How hard is it to get into college?

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JPM
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by JPM » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:08 pm

I went to a 4th rate college myself, that being all I could afford. Did some cheap Juco credits too.

DW did cheap Juco AA then cheap commuter State U for BS then a long career as an educator.

DS #1 always wanted to do business and finance, wanted to go to Super U. Preferred Penn, but waitlisted there and went to SuperU#2. The good thing about SuperU2 turned out to be that the international banking firms that he was interested in joining recruited there. So he had a nice career in international banking. FIREd at 35 in the mid 8 figures but got bored with the sybaritic Manhattan lifestyle and went back to work as an academic at 45.


DS #2 liked DS#1's college friends at SuperU2 so he wanted to go to SuperU2 too for no other reason than that. Went to SuperLaw after that. I don't know if SuperU2 helped with getting into SuperLaw or not. Hated securities law, not that happy about living in NYC either. Came out to the midwest, happy and successful as exurban midwestern solo general practice lawyer. He could have saved us a lot of money going to StateLaw, but c'est la vie.

DD an independent type, went to prep school but not interested in SuperU and preferred big flagship StateU. Millenial style has had 8 or 9 commercial jobs in two countries and 4 states since graduation. Lives out west now and fixes mechanical gadgets with her BF in their spare time.

DN#1 went to SosoU and did well. Then went to SuperLaw and works for the feds.

DN#2 went to SosoU with excellent record there and after some consideration decided against finance. He is a professional musician writing and performing. Makes almost no money doing it but does well doing math test prep.

DN#3 went to StateU accounting and is a manager in a big accounting firm.

DN#4 went to StateU CS and works in tech with a FAANG outfit.

All these kids were 1300-1500 SAT and 31-35 ACT kids. They are all different kids with different interests and paths.

So my experience has been that SuperUs are worth the money for those planning to pursue certain fields but not for most, probably less important for those in STEM fields. Any average college can probably teach you to understand the math and the science, but given that understanding, your career success depends on how well you understand how to apply it and then how to manage the people and the money on the business end of it. A 135-150+ IQ helps a lot even if you don't go to SuperU.

I have seen more educated professional people damage or destroy their careers by blowing up their personal lives with bad habits or divorces than by missing out on SuperU.

MDfan
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by MDfan » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:34 pm

None of my kids got straight As in high school. None got higher than 1200 on their SATs. All applied and were accepted to big state schools. Two received scholarship money. All were/are B students in college. The two who are out have good jobs and are doing well.

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bottlecap
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:42 pm

The answer is "not hard." Colleges need your mo eye and federal loan money. Even the supposed "not-for-profit" ones.

JT

randomguy
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by randomguy » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:49 pm

an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:36 pm
randomguy wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:00 am
an_asker wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:13 pm
Kid probably sent in a joke application to make sure he wasn't admitted:) The thing with the 2nd tier schools (i.e. the step down from harvard and stanford), is that you can still stand out with excellent academic performance. Get a 4.7 GPA and 1500 SAT, you stand out from most applicants. At MIT, you are one of 4 kids with those same numbers competing for that spot. In the first case you like your odds of getting in. In the 2nd case, you are hoping something else gives you that slight edge to beat out your 3 competitors.
That doesn't sound to be correct (that the kid sent a joke application) - at least based on the data point supplied by multiham.
For kicks I googled UF admissions
In 2018, the middle 50% of University of Florida's incoming class had high school GPAs between 4.2 and 4.6, and an average GPA of 4.42. 25% had a GPA above 4.6, and 25% had a GPA below 4.2.
So a 4.0 GPA is really bad these days at a good state school:). Obviously these numbers are a result of using a 5.0 scale.....
No. These have got to be weighted GPAs. Except - if I can properly paraphrase what DS told me - UF has its own weighting scheme; in other words, if your high school says that your weighted GPA is 5.0, UF might give you a 4.75 weighted GPA. [note - this statement might be my misunderstanding, so don't go by this]
Same thing. If you want to say the scale is out of 4.0 when you can get 5.0, feel free. But that is like saying an amp that goes to 11 is better than one that goes to 10. A perfect GPA for these kids isn't 4.0. It is 5.0. The schools are reweigh everything since some schools are out of 4.5 for AP classes and others 5.0 (among others). Realistically comparing GPA across schools is pretty borderline especially at the top end.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:57 pm

OP, I have a book recommendation for you. It addressed the contemporary college admissions scene and provides a sophisticated and forceful argument against the “prestige optimization” drive that seems to cause many families much. anxiety.

It’s main thesis is that chasing institutional prestige is, first, unnecessary (because alignment programs and resources and culture to a student’s needs and interests and passions matters to much more) and destructive (because it causes needless stress and can serve to undermine the creation of effective college admissions strategy and process). The author explores these and related themes with depth and humanity.


Frank Buni

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

https://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Not-Wh ... 1455532681

I hope you read the book and find it useful.

Andy.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:02 pm

Well-said, all around.

In their annual meetings with juniors and their families, my daughter’s high school’s admissions counselors pleaded with parents not to read the College Confidential website because it is filled with misinformation, bragging, and anxiety. I’ve never visited it.

Andy.
SchruteB&B wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:13 am
It is very, very hard to get into Stanford and UCLA and all the hype and media attention is around schools like that. It is much more difficult to get into these highly selective schools than when you were applying.

There are THOUSANDS of colleges in the USA though and they run the gamut from open door admission policies up to the 4% acceptance rate at Stanford.

Does your high school have Naviance? If so, it is a great tool to look at where students from your high school are accepted and with what GPA and SAT/ACT scores.

Is the other website College Confidential? I have seen a lot of “if you don’t have straight As you are relegated to community college!!!!” Posts there and it is nonsense.

Trader Joe
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Trader Joe » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:09 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:39 am
I am really not sure if this is the right place to put this but if you think of colleges as selling and education, I suppose this works.

On another forum I belong to I mentioned something about trying to help my daughter be more realistic about grades and help her deal with the stress. She's stressed that she's currently not getting straight A's... but her grades are pretty much all A's and B's and last year, her freshman year, she got all A's. This year she has AP classes so things are harder. Weighted, even with the B's she's on track to have over a 4.0 GPA even if she "just" maintains her current grades. I want her to do the best she can, but I don't want her to burn out either.

Anyway, that topic slowly changed as people chimed in saying she was right and should be stressed that one needs all A's to get admitted to college. To me that seemed off to me because that's not what I see around me. Most of the people responding seemed to be from California (or at least they kept talking about how hard it is to get into UCLA or UC Berkley and Stanford). But that's not my state and it's off my radar and my daughter's radar. Perhaps there it's a different world so to speak.

I know the kids of other parents who are not "straight A students" and they all went off to college. They were good students, but not perfect. That was just three kids though, not a huge sample. In my daughter's band, at the last concert of the year, they called out all the senior names and what college they were going to. Again, all were going to college. I don't think they were all "straight A students" although I really don't know that for sure. I look at acceptance rates in my state/schools my daughter is interested in and they vary from 30% to 80% with most not having a perfect 4.0 GPA as the average GPA to get in.

