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NE Prep School Grade Compression - Depression 2019-2020

2

Replies to: NE Prep School Grade Compression - Depression 2019-2020

  • TemperantiaTemperantia 273 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited October 18
    Most of the 100 or so colleges and universities to which the overwhelming majority of boarding school kids apply will have an AO who is very familiar with the boarding schools in their region (all applications don't get lumped together) and many colleges have an AO who is tasked with reviewing BS applications - it's a separate pool. Those AOs will be familiar with the rigor of the school and how prior admits have performed. In most cases, these colleges have a long history with a particular school to draw upon. If you are talking about a massive State U that falls outside of the usual suspects then it is likely that the AO may have less familiarity but it always surprises me how few students apply to schools beyond the usual suspects.

    edited October 18
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21569 replies226 threads Senior Member
    edited October 18
    During the application process, we visited some colleges that weren't on the list of those colleges that aren't popular among BS students and don't typically see boarding school students apply (not massive state Us though). Let's just say they definitely knew my kids' school and were very happy to see us there and rolled out the red carpet. Among those in the educational world, there is still awareness and cachet if you are going to a top tier school. We found some colleges where the point of contact was the Director of Admissions rather than the geographically assigned adcom contact.
    edited October 18
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5325 replies249 threads Senior Member
    edited October 18
    Mantra: Remember, the purpose of BS is a stellar high school education, not any particular college result, so no need to be concerned about grade deflation. All of our BS kids end up in fine colleges and become well-educated, productive members of society. Really, let the college angst go (says one who prayed her son would not get into either of his first-choice colleges). If preserving an all-A GPA is paramount, BS is probably not the best choice as that is not a likely outcome and misses the point of BS education.

    And @Temperantia is correct: Colleges have designated readers for the BS pools who absolutely know how to evaluate each applicant in the context of their school. Most of the tables at the annual BS on-campus fall college fairs are manned by those readers, at least that was the case at Choate. Students were encouraged to attend the fair and get to know those from the colleges they were interested in. In the case of one school, our son’s CC later told him that the reader needed some communication from him related to his application and he’d better get on that right quick.

    The corollary here is that BS students are competing against others in the BS pools (who are all under the same sort of rigor and grade deflation) not the general applicant population, and @gardenstategal’s point that no college is going to take a large number of students from any one BS can’t be overstated. You also need to understand that there ARE those in the BS pools who DO have those top GPAs regardless of grade deflation and those are the students your student is competing against for some colleges, not the all-A kid from LPS. Part of the CC’s job in helping your student craft a well-targeted list of colleges to apply to is the CC’s understanding of your child’s direct competition for seats at those schools. Our son’s CC was quite upfront about colleges where he did not have a snowball’s chance even if his grades/test scores were competitive due to stronger applications from some of his classmates. (@buuzn03: Here is where the CC will help you save money by not wasting application fees.) For example, he was told not to bother with MIT, but he’d be very attractive to Georgia Tech (where he was admitted early to their honors college with merit).

    Bottom Line: If your child is going to stay to graduate from BS, share your concerns with your school’s CC office and get answers directly from the school. The CC office has no incentive to misinform parents of current students. I found my interaction with our son’s CC to be quite eye-opening, helpful, and refreshingly blunt. They know this business and are happy to educate you on the process.
    edited October 18
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39771 replies7241 threads Super Moderator
    I don't believe all of the AOs reviewing applications are familiar with the boarding schools.
    You should assume that every AO handling the region from HYPMS, the other 5 Ivy League schools, all NESCAC colleges, and similar will be familiar with boarding schools in general, and the ones who have multiple applications annually in specific. The AO from ASU (a very fine school) may be unfamiliar with the standards, but then they also get very few applicants from BSs.
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5325 replies249 threads Senior Member
    edited October 18
    The AO from ASU (a very fine school) may be unfamiliar with the standards, but then they also get very few applicants from BSs.

    Mark Jacobs, dean of ASU’s Barrett Honors college (and who taught at Swarthmore for over two decades), is quite familiar with the NE boarding schools and took particular interest in one application they received in 2014. ;)
    edited October 18
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1533 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I still think the point OP is making is the concern that kids at BS are competing in a pool against many inflated grade pools nationwide. At our local public school, kids go to the best colleges. The school is large, so the top students stand out. Also, they have to teach to the entire range of kids. This makes it easier for top students to stand out. BS kids have already been selected so they are stronger as a pool.

    While it's true that there is a fixation/fascination in society regarding the best colleges. There is also the matter of knowing how the data is assessed. That is what is being addressed.

    I think it's strange also that BS are in such a narrow range. Same at my kids schools. My kid has noted that there are many ways for kids who don't make a top grade to bring it up with extra work etc. Maybe parents of BS kids are more invested ;) in more ways than 1.
    Every time someone brings up college, it doesn't mean that parent/student is going down the HYPS road or bust. I think jumping in with that assessment isn't that valid.

    The college landscape is changing. BS are competing in an infinitely larger pool of candidates for slots at every school. I'd be concerned if my kid was a BS student with a slightly lower GPA and wanted to apply to a UCal school for example.
    As someone noted, many programs look at GPA as the metric. My student applied to a Summer program last year and had to have a 3.75 or better to be considered. So it's out there. BTW, there were only 3 BS kids out of 20 or so others. Another note, the director knew my kids school and asked about several staff members. So,...

