rather share their nonexistent knowledge about the so-called "requirements" and get freaked out by the intensity than listen to someone tell them their kid does not need 6 AP's!)

 

 

 

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But the mere fact that a student will be applying for financial aid says absolutely nothing about the financial situation and abilities of the family.

I have, in the process of our college search, not found any credible information that supports the assumption that answering "no" giveAs students an advantage in admissions to selective schools.

 

 

The application also requires the student to list the occupation of his parents and his home address.  It is not too difficult to discern the socioeconomic status of a family when those pieces of information are also included in the application. 

 

A simple google search will provide credible evidence that answering "no" does give students an advantage in admissions to selective schools.

 

"The article in the GW Hatchet read like a scene ripped from a high-school-senior’s nightmares. “The University admitted publicly for the first time Friday that it puts hundreds of undergraduate applicants on its waitlist each year because they cannot pay GW’s tuition,†the independent student newspaper of The George Washington University reported last week. The story went on to say that despite statements to the contrary for many years, GW’s admissions policies have always factored in an applicant’s need for financial aid when deciding whether or not to admit that applicant.

GW now says that it is need-blind in the first read of an application, but ultimately is better-classified as having “need-aware†policies as a whole."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2013/10/29/does-applying-for-financial-aid-hurt-your-college-admissions-chances/

 

This is just one example of a school that claimed to be need-blind, when the reality was a different story.  I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that other "need-blind" schools operate in the same manner, but it is difficult to know what goes on behind closed doors in an admissions office.  If a family's financial situation truly didn't factor into admissions decisions why are the admissions offices asking the student to provide his parents' occupations and whether or not he will be applying for financial aid?

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I'm not sure I would be accepted at the school I went to today. I went to William and Mary. Since I still live in Virginia, my dd and I have looked at William and Mary and UVA. Since these are public universities the comparison is not the same. However, UVA was very specific in what they look at. 

 

Test scores (very high SAT, SAT 2s)

GPA (very high and must include multiple AP, IB or dual enrollment credits or the "most rigorous course available to the student"--I believe that is to give a little consideration to students in public school districts that have little available)

 

The majority of applications do not make it past the numbers round. 

 

Essays are looked at. It is easier for most applicants to submit an essay that gets them rejected than accepted, unless you are writing about taking 20 AP courses while completing chemotherapy or finishing a full IB diploma while working 40 hours a week to help your single mother with rent. So, most applicants should just write a good essay and PROOFREAD. 

 

Recommendations are supposed to come from people who actually know the applicant well. And the applicant should not submit significantly more recommendations than the school has requested. (remember to follow directions)

 

Activities. It's nice to see the student is connected to the world and has a focus. A 40 hour a week job is an activity and a focus, particularly if it is a family need. Doing 300 random resume building service project/club/ect does not show any focus. Trying create a resume for the college application can easily look shallow and have the opposite affect the student intends. 

 

My take away was to keep moving the direction we have advised dd. Work hard on academics, do some test prep and let dd direct her extracurricular time which she has chosen to focus in two main areas. Occasionally, she throws in other random stuff and why not if she wants to explore something she should. Do I think she will get into the most competitive school out there? By whose standards? I think she will get into the school that is right for her and that is the best school. 

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??? How would the college even know whether parents can pay full tuition? The application does not include financial information.

 

And yes, students can be accepted without being an athlete, having rich parents, or a having a parent who is an alumnUS.

 

But most students will not attend top ranked colleges - nor should they.

 

 

My husband and I both went to one of the few top ranked public universities. Just before the end of the year (read the "giving season") we both got a letter address to us as alumni givers and parents of applicant. 

 

It is silly to think they don't know. Every insider book I've read even as a term for it "development admits."

 

If you want to learn about the role of money in admission to top schools read the Price of Admissions. Some will claim it is dated, but money has the same paths it always had.

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It may be more difficult to get into the traditional tip-top schools than it used to be, but there also are a lot more tip-top schools than there were back in the day. When you also count honors programs at good-but-not-first-tier schools, I suspect there are still just as many spots for accomplished students as there ever were. I have great faith in supply and demand to rectify such ills.

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My husband and I both went to one of the few top ranked public universities. Just before the end of the year (read the "giving season") we both got a letter address to us as alumni givers and parents of applicant. 

 

It is silly to think they don't know. Every insider book I've read even as a term for it "development admits."

 

Oh of course they know whether you are alumni or not. That was not what I was referring to in the post you quoted.

I was referring to the college knowing parents' financial situation. I have no idea how they could.