Part of me wonders if this is all just hype or people looking at only the most selective schools. Or like I said, if this is more of a West Coast phenomena. My daughter wants to major in applied math, not exactly something that one needs to go to a prestigious university for (like someone who wants to go into politics might need for connections). She's talking about wanting to be a financial analyst, data scientist, even an actuary (I explained to her what one was and she thought it sounded interesting). She just likes crunching numbers.

Like I said, it seems like hype to me, but I am aware I could be totally wrong. I don't want to steer my daughter wrong by telling her not to worry so much, just to do her best. But it's been a long time since I've been in college and I really don't know the stories behind most of the kids I know who went to college. For those of you with kids who recently went to college or are going soon, what is your experience like with college admissions really like?

By the way, the reason I am asking here is because I think I will get a more balanced answered. Not to put down other forums, but this whole forum just seems to be a bit more thoughtful than other forums.
It is very, very easy to get into college.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:12 pm

Every one of the schools my daughter is applying to this year — top 50 liberal arts colleges — said that they re-score GPAs to remove the “bonus” points that so many high schools assign to various types of courses. After they recast the grades in the traditional 4.0 scale, they care less about the cumulative GPA and more about things like the intellectual rigor of the applicant’s course selection, evidence that the student is willing to take intellectual risks, significant trends upward in grades in courses of increasing difficulty, etc.

All of them also complained that high school grades are a mess and are impossible to compare as presented by the schools — existence or lack of grade inflation and varying education quality are just two of the problems they cited.

Other schools may handle high school transcripts and reported GPAs differently, but this sector of the academy seems to be of one mind about them.


Andy.
Pigeon wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:14 am
You can get a good idea of this yourself pretty easily. Pick out a few schools that she's likely to be of interest to her. Go to their websites. Most schools will have some kind of profile of their most recently admitted class that will give you an idea about the typical test scores and GPA. There are also websites that will let you screen for certain criteria to find colleges or see typical admissions stats. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ or https://www.cappex.com/colleges are two.

Colleges have very different admissions criteria, so until you have a few in mind, it's not possible to understand her chances. Also realize that some colleges emphasize different things. For many, her extracurricular activities also matter. Some don't weight GPAs and some do. There are lots of colleges out there and it sounds like she won't have any problem finding some that will admit her. If she wants to go to a place that's very selective, obviously she'll have more competition. You are always going to encounter a subset of parent's who believe that their kid's life is over if they don't get into an Ivy. Hence the Felicity Huffman stuff.

If I were her, I wouldn't sweat it too much. I think in the field she's choosing, she's going to be fine if she goes to any decent college.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:24 pm

Nearly all of the admissions reps we talked with said that an upward trajectory cam be viewed favorably, especially in the context of academically rigorous courses of increasing difficulty. They suggested that upward trajectories within a rigorous program of study are much less helpful than upward trajectories within a mediocre program of study — all the schools we visited valued intellectual rigor, intensity, and ambition.

Andy.
an_asker wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:01 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:21 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:19 pm
Tell your daughter that many colleges don’t look at first year HS grades when they calculate GPA, and that even those that do like an upward trajectory.
My oldest son is a college freshman. I have never heard that before.
I've heard about the "upward trajectory" though my information is hearsay, not from any college's admission department spokesperson.

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Calico
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Calico » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:39 pm

leeks wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:31 pm
I hope you regularly tell your daughter that you are proud of her and encourage her to pursue her strengths and interests in all facets of life, not just academic. She should do the best she can do in school while pursuing balance in life. She should just be herself, put in the level of school effort that satisfies herself (while still allowing her to sleep, and exercise, and socialize, and have hobbies, and hang out with her family). Whatever college that ultimately qualifies her for will be the right one. Any that she might not get into weren't right for her.

If she remains keen on math, perhaps she can find some math-related after-school or summer activities. Or possibly a community-college math class if she exhausts the math options at her high school. While extra math exposure will certainly give her a competitive edge in college/career, the reason she should do it is because she is actually interested in it.

Any kind of part-time job at least in summers - even if an ideal internship isn't found - is good experience for life.
Oh, I do. I think I tell her most often I am proud of how trustworthy and reliable she is more than anything. How smart she is is probably second, but that's more than just grades. I also tell her how she must have got the "music gene" from someone else in the family because she's got so much natural talent.

She really does love math. I am not really sure if it's her strongest subject because she enjoys it or if she enjoys it because it's her strongest subject. Music is a close second. I've hear that the two can be related (musical talent and math talent).

Topic Author
Calico
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Calico » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:42 pm

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:57 pm
OP, I have a book recommendation for you. It addressed the contemporary college admissions scene and provides a sophisticated and forceful argument against the “prestige optimization” drive that seems to cause many families much. anxiety.

It’s main thesis is that chasing institutional prestige is, first, unnecessary (because alignment programs and resources and culture to a student’s needs and interests and passions matters to much more) and destructive (because it causes needless stress and can serve to undermine the creation of effective college admissions strategy and process). The author explores these and related themes with depth and humanity.


Frank Buni

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

https://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Not-Wh ... 1455532681

I hope you read the book and find it useful.

Andy.
Thanks! I will check it out.

Topic Author
Calico
Posts: 423
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Calico » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:51 pm

I wish I could personally thank everyone who offered information in this thread. It's been very helpful.

On the whole 5.0 scale, etc. My daughter's schools does that to a degree. honors classes are weighted with a +.5 and AP classes are weighted with a 1.0. So If someone gets a A in a regular class, it's a 4.0. If they get a B in an honors class, it's a 4.5. If they get a A in an AP class, it's a 5.0.

I really don't like it and I think it's part of the problem. My daughter's school offers a lot of AP and honors options, but other schools don't. So how can you really compare the grades my daughter gets with another kid who didn't have as many options can couldn't even have a GPA over 4.0. And then there are schools that offer even more options that my daughters. I think it adds to all the stress and uncertainty.

In any case, again, I am glad I asked here. I wasn't worried at all, but the people in the other forum nearly had me convinced something was wrong with me for not being worried. But I think that's kind of an "emotional" place. This forums always strikes me as more logical and thoughtful. Thanks again for the words of wisdom.

livesoft
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by livesoft » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:19 pm

Calico wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:51 pm
So how can you really compare the grades my daughter gets with another kid who didn't have as many options can couldn't even have a GPA over 4.0.
It is really easy for admission people to deal with this. If you don't believe me, then call them up and chat with them.

This is not their first rodeo. They know which high schools (and their graduates!) that have honors/AP and other grading boosts and they know which ones do not. They take that into account when considering applicants. Besides GPA is not the only admissions criteria for some schools even if it is for other schools. And for those schools where GPA is the major selection criteria, they tell one that right at the very outset before one even applies.

My personal feeling is that stress is very good for people applying to selective colleges because attending such colleges is not a walk in the park. It will be stressful and competitive to go to such colleges, so those students who can deal with stress without anxiety will do better at those universities. That may be part of the weeding out process: That is, applicants will self-select to not apply to those universities because it creates too much anixety and stress for them. I think that's good.
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Bacchus01
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:27 pm

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:02 pm
Well-said, all around.

In their annual meetings with juniors and their families, my daughter’s high school’s admissions counselors pleaded with parents not to read the College Confidential website because it is filled with misinformation, bragging, and anxiety. I’ve never visited it.

