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Interesting article in The New Yorker on college admissions


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Just now, Lilaclady said:

But outside of the top 200 or so colleges, there are thousands of colleges in the US that will accept most students just based on their scores but most students want to apply to the top ones. Alabama has their requirements on their web page, you  score perfect Act/ sat and have a 4.0 GPA, you get a full ride. You score less, you can get full tuition etc. So many schools have that and we have students doing well at those schools. They all don’t  have to apply to the top 100 or so. There is more freedom and flexibility than you will like to acknowledge. The problem is that you want HYP, Stanford and MIT to also go that route and that is not possible. How many 4.0 gpa and perfect scores can you admit? What else are they bringing to the table other than scores? 

Well the article I am sure refers to the top 50 or so schools. I thought we were discussing the article. 
 

And what else are they bringing to the table? Often not much different than the guy that’s accepted. That’s the point I am making. It is often a lottery for kids. Or should playing a banjo be something that is a determining factor into an academic institution? 

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14 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

Actually I am not. I am saying current system is the lottery with some exceptions. We tell kids it isn’t. We tell them they weren’t cool enough or smart enough or didn’t work hard enough. In reality colleges should say: I regret to inform you that you didn’t win a lottery. 
 

For the very top schools that is what I tell my kids.  I tell them they would do well at those schools (granted I know that bc my family has multiple folks who went to HPY), and I want them to know that but that with a 6% acceptance rate it is a lottery and not getting in is not a reflection on them at all.  My kids are not pointy at all; they are very much generalists.  They are basic nice, smart kids.  They aren't extraordinarily gifted with social skills (just generally likeable) They have great stats.  We chose not to apply to Ivy League college bc we knew that chances were low they'd get in bc we don't have either the money to put into awesome extracurricular activities at an impressive level, nor did we have so little money that it would be obvious they did the best they could.  Both children did exceptionally well in college admissions, including to schools that had a 6% acceptance rate this year.  They got wonderful scholarships everywhere including competative scholarships at elite schools (but not enough to attend those very expensive schools.) They both chose smaller less "elite" schools partially because of money and partially because that's where their heart led them.

What I'm saying is that you need to treat it like a lottery and give that message to your child.  Most children who apply to top schools would do really really well there, and they can't take everyone.  It is random and it always is going to be random unless fewer children start applying.

Your experience may be that it limits job opportunities but that isn't what I've seen at all.  In fact my dh didn't get an interview somewhere once bc he went to a top school.  There are limits everywhere for all kinds of reasons.  I believe it's a false narrative to give our kids that everything is always open to them.  I was very frustrated at first that the kinds of ECs we'd need to "shine" were out of reach for us, but then I zoomed out and realized looking good for a school was not what I wanted their high school years to be about.  Where you go to college doesn't determine your future in any meaningful way.  There are studies that show that a child who gets into Harvard does as well in life no matter where they go.  My Yale educated brother and my public university educated brother have done as well in their careers.  My uncle who didn't go to Princeton has done as well (or better) in his career than his two brothers who went.  My dad did as well in his career from a small Catholic college BA/public university MA as my SIL who went to Yale/Georgetown/Harvard or my Princeton/Harvard grandfather.  There is absolutely no correlation between colleges attended and happy life either in my family. None.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, freesia said:

For the very top schools that is what I tell my kids.  I tell them they would do well at those schools (granted I know that bc my family has multiple folks who went to HPY), and I want them to know that but that with a 6% acceptance rate it is a lottery and not getting in is not a reflection on them at all.  My kids are not pointy at all; they are very much generalists.  They are basic nice, smart kids.  They aren't extraordinarily gifted with social skills (just generally likeable) They have great stats.  We chose not to apply to Ivy League college bc we knew that chances were low they'd get in bc we don't have either the money to put into awesome extracurricular activities at an impressive level, nor did we have so little money that it would be obvious they did the best they could.  Both children did exceptionally well in college admissions, including to schools that had a 6% acceptance rate this year.  They got wonderful scholarships everywhere including competative scholarships at elite schools (but not enough to attend those very expensive schools.) They both chose smaller less "elite" schools partially because of money and partially because that's where their heart led them.

What I'm saying is that you need to treat it like a lottery and give that message to your child.  Most children who apply to top schools would do really really well there, and they can't take everyone.  It is random and it always is going to be random unless fewer children start applying.

Your experience may be that it limits job opportunities but that isn't what I've seen at all.  In fact my dh didn't get an interview somewhere once bc he went to a top school.  There are limits everywhere for all kinds of reasons.  I believe it's a false narrative to give our kids that everything is always open to them.  I was very frustrated at first that the kinds of ECs we'd need to "shine" were out of reach for us, but then I zoomed out and realized looking good for a school was not what I wanted their high school years to be about.  Where you go to college doesn't determine your future in any meaningful way.  There are studies that show that a child who gets into Harvard does as well in life no matter where they go.  My Yale educated brother and my public university educated brother have done as well in their careers.  My uncle who didn't go to Princeton has done as well (or better) in his career than his two brothers who went.  My dad did as well in his career from a small Catholic college BA/public university MA as my SIL who went to Yale/Georgetown/Harvard or my Princeton/Harvard grandfather.  There is absolutely no correlation between colleges attended and happy life either in my family. None.

But I think parents here are more savvy about those things. I wouldn’t say that about parents in general. 

back to the article. I personally agree with their viewpoint. that’s all. This isn’t about my kids at all. 
 

And as far as job opportunities, I didn’t say you needed to go to Ivys for it. I was careful to give examples to eliminate that impression. I can reiterate - we pulled kids out of UC Davis, Irvine, UCB, but never a resume out of Riverside or any CSU. I don’t want people reading what I didn’t say. 

