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Old 03-11-2008, 12:23 PM   #21
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Admission right now seems to be driven by supply and demand--a big glut of kids in the last two years of high school. But good news for your son!!! the glut is easing:
Tide of college applicants to ebb -- chicagotribune.com

My condolences to you on going through the college entrance circus for the second time. Don't let your son sell himself short. Some counselors may also sell kids short.

My two have been out of college for a few years now so their experiences are probably irrelevant. You already have gone through this with your daughter, but counselors all said to take challenging high school classes. Taking the AP tests not as important as doing well in the AP and any honors classes (at a challenging school your child might not want to skip the intro organic chemistry or calculus class even if he tests out of it).

Counselors also said go to all open houses (even multiple ones), meet and greets, whatever, for all schools your child is interested in--said colleges keep records of who attends and that has made a difference in acceptance. Also, a kid not accepted into their top choice can also do exceptionally at another school and transfer in--happened to a couple of my kids' friends--but somehow they all end up pretty happy in the end.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:24 PM   #22
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with all the competition out there, I do wonder if a top 10 university may make a difference in her future.
Not the school itself but her ability to communicate and influence others to action. Networking established from attending the prestigious universities may open more doors initially, but ultimately it is your ambitions, talents and skills that will make the difference. I do not think networking is as important for tech or science degrees as for business or law degrees.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:32 PM   #23
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youbet....I'm trying to figure out what types of grades and test scores were necessary to get into certain universities. Am I reaching too high or too low? If anyone has tips on what helped them, that would be tremendous for me, or anyone preparing their child for college I would think.
I think the data sources referenced in earlier posts will serve you best regarding GPA and test score requirements. The stories are anecdotal and I'd assume would point one to misleading conclusions as often as correct conclusions if trying to generalize them.

Regarding "reaching too high or low," try to remember that a school that turns out great theory-research-lab type individuals might not turn out good hands-on, pragmatic engineers. I had an MIT student do a summer internship in my facility one year. Really smart kid. But his grasp, or lack of grasp, of what would work on the shop floor as opposed to what popped out at the bottom of his spreadsheet was flabbergasting and I wound up giving him a mediocre review. Of course, that doesn't mean for a minute that all or more MIt grads have poor practical sense! But this one did! My point........ you and your son might work hard to get him into a prestige school only to have it be a bad fit for his personality even if his metrics qualify him for the school. Only you know your son well enough to know.

Our story here, just for yuks. DS had excellent qualifications but never applied to MIT, Stanford, etc. Wound up at an out of state public university ranked in the top ten nationally in his field. Received partial schlorships and co-op'd. Graduated on time near the top of his class and received good job offers.

In playing the second guessing game, we have wondered whether he would have gotten into MIT or similar. The data says "maybe." But, given the opportunity to do it over, would we/he? He absolutely loved the school he attended, made great friends he still is in close contact with, found his DW who is also an engineer and both have good technical ladder staff jobs with well known companies. They have three great kids that are a big part of my life.......... So, I'd be hard pressed to say that we/he should, if given the chance to do it over, apply to other schools! There are some outcomes you just can't predict! He might have gotten into an MIT level school and been miserable today. Or maybe even happier than he is today. Who knows?

Good luck with your decsions!
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:43 PM   #24
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So, I'd be hard pressed to say that we/he should, if given the chance to do it over, apply to other schools! There are some outcomes you just can't predict! He might have gotten into an MIT level school and been miserable today. Or maybe even happier than he is today. Who knows?
It's so funny that many parents (or kids) select a school based purely on name recognition, thinking it will bring success and/or fortune. College is an experience of a life time -- choose the one that fit your needs, values and cultural beliefs.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:54 PM   #25
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youbet....I'm trying to figure out what types of grades and test scores were necessary to get into certain universities. Am I reaching too high or too low? If anyone has tips on what helped them, that would be tremendous for me, or anyone preparing their child for college I would think.
Art, while you say you are looking for first hand experiences, you won't really get that much of a sampling here to be of real use, IMO. There's just way more to admissions than test scores and grades. There's extracurriculars, course work, community service, essays, interviews, teacher recs, etc. Just because someone's kid got 730s on each SAT part and didn't get into to Stanford doesn't mean that a 740 or higher is required.