Andy.
SchruteB&B wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:13 am
It is very, very hard to get into Stanford and UCLA and all the hype and media attention is around schools like that. It is much more difficult to get into these highly selective schools than when you were applying.

There are THOUSANDS of colleges in the USA though and they run the gamut from open door admission policies up to the 4% acceptance rate at Stanford.

Does your high school have Naviance? If so, it is a great tool to look at where students from your high school are accepted and with what GPA and SAT/ACT scores.

Is the other website College Confidential? I have seen a lot of “if you don’t have straight As you are relegated to community college!!!!” Posts there and it is nonsense.
That counselor would be incredibly wrong. We found CC to be extremely helpful.

Bacchus01
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:30 pm

Calico wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:51 pm
I wish I could personally thank everyone who offered information in this thread. It's been very helpful.

On the whole 5.0 scale, etc. My daughter's schools does that to a degree. honors classes are weighted with a +.5 and AP classes are weighted with a 1.0. So If someone gets a A in a regular class, it's a 4.0. If they get a B in an honors class, it's a 4.5. If they get a A in an AP class, it's a 5.0.

I really don't like it and I think it's part of the problem. My daughter's school offers a lot of AP and honors options, but other schools don't. So how can you really compare the grades my daughter gets with another kid who didn't have as many options can couldn't even have a GPA over 4.0. And then there are schools that offer even more options that my daughters. I think it adds to all the stress and uncertainty.

In any case, again, I am glad I asked here. I wasn't worried at all, but the people in the other forum nearly had me convinced something was wrong with me for not being worried. But I think that's kind of an "emotional" place. This forums always strikes me as more logical and thoughtful. Thanks again for the words of wisdom.
As others have said, they look at courseload. Our flagship U, as I stated, doesn’t even use GPA until way down the list. They look at course load and test scores. Those are the two biggest factors.

Many school admissions departments, we learned, also have a school factor. That is, they know which high schools have grade inflation or lack of rigor and that works against you. Our High School is a huge feeder school to our flagship U. Lots of honors/AP courses, no weighted grades, 99% take the ACT, more than 90% go to college. Universities know these schools well.

Bacchus01
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:32 pm

an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:41 am
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:36 am
an_asker wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:50 pm
=...]
Hmmm! What is a "full credit load"? Surely there ought to be a way (weigh?) to separate the one valedictorian? Naming 11 valedictorians is like giving a trophy to all soccer teams that didn't concede a goal without considering who had the best strength of schedule ... or some such.

How many kids were in the graduating class? Just to compare - there were 11 kids in DS's graduating high school class (of over 800 kids) with unweighted 4.0s. Though close, DS was not one of them.
What do you mean? A full credit load is taking all classes, no study halls. And unweighted means no weight, so how would you add weight? This is not like a participation trophy at all. They all finished first. Literally first. Like crossing a race line all at the same time. There’s no confusion here. They had about 400 kids in the class.
I know you meant unweighted - I was doing a play on words that the way to separate them would be to weight their class difficulty.

I don't know what you mean by study hall, but in DS's school, each kid's course load is unique. Some kids have ten APs, others have none; some others might even have twenty. So, a 4.0 for the kid who has ten APs is definitely more taxing than for the kid who has none. If both have 4.0, surely the kid with ten APs should be the valedictorian, however you look at it (if based just the grades).

From what you are saying "taking all classes" I take it that you mean every kid has the same classes in high school. If so, yes, I can see 11 valedictorians. But I didn't think any high school in the USA has that level of uniformity.
I’m sorry, but what you are describing is not the case. When I say take all classes, I mean they take a full load without a study hall. Taking all APs or no APs has nothing to do with class rank or valedictorian. It is all about GPA for class rank. There is no weight. None. Clear?

The biggest reason? Our state flagship U does not use weighted grades and does not even use GPA much in the decision process and this is a major feeder high school. I think 25%+ of the class is going to university there.

an_asker
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Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:46 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:27 pm
PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:02 pm
Well-said, all around.

In their annual meetings with juniors and their families, my daughter’s high school’s admissions counselors pleaded with parents not to read the College Confidential website because it is filled with misinformation, bragging, and anxiety. I’ve never visited it.

Andy.
SchruteB&B wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:13 am
It is very, very hard to get into Stanford and UCLA and all the hype and media attention is around schools like that. It is much more difficult to get into these highly selective schools than when you were applying.

There are THOUSANDS of colleges in the USA though and they run the gamut from open door admission policies up to the 4% acceptance rate at Stanford.

Does your high school have Naviance? If so, it is a great tool to look at where students from your high school are accepted and with what GPA and SAT/ACT scores.

Is the other website College Confidential? I have seen a lot of “if you don’t have straight As you are relegated to community college!!!!” Posts there and it is nonsense.
That counselor would be incredibly wrong. We found CC to be extremely helpful.
I think you are right in that you found it extremely helpful. But I would think that the counselors (not just one) were right as well. If you are unable to filter the misinformation out, you will get the anxiety. And yes,I've seen bragging there, no doubt about it.

an_asker
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:32 pm
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:41 am
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:36 am
[...]
What do you mean? A full credit load is taking all classes, no study halls. And unweighted means no weight, so how would you add weight? This is not like a participation trophy at all. They all finished first. Literally first. Like crossing a race line all at the same time. There’s no confusion here. They had about 400 kids in the class.
I know you meant unweighted - I was doing a play on words that the way to separate them would be to weight their class difficulty.

I don't know what you mean by study hall, but in DS's school, each kid's course load is unique. Some kids have ten APs, others have none; some others might even have twenty. So, a 4.0 for the kid who has ten APs is definitely more taxing than for the kid who has none. If both have 4.0, surely the kid with ten APs should be the valedictorian, however you look at it (if based just the grades).

From what you are saying "taking all classes" I take it that you mean every kid has the same classes in high school. If so, yes, I can see 11 valedictorians. But I didn't think any high school in the USA has that level of uniformity.
I’m sorry, but what you are describing is not the case. When I say take all classes, I mean they take a full load without a study hall. Taking all APs or no APs has nothing to do with class rank or valedictorian. It is all about GPA for class rank. There is no weight. None. Clear?

The biggest reason? Our state flagship U does not use weighted grades and does not even use GPA much in the decision process and this is a major feeder high school. I think 25%+ of the class is going to university there.
Let me itemize my questions/points so we can figure out where we are differing:

1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.

2) I am not disputing your statement that your high school does not weight GPAs. I was just offering up a suggestion on how to pick one valedictorian.

IMO
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by IMO » Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:59 pm

Calico wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:51 pm
I wish I could personally thank everyone who offered information in this thread. It's been very helpful.

On the whole 5.0 scale, etc. My daughter's schools does that to a degree. honors classes are weighted with a +.5 and AP classes are weighted with a 1.0. So If someone gets a A in a regular class, it's a 4.0. If they get a B in an honors class, it's a 4.5. If they get a A in an AP class, it's a 5.0.

