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dereksurfs

Reasons to Consider a Less Selective, Less Expensive College

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Well, about 60% of students get a C or F on any one standard. (no D's here). What I like about the system is that they challenge good students through higher level thinking rather than just more content to memorize.

 

What are high school grades used for in NZ?  I assume that your University system is like the UK system, where admissions are mainly based on test scores, and GPA doesn't matter much for entrance to university.

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We will have to agree to disagree.  Our experience is looking outside the major or area of acceleration is also valuable in finding like minds.  My son has no desire to silo, and prefers people who enjoy thinking no matter what the major.  

 

Our experiences are definitely different - from high school on.  Readers should know there are differences (if they don't already) and consider schools according to their situation.

 

All three of mine liked having peers.  Major of interest to their peers and friends never really mattered.  I think that's common among students.

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...

 

Hi Ruth,

 

I really do appreciate you sharing your son's experiences as well as your thoughts on this. I also believe its good to consider 'both' sides of the coin when making one's final decision. The beauty of this forum is we have such a wide swath of students represented. I have considered the posts about fit and peers including opportunities to be challenged. I've always appreciated your thoughtful input on this forum among many others whose kids are at the elite schools for various reasons.

 

Quite honestly, the answer to these questions will naturally be narrowed for many of us due to financial constraints which include multiple children going to college. In addition, and possibly the most obvious, most are simply not in the place where they could gain acceptance to schools like MIT, Cal Tech or Stanford even if the parents could afford it. For us its more a matter of degrees within our given constraints. And in those cases, where would each child be able to thrive best given their strengths, weaknesses, goals and preferences? For us, the question won't be elite schools or not but rather a variety of public/private options considering many factors. Will ranking even matter for us in these cases where schools vary but not as extreme as top tier vs. the rest of the pack? Rather, some are generally more recognized as 'good schools' vs. those which are lessor known but may be a better overall fit. For example many of our state schools in CA are well recognized. In fact some are even considered public Ivys (UC Berkeley, UCLA, etc...). Then there are other middle of pack schools, so to speak, which have different claims to fame such as great engineering program, marine biology, nursing, etc... Still there are others which are more obscure but kids do fine in their areas of academic pursuits.

 

I definitely think about fit within our constraints and each child's interests. That is also why I'm currently more drawn to a local UC vs. Cal State school in close driving distance. The former (UCSC) offers more research in our son's areas of stem interest (Robotics, CS, Data Science). Though I know one of the professors at our local Cal State who also oversees a grant to begin new research and develop programs in Biomedical Data Science for the university. So I plan to speak with her about the school's goals including what they plan to develop academically in the next few years.

 

In addition to this, I've been thinking about our lessor known private schools such as Westmont and Chapman University along with more affordable options out of state. Though our oldest wants to stay in CA. So out of state may be more of a consideration for the younger ones once they approach college age. 

 

I think some of things you've described make perfect sense in your son's case (as well as others) who need peers at those levels, in his case elite schools. I just don't think that applies for other kids who will thrive within a variety of peer groups. In some cases based upon their personalities, they do better when they can rise to the top (big fish, small pond) while in others they do better when really pushed from the bottom of the pack. Then there are those who will do very well academically and professionally regardless of their peers. I've seen this first hand professionally where some of our best and brightest engineers went to 'average' state schools. Yet they are doing great in their work and adult lives. Some of them are very driven. There may even be a bit of an 'underdog' work ethic not there with those from the more well known schools. So overall I think there is a place for all of these schools, from the most elite to the more common public universities which represent a 'good fit' and 'good value' given the wide spectrum of college students we are have. kwim? 

Edited by dereksurfs
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It could also be important to add that there is rarely a "single" school that will work out for any given student, but rather several that could work just fine (even for fit, academic and otherwise).  Schools have peers too.  There's more than one that's in the Top Whatever for X field.

 

A key for those of us wearing Guidance Counselor hats is to winnow that list of 4000 (or whatever the number is) down to a tiny group worth applying to.  Ideally any one of that tiny group would fit and at least one will turn out to accept the student and be affordable.

 

Success can come from any college.  No one should dispute that, but "any college" is not always right for "this specific" student.  That's where Guidance Counselors try to help.  There are many factors to consider - those factors can even differ for each student.

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What are high school grades used for in NZ?  I assume that your University system is like the UK system, where admissions are mainly based on test scores, and GPA doesn't matter much for entrance to university.

 

GPA is the same as test scores here.  To get into university you need the equivalent of 4 SAT subject tests and 4 AP exams (so both a first and second year in a subject).  The difference is that each of these are single tests in the USA and they are 5 assessments each in NZ. Plus, there is no multiple choice, all assessments are all essay exams, papers, lab reports, art portfolio, etc. So basically students here take 20 assessments in their Junior year and 20 in their senior year, and these assessments are nationally standardized like the AP exams. Because NZ is a small country, ALL grades here are nationally moderated.  So if you write a paper or do a lab report, it is based on a very specific standard and grading rubric, and then the teachers have to send in examples of their grades to make sure they are not grading too easy or too hard.  And A at one school is identical to an A at another because the standards are the same and the grading is the same.  Does that make sense?

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Derek, I totally get what you are saying.  My main point was to explain how not all of the kids applying to elites are after prestige or think that it will directly link to a better job. I know that that was not your thoughts, but I do get hints of it from others both here and elsewhere. I also know there is a bit of a rat race and helicopter parent thing going on with the competition to get into elites, and we have mostly side stepped it by being in NZ.

 

 

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Peers, sigh.  I have thought long and hard about this.  DS's desires for peers come out of his own experience.  He has taken two math courses at the local university which is highly regarded and the mean and median for the courses was 60%. DS scored 100% in both.  Students were 4 years older than him.  It was this experience that has driven him out of NZ for university. He could ramp up to graduate level and work closely with a professor, and we have seriously and deeply considered this option. And he really doesn't want to do it.  He doesn't want to have to self study all UG material, he wants courses to be hard enough that he can take them with peers and study together and learn from each other.  He is also not ready to chose a research path, or field of interest.  He wants time to explore his options. 

 

As for peers through other areas.  This is what he wrote about in his university essays. That there were no peers in math, so he gained peers and friends through music, and it was through these friendships and experiences that he learned that he wanted to work cooperatively in math and science, not on his own. 

 

He has also applied to two schools with honors programs. One global, one just in mathematics.  And the one in mathematics has a professor who has already offered to be his mentor, so if he goes there he would have peers and a mentor.  This school is top of *my* list. We will see if it is for ds.

 

I think that it is hard to know what is going to work, and all we can do is collect evidence and work within our own experience.  