Edited by Roadrunner
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

Actually I am not. I am saying current system is the lottery with some exceptions. We tell kids it isn’t. We tell them they weren’t cool enough or smart enough or didn’t work hard enough. In reality colleges should say: I regret to inform you that you didn’t win a lottery. 
 

Ah, I see. And I agree with you that it is, after a certain point, luck of the draw. I guess the question to ask is why people are so caught up in getting into one particular school or class of schools? Because from a strictly academic view, kids are going to get an education of the same (or better) caliber* in many of the top but not HYP etc schools. They all draw from the same pool of academics, although most won’t have the resources that the top schools have because they don’t have multi billion dollar endowments. So are kids (ahem, parents) going to university for the education or for the connections and the bragging rights? And don’t get me wrong, I know that certain schools are feeder schools for certain jobs and that networking is important. But if the concern is strictly academics, there are an awful lot of very good schools.

I don’t think for undergrad we will get caught up in this particular rat race. We’ll save that for graduate school. 😉 

 

* with some notable exceptions

Edited by bibiche
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2 minutes ago, bibiche said:

Ah, I see. And I agree with you that it is, after a certain point, luck of the draw. I guess the question to ask is why people are so caught up in getting into one particular school or class of schools? Because from a strictly academic view, kids are going to get an education of the same (or better) caliber in many of the top but not HYP etc schools. They all draw from the same pool of academics, although most won’t have the resources that the top schools have because they don’t have multi billion dollar endowments. So are kids (ahem, parents) going to university for the education or for the connections and the bragging rights? And don’t get me wrong, I know that certain schools are feeder schools for certain jobs and that networking is important. But if the concern is strictly academics, there are an awful lot of very good schools.

I don’t think for undergrad we will get caught up in this particular rat race. We’ll save that for graduate school. 😉 

Because scarcity drives value. 
High school diploma sadly is worthless. I can’t believe that secretarial jobs now require college degrees. Really. Why can’t out high school graduates do administrative assistance jobs? So now everybody has a college degree. I am going to stay out of tippy tippy discussion and stick with CA schools. So if everybody has a degree, then a name brand is viewed as more valuable, no? Here everybody wants a stamp from UCLA and UCB because the perception is smarter kids go there and therefore smarter kids are more employable. While CSU graduates fill administrative assistance jobs.

I am I am just very crudely musing here, but this is what I get when I talk to local parents. Also here the game is really public universities, not HYP  as it is for east coast kids. Honestly I don’t see what is so valuable about 1,000 kid classroom at UCB, but I am in a minority. 

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, stripe said:

Thanks for linking this article.

It sounds like college admissions is becoming Miss America pageants, where one has to play the piano and be able to arrange world peace and cure cancer, all while looking good in a swimsuit and ball gown. Meanwhile, the qualifications for some other fields (heads of companies and countries) seem much lower.

This is, precisely, my thinking. It’s actually counter-cultural to point out that, in practice, it’s not the best/brightest/best scoring/best testing/most accomplished that usually end up in leadership roles but people with other skills (ruthlessness, savvy, EQ, whatever you want to call it). The big names will take those students who stand out for their service, potential, grades, and test scores but NEED the others to maintain their credibility too. It’s never been a pure meritocracy and probably never will be. Thus, playing that game never has made any sense to me. Just do you.

Edited by Sneezyone
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12 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

This is, precisely, my thinking. It’s actually counter-cultural to point out that, in practice, it’s not the best/brightest/best scoring/best testing/most accomplished that usually end up in leadership roles but people with other skills (ruthlessness, savvy, EQ, whatever you want to call it). The big names will take those students who stand out for their service, potential, grades, and test scores but NEED the others to maintain their credibility too. It’s never been a pure meritocracy and probably never will be. Thus, playing that game never has made any sense to me. Just do you.

Good looks. Don’t underestimate good looks! 

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2 hours ago, Kassia said:

That's a good point.  Dd's boyfriend is in college and is a first generation college student with parents who aren't familiar with American colleges at all (they are from China).  Dd has helped her bf a lot with navigating basic things like class registration, applying for internships, etc.  Her bf missed out on being in the honors program because he didn't even know to apply.  He's a really smart and motivated young man, but just hasn't had any guidance.  Of course, starting college life with all the Covid restrictions didn't help since there really wasn't any orientation, advising, etc.  

 

 

Many colleges have special programs to help first generation college students. At my son’s university, the only major specific scholarships in his major were only available to first generation college students. They came with both $ and extensive mentoring and extra opportunities.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

Well you and I are in the clear then with our kids 🙂 

 😂😢
 

Meanwhile I read somewhere most at the top in the world have sociopathic brains. Now I can’t locate that somewhere. So maybe we should get brain scans and select for sociopathic tendencies. 
That explains world leadership currently. 
I need another cup of coffee. 

Edited by Roadrunner
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I'm still traumatized by the application process with my oldest two years ago. In retrospect, he did fine, but it was agonizing while it was going on. I don't know what the answer is; for him taking a zillion APs and DE classes and getting the test scores was not the stressful part; trying to figure out what these schools wanted and market himself very much was. The opposite is going to be true for a lot of kids, though. I don't know that I buy holistic admissions as a way to help out poor kids at most schools, though; it really doesn't follow given that so few schools both meet financial need and are need blind. There's no reason to be "need aware" if you're having a problem finding enough poor kids to admit (and even at supposedly need blind schools, there are a million tells on a holistically reviewed application about a kid's financial situation). I guess we're kind of niche-y, but for us the fact that there are tons of schools out there that have high admission rates wasn't especially helpful, because it's the overwhelmingly the very selective schools that meet financial need. With one exception, the less selective schools he applied to couldn't compete with the more selective ones with financial aid, even for my high stats kid. 

