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Question on "second tier" schools


Replies to: Question on "second tier" schools

  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Registered User Posts: 2,261 Senior Member
    Benley: Interesting and good point--my husband calls this the "crabs in a bucket syndrome," and the tendency of mediocre students to pull down the potential achievers is the main reason we started looking a boarding school--the handful of potential achievers were not enough to overcome the inertia of the mediocre students. I suspect there are some students who get this benefit when they are admitted to the "overachiever" prep schools.

    I think Twinsmama's son would do well in either environment, provided that the school in question offers enough AP equivalent classes (our local school offered none). The rigor of those high school classes, in most cases, is enough to challenge those kids who sat back and got easy A's in junior high. If we had had a local choice with good rigorous classes, we probably would have been happy to have our kid stay put. As a side note, I wouldn't put most college classes taught in the high school on that level.
  • freshlookfreshlook Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    My niece graduated from Loomis and is in her second year at an Ivy League school. She has said from the very beginning that Loomis was way more challenging than college. Interesting that Loomis is considered second tier. As our daughter/family contemplates which school she will attend next year, the last criteria we would use is which ones are thought of as 2nd tier, and which ones, 1st tier.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,245 Senior Member
    @freshlook: But how could she get into an Ivy...she only went to a "second tier" school.

    I am one of the anti-tier advocates here, perhaps to a fault. But I see a whole lot of prospectives for whom that (and the related mirage of "prestige") is indeed an important factor. Not just in selecting a school to attend — but also what schools to apply to.
  • NYCMomof3NYCMomof3 Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    @SevenDad I'm with you. I've known a handful of ppl who were so concerned about tiers and never gave fit a thought. One family had their child accepted into Trinity (NYC) and after three yrs (at the end of 2nd grade) they ended up pulling their child out. The fit was wrong and their child was miserable. Happy to say, they are very happy many years later at the "lower tiered" school.
  • DaykidmomDaykidmom Registered User Posts: 560 Member
    While I totally agree picking by prestige is silly ( and a bad fit will not make for a successful high school career-- or, therefore, lead to a great college outcome), there are schools that are more academic than others, and that is one measure to think about when considering fit. For example, the school I referred to above (with the 2 sisters) has about a 35-40% admission rate and 60-61 percentile avg SSATs. That's going to lead to a bigger range of kids, in terms of academic interest and achievement, than some of the most academic and selective schools. It doesn't mean there aren't super smart kids there, or that some don't go to great colleges, or that the school doesn't have great teachers -- it just means there is a bigger range. Some kids like the range, some kids want a place where most of the kids are very serious about academics. The word "tier," I suppose, is too vague-- as we know, some people think anything other than Andover or Exeter is "second tier." But there has to be some way to talk about schools that are very academically focused and selective, and those that are not-- again, NOT to say everyone should be applying only to the Andovers of this world, but to say that's ONE criterion to consider--positively or negatively.
  • twinsmamatwinsmama Registered User Posts: 1,507 Senior Member
    @Daykidmom, that's really what I meant with regard to "tiers"; thanks for putting it better than I did.
  • AlbionAlbion Registered User Posts: 272 Junior Member
    Excellent point, Daykidmom, and one that needs to be examined carefully by each family.

    When I started teaching, a colleague of mine used to refer to ours as a 4th tier school. At the risk of this being picked up by a 13 year-old and quoted as gospel, his tiers fell thusly: 1st tier 85%-99% SSAT average. 2nd tier: 73%-84% SSAT average. 3rd Tier: 61%-72% SSAT. Fourth Tier: 50%-60% SSAT. He was a math teacher, hence the specificity of stats, which I hope I'm quoting correctly. I honestly cannot tell you why he drew the lines--probably to punish or reward certain schools he had attitudes about. Take it with a whole block of salt, but it roughly corresponds to where I'd draw the lines now that I'm familiar with more schools.

    The real trick is to figure out what the academic culture is like at each school, and what percentage of like-minded kids need to be at a school for your kid to soar. Some academic achievers thrive even when only 20% of the student body is like-mindedly serious and driven, and for some, anything less than 70% is disappointing and not the right environment. Each kid and each family is going to have an individual response.

  • mrnephewmrnephew Registered User Posts: 4,021 Senior Member
    I really don't think Loomis is second tier. That's a derogatory term for one of the best schools in the nation.

    The flaw with the 'tiers' is that no one can really tell you what that term is qualified by. Is it Ivy League admits? School atmosphere? Athletics? Sure, a relatively unknown private school in, say, Vermont is not going to be looked upon as to be at the same 'level' as Exeter or Andover, but honestly, it's a blurred line where that's concerned.
  • MadagascarMomMadagascarMom Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    This is a great thread, and I heartily thank the original poster. My family has been trying to size up my son's chances at different schools, and we have largely based our informal ranking system on average SSAT scores and acceptance rates. After that, we are looking at the curricula in the areas of specific interest to our son. After that we are looking at the percentage of boarders, diversity of extra curricular options, and location. Because we live outside the country, we have only one week (maybe 10 days) to visit as many schools as we reasonably can this December. And we will not have an opportunity to do revisits. I ask myself, how are we going to get enough of a feel for each school in that short amount of time to know which is the best fit? In addition, we have to cast our net fairly wide as well, as admittance is a necessity, not a luxury. As such, we will surely be applying to schools we will not have a chance to visit, so I am doing my damnedest to learn everything I can about each of the schools on our list. I value this forum immensely, as it has allowed me to hear varying points of view, and contact individuals with specific questions about different schools. It's also helped me not to feel as isolated as I did when I started this journey in January.
  • neatoburritoneatoburrito Registered User Posts: 3,449 Senior Member
    @MadagascarMom, your plan sounds good. The only thing i would suggest is that if DC has SSAT scores above 85, dont put so much weight on them. In other words, the only time i would recommend looking closely at a school's average SSAT is when your score might be on the low end. You just want to make sure you arent sabataging chances by applying to a school with too low a score.
  • Momof7thgraderMomof7thgrader Registered User Posts: 317 Member
    @MadagascarMom - You might be well served by a good boarding school consultant.
  • tomtomclubtomtomclub Registered User Posts: 23 New Member
    @MadagascarMom - December can be tough to schedule for visits and in person interviews. Don't mean to alarm you, but you might want to start calling schools to find out when they open their scheduling.
  • cameo43cameo43 Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    This is true -- December visit dates are limited because of the holiday break...
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,245 Senior Member
    FYI, when I called Lawrenceville in mid Nov, thinking I could get an appointment in early Jan. I was wrong. My daughter interviewed AFTER the app deadline. I would start requesting your slots in Sept.
This discussion has been closed.