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Grandparent assisting low SES, high stats grandson

maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
edited September 22 in Parents Forum
I am a grandparent, standing in for my daughter who cannot devote the time to help her son through the college application process. My grandson is a high achieving low income student, 4.32GPA, 5s on the two AP classes he took and is now a high school senior. He will take his first (and only) SAT this Wednesday (others cancelled because of covid). He is an out of the box student who likes to challenge the status quo with sardonic( and very funny) sense of humor. He will have taken all the AP classes available to him at his school and will have done 6 classes dual credit - all with A's. Not many traditional extras curriculars He has had a difficult home situation with a father on disability with PTSD. He comes from a family who did a 'back to the land' thing in the 60's and has largely grown up on that piece of land. He is concerned about climate change and wants to learn hands on ways to mitigate the terrible fire danger we, in California, live with. He is also passionate about Chemistry.
Generally, I just need support in my role. And maybe some guidance. It kind of scares me to be in this role. I have seen this kid's extraordinary intellect since he was knee high. Any support and suggestions would be appreciated.
edited September 22
57 replies
Post edited by Lindagaf on
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Replies to: Grandparent assisting low SES, high stats grandson

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85049 replies758 threads Senior Member
    A student with high GPA in hard courses should have many options in the California public universities (UCs and CSUs).

    They use a recalculation as described at https://rogerhub.com/gpa-calculator-uc/ (most HS GPA stats for UCs and CSUs will be based on the weighted-capped version). High school calculated GPAs may use different weighting systems, so the resulting GPAs may not be directly comparable.

    Due to COVID-19 issues, CSUs will be SAT/ACT-blind for this year's admissions cycle. UC intended for the campuses to choose between SAT/ACT-optional and SAT/ACT-blind (6 chose optional, 3 chose blind), but a court decision forced them to be all SAT/ACT-blind (unless the court decision is reversed).

    He should be sure to use the net price calculator on the web site of each college under consideration to get a financial aid estimate.

    Perhaps encourage him to make his own account on these forums to ask questions.
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  • boudersbouders 2799 replies195 threads Senior Member
    Welcome. You have come to the right place. There's lots of helpful, knowledgeable, supportive people in this forum.

    Check to see if your grandson qualifies for QuestBridge. Typically, the qualifications are an income under $65K and minimal assets. The deadline is September 29. https://www.questbridge.org/high-school-students/national-college-match/who-should-apply

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  • chmcnmchmcnm 924 replies9 threads Member
    California is part of the Western exchange which offers tuition discounts at schools that participate for various majors.


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  • 3SailAway3SailAway 798 replies8 threads Member
    Your grandson sounds like a terrific kid, and I’m sure you’ll do a great job supporting him through this process. It is commendable that he has achieved at such a high level despite serious issues with his dad.

    Since he is a senior, I’m thinking that he has a list of colleges he would like to apply to, has asked his teachers for letters of recommendation, and is filling out the Common App online? My daughter is a senior, and I have found College Confidential, especially the Parents Forum, so helpful with the many questions that come up. Feel free to ask questions!
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 924 replies9 threads Member
    If you have any questions about a school or the application process please reach out to each schools admissions office. They're there to help you. Ask lots of questions. If by-chance they aren't helpful then maybe that's a sign to look at another school.

    It's tough this year with Covid. Most visits and tours are canceled. We went though the process with S20 last year. We've visited a lot of schools the past few years. I feel bad for my S21. He tagged along for some of the visits but hasn't got to see a few that he's interested in attending. At least do the virtual tours. FYI...my S20 ended-up at a school that we did not tour. We've visited the area before but he was never on-campus before move-in day.

    Questbridge sounds like a great idea if he qualifies but it's very competitive from what I've seen on CC.

    Good luck
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43428 replies473 threads Senior Member
    I would recommend he look into Questbridge very quickly: it's a true full ride (tuition, room, board, books, and transportation expenses to the college and back home for holidays) for very high-achieving, low income students.
    The deadline is near so hopefully he's got his CommonApp nearly ready - the Questbridge App is more elaborate but similar to CommonApp.