I'm both terrified and relieved about how the next kid will have most everything riding on a single 15 minute audition for music schools. Of course he still has to jump through all the the other hoops, too--it just won't matter if he's not good enough at clarinet. Sigh. 

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2 hours ago, freesia said:

My Yale educated brother and my public university educated brother have done as well in their careers.  My uncle who didn't go to Princeton has done as well (or better) in his career than his two brothers who went.  My dad did as well in his career from a small Catholic college BA/public university MA as my SIL who went to Yale/Georgetown/Harvard or my Princeton/Harvard grandfather.  There is absolutely no correlation between colleges attended and happy life either in my family. None.

This is exactly the experience in my family. In fact, the Ivy attenders were generally less happy. We've pretty much opted out.

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45 minutes ago, kokotg said:

 

I'm both terrified and relieved about how the next kid will have most everything riding on a single 15 minute audition for music schools. Of course he still has to jump through all the the other hoops, too--it just won't matter if he's not good enough at clarinet. Sigh. 

Yes, I have one of mine heading that way. I understand the sentiment. 🙂 

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Posted (edited)

One of the things that the article points out is that admissions now wants introspection.  And not just that, but introspection on private matters that you need to *share* with admissions.  I know that @Dmmetler has discussed how her daughter struggled with this. And my son definitely did too. There was one essay in particular about 'your biggest failure and how you handled it' or some such, that was pretty awful. He knew what he needed to write about, but he really did not want to.  He tried writing about multiple other difficult issues, but there was just this elephant in the room. He had to write it. He knew it. I knew it. And in the end he did, and it was a valuable personal experience for him to work through the pain and make sense of it. His essay was powerful because it was authentic and heartfelt and painful. But being required to share this story to gain admission? I left the experience glad my son wrote the essay, but also very very glad my younger would not have to go through it. 

Edited by lewelma
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1 minute ago, lewelma said:

One of the things that the article points out is that admissions now wants introspection.  And not just that, but introspection on private matters that you need to *share* with admissions.  I know that @Dmmetler has discussed how her daughter struggled with this. And my son definitely did too. There was one essay in particular about 'your biggest failure and how you handled it' or some such, that was pretty awful. He knew what he needed to write about, but he really did not want to.  He tried writing about multiple other difficult issues, but there was just this elephant in the room. He had to write it. He knew it; I knew it. And in the end he did, and it was a valuable personal experience for him to work through the pain and make sense of it. His essay was powerful because it was authentic and heartfelt and painful. But being required to share this story to gain admission? I left the experience glad my son wrote the essay, but also very very glad my younger would not have to go through it. 

Yes. We actually ended up dropping the STAMPS because of one of their essay prompts. "What is the biggest problem you see facing the world today, and how do you plan to solve it?". My kid felt totally incapable of even starting. How could a single high school senior, or college freshman, solve ANY of the problems facing the world? The things that felt achievable, and indeed, that have been the longstanding projects seemed too trivial, because making people aware that killing snakes damages the ecosystem, or that ordering tadpoles online to watch metamorphosis and then releasing them into your local waterways is a bad strategy are in no way the biggest problems facing the world, and it made the whole effort feel trivial. I'm sure there are kids who could have whipped out that essay, but I suspect mine wasn't the only one to collapse in depression and feelings of inadequacy because they hadn't managed to cure COVID (or any one of a dozen or more world shaking problems) as their senior project!

 

In comparison, the school that finally won out had a similar starting interview prompt for the scholarship weekend. But, the way it was worded was "What is one problem that you have seen in your life, and how have you reacted to it?", with a follow up of "And how can we help you do this?" It was still introspective, and still ended up being a good, solid statement (my kid's focus was on the difficulty at finding a good fit as a gifted kid with focused interests at an adult level, but who was not necessarily ready for the adult world, and how working with existing programs to create classes online and outreach events online to build a network of kids was providing kids with the support and the bridge to the adult world that would have been more close to the ideal, and how that hopefully, attending a LAC that has a big focus on cross disciplinary studies and internship experiences would provide both additional content to share and ways to increase those partnerships and create more opportunities.  

 

I do think MY kid, at least, presented better on the schools that had the more holistic sort of application, with multiple writing prompts, and multiple stages of interviews. But let's face it. The reason why my kid looked good on holistic applications is that I have a kid who has had a single, very compelling story, and it started being written long before grade 9, and we have spent a HUGE amount of time, effort and money in supporting said story.  And a side effect of that was that my kid was also very, very competitive at a lot of other schools for merit aid, so while we ended up at the competitive, holistic application first choice LAC, it was one of a number of good, affordable choices. 

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I've never understood the obsession with Ivy schools.   I didn't let mine apply bc no matter if she got in or not, we weren't paying for it and make too much $$ to get it free or cheap.  I see this on the coasts, but not so much the middle of the country.  I don't want my kid in that rat race lottery- I don't value it and think the hype is damaging to our impressionable kids. 

