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Helping homeschoolers with reach admissions

RocketRiderRocketRider 14 replies5 threads New Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
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?
edited January 2013
40 replies
Post edited by RocketRider on
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Replies to: Helping homeschoolers with reach admissions

  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19374 replies161 threads Senior Member
    You might also consider joining the hs2coll list: [College Confidential won't let me post the address, but PM me if you're interested.]
    It's a mailing list just for parents of high schoolers heading to college. College Confidential is a great group, but hs2coll will tell you the ins and outs of filling out a college application. Because you are your daughter's guidance counselor, you have to fill out the school part of the application and make her a transcript. It's not always straightforward.

    You might be better off having your daughter apply to college as a freshman rather than a transfer student. If she is as qualified as you say, she will be offered excellent scholarships at very good schools. And if she is exceptionally good, and your income is quite low, she will be offered full scholarships at Ivies or Ivy-caliber schools. Although scholarships are available for transfer students, more scholarships are available for freshmen.

    On the other hand, as I said, there is money available for well-qualified transfer students. If she is in a hurry to get to grad school, then being a transfer might be better for her.

    I know of many homeschoolers accepted at top colleges as freshmen, and several homeschoolers accepted at top colleges as transfers. Your daughter is in a good position.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19374 replies161 threads Senior Member
    As for homeschoolers taking AP tests, you have to call around to find a school that will administer the test to your daughter. And you'll have to pay the fees. For a child in your daughter's situation, I recommend getting one of the review books, taking the sample tests, and being sure that she will get a 4 or (preferably) a 5, before she takes the test. If she has good community college grades and recommendations, she doesn't need to take any APs, though of course more stellar qualifications are always better.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19374 replies161 threads Senior Member
    Oh, and.... don't panic. Your daughter is in an enviable position, and you'll be fine.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82768 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Is Wayne State in commuting range? If not, you may want to investigate other Michigan public universities as well. Check the net price calculators on their web sites to see what kind of financial and net cost you are looking at as a baseline at the various Michigan public universities. Then do the same for any other schools which people tell you may be "good with financial aid".

    Given her achievements, also check for large merit scholarships like the http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/national-merit-scholarships/649276-nmf-scholarships-updated-compilation.html if she makes National Merit Finalist (note the distinction between the guaranteed and competitive ones). Note that "full tuition" usually leaves about $10,000 to $15,000 of remaining costs (room and board, books, misc -- may be cheaper if in commuting range). "Full ride" generally means tuition, room, board, and books, though there may be travel or other misc costs beyond that.

    Taking AP tests for courses already taken at community college would just be duplication -- but can be useful if some colleges accept one but not the other. In-state public universities likely already have articulation agreements for the community college courses, but out-of-state or private universities may need to evaluate the courses individually, in which case the standardization of AP credit may be advantageous.
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  • lmkh70lmkh70 803 replies173 threads Member
    A lot of reach schools will not take transfer students very well. But this is ok because her community college courses were taken as dual enrollment. She can still apply as a freshman, and still potentially transfer the credits in. This is the best route on this.

    We home school. We do not currently home school our high schoolers though. However, we have been to the home school to college seminars and have been very inspired. I do not think we will ever "regular school" high school again.

    There are some home school 2 college listservs. The HS2Coll listserv on yahoo is extremely busy. I am not sure how much help they are though. But it was recommended previously.

    Good luck!!

    Oh, and remember, the Ivies are only a specific list of schools, in a sports league. There are many many excellent, top schools, that will give excellent financial aid, all over the place. My daughter is applying to Carleton College in Minnesota. But that is just one of many many excellent top schools that gives good financial aid.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82768 replies738 threads Senior Member
    One other thing to note since she is aiming for medicine: medical schools count all college courses, including those taken while in high school, as part of the GPA. She needs to keep getting all A grades.

    However, they also do not like to see all of the pre-med courses taken at community colleges. If she is taking her introductory BCPM courses at community colleges, then she may want to make sure to take some more advanced BCPM courses when she gets to a four year college (BCPM = biology, chemistry, physics, math).

    The people who inhabit the pre-med forum may be able to give more detail.
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  • bovertinebovertine 3274 replies29 threads Senior Member
    You might want to PM CC poster sbjdorlo. Her son seems similar to your D. And she seems like a nice lady who is willing to help - I don't think she'd mind.

    FYI - her son was homeschooled but also took a passle of AP and college courses. He had basically perfect test scores. He had also taken pretty much every math class available at the local state college and most of the physics classes. He applied as a freshman and cleaned up in admissions to multiple prestigious schools. He also had several interesting outside activites. I think he's going to MIT now. Anyway, she might be able to steeer you in the right direction.
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  • itsvitsv 1368 replies114 threads Senior Member
    I was going to also suggest you contact sbjdorlo. Her income was around 60K and her son got enough aid to attend MIT at an affordable price. He did very well in admissions with Vanderbilt; Caltech; Princeton etc. Your D sounds a lot like her son so look for posts under her name to see more relevant info.

