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Kids and college entrance exams...
Old 03-11-2008, 09:49 AM   #1
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Kids and college entrance exams...

Since we're all pretty much anonymous, I figured I could bring up this discussion here and get some realistic answers without feeling the need to be competitive with other parents.
My son, who is a sophomore in high school just got back his ACT results. His scores, in my estimation, were surprisingly high. I'm just wondering for those of you with kids in college recently, or preparing for such, what types of scores on the SAT or ACT did you find necessary to qualify for the schools? I realize there are other factors (as I just went through this last year with my daughter. i.e. grades, activities, public service), but I believe I undersold my daughter's value and she may have been able to qualify for some schools I didn't reach for.
So, in essence, my question is....what did it take to get your child into their university?
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:05 AM   #2
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SAT Scores: Are My SAT Scores Good Enough?

Hope this helps !
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:10 AM   #3
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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?
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:16 AM   #4
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Where Your SAT and ACT Scores Will Take You | The Princeton Review

Average ACT and SAT by college for quite a few colleges. Note, there are two pages.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:21 AM   #5
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I appreciate all the articles, but I'd really rather hear first hand experiences.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:46 AM   #6
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I took the ACT twice. The first time was just locally administered by the university. I scored a 23, the university required a 19 to get in. That was to attend as a high school senior.

The second time I went to a nationally administered test and scored well enough to get scholarships and more financial aid at the same university.

Looking at the link I provided, I still wouldn't have been able to attend MIT.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:48 AM   #7
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I don't remember exactly what my son's scores were, but they were high enough. On a side note.....we found that taking AP classes (advanced placement) and passing the tests also carried a lot of weight. For example, passing the AP calculus exam allowed him to skip the first semester of that class in college.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:48 AM   #8
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Here's my daughter's experience FWIW. She is a very talented writer and artist who was capable of pulling A's in high school, but for the most part she was satisfied with B's and the occasional C -- causing me to regularly pull my hair out! Her rationale was that she would rather study a subject in depth to learn it rather than just memorize the facts needed to ace an exam, so in subjects like comparative lit and history, she did extremely well. In math, well, not so much. We talked to her counselors, teachers and just about anyone who would listen or could help and all agreed that she was the poster child for the Socratic method...but that's not the way most classes are taught in high school these days.

Anyway, when it came time for her to take the ACT and SAT, she got extraordinarily high scores. Her ACT was 31, she got a perfect score on the SAT Writing exam, nearly perfect on the critical reading part, and a decent, but not stellar, math score.

When she started applying to colleges, nearly all deferred acceptance until she had an interview with the selection staff because her test scores were so out of whack with her school grades. (Apparently with "grade inflation" over the past few decades, it is far more common to see kids with 4.0 ++ GPAs who score lower on the SAT/ACT tests than someone like my DD.)

