Private college counselor

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lightheir
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lightheir » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:09 am

rrppve wrote:Going through the college applications process now with my oldest. Son is also in a very good public school, which simply doesn't have the counseling resources of a private school. If the expense is not an issue, I would hire one as early as possible during high school. It's not just the academics, but encouraging your kid to have an intense enough extra-curricular experience to support their application. Another key benefit of a counselor is keeping your kid on track with the process. Sometimes they listen to others more than the parents, at least in our case.
I'd also look for a counselor who had experience as an admissions officer at an Ivy or other highly selective college, not just a former guidance counselor.
For us, we only hired someone to help with his essays and we didn't do it early enough, but it was still helpful. Also, if you're kid is a recruited athlete, you'll have a lot of advantages in getting a decision earlier, but you will also likely be pressed to make an earlier decision in choosing a college.
I never used one when I grew up and I've always like the "DIY" mentality that is actually favored by colleges/admissions when they talk to students, but now in retrospect and I see with adult eyes how the world works, I think that for something like college, if cost isn't an issue, you really should seriously consider a GOOD counselor, and as early as possible, as advised as above.

Anyone who thinks that kids who aren't coached specifically to get into college don't have anadvantage against completely uncoached kids, is being naive. Coaching, in every activity, be it test-taking SATs, getting into college/schools, or makng sports teams cuts, has a significant impact. I firmly believe this despite well-meaning articles like the NYT article that try and reassure parents that it doesn't matter - those articles tend to overlook the huge selection bias, meaning that those kids they consider 'equal' often have enough resources that they in effect have coaching for college prep very early on between their peers. But just look at inner city/poor school district applications rates pre-post coaching, and you see big differences, so big that the ivies and others are actively encouraging coaching for the economically disprivileged.

The effect of a college counselor/coach will be small, sure. It won't compensate for underperformance academically or laziness. But for someone with the talent and hardworking drive to get it done, it can make a significant difference. College isn't at all the be-all-end-all, but I do believe that if you have the drive and ability to plan enough to get into a good college, those are incredibly valuable life skills.

I was fortunate to live in a upper-middle class neighborhood where a lot of the college admissions advice was well known to the students even before counselors, but in retrospect there are clearly things I could have done much, much better, not just in terms of getting myself into college, but for better understanding myself and my goals/personal development and how that meshed with the college plan. (In retrospect I was one of those unusual uber hardworking HS students who actually sacrificed too much for that brass ring of a top notch college, but it's hard to get that perspective when you're 17.)

Rodc
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Rodc » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:06 am

But just look at inner city/poor school district applications rates pre-post coaching, and you see big differences,
I know you address this point in your next paragraph somewhat, but it might be worth pointing out that most on this thread do not fall into this category.

If money is no object then I don't see any harm, with one caveat, and there might be a benefit.

The caveat, based on what I see locally in a community where the use of coaches is common, is the in-my-opinion over-focus on getting into a highly selective name brand college. Some people need to be reminded that it is not a life tragedy to merely go to a very good college. In someways it reminds me of the over the top focus on hyper competitive prom nights or weddings. I'm not sure we help our children when we augment this undo pressure. Now, one can use a coach and at the same time not feed into the whole "a less than top 1% school is a life tragedy" business, but many don't as far as I can see.
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msj16
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by msj16 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:25 am

I think we will briefly try a private college counselor because both parents did not grow up in this country. It is so foreign to think about AP classes, essays, extracurricular activities etc... and I am just beginning to figure this all out.

I have some questions and would appreciate quick input:
(1) What are the the number of acceptable AP courses to take? I am hearing 12.
(2) Is it is better to get a B in Advanced Math or an A in Honors math?

(3) Does anyone have a recommendation for a private college counselor in NJ or one who is available via the internet?

Thanks,
msj16

lightheir
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lightheir » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:37 am

Rodc wrote:
But just look at inner city/poor school district applications rates pre-post coaching, and you see big differences,
I know you address this point in your next paragraph somewhat, but it might be worth pointing out that most on this thread do not fall into this category.

If money is no object then I don't see any harm, with one caveat, and there might be a benefit.

