Parents of the HS Class of 2025

Yep. Looking for counselors for s23 as we speak regardless of what he says. Reckless driving ticket. Plus fender bender and another speeding ticket all in a week (one with d25 in the car) added to teacher emailing about odd dismissive and disruptive behavior in class. He has no choice.

Info meeting for a new club my d25 this week and I hope she likes it. Her ECs are a single year round shirt right now so variety could be good.

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This evening there was a “college readiness” webinar for the 9th and 10th graders at the child’s high school. I took detailed notes, pasted in below. All seven of the school district’s guidance counselors for 9th graders at non-specialized high schools here participated (plus the one who works with students in the program my child is in) by answering questions in the chat, but the presenter was an “independent college consultant”. As a result, some things were pretty clearly self-promotional, and mainly for fun I’ve left those in but have highlighted them by turning them red so that you can see how much of it was an unpaid advertisement. (And $695 for 10 hours of consultation, and that’s the heavily discounted price!! I am totally in the wrong career field.) Also, it was IMO mostly good advice, but there were a couple things I found questionable and I’ve highlighted them by striking them through and fading the text.

It was clearly mainly oriented toward kids and their parents who are interested in selective (and therefore OOS) colleges, but there isn’t a strong tradition of targeting hyperselectives here—but we do always get a few of those, and so there was a little bit of content for them. That said, this wasn’t a “How to get into an Ivy” session, and in fact it kind of undermined the idea of making that sort of college your fixed goal, and I appreciated that.

•Starting with answers to questions about covid leading colleges to go test-optional, since there were lots of questions submitted about that
•At selective colleges that have gone test-optional, those submitting scores have been admitted at higher rates (examples: Georgetown—which has now ended test-optional—at 2x the rate, Penn at 1.6x the rate)
•11% increase in total college applications submitted last year, though with <2% increase in applicants
•The most selective colleges saw a 17% increase in applications
•Gap between ED and RD acceptance rates at highly selective colleges widened significantly this past year
•At competitive test-optional colleges this cycle, most students still submitted SAT/ACT scores
•Bottom line: Test-optional is not test-blind, so it’s optimal to send test scores unless they’re below the college’s norms; if you don’t submit test scores, recognize that the rest of your application will be scrutinized more rigorously
•Remember that it’s nearly always easier to improve test scores over time than GPA
•Most important factor in college admissions is GPA in college prep courses, followed by overall GPA, then strength of curriculum, and then test scores (things like essay, counselor recommendation, ECs, and so on factor in, but much less)
•5 foundations of college admissions success: Excel academically, build your application assets, test well, explore early, and apply right
•Be sure to get the best grades you can while taking courses that challenge you
•Establishing a good GPA from the beginning is important: If you have a 3.25 at the end of 9th grade, getting a 3.75 every semester after that gives a 3.58 by the end of junior year; going from a 3.25 end of 10th grade then getting 3.75s gives a 3.42, and in fact getting 4.00s only gives a 3.50
•Make sure to find a planning system that works for you to make sure you stay on top of coursework
•High school is your opportunity to learn time management and prioritization
•Map out your coursework strategically (particularly important in 11th grade); many colleges require that you have taken particular sorts of courses in high school, and those might not be satisfied by just what’s required for graduation (see also, for athletes: NCAA requirements)
•Identifying target colleges early allows you to tailor your high school course choices to make sure you fulfill them (e.g., University of Washington requires two years of world languages and ½ credit of fine/visual/performing arts but Alaska doesn’t require those for graduation, so you would need to plan accordingly)
A student with a 3.8UW taking some AP/IB/honors class will be viewed more favorably than a student with a 4.0UW who’s only taken standard classes
•Alaska Performance Scholarship has reinstituted testing requirements for Co2022 and beyond
•Scholarships at popular OOS colleges (e.g., Colorado, Montana State) have GPA cutoffs, most have test score requirements
•Use your ECs, part-time and summer jobs, job shadowing, volunteering to discover and develop your interests
•It’s never too early to start looking at potential colleges and majors
•ECs: Go for depth over breadth, choose activities that help you (e.g., demonstrating career interests), make sure it’s something you enjoy
•Don’t sign up for everything just to have it on your application
•5 areas colleges look for in ECs: athletics, academics, community service, fine arts, paid work experience (you don’t need all of them, but having variety is good)
•For highly selective colleges, progressively build your EC portfolio starting in 9th and 10th grade
•Earlier in HS use ECs to explore potential major and career interests, later on focus on depth
•With many activities cancelled 2020–21 (and sometimes beyond) due to covid, keep track of cancelled activities where you can describe what you did to be selected, and pursue self-driven projects (e.g., organize and charity drive or fundraiser, self-publish a book, build something like a computer or a car, start a business)
•Self-driven projects are particularly useful if your own health concerns mean you need to isolate from others, since you can develop projects that don’t require in-person interaction
•Remember that it’s the 11th-grade PSAT that actually matters, if you’re allowed to take the PSAT in 10th grade it’s only for practice
•Suggestion: Take a practice SAT summer before junior year, if score is above 1250, sign up for a PSAT prep program
•PSAT score cutoff for NMSF varies year to year and state to state, Alaska has varied but is generally around 1400/1520
•Take practice tests to determine whether to focus on SAT or ACT, then set a target score based on college and scholarship goals
•Timeline: Take practice SAT or ACT between March and August of 10th grade if you’re taking (or have taken) Algebra II, wait til February and May of 11th grade if you haven’t; tutoring company offers free in-person and online practice SAT and ACT tests on various dates scheduled around holidays and weekends
•Researching colleges earlier rather than later allow you to become more competitive by developing your goals and getting a head start on application materials and requirements (including knowing what LoRs you’ll need, any specific requirements like coursework completion, art portfolio, interviews, auditions)
•Common App typically publishes following year’s essay prompts by January, so can start working on essay, consulting with tutoring company spring of 11th grade
•Identifying college lists early allows easier scheduling of college visits
•Good sources for research into colleges include experts (HS guidance counselor, “independent education consultants”), family and friends (often the place students start), internet (often the first place for serious research, but overwhelming without guidance), printed college guides, college fairs, college visits and info sessions, marketing materials
•Anchorage college fair happens each October, was virtual last year and this, hoping to go back to in-person next year
•Alaska has developed the AKCIS system, very useful, designed for those headed from high school to college, apprenticeships, job market; has an excellent college search database
•Make sure list includes a mix of reach, match, and likely colleges based on your GPA, coursework, and test scores compared to the norms for that institution; remember that highly selective colleges (roughly, those admitting <20%) are a reach for everyone, no matter your scores
•9th grade readiness checklist: Are you academically ready? (Invest in your readiness, consider tutoring to solidify skills) Do you have the right coursework? (Talk with your HS counselor) Do you have a plan for ECs? (Use 9th grade to explore your interests)
•10th grade readiness checklist: Are you academically ready? (Fill in gaps, consider tutoring to solidify skills) Do you have the right coursework? (Talk with your HS counselor) Do you have a plan for ECs? (Continue exploring your interests, begin focusing your energies in particular areas) Are you ready for standardized testing and college research? (Explore early, start researching colleges of interest and scholarships you could receive, take a practice SAT and ACT after completing the majority of Algebra II)
Consider academic tutoring, free initial session offered to attendees at webinar, free SAT and ACT practice tests scheduled
10th graders can sign up for “College List Package” with tutoring company to develop list of colleges and scholarships to aim for, includes 10 hours of consulting, costs $695 if signed up for by Friday, otherwise $895
•Q&A session begins!
•Should I take PSAT in 10th grade? No real payoff for taking PSAT in 10th grade, probably better to take practice PSAT closer to 11th grade testing date
•Would colleges rather see AP/IB/honors courses with lower grades or regular classes with higher grades? It’s always better to stretch yourself, strong ECs can help outweigh lack of consistency as long as the grades aren’t consistently low
•What should 9th and 10th graders do to be recruited for college athletics? One of the HS counselors does an athletic recruiting workshop every spring open to all students in the district, overview video is available on counselor’s page; important to do research, be realistic (and consider the advantages of D2 and D3 programs), build relationships with college coaches
•What are the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining college credit during high school? Runs a risk of doing poorly if you don’t make a quick adjustment to the college format (including the higher level of responsibility the student has), would hesitate to recommend it; main advantage is that it awards college credit, but that’s still available via AP/IB testing, so no actual advantage, always better to go with high school-based non-DE options
•Should I do the school district’s 11th/12th-grade job shadowing program? It is valuable, competitive to get into, involves a large time commitment (and is a graded course on your transcript), good for students with solid career plans, helps students learn whether ideas for career are good or not for you
Reminder that tutoring service offers a free introductory session on college planning, geared toward 10th and 11th graders and their families but motivated 9th graders could benefit

