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Great high school sending kids to mediocre colleges?

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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.

 

 

Point of information: Oxford is not a private 'school' in the sense that you mean.  This from Wikipedia:

 

The University of Oxford is a "public university" in the sense that it receives some public money from the government, but it is a "private university" in the sense that it is entirely self-governing and, in theory, could choose to become entirely private by rejecting public funds.

 

It is currently government-funded and cannot charge higher fees than the government decides.  In common with all the top tier of UK universities, it currently charges British/EU students £9,000 pa (around $13,500).  The spread of most expensive to least expensive British university is only about £9,000 to £3,000, so about $13,500 to $4,500 pa.

 

I think that there are only five private universities in Britain, and none carries much prestige.

Edited by Laura Corin

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I went to a crappy undergrad (because that's all I could afford) and decent law school(loans forevermore). I would hope my kids play the same game except one wants to be a writer and we might reverse it: pay tons for the prestigious undergrad (if he even gets in) and hope he gets into a prestigious MFA (free) program.

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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.

 

Sorry to sidetrack here. 

 

I'm in Virginia. I was not aware that people have generalized the term Public Ivy. While that is incorrect, I think it is also incorrect to say there is really only one public ivy. When I said my state had 2 public ivies, I was referring to this:

Original Public Ivies[edit]

The original Public Ivies as they were listed by Moll in 1985:[2]

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I had also never heard that "public ivy" specifically refers only to UVA.  In my mind, public ivy means prestigious for a public school; schools that attract significant numbers of students from out of state.  Like Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, ... and UVA, among others.  

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How many did they graduate? I do think that is odd for an IB program. I just checked our local program. Yes, most of the students are going to state universities - but not all. Ours graduated 100+ students. 2/3 are going to the local state flagship and a handful are going to other state schools, but 30+ others are going to prestigious colleges all over the country including two going to Ivies and one to the US Naval Academy. Maybe the graduating class was smaller than usual?

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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.

This is where we were: come big or stay at home. Had ds not gotten into his primo school of choice, he was not going to choose something in the middle. I have to say that I do not understand paying full-freight at a $60,000+ per year school just because it's private. There would have to be a very compelling reason (program offered, location, etc) to do so. We feel like the full-freight price tag is worth it for the school ds is attending. He would have never chosen a match school that offered a "tuition discount" merit scholarship of $20,000 per year. This is what we found to be the case at many of the privates. An okay, but private school at $40,000 - $45,000 price tag (reduced from full-price by a $20K merit scholarship) did not seem like a good deal to us when state public U's could be had for free. The situation could be different depending on whether one qualified for need-based aid.

 

Only time will tell whether attending the top school will be worth it from a financial standpoint. From an experience/opportunities/fit standpoint, it has definitely been worth it to us thus far. But we only have one kid, which also makes a big difference.

Edited by Hoggirl
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Sorry to sidetrack here. 

 

I'm in Virginia. I was not aware that people have generalized the term Public Ivy. While that is incorrect, I think it is also incorrect to say there is really only one public ivy. When I said my state had 2 public ivies, I was referring to this:

Original Public Ivies[edit]

The original Public Ivies as they were listed by Moll in 1985:[2]

 

 

No worries! You are correct that those are the schools that Moll discussed. I guess the distinction is in the meaning of Ivy. My understanding is that Ivy is not just a synonym for good school; it specifies that it is a school that is within the educational orbit of the Eastern upper class, which traditionally has been quite narrow.

 

After the Civil War, almost all of these institutions were in New England; the South's upper class was decimated by the war, and what was left of it frequently sent its children to Princeton if it was able. The University of Virginia seemed to avoid this fate, though, due to reciprocal interest from New Englanders.

 

In early reports, class notes, essays, etc. targeting an Ivy League demographic, the University of Virginia was often mentioned in the same breath as the Ivies in a way that others public schools were not, usually in the context of its Law School, which became a popular source of additional education for Ivy League graduates on their way to public service positions in D.C. (The other big alternatives being time spent abroad at Oxford or Cambridge.) Why UVA in particular of all the Southern schools, I'm not sure, though.

Edited by Anacharsis
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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.

 

I agree that money is likely a primary reason. A "partial" scholarship doesn't make a school affordable, and schools do NOT make up the difference between what they can offer and your EFC. (And, as people can attest on here, the government's idea of your EFC and your idea may be completely different things as well.) I also wouldn't assume that students won't be working hard at a state school or a CC, or that because a school isn't a "top" school, that means it will be easier than high school. A lot depends on the particular classes and instructors. (I went from a very highly ranked high school w/AP classes to a state university, and I wouldn't in any way say that college was easier than high school.)

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I went to a crappy undergrad (because that's all I could afford) and decent law school(loans forevermore). I would hope my kids play the same game except one wants to be a writer and we might reverse it: pay tons for the prestigious undergrad (if he even gets in) and hope he gets into a prestigious MFA (free) program.