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I'm curious to know how summer programs correlate to actual experiences on campus. My teen has been to several summer camps at various campuses with varying levels of selectivity and cost (both for the camps and for the colleges/universities where the camps took place). The differences have been striking. I'm aware that this is anecdotal and somewhat subjective, but I'm interested in hearing about the perceptions and experiences of others. Does a summer camp give a good reflection of college life at the school?

I really think summer camps have nothing at all to do with the school.

The opposite may happen, ie child may form strong opinion based on a SPLASH program or summer camp or whatever. There's a school I personally think should be on DS short list that he now refuses to consider because? I don't know, maybe it was overcast that day. I'm finding out that there is such a thing as too little info, too soon.

Edited by madteaparty

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Peers, sigh...

 

Lewelma,

 

Its interesting that you mention this regarding his peers. Our oldest ds has experienced this 'in part' during some of his college courses at our local CC. He doesn't like to say he is in high school and because of his height most don't realize it. After getting the highest score on one of his chemistry exams, the professor made him come up in front of the class which he really doesn't like. He then asked him his keys to success, was it his high school chemistry classes? lol However, since he had never taken chemistry before and 'was' in high school, he didn't quite know how to respond. Awkward! :tongue_smilie:

 

I've asked him how he feels about this, being at the top or near top of his classes. He said that there are other students doing well and getting A's. So he hasn't really thought about it much and it hasn't bothered him. He still has to study diligently to do well. Being in high school, he doesn't look for college age study buddies or anything like that. Nor does he long for that kind of peer group. But that could change once he's in college, I guess. For now he's very independent in his studies, though he doesn't mind working in groups on projects as long as the others aren't too flaky. 

 

So I do find it very interesting to hear about these kinds of academic peer concerns especially when its coming from the students themselves. The kind of peer groups our kids enjoy have more to due with extracurricular interests.  For example, ds loves piano and jazz and he's had the opportunity to play with other musicians in various venues. In addition, he likes to hang out with peers in our church youth group. Right now he's getting ready for an all day amusement park trip and is super exciting about it. These kids come from a wide range of backgrounds (academically, socioeconomically) with an even wider range of hobbies and interests. 

 

All this to say its not out of the realm of possibility that he'll join an academic club or honors program in the future and get really excited about that. For our younger dds, they take more prodding academically and would much rather be outside playing or engaged in other hobbies. So we'll see over time how that works out.  

Edited by dereksurfs
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This whole thread is depressing. My kids are in 7th, 4th, and 3rd grade, which means 8 straight years of college, 4 of those years with 2 in college at once. I think we could probably afford $20K/year, but what good is $20K? That won’t cover tuition at even a lower tier private school. And based on what I’ve read, EFC is usually way more than families realistically can pay. I do not want my kids having to commute an hour each way to the nearest state school with its low admission standards and depressing, unsafe campus. Neither do I want them commuting a half hour to the glorified high school that is our closest community college.

 

I can try to sock away $20K/year for the next 5 years, but it still won’t cover one year of college per kid.

 

They’re smart but not driven. They’ll probably make solid test scores, maybe even high test scores, but they’re not going to win the competitive top-level merit scholarships.

 

I feel now like my kids would have been better off with me working full time and having them in school. (Unfortunately I was so determined to be a homeschool mom that I did not get any qualifications that would enable me to have a lucrative career.) The whole point of me homeschooling them was to have a higher standard than our lousy public schools, but if they end up in lousy colleges anyway, it’s kind of a waste.

Edited by musicianmom

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And based on what I’ve read, EFC is usually way more than families realistically can pay.

 

I think it's very individual.  Why not pop on to a few college websites (e.g. your state flagship and then a couple of private colleges that you think might be possible for admission) and run the NPC right now?  It may not be perfect info, but it's better than no info at all.

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This whole thread is depressing. My kids are in 7th, 4th, and 3rd grade, which means 8 straight years of college, 4 of those years with 2 in college at once. I think we could probably afford $20K/year, but what good is $20K? That won’t cover tuition at even a lower tier private school. And based on what I’ve read, EFC is usually way more than families realistically can pay. I do not want my kids having to commute an hour each way to the nearest state school with its low admission standards and depressing, unsafe campus. Neither do I want them commuting a half hour to the glorified high school that is our closest community college.

 

I can try to sock away $20K/year for the next 5 years, but it still won’t cover one year of college per kid.

 

They’re smart but not driven. They’ll probably make solid test scores, maybe even high test scores, but they’re not going to win the competitive top-level merit scholarships.

 

I feel now like my kids would have been better off with me working full time and having them in school. (Unfortunately I was so determined to be a homeschool mom that I did not get any qualifications that would enable me to have a lucrative career.) The whole point of me homeschooling them was to have a higher standard than our lousy public schools, but if they end up in lousy colleges anyway, it’s kind of a waste.

 

Many parents get overwhelmed especially initially when considering the cost of college. This is even more so when they have multiple children. Since we homeschool and my wife stays at home with the kids out of choice, we're in what some refer to as the 'donut hole' financially. The single thing that has helped us the most in coming to grips with these things are friends who are in the same boat with BTDT experience. There are some on this forum who can help with that as well. We've found friends locally who also assist us in this way. Its almost like preparing for marriage or giving birth for the first time. You need support!

 

Locals typically can give some of the best advice since they are in your same shoes, especially those with similar financial constraints considering the college options available. Whenever we feel somewhat overwelmed, I remind my wife about the engineer I work with who has 9 kids and his wife homeschools. They have three in college and five more waiting in the wings! Out of sheer necessity they decided that if their kids wanted to go to college, they would have to fund it themselves. And guess what? They're all doing fine so far. One has graduated with a BS in engineering from their flagship state school. When speaking with them, they are not stressed out about it since they've found an approach that works for their family. 

Edited by dereksurfs

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@musicianmom - I won't lie to you, kids with more money do have more options. If you haven't opened a 529 account, start now. Test scores also increase your options and chances for merit aid, so do a little test prep, too.

 

It isn't hopeless and your kids aren't limited to two schools. Financial aid is constantly changing, so there isn't any specific school advice I can give now that will be good in four years, but start going to college fairs and presentations and ask questions in 10th grade. Ask your friends with kids slightly older than yours for tips.

 

Here is my list of financial aid writers to look into

 

Financial Aid Blogs and Resources

 

Troy Onink - Financial Aid, College Financing

http://forbes.com/sites/troyonink

 

Lynn O’Shaughnessy - Financial Aid, Merit Aid

http://thecollegesolution.com

Also her book, The College Solution

 

Michelle Kretzschmar

College search, merit aid, athletic scholarships for baseball/softball. Michelle writes for two blogs:

http://diycollegerankings.com

Collegemoneysearch.com

Michelle homeschooled her son, but does not usually write about this aspect of college admissions.

