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Great high school sending kids to mediocre colleges?

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I'm not homeschooling high school, so I hope it is okay to ask this here. I just know you all have so much knowledge, I thought I would ask!

 

The high school we were planning on sending our son to is consistently rated the top public high school in the state. It is ranked well nationally. It is known to be rigorous and almost all students graduate with an iB diploma.

 

However, when the list of colleges that the graduating seniors are going to came out, most colleges are community colleges, the local state schools (which are okay - not really great - but probably a lot of the parents in this area went to one of them), and a few others that aren't rigorous or known for academic excellence.

 

Why would this be?  Why wouldn't any of these bright and hardworking students from a rigorous high school be going to a top school? I'm really confused!

 

I think the high school is excellent, but it doesn't make sense to me to work that hard in high school, only to go to a community college or a school that accepts over 50% of applicants. I would rather that college be the more academically rigorous place.  College shouldn't be easier than high school.

 

Does anyone know what might be going on? 

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I'm not homeschooling high school, so I hope it is okay to ask this here. I just know you all have so much knowledge, I thought I would ask!

 

The high school we were planning on sending our son to is consistently rated the top public high school in the state. It is ranked well nationally. It is known to be rigorous and almost all students graduate with an iB diploma.

 

However, when the list of colleges that the graduating seniors are going to came out, most colleges are community colleges, the local state schools (which are okay - not really great - but probably a lot of the parents in this area went to one of them), and a few others that aren't rigorous or known for academic excellence.

 

Why would this be?  Why wouldn't any of these bright and hardworking students from a rigorous high school be going to a top school? I'm really confused!

 

I think the high school is excellent, but it doesn't make sense to me to work that hard in high school, only to go to a community college or a school that accepts over 50% of applicants. I would rather that college be the more academically rigorous place.  College shouldn't be easier than high school.

 

Does anyone know what might be going on? 

 

What marks do the students get on the IB diploma?  It's not just a diploma, it's graded within, so just getting the diploma might not make them competitive.  The worldwide average is 29 points; my boys' (private) school achieved 32 last year.

 

Or there might be a local culture of going to specific universities.

 

 

Edited by Laura Corin

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My oldest falls in that category, and a lot of people have questioned that (no offense taken here).

 

He got admitted to two "public Ivies," missed National Merit by just a shade, and had multiple AP's and dual enrollment. I know that he would be counted as one of the top students in the county at the local public high school as well as at the pricey prep schools.

 

But for him as an individual and for us as a family, the local community college has been the right choice. He's on track to graduate next May and transfer to a top-10 school in his major. There are probably a dozen reasons why that was the right choice.

 

I don't know the dynamics of the group you describe, but it could be anything from familiarity to finances and everything in between.

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Most US students attend college within 2 hours of their home - many within an hour:

 

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/03/when-students-enroll-college-geography-matters-more-policy-makers-think

 

Money can be an issue.  Not wanting to leave family can be an issue.  Not knowing (or believing) that colleges are different can be an issue.

 

It's also possible that the guidance office there isn't as top notch as the school.

 

Then too, are none going to better schools?  Or are there a few? And how are you defining "better" schools?  Just by name?  Ivy?  Top 10?  I could probably name 100+ schools I'd consider "better" just off the top of my head and probably 200 if I put some thought into it.  There would be more if one gets into "better" schools for certain majors.  If there's a graduating class of 300, only 3 ought to be in the top 1%, maybe 6 if it's a good public school.  Good private schools can skew stats a bit more with their selectivity, but public schools have to accept and keep everyone.

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My next two college attendees will be going to mediocre colleges, due to finances.

 

My son who will be starting college this fall will be attending a mediocre state college, but he will be in the honors college there. I expect he'll get a great education regardless.

 

Sometimes the student's program of study isn't offered at top schools. My son wants a major that only three colleges in our entire state offer, all which are mediocre public schools.

 

My oldest two are attending middle-of-the-road colleges because we know those two boys couldn't handle the stress that would come with a top-tier school. Personality plays into it.

 

There are many reason people choose "less than" colleges over "better than" colleges.

Edited by Kinsa
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Money. Attending a public U in state is less expensive, and if the students are strong, scholarship offers may make it almost or entirely free. that is a strong incentive to forgo a top school.

Culture. Families with strong alumni traditions may prefer to send their kids to their alma mater.

Selectivity of admission. Top schools are very picky and reject over 90% of their applicants, so at any given high school the number of students admitted to the tippy top schools will be very small.

 

And then, you may want to research those schools more closely to find out whether they are really "mediocre" as you call them. A public U may have outstanding programs in specific areas and a much better reputation with employers than you think.

 

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Money. Many really smart kids (who come from smart families) start at community college to save money. 

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In our area, there is a new program for any public school kid to go to the local state U or CC FREE, if they had all As in high school.

In this low income, rural area, that's pretty big incentive to stay home & go local for strong students:)

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My guess is money.

 

However, I agree with Regentrude, many may be excellent schools you've never heard of.

 

If is very possible that my very bright firstborn will not attend a top tier school. He needs a great scholarship to attend a private college. He is fairly laid back and would not do well in a pressure cooker of a school. Finances may even dictate that he attend out local state university. Also, I see what a crazy high school life the kids in our area have in order to try for ivy like schools--and I notice that many of them don't end up at that type of school. I could pull my laid back kid through that at the loss of his youth for no appreciable change in outcome.