 

It makes no sense to pay $$$$ for college in order to become a writer. Now if you want to pay $$$$ for a school like Carnegie Mellon that has a strong creative writing department AND a strong STEM program, that might make sense, but only if the child double-majors or majors in STEM & minors in creative writing.

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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!)

I took a look at the language profs D is studying under this summer and at the rest of the faculty for the Croft Institute at Ole Miss: doctorates from Chicago, Berkeley, Michigan, Ohio State, Harvard, Yale, and universities from around the world.

 

Yep.

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If that is where they are going, they might as well enjoy their high school years a bit more. :)

I have a student who doesn't want to go to college at all.  I pay more attention to the content and skills offered by this student's education than to what the college-bound kids are getting.  If high school is the end of the line, there is a lot to get done.

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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

 

I wish folks who say this would sit in on classes at different levels of universities.  IME with my own kids having done so and with oodles and oodles of kids from my public school, there's a considerable difference.

 

What's NOT different is that a student can be successful - even get into decent med schools and grad schools - from many different colleges, so it's important to fit the student to the school, but the content of the classes is definitely at different levels.  (My experience is mostly math/science, but middle son just sat in on a social science class at a different - lower level - college too and was astounded at the difference.)

 

Then too... it's not just Harvard on the Top Schools list and major matters.

 

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

 

I would guess the super academic school has far better classroom behavior.  Many are attracted to that.  We get oodles who move here from a neighboring state due to our schools being "safer."  Because classroom behavior is better, it's easier for students to take in the academics too.  Win-win.

 

There's even a huge difference within our school between the higher level classes (college bound) and mid (cc or lower level college bound) or lower level (non-college bound) classes in behavior and content.

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Point of information: Oxford is not a private 'school' in the sense that you mean.  This from Wikipedia:

 

The University of Oxford is a "public university" in the sense that it receives some public money from the government, but it is a "private university" in the sense that it is entirely self-governing and, in theory, could choose to become entirely private by rejecting public funds.

 

It is currently government-funded and cannot charge higher fees than the government decides.  In common with all the top tier of UK universities, it currently charges British/EU students £9,000 pa (around $13,500).  The spread of most expensive to least expensive British university is only about £9,000 to £3,000, so about $13,500 to $4,500 pa.

 

I think that there are only five private universities in Britain, and none carries much prestige.

 

Yes, here in Canada really private universities don't have anywhere near the same prestige, and for the most part aren't much in the public conciousness at all.  I think a lot of people associate them somewhat with private career colleges, which are often just money-making factories.

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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. :)

 

Frankly, I'm a bit dismayed by this quote.  I'd like to think that the high school years are still for learning, not solely a college resume-building experience or for four years of partying.  High school may be the last time a student sees a wide variety of topics.  Even if my kids aren't going into a STEM field, I want them to have a good handle on the basics of physics, if only to understand why kinetic energy means that increasing your speed by 10 mph in a car can be a very big deal in an accident.  I want them to understand the basics of biology, if only to help them make medical decisions about themselves and their own families in the future.  I want them to understand the basics of statistics, which is vital to making sense of so many news stories.  I want them to get a good handle on at least one foreign language, so that they understand and can interact with other cultures.

 

Even if they don't go to college at all, and perhaps especially if they don't,  I'd still want them to understand all of the above and more.

Edited by GGardner
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I had also never heard that "public ivy" specifically refers only to UVA.  In my mind, public ivy means prestigious for a public school; schools that attract significant numbers of students from out of state.  Like Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, ... and UVA, among others.  

Everyone who goes to William and Mary knows that it is the REAL UNIVERSITY OF VA.  

 

;)

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Frankly, I'm a bit dismayed by this quote.  I'd like to think that the high school years are still for learning, not solely a college resume-building experience or for four years of partying.  High school may be the last time a student sees a wide variety of topics.  Even if my kids aren't going into a STEM field, I want them to have a good handle on the basics of physics, if only to understand why kinetic energy means that increasing your speed by 10 mph in a car can be a very big deal in an accident.  I want them to understand the basics of biology, if only to help them make medical decisions about themselves and their own families in the future.  I want them to understand the basics of statistics, which is vital to making sense of so many news stories.  I want them to get a good handle on at least one foreign language, so that they understand and can interact with other cultures.

 

Even if they don't go to college at all, and perhaps especially if they don't,  I'd still want them to understand all of the above and more.

 

 

In quoting you, I have lost the quote you quoted, which was basically, why should kids bust their butts in high school.

 

 

Frankly I agree with the quote.  My friends who did NOT bust their butts in high school and worry about being in the top 1% or merit scores and the like are mostly far more successful than I am in so many ways- financially, emotionally, and career wise.

 

I think my parents sold me on a bunch of garbage (that your whole life hinges on academic success and competitiveness/ excellence) and I have spent years trying to sort it out.  