As far as how they choose their student body- I don't care.  It's fine if they only want to admit perfect 36 ACT score kids, only gifted with qualified scores kids, or whatever parameters they want to set.  I do not think all schools need to cater to every ability level, and I worry by pushing so much 'diversity' that we are putting already disadvantaged kids into more debt, putting them into situations they aren't academically ready for, and encouraging impossible dreams in kids who really aren't capable.   I am real with my kids.  When we talk about careers, we talk about personalities,  academic abilities, personal preferences- if we do anything to help disadvantaged kids, I think adding more personalized career coaches in high schools could actually make a difference!  Some kids are just better suited to trades- we need to stop being so crazed with everyone having a degree- that includes parents and employers!  Exposing kids to lots of career paths, looking at careers in the area, bring real about money,  personality, lifestyle choices- these are all things that would be a help in equality.   Ivy league admissions are never going to be 'fair' and I agree with the poster who called them a lottery.  That's exactly what they are.  As parents,  we don't play that game. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Dmmetler said:

Yes. We actually ended up dropping the STAMPS because of one of their essay prompts. "What is the biggest problem you see facing the world today, and how do you plan to solve it?". My kid felt totally incapable of even starting. How could a single high school senior, or college freshman, solve ANY of the problems facing the world? The things that felt achievable, and indeed, that have been the longstanding projects seemed too trivial, because making people aware that killing snakes damages the ecosystem, or that ordering tadpoles online to watch metamorphosis and then releasing them into your local waterways is a bad strategy are in no way the biggest problems facing the world, and it made the whole effort feel trivial. I'm sure there are kids who could have whipped out that essay, but I suspect mine wasn't the only one to collapse in depression and feelings of inadequacy because they hadn't managed to cure COVID (or any one of a dozen or more world shaking problems) as their senior project!

The thing is tho, you DON’T have to answer questions like that. I did it myself when I applied, totally flipping the question on its head. Not for every question, but for the ones I either didn’t want to or didn’t feel able to answer. For ex., responding to that question with, I’m a kid, I see lots of problems, I don’t have a plan to solve X on my own b/c it isn’t an individual problem also works. You could literally write the entire essay as a critique of the question. That authentic response is equally valid. Contrarians and those with other perspectives should work those angles because that’s also welcomed; it stands out and is an indication of how the student can enrich discussions on campus. It also shows chutzpah and conviction. When soooo many kids are trying to fit in/get in, being unafraid to stand out/get locked out is powerful.

Here’s another example...

How many times do we watch politicians demonstrate this technique, reframing the question and/or answering the question they prefer?  Folks might be annoyed by it but, when done well, it’s extremely effective and demonstrates serious rhetorical skill. 

IMO, admissions is something of a game like any other. People who don’t follow the rules precisely (not in a cheating scandal kind of way), bend them a little, and color outside the lines are often rewarded.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Posted (edited)

@BusyMom5 Harvard isn’t accepting *intellectually* disadvantaged kids in a push for diversity. I’m sure I must be reading your post wrong, because it seems as if you’re saying that most disadvantaged students are better suited to trades. 
 

I’m all for admitting a diverse student body to elite institutions - it’s well past time to level the playing field. I do think there should be support in place, similar to that of the POSSE program (I so hate that name) that I linked earlier, for first gen students and students whose prior educational experiences might not have adequately prepared them for university.

Edited by bibiche
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13 minutes ago, bibiche said:

@BusyMom5 Harvard isn’t accepting *intellectually* disadvantaged kids in a push for diversity. I’m sure I must be reading your post wrong, because it seems as if you’re saying that most disadvantaged students are better suited to trades. 
 

I’m all for admitting a diverse student body to elite institutions - it’s well past time to level the playing field. I do think there should be support in place, similar to that of the POSSE program (I so hate that name) that I linked earlier, for first gen students and students whose prior educational experiences might not have adequately prepared them for university.

And I think if you look at the “diverse” applicants (often this refers to Black students, so I will go with that), who is admitted is middle to upper class immigrants or children of immigrants, from Africa (most often Nigeria) or the Caribbean.  

Here is a list of teens who’ve gotten into all Ivy League schools. None sounds like a slouch.

2014 - Kwasi Enin, son of Ghanaian immigrants

Enin scored 2250 out of a possible 2400 on his SAT, ranked 11th in his class, plays three instruments for the chamber orchestra, sings in an a cappella group, throws shot put and discus for the high school’s track and field team, participates in student government and has had a lead role in school plays since the ninth grade

2015 - 

Munira Khalif of Minnesota, Stefan Stoykov of Indiana, Victor Agbafe of North Carolina and Pooja Chandrashekar of Virginia are going to Harvard

Harold Ekeh from New York has chosen to go to Yale

But Alexander Roman from Minnesota has rejected all of the Ivy League schools and will be going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All have immigrant parents - from Somalia, Mexico, Bulgaria or Nigeria - and say they have their parents' hard work to thank for their successes

According to the Daily Mail

2016 - Kelly Hyles, immigrant from Guyana

In math-science track in her high school, spent half of her day at hospital research lab; she is still working on dialysis

 Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, from the same high school as Harold Ekeh; daughter of Nigerian immigrants

Looks like she graduated from Harvard with Bachelor of Science and Engineering 

2017 -  Martin Altenburg of Fargo, ND; he shared his essay

 Ifeoma White-Thorpe, daughter of Nigerian immigrants, apparently majoring in Chemistry and Government at Harvard

2018 - Mekhi Johnson of Baltimore, fourth generation in his African American family to attend college. 

Has a 98.1 average; edits the school’s yearbook and literary magazine, plays in the jazz band and drum line and works on musical theater productions. He also volunteers with a group that serves elementary school students from low-income neighborhoods. A National Merit Scholarship Program commended student, Johnson sings with the Gilman a capella choir and serves as Diversity Council president.

Anna Rezk, Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt, who wrote about her father’s death in her essay. 5.63 grade point average due to APs. 1570 on her SATs. First person to be offered full scholarship to every Ivy school.

2019 - Jeramy Botwe of Houston, whose single father immigrated from Ghana

 

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1 hour ago, bibiche said:

@BusyMom5 Harvard isn’t accepting *intellectually* disadvantaged kids in a push for diversity. I’m sure I must be reading your post wrong, because it seems as if you’re saying that most disadvantaged students are better suited to trades. 
 

I’m all for admitting a diverse student body to elite institutions - it’s well past time to level the playing field. I do think there should be support in place, similar to that of the POSSE program (I so hate that name) that I linked earlier, for first gen students and students whose prior educational experiences might not have adequately prepared them for university.