I really don't like it and I think it's part of the problem. My daughter's school offers a lot of AP and honors options, but other schools don't. So how can you really compare the grades my daughter gets with another kid who didn't have as many options can couldn't even have a GPA over 4.0. And then there are schools that offer even more options that my daughters. I think it adds to all the stress and uncertainty.

In any case, again, I am glad I asked here. I wasn't worried at all, but the people in the other forum nearly had me convinced something was wrong with me for not being worried. But I think that's kind of an "emotional" place. This forums always strikes me as more logical and thoughtful. Thanks again for the words of wisdom.
Calico,

We are going through the same process with a high school sophomore. I don't know the right / wrong answers on the topic. You will get multiple views on the forum on whether it matters, how much it matters, etc on if one's kid gets into the top school. Ultimately, we've decided that it may in fact matter for a particular student, a particular parent(s), for a particular major, for a particular grad school, for a particular employer, etc. etc. etc. On the other hand, it may not matter for a particular student, a particular parent(s), for a particular major, for a particular grad school, for a particular employer, etc. etc. etc.

We are very objective and by all measures very successful parents and simply try to raise our kid to be the best all round, well adjusted child that we can. We find athletics important in life, not because of what it does/doesn't look like on a college application but more for a quality of life/health perspective. We hope that our child doesn't get involved in alcohol/drugs and we hope that our child has an enjoyable high school experience. We try to provide guidance to our child on what is often important for particular colleges / applications, etc. Even though our child currently has straight A's with some classes to inflate things, we realize the whole college selective process is inherently flawed (such as the recent push to have "disadvantaged weighted" SAT scores, etc) and know the college rankings are also inherently flawed (just look up the ranking factors). I have minimal hope/expectation that our child will get into some elite level college and we can live with that thought. We know/expect our child will get accepted into a decent college and we hope our child will have a successful college experience. With don't stress about nor does our child about idolizing any particular college(s) as we don't see that as a healthy thing in life. As the saying goes, everyone still puts one pant leg on at a time.

As parents with advanced degrees and lots of life experience with others who've graduated with all "levels" of colleges we know that success is dependent on the individual and not upon the college(s) one did/didn't attend. There are many factors to success, and there are many personal definitions of success in life.

So is there something wrong with you? Yeah probably, just as there is probably something wrong with my life view.

Best of luck.
Last edited by IMO on Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

3504PIR
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by 3504PIR » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:15 am

My experience as a former faculty member at a large SEC school and the parent of a college junior is that the game has changed dramatically in the last decade or two and it all comes down to where she hopes to go. Large state schools like the University of Michigan, UCLA or Auburn can be highly competitive, significantly more competitive than when I was accepted. Other schools that are smaller or less known can be less competitive. For example, she would need to likely be a national merit scholar and top 10% on scores and GPA to get into UNC at Chapel Hill, but could get into UNC Charlotte with average to just above average SAT scores. Similar situations can be found in many states, and a lot of it is based on popularity but often the faculty is better also at the main campus.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by fru-gal » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:20 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:02 am
livesoft wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:55 am
Oh, I flunked a semester of English in high school (as in 'F' on report card). I got into every college I applied to and matriculated at a private elite university mentioned a few times on this forum. So getting a grade less than 'A' is not the kiss of death.
+1
Indeed.
There's much more than grades involved.
I graduated with somewhere between a 3.5 and 4.0 (can't remember) at a college prep private high school. Applied to 14 Universities for a Pre Med program. All were known "feeder" schools for the medical track. I was denied entry into all but one. It's not just grades.

And, as stated earlier, while having great grades does tend to open more career track options, it does not predict what eventual career will be pursued with passion.

(resisted matriculation jokes)

j :happy
I suspect grades were a factor. Premed probably requires a perfect GPA for admission.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by IMO » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:33 am

fru-gal wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:20 am
Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:02 am
livesoft wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:55 am
Oh, I flunked a semester of English in high school (as in 'F' on report card). I got into every college I applied to and matriculated at a private elite university mentioned a few times on this forum. So getting a grade less than 'A' is not the kiss of death.
+1
Indeed.
There's much more than grades involved.
I graduated with somewhere between a 3.5 and 4.0 (can't remember) at a college prep private high school. Applied to 14 Universities for a Pre Med program. All were known "feeder" schools for the medical track. I was denied entry into all but one. It's not just grades.

And, as stated earlier, while having great grades does tend to open more career track options, it does not predict what eventual career will be pursued with passion.

(resisted matriculation jokes)

j :happy
I suspect grades were a factor. Premed probably requires a perfect GPA for admission.

While there are some specific pre-med track type of college programs, there isn't in most situations a pre-med degree per se.

https://blog.prepscholar.com/what-is-pr ... nts-majors

I've known a number of people who had other careers before going back to medical school and they did not have perfect grades.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:22 am

My wife and I have had a lot of experience with colleges and college admissions, including admissions committee membership and admissions interviewing. Looking back, I'd say the most important considerations are (1) develop a true interest in learning, which makes doing your best in school easier and less of an artificial exercise, (2) educate yourself early, as early as ninth and tenth grade and certainly during eleventh grade, about the types of colleges (large, small, private, public) and specific colleges (local, regional, distant; more selective, less selective) you are interested in attending and, realistically, where you are qualified for admission. If you are able, based on distance and finances, visit the colleges you are most interested in and try to have a personal interview in their admissions offices. A great visit to a particular college and an interview where you really hit it off with one of their admissions officers can make a big difference in your enthusiasm level for the college and your chances of getting accepted.

When you have selected the type of college and the specific colleges you think would be a good match for your personal interests, apply to reach schools, likely admission schools, and safety admission schools from that group. If you have a clear favorite college apply for early admission if they offer it. Realize that a large part of college admission is pure luck - luck for the colleges in recognizing their best candidate students and luck for the students in being recognized. Also realize that if you have carefully selected the colleges you apply to you can get an excellent education at any of them if you are truly interested in learning.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by 22twain » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:33 am

an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm
1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.
When I was in high school fifty years ago, if you did not have a class during a certain period, you had to study in the cafeteria (outside of lunch hour, of course). This was "study hall." As an exception, if you were in a suitable official activity you could work on that elsewhere; when I was on the yearbook staff, I could work in the yearbook office, or the darkroom because I was one of the photographers.
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:15 am

an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:32 pm
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:41 am
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:36 am
[...]
What do you mean? A full credit load is taking all classes, no study halls. And unweighted means no weight, so how would you add weight? This is not like a participation trophy at all. They all finished first. Literally first. Like crossing a race line all at the same time. There’s no confusion here. They had about 400 kids in the class.
I know you meant unweighted - I was doing a play on words that the way to separate them would be to weight their class difficulty.

I don't know what you mean by study hall, but in DS's school, each kid's course load is unique. Some kids have ten APs, others have none; some others might even have twenty. So, a 4.0 for the kid who has ten APs is definitely more taxing than for the kid who has none. If both have 4.0, surely the kid with ten APs should be the valedictorian, however you look at it (if based just the grades).

From what you are saying "taking all classes" I take it that you mean every kid has the same classes in high school. If so, yes, I can see 11 valedictorians. But I didn't think any high school in the USA has that level of uniformity.
I’m sorry, but what you are describing is not the case. When I say take all classes, I mean they take a full load without a study hall. Taking all APs or no APs has nothing to do with class rank or valedictorian. It is all about GPA for class rank. There is no weight. None. Clear?

