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    #162229 - 07/15/13 02:21 PM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Quote:
    Another resource that may be helpful is your school counseling staff.


    We have a pretty good counselor at my kids' school, and a good ratio (she is helping about 60 kids in grade, and has some additional staff helping her). She was an admissions counselor at a top 20 LAC, so knows the ropes. That said, my D had the best results of the senior class last year, and we mostly "did it ourselves" (with a lot of CC help). My D got into U of Chicago, Swarthmore, Carleton, Harvey Mudd, Kenyon, Mt. Holyoke, Lawrence, and Macaleter -- every place she applied, no wait lists. Only one of those schools that offered merit aid did not give her any, too. Your school GC will be helpful, but they are not all you need. One area in particular where I think they are not usually strong is the finances side, which is a huge issue in the college search process today. I also think the GCs start kind of late. They don't really spend a lot of time with the junior class until very late in junior year because they are worried about getting the seniors into college -- a lot of your work should be done by that time as a parent/student duo.

    Quote:
    We also know another bright, but not spectacular, somewhat nontraditional (older-- mid-20's) student who recently received a complete full-ride at Reed College


    Reed does not offer any merit aid. If this student has a "full ride", it is either need based aid (certainly with some loans involved) or from an outside source that is not the college. No merit aid is one of the reasons my D did not apply there (not the only reason, but it was a factor).

    One thing to note from HowlerMonkey's posts is to think about test scheduling. Most kids will want to take the SAT twice to try to get their best score. My D also took the ACT -- she actualy did very well with no prep other than one practice test the weekend before -- but her superscored SATs were slightly higher, so she used those. And if your kid is applying to top schools then most of those schools want at least two SAT Subject tests as well. And... my D was not happy with her first Math II subject test (required for Harvey Mudd), so she took that one twice. It adds up to a LOT of Saturdays for testing, and can get complicated with extra curricular activities -- my D said up front she did not want to miss Quiz Bowl state tournament or nationals for testing. It is also a really good idea to have almost all testing done by end of junior year. All my D had left to do fall of senior year was the repeat of the subject test. All of her visiting except two colleges was done by then, too. That meant she could focus in fall of senior year on her applications -- she knew where she was applying and what her odds of admission were because she knew her scores. A lot of kids are still visiting and testing in the fall -- try to avoid most of that by doing it early.

    My D said to me recently that she is the only one of her friends who never cried over the college application and admissions process. smile Because we started early, had an organized search, and used a lot of outside resources to understand the landscape, she had the best results AND the least stressful search of all of her friends. It was long (kind of like a long presidential campaign!), but she says it was worth it to do it that way.


    Edited by intparent (07/15/13 02:24 PM)

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    #162231 - 07/15/13 03:16 PM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Quote:

    I also think the GCs start kind of late.


    I agree, and this has been our experience, too. I wanted DD to take her school's "test prep/college orientation" class much earlier than spring of her junior year, but that is when the school offers it to students. Which is dumb, at least for the top 2% of them, who NEED to be looking further ahead.

    Because of DD's skip, we're operating about 6-8 months behind schedule. There was just no way for her to do everything else (including a spring break international trip) this year and get caught up.

    Pay close attention to what your child's target colleges require-- and what they prefer-- as far as academics and testing go. Some want multiple SAT subject tests, which means many test dates. Some prefer the ACT. If you are 2e, quite honestly, my advice is to really think hard about those schools, because if you have to test with accommodations, getting it all in is going to be seriously challenging no matter how early you start. If you have out-of-the-box accommodations you may have to really work hard to be seated for ANY exam you take. This has been our experience thus far-- DD has taken two of those suckers, and I just don't see it being POSSIBLE for her to do subject tests given the barriers that exist.

    Waiting UNTIL your child's junior year is no longer a good idea. At all.

    We didn't have a lot of choice, because DD's third grade skip was 9th-to-11th and we didn't have a ton of lead time to plan the outward ripples from it well. To my credit, I at least realized that it meant scrambling to get College Board approval for testing accommodations for the PSAT/NMSQT, but it was a near thing even so. Literally just days to spare.