 

Ann Garcia - Financial Aid

Thecollegelady.wordpress.com

 

Capstone Wealth Partners

This is a financial advisor based in Columbus, OH.

Blog: https://www.capstonewealthpartners.com/resources/blog/

Financial aid education videos. If you'd prefer a video answer to reading a FAQ, this one's for you!

https://www.capstonewealthpartners.com/resources/college-funding-learning-center/

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The idea that students can only find intellectual "peers" at elite schools is simply not true. In fact, if one is looking for "large numbers of peers," as mentioned above, they may be better off at a top state flagship. Obviously test scores are not the only measure of intelligence, or even the best measure, but it's convenient since it's easy to find comparable stats for various schools. The top 1-1.5% of students in the US have test scores of 33-36 ACT, or 1500-1600 SAT.

 

Total number of students with scores in this range:

 

Harvard (~65%) 4,400

Princeton (~65%) 4,000

Yale (~65%) 3,500

Brown (~50%)  3,300

Ohio State (25%) 11,000

U Michigan (~35%) 10,500

UCBerkeley (~35%) 10,200

UT Austin (25%) 9,800

UVA (~35%) 5,600

UNC-CH (25%) 4,500

 

There are three times as many top 1-1.5% students at Michigan, Berkeley, or Ohio State as there are at Brown. UNCCH and UVA have more than Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.

 

Most flagships have honors colleges and other programs that bring top kids together for housing, classes (smaller, more rigorous, with top profs), and other special perks and programs. Of course there are students, particularly in STEM fields, who are not just top 1%, but top 0.001%, and those students may find more genuine peers — other 0.001% students — at MIT, Chicago or similar ultra-elite schools. But the idea that the typical smart/gifted kid with a 35 ACT and lots of AP 5s can't find "intellectual peers" at a school like Michigan, UTAustin, or Ohio State is absurd.

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@corraleno - how did you get these numbers? Just linear interpolation? I would be interested in doing this for my DD's college list.

 

I'm not quite sure that I agree with your points, since intellectual vibe is more than just the test scores.

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This whole thread is depressing. My kids are in 7th, 4th, and 3rd grade, which means 8 straight years of college, 4 of those years with 2 in college at once. I think we could probably afford $20K/year, but what good is $20K? That won’t cover tuition at even a lower tier private school. And based on what I’ve read, EFC is usually way more than families realistically can pay. I do not want my kids having to commute an hour each way to the nearest state school with its low admission standards and depressing, unsafe campus. Neither do I want them commuting a half hour to the glorified high school that is our closest community college.

 

I can try to sock away $20K/year for the next 5 years, but it still won’t cover one year of college per kid.

 

They’re smart but not driven. They’ll probably make solid test scores, maybe even high test scores, but they’re not going to win the competitive top-level merit scholarships.

 

I feel now like my kids would have been better off with me working full time and having them in school. (Unfortunately I was so determined to be a homeschool mom that I did not get any qualifications that would enable me to have a lucrative career.) The whole point of me homeschooling them was to have a higher standard than our lousy public schools, but if they end up in lousy colleges anyway, it’s kind of a waste.

[tangent from thread]

You may want to consider DE at a CC if your students are up to that and it is discounted for high schoolers in your state.

You could eliminate one or one and a half years of costly tuition. Maybe by the time your students reach that point you could do some CC online from other schools in your state.

AP and CLEP are other options to save.

Options are expanding each year!

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Totally OT: The Pac-12 Football Championship Game convoy passed my home while we were crossing the street to the grocer :lol:

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@corraleno - how did you get these numbers? Just linear interpolation? I would be interested in doing this for my DD's college list.

 

I'm not quite sure that I agree with your points, since intellectual vibe is more than just the test scores.

Yes, I looked at the Common Data set for each school. Some had exact figures (75th% was 33) and others I had to estimate — e.g. if the 25/75 range was 32-34, I used 50th% for 33 (so .5 x # of undergrads), if the 25/75 range was 32-35, I guesstimated 35th% for 33 (so .65 x # undergrads). Obviously they are rough numbers, but even if they're off by a few hundred for some schools, the difference between approximately 3-4,000 and 10-11,000 still stands.

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. But the idea that the typical smart/gifted kid with a 35 ACT and lots of AP 5s can't find "intellectual peers" at a school like Michigan, UTAustin, or Ohio State is absurd.

 

Very true.  

 

I have three sons who graduated from OSU.  They were admitted with very scores, GPAs, etc. (2 were valedictorians at ps).  Two of them said in freshman year that they sometimes felt way behind the other students because they were so smart (one was in the honors engineering program).  Plenty of very intelligent, motivated students to meet!  

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Totally OT: The Pac-12 Football Championship Game convoy passed my home while we were crossing the street to the grocer :lol:

 

Speaking of OT, I'm not quite sure why this thread has taken on Guinness Book proportions. lol  :tongue_smilie:  Since I'm relatively new to the college board, I feel at least partially responsible. "Look what you've done, man! You've created a monster!" haha  :laugh:  I do find the conversations interesting especially when considering all the pros/cons in looking at school selectivity. It demonstrates to me the wide range of families, students and associated challenges we're all wrestling with in making these decisions.

Edited by dereksurfs
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EFC is usually way more than families realistically can pay.

 

This is certainly not always true.  There are a good percentage of families who can pay their EFC.  I think, from reading these boards, that HCOL areas have it the toughest.

 

As for scores and affordable colleges, etc.  I work in a very statistically average high school.  We're ranked almost exactly middle (slightly below) for my state (PA) and my state is pretty average.  Our average SAT is also average (not enough take the ACT to count).  Yet roughly 50% (or more) of our graduates go on to four year schools (usually state schools) and then one can add in those who start at CC.  Others go to trade schools or join the military which can lead to college itself. Then there are some who go straight into jobs (construction, various factory work, and farming are local biggies). The vast majority end up "successful" with success meaning they end up employed and able to support themselves financially.

 

 

The idea that students can only find intellectual "peers" at elite schools is simply not true. In fact, if one is looking for "large numbers of peers," as mentioned above, they may be better off at a top state flagship. Obviously test scores are not the only measure of intelligence, or even the best measure, but it's convenient since it's easy to find comparable stats for various schools. The top 1-1.5% of students in the US have test scores of 33-36 ACT, or 1500-1600 SAT.

