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Are Colleges Pushing Students to Do Too Much in High School? (good Foreign language -side thread)

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I don't really see how the blame lies with the colleges. My favorite blog post ever re college admission is Applying Sideways: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways

 

I really don't think you can blame the universities for the crazy whirlwind merry-go-round bat guano madness that parents and students put themselves through. Work hard, play hard, be a good person. Fin. A motivated student can get a decent education at a lot of different places. Life does not end if the student does not get into *that* school, whatever *that* school happens to be. I think the pressure on students often comes from adults, and I agree that it is extremely unhealthy. So just say no, no?

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I really, really wish more colleges would do like Chapel Hill -- say "ok, this is what we expect -- this is enough -- no bonuses for more".

 

I remember reading an article -- the guy was at a good school, but I forgot where -- but he said basically, people with a SAT M+V 1400 were pretty much going to do fine, 1100-1400 was iffy, below that was probably not going to be successful -- and continued by saying "We should just say that you need 1400, or 1100 if you can convince us there were extenuating circumstances, and after that we take the score off your application and evaluate you without it."

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I think the author is accusing colleges of something they aren't actually doing:

 

 

White said that, in his advising of high school students, he feels that the pressures of colleges force him to discourage students from taking electives they find interesting or pursuing important interests in favor of taking more AP courses. Colleges, he said, including colleges that aren't at the very top of the academic and prestige ladder, pretend that they benefit from reviewing a transcript with 10 college-level courses, and that forces high school students to take the courses.

I think his perception of this is wrong, and he is doing his students a disservice by advising them to forgo interesting courses and outside interests for more APs. From what I've seen and read, even the most elite colleges want to see students pursuing passions and interests, in both academics and ECs, and I don't think that having 10 APs and few outside interests really impresses elite adcoms more than 5 APs and really interesting electives and ECs. I agree with what UNCCH did and wish more colleges would make that explicit, but I also don't think it's the colleges' fault if high school students, parents, and GCs mistakenly believe that if taking 5 APs is good, then 8 is better, and 12 is the best. All that does is make students look like everyone else, instead of helping them find ways to genuinely stand out.

 

I also think the obsession in this country with college rankings is absurd. That is another huge, unnecessary cause of stress, which is also not really the colleges' fault.

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Last yr I think I think this link: https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/making-caring-common-in-college-admissions/3197142.html The essence of the article is about a contract several

schools signed stating that they are encouraging a change in admissions' focus.

Turning the Tide – Making Caring Common.†The Harvard School of Graduate Education released the report, with 80 other schools and organizations...

 

The report suggests that giving the most attention to academic success works for some students but hurts others. Also, academic success is not the most important quality a student should have, the report says. More attention should go to evidence of whether or not a student wants to do good in the world......

 

... when schools become more selective, they cause students to worry less about being good people.

 

"Too many students are learning to do whatever it takes in order to get ahead, even if that means sacrificing their own individuality, their health, their happiness, their ethical principles and behavior..."

 

The Harvard report states that the best way to change the admissions process is by changing college applications. The report suggests that schools should ask for evidence that students care about other people.

 

Admissions officers should look for examples of students working in their communities for long periods of time, the reports says. Applications should also include questions about why students feel diversity and community service are important.

 

Moving attention away from academic ability will make the process less about competition, the report says. Students will feel less stress about meeting higher and higher expectations.

I think this reflects the view that colleges do feel like they are part of issue whether or not they are responsible for student choices.

 

I didn't notice anything that seemed unusual during last yr's admissions cycle. But these threads about GT caught my eye yesterday:

 

https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/georgia-institute-technology/2048755-shocked-parent-advice-please-p1.html

https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/georgia-institute-technology/2023295-georgia-tech-class-of-2022-ea-applicant-thread-p29.html

 

It will be interesting to see if there is a real trend developing or whether or not this is just a shift in GT's admissions. (It does seem very different to me from GT's past few yrs' admissions trend.)

 

This news video also discusses it.

 

BUT......I think it is a futile attempt in general bc certain schools/students will just continue to find the "new" in and go overboard on that vs. the intent of just doing the best "them."

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I really don't think you can blame the universities for the crazy whirlwind merry-go-round bat guano madness that parents and students put themselves through. 

 

That's my position.

 

I don't have anything against people who want admission to That Prestigious School, but I have a hard time relating to their situation. I can't imagine the trade offs being worth it, but I accept that they are to some people, and I hope it's everything they hope for.

 

There's actually an ENORMOUS world between not going to college and going to an elite university.  I feel like there's been so much talk around the country about the great non-college options, but it seems like most people have completely forgotten that there are still, you know, "regular" schools.  Where you can get a very good education without torturing yourself.  Where you don't have to best others in order to better yourself.

 

Collegessimply dot com lists 315 schools with 3.0 average acceptances, and that doesn't include community colleges. Based on what I know of my state and my neighboring state, I don't believe it's anywhere near complete, either.

 

We decide our goals and our values. We do our best to guide our kids.  (Not that they always listen.)  These universities don't have us over a barrel unless we're choosing to sit on them.