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Money combined with the fact that in many, many case no one cares where your undergrad degree comes from.  Some grad schools care, but most don't very much.  Some employers care, but most don't at all.  They just want to know you have a degree, even if it's not in the field specific to the job (of course, this is different in very technical fields, but you know what I mean).

 

My son, as it turns out, is going to a very expensive private school, because they are giving him a lot of scholarship money.  But we did look closely at the local U, which is mediocre, just because that would have been free, while living at home and working, neither of which he'll be able to do at the private school.  Sometimes getting "the degree" is about hoop jumping and people just want to do it as cheaply and painlessly as possible.

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If an acceptance rate of over 50% automatically equals 'mediocre college,' then quite a few ranked schools are mediocre at best. 

 

There are many factors that go into making a 'good' school, or moving a school up in the rankings. Acceptance rate is only one of them. If the student is going to be challenged at the school due to their major or being in honors college or whatever, then the overall acceptance rate isn't a drawback. 

 

Likewise, being a strong research facility increases the ranking of a school. But if a students needs are perfectly well met at a school that has little to no research, then it's an irrelevant factor. 

 

Add in other factors like money and most students preferring to be close to home, and it's understandable to me. 

 

If you consider it a good school, go for it, and just be prepared to do some of the guidance yourself - although I would urge to think a lot about what what is going to be a 'top' school for this student. 

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I definitely think money is an issue, but guidance counselors could be part of the problem. My dh's school is small, with only 800 students, and there are only 2 guidance counselors. They are responsible for all scheduling and testing. Testing is required in all subjects, either milestones at the end of the year or SLO's at the beginning of the course and at the end because they have to show growth.

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Money combined with the fact that in many, many case no one cares where your undergrad degree comes from. Some grad schools care, but most don't very much. Some employers care, but most don't at all. They just want to know you have a degree, even if it's not in the field specific to the job (of course, this is different in very technical fields, but you know what I mean).

I just had this same discussion with my obstetrician. (Okay, that sounds odd, but he's been my doctor for a while and I wondered how his kids were doing.) Both of his girls are going to our state flagship. He said, verbatim, no one has ever asked him where he got his undergrad. No one cares.

 

I'd guess money. The only reason our oldest didn't start at community college was because the state U offered her full tuition and some expenses paid. She was planning on living at home regardless.

Edited by BlsdMama
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As someone who went to a top school, let me assure you that sometimes the atmosphere is not so healthy there.  I transferred out of the public ivy and into a "mediocre" college.  When I transferred in a fellow transfer came from Harvard.  

 

I think the idea of a top college is often a lot better than the reality.  I won' be encouraging my kids to pick a top shelf university based on the name.  Rather I would encourage my children to choose a place where they feel they can learn and grow and be healthy emotionally (and meet other emotionally healthy people.)

 

 

Real convo from Will and Mary ca 1998:

 

"My mom died in September."

 

"Oh.  What were your SATs?"

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Programs. Professors. Internships. Proximity to home. School culture.

 

Dh and I went to a tippy-top brand-school. When our oldest was heading off to college, we were very interested in the name, the prestige, the "impress" factor.

 

By the time #3 came along, we were far more interested in the program, the opportunities, the school culture......

 

And our #4 musician-kid, who chose her school 100% by her own criteria, is the happiest of the four in terms of college experiences.  She was accepted to two of the top three or four schools in the country (in terms of name and prestige) for her particular music major. She decided to go to a (trivially) more expensive school (translation -- she received more merit aid from the name schools) that few have heard of. She couldn't be happier -- and in fact one of the ten or so students in her major from one of the "name" schools is transferring to her school!

 

If we had more kids, I wouldn't even consider the name and prestige factor, and I would be much more comfortable just sending them to the local CC if that was the best option for them.

 

College is NOT destiny, but the experiences you have in college can shape the rest of your life. Choose where you have those experiences wisely -- not just because some unknown person at US News & World Report says that this school is better than that school.

 

 

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There are other things in life than going to an ivy league college and maybe the parents/children are smart enough to know that. Possibly they are giving weight to the impact of student/parental debt, at the importance of being close to family, at the best fit for their child emotionally/spiritually, at the reality that they can have a successful career after graduating from the college that they chose. There are a lot of reasons why intelligent people do not go to ivy league colleges. 

 

Honestly I wouldn't consider throwing either of my children into that environment even though both had good enough scores to consider applying. The ivy leagues may be a good fit for some, but they are not a good fit for all.

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It is that way in our area.  Most people stay in-state for college, period.  

 

Money is the primary issue - think about the vast range of income levels of students that attend most public high schools, even ones in economically-advantaged areas.  Indeed, especially those in economically-advantaged areas, there is a decent chance that many, many families are going to have too high of an EFC to actually receive financial aid but they may not be able to afford that EFC, i.e., there's a gap between what they can actually afford and their EFC.  So, public college it is.

 

In addition, as others mentioned, college counseling at public high schools is insufficient almost everywhere, even at many really good public high schools, including our local high school.

 

ETA, the colleges attended by the graduates of a particular high school will vary a bit every year with regard to very top colleges.  It might be that every other year, someone attends a top school, etc.  Around here, it's much, much harder to get accurate info on where students were accepted to college from public high schools - the info just isn't released - whereas the private schools typically publish a list somewhere on their website.  (Around here, it is more common for students from the private high schools to attend college out of state, both for reasons of money and college counseling.)