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This the number one issue in my area. We only have CC bound ccourses or lower, and even with alternative school for the physically violent so little is being done academically that we are seeing all the bored student misbehavior, including the drug use escalating into heroin, the fast cars, and the deaths at the parties. There arent enough private schools to absorb all the children of college educated parents who are being underserved.

 

Don't make the mistake of thinking our top level classes are equivalent to those in a good high school.  If they were, I'd never have started homeschooling.  I'm in a statistically average public school.  I, myself, went to top schools.  The differences in those top classes is amazing.

 

My average public school gets about 1 student in the top 1% per year (sometimes two, sometimes none).  Our graduating class is around 300 each year, so we should have 3.  Those few who get there study themselves outside of school a bit along with taking our top classes.

 

The kids are equal to those I went to school with in ability (or lack thereof), but my high school regularly had 4-5 kids in that top 1% each year (more than that who went to top schools, not limited to Ivy) and my graduating class was a mere 189.

 

The courses differ in my average high school (by level students take) and they differ between my school and a really good high school even though the classes have the same name.

 

The same is true in colleges of all sorts.

 

FWIW, the Anatomy teacher at my average high school would have fit in extremely well at my high school.  He's a great teacher who will likely move on to college level teaching.  One can get great teachers or profs at all sorts of schools, but they're still limited by their student's abilities.  His courses at our school are tough, but even he will admit he could do a bit more if the students had a better background and/or work ethic coming in.  Our school is fortunate to have him.

 

IME, the difference between a really good high school and an average high school is the foundational level of the students coming in and the expectations of those students once we get them.  The school district I went to started tracking us students in 3rd grade and teaching according to our abilities.  It's no surprise at all to me that several students in my class have gone on and done VERY well for themselves.  A few didn't.  But at my high school reunion a couple of years ago most of those who did well continued doing well and are quite content now.  Many of those who found their niche (whatever that was) from any level seemed to be doing well from trades folks to highly educated.  I'm sure there is some bias that those who aren't pleased could have skipped the reunion, but it's a small town, so I still got filled in on essentially everyone I remembered.  

 

Finding an individual's niche is far better than aiming everyone for the top (or middle or bottom).  Quite frankly though, it's the bottom kids who have it the toughest in life (in general - excepting medical and/or drug/alcohol issues) if they don't have other skills or live in an area with decently paying jobs for what they can do.  That was the same at the high school I went to and the one I work at now.

Edited by creekland
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I'd like to think that the high school years are still for learning, not solely a college resume-building experience or for four years of partying.  High school may be the last time a student sees a wide variety of topics.

 

 

Yes, yes, and yes.  :iagree:

 

Ds2 had a ridiculously rigorous high school education, got into the college of his dreams, and dropped out of college after one year because he felt he could better pursue his dream career without spending an additional three years in college.

 

His college peers will graduate this Saturday. My son will not. Instead, he has launched an amazing high-profile career and is now the go-to guy for not just people in his company but people who have related ideas they want realized in the greater community of which he is part. His successful career launch was due to not just luck, hard work, and drive, but a stellar high school education in which he perfected the art of being an autodidact.

 

In high school he learned that he can learn anything given the internet and a reason for doing it.

 

Was his high school background, complete with upteen AP's, CC classes, SAT-2's, etc., overkill for a college dropout? NO! His education has allowed him to pursue his dreams -- even though his dreams did not involve academia! Without his high school education he might have had to stay in college to achieve his dreams! :tongue_smilie: 

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From a totally different angle, some students are just making different choices.  I know some that are not interested in the party culture and the college experience, have read things like "Paying for the Party" and Bruni's book.  I know a couple that are heading to a state school (not the flagship) with SAT scores that are hundreds higher than the average for the honor's college, and are getting the question, "Why?"  They are interested in attending school with a larger slice of the population.  Mine actually added "more non-traditional students" to his list.  There will be an 18yo cohort, for sure, but also single parents, part-time students, and older people heading back for degrees.

 

I don't know that that would explain the whole graduating class, but some schools do develop a sub-culture, particularly if the students are tight, so maybe those really are the choices they are making.

 

I can also think of two other possibilities:

1) The home culture of many of the students in the school is more family oriented (multi-generational homes, etc.), and staying close by is the obvious choice.

2) The top state school is very, very selective and there are guaranteed transfer agreements with those community colleges, so the students either didn't get in or want to save a couple of years before going to the top ranked schools.

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From a totally different angle, some students are just making different choices.  I know some that are not interested in the party culture and the college experience, have read things like "Paying for the Party" and Bruni's book. I know a couple that are heading to a state school (not the flagship) with SAT scores that are hundreds higher than the average for the honor's college, an   d are getting the question, "Why?"  They are interested in attending school with a larger slice of the population.  Mine actually added "more non-traditional students" to his list.  There will be an 18yo cohort, for sure, but also single parents, part-time students, and older people heading back for degrees.