    Ideally, this is a smooth process that runs from freshman course selections and four-year-planning through fall semester of the senior year, as intparent indicates above. You don't need to have a college list by the end of your sophomore year, but you SHOULD have an idea what you'd like a college experience to have to offer... and be narrowing your wish list. That College Board college search engine is VERY powerful, I might add-- you can tweak it about 35 different ways to emphasize what is most important to you/your child. It may surprise some to know that the most selective colleges aren't all Ivies, strictly speaking.

    As an aside, I have no idea what the nature of the aid was at Reed, other than to note that it was not loan-based, and may have been specifically awarded as a result of some diversity/returning student initiative with a college partner or benefactor. But it is a four year, full-meal-deal. I asked specifically because it shocked ME, too. I know Reed well, and I was very surprised.

    That points out something else, too, though-- you don't really know unless you are a college insider at an institution-- or until you apply-- what is possible aid-wise. Many colleges have a "no merit aid" policy, but the fine print still exists-- individual departments may well offer merit aid to majors.

    Oh-- and don't be fooled by lower tuition rates at public universities-- they may REALLY not offer any merit aid. Then again... students like most of our kids here? The sticker price isn't OUR price, either. Learned that one this past year when a friend's son could have attended {local land-grant school} for 20% of what the apparent published going rate is. Just because he had such awesome transcripts and test scores.

    Also don't be put off by the high dollar amounts at private schools, but don't be fooled by "100% need met" either. Details, details, details. If that means loans, that's quite a different matter than 90% of need met without loans. wink
    _________________________
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    #162232 - 07/15/13 04:04 PM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Usually when College Board grants accomodations for the PSAT, they grant it for all of their tests at the same time (PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP). You do need to register early if you need accomodations (like extra time), not all locations offer them. Another reason to lay out the testing calendar early for the OP.

    I do not think any colleges express a preference for the ACT vs. the SAT. Almost every college takes both. And I think there is only one college left (maybe Georgetown?) that wants 3 subject tests -- all the rest take 2 now (since writing was added to the SAT & ACT). So whatever your kid is best at will be accepted anywhere.

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    #162236 - 07/15/13 04:54 PM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Yeah-- there can be additional complications if you have particular types of accommodations, such as "breaks as needed" for a medical condition. That automatically means individual testing, not at a "center" but at a school, and if you aren't in an urban area in a large school, then you may have to beg a seat with another school. Obviously if you homeschool or use a virtual school, you don't have a "home school" to test at, so you have to call around to find one willing. That sounds trivial, but it's not.

    Outside of urban centers, scheduling tests is really not trivial. I'm emphasizing the need to look-- specifically at which tests are offered on which dates and at which local locations. It's complicated. smile It's hard to avoid needing to test at a school/site not your own, basically.

    Different test site coordinators may be more-- or less-- helpful with kids not their own, too. That's kind of a pain when you test under normal conditions-- but it's REALLY a hassle if you're testing with accommodations of any kind.

    (Thus my aside about just not seeing how DD can possibly do a subject test... yes, she has accommodations, but it took moving heaven and earth just to get her a seat for the one time she took the SAT. Lots of butt kissing on mom's part, let's just say, and revealing just how well she did on the PSAT. Apparently being "elite" material meant that she was "worth" the trouble of accommodations... to the test site administrator. :gag: ) The reason we sought accommodations via College Board rather than ACT (they are different entities) is that AP, CLEP, SAT, PSAT, etc. are all administratively under the same umbrella. Technically, that meant that a single approval could be used to test with the same accommodations for any of those tests-- in perpetuity. The practical reality is that the barriers that exist to getting a "special" seat for a test mean that it takes months and months of phone tag and uncertainty to get a testing ticket anyway.

    Oh-- and get a state-issued ID (or that national thing that I can't mention that lets you back into the country... wink ) because your child WILL need that to be seated for a standardized test, regardless of age.



    Seriously: plan ahead. If you have any-- ANY-- special circumstances, TRIPLE that planning time. At least.


    We're already looking and there are just four places that DD can take the ACT any time prior to the end of 2013 around us (and by around I mean within 65 mi)-- without accommodations, which still makes us pretty nervous. That one varies regionally-- being in the west means that the SAT much more widely offered than the ACT.

    I'd say that parents ought to start thinking critically about what kinds of people their kids are as students and as individuals about middle school. That's going to guide a LOT of college decision-making. It's probably not a good idea to start that process sooner, though, because kids change so much during adolescence.

