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    Dude - no argument from me there.


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    Oxford's head of admission has explicitly said the dons do not want "second-rate historians who happen to play the flute".

    So how do the Oxbridge schools select candidates... they go beyond using APs, A levels, IB diplomas, etc... In math there are the STEP tests[1] and in other subjects there are equivalents[2].

    If US schools are serious about being base on merit, they should do something similar... the difference between a 770 and 800 SAT math is largely chance. A 3 hr test with 6 hard problems should give a clearer distribution.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Term_Examination_Paper
    [2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...icants-simply-trained-pass-A-levels.html

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    Originally Posted by raptor_dad
    Oxford's head of admission has explicitly said the dons do not want "second-rate historians who happen to play the flute".

    So how do the Oxbridge schools select candidates... they go beyond using APs, A levels, IB diplomas, etc... In math there are the STEP tests[1] and in other subjects there are equivalents[2].

    If US schools are serious about being base on merit, they should do something similar... the difference between a 770 and 800 SAT math is largely chance. A 3 hr test with 6 hard problems should give a clearer distribution.
    I believe that at many universities worldwide, you are admitted to study a particular subject. At most U.S. schools, you can declare a major after matriculating. So they are not admitting students as historians or mathematicians.

    You can major in music or theater at Yale. If Yale thinks those subjects are worthy of a major, its admissions process ought to give some weight to achievement in those areas.

    For mere transmission of knowledge, the residential university may be becoming obsolete. Schools are trying to create a vibrant campus with student publications, concerts, theater productions, and sporting events. Emphasis on extracurriculars can be carried too far, but people can differ on the definition of "too far".

    Strong ECs may indirectly indicate academic ability. If students A and B both have perfect grades and test scores, and student A also has good ECs, maybe she is smarter than student B and is able to get the same academic work done in less time, freeing time for other pursuits. In making such a comparison, demands on time such as working part time and caring for siblings should also be considered.

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    You don't have to restrict majors to see the value of higher ceiling tests. That is why MIT, Caltech etc ask for optional AMC series scores.

    If HYP, Stanford, and MIT endorsed higher level essay exams in say Math, History, or English, kids would take them. They would be expensive to develop and administer. They would scare off many applicants. However they would allow more academic selection vs using extracurrics. The problem with APs etc is that the ceiling is way too low in all subjects for the super-elite schools.

    ETA: I see the value of the flexible US system but believe super high academic achievement in any field has greater predictive value than extracurrics. I'd rather have a 700+ SAT M kid with a super exam result in history/english as a future STEM major vs a 700+ SAT M student body president. Any future slippery slope of only taking kids with both high normal score and high elite scores in the same subject couldn't be worse that our current system which is essentially a lottery for gifted kids.

    Last edited by raptor_dad; 09/12/14 10:23 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    Originally Posted by raptor_dad
    Oxford's head of admission has explicitly said the dons do not want "second-rate historians who happen to play the flute".

    So how do the Oxbridge schools select candidates... they go beyond using APs, A levels, IB diplomas, etc... In math there are the STEP tests[1] and in other subjects there are equivalents[2].

    If US schools are serious about being base on merit, they should do something similar... the difference between a 770 and 800 SAT math is largely chance. A 3 hr test with 6 hard problems should give a clearer distribution.
    I believe that at many universities worldwide, you are admitted to study a particular subject. At most U.S. schools, you can declare a major after matriculating. So they are not admitting students as historians or mathematicians.

    You can major in music or theater at Yale. If Yale thinks those subjects are worthy of a major, its admissions process ought to give some weight to achievement in those areas.

    For mere transmission of knowledge, the residential university may be becoming obsolete. Schools are trying to create a vibrant campus with student publications, concerts, theater productions, and sporting events. Emphasis on extracurriculars can be carried too far, but people can differ on the definition of "too far".

    Strong ECs may indirectly indicate academic ability. If students A and B both have perfect grades and test scores, and student A also has good ECs, maybe she is smarter than student B and is able to get the same academic work done in less time, freeing time for other pursuits. In making such a comparison, demands on time such as working part time and caring for siblings should also be considered.



    YES! Bostonian and I agree on this one.


    Having very recently been through this process with DD, this is the "tell" for higher LOG kids. They have all those EC's because they don't NEED 20 hours a week on AP calculus; only five, freeing up the other 15 for theater productions or volunteer work, or practice at a musical instrument, or robotics, or whatever. It's a matter of pacing and rate of learning. HG students are flatly going to have more time to fill. It'd be lovely if tiger parents would quit whipping their own offspring to do it when they can't possibly... but I don't see that happening any time soon, either. So those children will go on not getting a childhood, or sufficient sleep, I suppose. Kids like those on the boards, of course, have no problem there (generally speaking, obviously not for kids with 2e concerns that impact speed).

    This is hard, though, because in a low SES household, those hours may wind up being empty anyway, or filled with things that are... er... well, probably not suitable for academic consideration.



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    Originally Posted by raptor_dad
    You don't have to restrict majors to see the value of higher ceiling tests. That is why MIT, Caltech etc ask for optional AMC series scores.