 

I don't know that that would explain the whole graduating class, but some schools do develop a sub-culture, particularly if the students are tight, so maybe those really are the choices they are making.

 

I can also think of two other possibilities:

1) The home culture of many of the students in the school is more family oriented (multi-generational homes, etc.), and staying close by is the obvious choice.

2) The top state school is very, very selective and there are guaranteed transfer agreements with those community colleges, so the students either didn't get in or want to save a couple of years before going to the top ranked schools.

 

 

I have a friend who has three kids.  The older two have both had full rides to college- one at the honors college of a large state party school.  The other has a music scholarship to the flagship.  Both kids are brilliant and probably could have been ivy material.

 

Just validating Joules' point.  ;)

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I have a friend who has three kids.  The older two have both had full rides to college- one at the honors college of a large state party school.  The other has a music scholarship to the flagship.  Both kids are brilliant and probably could have been ivy material.

 

 

 

This reminds me that several big state schools offer an honors school-within-a-school option that can be attractive to high achieving students.  They may get a separate residence, priority registration, some ability to skip lower level classes, greater attention from faculty, opportunities for research, and more flexibility, depending on the program.  

 

I imagine some honors programs may not be all that, but it's worth researching.  

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This reminds me that several big state schools offer an honors school-within-a-school option that can be attractive to high achieving students. They may get a separate residence, priority registration, some ability to skip lower level classes, greater attention from faculty, opportunities for research, and more flexibility, depending on the program.

 

I imagine some honors programs may not be all that, but it's worth researching.

That was/is the experience of my older two and will most likely be dd's experience.

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 My friends who did NOT bust their butts in high school and worry about being in the top 1% or merit scores and the like are mostly far more successful than I am in so many ways- financially, emotionally, and career wise.

 

This is not true of my high school classmates. The ones who were average students academically and partied heavily during high school by and large either did not finish their bachelor's or they did but did not attend graduate school. Now there is one exception I can think of who wound up getting his PhD. in Neuroscience from a "name brand" school and is now doing a prestigious post-doc fellowship. If you'd asked me in high school whether I thought he had the brains for that, I'd have said "no way". He was not in any of the honors track courses, just regular college prep and he did his undergrad at a not-particularly-selective school.

 

The "brains" all finished their bachelor's and most got graduate/professional degrees. I haven't yet, but I am hoping to attend grad school in the next few years.

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I guess my thought is this: burning out at age 18 is really a bad idea.  If your child looks to be at risk of this by age 15 you should re-evaluate his or her course.

 

I did not burn out until my mother died six months after my high school graduation.  So you can not really plan anything in life.  

 

Anyway. Dealing with grief and love and peace and emotional health are key components to a good education.  Emotionally abusive parenting surrounding academics is real.  

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I think that money is a big issue. My ds is going to a University 15 min away from us that is not highly selective but he was accepted into highly selective schools. The other schools didn't have as strong of a program in his field plus his University has a special Engineering Honors program specially designed for those top students. Those high school stats don't necessarily show what programs the kids are going into.

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This reminds me that several big state schools offer an honors school-within-a-school option that can be attractive to high achieving students.  They may get a separate residence, priority registration, some ability to skip lower level classes, greater attention from faculty, opportunities for research, and more flexibility, depending on the program.  

 

I imagine some honors programs may not be all that, but it's worth researching.  

 

 

I've been to several local college-prep private high school graduations in the past ten years or so.  In the ceremony program, these schools typically list the colleges where each student was accepted, with the one they will attend in bold type.  My observation is that the kids from these schools are getting in to the same group of schools they were ten years ago, but nowadays they are choosing the more economical state school, whereas in the past they'd choose the name-brand private school.  (Typically, the students are excited about the privates, but as the economic reality sinks in, they decide on the state schools, often with honors program.)  Over time, this has meant that the local state schools are getting harder and harder to get into (even without the honors program), and the privates are struggling a bit to get the high-achieving students (or at least are putting more effort into courting them, including scholarship-wise).  

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   Emotionally abusive parenting surrounding academics is real.  

 

Living in the land of "Tiger Parents", I absolutely agree. But I don't think that one can make a blanket statement that average students outperform the high achievers in life. Plenty of "Tiger Cubs" are average students (unfortunately for them) and plenty of high achievers do not have overbearing "Tiger Parents".

 

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Living in the land of "Tiger Parents", I absolutely agree. But I don't think that one can make a blanket statement that average students outperform the high achievers in life. Plenty of "Tiger Cubs" are average students (unfortunately for them) and plenty of high achievers do not have overbearing "Tiger Parents".

 

 

:iagree:  My high achiever pulled us parents along.  He's still doing so - not a hint of burn out.  With med school looming, it will be a while before he ends up with a full time job, but he's had no problem getting paid handsomely for this summer and last doing research at Stanford and UR.

 

My average students are doing just fine too.  Oldest has a job using his degree (had it straight from college) and youngest has a job offer already for when he finishes (two more years).  Youngest might not take that job, but it's a nice back up if nothing else.

