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Getting in to a good college isn't as hard as it seems


Replies to: Getting in to a good college isn't as hard as it seems

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,430 Senior Member
    No, fire, I have a little experience with this. Not enough to pretend I have all the answers. But enough to know most people are more certain than they should be.
  • mcat2mcat2 Registered User Posts: 5,986 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    In the year after DS's year, many students and their parents believed what classes a kid had taken by the end of middle school would have a very strong influence on his/her rank at the high school graduation.

    An issue is that the GPAs for the classes like AP and honor were weighted much heavier than other classes and there are some required classes that are needed to be taken before these two types of classes can be taken. But there are some loopholes: if the students can take these required but lower weighted classes BEFORE high school, their GPAs will not be factored into their high school graduation rank. So for those who know this trick, there is a mad race about completing all the high school classes which are neither AP nor honor (even with a B grade) by the end of middle school. Some even temporarily attend a private middle school which could enable them to do so - this is especially true in the area of foreign language classes. They essentially try to finish a huge chunk of high school classes before high school. Another catch here is that the students shall never take any real college classes at any local college (granted, it is much easier to get an A grade as those students at local colleges are generally not competitive as compared to these top ranked high school students who could get into some elite colleges if they also know "how to do ECs right".) because the dual enrolled college-level GPAs will not be favorably factored in their class rank GPA calculation. That is, AP classes are in, and the real college classes are out.

    There was a student who had played the game perfectly. She had completed (or tested out) all the non-AP and non-honor classes required for high school graduation in the middle school. Almost all students believed nobody could have a chance to beat her in the class rank game, even though there were a few other students might be even better than (or comparable to) her in academics.

    The academic environment in a competitive public high school could be unhealthy.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,668 Senior Member
    @fire123: only if you consider HYPSM to be the only good schools around.

    @Hunt: the only situation where applying to only HYP & a state school is rational is if their financial situation is such that only HYP (with their most generous fin aid) or publics are affordable.

    Otherwise, please name those opportunities that are available at HYP but not anywhere else. I can't think of any.

    BTW, if we're going to get really nitpicky about tiers, it's really

    H(maybe S)
    (S)YPM(maybe WAS; and heck, throw Wharton in here as well)
    Other Ivies/Ivy-equivalents
    Other good publics and privates
    Average state flagships and equivalents
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,918 Senior Member
    @Hunt: the only situation where applying to only HYP & a state school is rational is if their financial situation is such that only HYP (with their most generous fin aid) or publics are affordable.
    Interestingly, decades ago I applied only to HYP and U.Va.--but I didn't know any better, and back then U.Va. could still be a safe school for some instate applicants. I agree that this idea is kind of silly, but I think some families feel that the honors college at a good flagship is a really good value (especially if it's free), and that it would only be worth passing up for something really amazingly better. I don't think it's ever the case that HYP are the only schools that are amazingly better--but they may not be amazingly better either, necessarily.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,668 Senior Member
    @Hunt: I do think that honors college at a near-Ivy public for free is quite a different deal from an average public at in-state tuition.

    In the first case, I can see circumstances where virtually no other school is justifiable (for instance, if you are full-pay where being full-pay would be a sacrifice) except maybe the WAS LACs for those kids who are allergic to large research U's.
  • VanGlennVanGlenn Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
    I don't know anyone targeting a top 10 school who fell below say Northwestern or Cornell. I don't know anyone targeting Northwestern or Cornell who fell below Cal, U-M or NYU. I do think the hysteria is quite overblown. Nobody that puts Ivy-level effort into secondary school is going to strike out of the top 20 or so colleges. Therefore, the real issue is a child's effort not aligning with their parents' dreams.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,668 Senior Member
    @VanGlenn: Yep, I agree if we're talking about kids who's financial circumstances allow them to attend anywhere.

    The "Ivy/equivalent or bust" scenario (for kids where Ivy/equivalent is a realistic target) really only applies to kids who require the generous fin aid of the top schools (so Cal/UMich/NYU can't be safeties for them).

    And every year, there are kids who engage in delusional strategies (1450 M+CR SAT, 3.5 GPA with ordinary ECs and blah essays applying to a bunch of Ivy/equivalents and only one school in the tier below, thinking that UMich/Georgetown/UVa can serve as their safety because their SAT score is above the median at those places).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,699 Senior Member
    Re: #66

    Here is well known (around here) story of a shutout for a student who had no safeties in his application list.
  • VanGlennVanGlenn Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
    #68 One unverified outlier is not data. Further, since the parent posted that thread, I'd be willing to gamble the parent was more passionate and consumed with certain schools than the student.

    Edit: "Not much effort was put into the Wash U app." This child wasn't interested in attending the places the parent wanted them to go.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,668 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    Also, that kid didn't apply to a plethora of schools below HYPSM (and may not have been as special as his mom thinks he is; being the brightest kid his 2nd grade teacher has ever seen or among the 100 top pianists or 1000 top kids in math his year doesn't impress HYPSM). So I wouldn't even call him an outlier.

    A lackadasical app to WashU and another to Oberlin when his piano and math skills likely don't place him among the tops at the schools he wants as his only safeties counts as delusional in my book.
  • IgloooIglooo Registered User Posts: 8,182 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    The Forbes ranking puts Harvey Mudd at 52nd! It should serve as an example not to take rankings seriously.

  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,668 Senior Member
    @mcat2: Colleges tend to look at unweighted GPA more than weighted GPA.

    And while being valedictorian may garner some scholarships at schools that aren't in the top-tier, it doesn't mean terribly much otherwise.
This discussion has been closed.