The caveat, based on what I see locally in a community where the use of coaches is common, is the in-my-opinion over-focus on getting into a highly selective name brand college. Some people need to be reminded that it is not a life tragedy to merely go to a very good college. In someways it reminds me of the over the top focus on hyper competitive prom nights or weddings. I'm not sure we help our children when we augment this undo pressure. Now, one can use a coach and at the same time not feed into the whole "a less than top 1% school is a life tragedy" business, but many don't as far as I can see.
Agreed.

As I actually pointed out in my memories in my post above, a GOOD college counselor would have taken some of my college-at-all-costs blinders off, and given me more perspective on life and social development in retrospect. Unfortunately, my parents were unable to give me that sort of advice, but even now, I see a fair amount of medical school candidates whose resumes are so insanely impressive that the first thing I think of is 'that poor unfortunate misguided soul, they gave up wayyy too much for their resume...' (I'm not on the admissions committee, whew!)

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:38 am

msj16 wrote:I think we will briefly try a private college counselor because both parents did not grow up in this country. It is so foreign to think about AP classes, essays, extracurricular activities etc... and I am just beginning to figure this all out.

I have some questions and would appreciate quick input:
(1) What are the the number of acceptable AP courses to take? I am hearing 12.
it depends. Generally, the more rigorous the curriculum the better. But, IB courses are rigorous, taking more credits is rigorous, self-studying can be rigorous. My son, for example, iirc, took 1 AP sophomore year and 7 in junior year (I think 3 self-study).
(2) Is it is better to get a B in Advanced Math or an A in Honors math?
At many college info sessions, this question gets asked. They always answer, an A in Advanced Math is best. IMO, if the two choices you give are the two available, I'd go for the B. Colleges love rigor and dislike grade-grubbers. They want kids who challenge themselves.

(3) Does anyone have a recommendation for a private college counselor in NJ or one who is available via the internet?
my son's HS GC went off to start a private practice, I believe. Let me see if I can find contact information.

Thanks,
msj16

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:50 am

msj16 wrote:(1) What are the the number of acceptable AP courses to take? I am hearing 12.
In our public high school school, almost every class that the top 10% high school sophomore, junior, and senior can take is an AP class, so more than 12 are common. It really depends on what is offered at the school. If they do not take an AP class, they are probably taking a college dual-credit class.

Just because one takes an AP class does not mean they need to take the corresponding AP exam nor does it mean that they do well on the exam.

OTOH, some kids don't take the AP class, but get an AP study guide to review for the exam and still get 5's on every AP exam they take.

Basically, college admissions committees do not like to see slackers when the opportunities are there.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:23 pm

livesoft wrote:Just because one takes an AP class does not mean they need to take the corresponding AP exam nor does it mean that they do well on the exam.
Some schools require that you take the exam if you took the course. I'm not sure why, but that's what I've heard.

My son's school was so busy pimping out their IB courses that they had few AP courses, and resisted my son taking the tests self-study for subjects they didn't teach (he had to go across town to another school to take the exams). For math and science, I think AP is better than IB, but that's based on my limited sample and opinion.

Rodc
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Rodc » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:25 pm

Basically, college admissions committees do not like to see slackers when the opportunities are there.
Yeah, that was true even back in the day.

I got turned down at my first choice school a very solid state flagship U, but not a super selective school. I went to visit to ask why. After all I had very solid SAT scores. But was clearly a slacker by way of grades*.

In the meeting I mentioned my fine scores and was told they did not match my grades so clearly I was a slacker which they did not want, and by the way, I had the highest SAT scores of any student they had ever turned down**. :)

* I told my parents and teachers I would study went I went to college, high school does not matter. Neither they nor the college was impressed. After a year at another college I transferred to choice one. I left with a master's in math and a BS in physics, off to get a PhD at another school, with both departments offering me money to stay for my PhD even though I had not applied to either department. So, in the end I did just what I said I would do. They should have trusted me. :)

** They said, but it may or may not have been true. I can't have been the only high school knucklehead.
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staythecourse
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by staythecourse » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:58 pm

I'm sorry after reading this thread I still don't understand the need for a private counselor.