    I have a couple of things to share with you:

    1. Some colleges offer programs where a high-achieving high school student applies now to both college and medical school. It cuts off some years of med school plus you are guaranteed a spot at the medical school. Accelerated BS/MD Programs: What You Need to Know I would google to find a list of such programs. This may be one avenue of your daughter attending med school and having her spot guaranteed. Also some programs have special requirements such as that found at George Washington University where the student must have 2 years of volunteering at a hospital.

    2. To determine the colleges that will provide the most financial aid to your DD you should run the net price calculator for each school. You can go to CollegeData: College Search, Financial Aid, College Application, College Scholarship, Student Loan, FAFSA Info, Common Application and for each college you will see the button "calculate" which will take you directly to the college's net price calculator. Running that calculation will help you determine the most generous schools.

    3. Collegeboard's website called "big futures" can also help you find the most generous schools. There should be an access code on your daughter's PSAT score report. Use the code to create an account for your daughter. The account will allow you to save any searches you do for colleges. On this link https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ click on the top to "search" function. On the far left you will see topics; click on "paying" and then move the toggle over to schools that met "100% of need" this will help you determine the most generous colleges. You can also change other variables such as list schools with good programs in biology.

    4. I recommend you read the book "The College Solution". It is excellent on the money issues of college admissions. Trust me after you read it you will have a lot of knowledge about finding the most generous schools for your daughter. There is a website that goes with the book and I also recommend you read it. Here are some relevant articles on the questions you raised. What is Your Expected Family Contribution? | The College Solution and A New Tool for Merit Scholarship Searches | The College Solution and Checking the Generosity of Your Child's College Picks | The College Solution

    5. I also suggest you read the book "Admission Possible". It is written in a friendly fashion and can explain things to you like "reach; match etc." Plus it breaks down the application process in a very understandable way. adMISSION POSSIBLE| The 5 Steps to Acing College Admissions

    6. As suggested you are your daughter's guidance counselor so be sure to contact collegeboard and make sure her paperwork is filled out for the national merit competition. Her transcript for her high school level classes must be accurate and complete. You also will need to fill out the guidance counselor forms for applications such as the common app. Also be sure to check each college's website that is on her list for any extra requirements for home school students. I seem to recall that homeschool students might have to take a few more subject tests.

    Good luck. Since this is still early in your daughter's junior year you have time to learn as much as possible. Also make sure she/you attend the National College Fair in April in your area. You want your daughter to complete her college applications over the summer and apply early action if possible. Most colleges have early deadlines for those students who want to be considered for merit scholarships.
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  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo 1974 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Good thing that you have started now, because there is still time to learn much about the college admission process. Don't panic, you have plenty of time to get everything done.

    1. Glad you got books. CC tends to dissect the minutiae, so it will be good for you to start with an overview of the process. I liked the book:
    Amazon.com: The New Rules of College Admissions: Ten Former Admissions Officers Reveal What it Takes to Get Into College Today (Fireside Books (Fireside)) (9780743280679): Michael London, Stephen Kramer: Books

    Another book that helps with completing the common application for colleges was
    Acing the College Application: How to Maximize Your Chances for Admission to the College of Your Choice: Michele Hernandez: 9780345498922: Amazon.com: Books

    2. Yes private schools can be cheaper that your public state schools. There are 2 ways to get to college cheaper:
    a. financial aid: grants (that don't have to be paid back) and loans (which do have to be paid back)
    b. merit aid: discounts to the tuition because your kiddo is smart.
    Some of the ivys and other schools with big endowments, give great financial aid, but they can be super hard to get into. (many a NMSF/valedictorian/straightA/2400 SAT does not get accepted).
    Some of the private schools and other liberal arts colleges that are not super highly ranked, but still may be much higher ranked than your public state school, can give lots of merit aid. With merit aid, the cost of attendance to your family will be cheaper, your D will be at a smaller school with more intimate learning environments (e.g. less like going to the Dept of Motor Vehicles), and may get a better educational experience.

    So, the bottom line, is don't just set your sights on ivy. Merit aid from smaller private schools is a great for a strong student to reduce the cost of college as well.

    3. Do you belong to a homeschool club in your area where the parents discuss this as well? My sister homeschooled her kid and belonged to a homeschool club where they talked and learned about homeschooling, curriculum, and combined efforts for field trips etc.

