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Old 02-11-2016, 01:34 PM   #51
JonInMiddleGA
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Originally Posted by nol View Post
*Control+F 'test prep' - 0 results*

Best investment we've made to date, certainly the best ROI at least. I dare say that, strictly in terms of test scores, it was probably more influential on the scores we ended up with than 14 years of school choices. (the latter played into things mentally far more than academically IMO)

These days, 1 ACT point can make an enormous difference in both school & financial aid.

Though I'm not sure that "mediocre" is the right word when you're talking about scores that are in the 90th percentile & above yet still seeing gains.
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Old 02-11-2016, 01:40 PM   #52
AENeuman
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As someone who has worked in higher ed my whole life that is very, very very true. The current college students know a considerable less, and are less able to do stuff, than any group of students I have worked with since 96 when I began to work with them. It feels at time like I'm a High School admin, not a college one.

Are you saying even highly qualified students need remedial courses? I wonder if the 50% increase in college enrollment since 1990 means those that would not have gotten in 20 years ago are the ones needing the remedial classes today?
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Old 02-11-2016, 01:47 PM   #53
JonInMiddleGA
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Are you saying even highly qualified students need remedial courses? I wonder if the 50% increase in college enrollment since 1990 means those that would not have gotten in 20 years ago are the ones needing the remedial classes today?

I'd say it varies from school to school & state to state.

Since I'm sitting here with 'em -- regardless of how I feel about them -- I'll use UGA as an example.

Late 90s, 14-16 percent took a remedial course at UGA
Today? Less than 1 percent.

Their average/median freshmen SAT scores have been steadily rising for years.

Where you're likely to see what you mentioned is the 2nd/3rd/4th tier schools.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:07 PM   #54
cuervo72
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Grr, test prep.

/obviously never took any test prep

(400-500 points though? Really?)

I took a look at the new PSAT test booklet, and I wonder if they are trying to be more like the ACT (not that I have ever seen an ACT test). Gone are analogies, and I didn't see much in the way of vocab either - at least, not of the "memorize these 500 words you'll never see in print, ever" variety. It was much more phrase context. An attempt to make it a little more prep-proof maybe?

I have a hard time wrapping my head around remedial courses. For my engineering major you had to at least start with Calculus, and even then you were probably behind the curve.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:38 PM   #55
AENeuman
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FWIW, after teaching at a high school school/community college program for the last 10 years, the three causes I see in the decrease in college readiness are:
1. Increase in range of abilities/behavior per class
2. Incomplete, outdated and haphazard teaching and assessing critical thinking and critical writing skills. (This includes the lack of understanding the impact of distracted learning in the social media age)
3. Trickle down career exploration. Nearly all students are told ( by government, textbook companies, etc) to try some form of college. However, our economy only needs about 40% to be college grads. The other 60% fail, get into debt and end up, hopefully, finding the job they should gone into the first place (retail).

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Old 02-11-2016, 02:39 PM   #56
JonInMiddleGA
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(400-500 points though? Really?)

Grr, had a great long response typed, posting glitched. I'll try again.

Can't say much about what we think the SAT gain was but for the ACT we're comfortable that two years of prep (intensive summer primarily) was worth at least 3 points. The difference between a 28 and a 31 (so far) was huge for his outcomes.

Some things on the subject in general fwiw

All services are not created equal, no matter what the promises/averages/etc are.

Ours was run by a veteran admissions person. Her rolodex must be huge 'cause we got direct & specific feedback on the down low from several schools of interest. (student anonymous but content/context specific to our questions).

He never had a session with anyone below a phd candidate (college town, no shortage of those around here)

His first few admissions essays were written/reviewed/tweaked/rewritten/repeat 6-8 times each. That process made the next couple of dozen a lot easier, after a while he "got it". He's gone 7 of 8 on early acceptance thus far (and the 8th didn't take anyone that skipped the "optional" essay), I'd say it must have worked out okay.

I highly recommend considering individual, rather than group/small group, session. That allowed pretty laser focus on certain areas where there were points on the table. Even being able to look at practice tests helped, going through his specific answers/results on the actual first taking was even better. That helps make it about specific areas where you can gain rather than more generalized test-taking strategies & such.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:55 PM   #57
nol
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
strictly in terms of test scores

It most definitely is, and when you multiply that out over tens of thousands of students it explains the phenomenon of applicants looking better on paper while not necessarily being more intelligent.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cuervo72 View Post
(400-500 points though? Really?)