    For example, we were looking at fairly rural settings and very small schools-- Grinnell, Bryn Mawr, etc. until recently, when DD decided that she really wants to live in an urban setting for undergrad. Then we started looking at places like Reed, Drexel, Claremont, Rice, etc.

    We also wanted a mixture of both STEM and arts/humanities, with some established culture of interdisciplinary studies, since DD leans both ways and hasn't decided yet precisely what she wants to do. A school that has a history of very young matriculants gets a bonus score, and it's the reason that UW made our list.

    Also be aware that more and more campuses are moving toward mandatory freshman dorm residency. If that is not part of your vision, keep that on your radar as a preference.

    Oh, and one other thing to remember about public versus private institutions-- different categories for the purposes of disability. Likely as not that isn't a major consideration for most students, but it's something to be aware of.





    _________________________
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    #162250 - 07/16/13 02:10 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: user1234]
    22B Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/10/13
    Posts: 1228
    Originally Posted By: user1234
    In a nutshell, I recall reading somewhere that this was done to keep the number of Jews down in the universities (rampant anti semitism at the time). Apparently there were too many Jews for the admissions committees comfort at the time (the 40s maybe?). The idea was that Jews would easily be admitted using academic measures. But if other measures were introduced, admissions committees could use the extracurriculars as a way of excluding people. Am I the only one who has heard this?


    That was from the book I referenced in the OP. It was the 1920s. (I've only read some reviews, not the book itself.) Apparently over time things have changed, but what has changed is the specific groups that are favored or disfavored.

    My spouse and I were never educated in the USA, but we live here now and our children are born here. (By the way our oldest is 7 so we have a long time to plan.) This whole "Extra-Curriculars" (ECs) as a part of university admissions criteria is completely outside our experience, and I just cannot wrap my head around it at all. I certainly don't believe it's a legitimate method of selecting the best students. I want absolutely no part of it. But I have to be informed and try to understand it.

    One thing I do understand is the pricing of colleges. The key observation is that if you are in the bottom 75% of household incomes in the USA, up to $90k/yr, see here
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/15/business/one-percent-map.html?ref=business&_r=0
    (or maybe even bottom 90% of household incomes, up to $140k/yr), the private universities are much cheaper than the (out-of-state) public universities, and the more elite the cheaper. I could send a kid to Harvard, Princeton or Stanford for about $10k/yr, but an out-of-state public university would cost $30k/yr or more.

    So it's a huge financial windfall to get your kid admitted to an elite private university. It saves you a mountain of money. So it's important to understand what it takes to get into these places.

    One thing that should be said is that some of the academic admissions criteria, such as High School Grade Point Averages, SAT or ACT scores etc. have low ceilings giving the false impression that all the students clustered near the ceilings are roughly equal, and that they can only be separated by non-academic considerations. But this is nonsense. They could simply have much tougher academic tests to really see who really are the academically stronger students. The universities surely know this, so it's curious that they choose not to have more revealing rigorous testing. (It's a bit like selecting for a gifted program by using an IQ test that has a ceiling of 120, and then choosing who gets accepted by seeing who has the most interesting (or expensive) hobbies.)


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    #162252 - 07/16/13 04:53 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    Bostonian Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2587
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: 22B
    They could simply have much tougher academic tests to really see who really are the academically stronger students. The universities surely know this, so it's curious that they choose not to have more revealing rigorous testing.


    Looking at http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloa...thnicGroups.pdf , a 750 on the SAT Math is the following percentile for various groups:

    Asians 92
    Whites 98
    Latinos(not Mexican or Puerto Rican) 99
    Mexican-Americans 99+
    Blacks 99+

    A higher-ceiling math SAT would disproportionately benefit Asians, since they are more likely to be hitting the current ceiling, and it would not help blacks or Mexican-Americans, for whom it is already a high-ceiling test. This is not what elite universities want. Furthermore, to identify math stars, they look at results on the AMC/Math Olympiad and participation in summer camps such as Ross.


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    #162256 - 07/16/13 05:37 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Quote:
    So it's a huge financial windfall to get your kid admitted to an elite private university. It saves you a mountain of money. So it's important to understand what it takes to get into these places.


