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Parents of the HS Class of 2017

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Replies to: Parents of the HS Class of 2017

  • NovimomNovimom 129 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hi Moonpie -

    I was glancing back at some of the replies on the thread (and specifically when someone mentioned your post)...and was wondering if you were able to share your "college prep" document in some way?

    Myself, and perhaps other parents who are new to this, I'm not too proud to say that I'd really appreciate to hear from those who've gone before...
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  • moonpiemoonpie 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Oooh!! I forgot! I'll try to figure out how to do it!
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  • GourmetmomGourmetmom 2799 replies46 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree with ProudPatriot that if the student likes math, they should try to advance as much as possible. It also helps to have had calculus if they want take AP Physics later on. In our high school, the students who take more advanced math/science classes tend to be ranked higher because of the increased rigor. This is definitely something to consider. I've known many parents who are shocked early senior year when they discover that their 4.0 student is ranked well below the top 20% because of the lack of rigor.
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  • moonpiemoonpie 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    I can't figure out how to get the document on here, so I'll just post in 4 installments. This is a compiled by many moms....but some of this is specific to TN schools, so feel free to add things for YOUR state!

    How to Get Your Kid From Freshman Year to College

    Middle School:
    1. 8th grade is the time to enforce study habits. Everything counts after that.
    2. If they qualify and can do they work, taking high school math to get some credits in is great. However, if they take regular math, they won’t get AP or honors points added into GPA. Keep that in mind, because it could make the difference in top 10 later.

    Freshman year:
    1. Meet with a guidance counselor to map out high school classes. Rigorous course loads should be encouraged all the way through, especially through junior year. The GPA at the end of junior year is what is turned into most colleges!
    2. Start a notebook of extra curriculars. Keeping it all in once place will make it easier for putting in the apps over and over again later. Boy scouts, choir, honors, volunteer work, clubs, plays, mentoring…everything matters!
    3. Talk about how much you are planning to pay for college NOW. State institutions run $15,000-20,000 a year now. NO ONE hands out money for full scholarships just for grades, GPA or ACT scores now.
    4. Get involved with something you’re passionate about and stick with it. College admissions officers look for interest and leadership, not 20 different clubs.
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  • moonpiemoonpie 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Sophomore year:
    1. Start talking about the kind of college they might want to go to…do an unofficial visit of a large state school, small state school, and a liberal arts college (LAC).
    2. Let your kids know how much money you have to spend early on. That way they understand what colleges are an option to them.
    3. Research financial aid. Don’t assume a college is out of reach because of their price tag. Some meet 100% of your financial need (Vanderbilt, Princeton, Brown, etc). Some have great merit aid for ACT scores or National Merit Scholars. Other colleges have great departmental scholarships, like Rhodes, you can minor in music, get a great scholarship, and have academic as will. This is called “stacking” scholarships. Schools will often give money for non-majors to sing in choirs, play in band, etc.
    4. PSAT. This is the test that determines National Merit Finalists or Semi-finalists. I was told nothing about this. Sign up, and get a study course. This is a great time to make a “college only” email!
    5. SAT subject tests. Take them after the supporting course in high school. 800’s on these can get extra money!
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  • moonpiemoonpie 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Junior year:
    1. Start visiting colleges, preferably in the summer before. Plan budgets accordingly. Visiting can be very expensive if you have to drive, fly and book a hotel overnight. Doing this in groups to save money on gas, and hotels. Sharing hotel rooms is fun for the kids!
    2. Visit at least one large state flagship, one small state school, a larger LAC and a smaller LAC to get the “feel” of what those campuses are like. VERY important to visit when class is in session. Schools look very different in the summer compared to the bustle of fall.
    3. If sports are important, visit on a game weekend if possible.
    4. Junior year is very important. Be nice to your teachers. They will be the ones who are writing your college recommendation letters. Give them something to write about. Be a leader in class. Be creative and do excellent work.
    5. Sign up for a “college only email” address. You will be very happy you did. This lets everything college related come to one place. Parents…you should know the passwords and check it regularly!
    6. At "our school", everyone takes the ACT at the end of his or her junior year and the school pays for it. Use this as a practice test (unless you score a 33-36!) and then study to improve. Then take it again. There are many affordable test prep classes that help tremendously. Schools really do look at national tests more than grades, because a student with 4.0 but no honors classes and a 28 on ACT does not look as impressive as a student with a 3.7 and a 33 ACT.
    7. Visit, Visit, Visit.
    8. Find some kind of community service to be involved in.
    9. Put all your tax information in an easy to access place. You will need it to fill out the FAFSA and CSS profile before you do next year’s taxes. VERY IMPORTANT!
    10. Some schools are first come, first serve when it comes to merit scholarships. Know this, because you may want to apply before your senior year starts. Some kids do not get money, even with better scores because they waited to apply.
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  • moonpiemoonpie 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Senior year:

    1. Summer before, start writing personal essays. The Common App prompts are already out for 2013-2014. The Common App is a central website that lets you do one application and send it to as many colleges as you want. You can start this early and then change it as you go, however once you submit, you cannot change it! Colleges often have FEES to submit (ranging from $20-$75) so know that if you hit that submit button, you may have to pay LOTS of fees, so only apply to schools you are REALLY considering. There is a fee waiver if you qualify, so look into that if needed.
    2. Narrow down what kind of college you want to apply to and be realistic about financial aid. Nothings worse than your kid getting into their dream school and then not getting to go because you find out you can’t afford it.
    3. Use the Net Price Calculator for every school you apply to. This is usually on the school’s website. It has you enter in information (from that handy tax file you will have ready) and give you a pretty good estimate of what it will cost you to attend school there. It will give you an idea if you can afford it.
    4. Decide on a safety school. This is a school you KNOW you can afford, and you KNOW you can get into, and you would be happy to go there, maybe not thrilled, but happy. Even our state flagship, UT, is no longer a guaranteed admit. It is becoming competitive and they are being more selective in order to funnel more kids to the other state schools (UTC, UT Martin, UT Memphis). UT is also very stingy with their $$. A perfect GPA, 8 AP classes with all 4s and 5s, and 31 on the ACT got a $4000 academic offer, combined with the HOPE, was $9000. Which would have left over $13,000 a year out of pocket for us had we chosen to go there.
    5. Sometimes it makes sense to look out-of-state. Auburn and Alabama offer in-state rates to kids with certain ACT scores and have great merit aid. RESEARCH.
    6. Make a spreadsheet with colleges and their deadlines. Many have application deadline, financial aid deadlines, and scholarships deadlines. DEADLINES are NON-NEGOTIABLE. Don’t wait till the last minute. Storms, server overload don’t get a re-do most of the time (Hurricane Sandy victims did get 2 extra weeks).
    7. Decide and ASK teachers, mentors, bosses, guidance counselors to do letters of recommendations. They need time and are going to inundated with requests. Follow up with polite emails to see if they have been sent.
    8. Have a resume ready to give your guidance counselor to write your letter. Most may have no idea who you are other than your grades, and grade level. Teachers and counselors asked for these when my daughters needed letters of recommendation.
    9. By OCTOBER, you really need to know where you want to go, have your applications mostly completed, and ready to apply. Many schools have a NOVEMBER 1st deadline, and almost all have early December deadlines to be considered for scholarships. This means you have to have visited, researched and decided before then NOVEMBER. I cannot stress how important this is because senior year is very busy, lots of “lasts”…. football games, dances, etc….nothing you want to miss out on. Applications and essays take TIME.
    10. Give your essays to an impartial adult to critique. (This may or may not be your parents! I would recommend an English teacher)
    11. Wait and send your applications all in at the same time if possible, sometimes better essays flow, or you get an inspiration that sounds better.
    12. KNOW the differences, and reasons, to apply Early decision, Early Action or Regular Decision.
    13. ED is a binding agreement that means if you’re accepted, you are agreeing to withdraw applications to other schools and commit to that school. Reasons to do this? Increase in odds of getting into top choice (you must do the research to see if you can afford to go if you’re accepted). You find out early December and you’re DONE! These are usually due in early to mid November.
    14. EA is a non-binding agreement, however you apply early and find out early. Reasons to do this? You know early and can decide early! Some get financial aid and scholarships offers early as well. Helps you start comparing offers and make the best decision.
    15. RD applications have various deadlines, most in January or February. You will find out in April if you’ve been accepted. Reasons to do this? You can compare lots of school offers, you have time to bring up test scores, add rank, etc.
    16. Rolling admissions: many schools have this, and you find out very soon after you’ve applied. It’s nice to have a few of these in pocket (safety schools) in the fall!
    17. Music Auditions: some will happen as early as the Fall, but most have January/February dates. If Music/Theater performance is your dream consider doing National Unified Auditions. This allows a student to go to a central location, such as Chicago, and numerous schools come to one location so a student can audition to many schools in one weekend. This can save a lot of money and time!
    18. Complete the FAFSA. The student and the parent both need a PIN number to do this. Write it down and start keeping a NEVER LOOSE list of PINS and passwords. It will save you a lot of frustration when you have to fill it out every year (yes, every year that they are in college). "our school" offers free assistance for this in early January.
    19. After you have completed the FAFSA, you will get a number called the EFC (expected family contribution). This is the amount the Federal Government thinks you can pay for college. It is NOT the number you will end up paying. Every school does things a little differently. The CSS profile is another tool some colleges use to figure out how much need you have. Even after you get scholarship offers, if there is a school that your child wants to go to, but feels cannot afford, go to that FA department and see if there are other things your child can do to help offset the cost. (work study, departmental scholarships, private endowments all can be thrown in). The FAFSA will also determine if you qualify for FREE money from the government.
    20. Some schools meet need using the low interest loans that every student qualifies for. Some schools, many Ivy league schools, Vanderbilt, meet 100% of your financial need without loans, making an Ivy school more affordable than a state school! If your child gets a full ride somewhere, they may still want to take out the low interest loans and save these for graduate school. Very smart if you get the full ride and plan on going to med school!
    21. Read all emails in their entirety. Some students miss out on incredible scholarships just from not responding to an email or deadline.
    22. Questbridge: links exceptional students from low socioeconomic situations with high rank colleges and provides incredible scholarship opportunities.

