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A rising senior (not my own, so I hope it’s OK to ask on the board for a friend, if not please delete) is looking at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Amherst and some of the other Little Ivys. We are somewhat removed geographically from all of those colleges (rural CA) and it doesn’t seem like anybody has a handle on what it takes to get into some of those schools. We are aware superhuman qualities are required for the likes of Stanford and Yale... but not sure if a great GPA (maybe just a couple of Bs), good grades in AP classes (but not all good scores), a high SAT and some varsity sports participation along with clubs makes us lunatics to even consider those schools. Does anybody know any kid who has attended any of those schools?  She knows she needs safety schools, so that’s not an issue. She is having a hard time differentiating between reach schools and “in your dreams” schools. Really appreciate if anybody has any experience or a feel for what sort of caliber kids those particular colleges are looking for. 

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My oldest DD’s good friend is a senior at Johns Hopkins. She is a Neuroscience Major. She attended a tippy top independent day school in the Midwest, earning a near 4.0 GPA, but they don’t offer/have students take many APs (they claim their in-house honors courses are deeper/more challenging). She scored a 32 on her ACT and had no other major hooks (not an athlete or URM or amazing leadership positions, etc). She was admitted early decision. Hopkins has been a good fit and she’s happy there. Plans to attend grad school for doctorate in neuroscience upon graduation. Smart, hardworking young woman who is also social and likes to party. That’s about all I know about her situation.

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Honestly, it's hard to say not knowing her and her story. I think I have shared here about how I did not encourage (or even mention the option) to my daughter's brother in law to apply to any highly selective schools. He was an achiever, but not an obvious superstar, and money was an issue for him, so I thought his application efforts would better directed toward other sorts of schools. I helped him with his apps to many schools. In the meantime, he secretly applied to Yale and got in. There was something about his story and mix of attributes that appealed to them. He struggled to make the money work, but ended up getting awesome aid on appeal and is starting his third year there now. All that to say, it's just really hard to know how things will play out. Those schools will be lottery for everyone.

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I believe Georgetown was one of the four (4) private schools that sent Admission Reps to the school fair we attended in Bogota in May 2018. The others were Harvard College, Duke and the University of Pennsylvania. They all indicated that they look at applicants on a Holistic basis. As has been pointed out, there are mysteries about why one applicant is accepted and another applicant with seemingly similar qualifications is rejected.   I believe it is advantage to the student because she lives in CA and the schools are looking for diversity in their student bodies.  A lot may depend upon a letter of recommendation or an Essay, but it could be something else that gets one applicant the Green light and another a Red light.  Those are Private universities and they can provide $. They can provide a lot of $ depending upon the financial situation of the family.

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My academic but no real major hook kid did not get into selective uni's  - she was an overall good student (1540 SAT, 11 AP's with mostly 5's and a few 4's).   She did band all four years but no major leadership position, she was a wonderful writer and had half a novel to her name, but nothing that made her really stand out. Her GPA was 4.19.  

She did get into Brandeis.

Her friend down the street was much more ALL IN to applying to the elite uni's and was really disappointed. It was pretty sad.  Good GPA, good scores, Drum Major in band, varsity sports... but no safeties except a highly selective state school that just happens to struggle to have males attend and he got in there. 

They really are lottery schools for sure.

ETA: We were pretty annoyed by Columbia's application I do remember -- there was a section asking about what plays you have seen, what musical performances, art museums you'd been to, etc.  Plus the whole "attach your resume" thing, which really made us scratch our head.  It seemed to really separate those who have money and access and those who don't.  I think if there had been more indication that we were able to pay (for NYU, for example) she might have gotten in there -- she was waitlisted.  We were applying and planning on using the GI bill but they didn't know that, so we just looked like any normal moderately achieving middle class family.  

Edited by SanDiegoMom in VA
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1 hour ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

My academic but no real major hook kid did not get into selective uni's  - she was an overall good student (1540 SAT, 11 AP's with mostly 5's and a few 4's).   She did band all four years but no major leadership position, she was a wonderful writer and had half a novel to her name, but nothing that made her really stand out. Her GPA was 4.19.  

She did get into Brandeis.

Her friend down the street was much more ALL IN to applying to the elite uni's and was really disappointed. It was pretty sad.  Good GPA, good scores, Drum Major in band, varsity sports... but no safeties except a highly selective state school that just happens to struggle to have males attend and he got in there. 

