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High School Counselor's Mixed Messages

ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
My kids are fortunate to attend a rigorous private high school. We are middle class, but we live very frugally, and I work overtime to afford it. We are lucky to have what I assume is good college counseling (compared to what I had in public school, which was absolutely nothing back in the day). Last night, went to our first meeting for parents about the process. I left in tears. On the one hand, the schtick is "don't worry, we've got this, let us guide your child because we know better." But once the Q&A starts, the comments seem to suggest that, indeed, there's a bunch of stuff we as parents are supposed to be doing, and I have no clue what it is, and all the other parents seem to know it all. For instance, the counselor mentioned that she wouldn't let a kid apply as a math or science major unless they had done an internship in high school. So I guess we're supposed to help DD find one? How do I do that, since it's not my field? And what can a high school Junior do on an internship that would be useful to anyone? I'm just at a loss. I keep thinking of that Rumsfeld quote, "You don't know what you don't know." I am NOT a helicopter parent, but I want to be sure I'm not dropping the ball on really important stuff. I have no desire to send them to an IVY, but would like them to be able to major in whatever they want and to get into a competitive public HS like a UC. (We are in CA)
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Replies to: High School Counselor's Mixed Messages

  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 5,779 Senior Member
    edited October 12
    Don't worry. My daughter applied to schools as a biology major and never had any biology related internships in HS. She had no problem with acceptances. I think she may have put down chemistry at one school.

    What did the counselor mean by that comment?
  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Thanks so much! She's a freshman. I'm not worried about her, since she's smart and works really hard and is a generally good kid. But if I need to start making personal connections so I can get her an internship for next summer, well, that's going to take some time. This whole world is just so much more advanced and the expectations on kids are so high! Has anyone else heard that an internship is commonplace during HS? Most of my daughter's peers go to summer camps at highly selective colleges already. We simply can't afford those. Yikes!
  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    She was telling the story of the one kid last year who didn't get in anywhere. Apparently, the kid ticked the box to major in Physics on all her apps, and the counselor was upset with that because the kid hadn't done any internships. The counselor made this off-hand comment like, well, everybody knows you can't major in Physics if you haven't done an internship. She specifically said, "I would never have let her apply in Physics without an Internship." This anecdote was meant to illustrate the point that we should run everything by the counselor.
  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    I should add that my kid may actually want to major in Physics, so the anecdote probably resonated more than it might have otherwise.
  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 5,779 Senior Member
    My daughter did not attend summer programs either. She took the most rigorous classes available ( her choice), did well in them, was very involved in activities etc.... and again... Had no problems with acceptances.
  • osuprofosuprof Registered User Posts: 334 Member
    OP: was the focus heavily on admission to top 15-20 schools? If that is the case, I can see internship experience being quite valuable, because of how competitive the admissions are. Now, you are correct that often internships are secured through connections (or students go to expensive camps), but then admission to top 15-20 schools is extremely competitive these days. Still internships or research experience is only a part of the picture: top notch academics and state/national level accomplishments in ECs are also required .. Moreover, I do not see why the statement is about maths and science majors. It can apply to engineering and business school applicants as well.

    Most schools base their admission largely on high school class rigor, grades, and testing. Essays and reasonable involvement in school activities comes next (or employment/volunteering in community). Not taking advanced classes available in the school in areas of proposed college major can be red flag: for example, calculus for engineering or physics applicants.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,077 Senior Member
    edited October 12
    Since you are in California and are interested in UCs, you may find this thread helpful in estimating admission chances (note: handy table in reply #11, but be sure to read post #0):
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/1903428-faq-uc-historical-frosh-admit-rates-by-hs-gpa.html
  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Thank you all so much! I sure have a lot to learn. @osuprof, I think perhaps the implicit bias of the counselor is that we all want our kids to get into an Ivy. I doubt we could afford it, and I'd rather see her graduate debt-free from UCLA than with a huge debt from an Ivy. I think the public school environment would be good for her, anyway, after being in a pretty elite environment for HS. The only reason she did private HS is because she really, really wanted an all-female HS experience. That being said, if she wants to work toward an Ivy and could get a full ride, I'm not going to stop her. I just don't want her to come to me at the end of junior year and say, "Why didn't anyone tell me I was supposed to be doing X, Y, and Z"

    @dochicos Thanks. Perhaps she doesn't know what she's talking about. Everyone with older kids just raves about her, but I felt the same way, like, why doesn't she know what major the kid is applying to?

    You all are so helpful. Thanks again. I imagine the process is unnerving for everyone. I stupidly thought I would be cooler about all this than I am turning out to be!
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,077 Senior Member
    That being said, if she wants to work toward an Ivy and could get a full ride, I'm not going to stop her.

    Ivy League schools offer only need-based financial aid. Their web sites have net price calculators that let you estimate each school's financial aid (note: Ivy League schools typically require both parents' finances even if divorced). You can find net price calculators on other schools' web sites (e.g. UCs) as well to estimate financial aid.
  • bookwormbookworm Registered User Posts: 7,604 Senior Member
    I think it helps to show interest. Your DD can volunteer to tutor younger students when she herself is more advanced. She can join a math club. An internship seems excessive to me.
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