    Based on what you said of him, look with him at these Questbridge partners: CalTech, Carleton, Colby, Grinnell,Macalester, MIT, Pomona, Rice, Stanford, Tufts, Vassar, Wesleyan, Yale.
    Of these, the best "fits" (based on your limited description) would likely be Carleton, Grinnell, Macalester, Rice, Vassar, Yale.

    What's his mother's EFC?
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  • powercropperpowercropper 1822 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Is your grandson getting any help from his guidance counselor? Some schools do better than others in advising and supporting their students.

    For some schools, the number of students per guidance counselor prevents a close relationship with each student. Broad, generic advice is broadcast as a “one size fits all students” information.

    Other schools may be in a pattern of sending 95% of their students to community colleges for two years, then on to their instate public college.

    If your grandson is a stand out student in a school filled with average students with no ambition, his school may not have guidance counselors with motivation and knowledge base to point him to the colleges best suited for him.

    All this to say, do not take their advice as the gospel truth, or at least ask deeper questions and verify from other sources .

    They can help you understand which colleges. previous graduates have been accepted to. That is helpful info to know.

    Also, the guidance counselor should be writing a letter (or uploading a letter to his Common Application online) describing his courses and checking a box that says he took the most rigorous courses available to him.

    Having the counselor include his family situation in this report will give colleges a better understanding of how accomplished your grandson is under a difficult family situation. It can also help explain a lack of sports or other extracurricular activities. It is always better to have the counselor tell the situation rather than the student. It states facts, rather than coming from the student where it can turn emotional or seem to be an excuse.

    Your grandson should be developing a list of safety, match and reach schools to apply to. Safety choices are most important. Keep reading here on CC to learn more about how to determine which category a school fits into for your grandson.

    Keep reading and keep asking questions.
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  • powercropperpowercropper 1822 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Want to add that California colleges work in their own unique way, and so you want to search for California specific info here on CC.

    And California has better quality 2 year schools (can not recall if they call them community colleges or junior colleges or something else?).

    So this is one state where it would be okay to go to the 2 year school and transfer out for the last 2 years. Normally, in other states, and in all private colleges, a student gets their best merit aid as an incoming freshman. Transfer students do not get large scholarships.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1808 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Agree on Questbridge. This may give him a great opportunity to get away from a bad home situation and allow him to select a college based entirely on fit with no economic constraints. A part that you may need to intervene with his parents is getting the information to fill out the financial sections. Remember most colleges are test optional this year so see how your grandson scores before submitting the score. If he is above the median score of students who had matriculated in the past, he should submit the score. Given his background, if he is close to the median he should also submit, especially if he is black, Latino, or Native American.

    Definitely come back to this group with questions on process, how to fill in the Common App or UC application, or questions on specific schools.
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 31194 replies503 threads Forum Champion
    Since he is a California resident, FA can cover all or most of his college expenses at a UC or Cal state depending upon his Mom’s income.

    I would run the Net Price calculator for a couple of the UC’s and Cal states. If he is within commuting distance to his local Cal state, between Cal grant aid and Federal aid (FASFA), he could have his tution covered along with some other expenses.

    A CC to UC or CSU transfer is a great option. The California community colleges have articulation agreements with the UC’s and Cal states making the first 2 years at the CC affordable.

    Cal Grant info: https://www.csac.ca.gov/

    FASFA: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa/

    First thing you and he should determine is the FASFA EFC and then run the NPC’s.
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3893 replies26 threads Senior Member
    edited September 22
    @maritam Aside from the excellent suggestions above regarding Questbridge and CA in-state options, when I read your description, I thought of Deep Springs. It's an unconventional choice and highly competitive but it's free if you get in and with his background he'd probably do fine on a working ranch (although he may want something completely different!) It's a two-year program with an excellent track record of transfer placement to T-20 schools for junior-senior year.