    4. To pick a school based on their awesome biology program may seem daunting because there is so much to learn about the subtlies of each program. Kids will often change their minds on what they want to major in or their career options. Many private schools can help hold a kids hand and help them to explore their options with mentorship and advice from faculty who know your kid (esp given her level of curiosity and bonding with teachers at comm coll). Thus a private school probably needs to fit her personal and social needs just as much or more than her major needs. Other folks may say that it matters more where she does her med school than her undergrad schooling.
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  • CreeklandCreekland 6583 replies92 threads Senior Member
    You've been given a ton of good advice, so I'm just going to mention that my middle son (homeschooled from 7th - 12th) is loving it at the University of Rochester. Your D seems to be a lot like him with her likes/dislikes, etc. I don't know that there are many homeschoolers at URoc (he only knows of one other, but he doesn't know everyone), but they certainly don't discriminate against them IME. They are also very good with financial aid... and offer merit aid. If it's not too far away from you, you might consider having her look at their website to see if it appeals.

    The Ivies (as mentioned) are just a sports league with some very good schools in it. There are other very good schools out there too. My guy considered applying to a couple of the Ivies (had the stats, etc), but opted not to as we wanted places that also offered merit aid. They do not. He has some friends at URoc who were accepted to Ivies, but chose URoc instead (research culture at the school is very appealing to many). Your D can be competitive at many places. Don't choose off name. Look for great fits (coupled with great financial opportunities).

    Higher level schools will have tougher classes (I have kids in community college, mid level, and higher level), but my higher level son loves the content of those tougher classes and would have been bored in mid level places. Again, it's part of the fit. This same son did well in his community college classes, but for us/him, they were just high school with the Dual Enrolling. He didn't get any credit for those classes - and we're ok with it, because really, the classes weren't the same caliber as what he's doing now.

    FWIW, you do NOT need a higher level school to go on to med school. Only choose this route if it fits the student as there will be competition in the classes. Once you reach the higher level schools, pretty much ALL students are now in the peer group vs a couple of students being at the top of the curve. My son loves his new peer group, but it takes work to stay at the top end of the curve.

    Visits at the different places were what helped my guy choose his final spot. He talked with and sometimes stayed with other students to see the different culture(s) himself.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Here is the deal with medical school admissions--the first round is all about your GPA and MCAT score, after that it's about research and extracurricular involvement along with the GPA and MCAT. You need to find a school where she can be a superstar. Yes, the Ivys may be cheaper for you but they are very, very careful who the let into their pre-med programs and who they support through the med school application process and if she isn't one of the chosen, she may just be out of luck. Don't discount many of the smaller LAC's that have strong science programs.

    Our DD is also thinking med school. Of the over 30 schools she initially considered, the "worst" acceptance rate any of the schools had was 95%. Most of the schools were 100% or close to that for acceptance into medical school. No, they don't have as many candidates but that plays in their favor because they get hands on research earlier in the process.

    Also, there are several schools with auto-admit programs for medical school where they can actually get done with UG and med school in 7 years (or choose to go 8 because 7 years is a heavy load). That is nice because you don't have to waste time, effort and MONEY, on the med school application process. DD looked at 2 schools that offer that. They do have to maintain a certain GPA and MCAT score though.

    Also, most of the schools we have looked at want 3 SAT subject tests for homeschooled kids-one in a science, one in math and one in social studies (history or similar). She will want to take that test at the end of the year in which she had that class--so if she is taking chemistry now, get her signed up for the spring SAT II near you. She will need to have those done this year for applications in the fall.

    She obviously needs to take the regular ACT/SAT as well. April is a good time to do that.

    There is a pre-med board here-go to the discussion home page to find it. There is a lot of good information over there.
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  • CreeklandCreekland 6583 replies92 threads Senior Member
    ^^^ My guy did not need any subject tests at all. The only college he might have been interested in that wouldn't budge on their requirement (substituting his cc class As) was Emory. He opted to drop them from his list instead with no regrets.

    Before you sign up for tests (other than the SAT/ACT) check with admissions at the schools you are interested in to see what they want from YOU vs a generic webpage. There's no reason to spend a lot of time and some money doing tests that are not likely to be needed.

