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NE Prep School Grade Compression - Depression 2019-2020

Golfgr8Golfgr8 1149 replies20 threads Senior Member
OK sports fans - it is time to reopen this discussion about grade compression and depression. Please speak up and share your experiences! I am hearing from parents that this is an issue for college applications - contrary to the “take a chill pill and all will be ok” posts, I am hearing from Senior parents that there kids are not making the academic cuts because of their NE BS GPAs or rankings. Why are the majority of grades between 88 -92 for most kids at many of the BS’s? No - I don’t think colleges are taking our kids BS’s into consideration anymore.
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Replies to: NE Prep School Grade Compression - Depression 2019-2020

  • doschicosdoschicos 21575 replies226 threads Senior Member
    Or is it that parents have unrealistic expectations regarding college admissions for their children?

    I bet college advisors aren't as surprised or as disappointed as the parents are.

    College admissions have been getting tougher everywhere so I would imagine that applies to boarding school kids as much as it does schools anywhere but when I look at matriculation lists, they still look quite strong.

    One way to help ensure good outcomes is to craft a well balanced list that includes some schools outside of the list of the top 10-20 schools that are the most popular preferences at a given BS. Plenty of excellent, academically challenging colleges to choose from.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1838 replies34 threads Senior Member
    edited October 17
    What does it mean that "kids are not making the academic cuts"?

    There are literally thousands of colleges in the US. I am ABSOLUTELY confident that every boarding school graduate can get a spot at a school where they will be able to thrive both academically and socially.

    Perhaps you can buy your friends a copy of the Frank Bruni book, "Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be", sign them up for updates from Stanford's "Challenge Success," or maybe even find new friends who aren't as obsessed with prestige and rankings?

    Stop the madness...
    edited October 17
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5966 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I did hear grumblings from parents when kids went outside the usual 100+ colleges our kids normally attended. They claimed these schools didn't know our school and its grading scale, in which only 2 kids in the last decade had managed a 4.0.

    But I watched DS and his classmates head off to very selective schools where they have been quite happy. Those hard earned B+/A- averages set those kids up well for college. I would strongly counsel against posting your BS stats in the college forums on CC, though. The colleges know the BS.

    The senior parents have not seen decisions yet and are in the throes of a stressful process as well as digesting feedback from counselors about what's a realistic fit. It can take a while for parents to learn this new college landscape, especially if they thought they already knew it.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 539 replies6 threads Member
    edited October 17
    Absolutely, take a chill pill and all will be fine!!

    The kid may not get into Harvard, or Georgetown or Duke, but they will be just fine at Kenyon or SMU or Skidmore. Really. They will be OK.

    And boarding school is not a plus for college admissions.* Long gone are the days when certain schools were feeders for Yale, or for Harvard.

    I think having a wide band actually makes sense (88 - 92). Those absolute superstars are above that, and there shouldn't be a ton of them, by definition. Similarly, though, there are very few slackers, most are bright kids working hard, so a B+ or A- average makes sense. And for the handful not working hard or struggling for whatever reason, they fall below that big band.

    But actually, it all really does work out.

    *being full pay, though is a definite plus for many many (I would say most) schools. I'm most familiar with Bates being need aware; Trinity in CT is as well. Any school with an endowment of $600 million or less will be need aware to one degree or another. (And, its actually probably endowments worth less than $1 billion). So many boarding school kids have that going for them.
    edited October 17
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  • TemperantiaTemperantia 273 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited October 17
    Just shy of 70% of the kids in my son's class last year had and an A (defined as a 93-96; about 25% of the class ) or A- (defined as a 90-92;about 45% of the class). Only one or two kids had a GPA above that. That means that some students with an A average will land in the second quintile and an A- can land you in the third quintile - 20% of those students will be in the bottom half of their class with an A-. That makes no sense to me, however there's an argument that those kids would have earned those grades or better if they had attended other schools so why should they be penalized?

    We found that when it comes to college placement, it really depends on the college. Some have long standing relationships with boarding schools. Naviance will give you a hint about how much a particular school weights GPAs. At my kid's school several (Tufts comes to mind) had a hard cut-off on GPA no matter what the test scores or other factors were. On the other hand, the school sent 13 kids to Chicago with kids in every quintile represented - remarkable for a class of 162. I think many of the popular elite schools get so many qualified applicants that they can use anything short of the highest GPA as a disqualifying factor simply because their applicant pool is so deep and talented that they can fulfill their institutional requirements without including a range of GPAs in their holistic review. If you have your heart set on one of those schools, a lower GPA can be a problem but the BS education will serve a student well wherever they end up and there are many great choices where the bs education will be valued even if one lands in the bottom 25% of the class with a B.

    And who wants to go to school with a bunch of nerds anyway :smile:
    edited October 17
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1149 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Thanks @Temperantia - the hard cut offs are concerning.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 539 replies6 threads Member
    Golfgr8 wrote: »
    Thanks @Temperantia - the hard cut offs are concerning.

    Very few schools have hard cut offs. Naviance is helpful here because you can see how kids from your child's school have done, it will give you some idea of what to expect.

    Some schools drop the 9th grade grades and recalculate the GPA fyi.

    And if your kid is below a school's hard cut off -- oh well. So don't apply to that school. There are very likely 20+ others where your kid will thrive. Having said that, I've actually never heard of a college having a hard cut off, though none of my kids applied to Tufts (mentioned upthread) if in fact they have one.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3108 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Hard GPA cut offs seem more common in giant state flagships trying to process tens of thousands of applications quickly. They also seem quite common in merit based aid decisions, but that may not be of interest.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 297 replies9 threads Member
    @Golfgr8 is the issue that a kid with an 88-92 might have a 95-98 at a less grade depressing on purpose school? I think that’s what my issue is. Colleges don’t seem to be taking the individual school into account as much as we were told/promised/intimated they did.

