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How to decide: Prestige vs. Fit

marenmaren Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
edited November 2007 in Parents Forum
Long time lurker, need some help for son:

Oh, boy - my son loves every school he has seen, but he has two that are his favorites. His first choice was a very prestigious school, somewhat sterile when we visited, lots of fin aid $$, the sport's coach never responded to his email last spring or a final one now. So no sports if he got in, which I am NOT counting on, and he would have to really work to keep up, as he is very social, and has been in a high school that offers fewer APs, accelerated classes, etc.

Second school - excellent, but one step down. He would do very well there and I don't think he would have to kill himself, the way he would with the more prestigious school. He would still have to work, don't get me wrong, it is an excellent school, but not one of those grind schools.

He says he likes the harder one, and I think it is because of the prestige/pride getting in. I don't think he fits as well as the other one. So how do you help them decide? What if their chances are much better getting in using ED, but then they decide they want to go to the other school and play sports??

Post edited by maren on

Replies to: How to decide: Prestige vs. Fit

  • dbwesdbwes Registered User Posts: 1,660 Senior Member
    Maren -- Explain to him very carefully that ED will limit his choices. If he gets in, period, done. Lots changes between now and May.
    Explain to him that he won't be happy at a school, no matter how presitigious, if he is not successful. Where does he think he, personally, will be most successful? It may very well be at the school where he doesn't have to struggle and where he will enjoy playing his sport.
    Let him apply to both (NOT ED). If he gets into both, that's a nice problem to have! Then it will be up to him (barring financial considerations.) Encourage him at that point to do overnights and anything else that will give him a clearer picture of life at both schools.
  • worknprogressworknprogress Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    Agree with dbwes! Also reassure him that the ED admission rates are a little deceptive. Most recruited athletes are in that pool of admits as well as some other desired students. If you were to remove those students from the stats, the difference between ED and RD would not be as dramatic. I know I am in the minority here, but I don't think ED helps as much as it appears.

    One thing to keep in mind is that your son may think that he will perform better at the more difficult school. Sometimes kids are happy with a certain level of success and it doesn't matter whether they are in an AP class or an Honors class or a regular college prep class, they will have the same grade. If he doesn't think he will continue to play in a varsity sport, he may think having classes that are a little tougher will force him to buckle down. As a former social butterfly myself (those days are so long gone) I would perform better in situations where I was challenged by the work and by my peers. Your son may be afraid in the school that is one step down, it may be harder to discipline himself.

    Just a thought!
  • marenmaren Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    What if coaches from the less prestigious schools are pushing for ED? How does that factor into to making a team if he goes RD?
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,314 Senior Member
    Some kids like cream rise to the top. Your son may do just fine at the more prestigious school. I'd apply regular decision to both schools and then do more homework. Can you find kids with similar educational backgrounds at prestige school? Are there club level sports where he could still have fun? Can he spend some time and see if it is really more sterile or not? I don't think you should ever apply ED unless you are positive that's the best school for you.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Registered User Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    The coach is the only one who really knows how many of his recruits are really going to send their ED apps in. And some are probably like you, with their finger hovering over the SEND key for the next 24 hours! Can you call him today and see what his numbers are? He may not be completely forthcoming, since he'd probably like to get your S to commit, but if he says, "I'll still have a spot for him in the RD round" you're golden. PS: Be very careful of coaches who push too hard in the ED round. Of course they want to fill the roster, but this kind of pressure might not be in the best interest of the kids, and be only self-serving.
  • corrangedcorranged Registered User Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    He says he likes the harder one, and I think it is because of the prestige/pride getting in. I don't think he fits as well as the other one. So how do you help them decide?
    It sounds like he has his opinions pretty well-formed. I'd advise him about the potential dangers of ED, which you should do no matter which school he wanted to apply ED to, but let him make his own choice. You two may not agree on the best college for him, but in the end he's the one who will be spending 4 years there.
  • marenmaren Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    I know - that is why I have to let him make the decision, of course, but I think he is being blinded by the accolades he will receive from everyone (teachers, etc.) if he gets in the harder one.

    You are right though, about him being the one spending 4 years there, so I appreciate the reminder.
  • marenmaren Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Good idea about calling the coach - I will see if my son would like to make that call. Thanks!
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 37,074 Senior Member
    My advice tends to be wrong in most cases :) but I will throw in my $0.02. If your son has any doubt about ED - do not let him press that button. If it is you who is still unsure, but your kid has already picked the school of his dreams, and you are willing to pay whatever your share of tuition might be, let him make his choice. I'm not particularly fond of some of my D's choices, but she was absolutely, 100%, no, make it 200% sure when she pressed that key.
  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom - Posts: 13,158 Senior Member
    I can't even comment, the word "prestige" just raise flags for me...after that, eh, seems when that is brought up, often as the OP says kids are blinded by that word and what is supposed to mean

    my focus would be on dispelling this image that the name should be the most important factor
  • bethievtbethievt Registered User Posts: 6,759 Senior Member
    Another caution about ED--If he sets his heart on that one school and is REJECTED ED, he could find himself in a very disheartened mood at the time when he needs to get excited about some other schools and write new applications. Also possibly right before mid-term exams. This happened to a friend of my son. He was devastated. ED works well for some kids. My son didn't pick a favorite until he knew where he was accepted. That worked well for him.
  • B05T0NB05T0N - Posts: 945 Member
    I went with the most prestigious school (I also ED'd there) because it seemed like the best choice and it was the best school I had a shot at. Big mistake to say the least.
  • andrewtdxandrewtdx Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    Go with the fit. For the love of GOD, go with the fit. I'm with B05T0N on this. I went to the best school I got into (combo of making myself look good and pressure from outside sources) and I was actively miserable for my first year and a half, before I finally found a way to make it work. But I can not say I was ever very happy or ecstatic about going to my school. In fact, I vascilated between passively miserable and coldly tolerant for most of my career. I actually liked my study-abroad school more than my home school. My advice, always go with the fit and if you feel any second guessing after you send in your Statement of Intent to any uiniversity/college, do not hestitate to retract it and see if another university will take you or take a gap year and travel or work.
  • DevilsruleDevilsrule Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    Definitely go with the fit. Prestige means nothing once your done with school. It isn't worth it to kill yourself working at a school that is harder than necessary. From the way you make it sound, the fit school is quite a good school as well. So I would certainly say go to the best fit. Good grades from any school can secure admissions into top grad schools and get you great jobs.
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    A few more thoughts on fit: It matters much more at a small school than a large one. In a big school, you will always find a group that 'fits' even if its not the dominent culture. In a small school, you may have fewer options and no place to hide.

    Also, the prestige of an undergraduate institution matters a lot less than the prestige of a graduate school. A great experience at a less well known place will probably serve him better (and be more fun) than an okay experience at a prestige school. (And yes, like several others on this thread, I made the wrong choice for prestige, long ago.)

    Finally, even if your son goes with prestige instead of fit, it probably will be okay: The best advise I got from an admissions officer is that its the kid, not the school, that determines whether the college experience is a success. Most well-adjusted, open-minded and hard-working kids will make a success of their college experience where ever they end up.
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