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Oh of course they know whether you are alumni or not. That was not what I was referring to in the post you quoted.

I was referring to the college knowing parents' financial situation. I have no idea how they could.

 

But they certainly have records on how regularly and how much you donate. 

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But they certainly have records on how regularly and how much you donate. 

 

Yes, but that was not what I was talking about.

I was referring to colleges knowing regular, NON-alumni parents' financial ability to pay for college.

 

I would assume almost all people do not donate to random colleges to which they have no affiliation.

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I'm not convinced that there are more top schools or that things have really changed that much within the actual university system in terms of quality.  I suspect that the internet and being able to research online has increased awareness of non-local/non-instate options.  Considering the fact that rankings are partially influenced by the number of applications vs. number of acceptances, universities certainly aren't discouraging massive # of applications.

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Oh of course they know whether you are alumni or not. That was not what I was referring to in the post you quoted.

I was referring to the college knowing parents' financial situation. I have no idea how they could.

 

Oh, they knew we'd given, too, but as a former nonprofit board member I can tell you that there are donor lists that can be purchased and development admins at colleges and universities do have access to those and do keep an eye on admissions. My experience is that most large donors expect a lot of quid pro quo so they will also reach out to the development office (or have their people do it). The book I mentioned talked about that. At Harvard, for instance, they have special "board" or "panel" for large donors.

 

While I am sure that there are modest and unassuming donors out there, there are plenty that begin establishing contacts early. 

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Just got this book in the mail...should be an interesting read.

 

Timely...I just finished reading How to be a High School Superstar. The irony of it is that the very things the author recommends doing seem to be the *in* things right now. It's what everyone is doing, thus losing the WOW factor. (Why are so many people doing these things? Probably because they read the book... ;) ) I'm becoming a jaded cynic...

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Oh of course they know whether you are alumni or not. That was not what I was referring to in the post you quoted.

I was referring to the college knowing parents' financial situation. I have no idea how they could.

 

When the college application asks the question, "Will you be applying for financial aid?" and the students answers, "No, I will not be applying for financial aid,"  that gives the college a very good idea of the parents' financial situation. ;)

 

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When the college application asks the question, "Will you be applying for financial aid?" and the students answers, "No, I will not be applying for financial aid,"  that gives the college a very good idea of the parents' financial situation. ;)

 

But those would be a tiny fraction of very rich applicants - because even people with a fairly good family incomes will receive some financial aid from many schools and would apply for financial aid.

 

 

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Yes, overall they're a small percentage, except when looking at the elite colleges.  It's not the upper middle class they're looking for, it's the wealthy who are able to pay the full amount and also able to donate to the college.  They need generous donors to help balance the actual payments from middle and lower income students.  Although some students at the most expensive private high schools are receiving scholarships, most are full pay.  The tuition for these is about the same as for private colleges.  You can look at the percentage of students attending colleges who come from public, private and religious schools to get an idea.  Obviously some very wealthy families choose to send their children to some very good public or parochial schools, but the percentages admitted and attending are telling.  And as has been said, there's a lot of info that comes through the applications beyond whether the financial aid box is checked.  These are the schools with great endowments which can afford to provide low income students with an affordable higher education.

 

As for the article, it's interesting.  It's also noteworthy that the author's son is only 14.   It would be interesting to hear the author's views and see how much more accomplished his son is by the time he's a senior.  I would say that sitting in on Colby's class discussions and attending and participating in campus lectures already makes him more accomplished than most 14 year old kids. 

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But those would be a tiny fraction of very rich applicants - because even people with a fairly good family incomes (100k+ which is the 92th percentile in the US) will receive financial aid from many schools and would apply for financial aid.

It would be very interesting to know what percentage of applicants check "no" on the financial aid box. I would be curious to know what you think the definition of "very rich applicants" is.

 

I would imagine that there is quite a bit of polarization with regard to income/wealth of applicants at top schools that do not offer merit money. Way too many people in the middle are going to get "gapped," (or at least perceive they are getting gapped) and won't bother applying. The reality is that colleges expect you to pay out of past savings, current income, and future earnings (via borrowing).

 

The hard fact is that to become "accomplished" it helps to have money. I'm not saying that it is essential, but ECs outside of a B&M school often require cash. And lots of it. Over many years. Music, dance, athletics, art, summer programs, etc. I'm not saying that's the ONLY way to become accomplished, but I sure don't think it hurts. We never spent more than $30 on a test prep book, but some people spend mega bucks for fancy test prep programs.

