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It's okay to be average, right?

vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
There are so many kids on this board with amazing accomplishments and SSAT score.

My kid is average. Average ability, average ECs, good at a certain sport that isn't really valued by schools, the typical kid who has a few interests, but I don't know if they'd be passions. I'm pretty sure his SSAT scores will stink (and not the "I got below a 90" kind of stink that we hear about on CC). And all of that's okay. But is it okay for boarding school AOs?

We are applying to schools that aren't usually mentioned much here. They are smaller. I know they are not considered competitive but we like what they have to offer in terms of academics, ECs, relationships, etc. Our purpose is not what college he will get into but giving him the opportunity to figure out who he is, try new things and learn from mistakes over the next 4 years.

If I had to describe DS, I'd say curious, kind, eager to try new things and an asset to the community. He's not the kid that's always the leader, but he'll be the kid that makes sure things get done even if he's the one cleaning up the gym after an activity. If interviews go well, they will see this in him. If not, he's going to definitely look like nothing special.

So, my question is, does "average" cut it for the lesser known schools?
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Replies to: It's okay to be average, right?

  • CenterCenter 2204 replies66 threads Senior Member
    @vwlizard I wish I could hug you right now. I got a little sad and teary reading your post. There is no real yes or no answer because there are many average or typical kids at the top schools and many exceptional kids at other schools. So yes average cuts it for 99% of the schools. I assure you! My kid is pretty much average and I do believe that the outcomes of applications can hinge on nuances specific to the applicant in that year based on very very specific needs of the school and almost nothing to do with deficits of applicants. Feel free to pm me with any questions about the process.
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  • GoatMamaGoatMama 1267 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    @Center beat me to it. Many if not most kids, even in top schools, are average. Mine certainly are, and that's ok. A person is much more than a sum of test scores and ECs. In the words of an AO at one such top school, "Sometimes it's hard to explain why we admit some kids. They are just likeable!"

    Adding my hugs to those of Center's! >:D<
    edited November 2017
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  • SculptorDadSculptorDad 2266 replies66 threads Senior Member
    @vwlizard My d is atypical, which doesn't mean better. She has many aspects that other parents would envy. But than she has many aspects that makes it difficult to be happy. Today I had a long conversation with her, and realized the deep extent of another such struggle which makes me pretty sad.

    Being average can be a bless.

    My d is at one of those small average boarding school. Good thing about average boarding schools is that, thanks to the abundant resource they have, they still offer the same quality academic teaching, ECs, relationships, etc. And with parents with such healthy expectations, I am sure your s will get exactly what you want him to get.

    Your s sounds lovely and I envy the character you described. And the answer is a definite yes.

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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1846 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Any school that doesn't view each child/student as something special isn't worth considering. This goes for private or public.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5983 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Nobody is just average. The horrible part of the admissions process is that it makes you start comparing yourself or your kid to everyond rlse, and someone else always seems better in every respect. @vwlizard , your kid sounds terrific. Don't let him feel less.

