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How much of a factor is the quality of the high school?


Replies to: How much of a factor is the quality of the high school?

  • millie210millie210 524 replies24 threads Member
    >>Yes, the pattern is she thinks homework is boring and doesn't love to do it, and can usually get A's on tests and get really bad grades on her homework and any other busywork-we've been tearing our hair out over it for years, but it's who she is. We do see that as she gets older she is realizing she can't skate anymore, but it's kind of a big hole she put herself in.

    I have a friend whose son fit this description. Very bright, excellent standardized test scores, basically couldn't be bothered with school work and pretty much phoned it in through his high school years at a highly rated public high school.

    He is now a happy and thriving freshman at Evergreen State in Washington. I have no idea if that school is the right personality/fit for daughter, the right fit for your bank account or how you feel about the location, but please know that there are schools for kids like your daughter.

    Not that it would do her any harm to learn to suck it up and do the homework, even if it's boring. Do you like everything you have to do at work? (Of course, I'm sure you've pointed that out to her many times. No doubt she'll be very impressed to know that a stranger on the internet agrees with you.)
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 threads Senior Member
    We had the same homework issue with my daughter in 9th grade. Some switch went on and she started doing homework in 10th grade and consistently handing in homework on time in 11th grade (apparently for D this was a two-step process). Just getting homework done and in brought Cs up to Bs and sometimes even As. D had probably 3.1 unweighted and 3.7-ish weighted taking AP and honors courses by the time she was applying to colleges . A decent test score made up for the grades. I agree that with holistic admissions, there are other ways an applicant can shine. The essay turned out to be key as well as D's mix of activities. In other words, there's still hope!

    You obviously have a very bright child. The question is what is the best learning style for her, not how does she get As. She is probably capable of getting As even at the honors-level but ratcheting down is a good idea. TBH, we focused on an upward trend than specific grades. So if we saw D's grade in AP World go from 78 to 82, we celebrated. If the next quarter it moved to 87, we also celebrated even though it was still a B.

    As for colleges, we looked at Colleges That Changed Lives and other schools known for accepting the B/B+ student. At this level, I'm not sure class rank is a big factor. D never knew her class rank. Often, D's test score would place her at the 75th percentile or higher but her GPA, even weighted, was around the median or below. It made us (okay, me) very nervous because I couldn't figure out if she was aiming too high or too low. In the end, she got accepted everywhere and with merit (so money-wise, the aim was just right).

    D's college, Cornell College, is a bit unconventional. It suits her style of learning very well. We've come to the conclusion that not everyone needs to get As to prove they are learning. FWIW, I really wanted D to go to New College of Florida because they do written narratives/evaluations instead of grades. I believe Evergreen State may do something similar.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34149 replies4931 threads Super Moderator
    Reed is another school where grades are not as important as other things like the story and essays.
    Yes, the pattern is she thinks homework is boring and doesn't love to do it, and can usually get A's on tests and get really bad grades on her homework and any other busywork
    You might want to let her know she is working herself out of any chance of going to OOS schools this way.
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  • SouthFloridaMom9SouthFloridaMom9 3416 replies30 threads Senior Member
    It's frustrating that GPA is so important because high schools can vary widely in their quality and depth of instruction. The better colleges/universities understand that. For instance I heard that it is harder to get in to UF from a small Christian school that is not well known, just like it's harder for homeschoolers. UF looks at course rigor.

    Nevertheless you still get the feeling that the universities are looking to check a box with GPA and standardized test scores, to a certain extent anyway.

    I agree with you about her not necessarily starting at community college. Our son has had a good experience with dual enrollment at CC, but he is in high school and homeschooled. There are certain courses that were just better for him to do at CC, or FAU (as opposed to at home or in a coop). But since your daughter has been at a very competitive high school, she will probably be ready for a step above CC. There is a great deal of skill level variation at community college, and quite a bit of remediation. Of course people can still make the most of it.
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  • SeekingPamSeekingPam 769 replies21 threads Member
    I would be flexible with her early next year. You may find she is bored with all regular classes.

    K2 was struggling with AP Euro early in the year but REFUSED to go into regular Euro since K2 claimed the kids in there had no idea what the Soviet Union was?! K2 is still not doing amazing but has stuck it out and wants to do APUSH next year (ugh!)
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  • mountaingoatsmountaingoats 121 replies13 threads Junior Member
    @Katycollege16 As someone who has had the same experience, I fully agree.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24983 replies20 threads Senior Member
    If your daughter has a school or type of school in mind, take her there and let them tell her what she'll need to be admitted. My friend had a very bright boy in the IB program, but he didn't pay attention to details like getting his homework done or turning it in. He was quite convinced Colo school of Mines would let him in because he was so smart. His mother took him over and the AO said "You're not getting in with these grades." He did a 180 and became a model high school student. No need to take the bother and sister to Mines to hear the same tale, they saw their brother have to work like crazy those last two years of high school to bring his grades up. They all went to Mines and all graduated with jobs waiting for them.