I would think that the more competitive school the better your grades have to be, the better your standardize test scores should be, and the more impressive your extracurricular activities should be. So I am not sure what the use of the counselor is for? Questions like should I do 2 AP classes or 12 seems to be easily answered by, the more you do and the better you do in said classes the better your chance will be vs. someone who did less AP classes and had lower grades. Do you need counseling for that? It is simply a matter of supply and demand. The supply of top notch undergrad. school spots are limited at Ivy's, for example, and the demand is high. So no surprise the competition is high so the better one does vs. other candidates the better there shot is.

Instead of hiring a private college counselor it would seem hiring a tutor to help reach the child's educational limit would be more prudent in the classroom, on their standardized tests, and in extracurriculars.

Of course, I am saying all of this with no experience as my child is 2, but just don't see the need as it seems pretty obvious what you need and that is kick a** in everything you do if you are shooting for the top. No surprise there. Now if the private counselor has an "in" at a school of your liking then we are talking about a useful insider advantage.

Good luck.
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Rodc » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:10 pm

I still don't understand the need for a private counselor
One use I have seen (useful, but not needed) is to help kids find niche schools that fit some particular non-standard desires of the student. Everyone know their flagship state U, some smaller state colleges, the major national and international players, but that leave thousands of small school that might be just the ticket but you never heard of them.

And just like you can mow your own lawn (I do), many find it easier to just hire someone (someday I might, who knows).

So "need" is a very high bar that is not reached. But there might still be some value.

FWIW: I expect to not use a counselor as the value to me is just not there.
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:16 pm

@staythecourse, if you think that the counselor will tell the kid: 4.0 in all AP classes, 2400 SAT, 3 800s in SAT2, captain and starting quarterback of state champion football team, win Intel and Siemens, class president, cure a couple of diseases and you're a lock for Harvard, well, then I agree that it's unnecessary and superfluous to have a counselor.

Your child is 2. Over the next 14 years, you might discover that your child might miss a couple of the items in the checklist above. Just as lawyers are told that "you take your client as you find him," so do counselors. A good counselor advises on appropriate fit schools (the most elite are not necessarily the best for that student), how to present a few bumps in the road leading to junior year, what kinds of essays work well at what kinds of schools, critiques (within ethical guidelines) the essays and gets the student to rewrite when necessary, motivates, makes sure that things get submitted on time, counsels about financial aid, etc.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lack_ey » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:50 pm

I don't know if my perspective is worthwhile, but as someone closer to college age than kids'-college-planning age, this all seems remarkably helicopter-parenty, as pointed out earlier. It's the student who counts. If getting into an Ivy or other elite school is that important, the most important thing is the characteristics of the student and then applying to all of them.

Particularly if you consider professional or graduate school as an option, practically any elite student at a moderately decent state university will be accepted into the top programs, so attending a more pedestrian school, of which many are good at actual instruction, may not really be much a "handicap." I suppose the risk here is if the student doesn't particularly want to be elite during college years, away from his/her helicopter (or not) parents. edit: I don't really mean this a condescending sense, but just that life goes on. Stuff happens. A kid's going to make his or her own decisions at some point. And there's more to it than the school you attend, net worth, or other measurables. :wink:

Full disclosure: I did not attend any Ivies, but some of my friends did. I was not accepted to any, though I think I only applied to two of them. I don't really recall and wasn't particularly excited to attend any anyway. I was HS class of 2006 with something like 1560 old SAT (managed 800 verbal but not on the same try as my 800 math), valedictorian of smallish magnet-like school, 10-12ish APs (I think literally every one that was offered, other than the foreign languages), had an A in the normal introductory physics class from local private college during the summer after 9th grade (free via Duke TIP program), all-state band and orchestra and generally a whole lot of musical background, national science and engineering fair, some more minor extracurriculars and volunteering that wasn't too substantial and not worth boring anyone over. In other words, definitely not a shoo-in but somewhat fitting the profile.

By the way, does this forum not have spoiler tags? I'd have used it for the above.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by psteinx » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:02 pm

lack-ey:

Your experience is the kind of thing that makes us parents of high-achieving kids a bit nervous about the whole college admissions process. By my own estimation (and perhaps others), your application profile is stronger than your modest "definitely not a shoo-in but somewhat fitting the profile" for an Ivy. 1560 old SAT, valedictorian, tons of APs, and reasonable extra-curriculars - quite quite good, in my opinion.