 

Among my parents and their siblings, both my dad and uncle went to college and both have enough to last into their retirement years from their job pensions and some savings.

 

My mom has 5 siblings.  One other besides her went to college.  The two of them are doing really well from a combo of pension and smart savings.  The other 4 are struggling considerably more in this economy.  They aren't hurting, but they sure don't have the luxuries of my mom and other aunt.  Those two help the other four out TBH.

 

It's not much of a surprise that my sister and I were brought up knowing we were going to college.  My parents and their siblings definitely fit the correlation with income/education over a lifetime.

 

My kids were the first of our families to go to private schools, but the scholarships two of the three got made the private schools less expensive than state schools.  That happens fairly often for good students in PA.  Youngest just really wanted his college and at the time they were the best school for his desired major (Marine Science).  He's switched majors, but still loves the school.  We pay a little more for that one than our state schools, but not oodles more.  It's worth it to us.  The whole college experience is worth it to us.  Which school is best depends upon the student and school though.

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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? 

 

I have a student who excelled in high school (graduated from high school with 300 college level math and science credits) who is attending a "football" university....a big one at that if winning 2016 National Champion qualifies as "big football." ;)

 

Bama has been a great school for him.  He is part of their research honors program (CBH....and their admissions stats are not dog food ;) ..the 2014 (CBH) entering class had above a 33 ACT or 1450 SAT and 4.30 GPA.)  and has been doing research since his freshman yr.  He is also pursuing their University Scholars Program which means he will graduate with his masters when he graduates with his bachelors.  He has great professors and fabulous mentors.  Attending Bama didn't hurt his REU applications.  He was offered 3 of the 6 he applied for.  He is doing research at Cornell for the summer.

 

He was accepted into every school he applied to except for one.  Why is he attending Bama?  The exact same reason people have said over and over on this thread.....MONEY. He is attending Bama full-ride.  That is a HUGE blessing for our family.  We absolutely cannot afford to pay our familial contribution.

 

Our rising sr is also incredibly gifted and hard-working.  She has regional and international awards.  I just finished her transcript and she will graduate with 38.5 credits, 15 of them foreign language credits (she plans on majoring in 2 languages.)  She is looking at schools that are lower ranked.  Why?  She should be a NMF and those schools will offer her large $$ scholarships.  

 

Prestige and name are like a $1,000,000 home.  Nice, but not necessary, and the tuition (mortgage) payment is huge.  

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I think finances may be a primary issue. Community College is very low cost, and many state flaships are affordable. Parents are becoming less likely to take out mortgages and parent loans to fund college, and due to issues in the market, many savings plans took a beating leaving middle class kids worrying A LOT more about money.

 

Commuting, attending a lower cosr regional state U, two years at a cc and then transferring....these are all becoming very common as more students cannot afford a tier 1 and particularly top 50 school.

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One thing besides money that is huge is good college advising. I am thinking of a top science fair student from another part of the state my daughter competed with for a couple years. She was the daughter of two public school teachers.

 

I googled her and she's in an honors college at a nearby state U, but could have gotten merit at all sorts of other places if she'd had them on her list. According to what I read, her dream school was Berkeley. I could not believe that her school and her science advisor didn't realize that even though she was very qualified academically for this, it was not going to be possible economically for an out of state student at her likely family income.

 

By the time the letters come out in March, it's too late to fix a bad college list. Families don't realize up front when they are overreaching academically or financially. Nobody tells them.

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Commuting, attending a lower cosr regional state U, two years at a cc and then transferring....these are all becoming very common as more students cannot afford a tier 1 and particularly top 50 school.

 

I'm not sure this is true.  The stats I saw from the past few years showed more interest in Top 50 schools via applications and (often) yield, not less.

 

The schools that tend to have problems are those 2nd and 3rd tier privates without enough money to attract students compared to state schools.

 

Even then, youngest's school has its largest freshman class ever coming in.  It was the same way last year.  They aren't Top 50 (except for Marine Science where they are in or at the top).  Google tells me they are #127 in LAC rankings this year.

 

I haven't heard the current stats for middle son's school yet, but the past few years have had larger classes in too - with a lower acceptance rate due to a higher yield.  His is Top 50 though, so fits the pattern of many top schools.

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One thing besides money that is huge is good college advising. I am thinking of a top science fair student from another part of the state my daughter competed with for a couple years. She was the daughter of two public school teachers.

 

I googled her and she's in an honors college at a nearby state U, but could have gotten merit at all sorts of other places if she'd had them on her list. According to what I read, her dream school was Berkeley. I could not believe that her school and her science advisor didn't realize that even though she was very qualified academically for this, it was not going to be possible economically for an out of state student at her likely family income.

 

By the time the letters come out in March, it's too late to fix a bad college list. Families don't realize up front when they are overreaching academically or financially. Nobody tells them.