    If HYP, Stanford, and MIT endorsed higher level essay exams in say Math, History, or English, kids would take them. They would be expensive to develop and administer. They would scare off many applicants. However they would allow more academic selection vs using extracurrics. The problem with APs etc is that the ceiling is way too low in all subjects for the super-elite schools.
    AP exam scores are reported on a 1-5 scale and are intended to be comparable to the A-F grade scale (5 = A, 3 = C). The College Board grades each exam to get a raw score and then decides where to set the thresholds for a scaled score of 2, 3, 4, and 5. The ceiling could be lifted simply by reporting the raw scores as well as the 1-5 scaled scores.

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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    Having very recently been through this process with DD, this is the "tell" for higher LOG kids. They have all those EC's because they don't NEED 20 hours a week on AP calculus; only five, freeing up the other 15 for theater productions or volunteer work, or practice at a musical instrument, or robotics, or whatever. It's a matter of pacing and rate of learning. HG students are flatly going to have more time to fill. It'd be lovely if tiger parents would quit whipping their own offspring to do it when they can't possibly... but I don't see that happening any time soon, either. So those children will go on not getting a childhood, or sufficient sleep, I suppose.

    Yes, but...we all know that kids who are serious contenders for admissions at elite colleges have EC lists as long as the dean's right arm. Simple statistics tells us that they're not all HG+, and the admissions committee has no idea if:

    • Those kids were tiger-parented into those activities;
    • They were actually as involved as the application implies (did they go to all or most meetings? Or did they show up when they had to so they could check the box?)
    • They were doing the activities because they wanted to do them and had time for them without sacrificing sleep, time with friends, and downtime.


    IMO, extracurriculars have no place in admissions decisions unless they're directly related to what the applicant will major in (not "I might major in x, y, or z, and so..."). In principle, what Bostonian wrote seems reasonable, but in practice, people game the system like crazy for all kinds of reasons, we end up with voluntourism for very wealthy kids, and the signal-to-noise ratio doesn't permit us to draw conclusions.

    Also, I'm not convinced that all HG+ kids should necessarily be able to whip through assignments in no time. I have two kids of roughly equal very high LOG and no LDs. My eldest has always had less free time than my youngest. Some stuff just takes him more time, and that includes, resisting homework, among other things. Before my eldest was tested, I assumed that his IQ was 15 points lower than it turned out to be because he didn't teach himself to read when he was 2 or want to spend a huge amount of time learning stuff and because he enjoyed goofing around. I realize now the truth in the statement "When you've seen one gifted kid, you've seen one gifted kid."

    Seriously, it would great for him if he had more free time, but it is what it is. And ETA, he isn't even interested in doing a ton of ECs. He has a couple that he likes, and that's it. DD is different. Again, it is what it is.

    Last edited by Val; 09/12/14 11:31 AM. Reason: ETA...
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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    This is hard, though, because in a low SES household, those hours may wind up being empty anyway, or filled with things that are... er... well, probably not suitable for academic consideration.

    I know it is the exception, but the NYT always showcases some kid from Harlem that got into Harvard, who not only got amazing scores, but kept 2 part time jobs. ECs don't have to be volunteering or expensive dance classes.

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    Originally Posted by Wren
    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    This is hard, though, because in a low SES household, those hours may wind up being empty anyway, or filled with things that are... er... well, probably not suitable for academic consideration.

    I know it is the exception, but the NYT always showcases some kid from Harlem that got into Harvard, who not only got amazing scores, but kept 2 part time jobs. ECs don't have to be volunteering or expensive dance classes.

    And a friend of mine who recruited for Carnegie-Mellon for years gave it up in disgust when a white anglo saxon Protestant male kid he put forward from an ultra-low SES family with absent father, mentally ill/drug addict mother who got stellar grades and worked 40+ hours outside of HS to support his mother and 3 younger siblings did not make the cut because he had no ECs.

    It has indeed become a lottery!

    Last edited by madeinuk; 09/12/14 11:38 AM.

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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    This is hard, though, because in a low SES household, those hours may wind up being empty anyway, or filled with things that are... er... well, probably not suitable for academic consideration.

    In low-SES household, though, many of those hours are filled with the kinds of things Bostonian (in a rare acknowledgement of the challenges faced by to those with low-SES, hat-tip to you, sir) described as being worthy of consideration by recruiters, namely employment and child care. I'd also add to those considerations adult care (because many families are impoverished because a potential wage-earner has a health issue preventing full-time employment) or any extraordinary challenges the child had to overcome in order to produce equivalent results. For instance, if a child had to take the bus to the public library and wait an hour for a computer to be freed in order to produce the same quality of work as someone who got to do it at home, as a recruiter, I'd want to know that.

    And even if that candidate isn't using their free time to overcome extreme barriers (the neighbor lets them use the computer), earn money, or care for others, I would still want to know that they had a lot of free time, and spent it in ways that didn't involve criminal activity. Because that still tells me something valuable... one student works quickly and achieves a sufficient work/life balance, and the other one is exhausted trying to keep up. That second candidate is likely to end up in the office of the school psychologist by the end of the first quarter, and out of school by the end of the freshman year.

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