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    #250317 - 06/02/23 11:14 AM College Admissions
    thx1138 Offline

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 108
    There are so many things in the college admission game that various players (other parents, school staff, counselors, admissions deans/officers, chancellors) perpetrate but will never say out loud. First among these is that, even at a high school which doesn’t have class rank or latin honors, you are in fact in competition with the other students. And therefore, other parents will keep many secrets from you. Realize clearly that on many levels college admissions is a zero-sum game. Pull up a chair, because I am here to spill the tea, over the course of this and several more posts, because I believe the gifted community, such as it is despite any humble-bragging, needs to hang together, lest we hang separately. Even if your kid takes my kid’s spot at Stanford.

    The easiest and most egregious place to start is California. Here’s a quote from a sub-forum on collegeconfidential, whcih I captured after it got hidden but before the poster got banned. Parents were discussing their progress on a UC waitlist, and of course the larger question is why their hard working and high IQ kid was even relegated to a waitslist to begin with.

    This appears to be the results of UC’s social engineering in the guise of their “holistic”admission policy. I invite you to take a look at your public high school’s average admission percentage from this SF Chronicles article: Charts show UC admissions rates for every high school in California

    And you will clearly see that there is a massive preferential treatment of some high schools. Let just say many schools from lower socioeconomic area would get such an admission boost that if their students apply to any UC, their admission rate is actually 100%! I’m not kidding. If you look up these schools historic average SAT score, they barely crack 1000 if that. So the poorly performing schools are preferred by UC AO. This is shown by their data.

    For our high school, which is in a very affluent neighborhood, where majority of kids are driven and academically very well-prepared and loaded with very high achievers who attained various state and national honors in each graduating class (a few years ago there were 13 kids going to MIT in one year), yet their UC AO rate is only average amongst all CA high schools. Our high school is consisting ranked in the top 1% in CA public high schools, students average SAT scores are 1400, yet their academic performance is discounted to the point that their high school only manages an average UC acceptance rate.

    Like your experience, we see these high-achieving kids managed to get into highly desirable oos schools, but they can hardly get into their own state’s universities in UC. If you live in these neighborhoods, these high school kids have effectively been disenfranchised. Their parents may be paying vast sums to support UCs, but their kids have little chance of attending because they are from affluent neighborhoods. That’s what the data indicate. You can see for yourself. Now they are forced to pay massive Out Of State tuition, if they want their kids to have quality higher education. That’s the state of California for you.

    When the UC hides behind a lawsuit to ignore SAT scores, when they obfuscate their admissions under the term holistic, and when they say “You’re considered for admissions at UC within the context of others at your school.” this is all cover for their social engineering. UC’s whitewashing is tantamount to a school-based (or zip-code based) affirmative action.

    And this month we get to see what the Supreme Court has to say on this. I’m skeptical over how much effect it they will have, the UC in particular is like the love child of the DMV and the Vatican, and consciously and with malice aforethought disregards the will of California’s voters and legislature since time immemorial. Further like most US universities, they’ve had plenty of advance notice to concoct folded lies, obfuscations, bare lies, and weasel words like “holistic”, so again I’m not sure how much will change how soon.

    Edited by thx1138 (06/02/23 11:18 AM)

    #250318 - 06/02/23 06:07 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    mithawk Offline

    Registered: 11/25/11
    Posts: 280
    College admissions is a topic that I know a lot deal about, having gone through it with my two kids with fantastic admission outcomes, and have kept myself informed afterwards. I have previously offered to help others on this forum, but haven't had many takers. I am glad you are bringing the topic up again.

    I could talk a lot about the UCs. On the one hand you have UCLA which has an admit rate of about 15%, and on the other you have UC-Merced which has an admit rate of 89%. So just about anyone who wants to go to an UC can go to one (Merced), but everyone wants to focus upon admission rates to UCLA and Berkeley. And the admission policy is essentially that they would like to have a distribution of students from throughout the state. I can understand that to a certain extent; the students in Barstow deserve a shot too. But you have to balance that with the fact that there are a lot more accomplished kids in Palo Alto. I personally believe that the right way to balance this out is to take the top X% from a school region and the top Y% from across the state, where you balance out X and Y until you fill the college.

    One of the most notable things about the UCs is that they got rid of testing altogether. They are not test-optional, but rather test-blind. If you send them an SAT test score, they won't consider it. Governor Newsom had asked the UC Academic Senate a few years ago to determine if testing was useful. They responded with a very detailed analysis showing it was quite useful, particularly in selecting the smart students from a poor performing school district who had the intellectual chops to handle someplace like Berkeley. But the politicians decided to throw it out anyway.

    I will be out of town for a couple of days, but I look forward to more from you.

    #250319 - 06/02/23 11:44 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    thx1138 Offline

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 108
    Excited to have mithawk in this thread. This has been something I've been struggling to figure out. I guess both your kids and both of mine are DYS. I had terrible admissions outcome with my daughter, and would like to avoid it with my son.