    So take her on a little trip to a school she'd be interested in. I think with decent scores and a 3.0+ she'd get into many of the smaller Florida state schools (North, West, Gulf Coast, FIU) but FSU and UF would be out, and UCF would be iffy. I don't know how much money she'd get if she was an OOS student, but I'm guessing a lot less than a student with a 3.8 from a lower ranked HS. I don't think the rank of the high school is going to matter. Much state school funding is stats driven, and the colleges don't care if the 2.5 is from the Harvard of high schools or Small Town High, a 3.0 is a 3.0.
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    One statement here stand out for me.
    As a mother of a student who never in her life had a single B and who managed to surround herself with top caliber students as friends, I can tell that ANYBODY and everybody including those who graduated at the top of their top notch private HSs, will have to step up in academic efforts at college, ANY college, the lowest of the lowest ranked. So, I completely agree with "Any study habit improvements will help her tremendously in college too". I heard it over and over again from every college freshman who used to be at the top of her respective HS class. My D. repeated it multiple times, as I mentioned she graduated #1 from private HS that happens to be #2 among privates in our state. More so, she mentioned that HS valedictorians who did not recognize the need to step up at college, were easily derailed from their original college track. My D. and those around her did not attend any Elite colleges, they attended in-state publics as nobody around us was after Ivy /Elite but rather after getting Merit awards.
    That is where the focus should be and more so when the student is not exactly the 4.0 type. The earlier the improvement is made, the better. Basically, one needs to develop good habits, it does not require genius to be a straight A student in HS or even at college. Yes, "getting his homework done and turning it in" on time is basically ALL that takes to be a 4.0 student. Keep in mind, there are the Merit scholarships for Returning students at college. They are based on their college GPA and my D. took advantage of them and received some substantial additional money after freshman year.
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  • STEM2017STEM2017 4117 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Agree with @Katycollege16 . We live in NYC and so many parents want their kids in the "specialized" high schools. While they are great schools and typically ranked among the top in the nation, the college admission competition is fierce. Many of the kids apply to the same set of schools. A friend's daughter dreamed of U Chicago her entire HS life. She did everything she thought they would want. She applied from a her specialized high school ALONG WITH 52 OTHERS in her class. She's a superstar, extremely well qualified. She was rejected. However, 14 from her class were accepted. Fortunately, she applied to several school outside the "norm" and ended up with a great acceptance elsewhere.
    edited April 2016
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  • mom2andmom2and 3068 replies21 threads Senior Member
    For a kid that doesn't like homework and is already Acing the tests, moving to a less competitive HS will not help. The grades may be even more dependent on homework. If she can keep her grades above a 3.0 with such good SATs she will be competitive, regardless of class rank. Our HS is similar and I know kids with GPAs at or even below a 3.0 that got into affordable, decent schools.

    I also know kids with straight As and decent (but not tip top) SATs that did not get into schools that kids with similar credentials from our HS got acceptances. I have to think the As at those HSs were not as well regarded as As from a HS regarded as more difficult or with a better reputation. However, that is a data point of a few, so YMMV.

    It sounds like she is a very smart kid with mild to moderate executive function issues or perhaps ADD inattentive. Since she is so smart, she has been able to get by and the HS would not really offer much in the way of help. Medication for ADD is much less effective for kids with the inattentive form. College is different in that there may be less homework that is collected and graded, but there is also much more self-directed work. She may have some challenges keeping up. It is incredibly frustrating to deal with a kid that appears to be self-sabotaging by not doing or not turning in homework. You can offer help - further testing, a coach, something - but if she is not willing or able to accept that she had to change, you can't really make her.

    I agree that community college is not a good fit in many places (in our area it really is more like grad 13 than college). I really believe she will find her place.
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  • zoosermomzoosermom 25663 replies594 threads Senior Member
    What kind of college are you considering for your daughter?

    My son sounds very much like your daughter. No learning disability, just didn't like homework and busywork. It drives me insane when people imply that average kids are learning disabled. Sometimes they are bored, sometimes they are lazy, sometimes they are immature, and sometimes they are just average. Not every child is or should be expected to be a superstar with the assumption that something is wrong with them if they are not.