They really are lottery schools for sure.

ETA: We were pretty annoyed by Columbia's application I do remember -- there was a section asking about what plays you have seen, what musical performances, art museums you'd been to, etc.  Plus the whole "attach your resume" thing, which really made us scratch our head.  It seemed to really separate those who have money and access and those who don't.  I think if there had been more indication that we were able to pay (for NYU, for example) she might have gotten in there -- she was waitlisted.  We were applying and planning on using the GI bill but they didn't know that, so we just looked like any normal moderately achieving middle class family.  


Your DD is very impressive! It’s crazy that we expect kids to be accomplished adults before even graduating high school. 

Do you know what Brandeis is like for kids outside of Jewish fate? I know Christian colleges can really vary from super diverse to really evangelical. I don’t know a single thing about Brandeis. 
 

and I am afraid the girl feels it’s “fancy” school or nothing. So worried to really end up with nothing. 

And I don’t think there is any real story there - just a great middle class kid. 

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:



Do you know what Brandeis is like for kids outside of Jewish fate? I know Christian colleges can really vary from super diverse to really evangelical. I don’t know a single thing about Brandeis. 
 

and I am afraid the girl feels it’s “fancy” school or nothing. So worried to really end up with nothing. 

And I don’t think there is any real story there - just a great middle class kid. 

We didn't honestly think about Brandeis in terms of Jewish or non- Jewish, I don't know why we didn't.  She just had a redline of no Christian college, and after that looked at a diverse set of schools that were near large cities. It was a weird list.  I don't know what it would have been like for her to go, but I am sure it would have been drastically different than her sink or swim experience at UCLA.  She insists that she is so glad to go to a Uni that was huge and everyone was anonymous. But it would have been nice to have a smaller liberal arts school with a lot more social and emotional support.  I was basically that support long distance. 

I really feel bad for the kids who feel that way.  I know it's in the peer groups at school, and then if it's at home too? My dd's friend's mom talked about all the interviews he was having, with MIT, Princeton, Harvard -- all the mail they got inviting him to apply.  They definitely fell for the marketing ploy. So everyone was disappointed. 

Hopefully the parents are counseling her to have a safety that she would be happy to attend!   And if they are able to pay their own way,  Early Decision REALLY does give students a higher chance to get it.  Not entirely fair, but they definitely prioritize those who commit early.  

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8 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

We didn't honestly think about Brandeis in terms of Jewish or non- Jewish, I don't know why we didn't.  She just had a redline of no Christian college, and after that looked at a diverse set of schools that were near large cities. It was a weird list.  I don't know what it would have been like for her to go, but I am sure it would have been drastically different than her sink or swim experience at UCLA.  She insists that she is so glad to go to a Uni that was huge and everyone was anonymous. But it would have been nice to have a smaller liberal arts school with a lot more social and emotional support.  I was basically that support long distance. 

I really feel bad for the kids who feel that way.  I know it's in the peer groups at school, and then if it's at home too? My dd's friend's mom talked about all the interviews he was having, with MIT, Princeton, Harvard -- all the mail they got inviting him to apply.  They definitely fell for the marketing ploy. So everyone was disappointed. 

Hopefully the parents are counseling her to have a safety that she would be happy to attend!   And if they are able to pay their own way,  Early Decision REALLY does give students a higher chance to get it.  Not entirely fair, but they definitely prioritize those who commit early.  


Parents are clueless. I am attempting to talk some sense into her without hurting feelings, but you nailed it, peer pressure at school is debilitating. I realize most people don’t have a clue what type of an applicant a place like Princeton accepts (as an example). So that list I typed is what they think is a compromise list. I am wondering now if they are delusional or not.
I think most parents believe a good SAT score and APs are all they need for an elite school. 
 

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8 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:



I think most parents believe a good SAT score and APs are all they need for an elite school. 
 

That's what my husband thought -- he dared my dd to apply to Columbia. She laughed in his face -- she'd been on college confidential and she'd gone to school with some REALLY high performing kids, so she knew how she shook out compared to them. 

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25 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

That's what my husband thought -- he dared my dd to apply to Columbia. She laughed in his face -- she'd been on college confidential and she'd gone to school with some REALLY high performing kids, so she knew how she shook out compared to them. 


I’ll see here you DD would be that high performing kid. We are rural and kids with so many APs and good scores are not a norm. 

