College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

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LiveSimple
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College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:50 am

College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful
Thought to add this thread, so that we can learn from parents, who went through this earlier and from parents enjoying the moments this summer \ fall.
At least share our thoughts !

My son will be applying this fall to colleges.

He is academically good with many AP courses, taking college level math classes, 4.0+ GPA,
ACT 34
SAT Subject tests, Math 800, Physics 800, Chemistry 790

Very active in Science Olympiads, will be the president for the school Science Olympiads in his senior years.

Have state and national level math competition ranking. In some form, he will be one of the top 10 math kids in the state among the college admission students. From middle school years, among the top 10 state level ranking, 6 of them are from his class and go along for all these years. My son may fall in the bottom of this list.

Sports wise does on and off, keeps himself healthy. Nothing of the sort on leadership in sports.

All his seniors of the same profile, go into pure sciences mostly physics, chemistry, math. They all want more intellectual and engineering seems too easy than pure science.

He is planning to apply for some "reach" colleges and has not finalized the list. Slowly says, he may apply for MIT.
Match \ safety college will the state college, will apply here too. Highly competitive state school. Out of state students also compete, due to its ranking.
Had personally letters from the Math professor and college admissions director stating to apply to the college.
May be due to the state level math ranking database. Not sure if this helps during the admissions.

As a parent, just watching him, be ready to help, but he is almost on his own on thinking. No problem, let him decide.

What other college I do need to bring to his attention, for him to consider.

Earlier from here , got the note on HYPSM

Harvard -> Not interested, says Harvard is not that great on sciences \ engineering, only business ( His words \ his friends words)
Yale -> May consider to add to the list
Princeton -> No discussions, on this.
Standford -> No discussions, on this.
MIT > This week, he said "I am planning to apply"
Harvey Mudd -> A senior went, not sure if he will consider.

Any thoughts from your experiences, appreciated.

Also we hear from the seniors, the competition for these colleges are from the their classmates and students from the neighborhood schools and not from somewhere. How to stand out ?

Will take, wherever he wants to apply or go. Mostly he follows his friends \ seniors of his profile.

Just as a parent wondering, should we chime in some thoughts for his considerations, as time will come and go !
Last edited by LiveSimple on Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:53 pm, edited 5 times in total.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:39 am

Does he know anything about your willingness or ability to pay? Some of these schools cost $60K+ per year full pay. For lower ranked schools, he may be able to get merit scholarships. Are you willing to pay whatever it costs for wherever he wants to go? If not, let him know so he can plan accordingly.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:49 am

What other engineering schools is he looking at? Surely, there have to be other really good schools beyond MIT.
How about Virginia Tech? What are the back-up schools are his list should he not be accepted into his first choice or even second choice.
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:14 am

Search cost of attendance. Only Princeton is under $60k on that list with HM at $67k

The more exclusive the school, the less merit aid students get. Look on naviance to see how many at your kid's high school applied and how many were accepted

Some nuts and bolts: most colleges use the common app but high end schools like you cited also may require extra essays and of course not only will you file fafsa but also css

Schools lose things that you send and many don't bother to tell you. My son transfered for this coming fall. I will say that BC was excellent at letting him know when anything was missing and sent acceptance and financial aid together very early. Northeastern let him know nothing until he inquired and even then used their own made-up name for one of the things needed that all other colleges use another standard name. Worcester Polytech was very late in acceptance ( more than a month after BC) and financial aid was a month after that. He starts on the 27th and only learned Monday that he has housing. Don't be afraid to email, call or visit the college of choice for answers. We found that a LOT of people in admissions at all colleges seem to be on vacation a lot.

If at all possible, talk with graduates of colleges. For example, Virginia Tech is top rated in the world for graduate level power electronics. But their focus is on grad students. Worcester Polytech focuses on undergrad almost exclusively. Some colleges are great with theory but give the student no practical experience while others concentrate on project based courses so the student has some immediate value to an employer upon graduation.

Have backup schools but applying to 10 colleges is not necessary. What's a good number? I would say 3 is fine.
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LiveSimple
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:23 am

Thanks Grt2bOutdoors.
Same thinking here, what schools to consider and will be a match and have a better chance ?
Working on it, we will see what pans out here.
Earlier he wanted to only apply to state school, now he is thinking to look broader !?

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Watty
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Watty » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:33 am

The school ranking and reputation mean very little since the department rankings can vary a lot. For example if he goes into chemistry in a top rated school, the chemistry department might be one of the weaker departments at that school.

One quote that I remember from going through college selections was, "It is not about figuring out the best college, it is about finding the best fit for your kid." Within reason a good school where he thrives will be a lot better than a higher ranked school where it does not fit in as well.

Do not underestimate the importance of the campus social life for him.

I went to a large state university for the first two years that had a bit of party reputation so I learned how to do that some :beer. I then transferred to the state university engineering and science campus that was about 85% male at that time(I am male). More than a few of the guys there did fit the somewhat socially awkward science geek stereotype. With the gender imbalance many of the guys were intimidated and didn't even try or naturally develop their social and dating skills since they figured they were so badly outnumber.