 

Total number of students with scores in this range:

 

Harvard (~65%) 4,400

Princeton (~65%) 4,000

Yale (~65%) 3,500

Brown (~50%)  3,300

Ohio State (25%) 11,000

U Michigan (~35%) 10,500

UCBerkeley (~35%) 10,200

UT Austin (25%) 9,800

UVA (~35%) 5,600

UNC-CH (25%) 4,500

 

There are three times as many top 1-1.5% students at Michigan, Berkeley, or Ohio State as there are at Brown. UNCCH and UVA have more than Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.

 

Most flagships have honors colleges and other programs that bring top kids together for housing, classes (smaller, more rigorous, with top profs), and other special perks and programs. Of course there are students, particularly in STEM fields, who are not just top 1%, but top 0.001%, and those students may find more genuine peers — other 0.001% students — at MIT, Chicago or similar ultra-elite schools. But the idea that the typical smart/gifted kid with a 35 ACT and lots of AP 5s can't find "intellectual peers" at a school like Michigan, UTAustin, or Ohio State is absurd.

 

Absolutely no one has said or suggested this, not that I've read anyway... (sigh)  To many of us, schools like Michigan, UTAustin, and Ohio State (along with most other state flagships) ARE elite schools.  For fields like engineering, they're among the cream of the crop.

 

I've heard OF folks who feel elite means Top 20 or bust (probably as ranked by that third rate magazine), but I don't know any of them IRL.  Just quickly googling Michigan, it's ranked by that magazine as #28... Various fields within engineering get into the Top 10.  If those numbers aren't elite... uh, ok.  Those folks who supposedly exist definitely aren't found in my IRL world.

 

Public vs Private are meaningless adjectives in determining elite for most of the US.

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Absolutely no one has said or suggested this, not that I've read anyway... (sigh)  To many of us, schools like Michigan, UTAustin, and Ohio State (along with most other state flagships) ARE elite schools.  For fields like engineering, they're among the cream of the crop.

 

I've heard OF folks who feel elite means Top 20 or bust (probably as ranked by that third rate magazine), but I don't know any of them IRL.  Just quickly googling Michigan, it's ranked by that magazine as #28... Various fields within engineering get into the Top 10.  If those numbers aren't elite... uh, ok.  

 

These were my thoughts as well. 

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This may be true, but the bigger the pool of peers one has to choose from, the greater the odds of finding that cluster. Kindred spirits and true peers are not always a given in any situation. It makes sense (and cents!) to go where the odds are greatest, wherever that may be for a given student. An honors program will not offer a large enough pool of true peers for every student.

 

Just to be clear about what I actually said...

 

I said nothing of elite -- whatever that means. The definition varies. 

 

Go where the odds are greatest, wherever that may be for a given student. 

 

In regards to honors programs...

 

There are students who transfer from schools because they didn't feel they had true peers -- even in the honors program. Keep in mind that honors program admission criteria varies from college to college.

 

 An honors program will not offer a large enough pool of true peers for every student.  

 

I didn't say for any student or even for the average high performing student. I said for every student. There's a difference.

Edited by Woodland Mist Academy

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To many of us, schools like Michigan, UTAustin, and Ohio State (along with most other state flagships) ARE elite schools.  For fields like engineering, they're among the cream of the crop.

 

I've heard OF folks who feel elite means Top 20 or bust (probably as ranked by that third rate magazine), but I don't know any of them IRL.  Just quickly googling Michigan, it's ranked by that magazine as #28... Various fields within engineering get into the Top 10.  If those numbers aren't elite... uh, ok.  Those folks who supposedly exist definitely aren't found in my IRL world.

 

Public vs Private are meaningless adjectives in determining elite for most of the US.

I've honestly never heard anyone refer to Ohio State or UT Austin as "elite" schools. They're excellent schools, but I don't know anyone who would consider them "elite" in the same way as Ivies and other top privates. There are no public universities at all in the USNWR or Forbes "Top 20" lists. (UCB and UCLA are in the 20-30 bracket on the USNWR lists.) OSU, PSU, UTA, UF, UGA, UCD, UIUC, U Wisconsin, U Conn, and U Washington are all ranked between 45th and 60th. I have never seen anyone here on WTM, or on CC, or IRL refer to those as "elite" schools.

 

But if your definition of "elite" actually includes "most state flagships," then we are in agreement that the vast majority of "1-percenters" can find intellectual peers at those schools.

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As far as quantity of intellectual peers of a certain level of intelligence, I dunno - but I can pretty much guarantee that there are some kids every year who are bright enough and accomplished enough to go to Harvard or MIT or Berkeley but whose parents cannot or will not pay the EFC; those kids go somewhere, probably generally either state flagships that pay good merit $ or private colleges with lots of merit $ (or maybe certain religious universities, if that is a requirement), so there are at least some intellectual peers for your brightest-of-bright student at colleges that do not cost a fortune.  Going about finding them might be somewhat harder - but then, there might be more of them out there than you think.

 

The brightest several kids in my graduating class didn't apply to Ivies (though some of us did apply to top state flagships, only to find that there was no money in them for us).  We just knew we couldn't afford them.  I'm not saying we were super exceptional people, particularly, but we were 1 in 500 or 1 in a thousand types.

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An honors program will not offer a large enough pool of true peers for every student.  

 

I didn't say for any student or even for the average high performing student. I said for every student. There's a difference.

 

I guess you can never say never. There will always be cases where things can occur which are not necessarily reflective of the norm including those kids with highest test scores, GPA, APs, etc... Its really hard to speculate at that point since every young person is so different in what they are looking for as well. I don't think every high achiever is necessarily looking for that sort of sympatico group of intellectual equivalent peers to have deep, late night discussions about quantum physics and the like until the wee hours of the morning. Some may be happy to have those discussions in class with their instructors, TAs or a few students as those topics arise. Whether or not one must go to school X and 'only' school X to find that sort of tribe is also very subjective. Who can say that will only occur at Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, etc...? Maybe only that one student based on his/her perception

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This may be true, but the bigger the pool of peers one has to choose from, the greater the odds of finding that cluster. Kindred spirits and true peers are not always a given in any situation. It makes sense (and cents!) to go where the odds are greatest, wherever that may be for a given student. An honors program will not offer a large enough pool of true peers for every student.

 

 

I guess you can never say never. There will always be cases where things can occur which are not necessarily reflective of the norm including those kids with highest test scores, GPA, APs, etc... Its really hard to speculate at that point since every young person is so different in what they are looking for as well. I don't think every high achiever is necessarily looking for that sort of sympatico group of intellectual equivalent peers to have deep, late night discussions about quantum physics and the like until the wee hours of the morning. Some may be happy to have those discussions in class with their instructors, TAs or a few students as those topics arise. Whether or not one must go to school X and 'only' school X to find that sort of tribe is also very subjective. Who can say that will only occur at Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, etc...? Maybe only that one student based on his/her perception

 

Which is why I said..go where the odds are greatest, wherever that may be for a given student.  