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I have a daughter at Wellesley and one at Smith. They also were admitted to Grinnell and St. Olaf. Both homeschooled through their Sophmore year and then dual enrolled at an inner-city high school and the local CC. When they graduated from high school, they also had earned their AA degrees. Their GPAs were high but not straight A and their ACTs fell right in the 25 - 75% range for their school. Neither held any leadership positions at their school nor played athletics. Both had a lot of volunteer activities. My Smith daughter was active in the local teen Shakespeare troop and had leadership roles there. Their essays both centered around participation in a key organization and how they matured while participating in that organization or what they took away from the various activities. The highly selective schools they applied to were Need Blind and financial aid was 100% Need-Based. They did cast their nets widely but did not hesitate to try for reach schools. Based on our experience, you never know when you might fill just the right slot in a school's perspective cohort.

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EA (Early Action) is another way to apply as a Freshman.  My DD applied (at the last minute when they extended the deadline) to UNC EA and we thank God that she is at UNC.  🙂

Brandeis University is an extremely good school.  I  Googled and this is on the SERPs page:

"The proportion of students who identified as Jewish by religion declined from 36 percent among seniors to 24 percent among freshmen. An additional three to 10 percent of each class year considered themselves Jewish “aside from religion.”

I am researching  different ideas for the DD of friends. She would be an International Student.  I am going to suggest that they look at BYU (Brigham Young University) which is an LDS (Mormon Church) affiliated school. They are not Mormons, so if they are interested, hopefully they will find out that there are a lot of students at BYU who are not Mormons. I'm guessing the vast majority of students are Mormons. BYU is a very low cost school if the data I'm looking at is correct.

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You can check the mid 50% range for SAT scores and the admit rate to get a feel for selectivity.  But be careful because sometimes you need to select different schools within the university which also have varying admit rates.  

I'm not all that familiar, but I think the school of foreign service at Georgetown is extremely selective.  I have no idea if you apply separately to that school (or if I'm even right about the selectivity) but she'll want to be careful wherever she applies.  

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Do you think the caliber of kids admitted in early decision is lower than in regular decision? I get that they take more kids early, but I wonder if it affects the type of student.

 

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9 hours ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

 

ETA: We were pretty annoyed by Columbia's application I do remember -- there was a section asking about what plays you have seen, what musical performances, art museums you'd been to, etc.  Plus the whole "attach your resume" thing, which really made us scratch our head.  It seemed to really separate those who have money and access and those who don't.  I think if there had been more indication that we were able to pay (for NYU, for example) she might have gotten in there -- she was waitlisted.  We were applying and planning on using the GI bill but they didn't know that, so we just looked like any normal moderately achieving middle class family.  

 

Wow, just wow.  I know plenty of people who aren't in to that stuff, but may still have other attributes that make them excellent candidates.  And how discouraging would it be to a low income applicant, who is already insecure about applying to the Ivy League, to then be asked something like that?  

It's like asking how many polo matches, fundraising galas, and European tours you've attended.  

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18 hours ago, GoodGrief1 said:

Honestly, it's hard to say not knowing her and her story. I think I have shared here about how I did not encourage (or even mention the option) to my daughter's brother in law to apply to any highly selective schools. He was an achiever, but not an obvious superstar, and money was an issue for him, so I thought his application efforts would better directed toward other sorts of schools. I helped him with his apps to many schools. In the meantime, he secretly applied to Yale and got in. There was something about his story and mix of attributes that appealed to them. He struggled to make the money work, but ended up getting awesome aid on appeal and is starting his third year there now. All that to say, it's just really hard to know how things will play out. Those schools will be lottery for everyone.

 

I've heard that Yale is not particularly welcoming to low income students.  How did he fit in with the student body?  

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1 hour ago, Lanny said:

 

I am researching  different ideas for the DD of friends. She would be an International Student.  I am going to suggest that they look at BYU (Brigham Young University) which is an LDS (Mormon Church) affiliated school. They are not Mormons, so if they are interested, hopefully they will find out that there are a lot of students at BYU who are not Mormons. I'm guessing the vast majority of students are Mormons. BYU is a very low cost school if the data I'm looking at is correct.

 

My LDS homeschooling parent friend was mildly annoyed that non-Mormon applicants have an easier time getting admitted to BYU.  I think Mormons abstain from caffeine, correct?  I think you need to be cool without coffee on campus.

