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Tier 1 verses Tier 2

warriorboy648warriorboy648 Posts: 787Registered User Member
edited March 2009 in Prep School Admissions
Ok, I have searched through a lot of past posts to learn about schools.

My question is about this tier system. It is clear what schools are considered to be at the top level. But what or who makes that determination?
Is it simply based on selectivity? Endowment?

Also, how do you determine "2nd tier".
We are looking at these schools: Loomis, Governor's, NMH, St George's and Westminster.
They all appear to be on that next level. Am I correct?

How does a family without BS connections find out this kind of information?

Thanks in advance.
Post edited by warriorboy648 on
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Replies to: Tier 1 verses Tier 2

  • fun is funfun is fun Posts: 1,035Registered User Senior Member
    D'yer - you wanna take this one? I'm off to the Harvard -Yale game.
  • sbergmansbergman Posts: 206Registered User Junior Member
    I wouldn't concern yourself with "tiers." As you suggest, it is hard to know how these tiers are determined. There are many knowledgeable people on this forum. I would suggest that you post some information about your child and what type of school you are looking for, geographic considerations, etc. and you will probably get some good suggestions. You can also work with an educational consultant. Here is the website for their professional organization - Independent Educational Consultants Association - just be sure you get someone who specializes in prep school admissions rather than college admissions.
  • hannah&hotchkisshannah&hotchkiss Posts: 14Registered User New Member
    Technically, it's hard to say which schools is in which tier. There are a lot of factors that play a part--endowment, # of courses/honors/APs, selectivity, ECs available, facilities, college matriculation, etc.

    It's just this some sort of accepted belief that if the acceptance rate is below 30%, it's a top tier school. They're all known for being selective, elite, "little ivies" and most of all, they provide the most opportunities. No one makes that determination. 2nd tier are those with 40-60%. Not to say that these schools aren't good too. IMO, the rankings are just opinions. So just decide for your own, rank the schools yourselves based on what you think is best for you, and forget about what other people say.

    If you're asking about acceptance rates, then St. George's is a bit lower. Governor's too. But if you look at the bigger picture, yes, they're all great school. Different, but good.

    How does a family get this information? Easy. Ask around.
  • D'yer MakerD'yer Maker Posts: 3,421Registered User Senior Member
    This is funny because I was thinking about this exact issue last night when -- oddly enough -- I was visiting with some people who had a regular old color TV and a DVD player that had "Progressive Scanning" as a feature -- so important a feature that those words are emblazoned in silver on the DVD player.

    Sorry, fun is fun, but we can talk about this in terms of the Bunkel Index and WBTY Indices later...

    When you're comparison shopping, you put things side-by-side and think, "Oh, look I can have this and that and the other feature on my DVD player." Progressive scanning is an excellent feature because it steps up the signal from the DVD player to the television so that an HDTV set displays all the detail it can possibly display. If you've got an HDTV set, you want -- perhaps need -- progressive scanning for your DVD player. That usually means you need a first tier DVD player.

    But if you've got a regular television, the image output you see won't be improved one iota by progressive scanning. The image is controlled or limited by the capabilities of the television itself. Progressive scanning isn't going to hurt the picture. But there's really no call to go shopping -- and making sacrifices for other features to stay in your budget -- by seeking out a progressive scan DVD player.

    In the end, after all your shopping, you bring your DVD player home, hook up all the cables, figure out how to set the clock, and watch a show. Most of the time you're not even watching a DVD on your television as it is. But when you do, you're not watching it in a big showroom where your Magnasui TV and Omega-3 DVD player aren't quite as brilliant and spectacular as the Sony "Master Series" Plasma HDTV flat screen TV and the matching Sony "Director's Edition" DVD player (with progressive scanning, natch). You're back in your den, watching "The Price Is Right" and Carol Merrill looks as pretty as ever to you because the picture is just right when it's not compared to that Sony combination you don't need.

    In that case, sitting in your den while folding clothes, the Magnasui-Omega-3 combination is perfect. And, as far as you're concerned, once you've left the showroom and returned to your real world setting where you're free from the pressures of keeping up with the Joneses and peeking in at what other American households are buying into...your DVD player, which does everything you want and expect of it, is nothing less than a Tier One DVD player.