 

I agree with the other poster that the article is really about the differences between applicants from back in the day and applicants now. It certainly wasn't the rat race it is now when I applied to school. I only knew of two girls (identical twins) who ever prepped for a standardized test. The rest of us just showed up on Saturday morning with our #2 pencils. I imagine many of our peers could have done MUCH better had it occurred to us to prepare! But, that wasn't the mindset of the masses back then. Very few folks "got it." The parents of these girls did. Interestingly, both of the parents were Ivy Leaguers (well, sort of. Dad went to Harvard and mom went to Radcliffe) and both girls did their undergrad at Yale. One went on to Harvard medicine and the other went to Stanford law. They were both "accomplished" back in the 80s. But there weren't nearly as *many* of their type back then, kwim? They were certainly packaged well by their parents. I just think more people get that now.

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http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168889785/elite-colleges-struggle-to-recruit-smart-low-income-kids

 

(I don't know how that will post in my phone, sorry.)

 

Also, it has not been our experience that top universities want students who have never failed or who have a laundry list of talents. A dean of admissions from a top school advised me that they won't take a student who has obviously never failed before, so I better make sure dd's application documented a failure or challenge she had overcome. Things have changed.

 

Also, I know it is popular to talk about the students who do things just to get into college, but honestly, I've met a lot of students who now attend top schools through oldest dd's various activities in HS, and they were mostly just really interesting, smart kids who were doing things they loved.

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But those would be a tiny fraction of very rich applicants - because even people with a fairly good family incomes will receive some financial aid from many schools and would apply for financial aid.

 

Harvard is well known for its great financial aid, and more families will qualify for financial aid at Harvard than they would at any other school. 

 

That being said, according to Harvard's website, only 70% of its admitted students qualify for financial aid.  If you look at the Common Data Set for Harvard, you would discover that of the 1,657 students admitted in 2011-2012, 466 of those students stated on the application that they would NOT be applying for financial aid.

 

Over 28% of the admitted student class did not apply for financial aid - that is not a tiny fraction at all.

 

http://oir.harvard.edu/files/huoir/files/harvard_cds_2011-2012.pdf

 

Harvard states on its webpage today that 70% of students receive financial aid, and that was also true for the high school class of  2011-2012.  If  parent finances were not taken into account when making admission decisions, I would expect to see some variation from year to year in the amount of students who qualify for financial aid, but the percentage appears to remain unchanged from year to year.

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Harvard is well known for its great financial aid, and more families will qualify for financial aid at Harvard than they would at any other school. 

 

That being said, according to Harvard's website, only 70% of its admitted students qualify for financial aid.  If you look at the Common Data Set for Harvard, you would discover that of the 1,657 students admitted in 2011-2012, 466 of those students stated on the application that they would NOT be applying for financial aid.

 

Over 28% of the admitted student class did not apply for financial aid - that is not a tiny fraction at all.

 

http://oir.harvard.edu/files/huoir/files/harvard_cds_2011-2012.pdf

 

Interesting - thanks for sharing. I did not know they published this figure. That is indeed a huge percentage compared to the percentage of families in the country that have incomes above what would qualify for financial aid at Harvard.

OTOH, they also admit 20% of students who don't pay a dime...

 

ETA: It would be interesting to know what the overlap is between the group who doe snot need financial aid and the legacy admits.

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I would love to hear your thoughts after you've read it. I have mixed feelings about the book.

 

FWIW, I liked it - I thought the general advice was pretty good, as long as I look past the relatively extreme level of accomplishments described.  I don't think I'll have my dd read it, though some of the more detailed ideas are good to keep in mind.  I think the MIT blog article Applying Sideways is a better overview of the general idea.  (I haven't kept up with this whole thread, so I want to be clear that the Superstar book is about applying to tippy-top schools, what I might refer to as "highly selective" as opposed to just "selective" - big difference!)

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I want to read that high school superstar book just to make sure to eliminate all the activities it recommends ;)

In all seriousness, DS is in 5th and while I could perhaps push/direct a little since he is the "eat what mom dishes out" sort of kid thus far, with no flaming passions or inclinations, I've decided I truly do not have it in me to do so. I can barely work a microscope; no national awards for this one! In terms of distribution of human outcomes, I think perhaps grad school prestige is far more important so I'm going with that.