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1 hour ago, daijobu said:

 

My LDS homeschooling parent friend was mildly annoyed that non-Mormon applicants have an easier time getting admitted to BYU.  I think Mormons abstain from caffeine, correct?  I think you need to be cool without coffee on campus.


 I think any campus dominated by a certain religion would be a no go. BYU is definitely out, but Brandeis looks like a place she might enjoy. 

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3 hours ago, daijobu said:

 

Wow, just wow.  I know plenty of people who aren't in to that stuff, but may still have other attributes that make them excellent candidates.  And how discouraging would it be to a low income applicant, who is already insecure about applying to the Ivy League, to then be asked something like that?  

It's like asking how many polo matches, fundraising galas, and European tours you've attended.  

I don’t know, it’s just about as ridiculous as asking about “leadership skills” or sports.

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22 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

Do you think the caliber of kids admitted in early decision is lower than in regular decision? I get that they take more kids early, but I wonder if it affects the type of student.

 

The early decision pool has a higher percentage of kids with special hooks: recruited athletes, children of alumni/donors, minority students who won a free visit fly-out trip and were given the sales pitch on early admissions. I don't know how to figure out how much of an advantage ED is for the 'nice well-rounded kid.'

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On 7/31/2020 at 5:34 PM, Lanny said:

I'm guessing the vast majority of students are Mormons.  

Very much so. There isn't a lot of diversity at BYU; it's about 99% Mormon, and there are detailed rules for all students to follow, including a conservative dress code. It's also about 83% white. 

BYU students generally have a reputation of being welcoming and polite to students who don't look like them or worship like them, but also a bit of a reputation for being a bit awkward with them because they have little experience with diversity. There are definitely non-Mormons and minorities who attend and have a great experience, but you have to know what you're getting into. 

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On 7/31/2020 at 5:34 PM, Lanny said:

I am researching  different ideas for the DD of friends. She would be an International Student.  I am going to suggest that they look at BYU (Brigham Young University) which is an LDS (Mormon Church) affiliated school. They are not Mormons, so if they are interested, hopefully they will find out that there are a lot of students at BYU who are not Mormons. I'm guessing the vast majority of students are Mormons. BYU is a very low cost school if the data I'm looking at is correct.

Lanny, I would not recommend it.  We sent our dd to French camp there to check it out b/c of cost and their excellent language programs.  While at camp, the French prof asked her if she would consider applying there.  Dd is a very religious young lady(but Catholic), so the moral aspects associated with BYU would have not been an issue for her.  However, she said while the students were very polite and friendly, she was an outsider.  WIth the campus being 99% Mormon, there really isn't any real ability to find a non-Mormon cohort.   She contacted several non-Mormon students and they were upfront that their experience on campus was rather isolating.  If a student was simply commuting to the school, taking classes, and spening the rest of their life with family/friends, it would probably be fine.  But, for a student living away from family and attending, it would not be like attending most colleges. 

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My ds was accepted to Georgetown (though he did not attend), but my info may now be dated as he applied in the 2013-2014 cycle. At the time, students did apply to the college they wanted to attend (he applied to the School of Foreign Service - SFS), they did not use the Common App, and an alumni interview was required.  He applied regular decision there.  As someone mentioned above, SFS is a harder admit than some of the other colleges. 

I think Georgetown highly values class rank and high test scores.  They were the only school that “suggested,” three Subject Tests rather than two.  They are not known for being generous with money. Are all these schools in range price-wise for your friends’ dd?

Back then, Georgetown deferred MANY of their Early Action applicants.  They were the only school I knew of that had a higher acceptance rate for RD than EA. A young woman from our same general area applied EA and to SFS and was deferred.  She was then either waitlisted or denied in the Regular Decision round (I can’t remember).  She was accepted to Columbia and Stanford in RD and attended Stanford with my ds.  She and my ds had the same alumni interviewer for Georgetown.  I personally think she was not accepted there because her rank and scores were not super high.  She was an excellent writer (12 on the essay section of the ACT), but her other “numbers” weren’t super strong. I don’t think Georgetown is as holistic as some of the more highly ranked schools. Just speculation on my part, however. Her story also demonstrates how random the acceptance process is.  Georgetown was absolutely this young woman’s number one choice.  She majored in International Relations.  She had significant leadership roles on Stanford’s campus.  G’town missed a good one; it was Stanford’s gain for sure. 