Yes, you did read it wrong- I get aggravated when so many act as if college is the only option.  We aren't an academic elite family, so maybe thats why I don't get these types of threads.  It has nothing to do with disadvantaged students being better suited to trades- its that degrees seem to be the only currency of value, the only way to help disadvantaged students.  I disagree.  If we really want to help all students succeed, we need to keep trades a viable option.  If a student from a disadvantaged area wants to go to college and is ready to perform at that level, they should absolutely be in the lottery if they want.  If any young person has the ability to do great things, they should get the opportunity,  but not all of them- not even a tiny percentage- will end up in an Ivy League college.  Much more likely, if coming from a disadvantaged area- they will need remedial math, and possibly remedial English before they can even start at freshman level classes.  Community colleges often offer more flexibility for students who are determined but not quite ready. 

I live in a tiny, poor, rural area- the second poorest county in my already poor state.   I am sure that colors my perception.  Our small-town kids would absolutely be considered disadvantaged and our school doesn't offer APs, even PreCalc!  The jobs in our area don't usually require college except things like teaching or nursing.   Talking about getting a handful disadvantaged kids into elite public universities just feels so- I don't know- probably out of touch of the needs of thousands of disadvantaged kids.   I do see kids get 'tricked' into taking out big loans for private (and bigger state) schools, for classes and degrees they aren't suited for.   While not ivy league, private colleges try to sell the same prestige.  Schools actively recruiting kids who cannot afford them is predatory IMO- but we look the other way in the name of Diversity!

Just one example- first generation college student wants to be a nurse.  Goes to private college 1 year.  Owes $40k - even though she had a Scholarship that covered part of tuition.  Didn't pass some classes bc she really wasn't prepared.  Community College would have been FREE for this person, but she thought 'degree from private school'  would look better than degree from CC, then transferring.  Her choices- keep going (to the free CC at this point) to defer payments and hope to eventually graduate or stop and try to pay back the student loan without a degree.  This happens all the time to the real disadvantaged students.  Its painful for me to watch.  

The list of amazing young people listed is just proof of my feelings- these schools are getting so many applications from outstanding students of all types,  they can put whatever hoops they want to and will still have too many applicants.  Those kids aren't typical, though.  

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

Those kids aren't typical, though.  

Agreed. But I guess the real question that needs to be answered is if we as a society believe in differentiated education based on capability, whether innate or developed.  Perhaps all universities should provide the same education, and all students of all levels should intermix. (This is the case in NZ, where all universities are ranked the same.)

I think, however, that there is a separate issue concerning trades. Trades should be weighted equally to university-trained jobs of equivalent supply/demand constraints. 

Edited by lewelma
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4 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

 I do see kids get 'tricked' into taking out big loans for private (and bigger state) schools, for classes and degrees they aren't suited for.   While not ivy league, private colleges try to sell the same prestige.  Schools actively recruiting kids who cannot afford them is predatory IMO- but we look the other way in the name of Diversity!

I agree with you. It seems immoral to bring in so many kids to pay so much money and get in debt, and then they don’t even finish their degree. The rate of completion for most schools is disturbingly low. I read about colleges that now accept students...for sophomore year. In other words, they KNOW they will have a big empty space from freshman who drop out and just accept it. It’s not just for profits that are lacking in consideration for young people.

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I was very bothered by this when I went to college.  I went to college with many students who didn’t realize they would be placed into remedial classes and pay so much for them, when they could have taken the same class for much less money at a community college. I never knew the details but it seemed like they waited to go into the math placement stuff until after acceptance and after making a deposit for dorms and all those things.  
 

Personally — my oldest son had a run-in with anxiety when he was much younger, and because of that, I feel we cannot participate in this kind of thing (with college admissions).  For various reasons, I also feel like he has the option not to participate.  I don’t think that’s true for everyone.  He is also someone who — and I was given this advice — needs to feel like he is doing things on his own.  If he does not feel that way, he could feel incapable and this could be bad for anxiety.  Because of the situation when he was younger, I was told, he would probably always be sensitive to this, even when other kids would not have the same reaction.  Anyway — I feel like I can’t have a joint mother-son “let’s apply for colleges” project, for this reason.  Three or four years ago that would have made me sad, but I am used to it now.  Also I think he is on a good path.  

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9 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

Yes, you did read it wrong- I get aggravated when so many act as if college is the only option.  We aren't an academic elite family, so maybe thats why I don't get these types of threads.  It has nothing to do with disadvantaged students being better suited to trades- its that degrees seem to be the only currency of value, the only way to help disadvantaged students.  I disagree.  If we really want to help all students succeed, we need to keep trades a viable option.  If a student from a disadvantaged area wants to go to college and is ready to perform at that level, they should absolutely be in the lottery if they want.  If any young person has the ability to do great things, they should get the opportunity,  but not all of them- not even a tiny percentage- will end up in an Ivy League college.  Much more likely, if coming from a disadvantaged area- they will need remedial math, and possibly remedial English before they can even start at freshman level classes.  Community colleges often offer more flexibility for students who are determined but not quite ready. 

 

 

I think a lot of things are getting conflated here. Yes, absolutely, trades should be considered a viable option for ANY students and shouldn't be looked down on. But where someone went to high school shouldn't be the determining factor. If high schools in poorer areas aren't preparing their students (who want to go to college) for college (and no, they're often not), then THAT'S the bigger problem than society not valuing trade school. I also take issue with some of the "but what about the trades?!" rhetoric that's popular these days, because I think it romanticizes things too far in the other direction. My Dad is pushing 70, not in terrific health, and still working a very physically demanding job with no end in sight, because, at least in my part of the country, the "trades" generally don't involve the kind of union jobs with good retirement that were widespread (at least for white men) in my grandfather's day. It worked great for my grandfather; he worked for GM until he retired while he was still in his 50s, I believe, and had a very comfortable retirement and lived until he was in his 90s. It's not like that for his son, and it's not like that for most people anymore. 