Edited by wapiti

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We have a high school nearby that offers an IB option, but not every student at the school takes  that route.  Maybe there are a lot of students attending this particular school who are not IB?  

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Money. Attending a public U in state is less expensive, and if the students are strong, scholarship offers may make it almost or entirely free. that is a strong incentive to forgo a top school.

Culture. Families with strong alumni traditions may prefer to send their kids to their alma mater.

Selectivity of admission. Top schools are very picky and reject over 90% of their applicants, so at any given high school the number of students admitted to the tippy top schools will be very small.

 

And then, you may want to research those schools more closely to find out whether they are really "mediocre" as you call them. A public U may have outstanding programs in specific areas and a much better reputation with employers than you think.

This reminds me of something I heard Frank Bruni (NY Times reporter and author of Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be) say. He said he was a bit embarrassed at his own paper. They were writing a story about two inventors, I think, who had worked together on equal terms. The man who had gone to Harvard was noted as a Harvard graduate. For the man who had gone to a 'lesser' school, no college was mentioned. Bruni's point was that even a paper like the NY Times helps to perpetuate myths about certain schools providing a better education, regardless of individual needs.

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Bruni's point was that even a paper like the NY Times helps to perpetuate myths about certain schools providing a better education, regardless of individual needs.

 

FWIW, I don't think that's a myth.  There are often objective differences in education between, say, second- or third-tier schools and tippy-top schools.  That is NOT to say that lower-tier schools aren't going to be "good enough" or the "best fit" for a particular student, or won't get them where they want to go with their career - of course they may.  There are so many factors, but there will be differences in rigor between schools for some specific courses.

Edited by wapiti
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There's a strong possibility that my dd will attend a flagship university in a state not known for its academics.

 

An older person quite rudely said to me "Why would she go there? She's smarter than the entire state!" :eek: :rolleyes: But this particular school has some of the best programs in the country for her main areas of focus (Arabic/international relations/security & intelligence studies). She has guaranteed free tuition based on her ACT and GPA. The program directors have told her she would receive stackable merit scholarship(s) to equal almost a free ride.

 

Her second or third choice (list is in flux) is a flagship university in the middle of the country. It also has one of the best Arabic programs in the country. It also offers attractive merit scholarships.

 

Some schools offer amazing scholarships to the students who score well enough on the PSAT (and do a couple other things) to become National Merit Finalists. You bet your sweet bippy that there are students who decline acceptance to "top" universitites and colleges in favor of a free undergraduate education! Money saved can then be put to grad/med/vet/dental/law/business school, a wedding, a first home, or start-up costs for a business.

 

Just a few reasons why someone might attend a "lesser" school :)

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Because going to a top tier school is expensive and difficult for a lot of families (to be so far apart) and there isnt always a benefit to going to a more prestigious school. It's good if you plan to seek a graduate degree or in certain fields.in others it really doesn't matter. And sometimes for kids who really do know what they want ... a less prestigious school might be the best program for their specific field (ie. I want to be a petroleum engineer vs I want to do something in engineering). Local schools have strong relationships with local industries and businesses.

 

I have a friend who went to Yale and is now a high school Spanish teacher. Yale isn't really relevant to this part of her life. Her daughter is going to a well respected engineering school. My son got into that school and decided on a state u because it was a better fit. She was pretty horrified that we 'let' him turn it down.

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Money is the primary issue - think about the vast range of income levels of students that attend most public high schools, even ones in economically-advantaged areas.  Indeed, especially those in economically-advantaged areas, there is a decent chance that many, many families are going to have too high of an EFC to actually receive financial aid but they may not be able to afford that EFC, i.e., there's a gap between what they can actually afford and their EFC.  So, public college it is.

 

And you really don't know people's finances at all. Our issue for years have been major medical bills. Good income, but horrible bills.

 

And DH is retiring later this year for medical reasons. This has been on the horizon for a long time, but is coming sooner than we had hoped. Given other circumstances, we don't think it reasonable for me to work away from home. I make about what a beginning teacher does with my college and other online teaching.

 

Even given that, we'll still be above need-based aid. Does it make sense for us to draw down everything to send our children to college? I think not.

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Money, location, money, family culture, money, school

culture, money, guidance counselor influence.

 

We have some really good public school in my area. The majority of bright kids end up at big state u or a regional campus. Many average but very capable students go to cc because it is free in our state. Many have dreams of going elsewhere and are able to gain acceptance but in the end great financial deals usually win out.

 

Local culture has an influence. My ds with a 31 ACT and over 30 credit hours de from a community college and university was repeatedly told he was an idiot for choosing a private school (which after scholarships is costing less than he will earn this summer). Called an idiot...repeatedly...for passing up free cc. So kids without parental guidance can be steered toward particular schools that may not be best.

 

We also have a local private university in our new town. It is a good school for many but obviously not perfect for all students. The expectation is that everyone will go there and live at home. It can get tiresome to explain why you are choosing to go elsewhere. I am sure some of my kids will attend this school. It is a good option but reality is many kids never even look elsewhere.

 

Lots of factors but money is probably the biggest. Everyone knows college is expensive but until you are there the enormity of it is hard to get a handle on.