Without more specific info about your friends’ dd’s actual numbers, it’s hard to offer much specific advice. However, it is worth pointing out that even if she is in range for those schools based on her objective stats, that isn’t enough for those types of schools. I’m sure you know this.  I’m also sure you know how hard it is to convince people of this.  

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Hoggirl said:

 However, it is worth pointing out that even if she is in range for those schools based on her objective stats, that isn’t enough for those types of schools. I’m sure you know this.  I’m also sure you know how hard it is to convince people of this.  

 

 


😂😂😂 yes, I know this! It’s impossible to convince people and sometimes I wonder if they are right. I have known kids who went to some of those tippy top schools with fairly ordinary stories - top grades, top scores, a good extracurricular and that’s about it. Not that it’s an easy fit to get all of those ducks in the row, but none of them have cured cancer or solved world hunger. 😉 So I have stopped telling people because apparently I am an alarmist. That’s why I am asking, because some of you have actual real children in those places!

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@Roadrunner - when my ds was at Stanford he claimed that, “About 15% of the students here are scary-smart.  The rest are all about like me.”  The latter part meaning, “average excellent student.”  Your description of “top grades, top scores, a good extracurricular and that’s about it,” is accurate.  Which is why most folks rightly feel the process is most unpredictable.  

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DS19 had excellent academics (1550 SAT/4.0 unweighted GPA/lots of dual enrollment and APs) and fine but unremarkable extracurriculars (standard stuff like theater, piano, some volunteer work but not a ton), and we found that he did very well with schools that were selective but not tippy top schools, but top 20s were a total crapshoot. He got into Vassar and Hamilton, offered a spot off the waitlist at Emory's Oxford campus, but also got waitlisted a ton of places. If I had it to do over again (and I do--3 times!) I'd have encouraged him to focus more on need-blind schools for reaches. He needed a lot of need based aid, and it seemed to make a difference which schools were need aware and which were need blind (both Vassar and Hamilton are need blind). We also might have focused more on schools that have a reputation for being LESS holistic in his case, since his numbers were the strongest part of his application (he's a super introverted kid and selling himself is not his strong suit)....but then I'm not sure most of those schools would have been a good fit for him even if he'd gotten in (I'm thinking of maybe somewhere like Vanderbilt or Washington University, but it's not something we focused on, so really not sure).

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3 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

I have known kids who went to some of those tippy top schools with fairly ordinary stories - top grades, top scores, a good extracurricular and that’s about it. Not that it’s an easy fit to get all of those ducks in the row, but none of them have cured cancer or solved world hunger.

It helps to have the right answer to the question, will you be seeking financial aid? 

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3 hours ago, katilac said:

It helps to have the right answer to the question, will you be seeking financial aid? 

I believe she will need some help. I am not sure exactly how much, but yes. 
 

 

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4 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

I believe she will need some help. I am not sure exactly how much, but yes.

 

In this case, the most important things are to run net price calculators first, and to apply to multiple schools so you can compare financial aid offers. Some forms of financial need "show up" better on the financial aid formulas and others just don't.

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25 minutes ago, JanetC said:

 

In this case, the most important things are to run net price calculators first, and to apply to multiple schools so you can compare financial aid offers. Some forms of financial need "show up" better on the financial aid formulas and others just don't.


Her family will manage to pay for what’s needed and will borrow if needed. I asked. I think given the peer pressure and attitudes, the focus seems to be on “brands.” She wants big name schools and won’t hear anything else. 😞 

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2 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:


Her family will manage to pay for what’s needed and will borrow if needed. I asked. I think given the peer pressure and attitudes, the focus seems to be on “brands.” She wants big name schools and won’t hear anything else. 😞 

 

Oy. I hope they know what they're doing financially then. Do have them run the price calculators anyway. Hopefully at least they start to realize that just because it's the same FAFSA everywhere it won't be the same price everywhere. If her state has state U's with good honors programs, try to have her put those on the list as affordable backups to a big-name big-price school.

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34 minutes ago, JanetC said:

 

Oy. I hope they know what they're doing financially then. Do have them run the price calculators anyway. Hopefully at least they start to realize that just because it's the same FAFSA everywhere it won't be the same price everywhere. If her state has state U's with good honors programs, try to have her put those on the list as affordable backups to a big-name big-price school.


We are in CA. UCs are also super competitive here and they are on the list!