    Yes, colleges like to see SAT II tests from homeschoolers, but if you've got other substantiation (which you do), most we've come across do not need them. Some homeschoolers have no other substantiation or maybe just some co-op classes - hence - the general requirements. If she were heading into Engineering, some schools would want to see math scores, but they want them of all students, not just homeschoolers - and that doesn't apply to your situation.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Creekland--most of the "reach" schools require SATII's now for everyone--typically 2 of them, for homeschoolers they often ask for 3.
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  • CreeklandCreekland 6583 replies92 threads Senior Member
    ^^^ My guy is a freshman now having applied last year. We found that most did not require any of him (specifically, him, with what he had on his application). His description is eerily similar to what the OP posted. YMMV

    Also, to the OP, DO NOT select an undergrad based upon 90 - 100% med school acceptance rates! Those rates come about in different ways. Generally, schools limit those they will support to those they know will get in - and if you end up being a borderline candidate, you won't be supported. It's sad, because many borderline candidates DO get in. Here's a site with oodles of tables:


    Look at Table 24. It lists the GPAs and MCAT scores of accepted students. Those with a 3.0 to 3.19 get accepted 20% of the time. That means one out of five will be successful, BUT they won't even get the chance if coming from a school who won't support their application - and schools with super high acceptance rates generally won't. If you're in that category, too bad for you.

    Also, schools with high "rates" often count DO and Caribbean med schools - not quite comparing apples to apples.

    Some "high acceptance" schools are located in states where it's easier to get into med school due to having state schools that are exclusive to their residents. These stats won't apply to you if you're not from that state.

    There are many, many pitfalls to looking at rates...

    Instead, look at schools you're interested in and see where recent grads have gone to med school. Ask for a list of GPA and rates associated with each one. If you like that list, you know it could happen for you as well if YOU put forth the effort and get the grades.

    Do look at the pre-med forum on here. It's a wealth of info.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Creekland--Harvard and Yale only support certain students too. None of the kids at these schools applied to "Caribbean Med Schools" either. Most are at major universities like U of Chicago, John's Hopkins, U of MN, you know, lowly, no name med schools ;). Small schools DO see 100% or close to that number of their students get into medical schools and are very successful IN med school. OP, don't get caught up in the CC game of "rankings".

    The school our DD will attend next year had 15 kids take the MCAT, of those 15 kids, 4 are at U of Chicago, 2 are at Harvard, 2 are at John's Hopkins, 4 are at Iowa, 1 at Wisconsin and 1 is at U of MN and one is at Creighton. None of those are even close to the Caribbean.

    Another school that was high on her list had similar stats but had double the applicants, 31. Many are at the U of MN or Mayo but several are out "east" too.

    Since financial aid is an issue, many of these smaller LAC might be a perfect fit for the OP's DD.

    I'm sure Harvard, etc. made exceptions for your son but not everyone should count on that. No where in your link does it show how many students took the MCAT from those large schools, nor does it show how many were actually accepted.
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  • mathmommathmom 33089 replies160 threads Senior Member
    There's also the question of which schools weeded out half their pre-meds in Organic Chemistry.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    mathmom--that answer would be most of them. Seriously, what is the issue. If a kid can't hack O-Chem or whatever weeder course, going to med school isn't the best idea. Most schools have pretty much the same policy, they won't support students through the process they don't think have a good shot of making. Big deal.
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  • CatriaCatria 11199 replies150 threads Senior Member
    That's a... peculiar situation, to say the least.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19374 replies161 threads Senior Member
    To recap: RocketRider's daughter has perfect grades at community college and glowing recommendations. She has NMSQT-level PSAT scores in Michigan, which translates to 2100+ SAT scores. RocketRider's family is low income.

    In other words, this child is an applicant many many colleges would kill for. RocketRider, the guidance counselor is right. Your daughter should apply to the most selective colleges. She is certainly competitive at any college, and the very top colleges are loaded with money, which they would give to her if she was admitted. At lesser colleges, a lot of her financial aid would be loans, but at the top colleges, her aid would be grants.

    Moreover, it's not unlikely top colleges would pay her way to visit their campuses. RocketRider, you might want to think about a spring trip to visit colleges. And remember, when considering colleges, do not look at the price tag before financial aid. All you need to consider is the price you would pay. The most "expensive" schools might well be the cheapest, for your family.

    Very few colleges require more SAT IIs for homeschoolers than for other students. Pomona and Georgetown are the only ones I can think of. But top colleges often do require two or three SAT IIs for everyone. RocketRider, look into getting a fee waiver for your daughter.
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  • compmomcompmom 11557 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Some top schools are actively seeking applicants like your daughter. Socioeconomic diversity is very important to them at the moment, and they have financial aid to back it up. Students from families under $60k or so go for free, and it's 10% of income after that, up to $180K, for Harvard at least.

    Ivies and some top liberal arts schools may very well be totally free for your family.

    I would think that community college courses would mean AP exams are not needed. SAT II's often are. I would check websites for schools, and if you have questions, call admissions (preferably once the rush is over for this year.)

    Also look into summer programs, internships, that kind of thing, though is your daughter needs to work, colleges understand that too.

    Don't get her hopes up too high but let her know that it is good for financial reasons, to apply to range of schools. She probably has a great shot but noone ever knows.
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