There are even things like where you are from. A kid who has near perfect credentials all around still may not get in because the school has already taken as many kids from that area as they'd like to, and want to be more regionally diverse.

Here's an example of how tough it might be to know why you did or didn't get in. I talked with a parent who's kid got into a better school than they expected, based on her score and grades. I guess it was a small enough school that he was actually able to ask why, and the director told him it was because she was the year book editor, and they thought that took enough organizational ability that it was an almost automatic admit. At other schools, it might mean very little.

Look at it from the point of the admissions director. At a Stanford they get something like 25,000 apps and have to choose about 10% of them in 3 months. Do you really expect perfection and total clarity in the process? (That question wasn't directed specifically to you.)

I found College Reviews: StudentsReview : Over 56800 College Reviews! (3,156 schools reviewed) to be a pretty useful site for learning about schools, and hearing stories about what it takes to get in.

In my opinion, rather than trying to figure out which schools would accept your kid, it's more important to figure out where your kid will do best. Location (both geographic region and whether it is urban or not), campus size, excellence in his desired major, things like that are what are important. Visit as many schools that seem to fit that criteria as you can, and start early. After looking at one or two schools he might totally change his thoughts about whether a size he thought was right really is too small or big once he really looks at a campus.

Then narrow it down and have him apply to 1-2 schools that he virtually guaranteed acceptance, 1-2 better schools he should probably make, and 1-2 "reach" schools. My daughter applied 1-2-2 in those categories. Actually we thought it was 2-1-2 but she just dropped out of the top 10% of her class and missed her automatic acceptance into U of Texas (and in another thread I mentioned she gave up on the process there). So far she's been accepted to the "gimme" school, and she's still waiting to hear on the other 3.

I think the web sites that I and a couple others posted are going to be more useful in determining what's a reach and what isn't than a few war stories here.

I would also say that if you want to improve his chances, work on his weak spots (such as interviewing) rather than trying to avoid it. He's not likely to get into a top 10 school without an interview.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:55 PM   #26
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You're the person I wanna talk to!!! It sure seems there is a high percentage of people here whose kids attended MIT. What's the secret? Do they give out a bunch of free rides to the kids they want?

No , I paid plenty . My son got perfect scores in Math and near perfect scores in English . He also went to camps for gifted kids where they do math and science instead of woodworking . He did get a large grant but MIt was still expensive but worth every penney . With the grants he got it brought MIT down to the price of Rutgers which was our state school .
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:05 PM   #27
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Art --
Sounds like your son is doing just fine in his classes. But you would be doing him an enormous favor by getting him more comfortable talking to people. Maybe something like Dale Carnegie classes might help him?

After all, he's going to be facing interviews, presentations, whatever throughout his college career and beyond. This "people" skill is critical to success, IMHO.
That's a great idea with Dale Carnegie. Right now, he's like my wife, they'd rather die than talk to someone. In fact, I offered him, last week, a bonus if he'd go over and ask the hostess at the restaurant for her name. He passed. I'd be happy right now if he'd just talk to girls!
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:13 PM   #28
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[quote=RunningBum;627398]
In my opinion, rather than trying to figure out which schools would accept your kid, it's more important to figure out where your kid will do best. Location (both geographic region and whether it is urban or not), campus size, excellence in his desired major, things like that are what are important. Visit as many schools that seem to fit that criteria as you can, and start early. After looking at one or two schools he might totally change his thoughts about whether a size he thought was right really is too small or big once he really looks at a campus.

/quote]


This is so true . I never pushed my son into MIT . He wanted to go there so badly . He ate ,drank and slept MIT while he was in high school so for him that was the perfect school but remember a school like MIT is filled with top very competive students so the pressure is enormous a lot of kids can not handle it .
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:17 PM   #29
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You have to look at the schools - most schools -higher rank and private tend to look at a LOT more than just scores. Community service, internships, leadership all play a role.