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7 hours ago, stripe said:

I agree with you. It seems immoral to bring in so many kids to pay so much money and get in debt, and then they don’t even finish their degree. The rate of completion for most schools is disturbingly low. I read about colleges that now accept students...for sophomore year. In other words, they KNOW they will have a big empty space from freshman who drop out and just accept it. It’s not just for profits that are lacking in consideration for young people.

I do think this house of cards is slowly collapsing. Here’s just one article about it.

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/01/29/college-problem/

 

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4 hours ago, Lecka said:

Anyway — I feel like I can’t have a joint mother-son “let’s apply for colleges” project,

I haven't for my younger either. He wants to stay in NZ. There are 7 schools. Auckland and AUT have such a housing crisis that he would have to live a 45 minute bus ride away from either university. Otago is a big booze up school which he is not interested in. Massey and Waikato are in the flattest, most boring towns imaginable. VUW is in our city and he would like fly the coop.  That leaves Canterbury. We have automatic entrance here in NZ with basic test scores. So he is one and done. The difference between this sane approach and the nightmarish application process of my older is like night and day.

The two systems are based on two very different assumptions. In NZ, all universities are the same and take all students. In the USA, the universities are ranked and admissions attempt to sort students into clusters of intelligence/drive/secret sauce. The only way to get rid of the rat race in American application game is to remove the sorting process. If there is a sorting process it will be unfair for some, and able to be gamed by others.

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1 hour ago, Frances said:

I do think this house of cards is slowly collapsing. Here’s just one article about it.

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/01/29/college-problem/

 

This is very sad. I am a big fan of small liberal arts schools and much prefer them to 1,000 student classrooms you often see in public universities. 
I think this article also explains why all students are trying to get into the top 50. 

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I signed up for college board mail hoping to spark interest here. Mine will basically go wherever we tell him to go. I don’t understand how a 16 year old can have zero opinion on the subject matter.

Now the emails are rolling, but he won’t even open them. 

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6 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

This is very sad. I am a big fan of small liberal arts schools and much prefer them to 1,000 student classrooms you often see in public universities. 
I think this article also explains why all students are trying to get into the top 50. 

You are looking at the wrong publics. My kids avg class has had 20-30so students. They may have had the odd class with 90-250 lectures with an additional 15 student recitation section.  (Intro physics, intro accting are 2 I can think if that were on the large side.) They have never sat in a class with a 1000  students. (At small publics that is about 1/10 of their student body. 🙂 )

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34 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I think this article also explains why all students are trying to get into the top 50. 

Well, certainly not _all_ students.

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26 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

You are looking at the wrong publics. My kids avg class has had 20-30so students. They may have had the odd class with 90-250 lectures with an additional 15 student recitation section.  (Intro physics, intro accting are 2 I can think if that were on the large side.) They have never sat in a class with a 1000  students. (At small publics that is about 1/10 of their student body. 🙂 )

Our in state publics are so impacted. I hear UCB has classes with over a thousand kids. And yet my entire state is crazy trying to get into it. 

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33 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I don’t understand how a 16 year old can have zero opinion on the subject matter.

Too overwhelming to think of all the possibilities? Too foreign an idea to think about the idea of "going away"? Afraid of making "the wrong choice"?

Or perhaps there is just an opinion waiting to be formed. It helped my eldest to see different campuses. Student size:  60k vs 25k vs 9k vs 4k vs 600. It helped her to see urban vs rural. Seeing a campus in winter vs spring. Slowly, she had preferences that (sometimes) differed from what she thought when it was all abstract.

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10 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

Too overwhelming to think of all the possibilities? Too foreign an idea to think about the idea of "going away"? Afraid of making "the wrong choice"?

Or perhaps there is just an opinion waiting to be formed. It helped my eldest to see different campuses. Student size:  60k vs 25k vs 9k vs 4k vs 600. It helped her to see urban vs rural. Seeing a campus in winter vs spring. Slowly, she had preferences that (sometimes) differed from what she thought when it was all abstract.

Yes, I am going to take him to see things. I think that’s a must. 
He is just an easy going kid - will eat what you give him, wear what you buy, do what you tell him... it’s a pattern. 
He has one preference only now and that’s because he came in contact with them. 

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5 hours ago, Lecka said:

I was very bothered by this when I went to college.  I went to college with many students who didn’t realize they would be placed into remedial classes and pay so much for them, when they could have taken the same class for much less money at a community college. I never knew the details but it seemed like they waited to go into the math placement stuff until after acceptance and after making a deposit for dorms and all those things.  
 

Personally — my oldest son had a run-in with anxiety when he was much younger, and because of that, I feel we cannot participate in this kind of thing (with college admissions).  For various reasons, I also feel like he has the option not to participate.  I don’t think that’s true for everyone.  He is also someone who — and I was given this advice — needs to feel like he is doing things on his own.  If he does not feel that way, he could feel incapable and this could be bad for anxiety.  Because of the situation when he was younger, I was told, he would probably always be sensitive to this, even when other kids would not have the same reaction.  Anyway — I feel like I can’t have a joint mother-son “let’s apply for colleges” project, for this reason.  Three or four years ago that would have made me sad, but I am used to it now.  Also I think he is on a good path.  