I lived in a coed dorm that was about evenly split between between guys and girls and what I found amazing was that many(like half) of the girls did not have boyfriends or date that much because the guys in general were so awkward around the girls that they didn't know how to act around them. In general it wasn't because the girls were so focused on their schoolwork that they were not interested in guys so that was sort of depressing for some of them to be outnumbered by guys by 8 to 1 and still not have a boyfriend. I am not exactly Don Juan but having developed some social skills at the large state university I actually had a lot more active social life at the engineering campus than I did at the party school. :P

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by KlangFool » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:40 am

TS,

1) You live in which state??

2) Where does he ranked in PSAT aka National Merit Ranking??

KlangFool

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LiveSimple
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:44 am

Watty wrote:The school ranking and reputation mean very little since the department rankings can vary a lot. For example if he goes into chemistry in a top rated school, the chemistry department might be one of the weaker departments at that school.

One quote that I remember from going through college selections was, "It is not about figuring out the best college, it is about finding the best fit for your kid." Within reason a good school where he thrives will be a lot better than a higher ranked school where it does not fit in as well.

Do not underestimate the importance of the campus social life for him.

I went to a large state university for the first two years that had a bit of party reputation so I learned how to do that some :beer. I then transferred to the state university engineering and science campus that was about 85% male at that time(I am male). More than a few of the guys there did fit the somewhat socially awkward science geek stereotype. With the gender imbalance many of the guys were intimidated and didn't even try or naturally develop their social and dating skills since they figured they were so badly outnumber.

I lived in a coed dorm that was about evenly split between between guys and girls and what I found amazing was that many(like half) of the girls did not have boyfriends or date that much because the guys in general were so awkward around the girls that they didn't know how to act around them. In general it wasn't because the girls were so focused on their schoolwork that they were not interested in guys so that was sort of depressing for some of them to be outnumbered by guys by 8 to 1 and still not have a boyfriend. I am not exactly Don Juan but having developed some social skills at the large state university I actually had a lot more active social life at the engineering campus than I did at the party school. :P


Point well taken, let us see, what he does ?

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:51 am

I am not exactly Don Juan but having developed some social skills at the large state university I actually had a lot more active social life at the engineering campus than I did at the party school.
Yup. DS (darling son, precious snowflake) is not an Adonis, but has found that his social life is amplified by his relaxed and non-desperate vibe around girls.

OP, if he's already signed up for it, I guess take it, but I would not generally recommend re-taking a 34 ACT. The Admissons Officer (AO) responses could run the gamut from indifference to red flag. Unless there's some cutoff at a particular school for honors, I don't think it matters. For sure it won't matter at HYPMS.

Have your son read this. It applies to not only MIT: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways Applying sideways is important for highly selective schools.

Figure out your finances and share what needs to be shared with your son. Make sure that your safeties include financial safeties. A school that the child won't want to attend is not a safety.

I will put in a personal plug for applying to broad rather than narrow schools. DS initially was intending on applying to MIT, CalTech, etc. While he remains a "STEMish" kid as a rising sophomore, Yale provides much more in the way of non-STEMish classes for him. Everyone's mileage will of course vary, but teenagers change their minds and interests. Btw, I was very pleased to see that your son is not at all interested in Harvard but is considering Yale: you have raised him well :sharebeer

ETA: Fairness dictates that I defend Harvard in that it's actually good for more than business (actually, they don't have an undergraduate business major). Not as good as Yale, and the kids are much nicer at Yale, :D
Last edited by TomatoTomahto on Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

figuringitout
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by figuringitout » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:04 am

My mom was a college guidance counselor for 30 years, so it was drilled into me on the things to do to get into my dream school. I think it is great to apply to his dream schools, but he should also apply to some safety schools just in case. You said the state school was competitive, so I would recommend he apply to another school that you are more than confident he would get into. I had a few friends who applied to MIT, Yale, etc. and were so sure they would get into one of them and in the end they got into none. They were then in panic mode and had to apply to colleges that had late registrations. Does he do any volunteering? If not, I would recommend he start. Colleges want well rounded students. He is going to be competing against very smart students who will all look the same on paper. Volunteering or starting a club/activity could help make him stand out. He needs to make appointments with the colleges he wants to attend. You want the colleges to know you are very interested and just aren’t applying to see if he is can get in. Set up a meeting with an admissions counselor. Make sure he gets the contact info from the counselor so he can send a thank you note. A lot of schools allow prospective students to meet with professors or spend the night with a college student to see what it is like on campus. After he applies to the colleges he should keep them updated on his accomplishments (e.g. if he places at state or nationals I would have him forward that article to the college admissions office). It shows he is very interested in the school. He really needs to concentrate on his essay(s). These are other ways he can stand out. Good luck!