 

And I may be a bit of a hypocrite.  I do guide my high schoolers toward challenging academics.  They have full, busy, sometimes intense lives (imo.)  I may be asking a bit much of them without even trying to chase admissions odds.  I have one kid looking to transfer to just about any 4 year school with his major, another leaning toward an associate's level degree, and another intent on a 1-yr specialized program.  So maybe I'm even worse than those elite schools in some ways, lol.  But I've never felt pressured to play their game.  At all.  Not as a former student, and not as a parent.  The world is full of other options.

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Its the parents and the school district.  They have chosen to offer common core, which is not college prep.  The select students will make up for that by putting the work in from Honors 7th grade up.   Some of them will have to work harder than others.  Some will just do athletics. Some will do prep school. They all play the volunteer and diversity game...just count the number of foundations they started in elementary school, and dropped as soon as they were accepted. And notice there is nothing hands on , such as cleaning up after hurricanes, playing games with nursing home residents, etc.  Its all chairman of a foundation that serves underfunded somethings, the money raised comes from the parents' social circle. Mingling is not done.

 

 

Edited by Heigh Ho

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I think the author is accusing colleges of something they aren't actually doing:

 

 

I think his perception of this is wrong, and he is doing his students a disservice by advising them to forgo interesting courses and outside interests for more APs.

Of course you are correct, but this is already happening. The sad thing, to me, is that high school is no longer for experimenting and trying new things. Some $$ privates for example get around this by having mini classes designed, fun, explorative type classes, but those don’t go on the transcript. Edited by madteaparty

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I think that to some extent, colleges also share in the blame of creating an AP arms race. On the Common Application, guidance counselors are required to indicate how the applicant's transcript of rigor compares to the other students at his school. Usually, AP courses are more rigorous than non-AP courses, so in order to get the "most rigorous" box checked on the Common Application, kids feel like they need to load up on AP classes.

Colleges also state that they want to see students who challenge themselves and take the most rigorous courses offered at their school. I can understand how kids interpret this to mean that more AP classes equates with "challenging themselves" and taking advantage of what their school has to offer.

 

I am not sure if Georgia Tech did so this year, but in past years, in addition to publishing the ACT/SAT scores of its admitted students, they also published the average number of AP exams an admitted applicant had taken. I can see why kids and parents would then draw the conclusion that the number of AP exams taken matter in admissions.

 

I do think that homeschoolers have an advantage because we don't have to participate in the AP arms race in order to get "the most rigorous" box checked on the Common Application. My kids only take AP exams in their areas of interest. A high school in the next county from me sends a lot of kids to the highly selective schools. My friends' kids who attend this school who apply to the highly selective colleges take more than 13 AP exams. My friends tell me that their kids average between 4 and 5 hours of sleep a night.

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Some of the $$$ private schools in my area are beginning to limit the number of AP classes a student can take each year. Other $$$ private schools have eliminated AP courses altogether. It is easier for the private schools to take this approach because these schools are known by the highly selective schools. In fact, the $$$ private schools in my area have guidance counselors who used to work in admissions at the highly selective schools.

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Some of the $$$ private schools in my area are beginning to limit the number of AP classes a student can take each year. Other $$$ private schools have eliminated AP courses altogether. It is easier for the private schools to take this approach because these schools are known by the highly selective schools. In fact, the $$$ private schools in my area have guidance counselors who used to work in admissions at the highly selective schools.

Same trend here.

We need to decide whether it’s AP or DE the route we take. DE makes more sense (semester long only, higher level study in areas of interest, professors have been great thus far) but it’s harder to get As as a middle/high schooler at a 4 year college class with (say) 2 papers and 2 exams than it is to get an A in a year-long AP class with a bazillion assignments each week, and yet they are “weighed†the same in the transcript. It’s easy for me to say I don’t care, we will do what we want and let the chips fall but it’s not my life and DS is interested in specific schools...

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Same trend here.

We need to decide whether it’s AP or DE the route we take. DE makes more sense (semester long only, higher level study in areas of interest, professors have been great thus far) but it’s harder to get As as a middle/high schooler at a 4 year college class with (say) 2 papers and 2 exams than it is to get an A in a year-long AP class with a bazillion assignments each week, and yet they are “weighed†the same in the transcript. It’s easy for me to say I don’t care, we will do what we want and let the chips fall but it’s not my life and DS is interested in specific schools...

I know that the grades the kids get in the AP classes in the schools in my area don't correspond to the score received on the AP exam. But I wonder if for homeschoolers, the score on the exam is more important than the grade listed on the transcript. If the exam score is more important for homeschoolers, then everything is riding on a single exam, which makes DE look for desirable, imo.

 

ETA: Kids at my public school are not getting accepted to the highly selective schools, so maybe the score on the exam matters more than the grade received in the class for traditionally schooled kids, too. (Many kids get A's in AP Calc at my public school, but get a 1 or if they do really well, a 2 on the exam.) Some of these kids are juniors who then go on to take multivariable as a senior. My friend's daughter got a 2 on the BC exam as a junior, but is now taking multivariable and will have that listed on her transcript. If I were in an admissions office, I would question how someone who hasn't mastered single variable could advance to multivariabe, but just looking at the transcript it would be impressive to have an A in BC as a junior and taking multivariable as a senior).

Edited by snowbeltmom
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I don't think it's colleges.  I think it's College Board.  Colleges themselves want students.  Students bring money because even a "not for profit" college is still a business.  Students are also customers and no business likes to turn away customers if it doesn't have to.  Sure colleges do sometimes and some are elite and elitist and that in at of itself is a way for them to make more money because by looking so elite they can charge more money.