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FWIW, I liked it - I thought the general advice was pretty good, as long as I look past the relatively extreme level of accomplishments described.  I don't think I'll have my dd read it, though some of the more detailed ideas are good to keep in mind.  I think the MIT blog article Applying Sideways is a better overview of the general idea.  (I haven't kept up with this whole thread, so I want to be clear that the Superstar book is about applying to tippy-top schools, what I might refer to as "highly selective" as opposed to just "selective" - big difference!)

 

Yes, I think the general idea is a good one. In some ways it was a relief to read because it's how we are already doing things. On the other hand, I find many parts of it misleading.  I would advise reading The Myth of the Garage to balance out the book. It's been awhile since I read it, but it came to mind often while reading Superstar.  (Myth is free on Kindle.)

 

I agree with Applying Sideways. I read it quite some time ago. I didn't realize the book would be much of the same advice (only with over the top examples, etc). If I could recommend only one, I'd recommend the article over the book. (Just to clarify for those who don't know, the authors aren't the same, but the overall idea is.)

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http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6565691-what-you-don-t-know-can-keep-you-out-of-college

 

I probably read this book when ds was in about the 6th grade, so I don't remember too many specifics. I did find parts of it useful, and I do particularly remember it listing many options for different "tracks" depending on what your dc was interested in. I believe it took the approach of, "if your child is interested in math," here is a path you might want to consider and it plotted out course sequencing, summer ideas, competitions, exams, etc. that would flesh out that interest in a way that would differentiate your student from the masses of kids who just happen to do well in advanced math in school. If you were a "mathy" parent, I am sure you would have known all (or most) of these already. However, if you weren't, it would be extremely enlightening. There were tracks for all sorts of different interests - music, art, science, engineering, etc. Some of the things suggested were free programs (which are always incredibly competitive) and some were not (which are usually incredibily expensive). I think this is the way that a student shows accomplishment - taking a genuine interest in a subject and pursuing it to the highest level possible. Not a laundry list of clubs/activities with no depth. My ds had a couple of primary ECs within school - Model UN and Quiz Bowl and a couple of primary ECs outside of school - music and Scouting. He participated in all of these to the fullest level possible.

 

I think homeschoolers are already particularly adept at finding good opportunities for their children to puruse their interests/talents/skills in meaningful ways. Most homeschoolers I know are very good at researching all types of curricula, outside classes, etc. But I think for parents of B&M school kids, there is not even the awareness that some of these outside opportunities exist.

 

I do remember learning about early testing through Duke TIP (and other programs - they're regional) by reading this book. Sixth grade may seem early to start thinking of the college path, but it really isn't. For awards that testing occurs in the 7th grade.

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I've decided I truly do not have it in me to do so. I can barely work a microscope; no national awards for this one!

 

Don't rule out national awards yet!

 

The ones my kids have earned have been despite me, not because of me. They have been in areas I know nothing about and I did not push the kids in those areas. The kids themselves took the initiative.

 

Sample conversation around 8th grade:

"Mom, can I...?"

"Um, no, it would take too much time / cost too much / be too inconvenient....."

"But what if I do it this way?"

"All right, I guess we as a family can handle that."

 

And years later, after umpteen hours of work by kid:

"But now I need...."

"Yup, you have put a lot in and it's fair that we support you as you go to a different level."

 

Not all awards are because parents drive or even encourage their kids in the activity! Kids sometimes just get a bee in their bonnet and go for the gold!

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Not all awards are beecause parents drive or even encourage their kids!

Of course. But one of two things need to happen: either the kid is driven or the parent knows what to do and has the wherewithal to do it. I think the later scenario is the more frequent one, this board notwithstanding. This is why engineers tend to produce more engineers, etc. My kid, thus far, just is not the sort you describe. ;)

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Well my big beef with the current state of college admission is just how soon into the senior year the rush is scheduled. I mean these kids do not even have one quarter of the year done and have essays galore, scholarship deadlines, you name it, and barely enough time to take the ACT or SAT and get a score so they have to rely on the junior year score because frankly, four weeks of trig class isn't going to help your math section that much! I mean really....let these kids get some school year under their belts first! Sheesh...

 

That's my crazy. NMU's scholarship deadlines were Nov. 1st...you couldn't just have applied...you had to also have been admitted by then! So that meant applications that went in no later than the first week of October, and the possibility of no score report from the Sept. test which wouldn't do them a bit of good anyway if they were trying to up their score from the junior year because they HAVEN'T BEEN IN SCHOOL MORE THAN A MONTH!!! Crazy.

 

I really wish the college admission's game designers would back off a little a make it a Jan. 1st deadline so kids get closer to a full semester of math and language arts before the crazy begins. That also allows them to take the Dec. ACT which means the math teachers have a little time to hit the trigand really help them out, and the English teachers can do some more writing coaching and such before the deadline.

