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8FillTheHeart

Perspective: the highly accomplished student rejections

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I agree with Lisa - there are plenty of schools for kids who are "just" bright, but you have to be realistic.

 

My son (finishing his BA in about a week) applied to about 10 undergrad schools, and he got into all of them. None of them were the schools that the CC kids pine after. But the list was extremely well-suited to his stats. Only two of them turned out to be out of reach financially, and neither of those two were first choice anyway.

 

Now he is set to attend a graduate school that would also not satisfy most of the CC posters. But, it is a solid regional school with an excellent alumni network for internships and jobs. And I suspect (hope) that it will be a great fit for him.

 

He will graduate debt-free (no loans for us, either) from both undergrad and masters.

 

 

Edited by Penguin
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No hating on the caving.  Though it does sound scary and highly unpleasant.  

 

I took another look at her ECs.  She should have left everything off her application EXCEPT the caving.  

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My dh was in the NC borehole grotto, and he took me into a cave big enough that we walked/crawled/slithered 3 days in and 3 days out.  Slept inside this cave for 5 nights.  It was the honey bucket that was not so nice.  You can't leave *anything* in the cave.  :tongue_smilie:

Ruth in NZ

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I actually wanted to try rappelling at the California chasms. However it cost $72 just to try. So I would be thinking how affluent the girl is instead.

 

"Rappel – (ages 12 and up – parent or legal guardian must be present to sign the waiver) $72.00

REPEAT Rappel – show rappel card (ages 12 and up – parent or legal guardian must be present to sign the waiver) $47.50"

Link to photos of people rappelling at the chasm http://caverntours.com/moaning-cavern-adventure-park-and-california-zip-lines/cave-rappel-moaning-cavern/

 

ETA:

Outward Bound School camp was offered subsidized/free to all 9th graders in the secondary school I attended though. So caving won't be unusual.

 

Depends on circumstances.  DS1&2 learned rock climbing with a subsidized youth sports program.  It included a number of outings.  I think it cost $75 per season.  DS 3 learned to climb at scout camp.

 

You can climb at an indoor rock gym for $10-15 for all day.  That is around the cost of a movie ticket.  

 

Our extended family includes rock climbers.  This is what they do for days off and vacation.  But they are camping in rustic cabins and driving there in their minivan, not hanging out at a luxurious chalet.  

 

There are a lot of caves in the VA/WV/OH/KY area.  You don't have to be wealthy to go caving.

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What's with the hating on caving?  It sounds like fun!

 

Because "that girl's crazy" sounds so much better to me than, "I'm a coward!"  :laugh:

 

 

ETA:  I think fear is an old person thing, to some extent.  When I was in college, I took a geology class with field trips.  We went into a cave and some of the smaller of us squeezed through a very narrow passage to get to a deeper part of the cave.  While I was on my back wiggling through with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest, the classmate ahead of me needed my flashlight.  So I had to lay there in complete and utter darkness alone with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest.  For what felt like an eternity.  I don't think I had nightmares or anything.  Oh, to be young again!

Edited by JoJosMom
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Not for one med school.  Like many, he applied to 20 (or thought he had anyway!).  There's the initial application fee and almost all schools have a fee for their secondary (where you fill out more info each one requests).  Since his MCAT and GPA are so high, he got automatic secondaries from pretty much everywhere - and sent them in - without knowing he didn't have some basics most schools want (sigh).

 

 

1)  He was told he was a terrific candidate for MSTP - a super competitive program.  He was told his research was unique and would attract admissions.

 

In reality, he's researching how kids acquire language - not a medical deal really.  It's a Brain and Cognitive subject.  MSTP schools want to see prior medical related research.  In addition, my guy has only been on his topic for one year and two summers (having been on other things prior).  Med schools told him they want a minimum of two years in the same study.  This one was the biggie that never got him even looked at for interviews according to feedback.

 

2)  He was told if he wasn't accepted for MSTP, schools would automatically consider him for plain ole med school, so he figured that was his Plan B.  That's true at the school he attends (where he's on the Waitlist for med school), but NOT true in most of the places he applied - hence - he never applied to med schools at those places.  Even at those that do consider for med school, the med school folks were likely to have looked at his stats (not necessarily noticing the research part) and assume he'd get MSTP, so would look for more likely to attend candidates.

 

If he'd known those two key FACTS, he'd have adjusted his applications accordingly - and according to real medical people, be happily attending med school this fall.

 

But there's still 3) He was told it doesn't matter when you submit secondaries - anytime is fine.  In reality schools like to see interest and part of showing interest is having those secondaries submitted within a couple of weeks of getting them.  He didn't even have everything he needed from his school within a couple of weeks for some of the schools...

 

That's minor though - still annoying.  All of the "real" info came from med school admissions feedback.

 

In the end, he got 2 interviews - from his own school where he's done so well and from a school they helped get MSTP (probably a formality for them to invite someone to interview from his school TBH).  His own school rejected him from MSTP and put him on the wait list for med school.  The other interview led to a wait list as well (again, we're thinking formality since it's MSTP, but who knows).  We don't know how those will turn out, but like any waitlist, we're not holding our breath.

 

Upon checking the credentials of his Pre-Med advisers (in hindsight - after being blindsided by the real info he received in feedback), he saw that absolutely none of them have anything medical in their experience - they weren't even pre-med themselves in college.  They seem to be just grads who needed jobs.  Who knows where they're getting their info from.  One wants to yell at them to go across the street and talk to the med school admissions at their own school to get REAL info to pass on... esp since he's not the only one who was told incorrect info.

 

It'll mean another year off for him (Take 5 being his first) - not very pleasing - but not the end of the world either.  We were prepared to hire an outside consultant, but the doctors he's shadowed were as aghast at what happened as we were and have taken him under their wing giving advice and info for this year's apps.  We trust their info!  It's also helped him feel this is the right course for him.  When all he was getting was rejection after rejection (without even getting interviews at most places), it definitely made him question himself.  Fortunately, folks suggested he ask for feedback and he got it - helping us all realize what had happened (sigh).  It's frustrating, but beats him thinking it was him!

