SF Bay area: high school and college apps

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Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:07 pm

My situation: 2 kids, 3rd and 6th grade from Sept going to a local private school. Generally happy with this school. School pushes them academically in a good way to be about a grade or so ahead of public schools.

Dilemma:
How to set my kids up for success thru high school and college applications.

Concerns:
1. Seems college apps heavily way where on the class bell curve u rank. E.g. UC's (and some private colleges) only consider the top 12% of high school class, or top 9% ? Seen both numbers, dont fully understand.

2. If kids go to a competitive high school (private or public), they may get out ranked by their peers, even if smart compared to the average kid. Heard horror stories from mission San Jose high, etc. Kids work super hard but cant rank high enough in their class, knock on impact to college apps, etc. Middle of the road kids (but still very smart compared to most!) get somewhat discouraged & perhaps dont fulfill potential.

3. Potentially send kid to local public high school (Washington high, fremont) which I think is ok (in our catchment area). Has good AP options. Etc. Would need to decide this soon. Perhaps better to switch to feeder Junior high?

4. Local (Fremont FUSD) funding situation is bad. Highest paid teachers in the area/country. Pension liabilities. Already increasing teacher: student ratios and cutting AP classes. Future does NOT look rosy.

Would love opinions from local parents who know the competitive situation & FUSD funding debacle here.

Especially those parents whose kids have recently gone to college. What did u do right? What would you have done differently?

Thanks
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Big Dog
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Big Dog » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:18 pm

1-2. yes, top private colleges expect top decile (10%) for most acceptances. But, they do dig deeper into a class for top high schools. Top 9% in CA only gets your kid a spot at UC Merced. A student who is the top 15% can boost chances by acing the SAT/ACT and AP courses.

3-4. Mission HS is one of the tops in the state so it could serve you well. But, I have no doubt that it is uber competitive. (But so are top colleges.) American and Irving are also very strong high schools. Top colleges know that high schools can't afford to offer a bunch of AP courses, so they only care that you take the most rigorous curriculum available to you at your HS -- and of course, earn A's.

You might search for College Confidential, which has plenty of experienced high school and college parents.

leftcoaster
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by leftcoaster » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:28 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:18 pm
You might search for College Confidential, which has plenty of experienced high school and college parents.
Better not -- that site is stress-inducing.

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:47 pm

Thanks for the quick responses
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ram
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by ram » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:34 pm

Wannaretireearly wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:07 pm

1. Seems college apps heavily way where on the class bell curve u rank. E.g. UC's (and some private colleges) only consider the top 12% of high school class, or top 9% ? Seen both numbers, dont fully understand.

A quick internet search reveals that only 80% of high school students graduate high school. Of these 65% end up in some sort of college (52% of the class). Therefore the lower 48% students in a high school class are presumably of no interest to any college. Most likely the lowest quartile of these 52% are community college bound. (say 49th to 60th percentile of the typical high school class). That leaves the top 40% of a typical high scholl class as heading towards a 4 year college.

2. If kids go to a competitive high school (private or public), they may get out ranked by their peers, even if smart compared to the average kid.

One of the aims of going to a competitive school is to be surrounded by other smart kids and of course some of them are going to outrank your kid. I was fine with that concept.

Middle of the road kids (but still very smart compared to most!)
Kids just a little bit smarter than most, say about the 51st to 60th percentile are on an average not bound to 4 year colleges based on the above calculation.

3. Potentially send kid to local public high school (Washington high, fremont) which I think is ok (in our catchment area). Has good AP options. Etc. Would need to decide this soon. Perhaps better to switch to feeder Junior high?
I am not aware of your local choices but both my kids went to public school in our mid western rural area. The school had good AP choices and both of them gave every AP test available to them. About 16 tests if I recall correctly.

4. Local (Fremont FUSD) funding situation is bad. Highest paid teachers in the area/country. Pension liabilities. Already increasing teacher: student ratios and cutting AP classes. Future does NOT look rosy.

In our small town we canvassed for increasing our taxes to support the local public schools. The local hospital where I work lent its facilities to support meetings for the tax increase where teachers came and explained potential consequences if the tax increase initiative failed.

Especially those parents whose kids have recently gone to college. What did u do right?
We encouraged our kids to participate in science competitions and took time off and drove them there as needed. Parents took turns to do so. I believe it helped during college admissions.

Thanks
Ram

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:46 pm

ram wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:34 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:07 pm

1. Seems college apps heavily way where on the class bell curve u rank. E.g. UC's (and some private colleges) only consider the top 12% of high school class, or top 9% ? Seen both numbers, dont fully understand.

