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    #162664 - 07/22/13 05:34 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Quote:
    But the preparation for university should be academic.


    You did ask about Ivy League Admissions in your original post. And whether you prefer it to be that way or not, purely academic preparation will not get you into any of the Ivies, probably even the "lesser Ivies", today. There are thousands of other colleges in the US, obviously, and your kids can certainly go to college with minimal EC activity. But this is the way it is for top colleges in the US now.

    I am going to take a bit of exception about Finland, which someone mentioned above. One of my kids speaks Finnish (eight years of immersion language camp at her request -- we aren't Finnish but she got interested... a couple years of high school credit, and a summer homestay in Finland). In college she spent a semester at University of Helsinki. She said U of Helsinki was so much easier than her 2nd tier US liberal arts college that it was almost laughable. She thought the difficulty was about what one would expect at a community college here in the US. Not trying to be critical, and I am sure that is not the case with all foreign universities (I know it isn't), but just saying that as rosy as the picture looks in some other countries, the grass isn't really greener when you get there sometimes. This is not my PG kid, either, so you can't really look at through that lens and say she would find any school to be easy.

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    #162665 - 07/22/13 05:46 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: intparent]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2612
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: intparent
    Quote:
    But the preparation for university should be academic.


    You did ask about Ivy League Admissions in your original post. And whether you prefer it to be that way or not, purely academic preparation will not get you into any of the Ivies, probably even the "lesser Ivies", today.

    A student whose ECs were an extension of his academic interests, for example scoring at the national level on the Math, Physics, Chemistry Olympiads, and/or doing scientific research, could be a strong applicant. You can get in as an academic star, but being a valedictorian with almost-perfect test scores does not make you a star, especially if you are deemed "privileged".

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    #162666 - 07/22/13 06:04 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: madeinuk]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: madeinuk
    Universities want people that are bright, articulate and driven and also applicants that have a strong sense of who they are. So ECs, at a time that is now in the past, probably were an appropriate measure of balance; evidence that the applicant was not a hothoused 'monomath'.

    But the college admissions process appears to have morphed into an arms race that has become so extreme that EC's have become just another grindstone for Tiger parents to push their offsprings' collective noses to. This reality then completely undermines their entire raison d'ŕtre as a factor that indicates 'balance'.


    Even when I was in high school (years ago), I wasn't doing the EC's because I "knew who I was". I don't have any interest in sports or performing music whatsoever, but I did those things anyway, because it was expected (I guess to show that I was "balanced" whatever that means).

    I was trying to execute a strategy to package myself as whatever it was that colleges wanted.

    I viewed it as necessary or I would be plunged into the abyss. The "abyss" being actually having to work for a living.

    When I got to college, there was no longer any pressure on me to do things I didn't really want to do (because I had already achieved my main objective in life), so I did nothing, to the extent that I was able to do nothing. "Nothing" being reading books, watching TV, and playing computer games.

    The same thing is true in much of life however.

    I don't really have the slightest inherent interest in having a career, but in order to survive, I needed a career.

    I'm never going to figure out "who I am", but that's not even relevant to being able to live day to day. You just have to do things so that other people don't knock you out of your employment so that you can continue to generate income.

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    #162668 - 07/22/13 06:38 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2612
    Loc: MA
    The Ivies seek to maintain their status (derived from wealth and power), which only partially overlaps with what many of us think ought to be their role of educating the very brightest. They have been successful and see little reason to change:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes...sity-background
    Obama Administration's Private University Background
    Inside Higher Education
    July 22, 2013
    National Journal has just completed its analysis of the college degrees (undergraduate and graduate school) of the top 250 Obama administration officials. The institutions at the top of both lists are private. Of graduate degrees in the senior ranks of the administration, only 25 percent come from public institutions. And while the top five lists lack public U.S. institutions, the University of Oxford does make one of the lists.

    Top Universities for 250 Top Obama Administration Officials

    Undergraduate
    Harvard U. -- 23
    Yale U. -- 12
    Cornell U. -- 11
    Princeton U. -- 6
    U.S. Military Academy -- 6

    Graduate
    Harvard U. -- 38
    Georgetown -- 12
    U. of Oxford -- 11
    Columbia U. -- 9
    George Washington U. -- 9
    _________________________
    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

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    #162670 - 07/22/13 07:36 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: intparent]
    madeinuk Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1453
    Loc: NJ
    Originally Posted By: intparent
    Quote:
    But the preparation for university should be academic.


