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LisaK in VA

How are you narrowing down the college selections?

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I'm trying to help my daughter narrow down her choices before we get to application mode.

The list is LONG.  And, it's complicated.

  • There are two schools she is "certain" she wants to attend:  Liberty University and the U.S. Naval Academy.  Night and day differences in these schools.  She will get great money from LU, but seeing that the coaches haven't replied to a single email in 3 years, I don't think she'll swim there.  And given our track record with USNA, that's a long shot, too.  Frankly, I'd be happy if she dumped both of them -- but that's my momma-bear, disappointed for my daughter, and really want her to go someplace that wants her to be there feelings talking.
  • There is the HUMONGOUS pile of mail from schools hoping to collect application fees (highly selective schools...but very qualified to attend, if she meets criteria the school is looking for at the time)
  • Then, there is the much more manageable pile of colleges attempting to recruit her for swimming (we're at 30 and counting at the moment -- we've been able to eliminate 2 schools easily, as we have visited those campuses and DD does not like them).

Other issues: 

  • Financial Aid/Scholarship packages won't be known until she applies.
  • Some schools are not in the geographic area she'd ideally like to be, but she likes the swim coach and/or the school from what she's been able to see.
  • Some schools (swimming wise) are really, really, really bad academic matches, but would offer her significant money to attend (and swim).

 

We're starting by attempting to eliminate "safety" schools (these are schools she would be able to swim for, and would offer her a substantial scholarship to attend -- and tick off her educational goals).  I don't think she needs more than one or two of these.  

I know she will most likely apply to a few military schools (USNA, VMI, and USCGA)

She would also like to apply to two Ivies (Princeton and Dartmouth), if she gets the Math2 and Physics score on the SAT2s, she needs, MIT would also go on this list.

But, there are still so many schools she can't seem to eliminate, because she likes the school, or thinks she might like the school and/or the swim team. 

I'm at a loss of what to do next.  So -- how are you doing this?  There is no way to visit all of these schools.  And, I'm nervous about casting out any school that she'd be a pretty good fit, where the coach is trying to recruit her.

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I would not consider, for a moment, trying to visit them, especially before being accepted.  I did a lot of reading for DD when she was contacted about a school, on USNEWS and on CollegeData.  tons of information there.  In your case, the Athletic issue either greatly complicates it or greatly simplifies it.  Geographic location isn't everything but it is a "plus". The schools that are a bad academic match should IMO be discarded from consideration.   

The service academies from the stats on CollegeData have different criteria (lower average SAT and ACT scores) and I believe they are looking for a lot of Leadership and team sports etc.  

If the coaches at Liberty haven't responded to emails in 3 years that should tell you something about them and/or their lack of interest in your DD. Lack of courtesy...

With regard to the emails from the highly selective schools. The Private ones may give your DD a much lower net price than a Public university. If she meets the stats she is seeing on CollegeData.com it might be worth the application fee.

When we went to the school fair in Bogota last May, there were 4 schools there: University of Pennsylvania (they invited my DD), Duke University, Harvard College and I think Georgetown (a Catholic school in DC, if that's not the correct name).  There was a huge amount of information coming at us in a very short time but the bottom line is that they have a lot of financial aid available and it is available to families who are not super rich or super poor.  If your DD is the "Tuba Player" a school is looking for, or, in this case, the Swimmer they would like to add to their Team, she is in.

I have spent many hours looking on USNEWS and on COLLEGEDATA and believe that if one looks on more than one or two web sites for the same data, one is going to be totally confused.

If a Coach is trying to recruit her, that's a huge plus compared to a school that hasn't answered her emails in 3 years and I would suggest checking into the school to see if it is otherwise a good fit for your DD.  

Much good luck to your DD with getting into a school where she is happy!

 

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7 minutes ago, Lanny said:

If the coaches at Liberty haven't responded to emails in 3 years that should tell you something about them and/or their lack of interest in your DD. Lack of courtesy...

With regard to the emails from the highly selective schools. The Private ones may give your DD a much lower net price than a Public university. If she meets the stats she is seeing on CollegeData.com it might be worth the application fee.

When we went to the school fair in Bogota last May, there were 4 schools there: University of Pennsylvania (they invited my DD), Duke University, Harvard College and I think Georgetown (a Catholic school in DC, if that's not the correct name).  There was a huge amount of information coming at us in a very short time but the bottom line is that they have a lot of financial aid available and it is available to families who are not super rich or super poor.  If your DD is the "Tuba Player" a school is looking for, or, in this case, the Swimmer they would like to add to their Team, she is in.

