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If HADES is the BS equivalent of HYP+MS...

SevenDadSevenDad Posts: 2,620Registered User Senior Member
edited July 2013 in Prep School Parents
This is something that I've been ruminating for a few weeks (post M10) now...

For the two boarding school application cycles that I've been witness to here on CC, I've seen many (a majority?) prospective applicants apply exclusively to the most selective schools. And, along with other parents/current students, I've tried to make a case for considering a broader set of schools —*and taken my share of lumps in the process.

I want to articulate my POV in another way:

Imagine a high school junior or senior who came out and said that they were only applying to the most selective colleges — the so-called HYP+MS (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford) group?

Isn't it conceivable that a well-intentioned parent, friend, teacher, or guidance counselor would advise the kid to perhaps expand their scope?

I think so. Even if the kid in question had great scores, a great GPA at a rigorous school, strong ECs, etc. So why it is so crazy to suggest that most BS prospects would be well-served to consider a wider set of schools?
Post edited by SevenDad on
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Replies to: If HADES is the BS equivalent of HYP+MS...

  • Oura54Oura54 Posts: 169Registered User Junior Member
    You're 100% correct! Actually what most named brand shoppers of the elite forget ( stated in my first day of medical school by our Dean of students) was that regardless how hard the students try 50% of the class will be in the bottom 50%. If a student performed well in a second tier college , rather than HYPMS they were getting into top medical, law or graduate programs. If you are in the bottom half of those elite schools, many would not gain entrance into those same schools! Thus can be said for the HADES schools vs hidden gems. A good student from a hidden gem will go far whereas a student in the bottom half of a top tier prep school ( unless a gifted talent) will not! That's why it is very wise to include the hidden gems in ones application portfolio to have a very good prep school to attend. It is NOT the end of the successful world not to attend a HADES school! The cream will always rise to the top!
  • wcmom1958wcmom1958 Posts: 330Registered User Member
    Hear hear! Yet, aren't we just restating the same thing that so many have tried to say before -- in different ways? I finally just threw out a couple dozen very expensive boarding school brochures -- some from top tier and some from the less famous. All looked AMAZING and our experience visiting some of these places is that they -- top tier and hidden gem alike - have survived for generations for good reason.

    If you really want a well-rounded education with small classes and caring teachers, you'd be hard-pressed to find a boarding school with history that doesn't have a lot to offer. And if you need FA, even the schools with smaller endowments will make it possible for a student they want.

    Oura54, your point about "A good student from a hidden gem will go far whereas a student in the bottom half of a top tier prep school ( unless a gifted talent) will not" is something that many applicants forget as they get caught up in the competitive zeal perpetuated on this board.

    Really, I am so grateful that my kids are learning how to really think and write, I know they will do well no matter where they go to college -- and beyond.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Posts: 2,620Registered User Senior Member
    @wcmom1958: Yes, I am the proverbial broken record on this topic.

    But I bet you one year's tuition (theoretically, of course ;-) ) that this August, if not sooner, we'll see another crop of applicants clamoring to be chanced for the usual super-selective suspects. By putting it into college terms, I hope to make the point more clear.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    So why it is so crazy to suggest that most BS prospects would be well-served to consider a wider set of schools?

    Because they're 13 to 15 years old and are, quite often, applying to boarding school because they want to, not because they need to . . . so [insert young teenager's whiny voice here] why shouldn't they get to apply to whatever schools they want??? [/whiny voice]

    I suspect that kids coming out of private middle schools with guidance counselors make more sensible choices, just as high school seniors with good guidance counselors make more sensible choices. But the ill-advised abound at both ends of the spectrum . . . and it'll be a cold day in hell before Proud Mama, who's been told by a well-meaning friend that her kid is Ivy/HADES material, is ever going to listen to anybody who tries to tell her otherwise.

    You can't educate someone who doesn't want to listen.
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle Posts: 2,776Registered User Senior Member
    Another point to think about. Hotchkiss, Andover, Deerfield, Exeter, and St. Paul's are all large schools--the smallest has 500 students. Likewise, HYPMS are all universities.
    There's a difference between universities and small liberal arts colleges. There's also a difference between large schools and small schools.

    Bigger isn't necessarily better.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Posts: 6,082Registered User Senior Member
    Unlike the high school junior/senior who is applying for college, middle school applicants to BS generally have a feasible default option: their present school system. Hence the strategy of many to Go Big or Go Home-- they have nothing to lose (other than the application effort) by reaching.

    But be careful of what u wish for... Once admitted into one of these reach schools, u will work your butt off, and the social scene (very, very wealthy kids from priviledged families) can be daunting.
  • wcmom1958wcmom1958 Posts: 330Registered User Member
    @Sevendad, I am NOT taking THAT bet. As dodgersmom says, many applicants are 13-15 year-olds with little to no counseling on the subject, and that won't change.

    That said, I know that Boarding School Review is out of date and hear that my kids' (not HADES) schools acceptance rates have decreased each of the last two years while applications have increased. So I believe that both the number of kids applying, and the number of schools they're applying to, is on the rise. Also anecdotaly, even in our remote town in an underrepresented state there are more kids applying to go away to school.