    Also a possibility for a smart, low-income kid, Berea College which is free below a certain income threshold and has a learning/labor model. It is church-affiliated but not in a heavy-handed way.

    edited September 22
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thanks. I have heard about the tuition reduction program you gave me a link to. Glad to have that
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    His mother's income is below $25,000 per year so EFC would be zero I think. I have a bit of money saved up for him.
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Questbridge would be a good idea except for the fact that he is determined to take a gap year. I think Questbridge applicants must start in the fall of year they graduate.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6100 replies97 threads Senior Member
    maritam wrote: »
    Questbridge would be a good idea except for the fact that he is determined to take a gap year. I think Questbridge applicants must start in the fall of year they graduate.

    If he does gap, he can apply to QB next cycle.
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    He is planning on applying to many UCs and, I think, Cal Poly. He's also going to shoot for the moon and apply to Stanford. We are talking about Reed as A is such a quirky kind of guy. Good fit, I am thinking. He has not really dug into college application yet as he devotes himself to school (3AP classes this year and dual credit at the local community college) and I thought it most important that he spend any excess time studying for the SAT.
    I have heard a lot about having a 'story' for top level schools. What would that be for him? What is he willing to put out there? He is, fortunately, an excellent writer.
    He has a teacher and the school counselor in mind for recommendation letters. They both know him very well and, I expect will write him very good letters. He has not directly asked them yet. I am suggesting he ask one of his community college teachers to also write him a letter. This teacher loved his final paper (in which he talks about his dad and the effects of the PTDS) so much so that he asked A if he could use the paper in future as an example of how to write a term paper. This teacher is also a therapist and knows of the family situation. Well, enough for me for now. btw, I am also a Cal alumnus.
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much for your kind reply.
    A goes to a very small high school but with a good number of excellent students. His high school class numbers 24. The school was rated pretty highly by US News.
    I have noted that his high school counselor gears a number of comments to students that do not have A's aspirations. But she can also talk one on one with A. She noted to me that Reed might be a good option for him as he is an 'out of the box' kind of student. I have exchanged emails with her.
    She knows (because I told her) about A's father's PTSD. I agree with you that it would be best for a teacher/counselor to write about the home difficulties. A had a psychology teacher at the college who has worked with the family as a therapist. I have asked A about requesting a rec letter from him.
    A and I have talked about reach, match and safety schools. Why are safety schools most important? We are, together, doing a spread sheet on schools he is interested in. Up until now, I have been the one doing most of the research. I have the time and am interested. He has been full on with school, D&D and the family.
    This summer he spent everyday, all day, helping his family move back and prepare the house at the family's rural property. This included laying new laminate flooring, preparing the garden, taking down, cleaning and putting back up the yurt.
    Now with the SAT soon out of the way, I expect we will go into the college application process more robustly.
    We have made an agreement that I will spend specific time with him on college apps. He seems to be pleased about this.
    I am concerned about the 'spike' factor for the more competitive schools like UCB, UCLA, Stanford and Reed. What would work? What 'story' is there? Then, of course, it is A who will write his applications and I do not know how he will present himself. I can suggest and encourage. That is it. He is quite independent minded.
    Thank you again.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 924 replies9 threads Member
    If he does take a gap year be careful about taking any college classes during the gap. He might not be considered a freshman the following year and disqualified from scholarships.

    He also needs to figure out some schools to apply to fairly quickly. Scholarship money dries-up fast. For some schools its first-come, first-serve. Some schools have Early Admission deadlines on or around November 1st.

    As for the "story" aspect there are some excellent resources here that can offer advice. I think some people will critique essays if you ask nicely.
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  • maritammaritam 17 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thanks. We know about not taking college classes during the gap.
    I am and have been concerned that we are late with the process. This summer everything was taken up with A helping his family. From what I've seen, the best financial help come directly as institutional grants. What other FA should he be going for?FAFSA etc. is not due until March 2.
    First up will be apps to UCs CSUs and possible REA at Stanford. Due Nov 30 an Nov 15 respectively. This will be enough of a push. I'd like A to start his essays as soon as the SAT is done (tomorrow). And to ask for recommendation letters. What else needs to be first up?
    Who are the people that help figure out 'story' aspect?
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