 

I cannot agree with this enough!  This is what I see/hear where I am.  Lots of high achievers (local high school averages about 10 NMF and a handful Commended).  Their college lists are usually some version of the state flagship and a couple Ivies.  Or the state flagship and some out of state public Ivy types.  Or the state flagship and NYU.  Or our state flagship and some other state flagships that don't offer good aid for out of state.  I hear kid after kid with a list that I am pretty certain is going to end with them at our state flagship either because the reaches were all lottery admissions schools or schools that I knew were not going to be offering merit aid.  

 

The bad college list will usually contain the state flagship and that might end up being the only viable option when the letters come in.  I had a friend in this situation.  I tried to advise but so many people just won't hear it.  Her situation ended up in lots of private loans because lottery admissions didn't pan out and there was just too much disappointment associated with attending the state university.  A private school with more prestige won out but the cost is hefty.  

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So, apparently, our state flagship was described as a worthy runner-up in Richard Moll's Public Ivies: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities (1985) and as a "public ivy" in Howard and Matthew Greene's The Public Ivies: America's Flagship Public Universities (2001). Shrug. I must be honest: Until as recently as January of this year, I only knew its rank on Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and the global lists that get bandied about -- and, of course, that it enjoys an international reputation in a number of programs, including engineering, physics, and computer science.

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So, apparently, our state flagship was described as a worthy runner-up in Richard Moll's Public Ivies: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities (1985) and as a "public ivy" in Howard and Matthew Greene's The Public Ivies: America's Flagship Public Universities (2001). Shrug. I must be honest: Until as recently as January of this year, I only knew its rank on Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and the global lists that get bandied about -- and, of course, that it enjoys an international reputation in a number of programs, including engineering, physics, and computer science.

 

Many state flagships are excellent schools very equivalent to top private schools.  That's been known for eons.

 

Lesser known state schools aren't always of the same caliber.  Mansfield or Kutztown in PA rarely make Top anything lists.  Penn St or Pitt often do.

 

What many don't care for with public flagships is their size.  I went to Va Tech (a top school).  It has more than 24,000 students.  I loved it.  Some prefer smaller and most equivalent private schools are much smaller.  Middle son's top school has 5-6000 students.  It can be easier to get involved in research (you like) with smaller schools.

 

The pros of the larger schools is they often have really nice "toys." (aka engineering tools, lasers, etc)

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Many state flagships are excellent schools very equivalent to top private schools.  That's been known for eons.

 

 

Well, if not eons, at least for several decades. ;o) When I was an admissions counselor at Temple, it was no secret that many of my admitted students were simply waiting to hear from Penn State.

 

My observation was less about the excellence of many state flagships (a given) and more about my failure to realize that our state's flagship is considered a "public ivy." Even though I knew its rank on other common lists, to say nothing of the strength of many of its programs and its reputation as a research institution, its "public ivy" designation had somehow escaped my notice.

 

 

 

What many don't care for with public flagships is their size.  I went to Va Tech (a top school).  It has more than 24,000 students.

 

Agreed. Size can be daunting. The total enrollment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is more than 44,000, with nearly 33,000 undergrads. At so large an institution, it becomes critical to find opportunities and/or organizations that enable students to connect with their program in meaningful ways.

 

 

The pros of the larger schools is they often have really nice "toys." (aka engineering tools, lasers, etc)

 

Oh! My! Goodness! Yes! Even in this budget-befuddled time here in Illinois, the "toys" and activities and projects and research happening at UIUC... So exciting!

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I'm not sure this is true.  The stats I saw from the past few years showed more interest in Top 50 schools via applications and (often) yield, not less.

 

 

I think it is hard to understand the context of these statistics.  Clearly, there are way more applications per candidate than before, so applications should be up across the board.  Also, I think (please correct me if I'm wrong), the total number of high school graduates, and the number of graduates interested in going to college has been going up faster than the number of open places for freshmen has been going up.

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I think it is hard to understand the context of these statistics.  Clearly, there are way more applications per candidate than before, so applications should be up across the board.  Also, I think (please correct me if I'm wrong), the total number of high school graduates, and the number of graduates interested in going to college has been going up faster than the number of open places for freshmen has been going up.

 

The number of applications to many top schools has been increasing, but their yield has also been increasing (yield being the number accepted who actually go on and matriculate).  This combo has caused many to lower their acceptance rates so they don't end up with too many freshmen saying "yes, I'm coming" and then running short on housing or class space.

 

Not only are there more US students interested, foreign applications are also up and many of them are looking for top schools.

 

Top schools are not losing their popularity at all from what I've seen.

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Also, I think (please correct me if I'm wrong), the total number of high school graduates, and the number of graduates interested in going to college has been going up faster than the number of open places for freshmen has been going up.