A quick internet search reveals that only 80% of high school students graduate high school. Of these 65% end up in some sort of college (52% of the class). Therefore the lower 48% students in a high school class are presumably of no interest to any college. Most likely the lowest quartile of these 52% are community college bound. (say 49th to 60th percentile of the typical high school class). That leaves the top 40% of a typical high scholl class as heading towards a 4 year college.

2. If kids go to a competitive high school (private or public), they may get out ranked by their peers, even if smart compared to the average kid.

One of the aims of going to a competitive school is to be surrounded by other smart kids and of course some of them are going to outrank your kid. I was fine with that concept.

Middle of the road kids (but still very smart compared to most!)
Kids just a little bit smarter than most, say about the 51st to 60th percentile are on an average not bound to 4 year colleges based on the above calculation.

3. Potentially send kid to local public high school (Washington high, fremont) which I think is ok (in our catchment area). Has good AP options. Etc. Would need to decide this soon. Perhaps better to switch to feeder Junior high?
I am not aware of your local choices but both my kids went to public school in our mid western rural area. The school had good AP choices and both of them gave every AP test available to them. About 16 tests if I recall correctly.

4. Local (Fremont FUSD) funding situation is bad. Highest paid teachers in the area/country. Pension liabilities. Already increasing teacher: student ratios and cutting AP classes. Future does NOT look rosy.

In our small town we canvassed for increasing our taxes to support the local public schools. The local hospital where I work lent its facilities to support meetings for the tax increase where teachers came and explained potential consequences if the tax increase initiative failed.

Especially those parents whose kids have recently gone to college. What did u do right?
We encouraged our kids to participate in science competitions and took time off and drove them there as needed. Parents took turns to do so. I believe it helped during college admissions.

Thanks
Thanks for your detailed responses, Ram!
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Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:51 pm

Fyi. The problem with some if these top high schools, is that the 50 to 70th percentile kids would probably be top 5/10% in any average high school....:(
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Regattamom
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Regattamom » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:20 pm

"Dilemma:
How to set my kids up for success thru high school and college applications."

To set your kid up for success, don't worry so much about them getting into top colleges. Enjoy your children and let them enjoy being a child. Not getting into a top college is not the end of the world. Mental health and teens is a huge concern these days and I wouldn't overlook the harm that stress can do by pushing them too hard.

I've seen too many kids that didn't get into any of their "top schools" after doing everything right. One young woman I know, toured at least 10 "top" schools and her parents had her believing she would be admitted to at least a few of them. She wasn't. She ended up at her "safety" school and feels like a failure even though it is a very highly regarded school.

FWIW, I have one that graduated from a very good university (not top tier) and one that will be going to college in a couple of years. College graduate is doing just fine.

SC Anteater
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by SC Anteater » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:08 am

Big Dog wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:18 pm
1-2. yes, top private colleges expect top decile (10%) for most acceptances. But, they do dig deeper into a class for top high schools. Top 9% in CA only gets your kid a spot at UC Merced. A student who is the top 15% can boost chances by acing the SAT/ACT and AP courses.

3-4. Mission HS is one of the tops in the state so it could serve you well. But, I have no doubt that it is uber competitive. (But so are top colleges.) American and Irving are also very strong high schools. Top colleges know that high schools can't afford to offer a bunch of AP courses, so they only care that you take the most rigorous curriculum available to you at your HS -- and of course, earn A's.

You might search for College Confidential, which has plenty of experienced high school and college parents.
Top 9% of your school guarantees you a spot in UC system (yes, merced). But, that's really just a hedge for good kids in low performing school. UCs accept a lot more that just the top 9% of good to excellent schools.

Ron Ronnerson
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:44 pm

For full disclosure, I need to mention that I work as a teacher in the area so my perspective may have some biases. Many students in Fremont attend a school in the UC system or go out of state if there is a good program for the area of study in which they’re interested. Washington, Irvington, and American High all have good reputations. Mission is extremely competitive and many students express having to cope with stress.

Fremont is financially stable but they are in the process of making cuts and class sizes are going up. Currently, the increases are largely focused on 1st and 2nd grades, where the class size is going up from 24 to 28 students per class. Your kids are past those grades so won’t be affected by that.

The increase in pension liabilities is definitely a factor. Districts had to contribute 8% toward pensions a few years ago and that number has been increasing every year and is getting close to 20%. This is the same situation for all public-school districts in the state so it is not a unique issue.

Meanwhile, teachers continue to get raises. However, those raises are below the rate of inflation and below the cost-of-living-adjustment that the state is providing. In effect, the pay raises still amount to a pay cut in real terms.

