Lesser known HS v well known huge HS

<p>Hey CC parents,</p>

<p>I'm posting it in this forum in the hopes of more of a response and also if parents have had any experience like this with their kids.</p>

<p>I'm moving to Canada (not Toronto!) for sophomore through senior year (assuming we don't move again..).</p>

<p>I used to go to a nice suburban public, competitive, sends 20ish kids off to top schools, rest to decent places. </p>

<p>Had around 1100 kids, mostly great teachers, many APs, clubs, etc. </p>

<p>I have the choice between 2 schools if I move:</p>

<p>One is a charter school, 80ish, maybe more kids per grade. Few APs, I've finished the lower level science courses already, would do AP Physics B (while taking physics there) and AP Chem online/local university. Junior, Physics C and Bio. I'd also have to do AP Calc AB/BC (1 semester each) my sophomore year, because I was accelerated 2 years in America, and my Algebra 2/Trig Honors class had done quite a bit of PreCalc. </p>

<p>This school has less clubs- probably can start my own, but smaller class sizes etc. Most of my ECs are probably are going to be science based, so outside of school I think. </p>

<p>Also, they did an IQ test and interview + application for this school and the people seemed very nice and accomodating.</p>

<p>2nd school:</p>

<p>2000ish kids..IB program. Has more ECs, more kids but this probably means less contact with teachers, etc.
It's well known in the city academically, and competes with another HS with an IB program (this I can't go to, since I don't live in that area-it's also 2000 + kids).
I've never gone to a school that big before, so I'm a little apprehensive.</p>

<p>I'd probably run out of courses here, too, but I feel like the 1st school is a bit more flexible (I spoke with the vice principal of the charter school and she seemed like she'd be willing to move things around for me so I can take online classes, etc. )</p>

<p>Any advice/suggtions CC? I'm leaning towards the 1st, but outside input would be very very much appreciated .</p>

<p>I'm really confused because my parents (and I) both want me to go to a good college in the US which would make the well known school a better choice, but I also want smaller class sizes and a more nurturing environment, which the charter school advertises itself as (I think it really exists, too).</p>

<p>Thanks again!</p>

<p>My DD1 graduated from the Mother Of All High Schools (2,000 is large? try well over twice that) but guess what, the offerings made it worthwhile. They have the full complement of AP and IB classes, other college level classes, an amazing art and performing arts department, an equally amazing industrial tech set of classes, and so on. And it's ranked in the top 0.5% or top 1% of all US high schools. Lots of EC's including state and national rankings, the usual clubs, etc. </p>

<p>Having said this, passing period looks like Union Station at rush hour, and graduations take forever since they read all 1100+ names. There is some very serious academic competition (as in, is that your weighted GPA or a typo), great counseling, most of the teachers are very good (we have the occasional psychos too) and so on. The only reason the school is that big in a city of around 100,000 (one campus) is the administration's stupidity in not breaking up the school early. Now it's too late and school bus rides can be long if one lives in the outskirts... Plus there would be riots from angry parents whose kids go to the 'extension school'.... </p>

<p>Contact with teachers is not an issue - most are easily accessible during specially designated 'holes' in kids' schedule (resource time). </p>

<p>Class sizes are not 'small'. The usual 25-35 kids. Nurturing, well... this is not the place for close encounters :-) in fact it's the exact opposite, Academic Darwinism at its best. But in a good way. Discipline is kept reasonably well. </p>

<p>I would not worry too much about school size if I were you. Next thing you know you end up at a 30,000 student Flagship State University (as DD1 did) and have no worries about the school being too large.</p>

<p>I guess there are good things that come of size, though I can't imagine a high school with 4k students!</p>

<p>However, I thought about it for a bit and looked through the sites better and the differences between the schools are:</p>

<p>School 1: Smaller (this can be discounted), less clubs, no IB, some APs, less well known citywise though resources are the same. I'm 2 years accelerated in math/science, so this place would be more accomodating with this-let me take online classes and do Calc AB/BC sophomore year. I could test out of certain classes and things like that. </p>

<p>School 2: Bigger (can be discounted), more clubs, IB program, very well known citywise, have 'luxury facilities' like a dance studio and gym (I'm not interested in dance and I can always get a gym membership!). If I want to do IB here, I would have to retake classes that I've already done to enroll in the program. I'd have to take their Math 10 and Math 20 and finally do Intro to Calc senior year, while at the other school I'd do AP Calc.</p>

<p>Based on this, which would you recommend?</p>

<p>I don't think that you should consider "which school can get me in a better college" when chosing. Chose the school that you think you'd be happier in. Kind of like chosing a college. Admissions is going to weigh your coursework in comparision to what is offerred at the school you attend, not to what other applicants have. They want to see that you took "the most rigorous courses offerred" at your school.</p>