    So it goes for people who attend the Hill School or Episcopal HS or some of the other schools that -- just yesterday -- were classified here as Tier Two schools. If you're at those schools, you're getting a full education. One of the best possible. Hopefully exactly the education that you're looking for. And maybe you were in the showroom during the application season kicking the tires at Exeter or Andover or Choate, but once your high school education is underway...you're done with that comparison shopping and you're too busy getting a Tier One education at the school that fits your needs to even be bothered with the concepts of Tier One and Tier Two that matter only conceptually in the showroom of the Prep School Admissions board of College Confidential.

    Some creepy salesman let my elderly friends buy a progressive scanning DVD player. What a jerk. I'm sure he told them that it was the best there is. And they probably looked at one connected to a Sony plasma flat-screen HDTV and decided that they'd like a top tier DVD player, too. If only they had a better salesman who understood that they're working with equipment that will perform just as fine with other more sensible DVD players as it will with any top tier DVD player. What's top tier for the guy at Mel's Audio-Video Emporium is different from what's top tier back at home, in the real world.
  • crickett2324crickett2324 Posts: 807- Member
    Wow! D'yer Maker! STELLAR INPUT!!! Love the DVD vs School metaphor :)
    Gahahaha, reminds me of a Fresh Prince episode!
  • icy9ff8icy9ff8 Posts: 1,605- Senior Member
    Rating and ranking of prep schools is a very sensitive issue. 8 years ago USNews tried to rank preps as it does for colleges and got stonewalled by an association of boarding schools led by one somewhat secretive school. I recently ranked about 20 elite boarding schools and 5 key day schools on college placement success as determined by actual matriculations over the past 5 years. Obtaining accurate and verifiable data was the most difficult task. Ranking by tiers can be done for certain aspects, but not for claiming that one group of schools is superior to the others in all respects. Rating and ranking by tiers can be done for particular aspects such as endowment, facilities, selectivity and elite college placement. Ratings and rankings cannot determine the best school for an individual. Most prep schools send out "brag sheets" touting their elite college placement successes as an attempt to increase applications. I discovered that these "brag sheets" focused only on the top 10% or so from each class. The Wall St. Journal rankings focused only on 6 of 8 Ivies, MIT & Stanford placements to rank prep schools. My rating system evaluated one hundred (100%) percent of all U.S. college matriculations. The results showed some surprises. To the OP: St. George's has one of the best college placement offices in the country. St. Paul's, Andover, Deerfield and Groton were in a class above the others with respect to college matriculation success. But Exeter has the highest endowment. Hotchkiss has grueling academics and superb students. Each school has its own culture and strengths and weaknesses.
  • icy9ff8icy9ff8 Posts: 1,605- Senior Member
    With respect to the original post (OP), only St. George's School made the Top 15 schools based on U.S. college matriculation success. For the most part, what is considered a Tier One vs. a Tier Two school is determined in the marketplace and reflected in verifiable stats such as endowment, selectivity and college placement. But many factors cannot be easily quantified and require a personal visit to each school for evaluation according to one's needs, priorities, likes and dislikes. For example, I find The Culver Academies to be outstanding in many respects, but the military lifestyle is not for everyone. Single sex schools often are outstanding at developing leadership, but, again, most students prefer coeducational environments. Tabor Academy offers sailing and seamanship and, if that is one's priority, then Tabor has to be rated as a top three school.
  • D'yer MakerD'yer Maker Posts: 3,421Registered User Senior Member
    This is where the Bunkel Index is superior. Bunkel datasets are far more extensive and the algorithm actually matches student goals and expectations to final outcomes. As we all know, a student who is best suited for a small liberal arts college could very well be steered to an Ivy...which would be impressive to some, but Bunkel algorithms would recognize that as a failed match, not a feather in the school's college counseling cap.

    Only WBTY Indices -- which I think are flawed for other reasons that I won't go into while fun is fun is having fun at the Harvard-Yale game -- comes close to giving this kind of extensive and critical "one-size-fits-one" approach to schools. And, of course, that's just one of over 250 categories of information that can be considered and weighted according to the individual user's preferences if you purchase the Bunkel Software.