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by cadreamer2015 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:10 am

I think you will get a much broader range of input from College Confidential, which is a site as devoted to college admissions as bogleheads is to investment. Try looking at their discussion board: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by nimo956 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:20 am

Be sure not to rule out small liberal arts colleges that might provide more support for undergraduates than larger research universities. Anecdotally, a friend of mine thrived as a math major at Williams, whereas I found the support and guidance at Cornell to be lacking. This is an important consideration given the difficultly of these majors (and the stress that comes with that).
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:24 am

I had a few friends who applied to MIT, Yale, etc. and were so sure they would get into one of them and in the end they got into none.

Anyone thinking that they have a good chance of getting into schools that accept single digit percentages of students is delusional (eta: unless they are a celebrity or celebrity's child, already won a Nobel prize, etc.). It wasn't the case years ago, and today is even less the case.

A surprisingly large percentage of perfect 2400 SAT scorers are turned down by selective colleges. Apply sideways.

Does he do any volunteering? If not, I would recommend he start. Colleges want well rounded students. He is going to be competing against very smart students who will all look the same on paper. Volunteering or starting a club/activity could help make him stand out.

AOs are clever bunnies. If you haven't volunteered before, doing so now will be transparent. Some colleges want well rounded students, but most colleges want a well rounded class which can be achieved by accepting a diverse group of pointy individuals.

And, ditto to nimo956. Additional anecdote: a classmate of my son's turned down Princeton for Williams, and is thriving. Might have at Princeton also, but didn't think she "fit."

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by goodenoughinvestor » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:25 am

1. Admission to elite colleges (especially private ones but also some of the "public ivies") is really a lottery system. Thanks to his test scores, GPA and extra-curriculars, your son has made the "cut-off"--which means he gets a lottery ticket for each school. If he has a "hook" (legacy, under represented minority, acknowledged math genius, he plays the tuba and they need one) he gets some extra lottery tickets.

2. Because there is no way of predicting lottery results, the most important decision for your son to make is which safety schools to apply to. Top students often apply to safeties as an afterthought. Sometimes they don't get into sure-bet schools because the college can tell they aren't really interested and are unlikely to attend. So make sure he only applies to safety schools he feels positively about--both in terms of academics and social life--and that are affordable. And then make sure the school knows he is genuinely interested in attending (for example, he could visit or contact the college's admissions officer for his region, and he should absolutely write any "optional" application essays.)

3. For kids in your son's position, the most helpful parents are those who are supportive ("you'll have a great future no matter where you go to school"). The worst thing you could do, if he "only" gets into his safeties, is to express disappointment IN him--as opposed to FOR him. Kids are highly attuned to the difference.

Best of luck to your son!

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:37 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:Does he know anything about your willingness or ability to pay? Some of these schools cost $60K+ per year full pay. For lower ranked schools, he may be able to get merit scholarships. Are you willing to pay whatever it costs for wherever he wants to go? If not, let him know so he can plan accordingly.


Yeap, I agree. We did the same for my daughter, she went to a lower ranked school, with almost a full ride.
She has plans to do post graduation, and in her case any undergrad, from any school was fine.

Really, I do not think, he knows or willing to understand about "our willingness or ability to pay"
Anyways we are planning to meet in the middle. If he gets a good scholarship, we are good.

Also we do need to compensate our daughter for her higher studies or some other ways, if we spend for our son for his undergrad. :|

Still a question for us as well, are we able or are we willing :shock:
For sure, we may not be able to meet his full tuition at a high tuition school. Will the need based or loans suffix ?

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:49 am

goodenoughinvestor wrote:1. Admission to elite colleges (especially private ones but also some of the "public ivies") is really a lottery system. Thanks to his test scores, GPA and extra-curriculars, your son has made the "cut-off"--which means he gets a lottery ticket for each school. If he has a "hook" (legacy, under represented minority, acknowledged math genius, he plays the tuba and they need one) he gets some extra lottery tickets.

2. Because there is no way of predicting lottery results, the most important decision for your son to make is which safety schools to apply to. Top students often apply to safeties as an afterthought. Sometimes they don't get into sure-bet schools because the college can tell they aren't really interested and are unlikely to attend. So make sure he only applies to safety schools he feels positively about--both in terms of academics and social life--and that are affordable. And then make sure the school knows he is genuinely interested in attending (for example, he could visit or contact the college's admissions officer for his region, and he should absolutely write any "optional" application essays.)

3. For kids in your son's position, the most helpful parents are those who are supportive ("you'll have a great future no matter where you go to school"). The worst thing you could do, if he "only" gets into his safeties, is to express disappointment IN him--as opposed to FOR him. Kids are highly attuned to the difference.

Best of luck to your son!