The biggest reason? Our state flagship U does not use weighted grades and does not even use GPA much in the decision process and this is a major feeder high school. I think 25%+ of the class is going to university there.
Let me itemize my questions/points so we can figure out where we are differing:

1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.

2) I am not disputing your statement that your high school does not weight GPAs. I was just offering up a suggestion on how to pick one valedictorian.
1) a study hall is a period of the day where you do not have a class, but instead have an open period to study. You get no grade and no credit for it.

2) Your whole argument is on the supposition that there needs to be one valedictorian. I have no idea why you are so hung up about it. Even with weighted grades there are often more than one valedictorian. They all graduated ties for first, so why are you fixated that there has to be just one?

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:31 am

Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:15 am
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm
[...]
Let me itemize my questions/points so we can figure out where we are differing:

1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.

2) I am not disputing your statement that your high school does not weight GPAs. I was just offering up a suggestion on how to pick one valedictorian.
1) a study hall is a period of the day where you do not have a class, but instead have an open period to study. You get no grade and no credit for it.

2) Your whole argument is on the supposition that there needs to be one valedictorian. I have no idea why you are so hung up about it. Even with weighted grades there are often more than one valedictorian. They all graduated ties for first, so why are you fixated that there has to be just one?
Aah! I get it. Per my best understanding, DS's high school doesn't have a study hall, though I could be wrong!

I never went to high school (or undergrad) here, so all this is quite new to me. However, I have always been hearing about valedictorian getting to speak during graduation (and that there is one valedictorian per class) - and when I went to DS's graduation, I learned that there was something called a Salutatorian as well who got to speak :-)

So, no, I am not fixated as such on having one valedictorian. Rather, I was more wondering how the school picks the kid(s) to speak - do all 11 kids get to speak or does none speak? Hopefully that explains it.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by whodidntante » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:55 am

AerialWombat wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:26 pm
Considering the fact that it’s quite straightforward for a high school student to earn a legit BS from any number of state universities entirely online, before even graduating high school, I would say “don’t worry about it”. She will be fine.
Before high school?
Are you joking?
I would question the quality of said degree if it can be done in your spare time before finishing high school.

I'm thinking BS doesn't mean bachelor of science in this context.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by AerialWombat » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:30 am

whodidntante wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:55 am
AerialWombat wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:26 pm
Considering the fact that it’s quite straightforward for a high school student to earn a legit BS from any number of state universities entirely online, before even graduating high school, I would say “don’t worry about it”. She will be fine.
Before high school?
Are you joking?
I would question the quality of said degree if it can be done in your spare time before finishing high school.

I'm thinking BS doesn't mean bachelor of science in this context.
Nope, not joking. And the BS nature of the BS was sorta my point. The question was how hard it is to get into college. The answer is that, if the goal is merely to get in and get a piece of paper — any college, any major — the process is a joke.

The OP didn’t say an Ivy school or an engineering degree.
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by 22twain » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:10 am

an_asker wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:31 am
when I went to DS's graduation, I learned that there was something called a Salutatorian as well who got to speak :-)
The "rules" may be different nowadays, or vary from one school to another. In my day, at my high school, the salutatorian was the graduating senior with the second highest GPA. He/she introduced the invited commencement speaker. I was the (single) salutatorian at my commencement, having "lost out" to the (single) valedictorian by a tiny fraction. I was rather relieved that I needed to do only a simple introduction, instead of trying to come up with something profound. 8-)
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by randomguy » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:12 am

Calico wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:51 pm
I wish I could personally thank everyone who offered information in this thread. It's been very helpful.

On the whole 5.0 scale, etc. My daughter's schools does that to a degree. honors classes are weighted with a +.5 and AP classes are weighted with a 1.0. So If someone gets a A in a regular class, it's a 4.0. If they get a B in an honors class, it's a 4.5. If they get a A in an AP class, it's a 5.0.

I really don't like it and I think it's part of the problem. My daughter's school offers a lot of AP and honors options, but other schools don't. So how can you really compare the grades my daughter gets with another kid who didn't have as many options can couldn't even have a GPA over 4.0. And then there are schools that offer even more options that my daughters. I think it adds to all the stress and uncertainty.
Ignore that. Imagine both can get 5.0s. Do you think the teachers grading in different schools is remotely accurate enough to say that a B+ from one teacher is better or worse than a A from a different teacher? Magnet schools run into things like this where how do you distribute grades when the average math SAT in your school is 760? Do you give a kid a C (i.e. average grad) who is getting a 5 on the AP subject test?

We see numbers with decimal points and like to think that we can compare them with lots of accuracy. You can't. Schools know this and do the best they can to try and correct for factors. How successful they are is hard to say. At selective schools, there is almost no difference between the bottom 25% that is admitted and the same number of students just after that who get rejected.

You want to take school and the college process seriously but you don't want to go over the edge and really stress about it. It is a fine line

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:32 am

All of the above about the false implied accuracy of GPAs is one reason that I continue to believe that essays and recommendations play a large role in holistic admissions. I might have missed it, but I don’t think it’s been mentioned on the thread. Schools that are numbers based don’t care too much; I know of one application with an execrable essay about Seinfeld’s Master of His Domain that still resulted in acceptance.

DS was accepted at a highly selective school with a high (top 10-20%) but not top GPA, IMO on the basis of exceptional recommendations. It helps if the colleges have relationships with the school and counselors.

Re valedictorians: kids run the risk of messing up their education by a blind quest to game course selection to score the “empty” title of valedictorian. I’ve heard of musical kids who didn’t join band because an A in band wasn’t weighted toward their all-important GPA. Sad.
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:36 am

I’m glad you found the College Confidential site useful and were able to avoid the pitfalls that other families experienced, according to the college counselors who recommended doing without the site.

That their experience with the site differs from yours doesn’t make their considered opinion “incredibly wrong” — at least, I’d rather acknowledge differences in opinion, perspective, or experience can be acknowledged without rancor and more thoughtfully.

I hope that your family’s college search goes well. My daughter has selected a good range of schools that align well with her needs, interests, and passions; she is well at work filling out the common app and writing essays and is working on decisions about early decision rounds 1 and 2.

Andy.
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:27 pm
PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:02 pm
Well-said, all around.

In their annual meetings with juniors and their families, my daughter’s high school’s admissions counselors pleaded with parents not to read the College Confidential website because it is filled with misinformation, bragging, and anxiety. I’ve never visited it.

Andy.
SchruteB&B wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:13 am
It is very, very hard to get into Stanford and UCLA and all the hype and media attention is around schools like that. It is much more difficult to get into these highly selective schools than when you were applying.

There are THOUSANDS of colleges in the USA though and they run the gamut from open door admission policies up to the 4% acceptance rate at Stanford.

Does your high school have Naviance? If so, it is a great tool to look at where students from your high school are accepted and with what GPA and SAT/ACT scores.