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On 7/31/2020 at 9:59 AM, Roadrunner said:


I’ll see here you DD would be that high performing kid. We are rural and kids with so many APs and good scores are not a norm. 

I haven't made it through all the replies yet, so this may have already been said. It's all a bit of a mystery, of course, but I do think it goes beyond high performing. The kid I referenced earlier really did not have any huge achievements. I did not read his essays, but I think they must have been quirky and interesting. Sometimes it's something about an individual's story that appeals to the app readers. I think something similar probably occurred with my daughter's app to her selective school. She was a busy kid, who had a lot going on, but no major achievements. She had a couple of minor hooks (female going into engineering and geographical diversity), though I would argue that there are plenty in those categories that had greater achievements than her.  I'm certain that someone found her essays appealing.

In your daughter's case, I'd encourage her to talk about what makes her unique and what she brings to the table as they are building a class.

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On 7/31/2020 at 4:02 PM, daijobu said:

 

I've heard that Yale is not particularly welcoming to low income students.  How did he fit in with the student body?  

He's done well, and is happy there. They have been very accommodating of his financial and home situation. He has been able to be involved in various things. When school shut down suddenly, he was allowed to stay indefinitely as he figured out an alternative for housing. They also guaranteed his annual cost for the full four years (under $1600/year) which is extremely unusual.

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34 minutes ago, GoodGrief1 said:

I haven't made it through all the replies yet, so this may have already been said. It's all a bit of a mystery, of course, but I do think it goes beyond high performing. The kid I referenced earlier really did not have any huge achievements. I did not read his essays, but I think they must have been quirky and interesting. Sometimes it's something about an individual's story that appeals to the app readers. I think something similar probably occurred with my daughter's app to her selective school. She was a busy kid, who had a lot going on, but no major achievements. She had a couple of minor hooks (female going into engineering and geographical diversity), though I would argue that there are plenty in those categories that had greater achievements than her.  I'm certain that someone found her essays appealing.

In your daughter's case, I'd encourage her to talk about what makes her unique and what she brings to the table as they are building a class.


She isn’t mine. Mine are homeschooled and don’t even understand what peer pressure means, which I realize now is a beautiful thing! 😂

 

 

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9 hours ago, Roadrunner said:


Her family will manage to pay for what’s needed and will borrow if needed. I asked. I think given the peer pressure and attitudes, the focus seems to be on “brands.” She wants big name schools and won’t hear anything else. 😞 

I posted here a couple of years ago about a friend of my son who was college-hunting at the same time as DS, but this kid was 100% focused on Ivies. SATs in the low 1400s, average GPA, and his sole EC was his sport, where he was very good but not world-class (same sport as my son, but not nearly as highly ranked, no International competitions, and just not at a level where his athletic achievements would even begin to compensate for the academics). But his parents are VERY wealthy (like travel to competitions in their private jet wealthy) and they were convinced that his sport plus their money would get him offers from multiple Ivies. When I tried to diplomatically suggest that he might want to contact coaches at schools like Ohio State and Penn State, he made a face like he'd stepped in something unpleasant and said "no, my parents feel we should just focus on Ivies."

You can probably guess how this ended up. After senior year plus a gap year in which he had zero interest from any Ivies, he and his parents decided that college would be a waste of his time anyway, and he's going to become a coach instead. So while DS and their other same-age friends are all getting ready to go back to college this fall, Ivy-or-bust kid is living at home with mom & dad while working part time coaching little kids. Because apparently a degree from someplace like Penn State would just be embarrassing — if you can't go to Harvard, why go at all? 🙄

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I haven’t read all responses.  We are urban and actually the kid across the street is attending a little ivy.  We know lots of kids at various competitive schools Including top 20s.   My kid went through an 11 school application process.  My kid was accepted to one, but we went another direction. We had much better financial offers that made more sense for a kid likely headed toward grad school    He is graduating without debt   

what I would say after watching this process for a number of years with a bunch of smart ambitious kids Is these schools are filling a series of boxes.  Geographic, private vs rich public vs urban public, potential major, sports, music, baton twirling piccolo players, etc.    if you are applying from a metro area flush with baton twirling piccolo players that are applying to that school, it’s a harder admit that if they aren’t seeing as many apps that look like yours.  In so many ways it is a lottery.  I know schools claim need blind but if you look at the average income of many of these schools many consultants will admit that the admissions office knows how to skew to a certain income level.  I know 5 kids at a particular top 20 right now   Every single one of them went to an extremely expensive  high school.  And yes, some kids get very generous financial aid.  It’s just good to do your homework.   

the kid across the street at the little ivy was a NMF and a IB grad.  Which is not necessarily super stand out among kids we know here going onto college.  I know similar grads commuting to state schools.  However she applied to schools strategically that probably usually don’t get a huge number of applicants from this area.  In terms of extracurriculars she didn’t do too much. I think it’s hard for IB kids.   She is also a graduate from an urban public highly diverse school.  Which can get you a look some places too.  