    I'm supposed to be smart too, but I made a ton of blunders, and maybe if I get some of this off my chest other gifted can avoid my mistakes. To begin with, I started with what I now feel was an incredibly naive view that schools want smart kids, that intelligence is rewarded. That you just start with the US News rankings, and work your way down from 1 onward, that college is about learning, that all colleges want this.

    US universities are in some ways homogenous. Demographics of Ivy admits are suspiciously similar. There are a few differences though. Princeton and Columbia have larger engineering schools. Barnard students get a sheepskin that says Columbia on it. Not every Ivy has the full complement of professional schools. In the UC, arguably UCLA and UCB (and possibly UCD) behave slightly differently, for example they are not in the TAG program for guaranteed admission from CC. UCLA is unique in offering 4 years of guaranteed housing.

    I would just advise people to review this article. In other words, Insitutional Priories across Ivies is likely in lockstep, ditto the UCs.

    These IPs are for internal use only. I feel they differ from my naive view that colleges prioritize intelligence. See

    Ever since racial quotas in college admissions were banned by Proposition 209 in California and by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, academics and politicians have been racking their brains to come up with something that would allow quotas to continue under new names. The latest attempt to get away from admitting students by their own individual qualifications is a proposal from the president of the University of California that the standard Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) no longer be required of students applying for college admissions.

    The DYS reading this should be alarmed by this. Your high IQ score will correlate with a high SAT score. Which the UC (and many many other colleges) will willfully ignore. In the UC's case, in service of their social engineering agenda.

    Here's a related analysis "The University of California Is Lying to Us"

    In the discovery documents from the Harvard lawsuit, the UC's high-handed experiment in social engineering has cost $500 million and running. With scant results to show for it. As Yogi Berra said, If people don't want to come out to the ballpark nobody's going to stop them.

    The UC and others will tell you "Oh we wanted to use SAT scores, but we lost that darn lawsuit". These are crocodile tears. I can't claim they arranged the lawsuit, but the UC didn't appeal it, and based on the above, its quite convenient for them to hide behind it.

    This video puts paid to the fantasy that the UC wants IQ. Science Goes To DIE at UC-Berkeley

    Here, the U of O actually arranged legislation to hide behind.

    The upshot of this is simple advice for the gifted. With colleges willfully ignoring your 1600 SAT score, they're left with grades. Do not let your kid get a B in 9th grade, when they are most at risk. In The Golden Ticket, the author says that when she worked in Stanford admissions for 4 years, they simply started by taking any applicant with more than 2 B's and rejecting them (2/3 of the applicants). And this was 10 years ago. Its probably any B at all now.

    The UC has a 13 point list of what they say they are looking for. 9 of the 13 are related to GPA. (of course, segregated by zip code...) And they deliberately threw away test scores. Its all about GPA. I don't care if you have to do all their homework for them in 9th grade, don't let any B go on their transcript.

    And the other advice is hire an essay coach. Or really, a full admissions counselor.

    Edited by thx1138 (06/07/23 05:45 AM)

    #250320 - 06/04/23 10:18 AM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    thx1138 Offline

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 108
    Some final information about the UC, from their counselors conference.

    Comprehensive review factors.

    UC uses 13 factors for freshmen review
    • We are seeking academic achievements in light of the opportunities available to students and demonstrated capacity to contribute to the intellectual life at UC
    • PIQ responses should give us details that we can use
    in our comprehensive review

    1. Academic grade point average in all completed A-G courses, including additional points for completed UC-certified honors courses.
    2. Number of, content of and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum A-G requirements.
    3. Number of and performance in UC-approved honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Higher Level and transferable college courses.
    4. Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of the high school class at the end of the junior year (Eligible
    in the Local Context, or ELC).
    5. Quality of the senior-year program as measured by the type and number of academic courses in progress or planned.
    6. Quality of academic performance relative to the educational opportunities available in the high school.
    7. Outstanding performance in one or more specific subject areas.
    8. Outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.
    9. Recent, marked improvement in academic performance as demonstrated by academic GPA and the quality of coursework completed or in progress.
    10. Special talents, achievements and awards in a particular field, such as visual and performing arts, communication or athletic endeavors; special skills, such as demonstrated written and oral proficiency in other languages; special interests, such as intensive study and exploration of other cultures; experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service or significant participation in student government; or other significant experiences or achievements that demonstrate the student's promise for contributing to the intellectual vitality of a campus.
    11. Completion of special projects undertaken in the context of the high school curriculum or in conjunction with special school events, projects or programs.
    12. Academic accomplishments in light of life experiences and special circumstances, including but not limited to: disabilities, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, disadvantaged social or educational environment, difficult personal and family situations or circumstances, refugee status or veteran status.
    13. Location of the secondary school and residence.

    Each UC campus evaluates each application without knowing the status of the same application at another campus. In making admission decisions, campuses do not consider where students have applied or their admission status to other campuses. All campuses consider an application simultaneously, yet independently of all other campuses applied to.

    Note 13. You are evaluated against everyone in your zipcode.