    We came to the conclusion before signing the contract, that the kids would have a disadvantage if we sent them to BS when applying to college. But also have a distinct advantage if we sent them in developing their social, intellectual and other skills. We chose BS but knew that it would be a harder (and more expensive!!!) road. I think that's still true from what we have seen. It doesn't faze me but ask me when my kid is a Senior.


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  • doschicosdoschicos 21569 replies226 threads Senior Member
    " BTW, there were only 3 BS kids out of 20 or so others."

    In other words, those boarding school kids were overrepresented vs the overall high school population.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1147 replies20 threads Senior Member
    As a parent of a BS kid who is not aiming for HYPSM, U of Cal system schools, or other schools considered “elite” by some folks, I am interested in why there is such a narrow band of grades - and how typical that is. From what I am hearing, grade compression (thanks to all of you) is pretty typical. Also, concerned about merit aid cut-offs. Any insights into how this may impact Merit aid is helpful and how this balances out even if your kid achieves a high ACT/SAT score.

    Like @Happytimes2001 noted above, we are looking at a couple of summer academic programs (not in NE) that state in application materials hard cut-off. Will let you know what they say @ this if students are one point lower. Maybe, it will be part of the trade-off and life-balance decisions we make. Not expecting any additional viewing or review of application because of our school, either. Hoping that there is a holistic view, even though there is a GPA cut-off. Yes - BS is about so much more than the “race to wherever”.

    FWIW From your caddy....
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 283 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @Golfgr8 Does your kid always do summer programs? I am curious about whether he/she needs a break or is ok doing academics year round. I have read old threads with interest, including mentions of doing summer programs to help athletes be slightly more chill when they have to take days out of school. Is that why your kid does it?
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1147 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Dear @one1ofeach - answer is : No/Not Always ...but will DM you so not to hijack this thread about that subject...However, that is a good subject for people to talk about within its own arena.
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  • GoatMamaGoatMama 1251 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    Here is the GPA distribution for the SPS Form of 2020 from their junior year (converted to a 4-point scale, unweighted):
    >4.0 - 9%
    >3.75-4.0 - 21%
    >3.5-3.75 - 25%
    >3.25-3.5 - 17%
    >3.0-3.25 - 16%
    < 3.0 - 12%

    We don't get this info but the summer prior to senior year, to help with college selection. It's been extremely useful for college apps.

    edited October 27
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  • krballkrball 8 replies3 threads New Member
    This came up at a parent/counselor group talk at my child's Catholic high school and, as expected, the head of the counseling department suggested the colleges well know the rigor of the high school and take it into account. A couple week later, the high school hosted a forum with reps from local colleges. When the question was posed there, the rep from Providence College said that in terms of getting into the school there is not much of an issue but once it comes down to merit money they have more of a simplified look at gpa's and there is no way for them to know, and factor in, rigor of schools into the merit money process.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6327 replies114 threads Senior Member
    I live in a NE town with two prep schools and a really good public high school. All three post their school's grading/academic profile on line and send it to colleges. It's easy to compare them. One of the schools even lists the exactly grade distribution for the class by discipline, e.g., Science A (42), A-(51), B+ (36), B (27) and so on down to F.

    All three list their SAT and AP results, so it's easy to see where the competition for grades may be toughest.

    One of the prep schools has this bolded on their profile:
    Grading standards are unusually high. In the last five years, an average of only 21 students per class held an average of 90 or above. In the Class of 2020, the highest Junior-year average is 96.25.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1147 replies20 threads Senior Member
    @GoatMama - thanks for sharing but does the school give weighted grades or any type of “bump” for Honors or AP courses ?
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1147 replies20 threads Senior Member
    @krball - your story is similar to what we have heard @ merit aid. Also, one AO at a local event told us that they do an initial numbers crunch - but no way of knowing if your kid’s 3.75 GPA is from a school without weighted grades and a rigorous school. You may have an application that is sifted out early because the school has a GPA threshold for Merit.
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  • GoatMamaGoatMama 1251 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited October 27
    Golfgr8 wrote: »
    @GoatMama - thanks for sharing but does the school give weighted grades or any type of “bump” for Honors or AP courses ?

    No weighting or other bumps. All grades in all classes are equal.
    edited October 27
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 283 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Starting to hear stories from senior parents about the grade deflation being a problem.

    1) for colleges not in NE
    2) for honors programs/merit money kids are getting shut out

    Something like only 7 kids got an A. That seems extreme frankly since it’s a bunch of very smart kids.

    Also, hard to see the point of attending a school like this if it hampers your next step. There needs to be a balance between valuing the 4 years of highschool and planning ahead.

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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 283 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Oh and by A I meant over a 90 so really an A- I guess. Which matters if you’re going for a gpa cut off program.
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  • vegas1vegas1 583 replies2 threads Member
    @one1ofeach I’m sure you will hear lots of grumbling from senior parents. The challenge is that very few to no parents are happy with the current college admissions process (at BS or anywhere).

    The reality is that if your kids are aiming to get merit money or auto admission based on gpa- BS will make it complicated. For most of us on the other side of the BS journey, we knew that going in and would do it all over again.
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