 

Regarding honors programs... sometimes those aren't good fits because they have extra requirements that are meaningless to the student and a waste of time. Or myriad other reasons. I really tried to be broad in my statements because there are endless possibilities of what makes a school or peers *right*.  Apparently I failed miserably.  :glare:

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Which is why I said..go where the odds are greatest, wherever that may be for a given student.  

 

Regarding honors programs... sometimes those aren't good fits because they have extra requirements that are meaningless to the student and a waste of time. Or myriad other reasons. I really tried to be broad in my statements because there are endless possibilities of what makes a school or peers *right*.  Apparently I failed miserably.  :glare:

 

No Woodland Mist, you didn't fail. I think we understood your point. Its just not always a workable solution for many, especially if that school is 30-40K above a families budget even if they 'could' get in. That was eternalsummer's point as well. Where the odds are greatest may be irrelevant in those cases. Hence quite a few bright kids go to other schools out of necessity or for other preferences such as closer to home or extracurricular activities which they enjoy.

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No Woodland Mist, you didn't fail. I think we understood your point. Its just not always a workable solution for many, especially if that school is 30-40K above a families budget even if they 'could' get in. That was eternalsummer's point as well. Where the odds are greatest may be irrelevant in those cases. Hence quite a few bright kids go to other schools out of necessity or for other preferences such as closer to home or extracurricular activities which they enjoy.

 

This means I *did* fail.  :sad:    Maybe I'll try again another day. For whatever reason, I'm not coming across clearly. 

 

Maybe less selective to you is much higher than what less selective means to me. I'm guessing that's what it is...   Perhaps clarifying what less selective means to you might be useful. 

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This means I *did* fail.  :sad:    Maybe I'll try again another day. For whatever reason, I'm not coming across clearly. 

 

Maybe less selective to you is much higher than what less selective means to me. I'm guessing that's what it is...   Perhaps clarifying what less selective means to you might be useful. 

 

Ok, I'll give my take though, yes, it is probably somewhat subjective as well. If we go back to the original thread and the article which spurred my thought on it, that may shed some light on the topic.

 

"For decades, our nation's educational establishment has been promoting a simplistic, wrong-headed view about college selection. That view is: Apply to the most selective schools that you have a chance of getting into, and then go to the most selective school that accepts you."

 

The definition of 'most selective' in this case is simple, its just the school with the highest 'ranking' which most agree is rather foolish to base things upon anyway. As a very practical example in our case we may (hypothetically) be debating between two schools and one is generally known to be more selective. For example, UCLA is more selective than UCSC. However, we may like UCSC more for a variety of other reasons, some of which include closer proximity to home, better location for outdoor activities, NOT in LA, smaller campus, not impacted and more affordable to name a few. They are both public state schools so we are not even talking private Ivys in our case. Does this make sense? 

Edited by dereksurfs
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Well, I think I am in a reasonably unusual circumstance in that ds does not have anywhere that will give him in-state tuition.  So the difference in cost between Public Flagship and Private is just not that great.  

 

As for finding peers at state universities, ds is applying to Michigan.  Their math department is outstanding and strongly collaborative.  And they have a wonderful honors program with interesting interdisciplinary courses and a large cluster of highly academic focused kids. In fact UT Austin was #7 on our list, but ds ran out of umph to get through 7 applications.  Plus their scholarship money is based on essays only, not on ds's other stuff, so we weren't convinced he had a chance to get one as he is not an essay person. DS is looking for peers, but we absolutely know that they can be found in many different locations.  But when you cross list top math program with honors (with a location near to family), you come up with very few.  If the international rank was below 70 in mathematics, ds might as well go to auckland, and we know that there are only about 5 kids there that are like my kid. All the high level mathematicians go to America or the UK. 

 

As for peers, why peers?  DS *loves* doing math *with* other people. The classes need to be hard enough to make working with others valuable.  To find hard enough classes for ds, it needs to be a top program - elite or honors.  He does not want to self study UG math, and just straight to grad level work.  He wants to study *with* others, and he doesn't want to be the youngest by 4 years.  He has been working with the IMO team members this past year, and loved it.  They meet at the library, go through olympiad problem sets, give each other hints, and have a good time.  For the two university courses he took, the problems were so easy that there was no reason to work with anyone. Plus, there was *no one* working at his level.  Do the math -- if the mean AND median was 60%, and ds got 100%, you can't have too many kids up at his level without having either the entire class at like 40% or a few at a 0%. He was alone, and did not like it.  The classes need to be hard enough that there is a reason to work with others.  And working collaboratively is not just something he likes, it is critically important to how research is done today.  He has plans and dreams, and they involve joining a large collaborative project.   

 

The problem with this whole process is that you never know what you are truly buying.  It is easy to know one car is worth the extra 10K because you can see the extras, but value at the university level is way way more difficult to determine.  I struggled with this for about 6 months, and I have come to the conclusion that you have to just do the best you can to match your kid to a university that you can afford. And you won't know you are right until 10 year down the track and even then you won't know,  It is like a large gamble to spend the money, not knowing the outcome.  You just have to make sure the odds are in your favor by doing the time-consuming research.  I am finally at peace with our choices, now ds just has to get in.  

Edited by lewelma
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What advice would you give for someone wanting to go to law school or business school?

 

In my local newspaper today Stanford’s elite business school caught cheating — by one of its own MBA students

“In February, MBA student Adam Allcock discovered 14 terabytes of confidential student data from financial aid applications, according to a new report. Later that month, Allcock reported the breach to the school’s financial aid director, and the records were removed within an hour, the report said.

 

However, Allcock had dug deeply into the data, spending 1,500 hours analyzing the information and putting together an 88-page report, according to Poets&Quants, a website covering business school news.

 

Allcock’s conclusion? The Graduate School of Business had not been honest with students, in fact had been “lying to their faces†for more than a decade.

 

Rather than being solely need-based, the fellowship grants were used to rank students according to their value to the school, Allcock determined.

 

The business school had routinely granted fellowship money to students without regard for their financial need, often favoring women and people with a background in finance — even though many had more money saved up than students who received less financial support, Poets&Quants reported.

...

The focus on students with backgrounds in finance “suggests an admissions strategy that helps the school achieve the highest starting compensation packages of any MBA program in the world,†Byrne wrote.

 

Last year’s median salaries for the 12 percent of graduated students who went into private equity was highest in the class at $177,500, while the 7 percent who went into venture capital received median pay of $167,500. The overall median salary for the class was $136,000, according to Poets&Quants.

 

The business school’s dean, Jon Levin, admitted in a message to students that financial need was not the sole criterion for the grants.