 

As for some majors such as music, the reality is that poorer kids have very little chance. It takes money to have a good piano, a higher end clarinet, a....you fill in the blank...in your house, and the level of instruction you can get in the average public school is not enough to gain entrance to the major. You start when you are five, you practice to the bone with a private teacher, and you are accomplished when you arrive. The level of instruction at which colleges begin that have recognized music departments is much higher than what can be achieved only through instruction and exposure at the school down the street unless one attends a magnet school specifically for the arts such as the one my niece attends and even then, without other instruction, it's still very difficult to get into the major. Most of her classmates are attending the magnet school, which took an audition to get into to begin with which meant private instruction all through elementary school, and getting outside lessons and performance opportunities and it all costs money. Sigh....a lot of money. Then again, I was once a professional music teacher and frankly, my time is worth money. I couldn't give it all away for free. It was hard to balance my conscience in the matter and my financial need, so my middle road path was to offer three full scholarships per year based on interview of the parents and the child, and then try to figure out which ones were going to really apply themselves in the opportunity. For the most part, that worked. BUT, in the National Piano Teacher's Guild to which I belonged and the Michigan Music Educators Association, I was the ONLY teacher I ever rubbed shoulders with who offered any free or reduced price lessons. It bothers me the breadth of majors that are almost off limits to lower income students. I am proud of the fact that many of my scholarship students were prepared to study music in college and several chose to major in it and were admitted to excellent programs. However, I know that this is pretty rare for most low income kids.

 

I also agree with others that there are a lot of really great schools out there that do not require the student to jump insane hoops in order to be admitted with good merit aid. I don't think I could live a life from 6th-12th grade with my kids that was an all or nothing pursuit of such selective schools. We do what we do that is in their best interests with an eye to general guidelines at decent schools, and let the chips fall where they may which is why we aren't turning ourselves into knots so P can get into Cornell. He would have had to give up his Icelandic pursuits in order to pursue a language with more materials readily available so I could justify a third credit of the same foreign language, and he would have to give up rocket team in order to pursue more DE and AP's. Not happening. Rocket team has been a life changing passion that has grown and shaped him in a way that DE's and AP's never could, and it's just not worth giving them up, though for a brief period of time, he did consider it. He'll do quite well wherever he lands and either Cornell will recognize his potential or they won't. It's not going to hurt his career to end up at a tier one state school or less selective private college.

 

Always fit is everything. Kids can roll themselves into pretzels along with their parents in order to gain that elusive admission to an exclusive school, and some of them will thrive there and love it, and others will wilt on the vine. I occasionally meet parents and kids who really think that their future success is entirely dependent on one school or another, and that's very, very sad because it makes for some profoundly disappointed kids, as well as some miserable ones who made it in the door and hate it three weeks into the first semester. It's just so important to look at the whole picture.

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Interesting - thanks for sharing. I did not know they published this figure. That is indeed a huge percentage compared to the percentage of families in the country that have incomes above what would qualify for financial aid at Harvard.

OTOH, they also admit 20% of students who don't pay a dime...

 

 

There might well be more than one thing going on here.  Yes, Harvard might be favouring people who can pay full fees.  On the other hand, they might be admitting many people who - because of their wealthy background - have the educational resources that make their applications shine: not only expensive extracurriculars (as mentioned by a PP) but perhaps private schooling, extra tutoring or public schooling in excellent school districts.

 

Oxford has this same issue: it's not that the university favours rich students - they receive the same money for almost all of their students, and scholarships are not extremely common (the government provides extra funding for those on low incomes).  Full fees for EU residents are £9,000 (USD13,500) per annum over three or four years. Nevertheless, the university admits a disproportionate number of very comfortably-off people, because they are likely to have the best scores and the most confidence to pass the interview process.

 

L

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Well my big beef with the current state of college admission is just how soon into the senior year the rush is scheduled. I mean these kids do not even have one quarter of the year done and have essays galore, scholarship deadlines, you name it, and barely enough time to take the ACT or SAT and get a score so they have to rely on the junior year score because frankly, four weeks of trig class isn't going to help your math section that much! I mean really....let these kids get some school year under their belts first! Sheesh...

 

 

 

FWIW to anyone reading this thread looking for options....  

 

University of Alabama Huntsville offers fabulous merit scholarships and..... will accept test dates through the entire senior year of high school.  They just need to receive the score by August 1 of the summer after high school/before college.

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