 

I do not know much about IB but it is possible that ACT scores just do not measure up to the reputation of the school. I have seen some schools where top students did not have ACT scores to make better colleges a possibility.

 

Oh- and the school my ds chose is mediocre I am sure but is best for him I think. He could have gone somewhere much more highly regarded but chose not to.

Edited by teachermom2834
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Dittoing what everyone else has said.

 

We're fortunate that money doesn't have to be the deciding issue for us.  Oldest DS chose our state flagship "public ivy" over a couple of top privates because it was a tremendously good fit for him. And he loves it. But it is a very rigorous, very challenging school. He thrives on that type of competitive atmosphere. I feel certain youngest DS would be accepted there and into some of the top tier private schools that oldest was accepted at, but I feel equally as certain that he would NOT thrive in that type of environment. He has anxiety issues and is very possibly ASD, so the stress level at one of those top schools would make them very much not a good fit for him. So he'll most likely end up at a "good enough" local state uni. And we're fine with that.

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There are countless reasons. 

 

The top public high school in your state may not approach the rigor available at public and private schools in other states. Therefore, the students may be known to not perform well at the schools in question. 

 

Ivies are "top schools" by reputation. Many other schools provide a fantastic education without needing that reputation. 

 

Money, as others have said, is a factor - a huge factor.

 

The students may not want to go to those types of colleges. 

 

The students may be burned out from their high school academics and not want to go into a pressure cooker college. 

 

There are more important things in life than the status of a university and grades. Maybe these kids or their parents understand that. 

 

 

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FWIW, I don't think that's a myth. There are often objective differences in education between, say, second- or third-tier schools and tippy-top schools. That is NOT to say that lower-tier schools aren't going to be "good enough" or the "best fit" for a particular student, or won't get them where they want to go with their career - of course they may. There are so many factors, but there will be differences in rigor between schools for some specific courses.

Actually, I should have finished the story. The other college was a small one in MA which had superb services for students with dyslexia and was the right fit for the student in question. Bruni's book -- which is great btw -- makes the point that a great education can be obtained at many, many colleges. I think it was aimed in part at the high pressure, get into Harvard culture that is disturbingly prevalent in some groups. He said that when news reports of successful people only list Harvard like colleges it does a disservice -- as in John Smith, a Harvard graduate, and Tom Brown have won xyz prize. Bruni believes that by naming both colleges in articles, readers' thinking can be influenced to appreciate that many colleges can do a good job.

 

I do agree that there are differences in academic rigor, but not every single student needs academic rigor. Having said that, I looked at our local community college for ds, because of $$$. If ds takes math and science AP courses, and if he does well in the exams, there simply would not be enough course offerings for him to take. And I would have doubts that, say, physics courses at a community college would count towards a physics major at, say, Princeton or MIT.

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My neighborhood high school is an IB school. We are in a district that tops national recognition everyone I see statistics.

 

1. Are "all" students earning IB diplomas? IB exams finished just a couple weeks ago. Results won't be out until mid summer. Meanwhile the students are graduating this week with diploma from the district. Those that earn the IB diploma won't find out until late summer. The school usually has a special ceremony in December when the kids come home from college to recognize those who actually get the full IB distinction. My dd's graduating class will have close to 100 IB candidates, but there's no way to know at this time how many will get the IB diploma.

 

2. As stated other posts, most people go to school close to home, usually that means in-state. Admissions officers at the top three schools in my state (2 public ivies and a nationally recognized engineering school) will tell you they can fill their entire class with qualified applicants from the schools in my district, but they can't. So getting in to the top schools is even more competitive for students from our district. If a student takes all the same classes and lives in the middle of nowhere, he will have a better chance of getting accepted to college than students in our district.

 

3. Money. My dd has a classmate who has an unweighted GPA of 3.9. he is fluent in Chinese and French. He is an IB candidate, which means he took the most difficult courses available. He is taking math beyond IB (linear algebra and multivariable calculus). He was accepted to big name schools. Really big names. However he cannot pay the tuition. He would have to take loans at even the nationally recognized engineering school in our state. He was awarded a full ride at a midlevel state school that has an engineering program. I was surprised he didn't get more money thrown his way because he is part Native American, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. No big name school for him, but he doesn't have to worry about any costs.

 

Side note about IB. The diploma is great if you are planning to go to school in Europe. I actually know a family that did that. And their diplomatic families who choose to live in our district because they know their child's work will be accepted when they return to their country. If one is going to school in state in my state attempting the full diploma is not necessary. College acceptances go out long before IB results are in. Students should take as many IB classes as they can. Colleges in my state give these the same weight as AP in admission decisions. So if you want to look like you challenged yourself you take IB. IB diploma candidates have requirements beyond classes that don't show up on transcripts to college, including a major research project and paper. I do like IB over AP because there is huge difference in the required writing and analysis, as a result I think it better prepared students for college level work.

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I don't see anything wrong with working hard in high school, even if you don't plan to take it any further. But some reasons I can think of for bright students going to community college may be money (if the school is in relatively poor area, then money may be a huge factor for residents in the district the school), a social/ethnic framework that values attachement and Chloe proximity to family, or a high school counselor who may not push his students into other schools.