For various reasons, elite colleges have made their admissions process quite non-transparent. Yes, good grades, test scores, and extra-curriculars are the primary ingredients, and yes, most parents and students aiming at these schools know that. But there are a lot of subtleties to the process.
Last edited by psteinx on Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:07 pm

lack_ey wrote:I don't know if my perspective is worthwhile, but as someone closer to college age than kids'-college-planning age, this all seems remarkably helicopter-parenty, as pointed out earlier. It's the student who counts. If getting into an Ivy or other elite school is that important, the most important thing is the characteristics of the student and then applying to all of them.
Here's a paradox: if you think "getting into an Ivy or other elite school is that important," that's when you need a first-rate counselor or parent -- not to help you get in, but to counsel you on why you're applying for the wrong reasons. A big fuss was made about a student who applied to and was accepted at all 8 of the Ivies; how silly. I cannot in my mind create a person who would be happiest at any of them, more so than at another school. A Brown type would be much happier at Bowdoin than at Columbia. Applying to all Ivies is a sign that you've got your priorities wrong.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lack_ey » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:10 pm

I think the real message I have in general is that what you do in school is a lot more important than what the school is, hence the applications process and selection not being all that important. I can understand the concerns, though, especially since the applications process is something more a parent can help with. Again, nothing profound or interesting here.

To me, hiring out advice seems like added stress and expense. But if it's comforting and constructive in other ways, then I'd consider it worthwhile. But is it more or less stress on the parent, or the applicant (or both or neither)?

For what it's worth, the friends who went to Ivies had worse "by-the-books" applications (I couldn't really say about the essays, though, but I'm sure theirs were probably better) but applied to more of them. edit: Oh wait, I just remembered something important. My college interviews went pretty terribly. I don't particularly have a disposition inclined towards constructive, interesting discourse with those with whom I end up having little in common. It's not that I'm that rude in person, but you know how it is when nothing aligns.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:02 pm

lack_ey wrote:For what it's worth, the friends who went to Ivies had worse "by-the-books" applications (I couldn't really say about the essays, though, but I'm sure theirs were probably better) but applied to more of them. edit: Oh wait, I just remembered something important. My college interviews went pretty terribly. I don't particularly have a disposition inclined towards constructive, interesting discourse with those with whom I end up having little in common. It's not that I'm that rude in person, but you know how it is when nothing aligns.
Yes, that works both ways. My son was a good student, but many people with better numbers were rejected. Otoh, his interviewers, LoR writers, guidance counselor must have commented on his eagerness to learn, almost like a big puppy. I of course never saw the recs but did read the essays; it has been my impression that it was the "soft" parts of the application that got him in.

staythecourse
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by staythecourse » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:08 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:@staythecourse, if you think that the counselor will tell the kid: 4.0 in all AP classes, 2400 SAT, 3 800s in SAT2, captain and starting quarterback of state champion football team, win Intel and Siemens, class president, cure a couple of diseases and you're a lock for Harvard, well, then I agree that it's unnecessary and superfluous to have a counselor.

Your child is 2. Over the next 14 years, you might discover that your child might miss a couple of the items in the checklist above. Just as lawyers are told that "you take your client as you find him," so do counselors. A good counselor advises on appropriate fit schools (the most elite are not necessarily the best for that student), how to present a few bumps in the road leading to junior year, what kinds of essays work well at what kinds of schools, critiques (within ethical guidelines) the essays and gets the student to rewrite when necessary, motivates, makes sure that things get submitted on time, counsels about financial aid, etc.
Good point on helping with reading the essays as there is likely a HUGE difference in a 17 yr. old applying writing their own essay of what they think is good and one that is refined and more direct to an admissions board of what they are looking for in said essay.

The reason I query everything else is earlier in this thread there was mention of a computer system that can be accessed (I am sure regular school GC have access) that already shows the data on the ranges of accepted kids in relation to their scores (grades and SAT). So that part should be easy to figure out.