Lot of variables at play, but assuming a student who starts out around the 50th percentile in all subject areas, yeah, 150-200 points (basically 50th to 75th percentile) per subject area is in line with what I've seen. You could probably generalize it to say +1 standard deviation or so.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:59 PM   #58
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It most definitely is, and when you multiply that out over tens of thousands of students it explains the phenomenon of applicants looking better on paper while not necessarily being more intelligent.

That's ultimately just a function of putting far too many people in college classrooms who have no real business being in one (other than putting more money in the pockets of academia et al & having weight & taking up space).
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:06 PM   #59
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Part of my incredulity is that I have a hard time believing someone can go from 1000 to 1400 just like that (looking at a conversion chart, that's like going from a 22 to a 32 on the ACT; that's just huge - and, there has to be a point where prep gets diminishing returns).

I think the essay-writing is probably where he'd get his biggest return. Like I said upstream, I am hoping that AP World is getting him into shape there (both for writing and reading comprehension, really) but he has to continue with that.

I'm not sure how much prep can help with math, other than being able to get through the easier questions a bit faster while making sure he isn't making any careless errors. He kills his math classes and had a 730 on that part of the PSAT (out of 760...the new test tops out under 800 to adjust for the test being a little bit easier). What he got wrong was either out of carelessness (swapped a less than for a greater than) or time.
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Old 02-11-2016, 04:41 PM   #60
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Part of my incredulity is that I have a hard time believing someone can go from 1000 to 1400 just like that (looking at a conversion chart, that's like going from a 22 to a 32 on the ACT; that's just huge - and, there has to be a point where prep gets diminishing returns).

Eh, when the baseline score is obtained in the middle of the summer from a kid who's looking at the test for the first time, it's not that big of a deal.
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Old 02-11-2016, 05:38 PM   #61
wustin
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The essay part of the SAT year in and year out is always formulaic, there's no reason to not get a perfect 12 on it. Taking AP English (Language) is more than enough since you're drilled and timed to dish out essays every day.
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Old 02-11-2016, 05:56 PM   #62
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It's important to note that the target number of 1450 comes down substantially in the second and third pass (i.e., where we accept kids who are less academically desirable -- but still are likely to be solid students -- but have other qualifications that we want...which includes diversity, state residency, family alumni, etc., etc.)

Middle 50% ends up looking more like this: https://admissions.indiana.edu/educa...s-profile.html

(Note: middle 50 vs. average)

My kid is solidly in that middle 50 and got accepted on the second pass, mostly due to his SAT scores. He's always struggled with standardized testing...because no matter how much I tell him that taking a standardized test is a skill, he refuses to crack any of the study materials on how to succeed on a test like the SAT. Drives me fuckin' nuts.

No one I know in admissions actually likes giving the SAT/ACT so much weight, and they seem to (literally) argue about alternative methodologies every single month, but the fact inevitably remains that it seems to still be the best predictor of college success.

Hearing a story like Jon's -- that is, parents actively engaged in helping assure their kid's success and, perhaps more significantly, teaching them that there are not only resources available for help, but that it's okay to get help from people who can teach you how to navigate the obstacles -- is part of the reason, I think, that test scores remain such a healthy predictor. The older I get (and the more kids I raise), I become increasingly convinced that being a good student is more of a skill set than a description of mere innate ability.
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Old 02-11-2016, 05:58 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by cuervo72 View Post
Grr, test prep.

/obviously never took any test prep

(400-500 points though? Really?)

I took a look at the new PSAT test booklet, and I wonder if they are trying to be more like the ACT (not that I have ever seen an ACT test). Gone are analogies, and I didn't see much in the way of vocab either - at least, not of the "memorize these 500 words you'll never see in print, ever" variety. It was much more phrase context. An attempt to make it a little more prep-proof maybe?

I have a hard time wrapping my head around remedial courses. For my engineering major you had to at least start with Calculus, and even then you were probably behind the curve.

The SAT is trying to be more like the ACT (because they started to lose market share). The new SAT test which will be held for the first time in March, has been changed in several ways...

1) Essay is optional and no longer factors into the overall score. This was a big change because many colleges hated the essay and were ignoring the writing score of the SAT.

2) The format is very similar. Instead of 10 short sections, the SAT is now 4 longer sections like the ACT.

3) Like the ACT, there is now no penalty for guessing.

4) It now includes more advanced math than before.