    Edited by thx1138 (06/04/23 05:27 PM)

    #250321 - 06/04/23 02:12 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    mithawk Offline

    Registered: 11/25/11
    Posts: 280
    I agree that what thx1138 has written is accurate. College admissions is best thought of as a game with hidden internal rules and intentionally vague public guidance. It is intentionally unfair, by design, because that's what the colleges believe is right.

    The elite colleges will be happy to tell you that they value merit, but they won't mention that about half the class is admitted on much lower merit criteria. They will tell you their admit rate, but won't tell you that the admit rate for "unhooked" students (i.e. students that are not in one of the five well-known preference groups) is much lower than that.

    Four of the well known hooks go by the acronym ADLC, which stands for:

    * A: recruited Athlete
    * D: child of major Donor
    * L: Legacy, meaning child of alum
    * C: Child of faculty

    At Harvard, about 35% of the class fits into these 4 categories.

    The last well-known preference category is known as URM, or under-represented minority.

    Together these five hooked student categories make up more than 50% of the class, and students in these hooked categories get in at rates ranging from 5x to 40x more often than students that are unhooked.

    Edited by mithawk (06/04/23 05:44 PM)
    Edit Reason: Fixed definition for "L"

    #250322 - 06/04/23 05:38 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    thx1138 Offline

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 108
    Indeed, you need ADLC for HYPSM. MIT to its credit does not use Legacy, and I reckon they don’t use Athlete. MIT requires SAT, but Caltech doesn’t.

    All this to reiterate a point from the start of this thread, that colleges are often hardly about rewarding intelligence.

    Mithawk, what would your advice be for DYS for college admissions?

    My view is the higher ranked colleges are worthwhile. They can often be inexpensive, after Princeton initiated the practice of simply giving grants and not loans. I think most parents want their kids surrounded by inspiring classmates. The schools can make you aware of, and open, doors you might not have known existed. They have abundant resources. You don’t have to commit to an impacted major like CS while in high school, and can generally wait until you’re a Junior to declare your major. See for better or worse

    #250323 - 06/04/23 06:25 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    mithawk Offline

    Registered: 11/25/11
    Posts: 280
    FYI thx1138, I sent you a PM. My envelope blinks constantly so I only check it rarely, so I wanted to let you know.

    Let me first start out with advice that I think is applicable to everyone, and if you have any specific DYS questions, let me know.

    All of the elite US colleges use holistic admissions, which I think of as having four parts:

    1. Rigor and Grades: Top grades in a rigorous curriculum are the foundation for a strong application. Most importantly, you want the high school counselor to say in the recommendation letter that you took the most rigorous curriculum possible. And the grades should be near the top of the class. But they don't need to be absolutely perfect (my son had one B and was accepted nearly everywhere 3 years ago).
    2. Test scores: The vast majority of elite private schools are test-optional but they do consider test scores (as mentioned earlier the public UCs do not, and CalTech does not). Score 1550+, and you should send your test scores everywhere you can.
    3. Extracurriculars: This is everything that you do outside of schoolwork.
    4. Personal: While the other categories are about what you have done, this category is about how you come across. This includes your essay, your teacher and counselor recommendations, and any college interviews.

    Note that lots of kids do great in rigor, grades, and test scores. In fact, there far are too many kids that do great in these categories throughout the country for even a fraction of them to be admitted to the most elite schools.

    So what sets the kids apart is how well they do on the extracurriculars and personal rating. And in order for an unhooked student to have a good chance to get into the HYPSM (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT) level, either the extracurriculars or the personal rating must be nationally competitive. Most students don't really know what the national competition is like and therefore incorrectly gauge their chances.

    Here are examples of national-level awards that get a student seriously considered (I will focus on STEM because that's what I understand best):

    * Well-known research summer camps: RSI, Simons, SSP, (MIT PRIMES is at this level, but is full-year)
    * Well-known math camps: PROMYS, Mathcamp Canada/USA, ROSS
    * Recognized science awards: Regeneron STS Finalist, ISEF Best of category
    * Competitions:
    * Math: USAMO & higher (most useful for MIT and CalTech)
    * Physics: USAPho

    #250324 - 06/04/23 08:59 PM Re: College Admissions [Re: thx1138]
    thx1138 Offline

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 108
    Thanks mithawk and I have PM’ed you.

    Not to put too fine a point on things, I would leaven our understanding of holistic to include the context of “College admissions is best thought of as a game with hidden internal rules and intentionally vague public guidance.” and that “about half the class is admitted on much lower merit criteria.”

    Having said that, various internal documents, some of which came out in the Harvard lawsuit that’s supposed to drop, confirm the internal rating system their admissions officers use.

    For your reach school, and HYPSM is always a reach, note that those 5 generally have policies like “It is Stanford policy that, if you apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action, you may not apply to any other private college/university under their Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, or Early Notification plan.” Please read this closely

    Similarly, read into the details of the UC’s ELC policy. Even when California high schools say they don’t have class rank, they actually do, to participate in ELC.

    I recommend Gail Post, and she has a ton of other helpful articles. 100+ 360° College campus tour videos U.S. College and University Reference Map 7th edition

    Edited by thx1138 (06/09/23 08:27 AM)


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