I would think kids are not much different then when I was a kid... Most I am assuming have a list already in their heads of where they want to go. Most of the time it has NOTHING to do with scholastics, i.e. "I like the football team there or it is warmer here or I know someone else who went there last year and love it or...". If a child really is open to looking throughout the country I can see a real advantage of having a private counselor do all the dirty work of researching 1000+ potential colleges that fit their area of interest and competitive ability to get in. But I have a feeling in the end each kid's wish list is like 10 to 20 schools they just "love" and don't really care about options just because you or someone else thinks are great ideas. If that is the case how hard is it to run the computer system for those 10-20 schools?? Now I may be COMPLETELY wrong as I said my kid is 2!! :D

Good luck.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:50 pm

The software you're referring to is probably Naviance or Parchment. It works relatively well for larger "by the numbers schools," but less well for schools that do holistic assessments. If it wanted to, Yale could probably fill every seat with SAT 2400 / GPA 4.0 applicants. But it doesn't, and it expends quite a bit of energy doing it holistically.

I think a lot of kids today are sophisticated about what they're looking for in college, but others have "dream schools" because of the football team, best friend or gf is going there, the dorms look nice, booze flows freely at the fraternity, etc. there are many many schools. I had a thread viewtopic.php?f=11&t=119025 which showed the swings and roundabouts my son (who we initially thought would be applying to narrow mathy schools) went through.

You are on BH. That's all I know about you, but it is enough for me to wager that when the time comes, your child will pick a school on the basis of something more meaningful than the quality of the pre-gaming.

lightheir
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lightheir » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:24 pm

staythecourse wrote:I'm sorry after reading this thread I still don't understand the need for a private counselor.

I would think that the more competitive school the better your grades have to be, the better your standardize test scores should be, and the more impressive your extracurricular activities should be. So I am not sure what the use of the counselor is for? Questions like should I do 2 AP classes or 12 seems to be easily answered by, the more you do and the better you do in said classes the better your chance will be vs. someone who did less AP classes and had lower grades. Do you need counseling for that? It is simply a matter of supply and demand. The supply of top notch undergrad. school spots are limited at Ivy's, for example, and the demand is high. So no surprise the competition is high so the better one does vs. other candidates the better there shot is.

Instead of hiring a private college counselor it would seem hiring a tutor to help reach the child's educational limit would be more prudent in the classroom, on their standardized tests, and in extracurriculars.

Of course, I am saying all of this with no experience as my child is 2, but just don't see the need as it seems pretty obvious what you need and that is kick a** in everything you do if you are shooting for the top. No surprise there. Now if the private counselor has an "in" at a school of your liking then we are talking about a useful insider advantage.

Good luck.

While yes, you do have to bust your butt, there is a method to the madness. If you bust your butt in a particular way, yes, you will have significantly greater chances of getting into certain schools.

Just some examples -

Some schools will super highly value a D1-level athlete's sports ability who has middling academics.

Some schools will place almost no value on a pro-level guitar player's guitar skills despite years of training.

Many schools will be willing to overlook even borderling academic performance on national tests if you truly came from a dispriviliged background, and especially if you're a underrepresented minority.

A good college counselor would be able to have enormous impact with any of these three. Sure, these are the 'extremes', but if you indeed have a good counselor, it will pay off.

I will also note that my college counselors were near-useless for me - they were very inexperienced at the type of colleges I was applying to so I ignored them. However, it was very clear to me that a lot of my peers at college had very, very effective counseling, be it from siblings, parents, or professional counselors, that gave them not only an advantage in getting in, but a lot more perspective about what to expect and get out of college relative to their life goals once they got there.

I think what your getting at is that if you're an all-around outstanding candidate, you don't need a counselor. Ok, I agree with that. But that doesn't mean counselors don't have significant things to offer, even for the well-rounded appliacnt, and I still think they can make a big difference with a select group of students.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:34 pm

[quote=" A Brown type would be much happier at Bowdoin than at Columbia. Applying to all Ivies is a sign that you've got your priorities wrong.[/quote]


What are the differences between these top schools? Could you please elaborate the differences.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:25 pm

Fisherman wrote:
TT wrote: A Brown type would be much happier at Bowdoin than at Columbia. Applying to all Ivies is a sign that you've got your priorities wrong.

