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Where CC advice got it wrong for getting into top colleges

socaldad2002socaldad2002 1735 replies33 threads Senior Member
So I thought I would start a thread that discussed where the conventional wisdom on College Confidential was wrong, at least for my D, and I’m hoping this thread might be helpful for future applicants to college.

There is a wealth of great information shared on CC but below are some areas that CC flatly got wrong.

Background: My D20 recently got accepted to a Top 10 college but she did many things that CC would say was flat out wrong.

- National Awards: CC says you need state and national awards to get into top colleges. My D only got one academic award (STEAM) and it was only from her HS;

- Foreign Language: CC says you need at least 4 years of a foreign language culminating with the AP class and exam. D only took 3 years of Spanish and none after sophomore year.

- Online Courses. CC says do not take online courses, adcoms won’t recognize them, but D took her 3rd year Spanish class online.

- Dropping Varsity Sport: CC says don’t drop your Varsity sport as you will be perceived as a quitter. D dropped her V sport after junior year.

- Most Rigorous Courseload: CC says you need 4 years AP sciences preferably AP Chem, AP Bio, AP Physics, and AP CS. D only took honors chem, honors bio, AP environmental sciences, and regular Physics at a UC.

- Highest Math Class Offered. CC says by senior year you should at least be taking AP Calc B/C. Junior year, D had to take regular Math Analysis (schedule conflict) and senior year only took AP Calc A/B.

Community Service: CC says you need hundreds of hours of community service. My D had maybe 50 hours.

So to summarize, there are no real absolutes in college admissions. I give my D lots of credit for “doing” high school on her own terms, bucking conventional wisdom, seeking out classes and experiences that she wanted to do not necessarily doing things that others thought looked good to college adcoms.

Hopefully this information is helpful to show that there is no one right way to get accepted to top colleges. Do you!
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Replies to: Where CC advice got it wrong for getting into top colleges

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3503 replies11 threads Senior Member
    Congrats to your daughter! It is true that there are CC commenters who claim that state or national awards are needed. But regarding the online courses, I think the prevailing wisdom that they are not harmful (except when you really need a lab course) but they aren’t by themselves brag worthy.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9040 replies110 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Agree that there are no absolutes for elite private colleges & universities. Publics can be much different, however, with respect to strictness about taking the hardest courses offered, GPAs & standardized test scores & class rank.

    We had one child who went to a super elite prep boarding school. After receiving the college counselor's list of suggested schools, he was fired & we did it on our own. The resulting list of options for this student was breathtaking.
    edited December 2019
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 464 replies6 threads Member
    Congratulations! Such an exciting time for your family!

    But...

    @Mwfan1921
    Regarding your points above.....I don't perceive that any of those statements are the prevailing wisdom on CC.
    I agree with this.

    I vaguely remember your daughter’s profile from your other post (“average”), and thinking, “This dad is being quite humble!”

    Congrats, again.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1688 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Good points. Regarding the course load, my kid is at a school where there is no way that one could take AP science/math courses all four years (unless they were 3 years ahead of curriculum coming into high school). I think they mean the most difficult curriculum for the school.

    Regarding national award, it really depends on where you are coming from. Kids in our area, usually do have top national level awards (often in multiple areas) who gain admission to the tippity top schools. But I think a kid who shows sincere interest in an area can often get into a selective school as well.

    Pointing out that there is no magic formula is important. Kids need to follow their own path. I don't think that kids need to check off boxes. Being able to show that they are well rounded in important and if they are particularly skilled in one area, that is important as well. What isn't useful is checking off boxes and not being able to showcase one's talent's and interests. Applicants should be able to jump off the page. The reader should be able to get a real sense of the person. Perhaps, your daughter did that through her essays and application.

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  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 295 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I agree that advice on CC sometimes comes off as rigid rules but in reality admissions is made up of a lot of different data points and what the school needs or looks for. The national awards thing seems to be more what applicants think (hope?) is important but I've rarely seen some state that as a requirement.

    Also, your D has excellent stats and ECs, so it's not really a surprise that she was a competitive ED admit to a top school that takes over half their class through ED.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/2154905-help-average-excellent-d20-with-reach-match-and-safety-colleges-p1.html
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79717 replies712 threads Senior Member
    - Most Rigorous Courseload: CC says you need 4 years AP sciences preferably AP Chem, AP Bio, AP Physics, and AP CS. D only took honors chem, honors bio, AP environmental sciences, and regular Physics at a UC.

    - Highest Math Class Offered. CC says by senior year you should at least be taking AP Calc B/C. Junior year, D had to take regular Math Analysis (schedule conflict) and senior year only took AP Calc A/B.

    While the needed calculus level is often exaggerated on these forums, it does not seem often that posters write that four years of AP level science is necessary. The most selective colleges recommend four years of science, including one of advanced (e.g. AP) level (meaning they do not expect all four to be of AP level).
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  • PublisherPublisher 9040 replies110 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    I do see posters' assertions about the need for "national awards". To the best of my knowledge, that is incorrect.

    OP: Have you revealed where your daughter has been accepted. Judging by her profile & by your post that it is a top ten school, I think that it is easy to figure out which school.

    If I am correct, my nephew recently graduated from the same school (as a public policy major).
    edited December 2019
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  • curiousme2curiousme2 106 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @socaldad2002 Congrats on your daughter’s ED admit!

    Do you have any ideas what DID push the needle in her direction?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1735 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Techno13 wrote: »
    My biggest hope as to where CC gets it wrong....."when top colleges say SAT II are not required they don't really mean it."

    Congrats to your daughter. My D21 is definitely doing HS her own way too and next year the results will be what they will be.

    Good point. I forgot this one. D20 did not submit ANY SAT II subject tests either. She took two but we didn’t feel they were strong (below 700) to help her app.
    edited December 2019
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  • whidbeyite2002whidbeyite2002 203 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @socaldad2002, congratulations to your daughter!

    I agree with you on most counts. However, I don’t believe all CCers are dogmatic.

    For my own daughter, I strongly feel it was the quality of her essays and her character as demonstrated through her extracurriculars that led to her acceptances.

    Wishing your daughter the best!
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  • chardonMNchardonMN 154 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I agree about the awards. Our GC said, really, most kids do not have anything in that spot except maybe some AP scholar awards. My S did not even have that - left it blank (is now headed to Tulane). Our HS does not have honor societies etc so it is weird to see all the accolades kids on here have received from their HS. Not sure what some of them even are, like Key Club - have only seen that referenced on CC.

    I have understood the science recommendation to be one year of B, C, P with one of those AP in senior year. Not AP in all three. I am not sure that is possible in our school as the APs all require the regular or honors as a prereq. So it largely depends on the high school.

    Congrats to your daughter. So nice to have the acceptance already.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9040 replies110 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Also, CC seems to disfavor summer programs at elite universities. In our experience, they yielded tremendous benefits.

    With respect to foreign languages, however, I think that many elite schools prefer 4 years. AP score of 5 is often used for placement purposes or for general distribution requirements credit.
    edited December 2019
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1735 replies33 threads Senior Member
    OhiBro wrote: »
    Congratulations! Such an exciting time for your family!

    But...

    @Mwfan1921
    Regarding your points above.....I don't perceive that any of those statements are the prevailing wisdom on CC.
    I agree with this.

    I vaguely remember your daughter’s profile from your other post (“average”), and thinking, “This dad is being quite humble!”

    Congrats, again.

    Just to clarify, I never said she was “average”. What I did say is she was an unhooked “average excellent” applicant as the term is commonly used on CC.
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