I have spent many hours looking on USNEWS and on COLLEGEDATA and believe that if one looks on more than one or two web sites for the same data, one is going to be totally confused.

If a Coach is trying to recruit her, that's a huge plus compared to a school that hasn't answered her emails in 3 years and I would suggest checking into the school to see if it is otherwise a good fit for your DD.  

Much good luck to your DD with getting into a school where she is happy!

 

Thank you, Lanny -- looking at those sites now.  DD is high stats, of the top tier schools that have sent mail, Duke and Vanderbilt have sent the most (Duke has been sending mail inviting her to attend special honors programs (free) and college for a weekend type things for two years. Vanderbilt really wants her for math/science -- neither is a swimming match, but Duke is on our list to visit).  Looking at the highly selective schools, everything comes up "maybe" -- She's got the necessary academics, just not sure how they will weight the "other" things.  Since a few of these are recruiting her for swimming, I know that would probably place her into the "good bet" catalog -- but she's not sold on schools like Smith or Wellesley and Brown (three that have indicated they are interested).  I actually think she'd do really well at Smith, I think I would have enjoyed going to school there -- but, I know she'd be lonely as she's a bit of an odd duck politically (Vegan, big environmentalist,  but also very pro-life and fairly libertarian/conservative on many, many other things that would not fit in at Smith).

She really wanted to hate LU, but after our weekend there, and our tour -- she was sold. At least one of her best friends is attending the school, which is a huge sale.  I'm not a fan of the coach, but I do know the coach at a local club team who might be interested in having her coach and allowing her to train/swim and compete when she can with them.  She spent an hour with the math department chair, and really enjoyed talking to him.  She was also happy about the fact that they would allow her to test out of other upper level math beyond Calc, and grant her credit.  She's guaranteed at least 3/4 of the cost to attend -- but would probably be free, based upon what I've heard about departmental scholarships.

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It is impossible to not cast out schools that might be a good fit. They can only attend 1 school and applying takes so much time and energy.

i would take the approach of 1-2 solid safeties that she would be happy to attend while NOT swimming and 1-2 safeties that match her major desire AND her desire to swim.

I would pick 2 match swim schools, 1 academy, and 2-3 reaches. 

I would prioritize the apps, safeties and matches first and then reaches in accordance to desire. I would not apply to any school without her desired major. Not a single one!

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We’re trying to figure this out right now too. I would like to limit applications to ten or less.

The thing I’m trying to figure out is what actually qualifies as a “safety”.  I know one factor is being above the 75th percentile, but how do acceptance rates factor into that?  If my dd is considerably above the 75th, but the acceptance rate is between 20 and 30%, is this still a safety?  Or, can a safety only be a school with a higher acceptance rate? And how high?  

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Lisa, just saw this site mentioned on the 2020 parents thread on CC. Didn't know if you were aware of it: https://www.collegeswimming.com/recruiting/standards/?gender=F&course=Y&season=22

10 minutes ago, Mom0012 said:

We’re trying to figure this out right now too. I would like to limit applications to ten or less.

The thing I’m trying to figure out is what actually qualifies as a “safety”.  I know one factor is being above the 75th percentile, but how do acceptance rates factor into that?  If my dd is considerably above the 75th, but the acceptance rate is between 20 and 30%, is this still a safety?  Or, can a safety only be a school with a higher acceptance rate? And how high?  

No. Anything with a 20-30% acceptance is not a safety. It might be classified as a match depending on the bigger picture (looking at the CDS, does the student check off multiple of the important/considered factors? Less common major? etc) Otherwise, anything with that low of an acceptance rate should be classified as a reach. If all they have are stats and the school acceptances are holistic, stats alone won't bridge the threshold.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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1 minute ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Lisa, just saw this site mentioned on the 2020 parents thread on CC. Didn't know if you were aware of it: https://www.collegeswimming.com/recruiting/standards/?gender=F&course=Y&season=22

No. Anything with a 20-30% acceptance is not a safety. It might be classified as a match depending on the bigger picture (looking at the CDS, does the student check off multiple of the important/considered factors? Less common major? etc)

Thank you.  