    My kids could both be in that 95-98 range at our very competitive public school. They chose the competitive boarding school route due to many factors. Getting dinged in college admissions was not a selling point but seems to be becoming a reality.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 539 replies6 threads Member
    edited October 17
    Colleges don't weight schools equally, they absolutely know how rigorous top boarding schools are.

    Boarding schools give kids much much more than grades. Both my older kids say their boarding school made them who they are. Much more influential than their colleges.

    A boarding school kid has SO many more advantages than a public school kid. Think about the college advising, with each counselor having 30-40 kids instead of 350. One of my kids was waitlisted at GW and his college counselor said the school would get him in, if we wanted. They would have had the Head of School call GW. We opted not to go that route and my son attended one of his safeties where he was admitted with some merit aid (he felt the love!).

    As I said: it all works out. Focus on identifying good safety schools that are good fits, the rest will take care of itself.
    edited October 17
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21575 replies226 threads Senior Member
    For those of you concerned/mentioning that colleges don't factor in boarding school rigor, what prompts you to say that? Disgruntled parents?

    For the most part, you have parents of BS alum on this and other threads indicating that hasn't been our experience. I've traced the results of many classes of seniors and have seen very few cases where students matriculation outcomes were surprises on the upside or downside.

    I also think, however, it is hard to make comparisons without knowing more specifics - which boarding schools, which colleges, and details about the students themselves.

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  • vegas1vegas1 583 replies2 threads Member
    There is is much to discuss here. I will add a point that has not been discussed above. GPA will be considered for merit aid at many schools (outside of the ivies of course). We have found that some schools might make allowances for BS kids- but most will not. A few of our kids got small merit $$, that would have been a lot higher if they had a higher gpa.
    I clearly am a believer in the BS experience as worth it in the end- but those extra $$ would have been nice.
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 290 replies5 threads Junior Member
    If you are curious about the spread of grades in various schools and what the colleges know about them, that info is buried in some schools’ websites. From what I can tell, each school produces a somewhat standardized “profile” for colleges. It includes grades info.

    This is Cate’s:
    https://www.cate.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Cate-School_Profile-2018-2019.pdf

    Usually they are in the part of the website for college admissions officers. I have seen others that have the same basic layout. I have never heard anyone mention these profiles, and I just happened upon Cate’s when I was bored one night, but I think they are a thing.

    Personally, I am no longer worried about matriculation. Once I got to know some of the seniors, saw who graduated with honors, and then saw their colleges - it seemed like they all landed in good places for them. And the non-honors students did fine, too. I trust the school has the college stuff down and I am going to try super hard to get out of the way and just do as I am told.

    It all starts this week, btw. Kiddo just took a practice psat yesterday, and this week is parents weekend - they have two sessions for sophomore parents all about college apps.
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 290 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Here’s Choate’s:

    https://www.choate.edu/uploaded/Documents/Academics/College_Profile.pdf

    The internet is freaking amazing.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39824 replies7261 threads Super Moderator
    edited October 17
    I have never heard anyone mention these profiles
    I have mentioned it hundreds of times, including earlier this month.
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/22406767#Comment_22406767

    While the profile may be "buried in some schools’ websites," AOs are well aware of them. In most cases,the school profile accompanies the GC rec/school report sent to colleges, although for many colleges with a lot of BS applicants, the AO is already quite familiar with the school.
    edited October 17
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 290 replies5 threads Junior Member
    edited October 17
    I stand corrected. Welp, I guess I am not paying enough attention to skieurope’s wisdom-drenched posts! My bad.

    Edited to add, public schools do them too, apparently, so you can test your theories about the bs disadvantages by comparing the bs to the local public school.
    edited October 17
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5966 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Based on kids I know who have gotten into Tufts, I don't think they have hard cutoffs that are fixed across the board. With that said, they do seem to value stats -- and rigor. -- more than some others. (This is a decades long thing with them. Holistic, yes, but rarely at the expense of stats.) It's hard to see rigor in Naviance unless your school weights, which most BS don't. But the colleges will know it.

    Remember that no school wants 50 kids from one high school, though, so when you see what looks like a line in the sand at your school, that could be how they are managing that.

    And at the risk of offending folks, it could be that kids in the middle band at xyz BS are less exciting applicants than kids from elsewhere.

    Because it's hard to get into BS and because the kids work so hard. it's easy to think that even the "average" BS student is the cream of the crop. But there are tons of "average excellent " students vying for seats at top colleges every year, most of whom did not enter into the BS application fray. It could be that the B+ student at BS is simply too "average " for these schools. And fwiw, I know a high school val from a very good district who had great ECs yet still got shut out of all the very selective colleges. There's no guarantee for anyone, but it's easy to see how, if you think your kid is terrific and has worked really hard, that it's easy to think the system is conspiring against them.
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  • HMom16HMom16 705 replies18 threads Member
    edited October 18
    I don't believe all of the AOs reviewing applications are familiar with the boarding schools. Given the volume of applications - and job listings I've seen on top school websites - some of the review is going to temps or newbies with very little admissions experience. Those people are given a checklist and told to assign points for various elements of the application (as was published as part of the Harvard lawsuit). They are also given point translations for different grading schemas - which may or may not correspond to the profile the school submits.

    With only a few minutes to review each application, I doubt people are checking the boarding school profile to confirm that it matches the point schema the college issued - nor are they reading it for the finer details that the boarding school provides. Perhaps after the initial review, if the application makes it to the second stage, they will go back and take a closer look but I doubt it, especially since grades are only a small part of the "holistic" process.

    Sorry to be cynical but I think the idea that AO's understood a given school's difficulty or grading practices is now just boarding school marketing.

    edited October 18
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