Reposted by suggestion from the "Talented Low Income Rarely Apply to Top Colleges" thread:
This article could have been written for us, and in fact, I've taken it a great deal to heart and had dd read it as well, to better understand the barriers we've erected for ourselves. We're not poor-poor, but definitely lower-middle-class. Dad is high-school; I've got a college degree (in Art!) so we are desperately scrambling to deal with the situation we are (fortunate) to be in, and hoping so much not to screw it up for our daughter because we know so little.
DD, 16, is exceptionally smart; we homeschool and she has attended the local community college half-time since she was 14. Her professors -- unaware of her age -- have LOVED her; she's interactive and interested and has earned exceptional, ceiling marks even in the tough science classes. Several-no, most- have given or offered glowing letters of recommendation. She wants to be a doctor, and we always thought we'd eke out a 4-year local college transfer when she was 18 and cross fingers for scholarships. Reach schools? I'd never even heard of that. SAT II's? AP tests? First I'm hearing about it, right here. Ivies? Oh, that's for rich people, who have money for $35,000 preschools and SAT coaches. Not for us, to be sure! Not even in the realm of possibility!
But a school financial counsellor we talked to a few years ago mentioned that the Ivies might actually be *cheaper* than local colleges, at our income level. We never thought that really might be an issue -- there's a quite good city college within commute distance, with an attached medical school. The path was easy and straight forward.
Now, dd has come up with a very good PSAT score, very likely Merit Scholarship. Without overstating its importance (really, it has not gone to my head) I see that reach schools (Ha! I know the term now!) are at least a possibility. I am trying to learn so much right now. We are looking into the AP tests, SAT II's and whatever, and everything seems up in the air. Without any direction or support we're so afraid of dropping the ball for her. I don't know a single thing about reach, probable or safety schools. Ivies are not a status thing for us -- we don't go to cocktail parties ;-) -- it's more that, if dd can contribute more by doing research in stem cells or whatever than being a family doctor, it's our obligation to help her get there so she can do it. But we need to do it without a mountain of debt.
So I guess I should end with questions. Which reach schools are most generous? Which are most highly esteemed for biological research? DD would be a junior in high school, if she were in school. We have transcripts of coursework covered, with no grades. (What would be the point?) And of course, she has her com. college transcript. What should we be doing right now? We are looking for AP tests she could do and a school where she could take them -- but homeschoolers are not necessarily welcome. How can we find out more? Help, help, help, we are so clueless.
Thanks so much, especially Bclintonk -- I am reading a lot here, and panicking a *little* less. Thinking "upscale" is still so overwhelming. We are still completely unaware of typical admissions deadlines for early admit or standard (?) admit. From what we'd heard, her 4.0 community college credit history was enough to get her into what we figured was the school we'd be able to afford for her to attend (Wayne State in Detroit, we're in MI) so admissions and deadlines were never very relevant to us. That is reassuring what you've said about undergraduate studies; now I don't feel like I have to learn about *every* college *everywhere* that might give her the background she needs.
Would not being an undergrad at a college with an outstanding medical school be an advantage, though? In being admitted to the med school later on, or in finding mentors for research or lab work that would be useful later on?
Our very commonsense plan "A" was for Wayne State, followed by probably by a program to help with medical school expenses: a National Health Service program, the military... hard choices, and not the best ones, but she has known she was going to be a doctor since she was 4 and has never wavered from it. We are just trying to figure out how to get her there.
But the more I read the "How to Get Into Ivies" books - and I've got a small stack going now :-) - the more she sounds like the kind they want: a sweet, smart self-starter who contributes in her classes because she wants them to be stimulating. Last year she had a teacher - a PhD English Lit candidate clearly having a Basement of the Ivory Tower moment -- almost tearfully thank her for being such a good student, in the bathroom. She's had other "WOW" moments from her other professors, too.
We had her take the SAT when she was 13 to see if she was ready for college, and as I recall, she did well even for someone older. We didn't really fully understand the results, and at the time, it wasn't really important, it was just for our info -- but I could dig up the results if it would help gauge her chances at the selective colleges. Anyone?