Thanks goodenoughinvestor.
Thinking in the same lines on your analog ( truth ) that the admissions is a lottery system. Still which lotteries to buy, to be in the pool.
I am trying to understand better #2, we may need to identify the safeties.
#3, We are supportive and open, not nowhere thinking that he should do this or that or get this results.
We were like that from his middle school, so not much different now. Maybe more anxiety of which lottery he may win !
Completely accept on "you'll have a great future no matter where you go to school"

As a parent we wish best to our kids, educationally, socially and have a wonderful and peaceful life. Nothing much.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:52 am

You probably want something like a normal distribution: a few reaches, many matches (high and low), and a few safeties. If the HS has Naviance, it can be very useful in identifying which schools are appropriate in each category.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:01 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:You probably want something like a normal distribution: a few reaches, many matches (high and low), and a few safeties. If the HS has Naviance, it can be very useful in identifying which schools are appropriate in each category.


thanks TomatoTomahto.

I have to grasp a lot from your previous post. Will respond later, to a meeting now !

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by JasonF » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:09 am

It's shocking how ultra-competitive colleges have become with the advent of the common app and international students.

My daughter is starting at a "top 25" private U (per US News) this fall and had great grades (from a highly competitive and well-regarded NJ private school), and "decent" board scores (nothing amazing). Her challenge was that there are literally tens of thousands of 4.0 students (AP/honors courses only) with good/great board scores all applying to the same colleges. We have a autistic son who can demand 100% of our time and so we hired a private college counselor to help us through the process. Our fear was that our son would have one of his periodic rough patches right a crunch time when the apps/essays were due. This counselor took 100% of the pressure off us and was worth the price we paid (and then some). Here are our observations:

1. Everyone applying to top tier schools has amazing stats. Of course we think our kids are special/unique but they're not - even if they have statewide academic credentials. The number 1 STEM kid in your state has 49 other kids with the same resume. And they all want to go to the same schools.

As a result a "hook" is very important. Several hooks will make your child stand out even more. In my daughter's case, her hook was the blending of her three passions/life situation: horses, photography and living with a disabled brother. She started a business that sold photos of people jumping their horses at horse shows, used the proceeds to rescue horses from imminent slaughter (literally buying them from slaughter auctions) and then finding forever homes for these forgotten animals. Many were subsequently used by therapeutic riding programs serving autistic and developmentally disabled children. So this showed community involvement, compassion, entrepreneurial spirit and above all passion. Schools LOVE to see someone pursue a passion and do well in it. I live just a couple miles from the center of Princeton's campus and many of my neighbors are professors/administrators there. They echo the belief that passion is what makes someone stand out. Find your son's hook and broadcast it well.

2. On the other hand, someone with stats a mile wide and an inch deep won't stand out. One of my daughter's best friends had better grades, much better board scores, amazing connections and dozens and dozens of extra curricular activities. But my guess is that admissions counselors saw that this was a resume padding exercise and nothing jumped out in particular. So she's attending a school that, while very good, is maybe a rung or two lower than what you would expect.

3. The whole college admissions process has become this ever-escalating game of test prep, resume padding, and incredible peer pressure among students not to go to a "lame" school. Visit lots of colleges and the most important thing is to find the place that your son feels most comfortable - even if it's not your first choice. If grad school is in his future, that's where prestige really matters.

4. This entire process can seem completely arbitrary. Don't get fazed by the proverbial small envelope with the rejection letter. For reasons that completely mystify us, our daughter got outright rejected from some of her so-called target schools yet got into her top 2 reaches. Go figure. Schools (especially private schools with no state quotas to fulfill) are trying to construct a class and in any given year they may be chock full of kids with a particular set of attributes. I'm convinced that if my daughter applied to the same schools in a different year the results could be 180-degrees different.

5. Be very aware of the pressure our kids feel junior/senior year. Your son is very high achieving and I'm sure hangs out with other high-achieving students. College, and the pressure to get into a "top" school is the primary topic of conversation. Try to be the source of anxiety relief for your son rather than adding to it.

Good luck, enjoy the process and remember it's not the end of the road, just another milestone along the way.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:33 am

JasonF wrote:
As a result a "hook" is very important. Several hooks will make your child stand out even more. In my daughter's case, her hook was the blending of her three passions/life situation: horses, photography and living with a disabled brother. She started a business that sold photos of people jumping their horses at horse shows, used the proceeds to rescue horses from imminent slaughter (literally buying them from slaughter auctions) and then finding forever homes for these forgotten animals. Many were subsequently used by therapeutic riding programs serving autistic and developmentally disabled children. So this showed community involvement, compassion, entrepreneurial spirit and above all passion. Schools LOVE to see someone pursue a passion and do well in it. I live just a couple miles from the center of Princeton's campus and many of my neighbors are professors/administrators there. They echo the belief that passion is what makes someone stand out. Find your son's hook and broadcast it well.



JasonF, Truly amazing to see your post.
Really got your though on the hook and your daughter really did amazing things, for her passion.
Be well, best wishes to your daughter and your son.
Last edited by LiveSimple on Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:12 am

Really, I do not think, he knows or willing to understand about "our willingness or ability to pay"
Anyways we are planning to meet in the middle. If he gets a good scholarship, we are good.