    You did ask about Ivy League Admissions in your original post. And whether you prefer it to be that way or not, purely academic preparation will not get you into any of the Ivies, probably even the "lesser Ivies", today. There are thousands of other colleges in the US, obviously, and your kids can certainly go to college with minimal EC activity. But this is the way it is for top colleges in the US now.

    I am going to take a bit of exception about Finland, which someone mentioned above. One of my kids speaks Finnish (eight years of immersion language camp at her request -- we aren't Finnish but she got interested... a couple years of high school credit, and a summer homestay in Finland). In college she spent a semester at University of Helsinki. She said U of Helsinki was so much easier than her 2nd tier US liberal arts college that it was almost laughable. She thought the difficulty was about what one would expect at a community college here in the US. Not trying to be critical, and I am sure that is not the case with all foreign universities (I know it isn't), but just saying that as rosy as the picture looks in some other countries, the grass isn't really greener when you get there sometimes. This is not my PG kid, either, so you can't really look at through that lens and say she would find any school to be easy.


    I think that this may depend on the major as well as the institution - American Universities and Northern European universities differ in that the amount of work that you ''have to do' is less in N. Europe in the humanities because there is an expectation that you *will* read around your chosen subject. Often you do not *have to* to attend lectures, for instance, just do the reading and attend the tutorials. It is not an extension of high school over there - no one is there to make you study...


    Edited by madeinuk (07/22/13 07:37 AM)
    _________________________
    Become what you are

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    #162671 - 07/22/13 07:43 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    intparent Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/16/09
    Posts: 553
    Well... I am going to assume that it isn't everyone's highest ambition to work in a government administration position, even a top 250 one. I think this sample is somewhat biased by the industry it represents (of course Georgetown, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and GW are going to be on the list -- they also have top political science/government programs). IMHO, the true "power" in this country lies in corporations today anyway (we could get going on a whole conversation on the role of corporate money in our political system, but that is probably not where we should go with this, so hoping the rest of this thread does not go down that rabbit hole...). But I will say that I just don't see this as evidence that we all ought to strive for Ivy educations for our kids. My D applied to no Ivies -- as others have said their future goal will be, ours was primarily to find a place where she could have four years with at least some intellectual peers. Our goals really had nothing to do with status or power. In the long run I want her to be happy (and for her being intellectually challenged is essential to her happiness) and be able to earn a solid living. I don't care if anyone oohs or ahhs over where her degree is from.

    As an aside, we had a terrible time with my parents, who were convinced that Stanford was the only college worthwhile for her to apply to and attend! She didn't want to apply after visiting... we ended up having to stop talking about college at all with them after too much hassle from them during her junior year. To this day they still don't know where she actually applied or was accepted -- they only know where she is attending in the fall. So another minefield for you to navigate is expectations of others on what is best for your kid -- only you and your kid really know.

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    #162672 - 07/22/13 07:43 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: madeinuk]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: madeinuk
    22B,

    I share your pain, I think.

    I am just as puzzled with the 'hows/whys' of this sorry state that the US colleges have allowed themselves to lapse into. I think that this is the end state of the 'college as a business/college for all' model, though.

    I continually oscillate between the extremes of thinking; 'Well this is the World we live in so deal with it!' and being in an almost catatonic state of utter revulsion that things have become so corrupted.


    Precisely. I saw this happening from the inside, and it STILL horrifies and stuns me, the transformation that higher ed has undergone.

    The closer your kids are to this milestone, the more keenly one tends to feel this particular conundrum.

    Okay, so I want my kid to be who she is, not a "produced" item intended to garner money, Ivy acceptances, and maximum prestige and vicarious parenting victory for us.

    So what if Prestigious Institution doesn't want her, right?? It's clearly not the right place if they don't want her the way that she ACTUALLY IS.

    But then... you look at the other side of that equation, and realize that this means that your child may well be going to Podunk U unless you're willing to shell out Ivy-level money for a degree that isn't appreciably any better than a regional state uni... (and by this, I mean places like Lewis & Clark College, Pacific Lutheran, etc) so why not do the latter in light of the cost alone, KWIM?

    It's become a two tier system in some ways, now. There's the TigerSystem. And then there is everything else, which (administratively) apparently exists to process maximum "product" per unit time. Faculty are punished for anything that doesn't fulfill that mission efficiently, by the way. This is new-- and has been the case since 'retention' became a huge buzz in higher ed about 15y ago... so parents whose experiences are older than that probably don't truly understand how far down that rabbit hole the lower tier institutions have gone.

    Your choices are Ferran AdriÓ's latest restaurant... (if you can get a reservation, that is, and if you can afford it); if you opt out of that, you can still enjoy your meal at McDonald's, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut. Or you can pay 40%-70% of the AdriÓ cost to eat at Denny's, Cracker Barrel or IHOP. We're hoping that AdriÓ is worth it, because we can see perfectly well how little the rest of it is worth relative to the expense.