Anyway, that was a lot of words but my kid got unique insight into the process applying for both music and academic programs.  We just got to talk face to face with more faculty and admissions people that most and I think we just know a lot of kids in our area through committed extracurriculars my kids have done.  No one should feel bad about not catching someone’s eye in an admissions office.  By the same token, I also wouldn’t assume any particular  magical qualities in the students attending these schools either.  They get in for a variety of reasons.  I think lottery describes it well.  
 

my kid is attending a flagship school and had stats to apply anywhere. It’s honestly been great. No issue with finding appropriate intense nerdy peers. Lots of attention from faculty.  Love thy safety 

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I heard someone provide numbers that puts admissions into Ivy League schools in perspective.

There are about 24,000 HS in the US. The entire freshman class of all ivy leagues combined is about 16,000. There’s not enough space at Ivy League schools to accept every single valedictorian in the US. Factor in homeschoolers and international students, and admission odds are low. Qualified candidates get rejected. I k is your questions was about schools in the next tier, but this idea can be expanded to little ivys and the like. Those schools typically have even smaller freshman classes are also highly selective.

I can’t answer your question, but thought I’d throw that out there. 

Edited by Dad_Germ
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7 hours ago, Dad_Germ said:

I heard someone provide numbers that puts admissions into Ivy League schools in perspective.

There are about 24,000 HS in the US. The entire freshman class of all ivy leagues combined is about 16,000. There’s not enough space at Ivy League schools to accept every single valedictorian in the US. Factor in homeschoolers and international students, and admission odds are low. Qualified candidates get rejected. I k is your questions was about schools in the next tier, but this idea can be expanded to little ivys and the like. Those schools typically have even smaller freshman classes are also highly selective.

I can’t answer your question, but thought I’d throw that out there. 


I specifically didn’t ask about Ivy League for that reason. 

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On 8/1/2020 at 11:27 PM, Hoggirl said:

@Roadrunner - when my ds was at Stanford he claimed that, “About 15% of the students here are scary-smart.  The rest are all about like me.”  The latter part meaning, “average excellent student.”  Your description of “top grades, top scores, a good extracurricular and that’s about it,” is accurate.  Which is why most folks rightly feel the process is most unpredictable.  

 

One of my kids is at Stanford.  He is not an Olympic caliber athlete (though there were several in his freshman dorm). He was not doing graduate level physics classes as a freshman (like the guy across the hall).  He hasn't started companies or hold patents (like some of his friends).  He had high scores, great grades, fantastic letters of recommendation and had interesting life experiences that were outside the norm for Stanford.  But he could just as easily been turned down (Washington University St. Louis and University of Chicago did turn him down).

There was one amusing incident freshman year when a guy in the dorm started bragging about his SAT score. Everyone else in the room just looked at him, because their SAT scores were just as high.  Outstanding academic credentials are typically the starting argument with schools like this, but students have to remember that 80% of the students turned down also have similarly wonderful academic profiles. 

This year is not going to be like a typical application cycle.  Many applications will lack test scores.  Many students will have pass-fail grades for spring junior year, possibly for fall of senior.  Many will have academic downturns in reaction to the virtual setting.  Teachers and counselors will struggle to write letters of recommendation for students they haven't seen in person.  Extracurriculars and sports will be constrained.  Ability to pay may be a compelling factor in admissions. 

This is a year to have a college list that is broad, with a wide range of schools and admissions likelihood.  Past trends may not be a good predictor of admissions outcomes.

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@sebastian - what are your thoughts as to whether kids who DO have scores will be at an advantage?  I’ve a friend with a daughter who is aiming high.  She has a 35 ACT and and 1,500 SAT.  Seems like that may be of extra benefit this year instead of the norm since some kids either won’t have scores or will not have reached their desired scores on tests taken before the shutdowns.  She was one and done on both of them.  Lots of prep. 