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FWIW, I don't think that's a myth.  There are often objective differences in education between, say, second- or third-tier schools and tippy-top schools.  That is NOT to say that lower-tier schools aren't going to be "good enough" or the "best fit" for a particular student, or won't get them where they want to go with their career - of course they may.  There are so many factors, but there will be differences in rigor between schools for some specific courses.

I do not really believe this any more.  In this day and age education is freely available to those who seek it.  Being rewarded with a degree from Harvard may be valuable but I dont believe that just bc you went there, you are better educated or more informed

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I hope I didn't offend anyone by saying the word "mediocre." What I am getting at is maybe a college that focuses more on football than academics or in general doesn't offer rigorous academics. Many people in this area went to those colleges and are doing great! They are solid schools. I just mean that I don't see why the high school kids are running themselves into the ground, with 3 hours of homework per night, and then attending community college or these state schools. If that is where they are going, they might as well enjoy their high school years a bit more. :) 

 

There is not one student even going to the east coast. I think the farthest anyone is going is one state away. No one is going to the "colleges that change lives" college that is nearby either. I know these kids are bright and well prepared, it just surprises me.

 

I haven't finished reading the comments, but I will come back and respond. I agree that money is probably an issue, but many of these students would qualify for excellent financial aid packages (just based on average incomes of the area of the school). I do think there is a culture of staying close to home. But why not go to your neighborhood high school - not choose the super academic high school that is enrolled by lottery? 

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I'm not homeschooling high school, so I hope it is okay to ask this here. I just know you all have so much knowledge, I thought I would ask!

 

The high school we were planning on sending our son to is consistently rated the top public high school in the state. It is ranked well nationally. It is known to be rigorous and almost all students graduate with an iB diploma.

 

However, when the list of colleges that the graduating seniors are going to came out, most colleges are community colleges, the local state schools (which are okay - not really great - but probably a lot of the parents in this area went to one of them), and a few others that aren't rigorous or known for academic excellence.

 

 

Does anyone know what might be going on? 

 

What strikes me as odd is that kids are graduating with IB diplomas and then going to community college. Many colleges offer a lot of credit for gen ed classes for decent scores on the IB tests. Those credits would be duplicated by going to community college. In my area, for example, if you scored well enough on the individual IB subject tests, you could earn about three semesters of credit. They only ask for a 4 which is not a very high score, about a 3 on an AP. So, kids who are getting their IB diplomas shouldn't have much to take at a cc.

 

It could be that many students don't actually get their IB diploma even though they did the IB program. It could be that they don't realize that cc is redundant. You'll have to investigate a bit more to find out what's going on.

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" I just mean that I don't see why the high school kids are running themselves into the ground, with 3 hours of homework per night, and then attending community college or these state schools. If that is where they are going, they might as well enjoy their high school years a bit more. :)

 

Snip

But why not go to your neighborhood high school - not choose the super academic high school that is enrolled by lottery?

Because the super academic is offering classes at their instructional level, and the safety is better than at the neighborhood? A lot of students prefer to learn in high school rather than coast or watch assaults. Edited by Heigh Ho
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I hope I didn't offend anyone by saying the word "mediocre." What I am getting at is maybe a college that focuses more on football than academics or in general doesn't offer rigorous academics. Many people in this area went to those colleges and are doing great! They are solid schools. I just mean that I don't see why the high school kids are running themselves into the ground, with 3 hours of homework per night, and then attending community college or these state schools. If that is where they are going, they might as well enjoy their high school years a bit more. :)

 

There is not one student even going to the east coast. I think the farthest anyone is going is one state away. No one is going to the "colleges that change lives" college that is nearby either. I know these kids are bright and well prepared, it just surprises me.

 

I haven't finished reading the comments, but I will come back and respond. I agree that money is probably an issue, but many of these students would qualify for excellent financial aid packages (just based on average incomes of the area of the school). I do think there is a culture of staying close to home. But why not go to your neighborhood high school - not choose the super academic high school that is enrolled by lottery?

Maybe because getting an excellent high school education is worthwhile in its own right--not just to get into college. That's been my goal for my children--even the one with LDs who wants to be a police officer. I want him to be able to think, learn and communicate at a very high level just as I want the ones that are headed to more academic professions. My grandmother went to a classical school in Baltimore and got a fabulous education. She had to drop out of Bryn Mawr after one year b/c of finances, but was one of the best educated, intelligent women I've known. She never stopped learning.
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 But why not go to your neighborhood high school - not choose the super academic high school that is enrolled by lottery? 

 

 

Even if you aren't going straight "super competitive, nationally recognized university", there is nothing wrong with getting a top notch education to start.

 

Our CC has direct admit programs based on GPA. Take these prescribed classes and get this GPA you will be admitted to X school without application. The list of schools on the direct admit list includes some very competitive schools. If you had solid high school prep you are more likely to get the top grades at CC and get into the most competitive university based on the cc agreement. Great way to save money and get the name degree.

 

My dd has studied ballet for years. Over those years we have gotten to know some young people who wanted professional careers. And some of those young people had parents who made sure the high school education was solid, dance careers are short. One man from our neighborhood wrapped up a 10 year career a few years ago. When he "retired" at 29 he went to Stanford for biomedical engineering, he's now in med school (because he was older than 24 and had had the income of a dancer he qualified for significant aid). His academics prior to ballet had to be solid for him to be ready for that career/academic transition. My dd has friend who did not do the full IB diploma, but did many IB classes, while doing all she had to do to land in a dance company. She learned a couple weeks ago that she's going to get to pursue her dream. She also knows what her fall back is going to be in case of injury or other issues.