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Thanks for that. I appreciate you copying over your notes.

Our school has a meeting, but it is not at all geared to kids who want anything beyond our nearly open admission state colleges and community colleges. So it’s more going over graduation requirements, and admission requirements for the state flagship, which are a bit higher but not at all onerous.

For my oldest, no problem. The next 2 I had to do a lot of the legwork and self education, to the point that if I was in a place that valued it I could probably be a paid consultant myself.

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Super great.

I suspect d25 will end up similar to s23 in that they will hang around a 3.3 to 3.4 GPA. Both are more B students who don’t love studying 24/7 yet aren’t blessed with natural genius.

I’m quite proud of my child right now.

As mentioned upthread, they had some health issues (doing better but not completely resolved) last week resulting in missing several days of school and putting them well behind going into this week, the last week of the quarter—which means that everything was due by today (since quarter-ending Fridays are holidays) for quarter grades. (And the stupid, stupid school district policy is that a student who has an excused absence has one day per absence to make things up—so being out MoWeThFr last week simply meant that they had to finish everything by today, just like they would have anyway).

Which meant there were two weeks’ worth of work to finish this week rather than one week’s worth.

And as you can imagine, they were incredibly stressed all week because Type A personality who can’t imagine letting a teacher down by not doing all the work (no matter how much we’ve tried to instill a willingness to back off if it feels too hard). But unbeknownst to us before yesterday morning, over the weekend they’d independently written up a schedule for work on every outstanding assignment and have stuck to it, with only one assignment remaining to be submitted by its regularly scheduled deadline of 11:59p tonight.

So yay! for discovering that they can plan their way out of a pressure situation. I’d’ve rather learned it without the health issues, but it’s a good thing to see your kid do, and do well.

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@dfbdfb Thank you for starting this thread. Joining for my freshman DC. The details you provided from your session were invaluable and serve as a good checklist going forward.

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Just visiting on this thread, but your message caught my eye, as I remember my own zookeeper phase. I remember trying to talk my parents into a program in Gainesville, Florida, so I checked to see if it still exists and if I could find it. Lo and behold, it’s a University of Florida program that now gets its own page: How to Become a Zookeeper – Biology Like me, she will probably end up doing something completely different, but this is the age to dream . . .

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