 

“The school has offered additional fellowship awards to candidates whose biographies make them particularly compelling and competitive in trying to attract a diverse class,†Levin wrote in the Nov. 17 message.

 

The difference between what the school says it does and what it was found to be doing is “an issue we intend to address,†Levin wrote.

 

The data breach arose because information had been “improperly stored in a shared folder that was accessible to all Stanford GSB faculty, staff, and students,†but the data were anonymized so students’ names were not exposed, Levin wrote.†http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/01/stanfords-elite-business-school-caught-cheating-by-one-of-its-own-mba-students/

 

“Stanford Graduate School of Business is publicly admitting that it misled thousands of applicants and donors about the way it distributes fellowship aid and financial assistance to its MBA students. The disclosure came to light as a result of a computer breach that exposed 14 terabytes of highly confidential student data detailing the most recent 5,120 financial aid applications from 2,288 students, spanning a seven-year period from 2008-2009 to 2015-2016.

...

Allcock’s discovery that more money is being used by Stanford to entice the best students with financial backgrounds suggests an admissions strategy that helps the school achieve the highest starting compensation packages of any MBA program in the world. That is largely because prior work experience in finance is generally required to land jobs in the most lucrative finance fields in private equity, venture capital and hedge funds. Stanford sends a higher percentage of its MBAs into higher paying PE and VC jobs than Wharton, Chicago Booth, Columbia, or Harvard. Last year the median pay for the 12% of the students that went into private equity was a class-high $177,500, well above the overall median of $136,000. Venture capital firms, which hired 7% of last year’s Stanford crop, paid median starting salaries of $167,500.

..

And preferential treatment based on gender was apparent. In the Class of 2015, for example, he estimates that female students received average fellowship awards of $37,357 versus $31,059 for men, even though women had higher cash savings, $23,640 versus $20,300. Though Allcock calls this a “troubling finding,†it’s well known that business schools have substantially increased their scholarship support for women to increase their enrollment in MBA programs.†https://poetsandquants.com/2017/11/30/stanford-gsb-misled-students-on-financial-aid/

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As for peers, why peers?  DS *loves* doing math *with* other people. The classes need to be hard enough to make working with others valuable.  To find hard enough classes for ds, it needs to be a top program - elite or honors.  He does not want to self study UG math, and just straight to grad level work.  He wants to study *with* others, and he doesn't want to be the youngest by 4 years.  He has been working with the IMO team members this past year, and loved it.  They meet at the library, go through olympiad problem sets, give each other hints, and have a good time.  For the two university courses he took, the problems were so easy that there was no reason to work with anyone. Plus, there was *no one* working at his level.  Do the math -- if the mean AND median was 60%, and ds got 100%, you can't have too many kids up at his level without having either the entire class at like 40% or a few at a 0%. He was alone, and did not like it.  The classes need to be hard enough that there is a reason to work with others.  And working collaboratively is not just something he likes, it is critically important to how research is done today.  He has plans and dreams, and they involve joining a large collaborative project.   

 

Lewelma,

 

The collaboration he does with others sounds interesting. I guess the notion of doing math courses collaboratively is rather new to me. Well, except when a female friend used to study math with me in high school. But we've never done competitive math with our kids. So I've got no real experience or knowledge of how that works in a collaborative way. 

 

Can you please help me understand what a collaborative math course might look like? Do they actually solve problems together in-class, do homework together after school, take tests as a team or something else?

 

ETA: Our son really enjoys math. Though he hasn't competed or done anything collaboratively yet with peers beyond the chats in his online class. He may eventually double major in math and CS or Physics. So I truly am interested in the collaborative nature of programs you've looked into and what you like about them.

Edited by dereksurfs
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"For decades, our nation's educational establishment has been promoting a simplistic, wrong-headed view about college selection. That view is: Apply to the most selective schools that you have a chance of getting into, and then go to the most selective school that accepts you."

Yes, this is what I'm talking about as well. If a student has options ranked in the top 10-15, with admission rates in single digits, and he chooses a school ranked in the 50s, with an acceptance rate in the low 40s, then that student has obviously chosen a "less selective" school. In the same way, a student who gets into schools like OSU/PSU/UW/etc., who chooses a full ride with lots of perks at a school ranked in the low 100s, also chose the "less selective" school. Sometimes the lower ranked school is the best choice for a variety of reasons including finances, fit, geographic proximity, etc. 

 

I know kids who made similar choices to DS (e.g. kid who turned down Columbia for a near-full-ride at Penn State), but I also know kids who do apply to the most selective/elite schools they have any chance of acceptance at, and then attend the highest-ranked one they get into without much attention to either finances or "fit." The kid I mentioned upthread who was recruited by an Ivy, despite having academic stats at the very bottom end of their range, could not bring himself to turn down that lottery ticket even though most people who know him think he's going to seriously struggle there.

 

I know a kid with very high stats and strong ECs who applied to a bunch of top 20 schools and got rejected everywhere but his safety — which happens to be OSU. Despite having a great scholarship there, he is pretty vocal about his disappointment at having to "settle" for a less prestigious school. He is incredulous that DS would turn down top schools (including some of the same schools that rejected him) in favor of a school he considers sort of mediocre. Another friend of DS's (the kid I mentioned earlier, whose family are very much "Ivy or bust") apparently did not get any offers from elite schools and DS said he has decided to take a gap year and try again next year, hoping that he can improve his athletic ranking enough be recruited (despite a seriously deficient academic record); this is a kid who literally wrinkled his nose at the idea of "settling" for a school like OSU or PSU.  :001_rolleyes: 

 

There are plenty of kids (and parents) like that in this country — that's pretty clear to anyone who spends much time on CC. Even on the athletic recruiting forum there, it's allll about Ivy recruitment, with the occasional recommendation that kids whose athletic stats aren't quite good enough for Ivies should check out elite D3 schools like Williams and Amherst. Many even distinguish between HYP and the so-called "lower Ivies," as if acceptance at Cornell or Brown is a sort of consolation prize for those who couldn't quite make it into Harvard.

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Ok, I'll give my take though, yes, it is probably somewhat subjective as well. If we go back to the original thread and the article which spurred my thought on it, that may shed some light on the topic.

 

"For decades, our nation's educational establishment has been promoting a simplistic, wrong-headed view about college selection. That view is: Apply to the most selective schools that you have a chance of getting into, and then go to the most selective school that accepts you."

 

The definition of 'most selective' in this case is simple, its just the school with the highest 'ranking' which most agree is rather foolish to base things upon anyway. As a very practical example in our case we may (hypothetically) be debating between two schools and one is generally known to be more selective. For example, UCLA is more selective than UCSC. However, we may like UCSC more for a variety of other reasons, some of which include closer proximity to home, better location for outdoor activities, NOT in LA, smaller campus, not impacted and more affordable to name a few. They are both public state schools so we are not even talking private Ivys in our case. Does this make sense? 

