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Shooting Too Low?


Replies to: Shooting Too Low?

  • whataboutcollegewhataboutcollege Registered User Posts: 574 Member
    @eyemgh Can you elaborate on the CalTech comment?
  • gallentjillgallentjill Registered User Posts: 1,847 Senior Member
    If you are putting Muhlenberg and Dickenson on the list, I would also suggest Skidmore if it hasn't already been mentioned.
  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 1,796 Senior Member
    IMHO, a big school where your kid is an extreme outlier might be a better academic fit than a small school where your kid is an extreme outlier. For my kid, who feels like her AP classmates are a good fit, but gets frustrated with the people who don't care in her Honors classes, and who is looking at smaller schools, I used "75th percentile composite ACT not more than 3 points below her score" as the cutoff in narrowing down the list.

    I am very much Team Women's Colleges, on the grounds that you get a similarly qualified student body with higher odds of admission. But my kid also sees women's colleges as a good fit for her; they certainly aren't the right choice for everyone.
  • OttermaOtterma Registered User Posts: 1,398 Senior Member
    Haven't gotten her SAT score back yet.
    This may be the reason your D seems to be "aiming low". Whether intentional or not, she is smart to fall in love with good, solid match and safety schools. If her SAT scores turn out great, you might see her considering more competitive admissions. In the meantime, she has taken a low stress route to discover the kinds of schools that she likes. If she wants, it will be easy to find similar schools in the next tiers up.
  • scubadivescubadive Registered User Posts: 794 Member
    Fortunately, my eldest was not concerned with rankings and all that. My suggestion is to show your child a variety of schools based on size; public versus private; and city, suburburn and rural. They tend to be consistent with what they like when viewing schools. To be honest my child initially wanted to be a big fish then in the spring of senior year opted for being the small fish. Allow for some variety that meet your financial needs in case they have change in heart in the process.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,573 Senior Member
    Some kids “shoot low” because they feel fragile about being rejected. This is especially true of kids who may not have yet experienced much rejection. It might be worthwhile to have a conversation about this with your D – how she feels about putting herself out there – so that her strategy can accommodate that. It may be that she doesn’t mind being rejected by Harvard but DOES mind having people know that she was rejected by Harvard, for example, in which case you two can work to ensure that her application process is private. Or she may just feel terrible being rejected period.

    There are kids who prefer to be the big fish in the small pond – who run harder at the front of the pack – while there are others who set their pace according to those around them. I would suggest that she give serious thought to where/how peers matter. IME, in a setting in which content is delivered in large lectures, the pace might be a bit slower if it is set for a “slower” crowd, but this may be less of a problem than being in a smaller class of 15-20 in which participation is key and the quality of engagement drives the quality of the classroom experience. Sitting in on classes will be important for your D. DS was looking only at small LACs and found that he had some great experiences at less selective schools and some pretty ho-hum ones at higher rated ones. While some of this may have just been luck of the draw, it was really important for him to be at a school where the students showed up prepared and engaged.

    If your D is worried about “snooty” peers, this can happen at both highly rated schools and ones that are less so. She may want to look at things like whether there is Greek life (which can formalize cliques), whether the school is in an urban area (in which case students with money can choose to participate in different, more expensive, local activities), and other things like whether everyone has the same eating plan, whether there is an activity fee included in everyone’s tuition, % of students with FA, and other things that indicate accessibility and inclusion.

    But overall, I don’t like the idea of rating schools as “lesser” or assuming that a kid is "aiming too low".. Fit works in a number of ways, and your D will need to find hers. As a parent, you can help her explore a number of options fully before dismissing any.

  • RookieCollegeMomRookieCollegeMom Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Actually...I am the one thinking about "shooting too low"! She hasn't said anything. And I am the one who found Juniata (CTCL) and Susquehanna (neighbor behind us graduated from there).

    I am not sure how aware/thinking she yet on different "levels" of schools. She liked Lynchburg when she was in 8th grade when we visited for her sister. So that my be playing into it.

    Many months ago, I suggested a school and she poo-pooed it because the avg GPA was like a B or something (I don't remember exactly what). Ahh...so is Lynchburg's! So she may not have put 2 and 2 together yet.

    I expect as she enters her senior year this fall, the college counselor at her school and guidance counselors, etc will be talking more about colleges and she may start (or have to start!) thinking about it more.

    It sounds like visiting and sitting in on classes is the best option to really get a feel/vibe for a school.

