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    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Quote
    If your student is home schooling or in a virtual school, what do you do about science labs (e.g. for physics, chemistry, biology)? Do colleges have concerns about the lack of lab experience?

    That is a HUGE concern.

    We did not permit DD to take "Chemistry" via her virtual school because we both felt so strongly that the laboratory experience is so central-- and so difficult to replicate successfully at home-- that it made the class nothing more than theoretical. Most colleges seem to agree. UC, for example, will not accept most virtual school science coursework for their a-g prerequisites.

    We did allow AP Physics, however-- because that one came with a Lab kit from escience labs (like LabPac) and could realistically be done at home.

    AP versus college... hmm.
    It just really depends. At our school it is probably six of one, half a dozen of the other. The classmates are likely a bit brighter in AP, but the instruction is not college level.

    My personal opinion re: AP in general terms is that it isn't really the equal of the college course, and much of that has to do with instructional depth. The people teaching AP classes aren't PhD experts in those disciplines, by and large. They ought to be if those are truly the equal of a college course. IMO, of course.

    Then again, your average adjunct teaching at the local community college isn't necessarily putting forth "better" instruction.



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    Originally Posted by 22B
    Generally (for any type of school, but also more particularly for a school without little or no lab facilities) is it better to take an AP course, or to take the corresponding freshman college course in a university (while the student is in high school)?
    The average SAT scores at our local high school are comparable to those of the state flagship, so the SAT scores of the students in AP classes (who are better-than-average high school students) would be higher than those at a community college or a nearby state university (which is less selective than the flagship). In addition, AP courses at the high school are easier logistically. So AP classes may be better than equivalent college classes for us.
    I ETA'd above. Our local uni is a/the state flagship. But it is not one of the really good ones. Median SAT scores would be in 550-600 range. Median ACT scores are 25ish. Most high schools in the state would be lower than this (logically).

    There's no logistical problem taking classes at state flagship (it's nearby and it would be the only B&M location -- all the rest would be at home).

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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    Quote
    If your student is home schooling or in a virtual school, what do you do about science labs (e.g. for physics, chemistry, biology)? Do colleges have concerns about the lack of lab experience?

    That is a HUGE concern.

    We did not permit DD to take "Chemistry" via her virtual school because we both felt so strongly that the laboratory experience is so central-- and so difficult to replicate successfully at home-- that it made the class nothing more than theoretical. Most colleges seem to agree. UC, for example, will not accept most virtual school science coursework for their a-g prerequisites.

    We did allow AP Physics, however-- because that one came with a Lab kit from escience labs (like LabPac) and could realistically be done at home.

    AP versus college... hmm.
    It just really depends. At our school it is probably six of one, half a dozen of the other. The classmates are likely a bit brighter in AP, but the instruction is not college level.

    My personal opinion re: AP in general terms is that it isn't really the equal of the college course, and much of that has to do with instructional depth. The people teaching AP classes aren't PhD experts in those disciplines, by and large. They ought to be if those are truly the equal of a college course. IMO, of course.

    Then again, your average adjunct teaching at the local community college isn't necessarily putting forth "better" instruction.

    This choice would be between either (a mediocre) state flagship or the virtual school, so I think your argument would shift the choice towards the university. The virtual school may require students to take available classes at the virtual school, but hopefully that can be worked around.

    There's the possibility of B&M school (with its hands on facilities) but these are not ideal for various reasons, and doing lab-based classes at the uni seems like the more ideal solution.

    The regular or honors level high school classes would have to be done at the virtual school, but maybe the AP phys/chem/bio classes could be skipped in favor of the freshman college versions with professors doing the lecture halls and TAs doing the labs (and then maybe the AP exams could then still be taken once the material is learnt in the college class).

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    We have DD save her work on laboratory exercises, and have since she was in middle school. In part this is to develop the habit of keeping a laboratory notebook, and in part it's to be able to demonstrate that she has actually done laboratory work in the subject.

    This is the approach that many virtual charters recommend, by the way-- keep records and let schools evaluate on that basis.



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Originally Posted by intparent
    Yes, College Confidential is the place to go. Be warned, it is like crack for parents of college bound students, though!