 

Yes, it absolutely makes sense. It also explains the disconnect I was sensing. I've been reading so much on this topic lately, I might have gotten confused about what started the thread or which thread I was on. Who knows... ;)  Anyway, thanks for reminding me!

 

We are making lists and spreadsheets with school and campus information for at least 1 or 2 schools in each level from tippy top to community college.  The goal is to have solid options at each level. If she doesn't get admitted to tippy top (which she's not sure she even wants to apply to, even though she has the scores), then at least she'll have a solid plan for the next level. No acceptances there? No problem, we've got a school or two picked out from the next level down and the next and the next. Even with high test scores, etc., we are taking nothing for granted. There are solid options at every level. 

 

Our dilemma is definitely not  Is anything other than Ivy/Elite worth considering? Not by a long shot. We're wondering things like Is a tier 3 school with a brand new, up-and-coming program in a chosen major with amazing opportunities a better choice than a significantly higher ranked school that's more expensive, but still affordable, but has no special program in her major? 

 

My teen has mentors that are attending or have graduated from various schools -- including tippy top. She rarely hears the advice to automatically go to the most selective. Usually the conversations are much more nuanced than that.

 

 

 

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As for peers, why peers?  DS *loves* doing math *with* other people. The classes need to be hard enough to make working with others valuable.  To find hard enough classes for ds, it needs to be a top program - elite or honors.  He does not want to self study UG math, and just straight to grad level work.  He wants to study *with* others, and he doesn't want to be the youngest by 4 years.  He has been working with the IMO team members this past year, and loved it.  They meet at the library, go through olympiad problem sets, give each other hints, and have a good time.  For the two university courses he took, the problems were so easy that there was no reason to work with anyone. Plus, there was *no one* working at his level.  Do the math -- if the mean AND median was 60%, and ds got 100%, you can't have too many kids up at his level without having either the entire class at like 40% or a few at a 0%. He was alone, and did not like it.  The classes need to be hard enough that there is a reason to work with others.  And working collaboratively is not just something he likes, it is critically important to how research is done today.  He has plans and dreams, and they involve joining a large collaborative project.   

 

The problem with this whole process is that you never know what you are truly buying.  It is easy to know one car is worth the extra 10K because you can see the extras, but value at the university level is way way more difficult to determine.  I struggled with this for about 6 months, and I have come to the conclusion that you have to just do the best you can to match your kid to a university that you can afford. And you won't know you are right until 10 year down the track and even then you won't know,  It is like a large gamble to spend the money, not knowing the outcome.  You just have to make sure the odds are in your favor by doing the time-consuming research.  I am finally at peace with our choices, now ds just has to get in.

 

"Fit" is a totally different ball game when you're dealing with a 0.001% kid versus a "merely" 1% kid. You've done an incredible job supporting and guiding him along this path, and I have no doubt that he'll be accepted at some amazing schools and will absolutely thrive wherever he lands.  :thumbup1:

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I guess the notion of doing math courses collaboratively is rather new to me. Well, except when a female friend used to study math with me in high school.

My 11th/12th grade classmates did math homework together daily at 6:30am at the school canteen (cafeteria) long tables until the flag raising ceremony at 7:30am. We ended up submitting almost identical homework for what would be calc2/calc3 here and we ended up with the same scores for most of our college entrance exams. The entire class (26 of us) was accepted into universities from a high school that has a 50% acceptance rate to universities (graduating class of 1600 students). We discussed chemistry and physics homework during lunch almost everyday. My classmates called that combining brain power to minimize time spent on homework.

 

Isn’t there study hall class period in high schools here?

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Our dilemma is definitely not  Is anything other than Ivy/Elite worth considering? Not by a long shot. We're wondering things like Is a tier 3 school with a brand new, up-and-coming program in a chosen major with amazing opportunities a better choice than a significantly higher ranked school that's more expensive, but still affordable, but has no special program in her major? 

 

My teen has mentors that are attending or have graduated from various schools -- including tippy top. She rarely hears the advice to automatically go to the most selective. Usually the conversations are much more nuanced than that. 

 

I think we're probably more in the same boat while considering similar factors than we realize. Thanks for this real world example. Its all about the nuances when narrowing things down to the final few.

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My 11th/12th grade classmates did math homework together daily at 6:30am at the school canteen (cafeteria) long tables until the flag raising ceremony at 7:30am. We ended up submitting almost identical homework for what would be calc2/calc3 here and we ended up with the same scores for most of our college entrance exams. The entire class (26 of us) was accepted into universities from a high school that has a 50% acceptance rate to universities (graduating class of 1600 students). We discussed chemistry and physics homework during lunch almost everyday. My classmates called that combining brain power to minimize time spent on homework.

 

Isn’t there study hall class period in high schools here?

 

Not when we homeschool.  :D

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My 11th/12th grade classmates did math homework together daily at 6:30am at the school canteen (cafeteria) long tables until the flag raising ceremony at 7:30am. We ended up submitting almost identical homework for what would be calc2/calc3 here and we ended up with the same scores for most of our college entrance exams. The entire class (26 of us) was accepted into universities from a high school that has a 50% acceptance rate to universities (graduating class of 1600 students). We discussed chemistry and physics homework during lunch almost everyday. My classmates called that combining brain power to minimize time spent on homework.

 

Isn’t there study hall class period in high schools here?

 

Top students (except ones trying to secure their GPA who have run out of full-weight classes) don't take study halls that often, ime.  The top students in my high school did then and still do not only take no study halls, but take a zero hour (a class that starts an hour before school), a class during lunch (so they have no lunch period), and sometimes if allowed do what they call auditing a class (though the terminology is almost the exact opposite of what auditing normally means - in this case, you never go to the class but just get the notes from someone and take the tests after school proctored at the library, do the homework, projects, etc.)

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 Who can say that will only occur at Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, etc...? Maybe only that one student based on his/her perception

 

I think it also depends on how proactive a student is.  You can create your own reality if you have the skill. But not all kids do. 

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Not when we homeschool. :D

Oh well, my oldest did arrange math homework discussion sessions online with his AoPS classmates for the past few years. AoPS keeps the classroom open for students to use for discussion.

Edited by Arcadia

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Sometimes the lower ranked school

 

is the best choice for a variety of reasons including finances, fit, geographic proximity, etc. [/size]

 

My younger ds would do so well being a big fish in a small pond.  He has no interest in being a small fish in a big pond like his brother.  Academics are just a small part of his life -- he is very social and active.  The key is FIT.  Just because some want to be challenged and *need* elite universities, does not mean that those who choose to do something else are lesser.  We have always believed that younger ds will be more employable than older ds because of his EQ.  There is NO judgement from me if a student chooses a lower ranked school. None. 