Is the other website College Confidential? I have seen a lot of “if you don’t have straight As you are relegated to community college!!!!” Posts there and it is nonsense.
That counselor would be incredibly wrong. We found CC to be extremely helpful.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:39 am

I’ve enjoyed College Confidential, but they should put the recent web site redesign into the Hall of Ignominy.
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:52 am

Back when I was in high school — think President Reagan’s first term — there was only a single valedictorian, who was selected as the single student with the greatest academic achievements in the graduating class. GPA was the primary consideration, but in case of a tie other factors came into play, for example academic rigor of the entire course of study.

So, from that perspective, the thought of dozens of valedictorians chosen simply because they have identical GPAs seems like a diminution of the honor. But things change, and that’s okay. It is apparently a different type of honor now, but still remains an honor.

I see similar change among how some post-secondary schools handle the Latin graduation honors. At my elite liberal arts college, only those who competed a senior thesis were eligible for Latin honors and the number of summa honors awarded was strictly limited and were determined by a meeting of the entire faculty who discussed their experience with students nominated for summa and who reviewed and debated each nominee’s course of study and grades. Now no thesis is required and honors are simply determined by cumulative GPA. This also strikes me as a diminution of the honor, and yet receiving Latin honors remains an honorable achievement.

Andy.
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:15 am
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:32 pm
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:41 am
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:36 am
[...]
What do you mean? A full credit load is taking all classes, no study halls. And unweighted means no weight, so how would you add weight? This is not like a participation trophy at all. They all finished first. Literally first. Like crossing a race line all at the same time. There’s no confusion here. They had about 400 kids in the class.
I know you meant unweighted - I was doing a play on words that the way to separate them would be to weight their class difficulty.

I don't know what you mean by study hall, but in DS's school, each kid's course load is unique. Some kids have ten APs, others have none; some others might even have twenty. So, a 4.0 for the kid who has ten APs is definitely more taxing than for the kid who has none. If both have 4.0, surely the kid with ten APs should be the valedictorian, however you look at it (if based just the grades).

From what you are saying "taking all classes" I take it that you mean every kid has the same classes in high school. If so, yes, I can see 11 valedictorians. But I didn't think any high school in the USA has that level of uniformity.
I’m sorry, but what you are describing is not the case. When I say take all classes, I mean they take a full load without a study hall. Taking all APs or no APs has nothing to do with class rank or valedictorian. It is all about GPA for class rank. There is no weight. None. Clear?

The biggest reason? Our state flagship U does not use weighted grades and does not even use GPA much in the decision process and this is a major feeder high school. I think 25%+ of the class is going to university there.
Let me itemize my questions/points so we can figure out where we are differing:

1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.

2) I am not disputing your statement that your high school does not weight GPAs. I was just offering up a suggestion on how to pick one valedictorian.
1) a study hall is a period of the day where you do not have a class, but instead have an open period to study. You get no grade and no credit for it.

2) Your whole argument is on the supposition that there needs to be one valedictorian. I have no idea why you are so hung up about it. Even with weighted grades there are often more than one valedictorian. They all graduated ties for first, so why are you fixated that there has to be just one?

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Re: How hard is it really to get into college?

Post by nura » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:23 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:48 am
OP,

1) It is not hard to get into college if you are not selective about where to go.

2) It is harder to graduate from college when many students drop out of college and never graduated.

3) It is even harder to find a job after you graduated.

4) Staying employed for a long period is even harder.

In summary, it is a marathon. Getting into a college is least of all the challenges.
I like this

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by IMO » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:32 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:32 am
All of the above about the false implied accuracy of GPAs is one reason that I continue to believe that essays and recommendations play a large role in holistic admissions. I might have missed it, but I don’t think it’s been mentioned on the thread. Schools that are numbers based don’t care too much; I know of one application with an execrable essay about Seinfeld’s Master of His Domain that still resulted in acceptance.

DS was accepted at a highly selective school with a high (top 10-20%) but not top GPA, IMO on the basis of exceptional recommendations. It helps if the colleges have relationships with the school and counselors.

Re valedictorians: kids run the risk of messing up their education by a blind quest to game course selection to score the “empty” title of valedictorian. I’ve heard of musical kids who didn’t join band because an A in band wasn’t weighted toward their all-important GPA. Sad.
Now lets also be honest about essays. Maybe the kid is writing the essay him/herself, but maybe the kid is getting assistance on the essay.

My spouse recently told about something she read about someone wrote a long essay on the accomplishment of how to change a lightbulb. Point of that being, one can easily be coached into how to respond to an essay to make it seem like one has done more than the underlying premise. Then there is the issue of outright lying on an essay. Recently, my spouse and I started jokingly telling our child about how to go about writing a response to an example college essay. We were in tears laughing about how easily it was to take actual facts and turn them into some sob story about how rough and disadvantaged our kid was in life. And we then clarified, these aren't lies, it's just all about how you present the facts/situation in the essay.

I read on UC Berkely's application that it's an honor system, if accepted, they will then require grade transcripts to assure one wasn't lying. There's nothing about fact checking/reference checking one's essays written. I think people are naive if they think there's not lying/exaggerations/etc going on with the essays.

At a professional graduate level program I knew about, I was told by someone in the admission process that they had to change their application process to have those in the final acceptance decision process come interview AND they had to write in person an essay. The thought was that it was very apparent from the interview process that the applicant did NOT write the essay by him/herself. Keep in mind, this was a competitive graduate level program, not simply an undergraduate application. I don't believe undergraduate colleges actually make people come in to interview, let alone write an essay in person?
Last edited by IMO on Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:53 pm

^ at my kids’ school, there was a fair amount of oversight of the application process. One reason that I referred to essays and recommendations together is that the counselors wanted to maintain their good relationships at good schools, and informally “policed” the writing of essays. As it happens, the horrible essay I mentioned was suggested by counselors to be scrapped; applicant refused, and got into at least one good numbers focused school. He batted zero at holistic schools. I know that some students have their essays ghost written, or have such extensive “advice” that the authorship is questionable, but I would be surprised if a great essay was submitted from their school with a correspondingly favorable recommendation. Too much was on the line for the counselors.

I know it happens, but I’m not sure about the frequency.
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:20 pm

an_asker wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:31 am
Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:15 am
an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:53 pm
[...]
Let me itemize my questions/points so we can figure out where we are differing:

1) I don't know what a "study hall" is. Please explain.

2) I am not disputing your statement that your high school does not weight GPAs. I was just offering up a suggestion on how to pick one valedictorian.
1) a study hall is a period of the day where you do not have a class, but instead have an open period to study. You get no grade and no credit for it.

2) Your whole argument is on the supposition that there needs to be one valedictorian. I have no idea why you are so hung up about it. Even with weighted grades there are often more than one valedictorian. They all graduated ties for first, so why are you fixated that there has to be just one?
Aah! I get it. Per my best understanding, DS's high school doesn't have a study hall, though I could be wrong!

I never went to high school (or undergrad) here, so all this is quite new to me. However, I have always been hearing about valedictorian getting to speak during graduation (and that there is one valedictorian per class) - and when I went to DS's graduation, I learned that there was something called a Salutatorian as well who got to speak :-)

So, no, I am not fixated as such on having one valedictorian. Rather, I was more wondering how the school picks the kid(s) to speak - do all 11 kids get to speak or does none speak? Hopefully that explains it.
All 11 kids speak. They don’t say much, but they say a few things each.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:40 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:32 am
[...]
DS was accepted at a highly selective school with a high (top 10-20%) but not top GPA, IMO on the basis of exceptional recommendations. It helps if the colleges have relationships with the school and counselors.
[...]
How does one know that the recommendations are/were exceptional ... or not? I have no idea what recommendations DS got (and I believe neither does he).