Several schools asked for a written essay -- even though it was not part of the original application package -- and once they reviewed her essays, she was accepted at four different schools.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:22 AM   #9
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For top-tied schools (e.g., MIT, Standford, CalTech), the SAT/ACT score and even GPA do not appear to be the major factor for admission since most kids applying to those schools have nearly perfect scores and GPAs. Most of them also have taken many AP (advanced placement) classes. The differentiators are personal essay, interviews (if invited), and leadership activities and/or community services. My daughter scored over 730 on the three SAT tests and 800 on SAT II subject tests (math, physics, and chemistry). She has a 4.00 GPA and AP scores of 5. She is also a national merit scholar and class valedictorian. She was rejected by Standford and wait-listed from CalTech. I guess her essay was not good enough or her lack of leadership activities or community services. I really do not know why nor care about it. These highly selective schools (as far as I am concerned) are just too snobbish. They offer name recognition at a ridiculous high price tag -- though some Ivies such as Harvard and Princeton are changing their cost structure to make it very affordable or really cheap -- but do not provide a better education than any other well-known public universities. She is now attending a well-respected public university with full scholarship.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Art G View Post
Since we're all pretty much anonymous, I figured I could bring up this discussion here and get some realistic answers without feeling the need to be competitive with other parents.
My son, who is a sophomore in high school just got back his ACT results. His scores, in my estimation, were surprisingly high. I'm just wondering for those of you with kids in college recently, or preparing for such, what types of scores on the SAT or ACT did you find necessary to qualify for the schools? I realize there are other factors (as I just went through this last year with my daughter. i.e. grades, activities, public service), but I believe I undersold my daughter's value and she may have been able to qualify for some schools I didn't reach for.
So, in essence, my question is....what did it take to get your child into their university?
What surprises me is that it seems like you are assuming he will be rejected. I don't want to be a "test score snob", but nobody in my family was ever rejected at a college they applied for. I do recall that my two brothers and I each applied for one college that we thought anybody could get into (like a local state supported college), one that we thought would be reaching for the stars and beyond (like Harvard/Yale/MIT), and one of intermediate level. We were all accepted at all three. Why not try something along those lines.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:32 AM   #11
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Thanks Spanky. That's really interesting. I know a local girl with similar results as your daughter that was also wait listed at Stanford. Too bad you didn't press them for a reason. I'd love to hear from someone in that field to learn what they are looking for.
I have to wonder for the over achievers of the world, are they better off going to a lesser school and dominating, and staying filled with self confidence throughout, or better off going to the MIT's of the world and being pushed to the point of realizing their mortality?
For my daughter, we didn't want to break her spirit so while choosing a top tier engineering school, we didn't want her to struggle trying to keep up with the best of the best.
Who is more successful starting out...the Valedictorian of Georgia Tech or #600 in a graduating class of 900 at M.I.T.?
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:40 AM   #12
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the value in schools like MIT and Stanford is networking. you get a lot of CEO's and other successful people visit to lecture and you can get noticed if you ask the right questions. or your teachers have connections to the right people and if you are a good student your name will get passed on
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:57 AM   #13
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Art...

Other than opening the door to the usual chest pounding and status seeking regarding kids being smart and going to competitive schools, I'm not sure where you're going with your question or your intent for the thread. You were surprised your son did as well as he did on his test scores? Well, it's good news he did well. I'm sure happy for the both of you! But what is your actual question other than wanting to hear stories about kids being accepted at university? Is it that you didn't expect him to do well enough to be considered at competitive schools and are now playing catch-up trying to figure out what to do?

Just trying to figure out how to respond........
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:03 PM   #14
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What surprises me is that it seems like you are assuming he will be rejected. I don't want to be a "test score snob", but nobody in my family was ever rejected at a college they applied for. I do recall that my two brothers and I each applied for one college that we thought anybody could get into (like a local state supported college), one that we thought would be reaching for the stars and beyond (like Harvard/Yale/MIT), and one of intermediate level. We were all accepted at all three. Why not try something along those lines.
Did I give the impression I thought he'd be rejected? I certainly didn't mean to.
To fill in a bit, My daughter and my son took the SAT in the 7th grade, then my daughter took the ACT in 9th grade and with my son I slacked off, and let him wait until 10th grade. However, he has yet to take Trig or Calculus so I thought he might struggle with the math portion. My daughter got a 25 on the ACT(she keeps reminding me she was only a freshman) and I offered my son $100 for his spring trip to spend if he got at least a 25 as well. He got a 28 overall with a 34 on the English portion, which I must admit did surprise me a bit. He also received a 34 on the basic algebra portion. As to his grades, he's borderline top 10% of his class, and in all AP classes, and we're still teetering on whether or not to keep him in the I.B. program as well. His problem is he'll be a terrible interview. He is very shy and doesn't look people in the eye at all. I'd like to avoid the interview for him if at all possible.
Anyway, with my daughter, we did apply to five schools and were accepted to all five, but quite honestly, my goal wasn't just in getting accepted, but getting scholarship. I wish she had applied to a Harvard if for no other reason than to see where she ranked. I'm quite happy with the school she selected as she seems to love it and it's a beautiful campus, but again, with all the competition out there, I do wonder if a top 10 university may make a difference in her future.
FWIW, I do realize it's ultimately their life, but I guess if I can feel like I gave them as much direction early on as possible, I can feel like I've done my part.
One more thing, my son has suddenly taken an interest in attending West Point. I have no idea what they look for ultimately, but I know he would need an interview with a Congressman and I think he'd have a tough time of it.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:05 PM   #15
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Art...