Due to increasing costs of housing along with the fact that many districts in the county (including Fremont) provide no health benefits to employees, the region is having a very hard time recruiting as well as retaining teachers. Roughly 10% of Fremont teachers have left the district in 2019 so far. About 3% of these are due to retirements but the majority left for other reasons. Many are moving out of the Bay Area or going to other districts. For example, Palo Alto pays both a higher salary and provides health benefits. The majority of teachers in Fremont live outside the city due to the high housing cost. Traffic has grown worse the last few years and some are leaving to work closer to where they live. Fremont has among the highest property values in the county but among the lowest parcel tax rates so perhaps something could be done on that front.

The teacher credentialing programs in the area currently have tumbleweeds blowing through. As the baby-boomers retire, there are few millennials in the area signing up to do the job. Teachers start at $70k with no health benefits in Fremont. That is essentially minimum wage considering the median home value is $1.1M.

The teacher shortage is likely to continue in the area as there is no one coming in to take the vacant positions as teachers continue to leave in droves. At the same time, pension liabilities and salaries are going to continue inching up. Inevitably, class sizes will likely rise and some classes that don’t have much enrollment are likely to be eliminated. This is more of a regional issue than just mismanagement of things on the part of FUSD.

Overall, you live in a place with good public schools. I think your kids are likely to receive a solid education there and be well-prepared for college. I wouldn't say the future is as bleak as you describe it but it's definitely not sunshine and rainbows either.

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:01 pm

Ron Ronnerson wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:44 pm
For full disclosure, I need to mention that I work as a teacher in the area so my perspective may have some biases. Many students in Fremont attend a school in the UC system or go out of state if there is a good program for the area of study in which they’re interested. Washington, Irvington, and American High all have good reputations. Mission is extremely competitive and many students express having to cope with stress.

Fremont is financially stable but they are in the process of making cuts and class sizes are going up. Currently, the increases are largely focused on 1st and 2nd grades, where the class size is going up from 24 to 28 students per class. Your kids are past those grades so won’t be affected by that.

The increase in pension liabilities is definitely a factor. Districts had to contribute 8% toward pensions a few years ago and that number has been increasing every year and is getting close to 20%. This is the same situation for all public-school districts in the state so it is not a unique issue.

Meanwhile, teachers continue to get raises. However, those raises are below the rate of inflation and below the cost-of-living-adjustment that the state is providing. In effect, the pay raises still amount to a pay cut in real terms.

Due to increasing costs of housing along with the fact that many districts in the county (including Fremont) provide no health benefits to employees, the region is having a very hard time recruiting as well as retaining teachers. Roughly 10% of Fremont teachers have left the district in 2019 so far. About 3% of these are due to retirements but the majority left for other reasons. Many are moving out of the Bay Area or going to other districts. For example, Palo Alto pays both a higher salary and provides health benefits. The majority of teachers in Fremont live outside the city due to the high housing cost. Traffic has grown worse the last few years and some are leaving to work closer to where they live. Fremont has among the highest property values in the county but among the lowest parcel tax rates so perhaps something could be done on that front.

The teacher credentialing programs in the area currently have tumbleweeds blowing through. As the baby-boomers retire, there are few millennials in the area signing up to do the job. Teachers start at $70k with no health benefits in Fremont. That is essentially minimum wage considering the median home value is $1.1M.

The teacher shortage is likely to continue in the area as there is no one coming in to take the vacant positions as teachers continue to leave in droves. At the same time, pension liabilities and salaries are going to continue inching up. Inevitably, class sizes will likely rise and some classes that don’t have much enrollment are likely to be eliminated. This is more of a regional issue than just mismanagement of things on the part of FUSD.

Overall, you live in a place with good public schools. I think your kids are likely to receive a solid education there and be well-prepared for college. I wouldn't say the future is as bleak as you describe it but it's definitely not sunshine and rainbows either.
Thank you Ron! Much appreciate your perspective on this issue...
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Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:30 pm

bumping to see if we can get some more responses :D
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Oakwood42
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Oakwood42 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:42 pm

Wannaretireearly wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:07 pm
My situation: 2 kids, 3rd and 6th grade from Sept going to a local private school. Generally happy with this school. School pushes them academically in a good way to be about a grade or so ahead of public schools.

Dilemma:
How to set my kids up for success thru high school and college applications.

Concerns:
1. Seems college apps heavily way where on the class bell curve u rank. E.g. UC's (and some private colleges) only consider the top 12% of high school class, or top 9% ? Seen both numbers, dont fully understand.

2. If kids go to a competitive high school (private or public), they may get out ranked by their peers, even if smart compared to the average kid. Heard horror stories from mission San Jose high, etc. Kids work super hard but cant rank high enough in their class, knock on impact to college apps, etc. Middle of the road kids (but still very smart compared to most!) get somewhat discouraged & perhaps dont fulfill potential.

3. Potentially send kid to local public high school (Washington high, fremont) which I think is ok (in our catchment area). Has good AP options. Etc. Would need to decide this soon. Perhaps better to switch to feeder Junior high?