    One book that I really like that can help you think about ECs vs academics is:

    How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) by Cal Newport


    Thanks, intparent, for the book recommendation. I am reading it now and I'm finding it very compelling. I think my DS13 will get a lot out of it, too, because the talk has already begun among his peers about what "looks good" on a college application.

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    I'm trying to understand how and why "elite" colleges (not necessarily just Ivies) select students to admit using not just academics, but also "Extra-Curriculars" (ECs).

    An important reason for "holistic admissions" is to provide cover for a process that sets racial targets for which kinds of students are admitted, even though explicit racial quotas are unpopular and illegal. A recent NYT article discusses this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/e...e-university-of-california-berkeley.html
    Confessions of an Application Reader
    Lifting the Veil on the Holistic Process at the University of California, Berkeley
    By RUTH A. STARKMAN
    August 1, 2013

    Quote
    A HIGHLY qualified student, with a 3.95 unweighted grade point average and 2300 on the SAT, was not among the top-ranked engineering applicants to the University of California, Berkeley. He had perfect 800s on his subject tests in math and chemistry, a score of 5 on five Advanced Placement exams, musical talent and, in one of two personal statements, had written a loving tribute to his parents, who had emigrated from India.

    Why was he not top-ranked by the “world’s premier public university,” as Berkeley calls itself? Perhaps others had perfect grades and scores? They did indeed. Were they ranked higher? Not necessarily. What kind of student was ranked higher? Every case is different.

    The reason our budding engineer was a 2 on a 1-to-5 scale (1 being highest) has to do with Berkeley’s holistic, or comprehensive, review, an admissions policy adopted by most selective colleges and universities. In holistic review, institutions look beyond grades and scores to determine academic potential, drive and leadership abilities. Apparently, our Indian-American student needed more extracurricular activities and engineering awards to be ranked a 1.
    Some commentary on this article is

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2013/08/want-to-get-into-uc-berkeley-lie.html
    Want to get into UC Berkeley? Lie
    by Steve Sailer
    August 2, 2013

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2013/08/working-in-dark.html
    Working in the dark
    by Steve Hsu
    August 2, 2013

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2013/08/the-shell-game-of-berkeleys-holistic-admissions/
    The shell game of Berkeley’s holistic admissions
    By Razib Khan
    August 3, 2013



    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell
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    Thanks, Bostonian. I have nothing against people doing whatever extracurriculars they want for fun and fulfilment. But it seems universities are misusing them to favor some applicants at the expense of others.

    -------------------------

    Another issue I thought of regarding admissions is foreign languages. Some universities want four years of high school foreign language credit (Harvard, Princeton), while some (MIT, Caltech) just want some foreign language credit but don't really say how much, meaning maybe two is enough if other qualifications are strong.

    Two years of foreign language is sufficient for high school graduation, and most universities also seem to think this is sufficient for admission.

    So what do people think is the prudent approach for learning foreign languages when it comes to university admissions?


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    Honestly? I have no real idea. I do know that most classroom instruction in foreign language isn't terribly effective. I'd think that an immersion experience of some sort would be much better-- and would definitely make a couple of years of a foreign language 'stand out' a lot more.

    It'd also signal that the student has some sort of personal investment in the language, other than "it's what my high school offered as an AP class."



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    Am I missing something in that Berkeley thing? It says 92 percent of whites and Asians graduate within six years, and 31 percent of whites in the science field graduate with a science degree within five years.

    We're talking about a 4-year degree here, right?

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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Thanks, Bostonian. I have nothing against people doing whatever extracurriculars they want for fun and fulfilment. But it seems universities are misusing them to favor some applicants at the expense of others.

    I don't think this is necessarily misuse.

    If you want to have an orchestra on campus, you need a certain number of string players and a certain (lower) number of bassoonists on campus to sustain that. Likewise all the other things that make up the particular campus community of that school. I think it's fine for the school to look at the balance of people it's bringing in-- X number of engineers, Y number of likely anthropology majors-- for reasons of academic programming and staffing, but also look at the skills and preferences of the incoming students for how they contribute to the whole of the place.

    DeeDee

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