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6 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

No. Anything with a 20-30% acceptance is not a safety. It might be classified as a match depending on the bigger picture (looking at the CDS, does the student check off multiple of the important/considered factors? Less common major? etc)

^This 1,000 times.  My dd was in the top 75% for most of the schools she applied.  She got waitlisted at ones she thought were a sure bet.  They were all in the 20-30 percent acceptance range.  There are so many other factors involved. One of the schools was relatively small and has a greater number of women apply than men, and she did not stand out at all. Another one I suspect had to do with money issues -- it gives very little aid and she had accidentally checked that she was seeking financial aid (we are using the GI bill).  So I honestly suspect that went into the decision to waitlist.  Or protecting their yield.  So many variables!

 

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2 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

^This 1,000 times.  My dd was in the top 75% for most of the schools she applied.  She got waitlisted at ones she thought were a sure bet.  They were all in the 20-30 percent acceptance range.  There are so many other factors involved. One of the schools was relatively small and has a greater number of women apply than men, and she did not stand out at all. Another one I suspect had to do with money issues -- it gives very little aid and she had accidentally checked that she was seeking financial aid (we are using the GI bill).  So I honestly suspect that went into the decision to waitlist.  Or protecting their yield.  So many variables!

 

This is what is making everything so difficult.  My dd’s application is very strong and when I look at a lot of the schools she is interested in, it seems like she should get in.  But then I look at the acceptance rates and nothing feels sure.  I’m thinking she has a lot of matches, but not a lot of guarantees. Did your dd apply early action for most of her apps or regular decision?

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53 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

It is impossible to not cast out schools that might be a good fit. They can only attend 1 school and applying takes so much time and energy.

i would take the approach of 1-2 solid safeties that she would be happy to attend while NOT swimming and 1-2 safeties that match her major desire AND her desire to swim.

I would pick 2 match swim schools, 1 academy, and 2-3 reaches. 

I would prioritize the apps, safeties and matches first and then reaches in accordance to desire. I would not apply to any school without her desired major. Not a single one!

One solid safety is one of her top choices to attend.  She is guaranteed enough money to attend.  I really don't want to spend more time on schools in that academic range she's not interested in that don't have swimming.  Because (a) we know she will be accepted into that safety (b) she's been guaranteed the $$ to attend and (c) the chair of the math department has already interviewed her for accelerated placement in the department (d) she'd walk onto campus day 1. with over 40 credits toward the completion of a degree, and the ability to triple major with a German minor).  Only one other school (which she might be able to swim D1 for) has anything similar, but I know she would *only* go there if she could swim.

She's primarily a math major -- I think we've only found two schools that don't offer that (both were swimming schools).  We could add Physics, education and/or German (minor) onto our criteria -- which may help a bit more. 

There are no real "reaches" on her list -- all of the Ivies and USNA would qualify based upon acceptance rates and those hard to determine unknowns they look for, other than swimming schools -- which could be considered "matches," but the problem is she really doesn't  know if she'd "like" those schools (Grinnell, Smith, Wellesley and Brown), or she's worried about the atmosphere. 

And I think that's the real problem -- trying to figure out which schools she may really like from the mail, emails, internet and comparisons to the 12 schools she visited with her brother.  

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47 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Lisa, just saw this site mentioned on the 2020 parents thread on CC. Didn't know if you were aware of it: https://www.collegeswimming.com/recruiting/standards/?gender=F&course=Y&season=22

No. Anything with a 20-30% acceptance is not a safety. It might be classified as a match depending on the bigger picture (looking at the CDS, does the student check off multiple of the important/considered factors? Less common major? etc) Otherwise, anything with that low of an acceptance rate should be classified as a reach. If all they have are stats and the school acceptances are holistic, stats alone won't bridge the threshold.

Yes, we're registered there.  We developed her list of swimming schools that she would match to from that site.  We get an email or letter (Grinnell, Oberlin and Assumption send tons of mail regarding their swim programs), go to collegeswimming.com to look at "how she fits."  About half of the schools recruiting her are well below her academic threshold AND she'd be #1 or #2 on the squad the day she walks in.  One program we declined immediately (as she visited, and didn't like the school or the coach).  The other half are a mixture of her being in the top 10% academically to top 30% (hard to gauge with high stats schools --but she's still in the top end of the range scholastically), and top 5-6 walking in the door.  

I personally (as her mom and coach) think she'd either do best with a swim program she has to work for (as in, isn't the fastest as a freshman, and just outside Conference/NCAA cuts), and an academic program that gave her flexibility with her major and would give her some consideration to her advanced coursework/testing, etc.  She is perfectly happy just swimming and going to school -- so D1 is not a turn off to her in that regard.  