 

The standard high school diploma doesn't prepare students for much at all. At the cc, many students with diplomas that have not upper level classes do not do well on placement tests and have to take no credit remedial classes before starting college level work. Even for those students who don't plan on college at all, a diploma with minimum course work is no guarantee the student has the written communication skills, the oral communications skills and the basic math skills to move beyond entry level jobs.

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I think many families are re-evaluating college plans based upon economic realities. I hear so many students my dds age say stuff like "The goal is to get out of college without debt."

 

Kids are REALLY thinking through the college debt load vs the pay off in their career and the truth is that a person with teaching degree from Vanderbilt will make the same money as the person with the teaching degree from Austin Peay.

 

In some careers and majors there is a difference in school, but in many there isn't really. So students look at it as "should I go into debt at a prestigious university or go for free."

 

My dd and her friends have all come to the same conclusion. Unless there's a huge difference in the end result, they are not in it for the prestige.

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There's a strong possibility that my dd will attend a flagship university in a state not known for its academics.

 

An older person quite rudely said to me "Why would she go there? She's smarter than the entire state!" :eek: :rolleyes: But this particular school has some of the best programs in the country for her main areas of focus (Arabic/international relations/security & intelligence studies). She has guaranteed free tuition based on her ACT and GPA. The program directors have told her she would receive stackable merit scholarship(s) to equal almost a free ride.

 

 

 

Ugh.  The fact of the matter is the US mints many, many high quality PhDs, many more than can be absorbed by all the academic positions available for them.  So what you see is these amazing researchers from tippy top universities are taking academic positions at schools you may not have heard of.  This a great opportunity for a motivated student at a no name school to work along side these highly trained researchers and do some amazing things.  

 

Better still, you may have less competition for research positions if your fellow students aren't all obsessive competitive types like you might find at a tippy top school.  (This last statement is just conjecture on my part.  Certainly there are many ambitious students at no name universities and laid back types at the top schools.)

 

And I take issue with the phrase "a state not known for its academics."  How is an entire state characterized this way?  If there exists a university or college in this state, then there are professors who work there.  They have families and children who are interested in academics.  Every state has physicians.  MBAs.  Engineers.  Accountants.  

 

(Wear your state U sweatshirt with pride!)

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I just finished reading all of the comments. Thank you for your thoughts so far! 

 

I am definitely NOT saying these kids should be going to ivy league schools. That is not what I mean at all. I would just like to see that a few of them go somewhere more academically rigorous.  

 

Someone mentioned GPA and that could be a factor. The grading is very tough at this school - it is harder to get A's.  That may affect what their options are. 

 

It is definitely not sports scholarships, since there are no sports at the school.

 

The two main state universities most kids are going to have a 6 year graduation rate of about 65%.  That makes me wonder if people are saving as much money as they might think they are.

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Some of those schools that are known for football are actually major research universities. And in states not known for academics there can be merit aid for good students.

 

Strong student + mediocre school can be the winning equation financially.

 

There is also the thought that it in some situations it can be good to be the big fish in the mediocre pond :).

 

If we are talking about Alabama the money can be hard to beat both at U of A and the regional campuses.

Edited by teachermom2834
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I wanted to add that the state I grew up in had a good state school (not a "public ivy" level, but a good school). I would have no problem with my kids going there. Obviously, some states have awesome state schools as well. It varies so much by state.

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Cost and provincialism.

 

My state is somewhat unique. While I know when one speaks of "flagships" it's in reference to academics, but many states have at least a couple of larger state U's that are fairly "even" or at least equally well-known. E.g. University of Florida and Florida State. Often here if you ask a local parent what his/her graduating senior's plans are, the response will be, "Dd/ds will be going to the university in the fall." THE university. Yes, there is more than one university in my state, but everyone knows which one is THE university. My dh went there. His dad went there. My dad went there.

 

Obviously, cost/money is a factor, but there is a bit of a knee-jerk response (whether said aloud or not) of "Isn't THE university good enough for you?" if your child pursues other options, especially those that are highly ranked. There is a good LAC in our state (one of the CTCL), that is acceptable to the masses if you're quirky or pre-med. Leaving the state kind of triggers defensiveness since so many people attended THE university.

 

Fortunately, the culture was not that way at all at ds's public charter school, but it is small and had (she's since left since ds's time) a GREAT college advisor. She was a huge fan of LACs and had a wide knowledge base of schools. Many of the students from his charter school aim for and achieve admission to highly ranked schools. Most who turn those down do so because of financial contraints. A wise decision, IMO. But there are only about 60-70 kids per graduating class. We also have multiple, large public high schools in our region, one of which graduated 1,000+ students this year. One does have an IB program. From those large publics there are always a few students who go to Ivys and Ivy-equivalents each year. But the vast majority of students just carry on to THE university with their friends. When you have a state flagship in your backyard and many family members who attended there, it's kind of an easy choice to make.

 

Because we are full-pay at a private, ds will be on his own for any graduate school he might do. That was his choice since he had less expensive (including two free) options.

Edited by Hoggirl
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...The two main state universities most kids are going to have a 6 year graduation rate of about 65%.  That makes me wonder if people are saving as much money as they might think they are.