As for the analogies, those have been gone for a very long time. They were replaced by sentence completions for a while, which still required ridiculous vocabulary study/memorization.

One of the main differences still in effect is no science section. Right now, my advice to students is to take the SAT if you're strong in math, but take the ACT if you're weak in math.
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Old 02-11-2016, 06:01 PM   #64
JonInMiddleGA
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Right now, my advice to students is to take the SAT if you're strong in math, but take the ACT if you're weak in math.

That advice gets 100% anecdotal agreement from my entire household, parents & student.
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Old 02-11-2016, 06:17 PM   #65
Drake
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...semi-interesting aside...

As I said, I took the SAT once (never took the PSAT). Learned later that if I'd scored 20 points higher on on the math section, I could have completely skipped the fundamental skills requirement for math as a liberal arts major. So six hours when I was 17 could have saved me 50 hours of class time a few years later (plus study/exercise time -- call it 200 hours total).

Seriously. The equivalent of pre-calc in HS would have been enough to give me a pass on math all the way through my BA.

Seemed stupid then...it's one of the places where I'm glad requirements have stiffened up a bit. Not that I need math. It's not like I'm a programmer or anything...(oh, fuck)

Then again, if I'd have been disposed toward math the first time (15 vs 200), I probably wouldn't have been an English major.

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Old 02-11-2016, 06:34 PM   #66
JonInMiddleGA
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Seemed stupid then...it's one of the places where I'm glad requirements have stiffened up a bit.

An enormous selling point for one of the school's my son (the history major & eventual lawyer) was looking at was the existence of a single course called "Math For Liberal Arts Majors".

That'll be the only math he has to deal with in four years if all goes according to plan
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:26 PM   #67
wustin
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it's probably college algebra
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:14 PM   #68
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I guess I'm back to freaking out about time and schedule. We got our first financial aid package (from my son's prefered university) and it looks good - all can be covered by federal and school aids. It seems like we should jump in and start the process - but we are still waiting on the packages from the other universities (one large out-of-state public, two small private) before my son submit his acceptance. Do I sit tight until all information come in; in other words, do I have time to wait?
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:36 PM   #69
JonInMiddleGA
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I guess I'm back to freaking out about time and schedule. We got our first financial aid package (from my son's prefered university) and it looks good - all can be covered by federal and school aids. It seems like we should jump in and start the process - but we are still waiting on the packages from the other universities (one large out-of-state public, two small private) before my son submit his acceptance. Do I sit tight until all information come in; in other words, do I have time to wait?

If he's a done deal AND the money adds up like you need it to ... whaddya waiting for? That's MY take.

My wiser & more expert wife says "he has til May 1st ... why rush?"
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Old 02-12-2016, 02:19 PM   #70
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Sit tight.
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:26 PM   #71
cuervo72
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Couple of thoughts aside from immediate application strategy discussions:

1. This Mount St. Mary's stuff is becoming a real shit show.

2. Someone should make a College Administrator sim.
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:38 PM   #72
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Couple of thoughts aside from immediate application strategy discussions:

1. This Mount St. Mary's stuff is becoming a real shit show.

2. Someone should make a College Administrator sim.

Hahaha..that game would be pretty damn tedious. But an update of that old game "Virtual U" with more depth would be awesome.
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:05 PM   #73
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My son is a junior now and we've started doing SATs and thinking about colleges.

He took a practice SAT last Dec and his Math was in mid 500's and Reading in lower 600's. Hoping another semester of math will help his SAT's later this year. He hasn't done an ACT yet. His GPA is around 3.8.

We are having him pick 5 colleges he wants to go for and my wife and I get to pick 2 each for him for a total of 9. We are thinking of some state universities - Texas, NC, GA and some stretch schools. I'm also thinking about using one of my picks for an international school (just for the heck of it).

I'm sure I'll be updating this thread with our journey over the next year and half!
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:34 PM   #74
britrock88
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Couple of thoughts aside from immediate application strategy discussions:

1. This Mount St. Mary's stuff is becoming a real shit show.

2. Someone should make a College Administrator sim.

Would be my #1 game played on my Steam account.
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:36 PM   #75
britrock88
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My son is a junior now and we've started doing SATs and thinking about colleges.

He took a practice SAT last Dec and his Math was in mid 500's and Reading in lower 600's. Hoping another semester of math will help his SAT's later this year. He hasn't done an ACT yet. His GPA is around 3.8.