<p>If you have to retake classes you have already taken the big HS is no bargain, tho some colleges in the US may appreciate the IB sequence as well. But, unless you're shooting for a heavy STEM type program with heavy dose of math, I do not think it will be a big deal, and I would be weary of even attempting to take college credit for AP Calc (math is one of these things that unless you're a genius like my DD1's friend who tested into Calc 3 (three) straight out of HS...) </p>

<p>I would do some research to see** how much the IB math sequence counts for college applications versus AP's**. That is really the question here. If you're expecting to transfer credits, as I wrote above, STEM classes are not the type of classes I would try to skip. College calculus is there for a reason :-)</p>

<p>If the 'rigor' factor is the same, and you do not benefit from added features (academic and EC) of the big place, then your answer may be towards the smaller place. Is there a way to go to the big school and do the math AP class online?</p>

<p>csdad has a good point here. The big benefit of a larger school in some cases would be in the additional academics - say you want to become an engineer - our HS has a 3 or 4 course sequence for engineering with design, robotics, 3D CAD, and other courses (some college credit) to show you what is involved. They have one for design / architecture / construction (DD1 did this), more art classes than one could possibly take (IB studio art?) and so on. </p>

<p>If you find the 2000 student school an issue, or there are other quantifiable characteristics (teacher/student ratio, etc) then the smaller school may be an advantage. </p>

<p>If everything else fails, ask to see college placement statistics for the two schools. In our graduating class of 1100 (ouch) there usually is about 2% who is going to the HYPS/Berkeley/Stanford/exclusive type places (the school paper publishes the list annually). Also things like scholarships for the senior class. This should give you an idea whether the bigger school or smaller school does better placing kids. </p>

<p>The smaller school will look better in placement due to sheer numbers (2/3rds of ours went to our two flagships (ouch)) but it's a data point to consider.</p>

<p>"Does better placing kids" implies that the kids from these 2 schools apply at the same rate to elite schools, which may or may not be the case. It's not the right comparison. Culturally or economically, some student bodies may be more inclined to apply certain places than others.</p>

<p>You should also do the research into whether you want the kind of education that the IB diploma provides. I know that writing the Theory of Knowledge paper at the same time you are working on college applications can be pretty stressful. I think it's a great curriculum, but it's not for everyone.</p>

<p>About transferring college credits-I'm currently interested in doing PreMed or a science major with the hopes of grad school ; I'm not too interested in engineering. (This could obviously change, though). PreMed/ Biology or Chemistry don't appear to be that math heavy so I don't much care if credits transfer or not-I just want to really learn the stuff so I'm well prepared for a career/professional school. When I go to college, I can take a placement exam or something to see if I know the material well enough. (My parents would also prefer this-cost is less important than the quality of education).</p>

<p>I could see about taking the AP classes online, but I'm afraid of being socially isolated from my fellow students right off the bat, when I've just moved somewhere. I had a hard time being social when I was younger and just when I'd started building closer relationships, we had to move :/ .</p>

<p>The requirements on the IB school website state that a student "must take Math 10 and Science 10 their first semester of 10th grade". Then the kids are phased into Physics 15 or Bio 15. </p>

<p>I've already done regents chemistry in NY (no honors offered) and biology honors (which means we cover quite a bit of AP content).
I don't want to have to repeat the same classes because I get bored and stop working hard (bad habits, I know...) and this school only offers Chemistry HL, not Physics or Bio, so it's not that in-depth as AP. </p>

<p>If I went to the other school, I could take their physics course and take the physics B exam and do AP chem at a local university/online and the coming year take AP Physics C online and AP Bio at the school.
This seems like a better option for me.</p>

<p>Also, if I finish Calc BC sophomore year, I'll probably have to take Multi variable and probably linear algebra online so I have 4 years of math. Although I don't <em>love</em>love* math-my old school had kids accelerated 1 year in math starting 4th grade! O_O They then had certain 1 year accelerated 5th graders recommended by their teachers take another test and invited those who did well to enroll in double accelerated math.</p>

<p>Anyways, at my old school, I would've done: Algebra 2/ Trig Honors (which means we do quite a chunk of PreCalc), PreCalc honors (we also cover calculus A), Calc BC, and Calc 3 senior year. </p>

<p>All in all, it seems like school 1 would fit me better, although school 2 offers more clubs but they're the generic type: Biology Club, MUN, debate, science fair and probably not too meaningful. </p>

<p>Most of the clubs are there at school 1 and I always have the ability to start a club if needed, right? </p>

<p>My only question then (sorry if it's a dumb one): will college think less of me if I choose school 1 over school 2 seeing that #2 is better known and I had equal access to both schools?</p>

<p>I know that it's important to go to the place that best suits you, but I really want to go a good school in the US (this is a mutual desire between me and my parents) which is why I'm being a bit neurotic about this decision..)</p>