    My kid goes to an elite prep school that doesn't rank, but I'd put him somewhere in the middle. His test scores are respectable and if his GPA had matched, he would have been a candidate for much "better" schools, but his GPA is totally, solidly average. He has top of the class scores in things that interest him, but was an absolute disaster w/r/t foreign language and I remain on pins and needles even in this last week of high school about missing homework. He chose a college without a foreign language requirement because he knows it's a problem. I think that was very wise.

    I have noticed with all of my kids (one was a solid achiever, top 10% of the class, the second was a superstar by any measure, and the last is average) that when they reached the point where they have earned the right to take classes that are of particular interest to them, they absolutely excel. This year, average kid was able to take high-level electives of interest to him and there hasn't been a single problem in those classes. It's a shame that there isn't more of that.

    I think that if your daughter takes test prep seriously, puts together a resume and essay that tell a cohesive story, and continues to plug along, she will do great. You can be assured that coming from a good school she will be prepared for college. I live in NYC and I have noticed that among the general public schools, even the kids who rank highly outside of the specialized programs, are not particularly well prepared for college despite the rankings, and I am convinced that colleges know this.
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  • zoosermomzoosermom 25663 replies594 threads Senior Member
    No, it's not you. I agree.

    My D was from time to time homework challenged, but her IB program really didn't put much grading emphasis on homework, so it never caused her problems. That school used homework to supplement material, rather than as busy work, and if you didn't need the supplement in certain areas and didn't do the work, there wasn't any real consequence in your grade if you did well on assessments. Same in reverse. If you chose not to do it and hadn't mastered the material, then it was your problem.
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3782 replies25 threads Senior Member
    I second the suggestion to check out the Colleges that Change Lives, if you haven't already done so. The schools described in Loren Pope's book are geared towards mentoring and engaging solid B/B+ students who are bright and interested in learning. They thrive and often surpass their expectations. And merit money is available for those students. The "where did your 3.0 to 3.3 child get in?" thread also shows that there are many really good options for students who perform at that level.


    School choice is a very personal and difficult decision. I would venture that if your child is happy in her current school and is learning the subject matter that is presented to her, that it might be better to stay the course. A transfer might suggest an attempt to game the system. Also there is no guarantee that if she moved to a less challenging school that she'd develop better habits with respect to busy work. She might simply coast and get better grades and that would not prepare her for college-level work expectations.

    Good luck and I am sure she will have many options that fit her well when the time comes.
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4213 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Picking up on what the OP said about her daughter not bothering to turn in busy work -- my sons were never big on doing the high school busy work, and 9th and 10th grade classes were full of it. For them, 11th grade was a big step up in terms of demands, and they appreciated the challenge (not necessarily right away . . . . _).

    For a student who already sounds a bit bored by the ordinary stuff of school, moving to regular classes might not bump up the gpa because the work could be even more trite and mind numbing. If the OP's guidance office has some wriggle room for which teachers kids are assigned to, the OP might try talking with other parents in order to get a sense for which are the teachers who appreciate kids who are not "gunners" in class but still have a lot to contribute. When one of kids mine had a teacher who understood he was very intelligent, even though he stared out the window a lot, he really blossomed. So, if there is a way to structure next year's classes to get the OP's daughter into some classes where teachers will "get" her, that could help with the lack of motivation.

    And schools like Earlham in the midwest, perhaps Centre in KY, Hendrix etc., are great environments for intelligent kids who don't look on paper like superstars. Hang in there!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83881 replies744 threads Senior Member
    Higher grades will be better at helping you get into college.

    Better high school instruction will be better at preparing you for college work.
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    'I am not impressed with a HS ranked #2 in the state where all that's required to maintain a 4.0 GPA is to turn homework in on time. Maybe it's me. "
    - As far as I am aware, it is just you. Nobody who knows D's HS where some kids travel from other state on the daily basis, nobody has any doubts about it. However, generally speaking, no school can go outside of the curriculum too much as they will not get certification and unfortunately, again, generally speaking, the k -12 has been brought down so much that the only thing that is required to be a success at ANY of the HS in the USA is to turn in your homework on time. These includes the best of the best schools, specifically I am familiar with the test-ins in the NYC where there are 30 applicants to one spot. Both of my grandkids at 2 of these extremely hard to get in HSs accomplishing their 90+ %'s by doing just that - doing homework and doing it well and turning it on time, at least that is what my grandS said when I complimented him: " just doing my homework!" Well, maybe in some future when the quality of k - 12 is actually brought to much higher level to level it off with other schools in the world, then maybe the genius would require to get 4.0, but the current low academic level does not need it.
    With all that said above, my D. was actually the only one in her class who had 4.0, nobody else did. I guess, others did not have a habit of turning in their homework on time...
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