We are having him pick 5 colleges he wants to go for and my wife and I get to pick 2 each for him for a total of 9. We are thinking of some state universities - Texas, NC, GA and some stretch schools. I'm also thinking about using one of my picks for an international school (just for the heck of it).

I'm sure I'll be updating this thread with our journey over the next year and half!

Be prudent in choosing out-of-state public schools. Unless you're looking for the right programs/scholarships/etc., you hit the bad combination of high tuition and low endowment that makes offer packages more expensive overall. Otherwise, work your in-state publics thoroughly, and do as much combing of the private landscape as you can.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:06 PM   #76
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Be prudent in choosing out-of-state public schools. Unless you're looking for the right programs/scholarships/etc., you hit the bad combination of high tuition and low endowment that makes offer packages more expensive overall. Otherwise, work your in-state publics thoroughly, and do as much combing of the private landscape as you can.

Understood. I've read that public universities prefer out-of-state students (e.g. better chance of getting accepted). I do want to explore out of state univ that have been getting "high scores" like Univ of NC, TX, VA.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:44 PM   #77
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Understood. I've read that public universities prefer out-of-state students (e.g. better chance of getting accepted). I do want to explore out of state univ that have been getting "high scores" like Univ of NC, TX, VA.

Maybe they're saying that out-of-state students at public tend do be more desirable academically because they are getting accepted out of a much more competitive pool than in-state, where there are typically state laws to the effect of "if you finish in the top x% of your high school class, you're automatically accepted."
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:46 PM   #78
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Maybe they're saying that out-of-state students at public tend do be more desirable academically because they are getting accepted out of a much more competitive pool than in-state, where there are typically state laws to the effect of "if you finish in the top x% of your high school class, you're automatically accepted."

What I read said it was because they can charge more for out-of-state students.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:59 PM   #79
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What I read said it was because they can charge more for out-of-state students.

There are programs that allow desirable applicants to only pay in-state rather than out-of-state. You'd have to talk to that school's financial aid office though. Kids who apply out-of-state typically have competitive scores anyways.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:38 AM   #80
JonInMiddleGA
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re: the whole out-of-state thing

I think every school my son seriously considered was out of state so we've kinda been down this road quite a bit.

wustin's phrase of "desirable applicants" is a pretty good one IMO. The first thing that was waived upon acceptance (during early admission phase) was out of state. Every single out of state school - public & private -- that accepted him (one deferred him) waived out-of-state tuition charges with the acceptance. I mean, that's THE first thing that happened with every single one. That's across 7 schools in 5 states.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:40 AM   #81
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As for the issue of the acceptance rate, I think there's a lot more in play here on an individual basis than just the $ (especially since that gets waived so readily).

To be blunt, the worse the in-state pool of applicants is then the higher percentage of out of state students they tend to admit. Many schools are looking to upgrade the "average freshman" data, some need to use out of state students to really do that.

To give you some idea, 50% of the students accepted into the Honors Program at Ole Miss are from out of state.
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Old 02-14-2016, 02:54 PM   #82
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Understood. I've read that public universities prefer out-of-state students (e.g. better chance of getting accepted). I do want to explore out of state univ that have been getting "high scores" like Univ of NC, TX, VA.

It's complicated by the fact that states set law/policy differently on this kind of thing. UNC-Chapel Hill is basically an Ivy League school for out-of-state applicants because there's an 18% enrollment cap. Those OOS students also are much likelier to be in prestigious scholarship programs, the honors program, athletes, etc.

Other states/schools may opt for revenue maximization instead. One extreme example I've heard of is UC-Boulder, where the stakes are the reverse of at UNC. Boulder apparently loves admitting OOS and international students and having them pay the out-of-state premium, and as a result, it's really hard for Coloradans to get into.

All that to say YMMV. If your kid's interested in a particular school, or level of selectivity, research into OOS public universities can be productive.
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Old 02-14-2016, 03:19 PM   #83
nol
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It's complicated by the fact that states set law/policy differently on this kind of thing. UNC-Chapel Hill is basically an Ivy League school for out-of-state applicants because there's an 18% enrollment cap. Those OOS students also are much likelier to be in prestigious scholarship programs, the honors program, athletes, etc.

Yeah, that's what I was getting at. UT-Austin and UCLA are a couple other schools in that boat.
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Old 02-25-2016, 10:08 AM   #84
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It's been a couple of fun (?), late nights this week, as my son is going through his course selections for Junior year -- which really amount to planning for both Junior and Senior year.