 

By "liking" this post I didn't mean I liked what happened to your son - that is an incredible story. I hope he ends up getting an offer from his school. The application process has changed a lot. My dd is getting ready to apply and I'm already stressed. Her pre-med advisor said 13 application is about right. Someone is making big money on those apps.

 

 

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Because "that's girl's crazy" sounds so much better to me than, "I'm a coward!"  :laugh:

 

 

ETA:  I think fear is an old person thing, to some extent.  When I was in college, I took a geology class with field trips.  We went into a cave and some of the smaller of us squeezed through a very narrow passage to get to a deeper part of the cave.  While I was on my back wiggling through with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest, the classmate ahead of me needed my flashlight.  So I had to lay there in complete and utter darkness alone with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest.  For what felt like an eternity.  I don't think I had nightmares or anything.  Oh, to be young again!

 

 

A friend of mine talked about that.  She said that when you're young, you don't know too many people who've had bad things happen to them.  But the time you're 40, you know someone whose died in a motorcycle accident, you know someone whose spouse died young, you know someone who *fill in the blank.*  

 

And once you start knowing people who've had bad things happen to them, you get more cautious and start to wonder if you'll be next.  When you're young you think, "Oh, I don't know anyone whose actually had that happen!"  So it's not as real that bad things can happen when you're young.

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1)  He was told he was a terrific candidate for MSTP - a super competitive program.  He was told his research was unique and would attract admissions.

 

 

 

 

Wow, I am dumbfounded.  And I'm so sorry.  And he needs to sit tight and apply again next year.  

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I get so tired of reading this and similar laments on CC, and the part that I find said is, "But I had such good ECs!"  And their ECs are exactly what every other applicant has--French club, scholastic bowl and caving/hiking/summer league swim so I look athletic and, therefore, well-rounded.  I'm more and more convinced that ECs for the sake of having ECs, which is usually what scholastic bowl is (really?  your idea of a good time is scholastic bowl?  or French club?) are worthless. 

 

You've obviously never met my DH. He truly LOVED being on his high school's quiz bowl team. Just like he loves playing Trivial Pursuit and watching Jeopardy back when we had cable instead of streaming. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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By "liking" this post I didn't mean I liked what happened to your son - that is an incredible story. I hope he ends up getting an offer from his school. The application process has changed a lot. My dd is getting ready to apply and I'm already stressed. Her pre-med advisor said 13 application is about right. Someone is making big money on those apps.

 

With the correct advice, it shouldn't be too awful of a process with good stats, etc, and just looking at med school.  My guy's problem was mainly going MSTP and getting incorrect info associated with that.  I suspect 13 is decent too.  My guy was at 15 until he was persuaded to add 5 more - all money out considering the info.  I'm not sure how many he has in mind for this year, but it shouldn't be 20.

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I agree with Lisa - there are plenty of schools for kids who are "just" bright, but you have to be realistic.

 

My son (finishing his BA in about a week) applied to about 10 undergrad schools, and he got into all of them. None of them were the schools that the CC kids pine after. But the list was extremely well-suited to his stats.

 

I agree. Out of our kids, there has been one rejection, MIT. It was a school that should never have been applied to anyway bc it would never have been affordable. For most of their applications, acceptance is not the serious concern. For our family the serious issue is assessing their competitiveness for scholarships.

 

Our results on this front resemble top tier applications-- sometimes predictable, sometimes not. It isn't so clear cut. It can really come down to what the student brings to the campus that might just fit a niche the school needs vs something superior to other students.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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You've obviously never met my DH. He truly LOVED being on his high school's quiz bowl team. Just like he loves playing Trivial Pursuit and watching Jeopardy back when we had cable instead of streaming. :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

I loved it too - and French Club...  It amazes me to think some folks assume kids only do these things for college apps.  Maybe that's true in some places or with a few kids, but most I've met who are really involved actually enjoy what they choose to do in high school.

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You've obviously never met my DH. He truly LOVED being on his high school's quiz bowl team. Just like he loves playing Trivial Pursuit and watching Jeopardy back when we had cable instead of streaming. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Hey, I met my husband by playing high school quiz bowl! Yes, we were on the team because it was fun. Yes, we are geeks. :)

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 When I was in college, I took a geology class with field trips.  We went into a cave and some of the smaller of us squeezed through a very narrow passage to get to a deeper part of the cave.  While I was on my back wiggling through with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest, the classmate ahead of me needed my flashlight.  So I had to lay there in complete and utter darkness alone with about a bazillion tons of earth about 3 inches above my chest.  For what felt like an eternity.  I don't think I had nightmares or anything.  Oh, to be young again!

 

I'm not copping to being old, but my chest hurts just reading this story, LOL!

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I loved it too - and French Club... It amazes me to think some folks assume kids only do these things for college apps. Maybe that's true in some places or with a few kids, but most I've met who are really involved actually enjoy what they choose to do in high school.

My district's high school that offers AP Japanese also expects all the students taking Japanese to participate in the after school Japanese Club. Their club page is now a Facebook page.

 

Link is to my district's senior profile document that seniors have to fill up and hand in to the guidance counselor. What do you think of the questions, are they similar to what your public high school (the one you substitute teach at) ask? https://wilcox.schoolloop.com/file/1220579211797/1219970549751/7410824659793678261.docx

Edited by Arcadia

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And what admissions expects of kids out of that district is not going to be the same as a kid from the middle of Mississippi or South Dakota. The top kids in those states (and others) may be bottom of the heap compared other applicants but top of the heap for their region. And, they will be accepted over the top kids, but not tippy top kids, from areas like yours.

 

People complain about the unfair top 1% by state for NMSF, but,really, admissions often replicates the exact same sort of scenario. Geographic region can play a role. Be a compelling student from a typically under represented state and your odds of admission may increase (like all things, depends on the school).

Okay, not from either of the two states mentioned but close to one of them.

 

Gotta say these sorts of generalizations get my goat a bit. I absolutely agree that geographic distributions play a role, but one can be from one of those states mentioned (or others in fly over country) but still not be "bottom of the heap" compared to those from CA or the Northeast. Idk what expectations necessarily are, but I don't think ten AP courses (would be 11 if BC Calculus counted as 2 courses if taken in one year) is all that lower than a typical applicant regardless of location.