Edited by lewelma
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Our dilemma is definitely not  Is anything other than Ivy/Elite worth considering? Not by a long shot. We're wondering things like Is a tier 3 school with a brand new, up-and-coming program in a chosen major with amazing opportunities a better choice than a significantly higher ranked school that's more expensive, but still affordable, but has no special program in her major?

 

If ds gets a full ride scholarship to one of his lower-ranked school, he will take it  Don't quote: XXX has offered to be ds's mentor. That plus a full ride is a no brainer, and he will turn down Harvard if he gets full ride to this lower-ranked school. It is the whole package that matters.  I have said peers are ds's key requirement, but this school has honors math, so 30 peers plus an awesome mentor plus $$ trumps Harvard any day of the week.

Edited by lewelma
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"Fit" is a totally different ball game when you're dealing with a 0.001% kid versus a "merely" 1% kid. You've done an incredible job supporting and guiding him along this path, and I have no doubt that he'll be accepted at some amazing schools and will absolutely thrive wherever he lands.  :thumbup1:

 

Thanks for this.  DS just took the BMO round 1 a couple of hours ago.  He is hoping for 52/60 which would put him on the leaders board of the top 25 students in the UK.  Crossing fingers!

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Lewelma,

 

The collaboration he does with others sounds interesting. I guess the notion of doing math courses collaboratively is rather new to me. Well, except when a female friend used to study math with me in high school. But we've never done competitive math with our kids. So I've got no real experience or knowledge of how that works in a collaborative way. 

 

Can you please help me understand what a collaborative math course might look like? Do they actually solve problems together in-class, do homework together after school, take tests as a team or something else?

 

ETA: Our son really enjoys math. Though he hasn't competed or done anything collaboratively yet with peers beyond the chats in his online class. He may eventually double major in math and CS or Physics. So I truly am interested in the collaborative nature of programs you've looked into and what you like about them.

 

We made the extra effort to visit schools in America.  in 5 days we flew to Boston (Harvard, MIT), flew to Michigan and drove around Lake Erie to visit Waterloo, CMU, and Michigan. We were looking for departments that encourage collaboration.  We knew the questions to ask and we made sure that we met with professors, students, and administrators.  We also asked about burn out and mental health, because as I said I have no desire to spend a fortune to destroy my ds.

 

I've just asked ds what collaboration looks like for him.  He told me that when he is working with someone at his level (there is only 1 kid that meets this criteria), they are each thinking in their minds because it would be goofy to vocalize everything, but as they find insights, they will tell the other.  Then it is 'oh, that's a good idea' and they will incorporate it into their thinking.  These problems can take 2 IMO kids a full hour to solve in this manner.  However, when he is working with a student that is close in level but slightly lower, ds will solve the problem first, and then think carefully about what hint to give the other without ruining the fun of solving the problem.  Apparently, there is quite some joy in actually finding the solution, and it is considered bad form to give it away.  Now that his IMO friend is at Cambridge, they each give each other problems to solve each week.  They correspond everyday by google chat, and challenge each other to find the insight.  Problems at this level are much less about content and much more about creative problem solving.  

 

So with that background, this is what we found from our university tour:

 

1) collaboration on problem sets.  You can easily get a sense of how collaboration is seen by faculty by finding out if they ask you to name who you worked with on a problem set. MIT and CMU did, Waterloo wanted all work to be your own.

 

2) Do the students get to talk to the faculty regularly?  This is where Michigan shined. They got in trouble a decade ago by having more faculty than students in math (not good for a publicly funded university). So they did a survey and found that students didn't feel welcome, so they made a major cultural shift to become more collaborative.  They have weekly tea and cookie afternoons with faculty, have a UG lounge where the faculty also hang out, have weekly pizza lecture nights.  The focus is definitely working together and supporting each other.  CMU is similar, but they use the putnam club (they won last year) to create this collaborative atmosphere.  They work hard to include not just the high end students but also the lower-level ones (We were told quite clearly that it is a bifurcated department with high end honors and lower level regular students which does worry me a bit) but they use the putnam club to bring everyone together to a common goal (Michigan is not interested in Putnam). Harvard generally ignores all but the top students.  We were told that it was the geniuses teaching the geniuses and the rest of the students were left in the dust.  MIT professor generally ignore the UG students, but the UG students create their own collaborative culture which is a 'maker' culture, so they don't really need the professors. 

 

3) REU - pretty tricky in mathematics.  Basically,  very hard to do math research until you are at a graduate level. So we asked about physics research opportunities.  At places like Harvard, they are more silo-ed, so only physics majors get physics REUs and the math kids have to go to more industry internships like finance and computer science.  Places like MIT celebrate interdisciplinary work, so math majors are considered high end problem solvers and are taken into whatever research area they are interested in. At Michigan, you kind of had to get your REU on your own, no help really.

 

Basically, we found that there are pros and cons to every school.  DS does not have a top choice because he each one will be both good and bad. Our plan is to take the cheapest one!!  

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As it keeps coming up, let's talk Harvard.  This is what we found. There are pros and cons to each school. Harvard is not the end all be all!

 

Pros:

1. Actually had hard enough classes for ds (MIT math classes would be a bit easy for ds)

2. Peers

3. Better work/life balance than some place like MIT.  Harvard students have more time for extracurriculars and exploring life than MIT students

4. Everyone gets As, so less stress than MIT where you actually get real grades - I think this would encourage exploration into many subjects because you wouldn't be afraid of a bad grade affecting your chance at grad school

5. Lots of recruiting for summer internships in finance and CS, with lots of $$

6. Nice UG math lounge

 

Cons:

1. Geniuses teaching the geniuses and the rest of the class left behind

2. Some teachers are just bad - we were told by a math student there that if ds went to harvard, to let him know and he would tell ds which classes to take.  You choose classes based on the professors not on content you are interested in.

3. High end math students are in freshman dorms, but often take classes with upperclassmen. This can lead to a sense of isolation

4. Silo-ed learning - so no physics internships for math majors because they go to physics majors.  MIT is more interdisciplinary, and you can explore whatever interests you.

5. The campus was *overrun* with tourists (not true for MIT)

 

There is no utopia! You cannot go by reputation alone as it simply does not tell the full story. Then once you piece together the story, you need to throw out schools that are a poor fit and bring unexpected ones in. I spent 6 months researching, to come up with our top 8, six of which he has applied to.  

 

Edited by lewelma
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