Also we do need to compensate our daughter for her higher studies or some other ways, if we spend for our son for his undergrad. :|

Still a question for us as well, are we able or are we willing :shock:
For sure, we may not be able to meet his full tuition at a high tuition school. Will the need based or loans suffix ?


Really, if your son is applying this fall, it is not at all acceptable for you not to know whether you are able or willing to pay $250K for his education starting next summer. You owe it to him to decide and communicate now.

Elite colleges mostly do not have merit scholarships. Many meet "full need", but that is defined by their standards not yours. As a rough guide, they will expect you to pay 25-30% of gross pay (AGI plus any retirement contributions added back in) plus 5.6% of your non-retirement savings. Most colleges now have net price calculators which will give you a slightly better idea of what you will pay, but you could still be in for a surprise. I can't recommend loans at all, except the small loans he will be able to take out, but people do all sorts of foolish things I wouldn't recommend.

I strongly second the idea of checking out college confidential, both to help in selecting schools he should apply to, and for you to get a better understanding of cost so you can tell him NOW what is realistic.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:24 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:Really, if your son is applying this fall, it is not at all acceptable for you not to know whether you are able or willing to pay $250K for his education starting next summer. You owe it to him to decide and communicate now.


Yes I understand, we have a pool of money for education for both kids, they know each has half of the pool.
We may also add some additional money to the education pool from our non retirement savings, if needed.

Alternatively just spend the next few years on college tuition, and make no savings for us or no entertainment \ travel.
Watch the child going to school is entertainment, may be a T shirt and a car decal :? :happy Help the next years parents here as entertainment :D

Still unclear; If we have to spend less on education, maybe we can retire a few years early or at least has that option.
If we spend more on education, we may have to work a few more years.

We are fine with both approaches.

In one calculation we will end up the same, if he goes to a state science college with no scholarship and goes to out of state high tuition school, with some need based assistance.
Last edited by LiveSimple on Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jcraz13
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Jcraz13 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:31 am

The biggest gift you can give your child is not having them graduate with oodles of debt. The average college graduate now has somewhere between 50-100K in debt which is crazy.

After you have done your work on admissions and applications, I would suggest telling your kid (unless funds are unlimited) that he or she should apply to four or five schools, visit the top three, and make a decision. We always told our kids they may not get number one if the bucks or scholarships are not there.

Talk to a HS or college counselor about grants and scholarships, there are a lot out there people are not aware of .

Lastly, my wife is a college and career counselor in HS. If your child is a senior it is far better to apply THIS fall and get in , then make choices, then scramble in spring when everyone else is applying. Early admissions can gain a lot..don't procrastinate!

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Beliavsky » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:39 am

Jcraz13 wrote:The biggest gift you can give your child is not having them graduate with oodles of debt. The average college graduate now has somewhere between 50-100K in debt which is crazy.


I think those numbers are too high. Googling "average student loan debt college graduates" I get this:

Seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2013 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,400 per borrower. This represents a two percent increase from the average debt of 2012 public and nonprofit graduates.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:50 am

Jcraz13 wrote:The biggest gift you can give your child is not having them graduate with oodles of debt. The average college graduate now has somewhere between 50-100K in debt which is crazy.

Early admissions can gain a lot..don't procrastinate!


Yeap agreed, The biggest gift you can give your child is not having them graduate with oodles of debt. That is where we are working towards.

Yeap agreed, Early admissions can gain a lot..don't procrastinate!

Last few years, it is a Christmas gift to know, which friends kid got into which college. This year our son is in the list.
All were Facebook updates or social media updates, however need to check with my kids to know.

He will be applying before Oct 31 ? and get some results before Christmas and early Jan.

We (he is) are not planning to apply in spring, unless something weird happens in the planning / applying and need to back fill in spring.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by jhfenton » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:45 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:ETA: Fairness dictates that I defend Harvard in that it's actually good for more than business (actually, they don't have an undergraduate business major). Not as good as Yale, and the kids are much nicer at Yale, :D

All your advice is suspect after a statement like this. :P :wink:

John, Harvard '92, Duke Law '94

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:51 pm

jhfenton wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:ETA: Fairness dictates that I defend Harvard in that it's actually good for more than business (actually, they don't have an undergraduate business major). Not as good as Yale, and the kids are much nicer at Yale, :D

All your advice is suspect after a statement like this. :P :wink:

John, Harvard '92, Duke Law '94


Well, you got your sordid background past the Duke folks, so apparently they taught you something at H. :twisted:

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:59 pm

Re student debt:
A big gift for your kids is that they won't be saddled with student loan debt,
BUT, that gift is empty if they aren't reassured that you won't be relying on them during your retirement.

I'm a supporter of spending what one can on kids' educations, but not a penny more than one can.