 

Additionally, a state having a low qualifying score for NMSF does not mean that every student in that state achieved that recognition with a low score. Ds would have qualified with room to spare in any state in the nation with his score.

 

I understand what you are saying, but being from an underrepresented state does not mean one is accepted with lower stats/achievements, etc.

 

On another note, heck, yeah - Quiz Bowl is fun. And cool. You can letter in Quiz Bowl where I live. And qualify for state as an individual player. It's under the same umbrella as athletics in my state.

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Okay, not from either of the two states mentioned but close to one of them.

 

Gotta say these sorts of generalizations get my goat a bit. I absolutely agree that geographic distributions play a role, but one can be from one of those states mentioned (or others in fly over country) but still not be "bottom of the heap" compared to those from CA or the Northeast. Idk what expectations necessarily are, but I don't think ten AP courses (would be 11 if BC Calculus counted as 2 courses if taken in one year) is all that lower than a typical applicant regardless of location.

I don't disagree with you at all. You're right; my comment was too broad.

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My district's high school that offers AP Japanese also expects all the students taking Japanese to participate in the after school Japanese Club. Their club page is now a Facebook page.

 

Link is to my district's senior profile document that seniors have to fill up and hand in to the guidance counselor. What do you think of the questions, are they similar to what your public high school (the one you substitute teach at) ask? https://wilcox.schoolloop.com/file/1220579211797/1219970549751/7410824659793678261.docx

 

The link doesn't work for me.  I get "No Items Match Your Search."

 

No clubs are "forced" at our school except if kids taking foreign languages want to travel out of country once they reach level III or IV in that language.  Then they have to be part of that club because all travel plans are talked about then.

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 really?  your idea of a good time is scholastic bowl?   

 

I think this is the wrong board to be hating on academic games, lol.   

 

 

For student's in the UK the hard thing is exam scores are not released until a few days before most are due to leave for their first year of Uni so knowing a student who didn't get in at the last moment is really common.  

 

That is brutal.

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The link doesn't work for me. I get "No Items Match Your Search."

Quoted from my linked document. Just wondering if these are common/typical questions for the student profile document to be handed in to the guidance counselor.

 

"Part II:

1) List your three most distinguishing or most admirable qualities.

 

2) Describe the single academic accomplishment of which you are most proud, and tell why you take special pride in it. (paper, science project, experiment or artistic project)

 

3) Is there anything unusual about your family?

 

4) What do you choose to learn when you can learn on your own?

 

5) Discuss any circumstances (positive or negative) that have influenced your life/education.

 

6) Discuss an incident or experience in your life that helped you develop drive, focus, motivation or maturity. Why are you the way you are?

 

7) Give reasons why you should be considered for a particular college or scholarship.

 

8) Is your high school academic record an accurate measure of your ability and potential? If not what do you consider the best measure of your potential for success in college?

 

9) In what areas do you feel you need to improve?"

 

They did have a useful deadlines section

"Colleges to which you are applying. Include recommendation due dates:

1) ​        Due Date:     

2)​        Due Date:     

3) ​        Due Date:

4)​        Due Date:   

5) ​        Due Date:   

6)​        Due Date:

7)​        Due Date:

8)​        Due Date:     

9)​        Due Date:   

10)​      Due Date:     

11) ​        Due Date:     

12)​      Due Date: "

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Quoted from my linked document. Just wondering if these are common/typical questions for the student profile document to be handed in to the guidance counselor.

 

"Part II:

1) List your three most distinguishing or most admirable qualities.

 

2) Describe the single academic accomplishment of which you are most proud, and tell why you take special pride in it. (paper, science project, experiment or artistic project)

 

3) Is there anything unusual about your family?

 

4) What do you choose to learn when you can learn on your own?

 

5) Discuss any circumstances (positive or negative) that have influenced your life/education.

 

6) Discuss an incident or experience in your life that helped you develop drive, focus, motivation or maturity. Why are you the way you are?

 

7) Give reasons why you should be considered for a particular college or scholarship.

 

8) Is your high school academic record an accurate measure of your ability and potential? If not what do you consider the best measure of your potential for success in college?

 

9) In what areas do you feel you need to improve?"

 

They did have a useful deadlines section

"Colleges to which you are applying. Include recommendation due dates:

1) ​        Due Date:     

2)​        Due Date:     

3) ​        Due Date:

4)​        Due Date:   

5) ​        Due Date:   

6)​        Due Date:

7)​        Due Date:

8)​        Due Date:     

9)​        Due Date:   

10)​      Due Date:     

11) ​        Due Date:     

12)​      Due Date: "

 

My guess is that the guidance counselors are using the answers to these questions in order to create a guidance counselor recommendation letter that gives the impression that they "know" the applicant, when the reality is that they may not even know the applicant's name if they encountered him/her in the hallway of the school. 

 

 

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Every year the UK newspaper's are full of students with no offers or who didn't make grades through the UCAS system. Many are so determined for Oxbridge that they only apply to popular programs at those Uni's so you frequently hear of students with 5A's and better being accepted nowhere.

 

 

And Oxbridge (think they) are very good at working out who is just really good at passing exams, vs. who is an exciting and original thinker.  There are extra exams and then academic in-person interviews (Calvin had five separate interviews with faculty/lecturers) before offers are sent out.

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Having filled out numerous teacher recommendations for college apps and scholarships, I recognize all of those questions. They are from Gates Millenium, Common App, and Questbridge to name a few. As someone else said, those are to help the counselors and teachers do their recommendations.

 

My district's high school that offers AP Japanese also expects all the students taking Japanese to participate in the after school Japanese Club. Their club page is now a Facebook page.

 

Link is to my district's senior profile document that seniors have to fill up and hand in to the guidance counselor. What do you think of the questions, are they similar to what your public high school (the one you substitute teach at) ask? https://wilcox.schoolloop.com/file/1220579211797/1219970549751/7410824659793678261.docx

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Quoted from my linked document. Just wondering if these are common/typical questions for the student profile document to be handed in to the guidance counselor.

 

"Part II:

1) List your three most distinguishing or most admirable qualities.