    My custom web mall has the Bunkel Software on sale. For friends here on CC, I give away my 15% web mall commission, which reduces your final price (excluding shipping & handling) to just under $700. Sounds pricey, I know, but it includes one year's worth of monthly data updates. And it's a bargain compared to the fees one could pay an educational consultant. If you apply to 14 schools that are not a good match for your child or just the 1 Bunkel-suggested school that's the ideal match, you'll see how valuable and powerful this product is.
  • icy9ff8icy9ff8 Posts: 1,605- Senior Member
    Ratings and rankings are especially important for foreign students who do not have the time or, possibly, the resources to visit any, or more than a few, U.S. boarding schools even though they are determined to attend U.S. schools. Several boarding schools were concerned about making college placement rankings available in Asia. Asia is the primary growth market for U.S. boarding schools, which hold TABS recruiting events throughout Asia each year. The primary concern for most Asian students is getting into the most selective U.S. universities. Much of the information provided at the Asian boarding school fairs constitutes little more than "brag sheet statistics" much more akin to a sales presentation than to a meaningful portrayal enabling one to fairly evaluate each school. I am not trying to criticize, but, rather, to point out the need for verifiable and comprehensive ratings for certain potential students.
  • sabookssabooks Posts: 140User Awaiting Email Confirmation Junior Member
    I'll use two schools where I have no current or former affiliation to try to explain it- Andover, and the Hill School. Almosat all of the students at Andover are top, top students. The Hill school has more of a range. However, the top students at Andover and Hill are all going to get world class educations and go to the most prestigious universities. You just will have a less competitive group at the bottom at Hill. Warriorboy's list has quite a range within the list, and some of them are too small to have a substantial group of top students.
  • warriorboy648warriorboy648 Posts: 787Registered User Member
    D'yer Maker - great analogy - and thanks to everyone for their responses.

    I think that this forum has an abundance of information on some schools and none on others. I was feeling as if the schools that weren't mentioned were some how inferior.

    It looks like our plan to visit and evaluate each school is still the best way to go.
  • shelley14shelley14 Posts: 880Registered User Member
    It's the same in the college forums. Everyone is talking about HYPS. And, yet, there are perhaps a thousand more very good schools!
  • fun is funfun is fun Posts: 1,035Registered User Senior Member
    Harvard 37
    Yale 6
  • sbergmansbergman Posts: 206Registered User Junior Member
    I would strongly urge international applicants to use an agency. Once you factor in tuition, travel, etc., this is a $150K+ investment. Certainly it's worth someone doing the research into which school is the right fit for a specific child.

    D'yer, thanks, as always, for your fine analysis. None of the ranking systems - high school nor college - take into account where students start and where they end up. Is it really so amazing if a school can take the 12 smartest ninth graders in the universe and get them into Harvard four years later? What's harder to measure is what a school does with the raw materials it's provided when the raw material is, well, still raw.
  • icy9ff8icy9ff8 Posts: 1,605- Senior Member
    One difficulty with international applicants using an "agency" is that any agency or educational consultant is limited in large part to much of the same info. available to the public, and some of it is misleading marketing material. Ideally each prospective student would be able to visit multiple schools to personally assess and evaluate the intangibles. An above poster wrote that students at Andover and Hill both will get a worldclass education. The educational experiences at these two schools are dramatically different. I have interviewed many who have taught at these two schools, though none had teaching experience at both. I also know several students at each school and have made multiple visits to each campus. The caliber of student at these schools is as different as comparing a U.S. Marine boot camp experience with being a Boy Scout. The quality of one's classmates has a profound effect on the educational experience even when identical texts are used as the pace and depth of analysis will differ substantially. Comparing these two particular schools as somehow equal indicates a lack of familiarity with both, and is wishful thinking at best. I encourage anybody to compare the college matriculation lists from these two schools and witness the dramatic difference from top to bottom of each class. If one truly believes that Andover and Hill offer similiar worldclass educations, then save your money and consider your local schools. A comparison between schools such as Andover and Hotchkiss would be fair, or, possibly Hill and Peddie, but not Hill and Andover. I would be comfortable that an average student scoring 50 SSAT or above would be a serious candidate for admission to Hill, but certainly not for Andover.
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