Casting your net broadly ... for a child not even born yet. Life has a way of waylaying the best laid plans. Your child could turn out to be a brilliant musician or actor, in which case he'd have a completely different list from Ivies. Or he could turn out to have special needs and his life path would put him on the road to learning how to bag groceries and live in a group home. Or he could simply be (gasp) an average student and be just fine at your local directional state u. It's arrogant beyond belief to think that you are "selecting" or "investigating" ANYTHING at this point.
As the parent of a rising senior who will go to one of the many outstanding schools that are out there, I have to tell you to cool it for awhile on college for your kids. Enjoy your time together with your spouse. Once you have kids nothing will be the same. If you're fortunate enough to have kids, love them and live in the moment with them while treasuring it for it will pass. Expose them to all that you can and let them follow their passions.
When you begin to get an idea of how your kid's high school grades and test scores will come out, probably around sophomore year, you will begin to understand not the specific school but the ball park of the specific schools that you will be looking at. If you apply then the diligence you are showing now you will be fine.
It is so unbelievably difficult to get into a top ten school--you really might have to start planning far in advance (maybe not prior to the birth of your child but at least once s/he begins elementary school). As an example, my daughter was a national merit finalist, member of NHS, top 1% in her HS class, was an AP scholar (took 7 AP tests got score of 5 on all but 1 test), long term involvement, including leadership in several ECs AND had a grandfather and uncle graduate from Princeton and she did not get in. Nor did she get into Duke or Northwestern. The problem--there was nothing special about her. One of the app essays for Princeton asked what she had done for her summer vacation--she truthfully said "visited colleges". How boring! A better answer would have been "started a business" "did in-depth research at the local university/hospital" "founded a charity" "traveled to an exotic location and lived with the natives for 2 months"...you get the idea. If she had had a talent (musical or athletic) that we could have spotted in elementary school and nurtured so that she could have said "starred in the state All Star game and lead the team to victory" or "performed with the all state symphony/band/orchestra as first chair" then a top 10 college might have looked harder at her.
To the original poster--if you can't nurture a top talent (like best in the state or close to it) or can't instill a passion that can be shown through years of significant participation in a charity or starting a business revolving around that passion or high level research involving that passion then you might want to investigate other universities that also will meet 100% of demonstrated need--the Ivies are not the only ones that do so. Good luck!
I would say whatever advice you get today won't apply 17 years from now.
In the "olden" days, the way to an Ivy was thru a good feeder prep school. Now it may not be the best way in. Instead, it may be better to graduate top of your class from a good public school. Times change. Legacy and first college admits for a family are both good now. I think it's better to focus on their happiness rather than where they will go to school. Good Luck.
Very interesting. I don't put you down for thinking ahead; I did for my kids, too. My eldest decided on St. Louis University, which was not on my radar at all, but she loved it and is now in a PhD program. My youngest has 1 more year before college. He is very interested in the very selective small liberal arts colleges: Carleton, Williams, Amherst (those are his top three) and a few others. I'd suggest you look into these, too. They attract VERY bright students, are tough to get into, but give a fantastic undergrad education and much more teacher-student contact and small classes. Then they can look to larger schools, like Harvard, for grad school. Just a thought, but every child is different!
OP - why are you trying to "get" the ivys? That presupposes that you think your kids will be very smart/athletic indeed. What if they are born with problems of a mental or a physical kind? What if you and your wife are unable to have kids? How will you deal with your plans?
Enjoy your life as it happens, not the planning of something that may never be.
I think it's maybe too late. You should start this process before picking a spouse. Your spouse should have an undergraduate from Ivy league to give your kids a legacy boost as well as the smart gene. Next criteria is your spouse should be also athletic, boost your kids chance of being an athlete. And perhaps move to Idaho. Legacy, athlete, with top grades from Idaho would increase your kids chance at Ivies.
Just hosted two Chinese exchange students for two weeks, and thought I’d give you some insight into what life is like over there, and also what can happen if a child’s life is decided by a parent from day one.
These two kids were about to enter 7th grade. They tested into the elite middle school in their city (metro area 30-million or so). I’ve heard that admission to elite middle schools is difficult over there, which sounds like a Saturday Night Live joke in this country.
They go to school six days a week, ten hours a day, and study all day Sunday. They get one gym class a week for two hours.
While in the USA, they had English language class in the mornings and did something fun in the afternoon (they never had school that easy before). They visited UMASS while over here, and when I gave them a choice of doing anything on the weekend (including whitewater rafting, hiking the mountains, chair lift to the top of a mountain, playing basketball or just hanging out with other Chinese kids in their group locally, seeing the basketball Hall of Fame, swimming in the 95 degree heat and many other choices ), they chose to look at more US colleges.
We wound up taking them to Dartmouth and to MIT. One wants to be an engineer, and the other wants a science major, and both want to go to MIT. My daughter (10th grade) visited China as part of a school program (a non-profit funded the trip for 20 kids), and the high school kids there were shocked that she hadn’t chosen a major yet. They decide early on (or their parents decide early on) what they are going to do – Yao Ming went to the sports academy when he was 9 or so after doctors projected at that age that he would grow to 7’ 3”.
The Chinese were also shocked at how diverse our kids were. To be selected for the program, our kids had to do reasonably well in school, plus be able to perform. They had to sing, dance, do skits and most also played an instrument. Bear in mind that our local, small town high school has a total of 250 kids, so there was not a humungous pool to draw from. The Chinese were shocked at this diversity – they do only one thing, from an early age. Creativity is squelched.
This may seem off the thread topic, but please read on, and you’ll see the connection. The kids over there are under incredible pressure. They have a 1-child policy, so each child is expected to support their parents in their old age. Those who don’t ace their college boards don’t go to college – there aren’t enough slots. The rich ones want to come to the US for college, and overall, our colleges are easier to get into than theirs.
These kids were doing homework in their spare time – I saw one of them working on an advanced quadratic equation that was part of 11th grade math in this country. This is in July, in 7th grade.
The kids were in lousy physical condition, and wouldn’t keep up with our kids here – a Dartmouth 1-hour tour and miniature golf wore them out (we sneaked golf in).
The result of all this pressure isn’t great. One kid had a bad temper, and in a fit took a hammer to our 175-year-old front door, which didn’t make us very happy. Restoration won’t be simple or cheap.
The moral to the story: trying to push a young kid in one direction or another (or towards an almost impossible goal, like getting into an Ivy), will give a kid a miserable childhood and probably create an unhappy adult.