 

College Board is also "non profit."  Yet, look how expensive it is to take an AP test, an SAT test, etc etc. College Board wants as many students as possible taking their classes and tests.  They sell test prep materials.  They have now created a "Pre AP" type of curriculum.  They may be "non profit" but I don't think they are in any way a charity. 

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I know that the grades the kids get in the AP classes in the schools in my area don't correspond to the score received on the AP exam. But I wonder if for homeschoolers, the score on the exam is more important than the grade listed on the transcript. If the exam score is more important for homeschoolers, then everything is riding on a single exam, which makes DE look for desirable, imo.

 

ETA: Kids at my public school are not getting accepted to the highly selective schools, so maybe the score on the exam matters more than the grade received in the class for traditionally schooled kids, too. (Many kids get A's in AP Calc at my public school, but get a 1 or if they do really well, a 2 on the exam.) Some of these kids are juniors who then go on to take multivariable as a senior. My friend's daughter got a 2 on the BC exam as a junior, but is now taking multivariable and will have that listed on her transcript. If I were in an admissions office, I would question how someone who hasn't mastered single variable could advance to multivariabe, but just looking at the transcript it would be impressive to have an A in BC as a junior and taking multivariable as a senior).

Maybe they aren’t listing a score of 2. Though then maybe the adcom would wonder why someone who got an A on the AP class is not reporting an AP exam score.oh the games.
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ETA: Kids at my public school are not getting accepted to the highly selective schools, so maybe the score on the exam matters more than the grade received in the class for traditionally schooled kids, too. (Many kids get A's in AP Calc at my public school, but get a 1 or if they do really well, a 2 on the exam.) Some of these kids are juniors who then go on to take multivariable as a senior. My friend's daughter got a 2 on the BC exam as a junior, but is now taking multivariable and will have that listed on her transcript. If I were in an admissions office, I would question how someone who hasn't mastered single variable could advance to multivariabe, but just looking at the transcript it would be impressive to have an A in BC as a junior and taking multivariable as a senior).

 

This is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves. I get kids in my college algebra and pre-calculus classes (sometimes even intermediate algebra) placed there by ACT score, who have a terrible attitude about it because "I took AP calc in high school, why are you wasting my time with baby math" and then proceed to fail because, well, they didn't actually understand the "baby math" that they were complaining about. 

 

And even if they get into calc, they tend to fail because they think they know calculus. In actuality, all they learned was how to take derivatives of polynomials with the power rule and use L'Hospital's rule, or at least that's all that they remember. 

 

:rant:

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Maybe they aren’t listing a score of 2. Though then maybe the adcom would wonder why someone who got an A on the AP class is not reporting an AP exam score.oh the games.

Yeah, I doubt that they are listing that score anywhere. I guess the question is, "Does the admission office put more weight in the exam score or the class grade?" Has anyone ever read a definitive answer to that question?

 

If I were an adcom, I would assume that if a score wasn't reported, that the student received a 1 or 2 on the exam, and I would assume that massive grade inflation was happening at that school. But, I don't know if this conclusion is drawn by an actual adcom.

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I really, really wish more colleges would do like Chapel Hill -- say "ok, this is what we expect -- this is enough -- no bonuses for more".

 

I remember reading an article -- the guy was at a good school, but I forgot where -- but he said basically, people with a SAT M+V 1400 were pretty much going to do fine, 1100-1400 was iffy, below that was probably not going to be successful -- and continued by saying "We should just say that you need 1400, or 1100 if you can convince us there were extenuating circumstances, and after that we take the score off your application and evaluate you without it."

 

When we went to a Vanderbilt presentation, the guy was like, "People are going to tell you that standardized test scores don't matter. Those people are wrong." Loaded pause, and then he goes on to to say much the same as your guy. 

 

I was happy to have someone flat out say that scores do matter (he stated that they mattered both for admission and for how you would do at the school). I can't tell how many times I heard the 'holistic admissions, your scores aren't that important' speech, yet all of those schools had a tight range of high scores. 

 

 

They have chosen to offer common core, which is not college prep.   

 

Can you clarify what you mean? Common core is just an attempt to standardize the benchmarks and goals across the country, rather than each state and/or district having their own.

 

It seems like saying that common core isn't college prep is the same as saying that Virginia standards aren't college prep (or Texas, etc). There are obviously going to be college prep classes and non college prep classes no matter where you are. 

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Can you clarify what you mean? Common core is just an attempt to standardize the benchmarks and goals across the country, rather than each state and/or district having their own.

 

It seems like saying that common core isn't college prep is the same as saying that Virginia standards aren't college prep (or Texas, etc). There are obviously going to be college prep classes and non college prep classes no matter where you are. 

 

A lot of school districts have chosen to use "common core" as a hogwash excuse for not offering any advanced classes whatsoever. Her district is particularly egregious in the matter; for example (she has said) classes after algebra 2 are no longer taught at the high school, but students must dual enroll. Students who can't afford to DE take study hall. I have yet to figure out how that satisfies the "free and appropriate" part of public education, but families who lack the resources to DE also tend to lack the resources to file a lawsuit. 