    Especially at BS, everyone has a purpose in the community. He seems like he has the right disposition to find his and be valued for it. Help him pick a place that embraces this kind of philosophy.
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  • GnarWhailGnarWhail 298 replies17 threads Member
    Do you need FA? Every school, large and small, famous and not, is chock full of average full-pay kids. If you need financial aid, well, that's a different story.
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  • SculptorDadSculptorDad 2266 replies66 threads Senior Member
    I second @PhotographerMom on JBS.
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1587 replies15 threads Senior Member
    I don't think any kid who is wanting and willing to go through this process for boarding school is average by any stretch of the imagination. The best part of the admissions process is that there is more looked at than just numbers and statistics...which, although stressed a lot on this forum, is not THE thing that gets kids admitted. Do not forget the intangibles....those special quirks that make the AOs remember a kid over another. If you can do anything during this chaotic, self doubting time, remind yourself and your child they are more than a stat, a hook or a number. And any school would be fortunate to have them!
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  • potterpointspotterpoints 33 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Being "average" has brought a lot of anxiety for me since it's continuously stressed that you must be special and unique for your application to be considered seriously. Sometimes I have to remind myself that almost everyone else is thirteen and don't have all their passions and life figured out. I like to think AOs understand that we are still kids and look more for the person and character that the application embodies rather than statistics on a piece of paper.
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  • RuralAmericaRuralAmerica 212 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I agree with many of the points above. Schools aren’t just looking for high test scores and top tier athletes. Every school we interviewed with looks for individuals, whether they be “average” or above. They’re looking for the right “fit” and that isn’t dependent on test scores. I dare say my student is “average” among many of the items you listed, yet she is exceptional in so many ways, as I’m sure your son is as well, and the interview she had with the admissions officer she had, something just clicked. She attends a smaller, not much spoken about school, and that admissions officer fought for her, FA and all, and even though she had one interview over Skype with her, she was first to meet us at the door on move in day with a hug and knew us by face when we walked in. She left the school later that year for a new opportunity, but I still keep in touch with her and she still visits my daughter’s school during special events and seeks out a hug from my daughter. When people say “love the school that loves you” they’re correct and hopefully you’ll find a school that sees your son for more than just test scores! Like you, we were looking for a school with a better educational opportunity, one where she could grow and be challenged and try new things. My daughter isn’t in a “top tier” school as recognized by this site or any lists put out, but it is absolutely top tier in our eyes. It’s the fit that truly counts!
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1150 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Dear @vwlizard — maybe “average” can also mean something really positive. I think most AO’s are looking for kids with the right fit, rather than miniature adults. Most kids applying to 9th grade BS are about 14 years old (some 13)...they are kids, right? As other parents have posted before, I want to also share with you that the biggest impression on my kid has been if the students on campus seem happy. Yep - HAPPY. Guess what? The AO’s also take note of the applicant who seems happy. Take a look around at the schools. There may be some schools that are looking for “the numbers”, but I think most schools want kids who will have a successful journey as well rounded students on their campus. We had a tour at a school early in this process (last year) at one of the historic (Alphabet) schools (lock-jaw helps to pronounce it). As our small group approached the stairs in the academic building, students didn’t move from their perch to let us pass - they sat there on the steps in arrogance while adults and prospective students had to walk around them or wait. Approaching the chapel, some students snickered at our group (“suckers” muttered one student under his cloak while his classmates laughed). My kid didn’t even want to waste time with the interview - observing how very unhappy the students seemed on this campus. By contrast, we visited other schools this year where the young men & women opened doors for us visitors, greeted visitors with a spirted “hello”, accompanied lost parents to the admissions building, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome on their campus. The boarding school you choose will ultimately be your child’s home for the next few and very important years. Hopefully, you will find the schools that your DS or DD will feel at home, thrive, gain confidence and love the learning at.
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1587 replies15 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I think it is kind of ironic that the "average is ok" spurs referrals to the hidden gems, Insinuating they are the fit for "average" yet they are referred to as gems! This begs the question...what is average, really? :))
    In any regard, I second @SevenDad and @vwlizard in a HURRAH FOR HIDDEN GEMS!!! And as for @Golfgr8, DS school rose to the top of his list for that very same environment. The best part is...those kids are still holding doors open, helping lost parents, finding the students belonging to wandering parents, saying hello to just about everyone they pass in the hall, etc on a daily basis and not just "for show" for prospective students. Those same kids' parents have reached out to some of us long distance parents and driven kids to off-campus games, stores, etc (even when their own kid did not play the sport, mind you) to help us out when we not only didn't know DK needed help with such items, but had no idea how to arrange for it.

    I also wonder, though, if the schools more often discussed on CC are done so more than the rest because these schools are much bigger, thus more alum, more active students and of course, more parents which = more cheerleaders. They aren't necessarily like Texas, where bigger is better ;) (of course I had to throw that in, y'all)... they are just simply bigger...and as such, they are perceived as better. Just my humble opinion, of course.

    Rah, rah, hidden gems!
    edited November 2017
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 479 replies2 threads Member
    I think it's all about being honest with yourself and really examining who your kid is and where he will be happy and comfortable. You seem to have a good handle on those things. My son is most decidedly average on paper -- solid B+/A- student, so-so SSAT scores, good musician and athlete, but by no means a prodigy. He has his limitations academically, but he's made the most of what he's got, and he's a delightful, empathetic and funny kid. We heard that AOs loved him. Having found the right school, he is thriving. He was doubtful that he would ever again have teachers he liked as much as his middle school teachers, but he does, and right off the bat his teachers and coaches seem to have a real sense of who he is and what he is capable of, and where he can be pushed. With teachers and coaches who really seem to "get" who he is, he has exceeded our hopes and expectations this first term, both in academics and sports, which tells us that BS was the right decision even for an "average" student. Even if by some magic he could have gotten into a bigger, more prestigious, more competitive school, that's not where he belongs. He didn't apply to any "reach" schools. Nor do I think our LPS or local parochial school was right for him, even if plenty challenging academically. You sound like you are absolutely on the right track -- good luck to you and your son!
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  • hannuhyluhannuhylu 323 replies2 threads Member
    I love the should I retake I only got a "35 ACT, 1560 SAT, Subject scores are only 780s, gpa is low 3.92UW"

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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1840 replies34 threads Senior Member
    @Golfgr8 : Might you be willing to PM me the name of lockjaw alphabet school? In exchange, I'll share the name of the school where our otherwise lovely tour guides did not acknowledge, greet, or make eye contact with the custodial staff that had just mopped the lobby floor when we walked in with our muddy boots. (The staff stepped aside and lowered their gaze, attempting to make themselves invisible.)
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  • RuralAmericaRuralAmerica 212 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I don’t for one moment think that “average is ok” equates to “hidden gems”! My DD had very average test scores and is very average in the sports she plays, but she is exceptional in many ways! Our hidden gem was just able to see her unique and exceptional qualities and snatch her up! Our hidden gem is steeped in history, it’s been open since 1772! Her school allows her to shine in her own way while also allowing her an amazing education!

    Rah rah to the hidden gems!
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