His high school schedule is not like what I experienced. Rather than having seven or eight periods with classes you take for the entire year, he has four class blocks (well, with lunch and "connect" [study hall/enrichment] it's a little different, but basically four blocks) and what are essentially two college-style semesters. So he has one slate of courses from Aug-Jan, then another from Jan-Jun. So really, eight half-year blocks.

Four of these are taken up by AP Calc I/AP Calc II, and AP Chem I/AP Chem II -- which are really just full-year AP Calc BC and AP Chem. That was the easy part. And he will be signing up for Marching Band, which is only offered 1st semester, and AP US History (I do not know if this is offered 1st, 2nd, or either).

The hours of back and forth pretty much all revolved around the non-core classes (at least non-core from a STEM standpoint). He has to take an English class each year, but for whatever reason there is no Honors 12 class. It's either take AP Lang in 11 then AP Lit in 12, or take Honors 11 then AP Lang in 12. I'd have liked for him to get AP Lang taken care of early to help more with the SAT and college essays, but AP Lit...well, it's not his thing. Plus we didn't want darn near everything other than band to be AP, so Honors 11 it is. Hopefully AP Lang is first sem Sr year.

So, that still leaves a slot. I'm still not sure what he's going to do here, and he may not decide until he actually turns in the paper later today (after he consults with his Academic Team coach and his AP World prof -- who happen to teach a couple of the courses). In play are AP Psych, AP Euro, AP Environment, and Ancient and Medieval History. Psych (taught by his coach) is probably going to be taken at some point, but he's not sure when. He has some friends who are interested in Ancient/Medieval, if that is even offered (it wasn't this year). Of course, there's also a girl (friend of friend) who grates the shit out of him who might take it. And it's not AP -- not even weighted as honors, I don't think.

Enviro could wait, if he takes it at all. Euro is the same teacher as World, which would be good. If he had that at the same time as AP US thought? Yeah, that might be a bit much. Probably wouldn't be an issue if one of the two histories* was paired with band, but we have no guarantee that would be the case.

* He is looking at history classes because a) he likes them, and b) he can join Rho Kappa if he has enough of them. Psych counts for these purposes too.


----------------


Switching gears somewhat to my daughter's schedule (rising Freshman). My son took care of his language requirement in middle school, and took Spanish III to boot in HS (signed up for Spanish IV but scheduling bumped it; this is probably just as well). Daughter is signing up for Latin. Might be useful for roots and to aid in understanding various terminologies. But my philosophical question is - why are languages deemed necessities by colleges/college prep programs?

I mean, I took three (?) years of Spanish. I can't say I really recall much more than a trace of it. I've never used it. I doubt my son will either, and if he does he'll likely have to relearn it. My daughter sure as hell won't be conversing with anybody in Latin. So, what's the point? If the point is to be well-rounded, couldn't you get that from other subjects?
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Old 02-25-2016, 12:47 PM   #85
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Switching gears somewhat to my daughter's schedule (rising Freshman). My son took care of his language requirement in middle school, and took Spanish III to boot in HS (signed up for Spanish IV but scheduling bumped it; this is probably just as well). Daughter is signing up for Latin. Might be useful for roots and to aid in understanding various terminologies. But my philosophical question is - why are languages deemed necessities by colleges/college prep programs?

I mean, I took three (?) years of Spanish. I can't say I really recall much more than a trace of it. I've never used it. I doubt my son will either, and if he does he'll likely have to relearn it. My daughter sure as hell won't be conversing with anybody in Latin. So, what's the point? If the point is to be well-rounded, couldn't you get that from other subjects?

Two reasons, I think, beyond the "well-rounded" argument.

Foreign-language study, like all fields, involves a type of thinking different from what people usually do. In the most basic classes, yes, it's mostly memorization, but after that, reading and writing foreign languages gets you thinking in a different way. It builds synapses and brain power.

Also, while most HS students won't need or use foreign languages, a certain number of them will need and use them in their adult work lives. Picking them up later in life (after HS) is very hard, and no 9th grader is going to know whether he or she is going to wind up in that subset who needs foreign languages. Learning some foreign language in HS can open up professional opportunities down the road.
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Old 02-25-2016, 03:51 PM   #86
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Switching gears somewhat to my daughter's schedule (rising Freshman). My son took care of his language requirement in middle school, and took Spanish III to boot in HS (signed up for Spanish IV but scheduling bumped it; this is probably just as well). Daughter is signing up for Latin. Might be useful for roots and to aid in understanding various terminologies. But my philosophical question is - why are languages deemed necessities by colleges/college prep programs?