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I have yet to figure out how that satisfies the "free and appropriate" part of public education

 

FAPE (free, appropriate public education), specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is only required for students with disabilities. It is a huge misconception that schools are required to provide FAPE for all students.

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Under the homeschool philosphy section of the Common App, I wrote, "College Board-approved Advanced Placement classes and dual-enrollment courses are added to the curriculum, not in a race to accumulate as many college credits as possible, but as a means of broadening and expanding the exposure of the students to different teachings styles, learning platforms, and grading systems." With that said, ds is taking AP Calc AB this year based purely on the data released from Georgia Tech regarding the percentage of incoming freshmen who have taken it. So, yeah, we played.

 

Of course, it's not just admissions affected by ACT/SAT scores. There's merit aid to be considered. A couple of points (ACT) makes a huge difference. And if you need the money...well, you need the money!

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I think that to some extent, colleges also share in the blame of creating an AP arms race. On the Common Application, guidance counselors are required to indicate how the applicant's transcript of rigor compares to the other students at his school. Usually, AP courses are more rigorous than non-AP courses, so in order to get the "most rigorous" box checked on the Common Application, kids feel like they need to load up on AP classes.

Colleges also state that they want to see students who challenge themselves and take the most rigorous courses offered at their school. I can understand how kids interpret this to mean that more AP classes equates with "challenging themselves" and taking advantage of what their school has to offer.

 

This was my first thought when I started reading this thread (and I haven't even gotten to the article yet lol).  The colleges explicitly say they want most demanding, but what constitutes most demanding is vague and ambiguous.  At my kids' school, the counselor gets to decide, on a case-by-case basis.

 

When we went to a Vanderbilt presentation, the guy was like, "People are going to tell you that standardized test scores don't matter. Those people are wrong." Loaded pause, and then he goes on to to say much the same as your guy. 

 

I was happy to have someone flat out say that scores do matter (he stated that they mattered both for admission and for how you would do at the school). I can't tell how many times I heard the 'holistic admissions, your scores aren't that important' speech, yet all of those schools had a tight range of high scores. 

 

Wish we had been there.  My teen and I go round and round about this.

 

Can you clarify what you mean? Common core is just an attempt to standardize the benchmarks and goals across the country, rather than each state and/or district having their own.

 

Common core math is not college prep in the sense that the math sequence doesn't go high enough - it's been a long time since I looked at this, but IIRC, they barely go into trig and do not touch precalc.

Edited by wapiti
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FAPE (free, appropriate public education), specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is only required for students with disabilities. It is a huge misconception that schools are required to provide FAPE for all students.

 

Today I learned something new, I guess.

 

I also learned something kinda repulsive. (not pointing at you btw, at the law). 

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Under the homeschool philosphy section of the Common App, I wrote, "College Board-approved Advanced Placement classes and dual-enrollment courses are added to the curriculum, not in a race to accumulate as many college credits as possible, but as a means of broadening and expanding the exposure of the students to different teachings styles, learning platforms, and grading systems." With that said, ds is taking AP Calc AB this year based purely on the data released from Georgia Tech regarding the percentage of incoming freshmen who have taken it. So, yeah, we played.

 

Of course, it's not just admissions affected by ACT/SAT scores. There's merit aid to be considered. A couple of points (ACT) makes a huge difference. And if you need the money...well, you need the money!

To me, having your son take AP Calc AB as a senior is not "playing the game." Imo, a student who applies to a tech school would benefit greatly by being exposed to calc in high school. I would consider the class great preparation for college and not participating in the AP arms race.

 

I would consider a student "playing the game" when they take AP World History when they have absolutely no interest in the College Board's scope and sequence of world history, but are taking the class for the sole purpose of having a more rigorous transcript.

 

I feel sorry for those kids who have to play the game in order to get that most rigorous box checked.

Edited by snowbeltmom
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I also learned something kinda repulsive. (not pointing at you btw, at the law). 

 

I find this country's overall lack of commitment to funding public education repulsive, but I don't find it repulsive that we have a law that at least attempted to ensure that our most vulnerable students receive what they need.

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I find this country's overall lack of commitment to funding public education repulsive, but I don't find it repulsive that we have a law that at least attempted to ensure that our most vulnerable students receive what they need.

 

No. The "repulsive" part is that it's not guaranteed to all the children. I am absolutely 100% in favor of special needs children getting an appropriate and free education. 

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The "repulsive" part is that it's not guaranteed to all the children.

 

Agreed. Our willingness to underfund the education of our children (and, actually, of any person of any age who chooses to pursue an education of a variety of sorts) is repulsive.

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I think the author is accusing colleges of something they aren't actually doing:

 

 

I think his perception of this is wrong, and he is doing his students a disservice by advising them to forgo interesting courses and outside interests for more APs. From what I've seen and read, even the most elite colleges want to see students pursuing passions and interests, in both academics and ECs, and I don't think that having 10 APs and few outside interests really impresses elite adcoms more than 5 APs and really interesting electives and ECs. I agree with what UNCCH did and wish more colleges would make that explicit, but I also don't think it's the colleges' fault if high school students, parents, and GCs mistakenly believe that if taking 5 APs is good, then 8 is better, and 12 is the best. All that does is make students look like everyone else, instead of helping them find ways to genuinely stand out.