 

2) Describe the single academic accomplishment of which you are most proud, and tell why you take special pride in it. (paper, science project, experiment or artistic project)

 

3) Is there anything unusual about your family?

 

4) What do you choose to learn when you can learn on your own?

 

5) Discuss any circumstances (positive or negative) that have influenced your life/education.

 

6) Discuss an incident or experience in your life that helped you develop drive, focus, motivation or maturity. Why are you the way you are?

 

7) Give reasons why you should be considered for a particular college or scholarship.

 

8) Is your high school academic record an accurate measure of your ability and potential? If not what do you consider the best measure of your potential for success in college?

 

9) In what areas do you feel you need to improve?"

 

They did have a useful deadlines section

"Colleges to which you are applying. Include recommendation due dates:

1) ​        Due Date:     

2)​        Due Date:     

3) ​        Due Date:

4)​        Due Date:   

5) ​        Due Date:   

6)​        Due Date:

7)​        Due Date:

8)​        Due Date:     

9)​        Due Date:   

10)​      Due Date:     

11) ​        Due Date:     

12)​      Due Date: "

 

Not exact, but very similar, and yes, it's used for the counselors to better understand the student they are writing about.  Sometimes they know the student well and other times they've only really met in a couple of annual meetings.  Top students they tend to know fairly well as they are usually more active in our school, but even then, it'd be easy to forget important parts or activities if they didn't have a list to work off of.  (I'm the same way when I go shopping TBH.  As we get older our memories slip, esp when trying to remember multiple things.)

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I think this is the wrong board to be hating on academic games, lol.   

 

That's the truth!  It boggled my mind to think anyone wouldn't think scholastic quiz bowls are fun, but then I remembered the Hive is more diverse than just "my kind."   :lol:

 

ETA:  While on the subject, do any of y'all subscribe to Lumosity?  It's not a quiz bowl, but they have a collection of "Brain Games."  We have a family subscription... and love it.  It's important to us that we stay fairly high in the stats too.  ;)  (My best is 99% in Problem Solving.  Hubby's best is Memory.  I'd have to check with the boys since they're at college.  Two of my three love it.  The other is into other thinking games.)

Edited by creekland
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Let's break down this applicant's ECs:

 

Choir:  School choir?  Time-consuming, perhaps, but they take everyone who shows up.  If you are really into choral music, you would be involved in city-wide choirs; you would enter (and win) vocal contests; you would try out for The Voice; you would--I don't know, do something else if vocal performance is your thing.  Adcom Plansrme gives 0 points for choir.

 

Scholastic bowl:  Okay, I get the competitive spirit may make this fun, but was she captain of her team?  Did they win?  More importantly, is this a year-around activity?  If not, 0 points.

 

Forensics:  This is debate, correct?  Public speaking?  Did she win anything?  Does her intended major have anything to do with debate or public speaking?  Did she debate in French?  Adcom Plansrme gives this 1 point unless she debated in French, in which case I give it 2 points.

 

Literary magazine:  Did she write for this or just lay out articles?  If the former, and she included a sample of her writing, Adcom Plansrme gives her points serious points because Plansrme U values literary pursuits.  If the latter?  Adcom Plansrme says 0 points.  Plansrme U does not value cutting and pasting.

 

Caving:  Okay, I'm with the rest of you--if she's really into caving, I would have gone all-in on the caving angle.  If she went once so she would look athletic, which is what I suspect, 0 points.

 

French Club:  Was there leadership?  Was she president, or did she just show up for the quiche contest?  Did she spend a summer in Paris or Montreal (0 points--boondoggle) or in a French-speaking country in Africa where she used her language skills to organize a polio vaccine clinc?  (Serious points.)  

 

Honor societies:  0 points, on the grounds that you've already been given points for whatever got you into the honor society in the first place.

 

VA French Governor's School:  Adcom Plansrme had to look this one up (it is a language immersion camp), but if her major and career plans require French, i.e., she is going to work for the Olympics or in French-speaking Africa, I give it points.  

 

HOBY VA:  Leadership seminar?  0 points.  

 

VA Girls' State:  Yawn.  Adcom Plansrme says this is just like HOBY VA and subtracts points for duplication.

 

Perhaps it's a good thing I am not in admissions at a highly-selective school.  

 

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I agree that these ECs are not special for highly competitive schools but I wouldn't belittle them. I suspect things like VA Governor's school,Hoby, and Girls State are honors within the school and state. She might have had to compete for those spots and that might be very impressive- within her school. She might go to a fantastic school. She's done well and her parents should be proud as punch.

 

I think what many parents and students just don't see is that there are many many schools in the world!! Even if your child is the very top kid at her school there are not enough spots in top colleges for the top kid from every school in the world. The world is BIG.

 

My local friend that is struggling with this with her second child just can't seem to see how big the competition is. "But my kid is all district orchestra" and "all district sport" and " state honor mathlete". I'm thinking that alot of these Ivy spots are going to kids that are "all world" as opposed to "all district".

 

I do also blame the competitive high school for pushing the "Ivy or bust" or maybe "settle for Wash U St. Louis". Every year they get a few kids into these schools so they get bragging rights and they have about 30 kids every year terribly disappointed. But there are enough that get in to continue to feed the madness.

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Let's break down this applicant's ECs:

 

Choir: School choir? Time-consuming, perhaps, but they take everyone who shows up. If you are really into choral music, you would be involved in city-wide choirs; you would enter (and win) vocal contests; you would try out for The Voice; you would--I don't know, do something else if vocal performance is your thing. Adcom Plansrme gives 0 points for choir.

 

Scholastic bowl: Okay, I get the competitive spirit may make this fun, but was she captain of her team? Did they win? More importantly, is this a year-around activity? If not, 0 points.

 

Forensics: This is debate, correct? Public speaking? Did she win anything? Does her intended major have anything to do with debate or public speaking? Did she debate in French? Adcom Plansrme gives this 1 point unless she debated in French, in which case I give it 2 points.

 

Literary magazine: Did she write for this or just lay out articles? If the former, and she included a sample of her writing, Adcom Plansrme gives her points serious points because Plansrme U values literary pursuits. If the latter? Adcom Plansrme says 0 points. Plansrme U does not value cutting and pasting.