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6 minutes ago, LisaK in VA is in IT said:

 

There are no real "reaches" on her list -- all of the Ivies and USNA would qualify based upon acceptance rates and those hard to determine unknowns they look for, other than swimming schools -- which could be considered "matches," but the problem is she really doesn't  know if she'd "like" those schools (Grinnell, Smith, Wellesley and Brown), or she's worried about the atmosphere. 

And I think that's the real problem -- trying to figure out which schools she may really like from the mail, emails, internet and comparisons to the 12 schools she visited with her brother.  

I don't understand what you are stating here. Are you saying the academy and Ivies are not reaches but matches?

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10 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I don't understand what you are stating here. Are you saying the academy and Ivies are not reaches but matches?

 

Based upon her stats and coursework -- they are matches -- based upon all of the unknown factors they are reaches (are they looking for a white, Christian conservative girl, who is a Vegan environmentalist, heavy math, homeschooler who spent 6 years overseas, Captained her swim team, swam 20+ hours a week, and has a flair for the dramatic and visual arts this year? kind of things).  When it's a high stats school with a coach actively recruiting her -- I call that a "match" -- a high stats school that is not recruiting her for swimming IMO is a "reach" because the reality is Dartmouth & Princeton could fill their classes 10x over with kids with academic credentials similar to my daughter.  And, with the Naval Academy, it comes down to those pesky nominations and who she's "competing" against for them.  Being in VA01 (and now the VA Beach area) is not helpful in that regard.  

Edited by LisaK in VA is in IT
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54 minutes ago, Mom0012 said:

 

This is what is making everything so difficult.  My dd’s application is very strong and when I look at a lot of the schools she is interested in, it seems like she should get in.  But then I look at the acceptance rates and nothing feels sure.  I’m thinking she has a lot of matches, but not a lot of guarantees. Did your dd apply early action for most of her apps or regular decision?

My daughter didn't really know where she wanted to go, so she applied very widely.  She applied to only one college early action.  She did the best at the out of state public universities that I suspect were starved for money.  She got waitlisted at William and Mary and NYU, and accepted to smaller private schools like Brandeis and American (who offered money).  

She had a very high SAT score (1540), 11 or 12 AP's (mostly 5's) and a weighted GPA of 4.2 . -- just an example of why high stats don't translate to acceptances:) She had decent extracurriculars too, but nothing with real leadership and no awards or anything.  Band member for four years, debate for two, internship for a summer.... 

If you need merit aid, you would want to target mid range private schools.  Early Action doesn't really do much, early decision does. But it locks you in and makes it harder if you are depending on financial aid. 

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28 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

My daughter didn't really know where she wanted to go, so she applied very widely.  She applied to only one college early action.  She did the best at the out of state public universities that I suspect were starved for money.  She got waitlisted at William and Mary and NYU, and accepted to smaller private schools like Brandeis and American (who offered money).  

She had a very high SAT score (1540), 11 or 12 AP's (mostly 5's) and a weighted GPA of 4.2 . -- just an example of why high stats don't translate to acceptances:) She had decent extracurriculars too, but nothing with real leadership and no awards or anything.  Band member for four years, debate for two, internship for a summer.... 

If you need merit aid, you would want to target mid range private schools.  Early Action doesn't really do much, early decision does. But it locks you in and makes it harder if you are depending on financial aid. 

Yes -- this is why I feel like high stats w/o any "extra" factor are really "reaches" for anyone in that cohort -- now, DD has won a ton of awards (in swimming), and has work and leadership, international exposure, etc.  but unless a coach WANTS her, it is far from a sure thing. 

What I don't know how to deal with is schools like Duke who send DD (and me) an email or letter every couple of weeks inviting us to attend some special recruiting event (or scholarship event)... I just see the mail and think, "wow, they really want an application fee -- but when the same school starts sending THIS much, and inviting her to free events, I start thinking maybe the school is truly interested. 

Because, that's how it is with swim programs. There are the ones who figure they'll indicate interest and hope beyond hope they can convince her to apply (would take her in a heartbeat, but really don't think they stand a chance at getting her, but at least they attempted), they send one or two contacts and then wait. Then, there are the programs that really want her, believe she'd make a great student and teammate and are in our inboxes and mailboxes all the time.  Reminding us of what we need to do next to make sure she's eligible to sign in the fall.