 

I also think the obsession in this country with college rankings is absurd. That is another huge, unnecessary cause of stress, which is also not really the colleges' fault.

Many colleges say they want to see the student taking the most rigorous courses available to them, so since APs are the most rigorous, councilors and pushing the kids into those. I could absolutely see how they are interpreting the directions. This is the reason some private schools no longer offer AP courses.

While I agree with you about the overall AP craze, I do think colleges aren’t blameless here.

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To me, having your son take AP Calc AB as a senior is not "playing the game." Imo, a student who applies to a tech school would benefit greatly by being exposed to calc in high school. I would consider the class great preparation for college and not participating in the AP arms race.

 

I would consider a student "playing the game" when they take AP World History when they have absolutely no interest in the College Board's scope and sequence of world history, but are taking the class for the sole purpose of having a more rigorous transcript.

 

I feel sorry for those kids who have to play the game in order to get that most rigorous box checked.

 

He applied to their liberal arts school. He's not going to be an engineer. It has been a great experience for him - the most challenging course he has ever taken. He's learned a lot of valuable lessons regarding effort!

 

 

 

 

Edited by amathis229
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Common core math is not college prep in the sense that the math sequence doesn't go high enough - it's been a long time since I looked at this, but IIRC, they barely go into trig and do not touch precalc.

The current lowest common denominator standard is prepared to take Precalc or College Algebra as "College Prep" so that's what some high schools are doing.

 

It's horrible!

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The current lowest common denominator standard is prepared to take Precalc or College Algebra as "College Prep" so that's what some high schools are doing.

 

It's horrible!

 

Right. Prep is "prepared to take math that counts towards your degree", not "prepared to enter any standard major and graduate in 4 years". Argh. 

 

And then we talk about the lack of diversity in STEM. Gee, maybe your failure to provide an education that would, oh, I don't know, allow those without family resources to be prepared for a STEM major has something to do with that? 

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snowbeltmom,

I see in your sig that you have two kids at highly selective colleges. Do you feel that your kids "played the game" a little, a lot, or not at all? Did you feel that your kids' high school experience was healthy and balanced?

I have a senior who is applying to two "reach" schools (MIT and Hopkins). She really didn't turn up the rigor and stress levels until junior year. I'm of mixed opinions as to whether or not what she is doing is healthy. I am both proud of her for pushing herself and amazed to find that she is keeping up with all she is doing, but at this point in senior year, she seems to be straining. She is doing a full load of rigorous community college classes, one high school class at home, two significant extracurriculars, and of course, college and scholarship essays. Overall, I think I'm OK with her working this hard for one year of high school, and I don't think she's simply trying to play the college "game" -- she of course knows what she is doing will go on her college applications and mid-year reports, but she's also becoming more ambitious overall as she gets older. I do worry about her burning out if she works this hard for four years of undergrad, though.

 

It will be interesting to see how it all works out for her.

 

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When we went to a Vanderbilt presentation, the guy was like, "People are going to tell you that standardized test scores don't matter. Those people are wrong." Loaded pause, and then he goes on to to say much the same as your guy. 

 

I was happy to have someone flat out say that scores do matter (he stated that they mattered both for admission and for how you would do at the school). I can't tell how many times I heard the 'holistic admissions, your scores aren't that important' speech, yet all of those schools had a tight range of high scores. 

 

Wish we had been there.  My teen and I go round and round about this.

 

Test scores are one of those things where I think they matter both more and less than people think.  I think crossing a minimum threshold matters a lot.  I think surpassing that threshold probably matters a lot less than people think.  (And what that threshold is will really vary depending on the school and the goal of the threshold-admissions/merit/honors college, etc)

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snowbeltmom,

I see in your sig that you have two kids at highly selective colleges. Do you feel that your kids "played the game" a little, a lot, or not at all? Did you feel that your kids' high school experience was healthy and balanced?

 

I have a senior who is applying to two "reach" schools (MIT and Hopkins). She really didn't turn up the rigor and stress levels until junior year. I'm of mixed opinions as to whether or not what she is doing is healthy. I am both proud of her for pushing herself and amazed to find that she is keeping up with all she is doing, but at this point in senior year, she seems to be straining. She is doing a full load of rigorous community college classes, one high school class at home, two significant extracurriculars, and of course, college and scholarship essays. Overall, I think I'm OK with her working this hard for one year of high school, and I don't think she's simply trying to play the college "game" -- she of course knows what she is doing will go on her college applications and mid-year reports, but she's also becoming more ambitious overall as she gets older. I do worry about her burning out if she works this hard for four years of undergrad, though.

 

It will be interesting to see how it all works out for her.

I do feel that we played the game to a certain extent, but that game was played for admission to college in general, not admission to highly selective schools. Our younger years of homeschooling were purely interest-led. Once the kids got to high school, their studies were not purely interest-led: I made them study a foreign language for three years, even though they had zero interest in the subject. Had colleges not required/recommended a foreign language, they would have not studied it. (Also, had I had a crystal ball and known where my oldest would have been accepted, he would have skipped foreign language because his school doesn't care about that at all.)