I think backing off on retirement contributions while the kids are in college, while suboptimal, is reasonable

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by gatorking » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:27 pm

I saw this post today and thought it was appropriate for this conversation:
http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-b ... e-college/

Also, within the post is a link to a free book from on college admissions:
http://www.morrisschooldistrict.org/cms ... esbook.pdf
"If it weren't for color printers, and man's need to find patterns where there are none, investment advisers would be a whole lot poorer." - yobria

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:52 pm

gatorking wrote:I saw this post today and thought it was appropriate for this conversation:
http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-b ... e-college/

Also, within the post is a link to a free book from on college admissions:
http://www.morrisschooldistrict.org/cms ... esbook.pdf


Appreciate the links, downloaded the ebook, will read.
Exactly this kind of help, I was looking for.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:55 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:Re student debt:
A big gift for your kids is that they won't be saddled with student loan debt,
BUT, that gift is empty if they aren't reassured that you won't be relying on them during your retirement.

I'm a supporter of spending what one can on kids' educations, but not a penny more than one can.

I think backing off on retirement contributions while the kids are in college, while suboptimal, is reasonable


Thanks for the note.
There is no need for relying on them during your retirement.
We have a simple living, can live of off two social security. Savings are additional for more comfort \ peace of mind.

But who knows what the future has for us.

"I think backing off on retirement contributions while the kids are in college, while suboptimal, is reasonable"
Couple of my friends, worked (more years) to pay for their kids education. Still they are working after kids graduated and settled, may be not for the need, but they enjoy what they do.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by jodydavis » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:20 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:ETA: Fairness dictates that I defend Harvard in that it's actually good for more than business (actually, they don't have an undergraduate business major). Not as good as Yale, and the kids are much nicer at Yale, :D


Having graduated from Yale, I agree with the last statement. :D But more seriously (and especially since the OP's son seems most interested in STEM), my impression is that Harvard is stronger in most STEM areas than Yale. And I say that having majored in physics there. That said, this was some years ago, so maybe Yale has caught up a bit.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by mervinj7 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:37 pm

jhfenton wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:ETA: Fairness dictates that I defend Harvard in that it's actually good for more than business (actually, they don't have an undergraduate business major). Not as good as Yale, and the kids are much nicer at Yale, :D

All your advice is suspect after a statement like this. :P :wink:

John, Harvard '92, Duke Law '94


Oooh, I haven't seen a H vs. Y thread in this forum in awhile. :sharebeer
That said, no reason to discount Harvard because of what your's son's friends say about its science program. It's definitely improved enormously in the past 25 years and if you care about the rankings (I have my own issues with them), there are #5 for engineering:
http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandrevie ... ce-physics

Plus, that extra $400 million from Paulson should help it beat Yale. :moneybag
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/educa ... .html?_r=0

Full Disclosure: My wife and I are alumni interviewers for the local Harvard club in Silicon Valley and actively interview several candidates each year. Most of these students are interested in careers in STEM but that's probably because that's what their parents work in. If other parents are interested and/or have specific questions, I can do a post one day sharing my experiences from the "other side" of the table.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:42 pm

Full Disclosure: My wife and I are alumni interviewers for the local Harvard club in Silicon Valley and actively interview several candidates each year. Most of these students are interested in careers in STEM but that's probably because that's what their parents work in. If other parents are interested and/or have specific questions, I can do a post one day sharing my experiences from the "other side" of the table.

I, for one, would be interested in such a thread.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Sents » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:51 pm

As someone who has worked with high schoolers who were accepted to Stanford, Caltech, etc, I would say your child is competitive and has a realistic chance of being accepted to many top schools. Still, I recommend your child also applies to a variety of schools not at the top because you never know what can happen at the admissions office. Also, just be supportive of your child no matter where he attends University. Doing very well in University is more important than where one attends University (usually). I know many successful people who attended not top-ranked schools and still became Professors at top schools, award winning professionals, etc, etc.

PS: Professor Frank Doyle will be the newly appointed Dean of Engineering at Harvard. I have a feeling under his leadership, and a new $400 million endowment, Harvard engineering will thrive. Also, Harvard's chemistry, physics and biology programs are top ranked, so if your child is interested in those fields he should perhaps reconsider his assessment.
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by itstoomuch » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:11 pm

+1 to all replies.
My opinion didn't count 14 years ago. I only had to figure out how to pay after 9/11. :confused :oops:
CollegeConfidential was a lot of fun. I aged out.
The two pieces of advice that I got from DS: 1) have fun at the chosen school. 2)s/ he will have more fun if time management is religiously practiced.
GL :sharebeer
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by psteinx » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:12 pm

mervinj7 wrote:If other parents are interested and/or have specific questions, I can do a post one day sharing my experiences from the "other side" of the table.


OK, here are some thoughts from an outsider, mainly on the interview side of the equation. I'd be interested in your reaction(s).

Preface:
I don't recall interviewing for any college back in the 1980s, except for one merit scholarship after I'd been accepted. So it's kind of foreign territory for me.