    Use websites such as
    College Admissions, Search, and Financial Aid Help from College Confidential
    College Admissions - SAT - University & College Search Tool
    [url=http://www.****]College Search and Reviews, Scholarships, College Admissions Chances - Cappex[/url]

    There is an incredible knowledge base out there, and I learned everything about the college process from these. High school guidance counselors are overworked, have 100’s of students they are working for every day, and can’t do this for every student even if they want to! You have to be proactive and Advocate for your child!
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  • itsallgood1itsallgood1 54 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Count me in! S'13 has decided to attend Bowdoin this Fall. D'17 is on the cusp of this whole process. Happy to join this thread from its inception. CC has been such a great resource for me. Thank you all!
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  • NovimomNovimom 129 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Moonpie,

    Your advice is a wonderful collection of wisdom from parents who have gone before. I feel very fortunate that you've shared it with the rest of us.

    Here's to a great journey ahead!
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  • HiToWaMomHiToWaMom 1405 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There are so many math/science kids here at CC. Sometimes I feel my D does not belong here. She does not like math and science. Her grades are OK - mostly Bs - but she doesn't enjoy those subjects.

    She will be taking Geometry in 9th grade. How should she proceed from there? I really don't think she can handle AP calculus. It's going to be either pre-calculus and stop there or take statistics/AP statistics instead of pre-calculus. If she wants to be accepted by top colleges, does it have to be calculus?
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  • ProudpatriotProudpatriot 1538 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How much math did your son have in high school?

    My son had AP Calculus AB his senior year.
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  • 89wahoo89wahoo 1073 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    HiToWaMom, your D will grow intellectually through HS and math may 'click' at some point. If not, prob/stat or AP statistics may be a good idea. Four years of math is definitely a must though. If you're worried, chat with the counselor in the fall to see what other non- math kids do. They don't have to be masters of everything. Don't lose sleep over it! We are in that boat now. S is in pre-calc as a junior. Right now he is signed up for prob/ stat because, watching D13 with AP calc AB, I think it will be a disaster for him. However, he is now re-considering his math. I admit- I will lose sleep if he selects calc! :)
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  • snorkelmomsnorkelmom 284 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    HiToWaMom
    I'm going to throw this out there (about the math) and some of you may agree or disagree... our D was not a "natural" math student, but developed the study skills early on and worked really hard at it. It was confirmed by her test scores beginning with an SAT in 7th and continuing on through PSAT & SAT thru HS and even with a private tutor... she's just not FAST. However, she plugged along at her pace and is taking AP Calc AB as a senior and I do believe that it enhanced the rigor of curriculum in her apps. She has never made lower than a B in honors math and now AP, but it has not been easy for her. Of course, this is reflected in her SAT & ACT scores, regardless of how much she prepared & how many times she took them. Her CR & writing on the other hand, were very competitive. She wants to be an engineer and with her soft skills, I think she will be successful.

    When you refer to TOP schools, try to think about your student and temper that with what would be best for them. We did not think that top schools were going to be good fits... given her natural abilities and her test scores, we knew that there were better places for her than the TOP 20 on USNWR. Your student will compete for those limited spots with others that have top math scores in addition to all the rest of the criteria.