 

We did not play a game for admission to a highly selective school. My kids do not have a slew of AP exams. The AP exams that they take are taken because they have interest in the subject. (The only exception was that I did make my oldest take AP English Language when he would have preferred not to. However, I made him take that because I felt he would benefit from the class, not because I thought it would look good on his transcript.) When my oldest applied, he had AP exam scores in Physics B, Calc BC, Chemistry, Stats, and Physics C. He had AP Language on his transcipt, but he didn't sit for that exam because his recent surgery made it impossible for him to write for the extended time required for that exam.

 

My middle prefers math, writing, and computers. He applied with APs in Calc BC and English literature. He had very high SAT and subject test scores and many courses on his transcript for which there are no AP exams. He was also a recruited athlete, which makes a world of difference.

 

 

My oldest suffered a serious athletic injury the beginning of his junior year of high school which kept him out of the game for 18 months. Once he was injured and unable to play, he had time to spend a full day every week during the school year conducting research. His project ended up winning numerous international awards and he was published as the second author on papers that had many authors listed behind him. My opinion, which is based somewhat on numerous conversations with coaches at the highly selective schools is that test scores matter a heck of a lot. The rigor of the transcript also matters. Once those two hurdels are overcome, the applicant needs to have something outside of academics that the colleges think would add to their communities.

 

 

One more thought to add...is that my kids' days usually begin/began at 8 and ended at 2:30. They had plenty of downtime and plenty of sleep.

 

HTH a little

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I do feel that we played the game to a certain extent, but that game was played for admission to college in general, not admission to highly selective schools. Our younger years of homeschooling were purely interest-led. Once the kids got to high school, their studies were not purely interest-led: I made them study a foreign language for three years, even though they had zero interest in the subject. Had colleges not required/recommended a foreign language, they would have not studied it. (Also, had I had a crystal ball and known where my oldest would have been accepted, he would have skipped foreign language because his school doesn't care about that at all.)

 

We did not play a game for admission to a highly selective school. My kids do not have a slew of AP exams. The AP exams that they take are taken because they have interest in the subject. (The only exception was that I did make my oldest take AP English Language when he would have preferred not to. However, I made him take that because I felt he would benefit from the class, not because I thought it would look good on his transcript.) When my oldest applied, he had AP exam scores in Physics B, Calc BC, Chemistry, Stats, and Physics C. He had AP Language on his transcipt, but he didn't sit for that exam because his recent surgery made it impossible for him to write for the extended time required for that exam.

 

My middle prefers math, writing, and computers. He applied with APs in Calc BC and English literature. He had very high SAT and subject test scores and many courses on his transcript for which there are no AP exams. He was also a recruited athlete, which makes a world of difference.

 

 

My oldest suffered a serious athletic injury the beginning of his junior year of high school which kept him out of the game for 18 months. Once he was injured and unable to play, he had time to spend a full day every week during the school year conducting research. His project ended up winning numerous international awards and he was published as the second author on papers that had many authors listed behind him. My opinion, which is based somewhat on numerous conversations with coaches at the highly selective schools is that test scores matter a heck of a lot. The rigor of the transcript also matters. Once those two hurdels are overcome, the applicant needs to have something outside of academics that the colleges think would add to their communities.

 

 

One more thought to add...is that my kids' days usually begin/began at 8 and ended at 2:30. They had plenty of downtime and plenty of sleep.

 

HTH a little

May I ask a little of the subject if he was in the top 100 of national ranking in his sport?

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Test scores are one of those things where I think they matter both more and less than people think. I think crossing a minimum threshold matters a lot. I think surpassing that threshold probably matters a lot less than people think. (And what that threshold is will really vary depending on the school and the goal of the threshold-admissions/merit/honors college, etc)

Figuring out that threshold is what’s so incredibly difficult.

 

I couldn’t agree more with your post.

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A lot of school districts have chosen to use "common core" as a hogwash excuse for not offering any advanced classes whatsoever. Her district is particularly egregious in the matter; for example (she has said) classes after algebra 2 are no longer taught at the high school, but students must dual enroll. Students who can't afford to DE take study hall. I have yet to figure out how that satisfies the "free and appropriate" part of public education, but families who lack the resources to DE also tend to lack the resources to file a lawsuit. 

 

Wow, how stupid! That's on them, though. States and districts have always had 'minimum' standards for graduation, which certainly does not have to translate into not offering classes above that level. Common core is not a reason for not offering advanced classes, although they may be using it as an excuse. 

 

The districts in my area have actually been steadily adding more advanced courses over the years. They've also added distance learning options for students in schools that do not have certain courses, and I know other states are doing this as well. 

 

I wonder what is making certain states and/or districts add advanced courses, while others use Common Core as an excuse not to do so? Our local district has 76% of students on free or reduced lunch, so it's not strictly a socio-economic thing. 

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FAPE (free, appropriate public education), specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is only required for students with disabilities. It is a huge misconception that schools are required to provide FAPE for all students.

But there could certainly be a case where FAPE for a 2 E kid includes calc 2 and AP chem.

 

But the family that has the money to sue in such a matter has the money to take DE classes. At that point I wouldn't pursue the school hassle and I'd get the necessary accommodations at the local college for DE.

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Figuring out that threshold is what’s so incredibly difficult.

 

I couldn’t agree more with your post.

 

This is where IPED data and student profiles for scholarships can really help you evaluate the minimums. 