    Just as applications for the Ivies are increasing and the competition is more international (in part because of the web) boarding schools are likely to follow suit in due time. This may well mean that hidden gems become less hidden - but not in time for me to win the bet :).
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Posts: 6,082Registered User Senior Member
    I think that the low admission rate of these schools doesn't really register to the applicants. These schools are aiming to fill a freshman class of 50 boys and 50 girls out of thousands of applicants. And a fair number of these spots will already be targeted for legacies/siblings/disadvantaged-outreach/athletes, resulting in an even more challenging admit rate for the middle-class BWRKs.

    Why do people who normally don't buy lottery tickets suddenly run to buy one when the jackpots get huge and the chance to win gets inversely proportionately infinitessimally small?
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Posts: 1,935Registered User Senior Member
    I agree with all of you...except...

    Our experience applying to bs was that the most selective schools were also the most economically diverse. My main concern about sending my child to a hidden gem would be the greater ratio of full pay to students on significant financial aid.

    I also think, with GMT, that the go big or go home principle is a valid one for some, if not all kids. I'd be reluctant to shell out so much money to a school that wasn't significantly better than my home school option (an option that includes homeschool)

    I think the Hidden Gems thread has actually been very effective in getting kids to apply to a broader range of schools. And let's keep in mind that there were lots of kids who did apply to a diverse set of schools...and were turned down or waitlisted at them all.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Posts: 2,620Registered User Senior Member
    I think that the low admission rate of these schools doesn't really register to the applicants.

    Agreed.

    I've written here before in one of the many "advice to applicants" threads that kids (and the adults who are counseling them) have to be extremely honest with themselves about their relative strengths within the applicant pool.

    @classicalmama: I can think of at least two schools with relatively high (40%+) percentages of kids on FA that don't generally factor into people's consideration sets. And yes, even applying to a diverse set of schools hasn't proven to be a magic bullet for candidates...and frankly, in some cases, I was very, very surprised (and bummed for those candidates).

    ----

    To extend my original analogy...there was this thread semi-recently in the college/parent section that was titled something like "Harvard vs. Williams: which is a better undergrad education?" The various contributors to that thread (many of whom had kids at one of the schools or who were graduates themselves) seemed to think that Williams makes a strong case for itself.

    To my way of thinking, there are a whole bunch of schools that seem like the Williamses of the BS circuit. (And I've always seen Thacher as the Deep Springs of boarding schools. Which is, IMO, more than a good thing.)
  • mhmmmhmm Posts: 1,180Registered User Senior Member
    I suspect that kids coming out of private middle schools with guidance counselors make more sensible choices, just as high school seniors with good guidance counselors make more sensible choices. But the ill-advised abound at both ends of the spectrum . ---
    actually families with kids coming out of private schools that end in 8/9th grade do exactly that - apply to the top schools. Unless a kid's average is below a B, and their ssat scores are low, they all expect to get into the schools that make up that awful acronym. Perhaps some will get into the more tippy top ones, perhaps the B students will be more in the Westminster/Taft/Middlesex category vs. the Hotchkiss Groton St.Paul category, but that's the way it is. The kids that apply to the less academic boarding schools, from the "feeder" primaries, in my empirical experience, are the ones that need that situation.
    Comparing the college process to the boarding school process, imo, doesnt work b/c you're comparing apples to onions.
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Posts: 1,935Registered User Senior Member
    Seven Dad: But are those schools less selective than the usual suspects? I suspect not significantly (particularly if one of those schools is SAS).

    Harvard and Williams are both incredibly difficult to get into. Okay, Harvard is insanely difficult, but adding Williams to the list doesn't really make it more diverse.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Posts: 2,620Registered User Senior Member
    @classicalmama: My point about Williams is this...If we polled the CC BS prospects next year, how many kids would say they dream of going to Williams?
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Posts: 6,082Registered User Senior Member
    The most selective schools become increasingly selective because they are in a virtuous loop:

    - Potential applicants, seeing the low admit rate, think, “WOW this school is really desirable! I want to go there!”
    - So they apply in droves
    - The school has a huge pool of applicants from which they can choose the best few, resulting in a low admit rate & selective class
    - The following year’s potential applicants, seeing the low admit rate, think, “WOW this school is really desirable! I want to go there!”
    - So they apply in droves
    - The school has an even huger pool of applicants from which they can choose the best few, resulting in an even lower admit rate & even more selective class... repeat….


    I’m sure the AdComms at the 5 HADES schools get down on their knees every day to thank whomever it was that came up with the catchy acronym. If only the hidden gems schools could just incorporate their initial into an acronym that is equally slick…


    Will you get a better education at a HADES school vs. a hidden gem? Consider this:

    If you look at the college matriculation stats of the top BS, some of the HADES schools don’t even make it into the top 5 (source: Boarding School Stats : Matriculation Stats)

    Here also are the top 5 schools for avg. SSAT percentiles:
    94% Andover
    90% Exeter
    90% Groton
    90% Milton
    89% Thacher

    Here are the top 5 school for lowest admit rate:
    13% Deerfield
    14% Andover
    16% St. Paul's
    16% Hotchkiss
    17% Thacher

    It just goes to show that the brainiest kid in school isn’t necessarily the most popular-- but you all already knew this from your own days in school...
  • EnemyOfTheSunEnemyOfTheSun Posts: 447Registered User Member
    If you don't go to boarding school, you can always stay at the local high school. So it's a "HADES or bust" mentality. On the other hand, you have to apply to a wide variety of colleges because frankly you don't have many options.
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