 

BTW, 6-year graduation rate statistics are a bit misleading. The wording is usually: "percent of students graduating within 6 years" -- that means 6 years OR LESS -- so, all students graduating with a degree in 4 years PLUS all  students who took 4.5, 5, 5.5, or 6 years to earn the degree. The statistic does not break down how many took the longer-that-4-years amount of time. :)

 

What that statistic is REALLY revealing is how many students drop out/transfer or fail to complete a degree within 6 years. So if at your state university the "percent of students graduating within 6 years = 65%", what that is REALLY saying is that 35% of the students who enroll as freshmen at your state university either drop out, transfer to a different school, or fail to complete a degree within 6 years (possibly from changing majors multiple times) at the state university. And there are many reasons why students drop out or transfer -- change in finances (can no longer afford to attend), not doing well at college, change in life circumstances, change of career plans (no longer need/want a 4-year degree).

 

Also, there can be a lot of reasons why a student needs more than 4 years to earn a degree. Changing majors more than once is a big one, and a majority of college students DO change majors at least once -- and if that change happens after the first 3 semesters, that almost guarantees the student will need at least 1 additional semester to be able to fulfill the new set of required credits.

 

But there can be reasons a degree takes longer than 4 years that are outside of a student's control. Some universities are starting to have programs that automatically take more than 4.5 to 5 years. Typically that used to be architecture and a few specific engineering areas, but that is starting to extend into more program areas in more universities. Another reason is class scheduling. Our state universities, along with a LOT of other universities, esp. with STEM programs, are starting to schedule core courses in such a way that iF you get tripped up in the rotation and miss scheduling an intro core class, or fail to get the required grade (often a "B" or above) in a pre-requisite course, the course is not available to re-take until the next year, which slows down your ability to get through the course load in 4 years.

 

Or, some students have to work part time while attending school or are taking several tough/time-consuming math/science courses in the same semester and can't handle more than 3 courses at a time, meaning it will take longer to get through all the required credits. So more frequently now for a LOT of reasons -- some totally out of the control of the student -- students need more than 4 years to complete a degree.

 

And you are right, PhotoGal -- if it takes more than 4 years to complete a degree, finances will definitely come into the picture. But think how much more of a pinch that is for a student attending an out-of-state college than a student attending the local in-town state university who can at least live at home to save expenses while finishing up. Because when you're down to the last 2-3 semesters of completing a degree, you really ARE stuck having to finish it at the university at which it was begun, or else you lose a LOT of credits -- and end up adding extra time/semesters -- transferring to finish at a new university.  :eek:

 

 

I'm not homeschooling high school, so I hope it is okay to ask this here. I just know you all have so much knowledge, I thought I would ask!

 

The high school we were planning on sending our son to is consistently rated the top public high school in the state. It is ranked well nationally. It is known to be rigorous and almost all students graduate with an iB diploma.

 

However, when the list of colleges that the graduating seniors are going to came out, most colleges are community colleges, the local state schools (which are okay - not really great - but probably a lot of the parents in this area went to one of them), and a few others that aren't rigorous or known for academic excellence.

 

 

Does anyone know what might be going on? 

 

While I do think it is very wise to be looking ahead with one eye towards future college for your elementary/middle school aged students, I would not let that completely dictate your high school decisions. And I *certainly* wouldn't let what families of this high school decide to do about which college to apply to play a role in what my own family knew was best for our own student's college experience. ;)

 

Sounds like you have an awesome public high school available to your student -- make the most of it! With the IB diploma, that will make it easy for your student to consider possibly attending a university abroad, so maybe emphasize a foreign language of interest! :)

 

And as your student approaches 11th grade, start doing your college research and prep and planning for the college that is the best fit for your DS (financially, program-wise, campus life-wise, academics/professors, special programs/opportunities, etc.) -- whether that ends up being a state university, or out of state or even out of country option. BEST of luck in your high school transition and adventures! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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Someone mentioned GPA and that could be a factor. The grading is very tough at this school - it is harder to get A's.  That may affect what their options are. 

 

 

 

Yes, this was true for DH and me.  I attended an easy peasy public high school where As were given to anyone who made the least effort in classes that ranged in difficulty from super easy to moderately difficult.  We sent plenty of students to state U's, but also lots of kids went to tippy top and nearly tippy top schools as well.  

 

DH's private high school was really tough.  Like head and shoulders above anything from my school.  The courses were advanced and taught by monks with PhDs and they gave out As only very rarely.  DH was the only one who traveled out of state to a name school.  I was pretty shocked that those kids were not attending the kind of colleges my friends from my high school were attending.  

 

As an alum, some faculty asked him what they could do to get more of their students into name schools.  Hi answer:  "Grade inflation."  

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I agree the primary reason for this phenomenon is:  Money.  The price of a college education is ridiculously more expensive than it has ever been, financial aid is paltry, and the better ranked colleges do not give much, if any, merit aid.  Lower ranked colleges give loads of merit aid to good students.  So, it doesn't matter if a high school is rigorous and ranks high in the state.  It all comes down to what a family can afford to pay for college.  The cost is shocking.

 

eta:  What I mean is, a public high school can be the best in the nation, but you may not see many of its graduates going to HYPS schools, because the merit aid is just not there.

Edited by amsunshinetemp
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There's a strong possibility that my dd will attend a flagship university in a state not known for its academics.