    I am the only one over-thinking all this college stuff so far, not her :)

    Thanks all!

  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 2,704 Senior Member
    "Shooting too low" is all subjective until you have a budget. We made our budget the COA at our in-state flagship, sounds like that is where you might be as well ? In reality, that budget was still going to require maximum student loans, two well-paying summer jobs every summer for D (which is pretty much her MO anyways) and parent plus loans on my part. We hunted for merit and were very happy to find several schools coming in under that number. Most were less selective but also different...her flagship is UMass Amherst...she really wanted an LAC regardless of rankings. She ended up at a school that was a low match/safety at the time, now would be a solid match four years later. More importantly, as a rising senior, the "fit" was a perfect choice for all the right reasons -- academics, socially, location and price.
  • RandyErikaRandyErika Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    We have twin Ds that are starting college in the fall. They too are smart (not geniuses), very liberal (if not a bit sheltered), and not interested in sports or Greek life - also from PA. We looked at big and small schools from NY to DC, and ultimately they decided small, relatively local LACs were best for them. They got into all the schools they applied to, including Franklin & Marshall, Dickinson and Gettysburg for the one with less impressive stats.

    They both were well aware of what it would likely cost if they fell in love with selective, prestigious schools, and they both ultimately chose places they felt good about from the first visit and the excellent merit they were offered. As a parent, I’m thrilled at the personal attention they will get, and have already received in the academic counseling provided both before and during orientation. Plus I’m happy their classes will be taught strictly by professors, and that the small class sizes will ensure the students are present and engaged.

    One thing about such schools that I’m not ecstatic about is the focus on sports, albeit we’re talking Division III - 30% of students participate in a sport. Granted most of these athletes look like any other kid, but I’m just hopeful that my kids aren’t automatically excluding (or excluded from) those students as potential friends.

    I agree with the suggestions to look into Muhlenberg and Ursinus, although you might also want to check out the U of Delaware - for a large school it had a smaller feel, and the honors program could make for a very special experience if she’s ready to declare a major early on.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 757 Member
    @RandyErika do you mind sharing where they're going? They sound like my daughter! She's still too young to be looking seriously (finishing up freshman year), but I like to keep things in mind for the next couple of years!
  • beenthereanddonebeenthereanddone Registered User Posts: 407 Member
    @RandyErika Two of mine attended small LAC's with a high percentage of kids involved in sports. It didn't affect things a bit. Often the sports at the DIII level aren't as year round all consuming as at the DI level. Child #2 had more of a problem with Greek life dominating the social scene. If you weren't part of that scene you really had to work to find other activities on the weekends. Many of the colleges work very hard to help students find their group or groups. I'm sure your daughters will find their group. Good luck to everyone!
  • RandyErikaRandyErika Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    @NJWrestlingmom D1 will be attending Moravian College to study Graphic Design and English. Very few small LACs have a graphic design major, and she seems to have the passion, skill and intuition for it. Her stats place her well above most students there, but she felt at home right away, and that’s all I could hope for with that one.

    D2 is going to Ursinus College to study English/Creative Writing and perhaps Psychology. She’s pretty well situated right at the median for test scores, which qualified her for their automatic $30k/year Gateway scholarship.

    @beenthereanddone Thanks for the reassuring post. We were definitely more afraid of the places where Greek life appeared to dominate - no disrespect to anyone who’s looking for that kind of environment.

    OP - sorry for the mini derail. But I’m definitely in the camp where fit and affordability are more important than prestige, especially when grad school is likely anyway.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,704 Senior Member
    edited June 11
    Did all of you worry so much when choosing a high school that your children would be with students who might not take school so seriously, who might not be as naturally academically gifted?
    I do agree students can find a cohort and thrive in any environment. I'm no helicopter parent, and my kids chased merit over prestige, but I will say I did worry about choosing a high school. When your zoned high school has a graduation rate of 67%, only half the students take a standardized test and the average SAT is 924, only 1/3 have ACT scores higher than 17, only 30% go on to a 2 or 4 year college, and very few AP classes are offered - and fewer take the tests, with abysmal passing rates - your do worry.

    Any kids in these schools who are at all motivated fight to get into honors classes so they have a chance to actually learn something. It really isn't an honors program anymore - it's the students who want to learn vs. the students who are there because they are forced to be.

    Most of the other schools in our county were similarly dismal (on a positive note, our property taxes are negligible!).

    That's why posters say go where you're in the top of the pool, but be wary of being significantly above the top.
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