Other than opening the door to the usual chest pounding and status seeking regarding kids being smart and going to competitive schools, I'm not sure where you're going with your question or your intent for the thread. You were surprised your son did as well as he did on his test scores? Well, it's good news he did well. I'm sure happy for the both of you! But what is your actual question other than wanting to hear stories about kids being accepted at university? Is it that you didn't expect him to do well enough to be considered at competitive schools and are now playing catch-up trying to figure out what to do?

Just trying to figure out how to respond........
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.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:06 PM   #16
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My daughter went to NYU with good SATs but not at the level she needed with her grades which were so-so. But she liked art and put together a portfolio which got her into the art department. NYU has a heavy emphasis on academics even for art students. That is what she wanted so things worked out well. An interest or skill that makes you stand out can be the deciding factor for a lot of schools. A portfolio, playing golf well for the right school, whatever.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:06 PM   #17
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the value in schools like MIT and Stanford is networking. you get a lot of CEO's and other successful people visit to lecture and you can get noticed if you ask the right questions. or your teachers have connections to the right people and if you are a good student your name will get passed on
Al....that's a great point. My father always told me the value of a fraternity was the contacts you'll make for the future. I didn't understand when I was in college, but I certainly do now.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:13 PM   #18
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Thanks Spanky. That's really interesting. I know a local girl with similar results as your daughter that was also wait listed at Stanford. Too bad you didn't press them for a reason. I'd love to hear from someone in that field to learn what they are looking for.
I have to wonder for the over achievers of the world, are they better off going to a lesser school and dominating, and staying filled with self confidence throughout, or better off going to the MIT's of the world and being pushed to the point of realizing their mortality?
For my daughter, we didn't want to break her spirit so while choosing a top tier engineering school, we didn't want her to struggle trying to keep up with the best of the best.
Who is more successful starting out...the Valedictorian of Georgia Tech or #600 in a graduating class of 900 at M.I.T.?
Art, we decided not to pursue CalTech after the first wait-list notice. CalTech is a great school for highly gifted people interested in science and technology. The curriculum is very rigorous. Many students end up spending nights and weekends working on projects. We do not feel this is the kind of environment for our daughter. She is not a real geek.

IMHO, being number one from a well-respected school is better than nearing the bottom at MIT or Harvard for employment or admission to graduate school. By the way, Georgia Tech is one of the top engineering schools.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:18 PM   #19
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Al....that's a great point. My father always told me the value of a fraternity was the contacts you'll make for the future. I didn't understand when I was in college, but I certainly do now.
not only that but if you look at every successful company started in the last 15 years, the people were in a good school when they started the company. Dell being a big exception. but you have Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay and the list goes on. good schools you have the right people including VC's come in and you can get noticed like Sergey and Larry or Jerry Wang.

how about this network. Jim Cramer, Steve Ballmer and Elliot Spitzer were all at Harvard at the same time. One of the reasons Goldman Sachs got the MS IPO was because Jim knew Steve Ballmer.

Jeff Imelt, the current CEO of GE was at Harvard when Jack Welch came to lecture about something
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:22 PM   #20
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As to his grades, he's borderline top 10% of his class, and in all AP classes, and we're still teetering on whether or not to keep him in the I.B. program as well. His problem is he'll be a terrible interview. He is very shy and doesn't look people in the eye at all. I'd like to avoid the interview for him if at all possible.
... an interest in attending West Point. I have no idea what they look for ultimately, but I know he would need an interview with a Congressman and I think he'd have a tough time of it.
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.
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