 

(I know you disagree with me, but I think if you cross the minimum thresholds that demonstrating internal motivation and authentic/genuine love of learning goes a long way toward compelling admissions for homeschoolers.)

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This is where IPED data and student profiles for scholarships can really help you evaluate the minimums.

 

(I know you disagree with me, but I think if you cross the minimum thresholds that demonstrating internal motivation and authentic/genuine love of learning goes a long way toward compelling admissions for homeschoolers.)

I don’t disagree with you at all here.

 

What is IPED data?

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snowbeltmom,

I see in your sig that you have two kids at highly selective colleges. Do you feel that your kids "played the game" a little, a lot, or not at all? Did you feel that your kids' high school experience was healthy and balanced?

 

I have a senior who is applying to two "reach" schools (MIT and Hopkins). She really didn't turn up the rigor and stress levels until junior year. I'm of mixed opinions as to whether or not what she is doing is healthy. I am both proud of her for pushing herself and amazed to find that she is keeping up with all she is doing, but at this point in senior year, she seems to be straining. She is doing a full load of rigorous community college classes, one high school class at home, two significant extracurriculars, and of course, college and scholarship essays. Overall, I think I'm OK with her working this hard for one year of high school, and I don't think she's simply trying to play the college "game" -- she of course knows what she is doing will go on her college applications and mid-year reports, but she's also becoming more ambitious overall as she gets older. I do worry about her burning out if she works this hard for four years of undergrad, though.

 

It will be interesting to see how it all works out for her.

 

I am not snowbeltmom, but as a mom who has a student at an extremely selective school, I want to chime in:

no, we did not play the game. It worked the other way around: because my student was ambitious and driven to excel at academics and wanted to take those university courses, she ended up competetive for a school that rejects 92% of its applicants. Her high school experience was healthy and balanced and fully "hers".

The only "game" we played was to jump through a few SAT2 subject test hoops. But that was the tests only; it did not affect our course choices.

 

I have another one, equally intelligent, student who is not as ambitious and driven, and who is not attending an extremely selective college, just a good one.

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Test scores are one of those things where I think they matter both more and less than people think.  I think crossing a minimum threshold matters a lot.  I think surpassing that threshold probably matters a lot less than people think.  (And what that threshold is will really vary depending on the school and the goal of the threshold-admissions/merit/honors college, etc)

 

:iagree:

 

I frequently talk to students interested in service academies who have test scores below the 25% for those schools.  Most of the students with scores in those ranges have some really compelling reason why they are ultimately selected.  They may be a star athelete, or come from an underrepresented district with general low academics, or have incredible leadership credentials, or have a compelling personal story that puts their scores into perspective (one of my USNA classmates, for example grew up in a refugee camp and had to learn English in middle school).  

 

The students who haven't properly calculated their odds of acceptance are those with low scores for the school, average gpa in courses that are ok but not spectacular, and extracurricular experiences that seem to be check the block if they exist at all.  These students are not usually going to be accepted to service academies.  (For one data point, consider that a few years ago, a young friend of ours could not even get an interview for a nomination request.  The senators' turn down letter indicated that over 700 students had requested noms. He was not one who would interview for the handful of nominations available.)

 

That isn't to say that a student with average (ie benchmark) scores and grades can't go to college.  Only that they probably are not competitive for the most competitive programs or schools.  It is similar to the very frank self-assessment that has to happen with athletes.  Everyone is not going to get a sports scholarship and go on to play pro ball.  

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Test scores are one of those things where I think they matter both more and less than people think.  I think crossing a minimum threshold matters a lot.  I think surpassing that threshold probably matters a lot less than people think.  (And what that threshold is will really vary depending on the school and the goal of the threshold-admissions/merit/honors college, etc)

 

This.

And what I find irritating in this entire discussion is lumping "colleges" into one box.

No, most colleges do not push students to do too much in high school. The vast majority of colleges is fine with students showing a solid transcript that hits the basic boxes and demonstrating some literacy and math ability via SAT/ACT. 

It is important to distinguish between "college" and "highly selective college".

Edited by regentrude
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I really don't think it is the college's fault.  Where Dh is from, the house prices escalated quickly.  Some moved from another state (where houses were worth far, far more) and they over-bid on houses to make sure they would get the house and not be out bid.  People from this other area were flooding the market and over-bidding by thousands and thousands of dollars.  Before you knew it, the prices had escalated on housing.  A house that my IL's purchased for $100,000 was worth $400,00 just ten years later.  

 

It has become so competitive to get into the top schools that the parents and the kids are in essence over preparing to be the "chosen" ones.  And it makes the entire process escalate.  That being said, they are getting super tired of it. At least at Duke, they are attempting to shift through all of the crap to find genuine, authentic kids that are smart enough to keep up, yes, but those who are also humble and real.  They are tired of cookie cutter attempts at perfection.  They want to see real interests, real passion, real experiences, and real relationships and they are willing to dip a tiny bit in test scores if they need to do this.  DD had a 35 on the ACT and not perfect 5's on all of her AP's.  She knows people in real life with a perfect 36, perfect SAT, and perfect AP scores that were turned away.  Her story was unique, her passions were obvious, she never contacted admissions to try to get a leg up, she didn't start a zeemee or submit separate videos, etc., she wasn't even seeking a top 10.  She wanted a good education at a good price.  She would have been happy at a "lesser" ranked school as long as it didn't come with a large price tag.  I think that her genuineness was what made her shine.  She never actually expected to get in because she was told that white, non-athletic females have a huge disadvantage in admissions.  Duke is known for DI athletics but it isn't that large of a student body.  Most students are also athletes.  She really didn't think she had a chance but in the end she got in regular decision and a full ride scholarship, in spite of her imperfect ACT and AP score.