None of the schools that accepted my kid had the option to do placement tests until pretty far in the process. It kind of makes sense-they don’t want you doing course placement, scheduling, and advising at multiple schools. Now, for the state U, you can game that system by subscribing to ALEKS and doing it at home first, and if you have transfer or AP credits you can usually skip the math placement unless you want to try to place higher than the typical placement (like, say, if you took AP calc at school, but self-studied beyond it). Some schools also have a minimum placement based on ACT math score and if you’re happy with that, you can just go from there. 
 

But yes, I can see how a student can get very emotionally committed to a school, have bragged that they were going there to all their friends, etc, only to bomb the placement test and feel stuck. 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

This is very sad. I am a big fan of small liberal arts schools and much prefer them to 1,000 student classrooms you often see in public universities. 
I think this article also explains why all students are trying to get into the top 50. 

I’m also a fan of LACS, as my husband and I had amazing experiences at ours and my husband taught at one for many years. I do though have some reservations about the unranked or very low ranked ones, except in certain circumstances. For example, one here has nursing. I would have no hesitation if my child was sure they wanted nursing and chose it. I’d be much more concerned about it if they were undecided and/or even remotely considering a PhD. I do think that in some instances choosing the type of schools profiled in the article can possibly close some doors. Even though I lived in Boston for a few summers, I have never even heard of any of the schools profiled in the article.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

I signed up for college board mail hoping to spark interest here. Mine will basically go wherever we tell him to go. I don’t understand how a 16 year old can have zero opinion on the subject matter.

Now the emails are rolling, but he won’t even open them. 

 I actually think having no opinion on the matter is the healthy, normal, sane view. Check yourself, mom! (Said with love!)

I intercept and throw all brochures in the trash here. We are not consuming propaganda here 🤣 would you rather him fall in love with (say) Middlebury because the light falls just so on the brick?  I mean this whole exercise is absurd, it’s 4 years of their life. Who cares. Truly, who cares. 

Edited by madteaparty
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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

 I actually think having no opinion on the matter is the healthy, normal, sane view. Check yourself, mom! (Said with love!)

would you rather him fall in love with (say) Middlebury because the light falls just so on the brick?  I mean this whole exercise is absurd, it’s 4 years of their life. Who cares. Truly, who cares. 

It’s a lot of $$$$ for no opinion. For that I suggest he stays at a CC for free. If it doesn’t matter, why pay? 
 

And it isn’t about how light falls on brick, but distance, campus size, programs, even diversity is an issue. To me when there is no preference, cheap becomes the default. 

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5 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

It’s a lot of $$$$ for no opinion. For that I suggest he stays at a CC for free. If it doesn’t matter, why pay? 

Well and maybe he is okay with that. What are you asking him to base the opinion on, exactly? I mean it’s a ridiculous ask. The majors he wants are offered everywhere. I mean he could be forming an opinion for solely the wrong reasons(like he heard someone mention XYZ) and then fall in love with an idea and then you have a problem in your hands, see? Asking a kid who’s studying for x APs and y college classes and doing internships etc to also consume propaganda and have a view seems a bit much? Would you rather he form an opinion for the wrong reasons just to have one? Maybe I’ve gone soft. 

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

This is very sad. I am a big fan of small liberal arts schools and much prefer them to 1,000 student classrooms you often see in public universities. 
I think this article also explains why all students are trying to get into the top 50. 

It is sad, but it also feels sort of inevitable. I have such mixed feelings about small LACs. On one hand, I think going to one was absolutely the right choice for my academic and introverted oldest kid, and he seems to be thriving at his (as much as anyone's been able to thrive in these weird times). On the other hand, I do spend a lot of time wondering who/what exactly they're FOR. I think most of them have noble goals about diversity and opportunity, but they can't really afford those goals, so even schools with very generous financial aid are made up mostly of wealthy students. And, yeah, it's another reason why I'm much more comfortable sending my kids to those top 50 LACs--for better or for worse, those are generally the ones with big endowments and secure futures. 

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4 hours ago, kokotg said:

It is sad, but it also feels sort of inevitable. I have such mixed feelings about small LACs. On one hand, I think going to one was absolutely the right choice for my academic and introverted oldest kid, and he seems to be thriving at his (as much as anyone's been able to thrive in these weird times). On the other hand, I do spend a lot of time wondering who/what exactly they're FOR. I think most of them have noble goals about diversity and opportunity, but they can't really afford those goals, so even schools with very generous financial aid are made up mostly of wealthy students. And, yeah, it's another reason why I'm much more comfortable sending my kids to those top 50 LACs--for better or for worse, those are generally the ones with big endowments and secure futures. 

My son wondered the same thing. He spent his last two high school years taking classes at the local LAC. He ultimately only applied to top 50 LACs and one university. He got in everywhere with great scholarships where offered, but ultimately chose the university honors college. Partially because he’d already had two years of the LAC experience, but also because he really wanted the greater diversity on all levels at the university. And his friend group and significant other choices completely reflect that diversity.

For me personally, I think I would have been completely overwhelmed at a large university, regardless of class size. I still feel very fortunate I chose the LAC I did (one of the Colleges that Change Lives) despite me, my parents, and my high school guidance counselor really knowing next to nothing about the differences among all of the Midwestern LACs. It was really sheer luck.

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2 minutes ago, kokotg said:

It is sad, but it also feels sort of inevitable. I have such mixed feelings about small LACs. On one hand, I think going to one was absolutely the right choice for my academic and introverted oldest kid, and he seems to be thriving at his (as much as anyone's been able to thrive in these weird times). On the other hand, I do spend a lot of time wondering who/what exactly they're FOR. I think most of them have noble goals about diversity and opportunity, but they can't really afford those goals, so even schools with very generous financial aid are made up mostly of wealthy students. And, yeah, it's another reason why I'm much more comfortable sending my kids to those top 50 LACs--for better or for worse, those are generally the ones with big endowments and secure futures. 