<p>Sorry for the long post and thanks for all of this great input! :)</p>

<p>
[quote]
My only question then (sorry if it's a dumb one): will college think less of me if I choose school 1 over school 2 seeing that #2 is better known and I had equal access to both schools?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>You're reading way too much into this. They won't even know what options you had. They know that for the vast, vast majority of high school students, their choice simply reflects where their parents live and / or told them to go. They aren't going to play around with a "well, she lived here, so she could have gone here, but she chose to go there instead." </p>

<p>Anyway, schools aren't interested in "punishing" kids who go to "lesser known" schools. How well a high school is known is a factor that is completely out of your control, so they aren't going to upgrade you if your school is well known nor are they going to downgrade you if it's not.</p>

<p>Don't worry about the size of 2000 kids. Do not worry about the clubs available- you join them because you want to do the activities, not because they will look good on an application. Your intended major in college has no bearing on your college admission, don't try to game the system with your HS courses in this. Take the courses youfeel will be best for your education.</p>

<p>Colleges won't know- or care- that you had choices. They will look at whether or not you took advantage of the most rigorous curriculum available to you at your HS. This means students whose HS does not offer as much are not penalized in favor of those whose HS offers many AP et al options. Will you gain more by needing to repeat material to be in an IB program compared to being able to take other courses? Most students will not have the option to be in an IB program and will be well prepared for any college without it.</p>

<p>Forget about the college admissions game. Which HS appeals most to you? You will do your best where you most want to be. It could be easier to show off your best self when you need to take the initiative to take courses and occupy your free time. Would you rather be in an environment where everything is laid out or one where you choose to go outside the box more? </p>

<p>Even though you want the sciences as your career and college major do look at other areas to become active in. Music and sports will help you stay fit and be more well rounded. Consider trying activites you won't do in college. Scientists and physicians are multifaceted people. No need to show an interest in biology with club membership in HS.</p>

<p>Last- location. How much time will you spend going to and from your HS? </p>

<p>Don't forget that you can take AP exams without taking the AP course. Self study works and a high score on an AP exam can get you ahead in specific college credits at many schools. You can get to know your teachers just as well at either school- being large doesn't mean the teachers will care less about their students.</p>

<p>If I were in your position, I would go to school 1.</p>

<p>My school is similar to school 2 here: 2000ish students, highly well-known and competitive, lots of generic clubs, sends 30ish schools to schools better than Berkeley per year. (We're in CA.) Even though we're supposedly one of the top 100 schools in the nation, I personally think that the teachers and flexibility here are mediocre. The students here range from the average to the exceptional (partially due to parental pressure), which is probably the only reason we have high test scores. I would take the opportunity to take online or college classes instead of regular school classes any day (we do have multivariable calculus starting this year, but I worry that it'll be taught like a high school class).</p>

<p>Plus, you say school 1 is a better fit for you and you would be able to skip math classes. (I wish I had the opportunity to take calculus sophomore year...)</p>

<p>Thanks to all of you!</p>

<p>@ Wis75,
When you put it that way, there doesn't really seem like there's much of an advantage to school 2, I suppose besides the 'well known-ness' and couple of extra clubs here there, which really don't matter too much. I will definitely have to push myself more and I think this sort of freedom could help me grow more and be a more proactive student. I felt like my old school had the route laid out, which was good in some ways, bad in others. </p>

<p>Both schools are a few KM from my house (close to the University so it's a 'good area'-many people move there so kids can go to school numero 2). I quit music in 9th grade (extremely mediocre) and I absolutely adore tennis, so I'm keeping up with that. </p>

<p>I think I will definitely try to explore more and try to become more well rounded as a person, not for college apps.</p>

<p>I've only visited the 1st school, and talked to the administration (Vice Principals) and it seems like a really welcoming type of community-I'm still really nervous though, haha. I'm afraid of cliques and the whole high school awkwardness thing. </p>

<p>School 2 might be better because there are more kids, but then again, I suppose it's easier to fall through the cracks.
Energize- I'm really grateful that the administration is supportive of online learning (S-1) because it allows me to explore and learn more. I'm just sort of afraid (probably because I'm moving so far away) that if I take so many classes online that I'll become socially isolated and not be able to make friends.. :P </p>

<p>Thanks again guys!
I think I'll be going to school 1 next year! :)</p>

<p>The big school will also have its social structure with cliques et al. The charter school will have students who made an effort to be there and so will you- something in common with everyone.</p>

<p>Good luck. You can always go to the big school if this one doesn't work out well enough for you. Have no regrets and only look forward.</p>

<p>LAC vs. state university thread in disguise.</p>

<p>No, but really, which one do you WANT to attend? If you're not used to a school that size, maybe it's just better to keep yourself in an environment where you know you'll succeed.</p>