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50 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

My daughter didn't really know where she wanted to go, so she applied very widely.  She applied to only one college early action.  She did the best at the out of state public universities that I suspect were starved for money.  She got waitlisted at William and Mary and NYU, and accepted to smaller private schools like Brandeis and American (who offered money).  

She had a very high SAT score (1540), 11 or 12 AP's (mostly 5's) and a weighted GPA of 4.2 . -- just an example of why high stats don't translate to acceptances:) She had decent extracurriculars too, but nothing with real leadership and no awards or anything.  Band member for four years, debate for two, internship for a summer.... 

If you need merit aid, you would want to target mid range private schools.  Early Action doesn't really do much, early decision does. But it locks you in and makes it harder if you are depending on financial aid. 

Thanks so much for sharing!  It’s helpful and I really appreciate it.

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If I could make a suggestion, I would contact MysteryJen on this board.  Her eldest dd was college swimmer, and younger is being recruited as well.  She has oodles of experience with this.  

For us, eldest ds was an elite baseball player, highly recruited.  The majority of contact was just that: contacts.  Invites to elite camps, etc.  At the end of the day, you will truly know who wants you.  We had ds look past his playing days and envision his life 15 years from that point, and that is how he made his ultimate decision.  

It's definitely an exciting time for your dd!  Good luck to you...

Edited by readinmom
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6 hours ago, readinmom said:

If I could make a suggestion, I would contact MysteryJen on this board.  Her eldest dd was college swimmer, and younger is being recruited as well.  She has oodles of experience with this.  

For us, eldest ds was an elite baseball player, highly recruited.  The majority of contact was just that: contacts.  Invites to elite camps, etc.  At the end of the day, you will truly know who wants you.  We had ds look past his playing days and envision his life 15 years from that point, and that is how he made his ultimate decision.  

It's definitely an exciting time for your dd!  Good luck to you...

Thank you -- I will try to contact her.  I do believe most of the contacts are just that, contacts.  There are about 6 schools that I would say are "actively" recruiting her (please complete this form by X date, for initial review by admissions department, here is what you can expect as a swimmer on our team, and attending the school, we'd like to schedule an official visit...additional contacts (usually letters) from current swimmers athletes).  

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  1. Thank you everyone for helping me find some clarity. We successfully trimmed Pony Girl's list down from 84 schools to 25 (more culling to come, but this was a good start).  She's working on her emails to politely decline interest in a number of programs, and then she'll start contacting (in most circumstances re-contacting) the schools on her list to get a better feel for the schools and swim programs.  Since DD's a swimmer, this will move a bit faster, and she will probably make her decision in November -- unless she really holds out for one particular school and team.  Progress will probably be on the college board for her (I will have two there!!).  Next up:  PokeMan.  Soon to follow: Blondie...and then my Boo.  😭
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4 hours ago, LisaK in VA is in IT said:

down from 84 schools to 25 (

😬. That sounds scary and makes me feel like a total slacker.  Lol!

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53 minutes ago, Mom0012 said:

😬. That sounds scary and makes me feel like a total slacker.  Lol!

Well, we had the schools *we* identified, and then there were the schools that identified PonyGirl.  We went through her emails to make sure we had everyone.  We started by looking at the SAT band and swimming fit (if the SAT band was more than 400 points below DD and she was #1 or #2 in the swim program, it was eliminated.  Then, we made sure the schools had Math, education and German as majors/minors (other than military schools).  Then, we divided the group up into Safety, Match and Reach based upon selectivity, where DD fell academically, and swimming wise.  We got our safetys down to 6, our "Reaches" down to 8, and the rest of the group were matches.  Getting through the matches was the hardest. Some good schools were eliminated because the school was too urban, or DD just felt better about one vs. another (Macalester vs. Carleton).  This next round will be a lot harder.  DD feels guilty about having to say no to so many coaches, but in the end -- she can only swim (or attend) one school.  Thankfully, I don't think my life will be this crazy for Pokeman!  Right now he has about five schools on his radar, and he doesn't swim. So looking forward to a simple process 😄

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You'll hate me, but I want to throw another school in there: CO School of Mines. They've got the math, swimming, and great program overseas to extend the German minor. 

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1 minute ago, Margaret in CO said:

You'll hate me, but I want to throw another school in there: CO School of Mines. They've got the math, swimming, and great program overseas to extend the German minor. 

That was on our list of 84 😉  But, no Education minor/major (she doesn't know which direction she wants to go with math yet -- so would like to have more than one option).  I can't fault the reasoning 😄  

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