    There are bright pinpricks shining in that dark wasteland, to be sure... but only if your kid is lucky enough to encounter stubborn old goats with tenure who still know that there is a RIGHT way to do higher ed... and then there's the administrator's way...or is nearly 100% autodidactic and not that concerned about interaction with classmates as peers... if unlucky, though, they will be surrounded by the same mediocre and kinda slow classmates and instructional hand-holding that they've spent high school with. WHY BOTHER?

    This is where I am now. Like intparent, we're looking at this system and could care LESS about prestige or selectivity per se. It's just that to get the intellectualism that DD needs in order to justify paying for any sort of college experience at all... (because let's face it, if your choices are paying 25K annually for more high school, or... not... er... yeah. Not a fair question, I know) then you do seem to wind up looking at places like Harvey Mudd, Claremont-McKenna, U-Chi, MIT, etc.

    Oh-- and Bostonian is completely correct here, I think. Both about the particulars of what elite colleges PREFER to recruit, and also why.

    I also agree that when Unis convert their methodology in admissions to "maximizing cash accumulation + enhancement of prestige via our prospective ALUMNI DONORS" and subvert everything about the organization's mission to serve those twin goals, they are at that point functionally corporate, and ought to be taxed like it. I'm a liberal and humanist, and there aren't a lot of things that I find morally reprehensible and indefensible, but that's one of them.

    This all amounts to a hideous Venn diagram in a lot of ways. I envy parents for whom this decision is easy because the only suitable schools are (relatively) inexpensive state schools. Those schools-- and we've visited a few-- are really not very suitable environments for my DD, given her particular learning style, interests, and expressed ambitions. She is, in a word, interested in some disciplines which skew low in terms of student ability at those places.

    So there is a component for me personally that wants to RUN from that TigerSystem in its entirety; that was always my plan, in fact. I figured that we'd steer DD into physics or theoretical mathematics, and let her go the local state Uni route.

    But it's not me seeking higher education-- it's my DD. If she wants a high level instructional environment, she needs to enter the fray like she means it-- and hope she hasn't left it too late.

    I will say that considering MIT's selectivity has lit a fire under her the likes of which we've seldom seen.

    _________________________
    Schr÷dinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #162676 - 07/22/13 08:03 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: HowlerKarma]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    I will say that considering MIT's selectivity has lit a fire under her the likes of which we've seldom seen.


    If you haven't visited MIT yet, and there's any way to swing it, you really should. I think that it would be good for her, but also good for you. Trying to figure out a school by reading forum posts is just not the best method for actually getting to know a place.

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    #162678 - 07/22/13 08:16 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: 22B]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    No, it isn't. But she'll have to apply prior to visiting. Flying requires months of advance planning for us, unfortunately, and it's the only way to feasibly visit given where we reside.

    _________________________
    Schr÷dinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

    Top
    #162679 - 07/22/13 08:18 AM Re: Ivy League Admissions. [Re: madeinuk]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    I tend to agree with Bostonian and JonLaw here (not to mention the people who are appalled by all this crass admissions mania).

    On the one hand, colleges appear to be run like businesses, with finances as a bottom line. On the other side of the coin, there are as whole lot of parents and students who are mildly fixated to rabidly obsessed with IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS!! for many wrong reasons (status, the Mecca-like quality these places have in some people's imaginations, the (generally incorrect) assumption of future connections, etc).

    The admissions letter, not the education, seems to be the end goal in way too many cases. If the goal is an education, then the mania path may not be the right one. If the goal is to avoid hysterically prepped and burned out unhappy peers, well, I would think twice about the Ivy League and similar schools. MIT and Caltech are more about merit than extracurriculars, but my impression is that the workload is crushing. (Maybe I'm wrong. I certainly hope I am.) Niche schools and universities overseas may be a better answer. YMMV.

    Also, I don't remember reading much about the cost of IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS!!! in this thread. Personally, I just can't see that 60K for 8 classes, a shared dorm room, and institutional food is actually worth it. Well, that's 60K this year. It'll be more next year, and so on, unless the bubble actually bursts.

    Another problem is that education in the US is increasingly being driven toward high-achieving master-craftsmen. This is great if you fit in this category, but if you're a creative type or a learn-a-lot-in-depth type or an undecided type, or if you're the type who challenges the status quo, you may not be happy in the current mainstream environment.

    Whoever bemoaned the fact that colleges really should have more gifted students who are interested in learning was dead on.

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