4. Local (Fremont FUSD) funding situation is bad. Highest paid teachers in the area/country. Pension liabilities. Already increasing teacher: student ratios and cutting AP classes. Future does NOT look rosy.

Would love opinions from local parents who know the competitive situation & FUSD funding debacle here.

Especially those parents whose kids have recently gone to college. What did u do right? What would you have done differently?

Thanks
I have no kids however I personally know two people (they also have siblings that pursued the same path) that went to community college while in high school and graduated college very young. One of the two I personally know attended a well known university in Durham N.C. and the other went to a regional academic school in the Northeast (I went to the same school). They both now live and work in New York City (finance).

I don't know all the in(s) and out(s) of this plan however I know these families had some sort of insight to send their kid to community college while in high school. In hindsight, I said to myself "holy cow, I didn't even know that was possible however that was great idea." This may be something worth exploring.

hale2
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by hale2 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:20 pm

I'm in an area with very good high schools, but some are better than others. It appears that the kids at the better, more competitive schools have higher acceptance rates to the UCs, so I'm guessing they aren't accepted purely on a set percentage from each school. As somebody mentioned earlier, the top 9% guaranteed acceptance just gets you into Merced, which seems to be a UC in name only.

Each of the UCs will show on their website the 25%-75% percentiles for grades and SAT scores for those accepted. Also, if your child really wants to get into a particular UC but doesn't get accepted, the best path is to go to community college then transfer to that school. The acceptance rate for community college transfers is significantly higher than the freshman acceptance rate. Some even offer guaranteed admission (TAG program) if you have certain grades in community college and are interested in certain majors (varies by school).

anonenigma
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by anonenigma » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:48 pm

The California Master Plan for Higher Education indicates that UC is for top eighth of high school graduates and CSU is for top third. That's statewide, not per school, so some schools will have more students accepted than others. To balance out inequalities, the top 10% of each high school graduation class is offered a place at a UC. As a practical matter, many of that top 10% are admitted without that guarantee.

People look down their noses at U.C. Merced, but it's the newest UC and has a good reputation: "In just its 14th academic year, UC Merced took a major leap in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings...jumping 29 spots to No. 136 overall among National Universities and jumping 20 spots to No. 67 for Top Public Schools." Washington Monthly, which uses different criteria, ranks U.C. Merced #39 among National Universities. See https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018colle ... e/national

Former students who've attended had an excellent experience, and U.C. Merced's will likely improve over time.

curmudgeon
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:59 pm

Over the years in silicon valley, I've watch the paths of my own and various co-workers kids through high school and college. Many of my co-workers are of an ethnic background that places great emphasis on education. I've definitely seen some problems from putting average-upper kids in high pressure high school environments; they can get burned out and give up trying to keep up the expected pace. Even extra-curriculars can get pretty crazy at some of those schools.

I much preferred having my kids at a "good", but not "elite" high school. They could compete on multiple sports teams, do drama/music, take AP classes, etc without doing 70-hour workweeks. They had peers from a range of backgrounds, which I think has served them well later in life.

Thesaints
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Thesaints » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:02 pm

I guess you could get all of them into USC for about 500k...

ccieemeritus
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by ccieemeritus » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:08 pm

Worry more about getting your kids the best education, rather than ranking.

In my case we sent kids to private school through 8th grade, then public for high school. I was concerned that a kid who was in private school all the way through 12th would have difficulty adjusting to the “freedom” of college. Public high school allowed the kids to experience more “real world” while still under parent supervision.

While our public school has plenty of AP courses, it only allowed one course in each department each year. So max 4 years of science in high school. A private school would allow the kids to take chemistry and physics in the same year, which is what is necessary to get to multiple science AP courses.

In my case I’m happy with the public HS choice, after 8 years of private. DS I think agrees. DD not so much.

Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: SF Bay area: high school and college apps

Post by Wannaretireearly » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:53 pm

ccieemeritus wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:08 pm
Worry more about getting your kids the best education, rather than ranking.

In my case we sent kids to private school through 8th grade, then public for high school. I was concerned that a kid who was in private school all the way through 12th would have difficulty adjusting to the “freedom” of college. Public high school allowed the kids to experience more “real world” while still under parent supervision.

While our public school has plenty of AP courses, it only allowed one course in each department each year. So max 4 years of science in high school. A private school would allow the kids to take chemistry and physics in the same year, which is what is necessary to get to multiple science AP courses.

In my case I’m happy with the public HS choice, after 8 years of private. DS I think agrees. DD not so much.
Thanks. Would be great if we can keep this thread updated over the next months/years. Would love to hear your opinion once your kids have graduated HS.
Hopefully this thread is useful to others too...
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