Nope. The demographics are not great for colleges right now. The number of kids trying to get into Harvard keeps going up faster than Harvard is willing to grow, but for the typical college, it's getting harder to fill the class. This is why so many schools are giving large merit awards and/or stepping up their efforts to recruit international students to fill the class.

 

http://highereddatastories.blogspot.com/2015/11/how-will-demographics-change-enrollment.html

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Nope. The demographics are not great for colleges right now. The number of kids trying to get into Harvard keeps going up faster than Harvard is willing to grow, but for the typical college, it's getting harder to fill the class. This is why so many schools are giving large merit awards and/or stepping up their efforts to recruit international students to fill the class.

 

http://highereddatastories.blogspot.com/2015/11/how-will-demographics-change-enrollment.html

 

I can back this up with a couple of articles from the NY Times.

 

Idaho State actively recruits students from the middle east because they don't have enough applicants from the US:  "...signs of the fissures developing in this railroad town as Idaho State became increasingly dependent on Saudi and Kuwaiti students to replace income lost from steep declines in local enrollment and state funding."

 

Some universities are so desperate for students they aggressively recruit unqualified international students who end up in remedial classes:  "Western Kentucky’s deal with the recruiting company ... is a type of arrangement that is becoming more common as a thriving international educational consultancy industry casts a wide net in India and other countries, luring international students to United States colleges struggling to fill seats. "

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Yes, like I mentioned in a previous post, TOP colleges are doing just fine.  (Some) lower level colleges are those having trouble.  

 

I expect to see that trend continue with even more closures of some schools.

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I'd rather send my kid to a low ranked college that had engaged professors that had been teaching for awhile than some college that only happens to be ranked high because so many people have heard of it due to a lot of research splash or because people with a lot of money send their kids there.  (It makes no difference to ME that people with money go there, even though they may be forging connections with each other)

 

Colleges that are set up with teaching as their primary focus are often better for the undergrad.  TA's can be good, but they really are just starting out at the teaching gig.  As a result, on average, they aren't going to have the experience that will help students learn.  But the colleges/universities that get ranked high generally get to that ranking by having professors that do a lot of research, not teaching.  So a highly ranked university, on average, won't be nearly as good for an undergrad who's just there to learn the basic material (it's all basic in the first few years, which covers just about all of the undergrad degree)

 

Fancy gadgets and research can be useful, but a lot of the smaller colleges have figured out ways to get their students involved in high level research, either through summer programs at other universities or just by partnering with nearby large universities  - if they aren't writing their own grants for research funding themselves.  In my experience, a higher percentage of the students at small, mostly non-research colleges get research experience than do the undergrads at the huge research-based institutions.  At the smaller colleges, there are faculty that care about getting these experiences for all their students, not just the academic stars.

 

And I'd be very leery of equating admission percentages with quality.  There are lots of factors that go into how many applicants a college admits.  It's not as simple as it may seem. 

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Colleges that are set up with teaching as their primary focus are often better for the undergrad.  TA's can be good, but they really are just starting out at the teaching gig.  As a result, on average, they aren't going to have the experience that will help students learn.  But the colleges/universities that get ranked high generally get to that ranking by having professors that do a lot of research, not teaching.  So a highly ranked university, on average, won't be nearly as good for an undergrad who's just there to learn the basic material (it's all basic in the first few years, which covers just about all of the undergrad degree)

 

There may be many reasons to choose a college that does not do research, but I wanted to comment on the bolded. Professors just researching and not teaching has not been my experience - neither at the public research university where I teach, nor at the top ranked university my DD attends.

In our department, all courses except for intro lab sections are taught by professors, even though most of them are heavily involved in their own research programs. Likewise, all of DD's courses have been taught by professors. And all colleagues involved in research at other universities or other departments also teach.

It is not generally true that research university means compromised teaching, just as it is incorrect to assume that tenured professors are generally better teachers than adjuncts.

 

By the way, there are also arguments why professors who are actually doing research have a deeper insight and subject expertise than instructors who are just hired to teach.* Thinking about new problems and staying up to date on current developments seems necessary to me to avoid stagnation, which poses a definite issue to teaching faculty who are teaching the same introductory courses for decades. We observe over and over again that the quality of teaching tends to decline after a certain time teaching the same course.

 

I also question the assessment

 

won't be nearly as good for an undergrad who's just there to learn the basic material (it's all basic in the first few years, which covers just about all of the undergrad degree)

.

I guess it depends on your definition of basic. 

 

*ETA: Just to take an example from my own department: it is far more beneficial for the students to have a class on Computational Physics taught by a professor who is actively doing computational physics research, has built his own 200 cpu computer cluster, is writing his own software to do physics modeling and achieves results published in peer reviewed journals than by a teaching professor who has just read about the material in a book.

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There may be many reasons to choose a college that does not do research, but I wanted to comment on the bolded. Professors just researching and not teaching has not been my experience - neither at the public research university where I teach, nor at the top ranked university my DD attends.