 

Caving: Okay, I'm with the rest of you--if she's really into caving, I would have gone all-in on the caving angle. If she went once so she would look athletic, which is what I suspect, 0 points.

 

French Club: Was there leadership? Was she president, or did she just show up for the quiche contest? Did she spend a summer in Paris or Montreal (0 points--boondoggle) or in a French-speaking country in Africa where she used her language skills to organize a polio vaccine clinc? (Serious points.)

 

Honor societies: 0 points, on the grounds that you've already been given points for whatever got you into the honor society in the first place.

 

VA French Governor's School: Adcom Plansrme had to look this one up (it is a language immersion camp), but if her major and career plans require French, i.e., she is going to work for the Olympics or in French-speaking Africa, I give it points.

 

HOBY VA: Leadership seminar? 0 points.

 

VA Girls' State: Yawn. Adcom Plansrme says this is just like HOBY VA and subtracts points for duplication.

 

Perhaps it's a good thing I am not in admissions at a highly-selective school.

I would love to know what a secretary of the French club does. DS volunteered, booked a library room, sent out sign up sheets and is tutoring for his oral exam today. I hereby appoint him secretary of his own French club. 🙄 Can I get this motion seconded, o hive?

My grad school sent out an email last year asking us to interview candidates and I didn't volunteer because enough that one kid has to suffer this massive cynicism :)

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My $0.02.

 

I believe students need extracurriculars that go beyond the normal clubs that B&M high schools offer. I think not having the "normal" high school activities would look odd, but many of them don't require much of anything to be able to list them. Within high school activities, I think there needs to be some depth and progressive growth for some of them. I don't think listing "Environmental Club," or "French Club," or whatever does anything for anybody. I feel like outside ECs are what really make an applicant stand out. These require more initiative (and, unfortunately, often times more financial resources) on the part of the student and allow for demonstrating a true long-term commitment. For ds, these were 1) music instruction ($$$), which was multi-faceted and included lessons, competitions, accompaniment, playing gigs, playing in church and for charity events, and composition; and 2) Scouting with an Eagle rank being earned. These outside ECs allowed him to show commitment beyond the three years of high school that are on applications when one applies. Certainly one can show commitment and passion to high school organizations as well and that should be done. Hold offices, win awards, stretch yourself through those organizations. But, IMO, it needs to move beyond just being a member.

 

Outside ECs can obviously really play into the homeschooling wheelhouse as there is great flexibility to allow for depth of interest to be pursued in many creative ways. It can also take a lot more initiative for homeschooling students to find ECs if there is no B&M school connection. I think that speaks highly of homeschooling applicants who have made their own paths in a meaningful way.

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Let's break down this applicant's ECs:

 

Choir: School choir? Time-consuming, perhaps, but they take everyone who shows up. If you are really into choral music, you would be involved in city-wide choirs; you would enter (and win) vocal contests; you would try out for The Voice; you would--I don't know, do something else if vocal performance is your thing. Adcom Plansrme gives 0 points for choir.

 

Scholastic bowl: Okay, I get the competitive spirit may make this fun, but was she captain of her team? Did they win? More importantly, is this a year-around activity? If not, 0 points.

 

Forensics: This is debate, correct? Public speaking? Did she win anything? Does her intended major have anything to do with debate or public speaking? Did she debate in French? Adcom Plansrme gives this 1 point unless she debated in French, in which case I give it 2 points.

 

Literary magazine: Did she write for this or just lay out articles? If the former, and she included a sample of her writing, Adcom Plansrme gives her points serious points because Plansrme U values literary pursuits. If the latter? Adcom Plansrme says 0 points. Plansrme U does not value cutting and pasting.

 

Caving: Okay, I'm with the rest of you--if she's really into caving, I would have gone all-in on the caving angle. If she went once so she would look athletic, which is what I suspect, 0 points.

 

French Club: Was there leadership? Was she president, or did she just show up for the quiche contest? Did she spend a summer in Paris or Montreal (0 points--boondoggle) or in a French-speaking country in Africa where she used her language skills to organize a polio vaccine clinc? (Serious points.)

 

Honor societies: 0 points, on the grounds that you've already been given points for whatever got you into the honor society in the first place.

 

VA French Governor's School: Adcom Plansrme had to look this one up (it is a language immersion camp), but if her major and career plans require French, i.e., she is going to work for the Olympics or in French-speaking Africa, I give it points.

 

HOBY VA: Leadership seminar? 0 points.

 

VA Girls' State: Yawn. Adcom Plansrme says this is just like HOBY VA and subtracts points for duplication.

 

Perhaps it's a good thing I am not in admissions at a highly-selective school.

Just from a list it is hard to determine what the activity meant to her. Your post made me laugh bc if I listed my dd's activities as a list, it would be puny and easily scoffed at.

 

One of her activities is the Alliance Francaise. It only meets once a month. :) But she included it in one of her essays bc going to those meetings showed depth of commitment to learning French. When she first started attending, everyone there was elderly and sat in tight-knit groups. They were not overly welcoming to a young teen. But she wanted the opportunity to speak in French, so she would go up and start talking to people in French. I am pretty sure that activity was seen as a strength bc Dd self-taught herself to fluency in French.

 

Another one of her activities was translating a Russian fairy tale bc she loves fairy tales, cultures, and Russian. No leadership. Just pure love of what she was doing.

 

I think judging her outcomes based on a list is not really fair. She could have been a very qualified applicant who just didn't stand out. She may not have created a compelling story about who she is and why she chose to do what she did. I personally think that is the key. (Why do you spend your time doing what you do.)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Just from a list it is hard to determine what the activity meant to her. Your post made me laugh bc if I listed my dd's activities as a list, it would be puny and easily scoffed at.

 

One of her activities is the Alliance Francaise. It only meets once a month. :) But she included it in one of her essays bc going to those meetings showed depth of commitment to learning French. When she first started attending, everyone there was elderly and sat in tight-knit groups. They were not overly welcoming to a young teen. But she wanted the opportunity to speak in French, so she would go up and start talking to people in French. I am pretty sure that activity was seen as a strength bc Dd self-taught herself to fluency in French.