 

An older person quite rudely said to me "Why would she go there? She's smarter than the entire state!" :eek: :rolleyes: But this particular school has some of the best programs in the country for her main areas of focus (Arabic/international relations/security & intelligence studies). She has guaranteed free tuition based on her ACT and GPA. The program directors have told her she would receive stackable merit scholarship(s) to equal almost a free ride.

 

Her second or third choice (list is in flux) is a flagship university in the middle of the country. It also has one of the best Arabic programs in the country. It also offers attractive merit scholarships.

 

Some schools offer amazing scholarships to the students who score well enough on the PSAT (and do a couple other things) to become National Merit Finalists. You bet your sweet bippy that there are students who decline acceptance to "top" universitites and colleges in favor of a free undergraduate education! Money saved can then be put to grad/med/vet/dental/law/business school, a wedding, a first home, or start-up costs for a business.

 

Just a few reasons why someone might attend a "lesser" school :)

 

When I tell people my target schools list for grad school, I get a lot of "why do you want to go THERE and not Columbia, Northwestern, NYU, BU, etc.?" Well, because aside from Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, the speech & language pathology programs that have a strong auditory-verbal therapy specialty track are NOT at "name brand" universities. Prestige might play into my decision if I am lucky enough to get admitted to multiple programs but even then that would have to be weighed against other factors like finances.

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Cost and provincialism.

 

My state is somewhat unique. While I know when one speaks of "flagships" it's in reference to academics, but many states have at least a couple of larger state U's that are fairly "even" or at least equally well-known. E.g. University of Florida and Florida State. Often here if you ask a local parent what his/her graduating senior's plans are, the response will be, "Dd/ds will be going to the university in the fall." THE university. Yes, there is more than one university in my state, but everyone knows which one is THE university. My dh went there. His dad went there. My dad went there.

 

Obviously, cost/money is a factor, but there is a bit of a knee-jerk response (whether said aloud or not) of "Isn't THE university good enough for you?" if your child pursues other options, especially those that are highly ranked. There is a good LAC in our state (one of the CTCL), that is acceptable to the masses if you're quirky or pre-med. Leaving the state kind of triggers defensiveness since so many people attended THE university.

 

*snip*

 

This was what we encountered while living in a deep-South state. There were 2 state flagships, and you went to one of those schools. Period. And they're good schools with good Honors colleges and full-scholarships for kids with tippy-top scores. But there was enormous cultural pressure on high-achieving kids to stay in-state, because "What, you think you're too good for the university?"

 

There was a wonderful IB magnet high school in our urban area, and kids from the school all went to one of these 2 state flagships. They didn't even apply anywhere else. There was a brilliant young lady that we had known since she was in middle school, and she made all sorts of waves by going out-of-state to Vanderbilt, despite the fact that she had a full scholarship of some sort. She ignored the criticism and later went on to do grad work in the UK (either Cambridge or Oxford - I can't remember which). But so few kids from this IB magnet ever even applied out-of-state that people were very critical; they viewed it as a personal rejection.

 

So, yes, money is often a huge factor, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that school culture or local culture is playing a role. As a parent, that's something I'd want to investigate. I would want to maybe ask some questions about where kids are applying and where they are accepted. That might be more telling than just a list of where kids ultimately decided to go.

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I do not really believe this any more.  In this day and age education is freely available to those who seek it.  Being rewarded with a degree from Harvard may be valuable but I dont believe that just bc you went there, you are better educated or more informed

 

Harvard's grad schools agree with you.

 

Out of curiosity one time I went through the student directories for both the public policy program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the MBA program at the b-school. About 1/3 came from Ivies and similarly elite private schools like Stanford, Oxford, etc. About 1/3 came from "public Ivies", selective LAC's, and 2nd tier private universities. The remaining 1/3 attended "no name" schools.

 

There was no correlation in terms of how smart DH's classmates were with where they had done their undergrad degrees. In fact, the smartest girl we knew at the Kennedy School had attended some little no-name college in West Virginia.

 

Graduates of selective schools were probably overrepresented in those admitted compared to the overall application pool, but that's probably because they had stronger qualifications on average. The range of test scores is a lot narrower among graduates of the highly selective undergrad programs than it is for the less selective schools.

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The ROI at many colleges is U-shaped; if you get into one of the universities that have traditionally been supported by the upper classes (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or a local Ivy favorite) or one of the "egghead" schools that they hire from to keep their capital operating (the California tech schools like Caltech and Harvey Mudd, the maritime academies, the mining schools), ROI is very good. It is also not bad at the cheapest schools; career salaries are lower due to lack of access to influential social networks, but the cost of attending is also low.

 

However, there is also a large middle ground of schools that cost almost as much as a Harvey Mudd, but provide the social network and career returns of a state school; some of these schools can actually provide a negative ROI if one isn't careful.

 

Every public school claims to be a "Public Ivy" (although really historically there has only ever been one with any real connections to the Eastern Establishment, the University of Virginia), every small college claims to be a "Little Ivy" and if all else fails, there's always "Hidden Ivy". On the other hand, all colleges have a strict no refunds policy on granted diplomas, so the consequences of a mistake are all on the student. This can lead some folks to have what seems like a very wide gap between the reputation of their reach school and their safety school.

Edited by Anacharsis
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