    Ah, I missed that your kid is only 7 years old. You are setting your kid (and yourself) up for a miserable upcoming 10 years if you focus all your efforts on trying to get your kid ready for admission to one of the most elite schools for financial reasons. If you are really worried about cost or quality of education, move to a state where the public universities are strong, as obviously in-state tuition is more affordable (Michigan has U of Michigan, California has Berkley, Texas has UT Austin, North Carolina has University of North Carolina, Virginia has UVA or William & Mary, Wisconsin has U of Wisconsin Madison -- those would be among the top public university choices.) Not sure what reciprocity choices there are other states for these colleges -- at the moment I know Minnesota students can attend U of Wisconsin Madison for in-state rates. But it is hard to know whether any of those agreements will be in place in 10 years given the current financial difficulties many colleges have. But if you live in a state with a strong university, then you have that as a financial and academic option even if your kid does not get one of those very few spots at the top 2 or 3 colleges.

    The Cal Newport book I recommended above is probably also something you should read because it is intended for exactly what you want -- figuring out a way to leverage ECs that are unusual/go against the normal tide of activity to get into top colleges. The basic idea is that every year there are 10,000 validictorians, 10,000 salutatorians, and just as many sports team captains, student body presidents, yearbook editors, etc. competing for the spots at top colleges. It is very difficult to compete head to head with that pool and stand out. Even things like AMC and the Olympiads are strongly represented in the applictant pool. So his idea is to follow things that interest you into some depth and stand out by being different (in a substantial way) from the rest of the applicant pool. It is an interesting perspective. But I do know this from having two kids who are past that stage (23 and 18 now) -- you can't force them to do things they are not truly interested in, it is easy to snuff out their interest and damage your relationship with them by pushing them too hard, and you can't make them into something they aren't for college admissions purposes.

    One other thing I would recommend (other than saving your money, that is really the best strategy) is starting when your kid is in about 9th grade to spend some time on the financial aid topic. You can position yourself better in terms of assets and income stream if you understand what the colleges look at. It is really too early to worry about it now. And don't let anyone tell you that saving is a waste of time because it reduces financial aid. Most colleges take about 5% of your assets into account when awarding aid -- I would much rather be the family that saved 1/3 or 1/2 of what is needed than the family that has no savings. One bit of advice now is to NOT put any money into your kids' names or let any family members do so. That is weighted much more heavily in the financial aid picture.


    Edited by intparent (07/16/13 05:40 AM)

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    #162257 - 07/16/13 05:51 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: intparent]
    Bostonian Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2587
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: intparent
    Most colleges take about 5% of your assets into account when awarding aid -- I would much rather be the family that saved 1/3 or 1/2 of what is needed than the family that has no savings.

    What matters is the cumulative "tax" on savings, not just the annual levy. Let c = 5%, the "tax rate" on savings.

    If your children will be in college for N years, the fraction of your savings you get to keep is

    (1-c)^N

    which equals 81% for N = 4 (1 child) and 54% for N = 12 (3 children).


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    #162258 - 07/16/13 06:11 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: 22B
    So it's a huge financial windfall to get your kid admitted to an elite private university. It saves you a mountain of money. So it's important to understand what it takes to get into these places.


    I ran the numbers (based on my current 50% savings rate).

    They would drain a lot of the money I saved over the years.

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    #162263 - 07/16/13 08:34 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Bostonian, the calculation is different if your kids are in college the same years (they still only look at 5% regardless of how many kids you have in college). I guess that is a bonus of having them close together.

    Really, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of college topics. CC has thousands (literally) of threads on stuff like this, and also many very knowledgeable posters. There are a couple of people who are college financial aid professionals (work in the area) on the FA board that can cut right to the chase on stuff like this. If you want the straight scoop, that is the place to go.

    Jon, not sure what you are saying. Ultimately we as parents and our students are responsible for paying for our kids' educations. No one owes us any financial aid -- by the time we are done our family will have saved about $250,000 to spread over two kids (starting when they were wee, so it isn't quite as painful as it sounds), plus we have and will pay out of current income as well. And our kids have saved and will work summers and in school for some expenses as well. Of course it will drain money you have saved. But everyone has the option of cheaper colleges (in state, community college with a transfer, living at home during college). And honestly, those are the options that most low income students do take, along with loans.

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