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16 hours ago, Hoggirl said:

@sebastian - what are your thoughts as to whether kids who DO have scores will be at an advantage?  I’ve a friend with a daughter who is aiming high.  She has a 35 ACT and and 1,500 SAT.  Seems like that may be of extra benefit this year instead of the norm since some kids either won’t have scores or will not have reached their desired scores on tests taken before the shutdowns.  She was one and done on both of them.  Lots of prep. 

I think for many colleges, a strong test score will still be an advantage.  In particular I think test scores will help homeschool students.  If you don't submit a test score, the importance of other pieces of evidence goes up.  The added weight of each other factor may be different at different schools (ie, School A might give extra consideration to grades and rigor, while School B might look more at letters of recommendation, and School C might require an additional essay or creative supplement). 

For homeschoolers, the other factors to consider can be less reliable indicators (at least in the eyes of admissions).  Class rank?  Grades from home based courses?  Course rigor when there is only one set of courses?  It gets challenging.

If a student doesn't have compelling scores, this could be a great year for them. Admissions will be oriented towards considering other options. 

If a student does have compelling scores, I still think it's in there interest to submit them in most cases (not the handful that are going test blind this year).

If a student is a homeschooler, it will depend on what the rest of the record looks like and what type of schools they are applying to.

That said, with my own senior, I am reserving the right to have him bail on the August test right up to the day of the test, based on local coronavirus cases.  Scores aren't worth getting him sick and exposing the rest of the family.  (Honestly, I'm doubtful the test will happen at all.)

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Posted (edited)

Our schools locally are printing A’s because in a wealthy district, wealthy parents rise a stink over poor grades. There was so much commotion over valedictorian award and how it was so unfair that only one person got it when so many worked so hard, that now our school routinely has 15 valedictorians for each graduation. I am not kidding you. So I wonder how grades are going to play most important role (CA schools soon will be test blind) even this year when so many districts are graduating scores of kids with identical transcripts and identical grades. And what I am seeing now is a massive disconnect between grades in AP classes and scores on exams. I am told AP scores don’t matter, but we have tons of kids with A’s in AP classes who fail exams. It is so very confusing to me. So I wonder if AP scores will all of a sudden gain prominence in admissions process?
 

Edited by Roadrunner
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@Sebastian (a lady) - I appreciate your analysis.  I probably should have been clearer.  I was just thinking that kids who do have good scores would have a leg up on those who have no scores or choose not to submit.  It seems as though that might be construed to be an unfair advantage, however. 

Edited by Hoggirl
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On 8/7/2020 at 9:02 AM, Hoggirl said:

@Sebastian (a lady) - I appreciate your analysis.  I probably should have been clearer.  I was just thinking that kids who do have good scores would have a leg up on those who have no scores or choose not to submit.  It seems as though that might be construed to be an unfair advantage, however. 

@Hoggirl I agree with you that in many cases a good set of scores (which I'm defining as near the college's middle 50% or higher) may go a long ways this year.

My hunch is that more test dates will be canceled as we head into fall, and more colleges will go test optional as a result. 

It's important for students to understand the difference between test optional (your application can be complete without scores, but scores are considered if sent), test blind (scores are not required or considered), and test flexible (if scores aren't submitted; something else like an essay, creative supplement, or graded paper is required).  

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On 7/30/2020 at 9:26 PM, fourisenough said:

She attended a tippy top independent day school in the Midwest, earning a near 4.0 GPA, but they don’t offer/have students take many APs (they claim their in-house honors courses are deeper/more challenging). 

This is probably true, and universities are generally familiar with the curriculum and rigor at tippy top high schools. Lack of APs is zero disadvantage in this situation.

OP, my baseline is to consider colleges with admit ranges below 15% to be closer to lottery schools than reach schools. No matter how accomplished the student, tons of schools might turn them down in this range. There will definitely be students admitted who match her profile, but it's tough odds. The whole "safety, match, reach" thing is rather more complicated than it used to be. That's not to say I don't think it's worth applying, because I do, if the student is truly interested in the school beyond the brand name. 

I would definitely prioritize schools, rather than just going in random order on the final short list. Application fatigue is a thing! It can also get more expensive than people expect - just the three example schools you listed will put her over $200 in application fees. Get your safeties and your top choices done first, then go down the list. 

 

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