When I was in high school I was surprised that a friend of mine w/ the same GPA and SAT score got into Stanford - I thought it was only for the top 5-10 or so kids from our class of over 500 - if i had known, i might have applied. But she was well rounded, got great recommendations from teachers and others and an excellent writer. Stanford tends to look at lots of things that some others don't. But Berkeley or UCLA for example have a much less thorough review - and almost 80% of the kids applying have OVER a 4.0 gpa anyway - so it's the other stuff that divides you in terms of admissions.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:19 PM   #30
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Art, while you say you are looking for first hand experiences, you won't really get that much of a sampling here to be of real use, IMO. There's just way more to admissions than test scores and grades. There's extracurriculars, course work, community service, essays, interviews, teacher recs, etc. Just because someone's kid got 730s on each SAT part and didn't get into to Stanford doesn't mean that a 740 or higher is required.

There are even things like where you are from. A kid who has near perfect credentials all around still may not get in because the school has already taken as many kids from that area as they'd like to, and want to be more regionally diverse.

Here's an example of how tough it might be to know why you did or didn't get in. I talked with a parent who's kid got into a better school than they expected, based on her score and grades. I guess it was a small enough school that he was actually able to ask why, and the director told him it was because she was the year book editor, and they thought that took enough organizational ability that it was an almost automatic admit. At other schools, it might mean very little.

Look at it from the point of the admissions director. At a Stanford they get something like 25,000 apps and have to choose about 10% of them in 3 months. Do you really expect perfection and total clarity in the process? (That question wasn't directed specifically to you.)

I found College Reviews: StudentsReview : Over 56800 College Reviews! (3,156 schools reviewed) to be a pretty useful site for learning about schools, and hearing stories about what it takes to get in.

In my opinion, rather than trying to figure out which schools would accept your kid, it's more important to figure out where your kid will do best. Location (both geographic region and whether it is urban or not), campus size, excellence in his desired major, things like that are what are important. Visit as many schools that seem to fit that criteria as you can, and start early. After looking at one or two schools he might totally change his thoughts about whether a size he thought was right really is too small or big once he really looks at a campus.

Then narrow it down and have him apply to 1-2 schools that he virtually guaranteed acceptance, 1-2 better schools he should probably make, and 1-2 "reach" schools. My daughter applied 1-2-2 in those categories. Actually we thought it was 2-1-2 but she just dropped out of the top 10% of her class and missed her automatic acceptance into U of Texas (and in another thread I mentioned she gave up on the process there). So far she's been accepted to the "gimme" school, and she's still waiting to hear on the other 3.

I think the web sites that I and a couple others posted are going to be more useful in determining what's a reach and what isn't than a few war stories here.

I would also say that if you want to improve his chances, work on his weak spots (such as interviewing) rather than trying to avoid it. He's not likely to get into a top 10 school without an interview.
Thanks. Very good post and recommendations.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:26 PM   #31
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In 1987/88 Stanford, Universities of Oregon and Colorado (I did not apply to the UC system, because Dad went to Berkely) - all were happy enough with a 1410 SAT (back when there were only two categories), 3.86 GPA (4.0 scale), community/student involvement out the wazoo, decent chunk of sports (softball, volleyball, track - none of which I was a "super" star in) Forgot what I scored on the ACT...I recommend he apply where he is interested in going - and let THEM make the decision to or not to accept him. Always apply to a variety of schools - writing those essays is good for him! Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:32 PM   #32
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Thanks to all who responded. I'm not sure if it should count for anything, but I personally like the idea of a school that's diverse. I love the fact that my daughter's school is big in athletics and she gets to be involved with the marching band. I went to an urban school and never realized what I missed until visiting her school.
I think there's so much more to gain out of college besides an education. I guess I consider it such a major decision that I'd like to see them choose the right school for them, and its why I'm so passionate about seeking other opinions.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:45 PM   #33
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There are even things like where you are from.
Definitely. If your classmates with similar qualifications are also applying for the same college, your chance of getting in will be significantly lower. If you are Asian applying for MIT, CalTech, or UC Berkeley, your chance of getting in will severely lbe imited since Asians are already over-represented at those institutions.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:51 PM   #34
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My kids are like 1/16th Cherokee. I guess I need to play that up more. If my wife could trace back her heritage, I think we could even apply for a scholarship, but unfortunately, the Cherokee weren't the best about writing stuff down.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:55 PM   #35
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Stanford tends to look at lots of things that some others don't.
Including "things" that bear no relationship to whether one can complete his/her education at Stanford. If you are a star playing football with a decent grade, you will get in without any difficulty.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:14 PM   #36
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I went to one of those college forums at the high school, ya' know where many of the schools set up booths to woo prospective freshmen. Well at one school, the person in the booth was speaking with a local kid who was having a heck of a time expressing himself to say the least. The person in the booth was about to dismiss the kid when he mentioned he played basketball and was looking for a basketball scholarship. I couldn't help but be awestruck how the conversation turned from there. Suddenly this kid became quite desirable.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:29 PM   #37
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Who is more successful starting out...the Valedictorian of Georgia Tech or #600 in a graduating class of 900 at M.I.T.?
As some others have pointed out, I would urge you to set aside entirely what you want as well as set aside at least 90% as to what a school's reputation is, and spend 110% of your time trying to find a school that "fits" your child in terms of their personality, strengths, interests, abilities, and career aspirations.