What are the differences between these top schools? Could you please elaborate the differences.
There are more differences, but at 10,000 feet: Brown has a very relaxed curriculum, basically a "roll your own" approach, Bowdoin is more structured but has a similar vibe, and I'd call Columbia very very much more structured (with its Core Curriculum). My son, for example, thought Brown was a bit loosey goosey for him, but knew that he'd chafe at the Columbia distribution requirements. The students at the schools kind of match the curriculum requirements. :D

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Rodc » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:58 pm

The students at the schools kind of match the curriculum requirements.
The happy ones anyway. :)
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by lack_ey » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:15 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:There are more differences, but at 10,000 feet: Brown has a very relaxed curriculum, basically a "roll your own" approach, Bowdoin is more structured but has a similar vibe, and I'd call Columbia very very much more structured (with its Core Curriculum). My son, for example, thought Brown was a bit loosey goosey for him, but knew that he'd chafe at the Columbia distribution requirements. The students at the schools kind of match the curriculum requirements. :D
Hm, interesting. I had no idea. I did have an acquaintance go to Brown, and I sort of know a couple people from elsewhere on the nets who studied physics at Columbia. This is all too funny to me right now, given their personalities. :P

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:21 pm

Which are focused a bit more on undergraduates than graduate students, for example percentage of professors rather than graduate students teaching etc.

Thank you all

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by generalzodschicken » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:28 pm

Fisherman wrote:I don't consider my self as an helicopter parent, if so I would have asked this question when he Was a freshman.
Whaa? I know parents plotting to get their 3-year-olds into Harvard. And I'm not joking. You have to get up WAY earlier than freshman year these days or you're not even trying.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by msj16 » Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:10 am

Thank you TomatoTomahto and Livesoft for the very helpful advice. It makes sense that one must show that a student can manage high academic rigor in high school in order for colleges to assume that a student can master the advanced curriculum at top notch colleges.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by psteinx » Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:42 pm

The basic notion that admittance to highly selective schools is dependent on good grades, good test scores, and solid extracurriculars is well-known. So there is a basic recipe for an aspiring elite student (and/or their parents) - study hard and get good grades in your classes, do a little test prep, and find a couple of ECs to excel in and/or become president of. Fair enough.

But I think that there are some areas of the elite college admissions process that are not universally understood or well known to all applicants.

Consider this tentative (and PARTIAL) list of things that may help (or hurt) the status of an applicant:
(Also, one college may care quite a bit about a given item on this list, while another may not care at all.)

Things largely outside of the applicant's control (but perhaps factors in considering which range of schools to apply to):
Race (Black/Hispanic/Native American/White/Asian)
Gender (some schools may give a small edge to the underrepresented gender)
First generation college applicant
Legacy (and legacy in what way - parent attended undergrad? uncle attended grad school? etc.)
Parental income (may help OR hurt depending on the situation and school)
Development case (if the parents are really loaded) or celebrity (the applicant and/or their parents)

Things within an applicant's control to at least some degree:
High school attended (public/private/magnet/etc)
Courses and course levels taken in high school (how much english/social studies/math/science/language? how many honors/APs?)
Grades achieved
Standardized tests taken (ACT or SAT or both? Which, if any, SAT subject tests? APs?)
Amount and nature of standardized test prep
Admissions essays - topics and the actual essays themselves
Amount of extra curriculars attempted. Specific extra curriculars chosen. Level of "success" within the extra curricular.
Athletic emphasis (did the applicant achieve a level of athletic success sufficient to be a recruited college athlete?)
Recommendations
Academic competitions and awards of various sorts

Smaller stuff that's maybe a little more tactical:
Did the applicant demonstrate interest in the target school(s), such as with a campus visit or local meeting with someone from that school's admissions department?
Did the applicant do an interview, if that is offered?
Which colleges, if any, did the applicant apply to via the various flavors of early admissions?

===

Again, this is a partial list. Many of the above may not be important or applicable for a given kid, but still, having a sense of the rules of the game is, I think, helpful. And those rules aren't always well documented by the colleges themselves, or necessarily intuitive to students and/or their parents. Even if you don't like some or all of the rules, that doesn't mean you get to make up your own new game...

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:44 am

Article on HS guidance counselors. Too few. Too little guidance.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyreg ... selor.html
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:31 am

livesoft wrote:Article on HS guidance counselors. Too few. Too little guidance.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyreg ... selor.html
At least at that school the counselors care, to the extent that they can. There are thousands of kids who are basically on their own, with Internet and (maybe) parental help.

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