Thoughts:
I'm a little puzzled about college interviews in general. They seem somewhat pointless. Most of the highly selective schools that still emphasize them are down to single digit or low double digit admission rates. That means that perhaps 10-20 kids are interviewed for every one offered admission.

Now, if this was, say, a job interview, where there is pre-interview screening (based mainly on resumes), and the job interview itself is the crucial decision point for those passing the initial screen, then it would make more sense. But my understanding is that at Harvard and others like it, all applicants are encouraged to interview (including those who are deep long shots, at best), and that the weight of the interview itself, as an admissions factor, is pretty low. Furthermore, reading from some of the interviewees (on CC or wherever), it appears that some interviewers are relatively unprofessional, and just tell stories about their college days and whatnot (i.e. emphasis on the interviewer, rather than the interviewee). A perhaps overly cynical reading/guess would be that interviews are as much to increase the attachment of the interviewer to the university (for future donations and such), as to add value to the admissions process.

So, that's a fairly negative impression from me (and again, note my minimal, if any, firsthand experience). I don't mean to beat up on you as an interviewer. Possibly I'm off base (or even out of the ballpark :) ). But I'd be interested in your thoughts on the interview process, how it fits into admissions as a whole, how much it's really valued by the admissions office (to the extent that you can tell), and maybe what you and the admissions office are looking for. (I'd imagine poise to be one thing that can come out of an interview more clearly than from a written application, but that's a guess).
Last edited by psteinx on Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by NYGiantsFan » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:15 pm

Considering your son is good with math, you may want consider Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences program at top tier university
http://www.mmss.northwestern.edu/

It's highly competitive and requires separate application in addition to regular application.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:48 pm

NYGiantsFan wrote:Considering your son is good with math, you may want consider Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences program at top tier university
http://www.mmss.northwestern.edu/

It's highly competitive and requires separate application in addition to regular application.


Great thought, I will let DS know.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:12 pm

mervinj7 wrote: If other parents are interested and/or have specific questions, I can do a post one day sharing my experiences from the "other side" of the table.


mervinj7, We had experiences for the last several years where we bring in college interviewers from various colleges and talk to students.
Listened to many of them myself.

Every interviewer had stated "My interview have no bearing on your admission. Admission offices, do not give much weight age on our interview with the students. I am here to talk about the college, such that you can make a educated decision"

However, I always think that the interviewers always rank their interviewees, once you make the top of the list in an interview, then the student may be pooled for the next lottery system. If you miss the top few spots in the interview, than the chances are slim to get to the next level.

Please comment ! with whatever you can disclose.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by gasman » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:42 pm

I recently went through the college admission process for my kids. You cannot underestimate how competitive the top schools have become. National Merit Scholars with perfect grades get turned down all the time from the Ivies + Stanford, UChicago, MIT, et al. There are more than 10,000 high schools in the US. That means 10,000 +valedictorians and 10,000+ salutatorians. Many are now vying for these schools.

30 years ago when I graduated, the Ivies drew very heavily from the Northeast. Now they draw nationally and internationally. Each year brings a new all time high in numbers of applicants per spot. Avoid going on tours when schools are not in session. You need to get a feel for the students and if the fit is right. Tours are all the same, an architectural tour, coupled with a sales pitch.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by zeep » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:54 pm

Large schools and smaller schools have very different personalities. Encourage your son to explore a few of the elite smaller schools, and "compare and contrast" them with large state schools and the "usual suspects" like HYPS, MIT and CalTech. In addition to Harvey Mudd, Carleton and Swarthmore have strong programs in a number of the sciences. Check out this link: http://www.collegetransitions.com/blog/colleges-that-are-probably-better-than-harvard/ I'm not bashing on HYPS etc.; it's all a matter of the fit for your kid. For many, the smaller schools may provide a better fit for the serious undergraduate.

For an excellent STEM school that is slightly less competive and a great bargain, take a look at Rice.

Here's another link we found enlightening about MIT: https://twofish.wordpress.com/why-you-should-or-should-not-go-to-mit/

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:55 pm

^^ old stats, but there are probably more now than then
Across the United States there are 26,407 public secondary schools and 10,693 private secondary schools. (Digest of Education Statistics, 2001, Table 89)


ETA: and some schools have silly numbers of valedictorians. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teachi ... _many.html
An Ohio school district celebrated its high school graduation season this year with 222 valedictorians.
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:59 pm

gasman wrote:Tours are all the same, an architectural tour, coupled with a sales pitch.
I don't know how many schools do this, but DS attended one forum that was led by current upperclassmen. DS said that it was pretty "raw and real," since no parents and/or school officials were allowed to attend.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by itstoomuch » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:05 pm

LiveSimple wrote:
mervinj7 wrote: If other parents are interested and/or have specific questions, I can do a post one day sharing my experiences from the "other side" of the table.


mervinj7, We had experiences for the last several years where we bring in college interviewers from various colleges and talk to students.
Listened to many of them myself.