    If you still decide to pursue the top schools, AP Calc is probably necessary just to put your student on the same playing field and AP Stat would not be a good substitute.

    You just don't realize UNTIL you go through this process one time, how many gifted & talented students are out there applying to the SAME schools...
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  • snorkelmomsnorkelmom 284 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    One more thing I remember, just having read 89wahoo's post... I can't find the source right now, but there was some kind of study that showed that math "clicks" earlier for boys, some time in HS (gosh I hope so!) and later for girls, late HS & college. Of course, that doesn't apply to everyone, but that just helped me to not give up early on :)
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  • bkbmombkbmom 238 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    moonpie - thanks for posting! I have to be a panelist at an upcoming event our PTSA is putting on where "experienced" parents are going to answer questions about the college application process. Of course all my knowledge I've gained from CC and I just copied and pasted your post to my notes to make sure I don't forget anything. A classic example of how CC is helpful.
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  • CuriousJaneCuriousJane 764 replies56 threadsRegistered User Member
    @HiToWa: I also feel like my kid doesn't really belong. He's truly a fantastic kid, with so many strengths, but he's not a stellar performer in any academic discipline, and solidly average in math. I feel as though when parents admit that on CC, people rush in to reassure the parents that their kid is just a late bloomer, or bored because he's unchallenged, or maybe he "doesn't test well" or has some hidden learning disability. In reality, I don't think any of these things are true for my kid.

    Obviously, I don't know where my kid will end up in college. I care a lot that he finds a place that he loves, and where he can fit in, that brings out the best of him and makes him happy. I loved my college experience, and really want to him to feel the same way. Given that we're a sole parent family on a teacher's salary, that also means a place that gives good aid. I'm hoping that by coming here, and learning the way the system works, I can help make sure my kid ends up with choices that he likes in the spring of 2017. But I don't know that I expect, or even dream of the same schools that many people here do.

    Having said that, as far as calculus, if I had to make a guess it would be that my kid will be able to handle AB calc his senior year, but that it would be at a significant cost in terms of time for other activities, and his ability to take and do well in other challenging courses. I also figure that by 2016 when we have to make that choice, he'll presumably know a lot more about himself, his own dreams for college and beyond, and what he'll need to get there. Right now, my son tells me he'd like to be either a professional stage manager, or a professor of Egyptology. If he still feels that way in 2016 it might make more sense for him to skip calculus for an extra history class, or an internship at a local theater. In the post that started this, I was talking about having my son take geometry over the summer as a way to keep him busy. I think that doing that would force the calculus issue, since he'd need to find 2 post-pre-calculus classes for Jr. and Sr. year. For my kid, I don't think that's the right choice.
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  • HiToWaMomHiToWaMom 1405 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thank you everyone for your encouragements. Hmmm. I guess AP Calc is a necessary class for the top schools... My current feeling is that she should go with Statistics rather than suffer and feel miserable in AP Calc. But like Curious said, we shall find that out in 2016 which is, what? 3 years from now!!! I hope she doens't decide that she is not good at math at this point. Things might change???? like someone pointed out...
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  • CT1417CT1417 4375 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am finding the math discussion very interesting and very timely. HS Jr wants to take AP Calc AB next year (and is signed up to do so, but that can change). As Jane has said, taking AP Calc and the accompanying AP Physics will extract such a price that is not worthwhile.

    Based on what I have read here, AP Stats is not an acceptable substitute. I wonder if it would be better to take non-AP Calc or AP Stats, or if anyone really knows the answer to that question.

    OTOH, my S17 is trying to take a year of math over the summer so that he can get to multi-variable calc by Sr year.
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  • vonlostvonlost 18783 replies14417 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    13. ED is a binding agreement that means if you’re accepted, you are agreeing to withdraw applications to other schools and commit to that school. Reasons to do this? Increase in odds of getting into top choice (you must do the research to see if you can afford to go if you’re accepted).
    A clarification: If you ask for financial aid at ED time, you will be given an aid estimate based on your submitted FAFSA/PROFILE with your ED acceptance. If the offered aid is insufficient to support attendance, you can decline the ED FA offer and apply RD elsewhere; you are not bound to attend the unaffordable school.
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  • HiToWaMomHiToWaMom 1405 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Correct. At least that's my understanding. More experienced CC parents might give you more insight.
    ED worked great for my D1. She applied ED, asked for financial aid, acceptance letter came and it was followed by a very generous FA package. Of course her ED school was 100% need met school. Otherwise we wouldn't have done it.

    ED application was due before FAFSA opened, so the estimated FA package was solely based on PROFILE.
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