 

Another one of her activities was translating a Russian fairy tale bc she loves fairy tales, cultures, and Russian. No leadership. Just pure love of what she was doing.

 

I think judging her outcomes based on a list is not really fair. She could have been a very qualified applicant who just didn't stand out. She may not have created a compelling story about who she is and why she chose to do what she did. I personally think that is the key. (Why do you spend your time doing what you do.

 

See, participating in Alliance Francaise and using it to gain fluency in French is exactly what I think would/should stand out.  It's not a club organized by her French teacher, that she is required to join as a condition of taking French.  She went out of her way to seek opportunities for practicing French--that's good stuff.  Ditto to translating Russian fairy tales.  

 

As to the bold, exactly my point.  She needs to stand out to get into these schools, and my point is that nothing on this list stands out.  She thinks they do, but to a cynical admissions committee who wades through thousands of applicants a year, I suspect otherwise.  The applicant says she wouldn't change anything about her high school involvement, and that's great--not many people can say that, but I strongly believe one of her reasons for engaging in these activities was to get into a selective college, and that is where I think she went wrong.  High schools tell you that this is the way to get into these schools because they want you involved in their community.  They want to be awash with volunteers to man the registration table at freshman orientation because they need community service hours and with good students who want to tutor other students so they can check "peer tutor" on their apps.  The high schools are perpetuating this story; it is no wonder that students are angry when it doesn't pan out.

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See, participating in Alliance Francaise and using it to gain fluency in French is exactly what I think would/should stand out. It's not a club organized by her French teacher, that she is required to join as a condition of taking French. She went out of her way to seek opportunities for practicing French--that's good stuff. Ditto to translating Russian fairy tales.

 

As to the bold, exactly my point. She needs to stand out to get into these schools, and my point is that nothing on this list stands out. She thinks they do, but to a cynical admissions committee who wades through thousands of applicants a year, I suspect otherwise. The applicant says she wouldn't change anything about her high school involvement, and that's great--not many people can say that, but I strongly believe one of her reasons for engaging in these activities was to get into a selective college, and that is where I think she went wrong. High schools tell you that this is the way to get into these schools because they want you involved in their community. They want to be awash with volunteers to man the registration table at freshman orientation because they need community service hours and with good students who want to tutor other students so they can check "peer tutor" on their apps. The high schools are perpetuating this story; it is no wonder that students are angry when it doesn't pan out.

But love of French and wanting to master it at a high level could be the very reason that she went to the French governor's school. :)

 

A list by itself doesn't say anything. If I had just said Alliance Francaise (1x/month), Russian fairytale translation project, etc, it just isn't as meaningful.

 

I do agree 100% that kids are getting the wrong advice as to what they should be doing with their time. I don't know that kids understand that they need to write a compelling story about who they are bc that story is all adcoms have to go by.

 

This is what they need to hearing:

 

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

 

Really.

 

Logan Powell, dean of admissions at Brown University, noted that it doesn’t necessarily matter if a student is doing athletics, community service, academic clubs or anything else. What he’s looking for is why a student is choosing to do those activities and what they got out of it.

 

“Have they learned time management skills, leadership, teamwork, discipline? How have they grown as a person and what qualities will they bring to our campus?†he asks.

 

Cohen tells students Ivies are looking to “admit specialists who focus on a few core interests for all four years of their high school careers.†So she tells students to focus on what they love instead of joining a bunch of random clubs that they don’t care about because admissions readers see right through that. “Being genuine is what will make them stand out,†she says.

 

Students who get admitted to Ivy League schools are talented and have lives outside the classroom.

 

http://college.usatoday.com/2017/04/26/heres-what-it-really-takes-to-get-into-the-ivy-league-these-days/

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My local friend that is struggling with this with her second child just can't seem to see how big the competition is. "But my kid is all district orchestra" and "all district sport" and " state honor mathlete". I'm thinking that alot of these Ivy spots are going to kids that are "all world" as opposed to "all district".

 

 

Agreed.  I've often wondered what being all-county, etc., really means for orchestra.  If it is a sport such as swimming, then I know that that being on the all-county team is a nice honor; you get your picture in the paper with a little bio; it's fun.  BUT, it really says nothing about your actual success in the sport.  High school swimming is not where the action is.  Club swimming is what matters.  I have a friend whose HS junior is a cellist.  Sure, he plays with his high school orchestra and gets all-region and that sort of thing, but he also auditioned for, and won, a spot with the Atlanta Symphony's Youth Orchestra.  He spends summers at music camps I've only heard of because of that "From the Top" program on public radio.  His cello-playing ability is the level that I would think will stand out on his college apps, but it has nothing to do with his being named all-district.  And there's nothing wrong with playing cello "only" well enough to be all-county!  I don't mean that at all.  I do mean, though, that if standing out is your goal, that's not enough.

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Agreed. I've often wondered what being all-county, etc., really means for orchestra. If it is a sport such as swimming, then I know that that being on the all-county team is a nice honor; you get your picture in the paper with a little bio; it's fun. BUT, it really says nothing about your actual success in the sport. High school swimming is not where the action is. Club swimming is what matters. I have a friend whose HS junior is a cellist. Sure, he plays with his high school orchestra and gets all-region and that sort of thing, but he also auditioned for, and won, a spot with the Atlanta Symphony's Youth Orchestra. He spends summers at music camps I've only heard of because of that "From the Top" program on public radio. His cello-playing ability is the level that I would think will stand out on his college apps, but it has nothing to do with his being named all-district. And there's nothing wrong with playing cello "only" well enough to be all-county! I don't mean that at all. I do mean, though, that if standing out is your goal, that's not enough.

Exactly. Many students at elite schools who have studied music play conservatory rep level music, even though they do not choose to audition for music conservatories. They might or might not be good enough for a conservatory admission (talk about competitive!), but they are at that level.

Edited by Hoggirl
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Agreed.  I've often wondered what being all-county, etc., really means for orchestra.  

 

 

It also varies by county, I'd imagine. LA county has >10M people in it, Kalawao county has 89 people in it. 

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(snip)

I understand what you are saying, but being from an underrepresented state does not mean one is accepted with lower stats/achievements, etc.

 

 

Of course, you are right about this.