The one (and only) time we (parents) met his guidance counselor - because we were completely clueless and DS had done everything by himself - he assured us that he only gives good recommendations to all kids. Don't know if I take him at his face value or not - and if I do, how do colleges distinguish between 10 kids all of whom he has recommended?!!

It is probably a cultural thing - or maybe just my inherent introvertedness - but I have never been able to schmooooze anyone in life, neither his teachers, nor my bosses. I remember going to one of the open houses where his classmate's father openly told one of the teachers something about a letter of recommendation for his son. He's pretty good with the smooth technique :-)

an_asker
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:41 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:20 pm
All 11 kids speak. They don’t say much, but they say a few things each.
Thanks - I have closure now LOL :-)

Bottom line: the tradition of valedictorian is different in different schools. Good to know.

an_asker
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by an_asker » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:47 pm

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:52 am
Back when I was in high school — think President Reagan’s first term — there was only a single valedictorian, who was selected as the single student with the greatest academic achievements in the graduating class. GPA was the primary consideration, but in case of a tie other factors came into play, for example academic rigor of the entire course of study.

So, from that perspective, the thought of dozens of valedictorians chosen simply because they have identical GPAs seems like a diminution of the honor. But things change, and that’s okay. It is apparently a different type of honor now, but still remains an honor.

I see similar change among how some post-secondary schools handle the Latin graduation honors. At my elite liberal arts college, only those who competed a senior thesis were eligible for Latin honors and the number of summa honors awarded was strictly limited and were determined by a meeting of the entire faculty who discussed their experience with students nominated for summa and who reviewed and debated each nominee’s course of study and grades. Now no thesis is required and honors are simply determined by cumulative GPA. This also strikes me as a diminution of the honor, and yet receiving Latin honors remains an honorable achievement.

Andy.[...]
Looks like traditions are different across schools as well as - obviously - across time.

In DS's school, for the graduation ceremony, there is one valedictorian and one salutatorian, both of whom get to make a speech apiece. Both based on weighed GPAs that can allegedly be gamed as well* :oops:

In addition, there is special recognition for the Top Ten students in a graduating class of over 800; and for everyone who's maintained a perfect unweighted 4.0. Not everyone in the Top Ten had that coveted 4.0.

[edited to add] * I didn't mean to take away from the accomplishments of the kids. Just that it is a fact of life that apparently one can still boost one's weighted GPA if one was in the business of doing just that!

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by lws » Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:27 am

Get the blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. I could have avoided backing into someone if my Camry had one.
I will never again buy a vehicle without these two features. When I sold the Camry I bought a vehicle with these two features.

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ram
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by ram » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:51 pm

an_asker wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:48 am
epilnk wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:59 am
[...]
You’re probably not going to Harvard. Your valedictorian probably isn’t going to Harvard. It’s just not big enough.
OK, I need to respond to this one for sure :-)

Harvard doesn't look only at valedictorians. So, while you are obviously right that not valedictorians go to Harvard, not all kids admitted by Harvard are valedictorians either. I personally know of three local kids (and I'm sure there are others, even locally as well) who got in this year, and none of them is a valedictorian.
My daughter has a degree from Harvard. She was not her high school valedictorian.
Ram

usagi
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by usagi » Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:37 am

Potentially you may be worrying about "nothing". Check and see if in your state if your child attends and graduates from a community college if they are guaranteed admission as a junior in your state colleges. If they are then the only issue that likely remains is making sure they can also pass the requirements to get into the specialized programs in the college verses general admission.

Employers value ability. Internships in the area of study are the key to unlocking job offers.

Some may not appreciate this comment, but it is reality based. The historic value of an ivy league education lay in the connections you make. The value of those connections is rapidly declining simply because the colleges have dramatically changed the enrollment standards in pursuit of social goals over academics to the long term detriment of the schools reputation. More and more employers are beginning to see this, hence IBM now hires people with non-traditional backgrounds, i.e college not required, demonstrated ability to show you can learn, take direction, and achieve is a requirement.

My 4 children all went to college and all 4 graduated over the past 5 years. They could have could have gone to most any school they wished with 4.0/4.0 GPAs, but they chose state colleges with unique programs in STEM that were specific to their desired profession, they had multiple internships and each emerged with multiple job offers in hand.

By the way, a female in STEM....LOL, heck she will get a job with a degree, women in STEM are still highly sought after.

So in summary, a state college is likely enough, just get into one with a program that is known in her field of study(for example if she wants to be an Actuary go to a school that is a CAE - center of actuarial excellence, there are about 31 in the world and 17 in the U.S. - I only know this because two of my kids are Actuaries) and get internships so you can demonstrate your talent. I would not consider a college that did not have an active internship program with companies throughout the country in their field of major/emphasis.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by jodydavis » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:36 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:53 pm
^ at my kids’ school, there was a fair amount of oversight of the application process. One reason that I referred to essays and recommendations together is that the counselors wanted to maintain their good relationships at good schools, and informally “policed” the writing of essays. As it happens, the horrible essay I mentioned was suggested by counselors to be scrapped; applicant refused, and got into at least one good numbers focused school. He batted zero at holistic schools. I know that some students have their essays ghost written, or have such extensive “advice” that the authorship is questionable, but I would be surprised if a great essay was submitted from their school with a correspondingly favorable recommendation. Too much was on the line for the counselors.

I know it happens, but I’m not sure about the frequency.
I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that personal essays are any less subject to manipulation/gaming than GPA or other metrics. There is no auditing or checking of these essays, so nothing to prevent or detect a broad range of third-party "assistance," everything from brainstorming, to reading and giving suggestions, to mild editing, to more significant editing, to rewriting certain sections, to writing the whole thing. College counselors are subject to the same performance-related pressures as the students and parents themselves. And even if they are honest, they have no ability to really detect cheating by the students or parents. There is literally no check on cheating on this. (And admissions officers acknowledge this problem, though they don't know what to do about it).

And yes, it's unlikely that a bad student who cheats on the essay will get a bunch of strong recommendations. But having a bunch of strong recommendations does not guarantee that a good student wasn't also cheating or getting substantial assistance on the essay. I know, from personal experience, of students who are in the latter category, i.e. excellent students who also got substantial "assistance" on their essays from their parents. Because, after all, the incentive exists just as much (if not more) for those students to cheat, given how competitive the environment is.