 

 

Edited by Attolia
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I think one problem is that it's kids who are just ... not allowed to develop into their own selves ... because their parents are so busy trying to push them into the "mold" ... and they'd probably be better off, not just as far as college admission, but life itself, if they been allowed to develop interests, even non-academic, even if it meant fewer APs. 

 

I mean, talking with enthusiasm about your welding certificate from the CC and how it's going to be relevant towards your intended career in independent agribusiness is just not something that you could fake. 

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What is IPED data?

 

I think here https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/Home/UseTheData but I'd also be interested in understanding student profiles for scholarships - I probably didn't look at the right spot.

 

FWIW, Roadrunner, I am also trying to figure out thresholds...mostly for admissions, though it would help to understand scholarship angles too.  For admissions, I think the middle of the middle 50 percentiles would be a nice spot to be, to ensure that the admissions process moves on to evaluating the rest of the app.  But then, what if the student is just below that or what if the student has a lopsided SAT, above the school's 75th percentile for one section and below the 25th for the other.  (I think the answer is "retake" LOL)

Edited by wapiti
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In my own life experience, I'd lay the blame with high school counselors. I remember when I was a senior in high school, the counselor would come talk to us about college admission. Even though I really, really wanted to apply somewhere out of state, the end result was that I was too afraid to apply anywhere but our state universities because I didn't have a 4.0. 

 

Now I work for admissions at a small private university. And now I know that my GPA was high enough that had I applied, I probably would have gotten scholarships. 

 

I know that there are colleges out there that are so competitive that all those achievements really do make a difference. But at my university, we base admissions decisions on 1) GPA 2) standardized tests - which are now optional to submit and 3) math prep for technical majors. If the student meets a particular threshold in those three areas, they are automatically admitted. If they don't, it goes to director or possibly faculty review, and then they will most likely still be admitted. Only in the case of academically borderline students do we then fine tooth comb how prestigious their high school is, how many honors/AP classes they took, honors, achievements, leadership, citizenship, etc. 

 

To put that into perspective, while my university isn't Ivy League or super competitive, we are still considered the very best school to go to in the nation for those fields that we specialize in. In other words, your job prospects wouldn't be better going to school anywhere else. 

 

I am always having to talk down students who are so worried about whether they are in enough clubs or have done enough. I always tell them that succeeding academically is always the most important thing and that they should not jeopardize their performance just so they can list a bunch of activities on their resume. 

 

Personally I don't see taking honors/AP classes the same way as being pressured to join clubs and build their resume. Because while taking all those rigorous courses may not make a difference on whether or not you get admitted to college, I think the student is better prepared to handle the rigor of college level work. I agree though, that there is still a reasonable line where a student can challenge him/herself without becoming enormously pressured and stressed out.

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In general no but CSU (California state university system) is oversubscribed as well so there are less safeties left for students who want to get into a CSU within commute distance to their home.

 

The public and private high school kids are not only facing the “rigor†checkbox, they are also facing the class rank issue. My district’s public high schools send very few students to the selective UCs and even less to the selective private colleges. Kids who are aiming for UCLA and UCB all have safeties state universities in their choices. So it is not so much the college but that enrollment has not caught up with the increase of high school applicants that have fulfilled the UC/CSU a-g requirements. When supply is less than demand, competition heats up. Friends’ kids who are juniors are retaking SAT in June to hopefully improve their scores in time for UC college applications.

 

What is IPED data?

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/Home/UseTheData
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This.

And what I find irritating in this entire discussion is lumping "colleges" into one box.

No, most colleges do not push students to do too much in high school. The vast majority of colleges is fine with students showing a solid transcript that hits the basic boxes and demonstrating some literacy and math ability via SAT/ACT. 

It is important to distinguish between "college" and "highly selective college".

 

Absolutely.  I am so low key right now with my high schooler bc she wants to live at home and commute to our local directional university.  Stress for admissions?  None.  Bar for the state scholarship?  LOW. It is wonderful to know that I have zero research I need to do. No traveling for college tours.  She will be a one and done applicant.  The only decision she has to make is if she wants to start DEing next yr as a jr or not.  Right now, she currently isn't interested in that route.  

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This.

And what I find irritating in this entire discussion is lumping "colleges" into one box.

No, most colleges do not push students to do too much in high school. The vast majority of colleges is fine with students showing a solid transcript that hits the basic boxes and demonstrating some literacy and math ability via SAT/ACT. 

It is important to distinguish between "college" and "highly selective college".

 

I SO agree with this.  There are SO MANY schools in the US and the truth is that the vast majority are perfectly good schools.  And most of them actually have pretty low admissions standards.  Like I said before....they WANT students to come to their school.

 

I haven't actually known anyone IRL who was unable to get into a college.  Of all the people I know who went to college, only one even received a denial letter.  She applied to 4 schools, got into 3.  It's just not that hard to get IN to college. 

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