 

None of my kids are in the tippy-top pool, so keep that in mind with my comment. Call me shameless, but I do look for schools where my kid might have the geographical edge. I just figure all other things being equal, he might get chosen/offered money if he helps to balance the applicant pool. Never would I think that was the only reason he got chosen/offered money. For the one who was accepted to everywhere he applied, we mostly looked at mid-tiers, regional universities, in-state state schools, and CTCL-type schools. All but the state schools were out of our state. Most were out of our region. Oh, and we do have a budget, lol.

 

I am just starting to think about the current 10th grader's list. Gulp. Maybe it would be good to start a master thread where we help each other build lists.

 

 

 

(CTCL = Colleges that Change Lives)

Edited by Penguin
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Of course, you are right about this.

 

None of my kids are in the tippy-top pool, so keep that in mind with my comment. Call me shameless, but I do look for schools where my kid might have the geographical edge. I just figure all other things being equal, he might get chosen/offered money if he helps to balance the applicant pool. Never would I think that was the only reason he got chosen/offered money. For the one who was accepted to everywhere he applied, we mostly looked at mid-tiers, regional universities, in-state state schools, and CTCL-type schools. All but the state schools were out of our state. Most were out of our region. Oh, and we do have a budget, lol.

 

I am just starting to think about the current 10th grader's list. Gulp. Maybe it would be good to start a master thread where we help each other build lists.

 

 

 

(CTCL = Colleges that Change Lives)

 

Many, many private schools have told us that geography definitely matters - for admission and financial offers. One school was missing ND.  In a general visit meeting the whole group was told if anyone was from ND, please apply.  I doubt they needed tippy top stats, but I expect they'd need basic stats.

 

Even the fact that we have a rural zip code helps us.  There is more competition from cities.

 

If one is from a desired region AND has super high stats for that school, it's extra bonus points.

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Regarding ECs, that gal has decent ones that got her into some very good schools.  Her main problem was nothing stood out as "extra" for super high level schools, esp if she's coming from a place with oodles of local competition for the same schools.  I suspect that's her "problem."

 

I definitely wouldn't diss her accomplishments.  I've seen plenty of kids at school - even higher stat kids - who do nothing.  They get to senior year and don't have anything to put on that piece of paper.  She sounds like she does a bit and should be a terrific student at U Richmond (certainly not a slouch school!).  I suspect she'll be active there - and that's what schools want to see.  They like students who take an interest in more than academics.

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My local friend that is struggling with this with her second child just can't seem to see how big the competition is. "But my kid is all district orchestra" and "all district sport" and " state honor mathlete". I'm thinking that alot of these Ivy spots are going to kids that are "all world" as opposed to "all district".

 

I do also blame the competitive high school for pushing the "Ivy or bust" or maybe "settle for Wash U St. Louis". Every year they get a few kids into these schools so they get bragging rights and they have about 30 kids every year terribly disappointed. But there are enough that get in to continue to feed the madness.

I do partially blame my district's public high school counselor for not being clear. The person told my friend's child to take AP Spanish because it would likely give a good score according to the high school's past score trends. The same person also told the student to pick a sport and pick a music/fine arts ECA to look more well rounded. So the child is in the school tennis team to have a sport and then in low key recitals just to have a music ECA. The only thing pointy for this child is her writing as she has won writing contests consistently over the years since middle school. Everything else was started at 9th grade and at a normal level.

 

The private schools here do brag about Ivy acceptance and selective schools acceptance because that is the best way to get parents to enrol their kids. So many schools and parents are just playing the college admission game.

For example from Basis Independent

"Our seniors did phenomenally well with the University of California school system. We had three students accepted to both Berkeley and UCLA. UC San Diego expressed the most love for BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students with an amazing 8 acceptances!

Three seniors were offered admission to Ivy League schools this year – one to Yale University and two to Cornell University." http://blog.basisindependent.com/bklyn/2016-college-acceptances

 

From Harker for class of 2014, 2015, 2016

I just quoted the Ivy League and the colleges that my neighbors fancy. Full list here https://www.harker.org/upper-school/support-services/college-counseling/college-acceptances

"Brown University 21

Columbia University 28

Cornell University 59

Dartmouth College 18

Harvard University 17

University of Pennsylvania 27

Princeton University 19

Yale University 23

 

Stanford University 42

California Institute of Technology 36

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 35

University of California, Berkeley 176

University of California, Los Angeles 133

University of California, San Diego 175

University of California, Santa Barbara 170"

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I think you cannot as a parent/counselor/student over estimate the capriciousness of admissions.

 

I think some schools will reject you if they sense you are using them as a safety school, why deny another kid admission if it is clear (to the adcomm) you will attend a different school.  I think some schools will reject you if they sense that you won't be useful to them as an alum or that your family won't be useful in the meantime.  I think it is also important to know that highly selective schools receive enough qualified applicants to fill their acceptance list multiple times.  Your number might not come up in that lottery.

 

A healthy dose of statistical realism in admissions and honest conversations about expectations and tuition costs/financial aid/scholarships are very important in this process.  I'm not saying that students should never reach for the stars (they should) but they should also have plans and choices that excite them.  Acceptance at the Harvard of your dreams isn't the only path to happiness and success in life; ideally an applicant should see many paths to their dreams and be excited, perhaps in different ways, by all of them.

 

FWIW on the topic of ECs:

 

I have seen colleges break out percentages of their incoming class that were:

National Merit

Top X % of class or valedictorian

Sports team captain (athlete)

Officer in student/class government

National Honor Society

Student Club Officer

Boy's State/Girl's State

Eagle Scout/Gold Award

Employed during high school

JROTC

Music/Theater

 

The fact that a college is willing to break out this information means they are looking for it.  Perhaps they are really only looking for who doesn't have it or who really participated actively.  While the competition may have these items on their application, a complete absence of these items on your application might indicate something to admissions.  Having certain ECs may not get you bonus points but in a highly competitive environment not having them (and not having something that replaces the typical list) might create a disadvantage.

 

 

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Such an enlightening thread, and I'm so glad I don't have to apply to college again. It seemed so easy to get into top schools 30 years ago. But wow, I feel for the kids today. That adds some stress. I'm glad reading this though. My kids are still middle school and have time to shape their interests and keep all this in mind. Thanks for all he sharing.