In our department, all courses except for intro lab sections are taught by professors, even though most of them are heavily involved in their own research programs. Likewise, all of DD's courses have been taught by professors. And all colleagues involved in research at other universities or other departments also teach.

It is not generally true that research university means compromised teaching, just as it is incorrect to assume that tenured professors are generally better teachers than adjuncts.

 

By the way, there are also arguments why professors who are actually doing research have a deeper insight and subject expertise than instructors who are just hired to teach. Thinking about new problems and staying up to date on current developments seems necessary to me to avoid stagnation, which poses a definite issue to teaching faculty who are teaching the same introductory courses for decades. We observe over and over again that the quality of teaching tends to decline after a certain time teaching the same course.

 

I also question the assessment

 

.

I guess it depends on your definition of basic. 

 

Same here on all counts.

 

 When I see the difference in the classes and research at middle son's school vs schools some of his peers chose... I definitely can't agree that the lower ranked colleges offer either more, the same, or better with respect to classes or research opportunities.

 

All of his classes have also been taught by profs.  TAs are used for recitations.  Some of his classes have presented material too new for textbooks because it's ongoing research.  Students are already expected to know the basics or they skim through those very quickly.  As mentioned some times before (not necessarily this thread), I took his first Bio 101 test to a teacher/prof who was insisting that every Bio 101 class covered the same material because "a cell is a cell."  It took him less than 30 seconds to change his mind.  Then he wanted to know why certain things were being tested because "that's material I never got until grad school."  

 

Top schools have kids coming in who know the basics and can fly right on to research.  They need to know deeper level material to be productive in that research.  Classes are aimed correctly.

 

MANY students can't handle the depth and speed, so getting a good student/college match is important.  Top kids can truly be bored at lower level schools and then they wonder what college is all about.  Average kids (or those without a good work ethic) can be overwhelmed at top schools - esp if they aren't interested in research.  Then they often drop out.  Neither situation is good IME.

 

But it's definitely a fallacy to assume that School A = School B because the classes have the same name.

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Fancy gadgets and research can be useful, but a lot of the smaller colleges have figured out ways to get their students involved in high level research, either through summer programs at other universities or just by partnering with nearby large universities  -

 

Thank you for posting this.  Is it true that professors at smaller LACs do not do research?  If your student wants to do research while studying at an LAC, they'll need to look elsewhere?   This is quite an eye opener for me, and will definitely influence where my kids apply.  

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Thank you for posting this.  Is it true that professors at smaller LACs do not do research?  If your student wants to do research while studying at an LAC, they'll need to look elsewhere?   This is quite an eye opener for me, and will definitely influence where my kids apply.  

 

Many LACs have research going on.  Eckerd has some very interesting Marine Science and Bio research going on that I would consider high caliber.

 

Just when picking an LAC (or Research U) one needs to look at WHAT is being researched as there are far fewer options due to their size.  If those options require "toys" (equipment) there can be more limited options too.

 

But for the student wanting to do Marine Science research, Eckerd beats URoc hands down.  Eckerd is right on the water and pipes it in to their research lab.  URoc?  Not so much...  Even comparing Apples to Apples, we thought Eckerd was a better option for Marine Science than U Miami (a research U).  Why?  Eckerd is smaller and has no graduate students plus has their research facilities right on campus.  U Miami is larger meaning graduate students get to do a fair bit of the "fun" stuff and more competition from undergrads for what they get to do.  Their research lab is not part of their traditional campus.  It's a few miles away (on the water).  It takes a van ride to get there - not quite as easy as rolling out of the bunk in the dorm and meandering down the walk.  Both schools are quite good.  IMO, Eckerd is better.  When I had checked out Hollings scholarships, Eckerd beat everyone else in the nation for winners even though they're a smaller school (a NOAA scholarship for undergrad research).

 

It's always important to look at the individual school and what profs are researching compared to what the student is looking for.  Sometimes the LAC is the better choice and sometimes #127 can be at the top.  It's worth it to do some hours of research.

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I'm not sure this is true.  The stats I saw from the past few years showed more interest in Top 50 schools via applications and (often) yield, not less.

 

The schools that tend to have problems are those 2nd and 3rd tier privates without enough money to attract students compared to state schools.

 

Even then, youngest's school has its largest freshman class ever coming in.  It was the same way last year.  They aren't Top 50 (except for Marine Science where they are in or at the top).  Google tells me they are #127 in LAC rankings this year.

 

I haven't heard the current stats for middle son's school yet, but the past few years have had larger classes in too - with a lower acceptance rate due to a higher yield.  His is Top 50 though, so fits the pattern of many top schools.

It is probably more regional then. It is very true in our area as once again our stupid state legislature drops funding for our good state schools, tuition is going up, private schools are so outpacing wages in this area it is just staggering, and unemployment here remains high. Quite frankly, our best students can't afford school, period. While some of them are gaining admission to Top 50 schools, they aren't getting enough merit aid to make it within reach.

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