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Advantages to attending super-difficult high school?

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Replies to: Advantages to attending super-difficult high school?

  • kmcmom13kmcmom13 Registered User Posts: 3,915 Senior Member
    I'd be careful about making these types of assumptions. While most top universities may only look at the top ten percent of the class seriously, they certainly seem to take "more" from the magnet programs I know. But attempting to manipulate admission odds via school rigor can be dicey at best, because you've got to consider peer factor and engagement. Where will they love to learn and not be bored outta their skulls? It's more important than we think when we're talking about gifted kids.

    I've seen what can happen to really bright kids who leave magnet schools and attend an under-performing school, and if its a mismatch, just because they're capable of getting a straight 4.0 doesn't mean they will.

    I listened to a young man - a lifelong friend of my son's -- just this weekend describe how leaving one such school was terrible for him, how the public underperforming school was such a joke curricularly he barely bothered to turn up, etc., and how now when all his other friends were graduating college, he wished he'd never "screwed himself" in this way and is trying to figure out how to belatedly get his butt to college and do something with his skills/passion instead of working retail.

    The other two friends sitting at the table with us had gone to Northwestern (but dropped out to work) and University of Michigan (graduated, but in music technology, which will make employment an adventure -- and of course, that one's mine :). The Northwestern dropout makes decent money now (but hates his job) and the other is newly searching (but loves his field).

    What was interesting to me was that the conversation wasn't just about getting jobs, but rather the life of the mind and delving into things you love, feeling stimulated by new ideas. And they talked openly about how torturous it could be in the education system to plod through material slowly when each is the type to prefer total immersion toward mastery.

    All three are bright guys and may just end up doing equally well or differently than one might guess based on their varying degrees of post-secondary education. Life is full of viscisitudes. So the pedigree itself might be overrated, but I think the culture isn't.

    Then others will go their own way. My son has another friend who dropped out of the magnet school, then after a single term, dropped out of the underperforming public, which he described as ridiculous, and decided instead to self-educate (completely independent of parental input.) He went to community college and aced it, transferred to UMich, and graduated with my son (and with considerably less debt.) Now he's going to grad school.

    So, every kid has their path :)
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    you've got to consider peer factor and engagement

    Absolutely. I made some financial sacrifices to keep my kids in a school district, public, with very high housing costs. It's COOL to be smart here. Kids are proud of good grades. We have 2 good LACs and 2 state unis nearby and our district has arrangements with them all for classes taught both in our HS and on their campuses - free or very cheap. Almost everyone goes to college, it is the expectation.

    I don't think in a less academic environment they'd do as well. Would they be ranked higher? Maybe, but I'm not sure they'd work as hard.

    A high tide lifts all boats, right?
  • IsurusIsurus Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    Coming from a weak high school, if I ever have kids, I would most definitely send them to a more competitive high school.

    The rigor that some of my friends have is worth it, even if it is at the cost of an Ivy due to competitiveness. By going to a weaker high school, you are sacrificing your high school formative years for a better college - but you don't even know what college or high school might entail! Perhaps you'll discover something about yourself that you might not have at a worse school due to a lack of resources.

    One's cohort really defines them. A better school will most likely have better students. The surroundings you encounter at a better school will influence you through college. The skills you learn through a harsher environment will pay off in the long run - more than simply getting into a good college. If you can't do well at a top university, then what was the point of wasting four years of high school?

    In the end though, high school really doesn't matter. It's about what you do with the hand you're dealt. Do your best, and talent will rise to the top. You'll do fine in life.
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