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My 2 cents, fwiw.

 

Many parents and students in my neck of the woods don't understand that for an unhooked applicant, the acceptance rate at these highly selective schools is actually significantly smaller than the published acceptance rate.

 

My takeaway after speaking with many coaches during my son's recruiting process is this: There are a variety of "buckets" that the admissions office wants to fill: recruited athlete, International Math/ Science kids, Music prodigies, 1st generation low income, URM, geographic diversity, legacy, etc.  If your file can be placed in one of the buckets, then your application will be competing only with other applicants that are in your same bucket.  

 

This does not mean that each year an applicant is chosen from each bucket.  I had one coach tell us that his school wants to admit a student from every state each year, but some years, they don't meet that goal because none of the applicants from a certain state had the qualifications to succeed at their school, so no one was admitted from that "bucket."  

 

Some of these buckets are also very tiny.  For my son's sport, the Ivy coaches are given 3 slots each year by admissions, so athletes are competing on an international level for one of three spots.  

 

The vast majority of applicants will not be placed into one of these specialized buckets, and applicants from this pool will only be evaluated after the applicants from the specialized buckets have been admitted.  This is the "non-specialized general bucket" where the admission really is a lottery.

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Such an enlightening thread, and I'm so glad I don't have to apply to college again. It seemed so easy to get into top schools 30 years ago. But wow, I feel for the kids today. That adds some stress. I'm glad reading this though. My kids are still middle school and have time to shape their interests and keep all this in mind. Thanks for all he sharing.

 

Yes. I'm glad for this thread and others that are so informative. Knowledge is power, right?

 

BUT I AM SO UNBELIEVABLY STRESSED about how to guide my kids (jrs this year) in choosing the right schools to apply to and then will they even get into any of them???!!!?

 

When I went to college I applied to two schools, got into both, and it was so much more affordable.

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From Harker for class of 2014, 2015, 2016

I just quoted the Ivy League and the colleges that my neighbors fancy. Full list here https://www.harker.org/upper-school/support-services/college-counseling/college-acceptances

"Brown University 21

Columbia University 28

Cornell University 59

Dartmouth College 18

Harvard University 17

University of Pennsylvania 27

Princeton University 19

Yale University 23

 

Stanford University 42

California Institute of Technology 36

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 35

University of California, Berkeley 176

University of California, Los Angeles 133

University of California, San Diego 175

University of California, Santa Barbara 170"

 

What I wish that these prep schools would do is separate out the legacy and AA admits from the regular admission admits in their stats. If they got 23 kids into Yale but 20 were legacies and 2 were AA admits, then that tells me my non-legacy kids' chances are probably LOWER than if they attend our zoned HS because Yale doesn't want to take too many kids from any given school.

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What I wish that these prep schools would do is separate out the legacy and AA admits from the regular admission admits in their stats. If they got 23 kids into Yale but 20 were legacies and 2 were AA admits, then that tells me my non-legacy kids' chances are probably LOWER than if they attend our zoned HS because Yale doesn't want to take too many kids from any given school.

The impression I had from a college admission talk at Quarry Lane was that the guidance counselor knows how many are legacies but they don't put that info out because college admission is so subjective and would be a can of worms. A legacy applicant may get in and another may not to the same Ivy League. Rejection rates for legacies applicants won't be a good marketing information. I don't know about AA admits.

 

I am within commute distance to Harker and what came up in my discussion with a talent search counselor about choosing high schools was that my kid would stand out more if he attended our assigned high school than if he went to Harker because no one in that public high school went to an Ivy or a selective private college. A few were accepted to UCB but not every year. In Harker, he would be lower than the top performers and won't stand out.

 

ETA:

Statistics on legacy admission is something that you would have to ask at Q&A for parents of prospective students. A few sessions we attended specify no taping.

Edited by Arcadia

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What I wish that these prep schools would do is separate out the legacy and AA admits from the regular admission admits in their stats. If they got 23 kids into Yale but 20 were legacies and 2 were AA admits, then that tells me my non-legacy kids' chances are probably LOWER than if they attend our zoned HS because Yale doesn't want to take too many kids from any given school.

 

 

What does AA mean, in this context?

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My 2 cents, fwiw.

 

Many parents and students in my neck of the woods don't understand that for an unhooked applicant, the acceptance rate at these highly selective schools is actually significantly smaller than the published acceptance rate.

 

My takeaway after speaking with many coaches during my son's recruiting process is this: There are a variety of "buckets" that the admissions office wants to fill: recruited athlete, International Math/ Science kids, Music prodigies, 1st generation low income, URM, geographic diversity, legacy, etc. If your file can be placed in one of the buckets, then your application will be competing only with other applicants that are in your same bucket.

 

This does not mean that each year an applicant is chosen from each bucket. I had one coach tell us that his school wants to admit a student from every state each year, but some years, they don't meet that goal because none of the applicants from a certain state had the qualifications to succeed at their school, so no one was admitted from that "bucket."

 

Some of these buckets are also very tiny. For my son's sport, the Ivy coaches are given 3 slots each year by admissions, so athletes are competing on an international level for one of three spots.

 

The vast majority of applicants will not be placed into one of these specialized buckets, and applicants from this pool will only be evaluated after the applicants from the specialized buckets have been admitted. This is the "non-specialized general bucket" where the admission really is a lottery.

Isn't this just the most liberating post? â¤ï¸
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What does AA mean, in this context?

 

Affirmative action for so-called "underrepresented minorities". Even though one of these groups is now actually the majority of high school students in my state (54%) and more than double the percentage of Anglos so they're no longer truly a minority.

 

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Affirmative action for so-called "underrepresented minorities". Even though one of these groups is now actually the majority of high school students in my state (54%) and more than double the percentage of Anglos so they're no longer truly a minority.

 

 

But they're under represented in the college population. Hispanics are now slightly over 50% of high school students in Texas but they're slightly less than 20% of students at UT Austin and only 22% at TAMU. That's a huge gap! The major goal of the automatic admit program was to make the universities look more like the state, but clearly, our flagships have a long way to go still.

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