I think some are doing quite well. People seem to love CTCL schools, so they must have found a specific market to target (?). I haven’t really looked at their rankings, but I don’t think they are anywhere near top 50. I will say some also do very well for kids toward PHD path. Reed comes to mind. 
My friend’s DD is at a small school. When she went to visit UCLA campus, she had an anxiety attack she felt so overwhelmed. She is premed and struggled with chem originally. She said her profs worked very closely with her and she pulled an A at the end. She couldn’t have gotten nearly as much attention if any at all at UCLA. We shall see if she manages to get into med school. 
I will say I am personally not familiar with large universities since I also have only attended tiny places. So I am biased against large schools somewhat. Maybe I have it all wrong.


A small LAC in the Bay Area went under recently as well. 

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This is maybe a strange thing to think, but I have already thought — if my son needs tutoring, then we can pay for tutoring.  It could happen.  
 

So then I think — well, I understand for this student UCLA was not an option anyway.  But in general, maybe at a school where a professor would not be likely to work closely, depending on costs, it could still work out to pay for a tutor for various classes if the overall cost of the school was lower.  
 

 

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2 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I think some are doing quite well. People seem to love CTCL schools, so they must have found a specific market to target (?). I haven’t really looked at their rankings, but I don’t think they are anywhere near top 50. I will say some also do very well for kids toward PHD path. Reed comes to mind. 
My friend’s DD is at a small school. When she went to visit UCLA campus, she had an anxiety attack she felt so overwhelmed. She is premed and struggled with chem originally. She said her profs worked very closely with her and she pulled an A at the end. She couldn’t have gotten nearly as much attention if any at all at UCLA. We shall see if she manages to get into med school. 
I will say I am personally not familiar with large universities since I also have only attended tiny places. So I am biased against large schools somewhat. Maybe I have it all wrong.


A small LAC in the Bay Area went under recently as well. 

Reed is sort of a special case because, if I'm remembering things right, they sort of deliberately opted out of the rankings game a few years ago. They're still managing to pull a 63 in the US News rankings, but I think their "real" ranking would be a good bit higher. We looked at a lot of CTCL schools, and the ones my son considered tended to be clustered just outside of that top 50 list, but still in the top 100 or so (places like Earlham, Knox, Hendrix, St. Olaf)--I think those are all pretty secure, but they still tend to have more financial worries than those few top schools. And it's not just worries about schools actually going under; competition for students can lead to big changes to either appeal to more potential students, cut costs, or both. A lot of smaller colleges have been in the news for eliminating whole departments recently. I feel like there's a move toward more pre-professional type programs, which is maybe good, bad, or neutral, but it's a big change in how we think of a liberal arts education, at any rate. 

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4 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

I signed up for college board mail hoping to spark interest here. Mine will basically go wherever we tell him to go. I don’t understand how a 16 year old can have zero opinion on the subject matter.

Now the emails are rolling, but he won’t even open them. 

He doesn't sound too dissimilar from my older son who recently went through the admissions process. He was open to tons of schools and didn't really narrow things down based on size or location (other than nothing southern and nothing too hot). He is interested in CS, and that is available everywhere, so it was very hard to narrow things down when making the "where to apply" list. I kept reading online about kids with "dream schools" and who were so set on certain universities. Getting him to sit down and write the "Why X?" school essays was like pulling teeth!

When the dust settled in May of last year (he took a gap year afterwards), he ended up selecting a school that really wasn't one he'd had any special relationship with (we have actually still not even visited because of the pandemic, and he leaves in early August!) and that we probably never would have imagined being his final choice. Lots of kids who had "dream schools" ended up crushed for a while after decisions came out if things didn't work out either on the financial front or the admissions front, but that was when my son went into high gear.

Even though he is easy going and didn't seem outwardly passionate about the whole process and his future studies while applying, he has completely thrown himself into the school now that it's "the one." He's hanging out with his future classmates on zoom calls left and right, watching basketball with them (he's not a sports kid at all, but this school loves its basketball), staying on top of all of the administrative tasks as he gets ready to head out (my dh and I are completely out of the loop, which we never really expected to happen. It's pretty nice!), and just generally completely thrilled with his future school. 

I think, for him, it's just his personality. Maybe he didn't want to get his hopes up for anything until he knew it could become a reality? Maybe he really was good with any of the myriad of schools on our list? Just wanted to share that I had a kid that I wanted to "show some passion" at certain steps along the way. Now I think that maybe more was going on in that teenage brain under the surface and I was having expectations that weren't compatible with his personality. Good luck as you start the admissions process!

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2 hours ago, kokotg said:

Reed is sort of a special case because, if I'm remembering things right, they sort of deliberately opted out of the rankings game a few years ago. They're still managing to pull a 63 in the US News rankings, but I think their "real" ranking would be a good bit higher. 

It also didn't hurt that Steve Jobs attended Reed.   My crude standard for financial solubility is whether I've heard of a school.  I'd never heard of any of the failing colleges mentioned in the article, but I've been aware of Reed since receiving their marketing missives when I was in high school.    

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8 minutes ago, daijobu said:

It also didn't hurt that Steve Jobs attended Reed.   My crude standard for financial solubility is whether I've heard of a school.  I'd never heard of any of the failing colleges mentioned in the article, but I've been aware of Reed since receiving their marketing missives when I was in high school.    

It's really remarkable how very few smaller colleges most people have heard of. I think generally speaking the average person has heard of colleges within a 50 mile radius of where they live, a handful of Ivy Leagues and other super prestigious schools, and then the ones with nationally televised football. Hardly anyone in my area has heard of Macalester, where my son goes. I think of places like Oberlin and Vassar as the sorts of small LACs most people have heard of, but I think "most" is an exaggeration even for those. 

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