HereToLearn
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by HereToLearn » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:21 pm

Elysium wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:44 am
FireProof wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:16 am
Calico wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:55 am


I am not worried about test scores. She took the PSAT and did well enough for aid if she was a junior (but it doesn't count because she did that as a freshman). I think her grades are great (even if she doesn't or others say anything less than all A's is substandard). Like I said, she pretty much has all As in honors and AP classes, just one B so far in honors biology (she may end up with one more B this year too if her grades stay consistent the rest of this year... so we are talking 15 As and 2 Bs by the end of her sophomore year). I think that's great considering these aren't base classes. Her weighted GPA will be something like a 4.24.
Sounds like a humble-brag from either her or you, then. Nothing here indicates that she wouldn't be competitive at all schools, including Harvard and Stanford, depending on the rest of her application - nobody I knew at my high school got 100% As, but plenty went to top 5 schools.
I didn't think it was humble brag at all from OP. He is just sounding off and some data is relevant to this discussion. BTW, a weighted GPA of 4.25 will get you no where close to Ivy and Top 10 schools, nowhere even with perfect SAT scores. I know since my son's peer group, many of them get close of 4.5 GPA with SAT scores above 1500 and none of them get admission to Ivy and Top 10, perhaps there is a case of demographics at play here which I won't get into. But, unless you are willing to take up liberal arts/social sciences it is very unlikely a student with GPA below 4.5 will be considered by elite schools without some hook or special actions.

OP's daughter is a good student, and will get into a good school and that is all that matters. She may even quality for scholarships at many schools, and that is probably the best route.
I need to repeat something I wrote the day this thread started. No one can generalize and say " a weighted GPA of 4.25 will get you no where close to Ivy and Top 10 schools, nowhere even with perfect SAT scores." My child had a 4.27 WGPA and was admitted to three Ivies plus a number of other highly selective schools. You need to know the GPA scale at the applicant's HS. Here is what I wrote on Friday:

"You need to learn the landscape. Two tools: Naviance and your own HS's School Profile. If prepared properly, the School Profile will include a GPA distribution, AP score distribution, mean SAT/ACT/Subject Test scores, % of students attending college by type of school (four year vs two year), and list of AP courses offered. Once you review that info, you should be able to gain an idea of where your daughter falls among her classmates. Very few high schools rank these days (30% according to info reported on Common Data Sets), but a good profile will include GPA distribution. The profile will also give you a feeling for how rigorous your D's HS is."

There has also been discussion about 9th grade course grades not being considered for admission. I am a couple of years away from college admissions but Carnegie Mellon and the UC system (UCLA, Berkeley) used to discard 9th grade GPA. I agree that the vast majority of colleges do consider 9th grade GPA. Some will look at upward trend, but that tends to be smaller and less selective schools, generally, but not exclusively. Many colleges do recalculate HS transcript GPAs to discard the grades of subjects the college does not want to consider in admissions. PE is typically discarded, but not everywhere. Some HS include on the transcript HS level courses taken in middle school (Algebra I & Geometry), whereas other high schools do not include those course grades.

State schools have become increasingly selective due to the cost to paying for college. Some state schools limited the enrollment of OOS students to specific percentages. I believe UVA is 30% and UNC-Chapel Hill is 18%. I thought Berkeley was also at 30%, but not as confident of that info. Many residents of Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland find themselves shut out of UMD-College Park.

Count me in as one who found College Confidential to be very informative but it is now a hopeless mess after a recent redesign.

almostretired1965
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by almostretired1965 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:20 pm

It is demonstrably harder today to get into a highly selective college, both in an absolute and relative sense. Back in my day, in the 1980s, if you had an SAT > 1500 and was at the top of your class at a decent high school, you were pretty much guaranteed to be admitted to an Ivy equivalent institution even if you didn't have much else to distinguish your application. I know, that was me ...... These days, not so much.

My personal opinion is that most parents, and it seems to escalate as you go up the income scale, worry too much. I know that folks have different opinions about this, but I think the most important thing is to find some place that is a good fit for your child's maturity and skills. It is not fun to be in the bottom of the class at MIT, even if you somehow manage to graduate.

psteinx
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by psteinx » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:27 pm

almostretired1965 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:20 pm
Back in my day, in the 1980s, if you had an SAT > 1500 and was at the top of your class at a decent high school, you were pretty much guaranteed to be admitted to an Ivy equivalent institution even if you didn't have much else to distinguish your application.
Keep in mind that SAT (and probably ACT) scores are not what they used to be. 1500+ SAT, back in the 1980s, was CRAZY high. Now it's quite good but not THAT remarkable. The SATs were clearly recentered ca. 1995 (it was well publicized at the time), and have probably drifted higher (for elite kids) subsequently, due to possible intentional/unintentional softening of the test (i.e. it's perhaps easier), and also due to likely more/better test prep by the kids.

And while very good SAT scores and GPA in the 1980s was probably a clearer path to elite admission, ~30 years ago, I don't think it was a slam dunk even back then, especially for the very top of the heap.

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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by psteinx » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:31 pm

HereToLearn wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:21 pm
State schools have become increasingly selective due to the cost to paying for college. Some state schools limited the enrollment of OOS students to specific percentages. I believe UVA is 30% and UNC-Chapel Hill is 18%. I thought Berkeley was also at 30%, but not as confident of that info. Many residents of Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland find themselves shut out of UMD-College Park.
One should clearly distinguish here between the "elite" state schools, that draw tremendous interest from in-state, PLUS a lot of OOS interest from top kids, from more pedestrian state Us

FWIW, I think UVA was at ~35% OOS back in the 1980s, and is around there today. OOS public elites were probably more of a bargain back then. Today, they're only modestly cheaper than the top o' the heap (~top 20 privates), and, given probably stingy scholarships for OOS kids, are not necessarily so financially attractive compared to privates in the ~20-40 range (i.e. similar ranking to the top publics).

There's a further class of OOS publics that are NOT elite, but are good and are also pretty generous in trying to attract academically strong OOS kids. Alabama is the obvious one here, but I think there are others.

HereToLearn
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Re: How hard is it to get into college?

Post by HereToLearn » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:08 pm

psteinx wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:31 pm
HereToLearn wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:21 pm
State schools have become increasingly selective due to the cost to paying for college. Some state schools limited the enrollment of OOS students to specific percentages. I believe UVA is 30% and UNC-Chapel Hill is 18%. I thought Berkeley was also at 30%, but not as confident of that info. Many residents of Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland find themselves shut out of UMD-College Park.
One should clearly distinguish here between the "elite" state schools, that draw tremendous interest from in-state, PLUS a lot of OOS interest from top kids, from more pedestrian state Us

FWIW, I think UVA was at ~35% OOS back in the 1980s, and is around there today. OOS public elites were probably more of a bargain back then. Today, they're only modestly cheaper than the top o' the heap (~top 20 privates), and, given probably stingy scholarships for OOS kids, are not necessarily so financially attractive compared to privates in the ~20-40 range (i.e. similar ranking to the top publics).

There's a further class of OOS publics that are NOT elite, but are good and are also pretty generous in trying to attract academically strong OOS kids. Alabama is the obvious one here, but I think there are others.
I only mentioned the more selective state universities as those are the ones I am more familiar with. And yes, Alabama and Oklahoma offer excellent merit aid to high stat OOS students.

I am not sure if you are saying that UVA's OOS admit rate is 35% or if the percentage of their total enrollment is 35%. I only have figures going back to 1991, but the OOS % was 35% then and is now, so my 30% stat above is incorrect. The admit rates were 50% in-state and 24% OOS in 1991, and were 38% & 21% last year.

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