I went from being the top of my high school (valedictorian, National Merit Scholar, Presidential Scholar semifinalist, 4.0 GPA, 1460 SAT, six figures worth of college scholarships including full ride 4 year Air Force and Navy ROTC scholarships to anywhere in the country) to an unhappy depressed student at an Ivy League school making mostly B's to a really happy student at a smaller, less-well-known, but extremely good regional university. In retrospect, choosing the Ivy League school because of the name recognition, the architecture, and because it wasn't Stanford (to which I had been accepted and where my older sister had gone) were really lousy reasons to go there. And the repurcussions of that lousy decision affect me to this day in terms of who I am. But I do understand why I made that decision and am trying to make better ones now, so in some senses it paid off.

I am 100% certain that I would have been happier had I gone to the smaller university from the beginning. I also probably would have been happier at Stanford, but I don't think about that much. What I often wonder is if I should have gritted it out for the last year and a half at the Ivy League just to get the stinkin' name on my diploma and also not have to explain where I went to school. I still wouldn't have been happy, but I would have probably accrued the networking and name recognition benefits of that school.

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Old 03-11-2008, 02:33 PM   #38
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If I remember correctly, Native American scholarships are generally awarded to students who are at least 1/4 N.A., but certainly it's something that your son should at least mention during an interview or on an essay, if you think it adds value to his application.

By the way, I think it's a great idea for any h.s. student to keep a running list of EVERY award, citation, athletic event, band competition, etc. that they've been involved with during their high school years. Some of these things are forgotten, but can come in very handy during an interview.

For example, my daughter mentioned during one of her interviews that she used to show horses and for a time was nationally ranked in several hunter/jumper categories. One of the schools she applied to offered her a scholarship based on her willingness to join the school's equestrian team (we didn't even know that school had one!) She didn't go there, but still it was nice to have the offer!
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:27 PM   #39
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My kids are like 1/16th Cherokee. I guess I need to play that up more. If my wife could trace back her heritage, I think we could even apply for a scholarship, but unfortunately, the Cherokee weren't the best about writing stuff down.
That's so funny--everyone I know is 1/16th Cherokee (including me!).

One thing that drove me nuts was the people who suggested the kids pad their resumes with "volunteer work"--a spring break spent in Appalachia or doing Habitat somewhere. If that's really important to a kid, he or she should already be doing it. Same as an underachieving student trying to get into the toughest school--if academics were really that important to that kid, why isn't she or he already showing that?

If your kid has a passion, that will carry him. If he is painfully shy, that is probably his personality and it might be tough for him to change that. You also might take that into account when suggesting different schools to him--he might be happiest at a good smaller school where he can bloom rather than compete with crowds of brilliant extroverts. My older one was quiet and ended up at a smaller school full of proud nerds with still developing social skills--my child was thrilled for the first time to be the cool one!
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:44 PM   #40
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...to an unhappy depressed student at an Ivy League school making mostly B's
That's warning that was given at the info meeting at CalTech about a year ago when we visited the campus at Pasadena.
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