Every interviewer had stated "My interview have no bearing on your admission. Admission offices, do not give much weight age on our interview with the students. I am here to talk about the college, such that you can make a educated decision"

However, I always think that the interviewers always rank their interviewees, once you make the top of the list in an interview, then the student may be pooled for the next lottery system. If you miss the top few spots in the interview, than the chances are slim to get to the next level.

Please comment ! with whatever you can disclose.

DATED experience.
DS came away from nearly all interviews, as not being helpful in fact a couple of them being downright turnoffs. IF the theory of a high recommendation from the interviewer gets you to the next level, is true; Then the initial interviewer's statement is a misstatement and misleading. If the interviewer's disclaimer is true about "no bearing", why interview? A dilemma that smart students recognize. I remember that this part of the process was a sacrIfice of valuable sleep time for a high performing senior.
YMMV
GL :sharebeer
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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by zeep » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:11 pm

gasman wrote: You cannot underestimate how competitive the top schools have become. National Merit Scholars with perfect grades get turned down all the time from the Ivies + Stanford, UChicago, MIT, et al. There are more than 10,000 high schools in the US. That means 10,000 +valedictorians and 10,000+ salutatorians. Many are now vying for these schools.


I want to echo gasman's comment. Since schools want a well-rounded and diverse class, even students who might be at the top of the applicant pool statistically only have a 10-25% probability of acceptance at a highly selective school. There is an element of randomness to the process.

That means:
  • Accept that there is an element of randomness, and college admissions are not entirely about being "good enough." There is no judgment implied. There are a number of students every year who are accepted by a HYPS school but rejected by Duke, Vanderbilt or Northwestern.
  • Try not to fall in love with any one school, but identify the characteristics your son finds appealing at his first choice and then apply to several reach schools with similar characteristics. He increases his odds of getting accepted to one of them by applying to several of them.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:49 pm

I do think interviews can provide a few data points about fit. Regional AOs have a pretty good idea of most of the schools in their region, but they can't know them all. Thus, they don't know the GCs (guidance counselors) and perhaps there's a new GC; some HSs have 1 GC for a zillion kids.

In some cases, an interview is unnecessary, eg., DS's HS sends ~ 8% of its class to Penn, so the AO knows the GCs and their leanings. Otoh, same HS sends a kid to RISD every two or three years, so an interview will be very useful for student and school.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:52 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:I do think interviews can provide a few data points about fit. Regional AOs have a pretty good idea of most of the schools in their region, but they can't know them all. Thus, they don't know the GCs (guidance counselors) and perhaps there's a new GC; some HSs have 1 GC for a zillion kids.

In some cases, an interview is unnecessary, eg., DS's HS sends ~ 8% of its class to Penn, so the AO knows the GCs and their leanings. Otoh, same HS sends a kid to RISD every two or three years, so an interview will be very useful for student and school.


Thanks TomatoTomahto, makes sense !

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by downshiftme » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:55 pm

As a graduating high school senior with an opportunity to go to any of those top schools, your student will have a chance to learn about a lot more potential fields of interest than their high school view of the world. Keep an open mind.

Any of these top schools are excellent and any of them will be able to provide a top notch education. You ideas about Harvard are completely unfounded and an excellent science education can be had there. Besides the education, you should also be aware that going to one of these elite "name" schools will continue to open doors long after graduation. Also, contacts made at these elite schools with other students will be valuable lifelong.

While having backup plans and safety schools is always a good plan, admissions to top schools are absurdly competitive and a bit of a random crap shoot, actually going to a top school is a much bigger life changing experience than just the classes.

Keep in mind that some students can be shocked by an environment where EVERY student in the math class is a top 10 math scholar in their home state, with equivalent talent in every class in every discipline. If that's a problem, top schools may not work out, but if that's an exciting and energizing option, top schools can be the ride of your life. Best wishes whatever your student decides.

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Re: College Admission Time, What parents need to be aware and how to be helpful

Post by Durzo » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:00 pm

I want to make a case for an "average" school consideration. I just graduated this past May with and engineering degree and I was in very similar situation to your son my senior year of high school; I was also a D-1 caliber athlete. Everyone seemed to assume that I was going to end up at an ivy school. I chose a "normal" university and decided not to participate in D-1 sports. Everyone was surprised, but attending that school was the best decision of my life. Here are some of the benefits:

1. Huge amounts of merit scholarship. At a similar school your son may get full tuition and then some.
2. Your son can cruise even through engineering. It will still be challenging but your son will most likely be at the top of his class which opens a lot of doors.
3. It will be very easy to add things to his curriculum. I was in the honors program and got minor in business administration; just because I could.
4. High GPA will translate into an abundance of great job prospects.
5. The diversity of the extra activities will broaden his interests and skills.
6. Social life, social life, social life.

I could go on forever. I know this may not be what you and your son are looking for, but it may worth a look just to see if he has any interest in it. I was accepted and almost went to Harvey Mudd and I am sure if I would have been miserable there.

-Joey

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