I mean, I took three (?) years of Spanish. I can't say I really recall much more than a trace of it. I've never used it. I doubt my son will either, and if he does he'll likely have to relearn it. My daughter sure as hell won't be conversing with anybody in Latin. So, what's the point? If the point is to be well-rounded, couldn't you get that from other subjects?

Be sure to check colleges of interest for their foreign language requirements. Most that we saw required 3 yrs but there were a few along the way that required four. Most will also allow you to count middle school courses (as long as the HS does) but definitely doublecheck all of that now rather than later.
(And if you've done that already then just ignore this & consider it as intended as future reference for people who haven't dealt with it yet )

As for the why ... Latin used to be useful for SAT purposes but with the changes that's likely to make it far less beneficial. If the shortage of qualified teachers ever gets corrected I suspect you'll see Mandarin replace Latin as an option in a growing number of HS curriculum. (Right now hiring Mandarin instructors can be an expensive proposition unless its done through the Chinese government)
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Old 02-25-2016, 04:16 PM   #87
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Wow, three or four? Hrm. Our HS requires two for the "University" track, which I think represents the minimum requirements to get into the U of MD system (son's dream school MIT only requires two). Pretty sure my daughter is only budgeting for two. Of course, she has no clue where she wants to go, just that she is eventually interested in being a vet.

Our HS awards actual credit for languages taken in middle school, at least for Spanish II, but I realize YMMV where colleges are concerned.
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Old 02-25-2016, 04:24 PM   #88
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Wow, three or four? Hrm. Our HS requires two for the "University" track, which I think represents the minimum requirements to get into the U of MD system (son's dream school MIT only requires two). Pretty sure my daughter is only budgeting for two. Of course, she has no clue where she wants to go, just that she is eventually interested in being a vet.

Our HS awards actual credit for languages taken in middle school, at least for Spanish II, but I realize YMMV where colleges are concerned.

Just using Wake Forest as an example that stood out to me, the official required number was 2, the recommended number was 4. We were told "unofficially" that 3 would make things easier there in the admission process than 2.

By comparision, Ole Miss technically doesn't require any foreign language in HS and recommends only 2 for successful applicants.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:40 PM   #89
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How do you guys feel about a gap year? My son just brought that up and I was surprised by it. I know he's burned out after 4 years of the #2 academic HS in CO and top 150 nationally but is this really a good idea?
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:49 PM   #90
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How do you guys feel about a gap year? My son just brought that up and I was surprised by it. I know he's burned out after 4 years of the #2 academic HS in CO and top 150 nationally but is this really a good idea?

Mileage probably varies a LOT.

Personally, I get the concept and I definitely see not only the appeal but the potential usefulness of it.

At the same time, losing momentum that might never be regained is a helluva risk IMO.

And of the last four kids I've seen do the gap year thing, two are currently living in their car, another is an out of college as abrupt & unplanned father.

I get the Kerouachian appeal of it. I completely get the enormous burnout experience HS can be. But the kid would probably have to be on the verge of hospitalization / breakdown sort of burnout for a gap year to seem like a good idea in practice.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:55 PM   #91
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How do you guys feel about a gap year? My son just brought that up and I was surprised by it. I know he's burned out after 4 years of the #2 academic HS in CO and top 150 nationally but is this really a good idea?

What's the plan for the year? As a vacation, I'd be very reluctant, but if there's a real plan to use the year to do things that may be impossible in life, I'd at least be willing to consider it.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:44 PM   #92
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My gap year(s) were very useful in that I end up working crappy jobs and was previously indifferent to the idea of college success. (I think I had a 2.9 GPA when I dropped out after my freshman year. Might have been a little higher, but I really didn't care. I'll put it this way: if I made it to class half the time in any given week, I considered that a successful week.)

Fast forward a couple of years of shitty jobs, low-paying jobs, and I was much more motivated to succeed as a student. Sometimes the real world is the kick in the pants a good student needs to remind them why they were a good student in the first place.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:52 PM   #93
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Want to echo Drake here.

The place I went to grad school had a lot of folks in their late 20s, 30s or even 40s who were coming in to get their first post-HS degree (like BAs).

After coming from a college where everyone was 18-21, the difference in approach was significant. Not only did these students treat it a lot more seriously, they frankly demanded that their instructors be on top of things, including being available, taking classes the full distance, etc....

My wife & I have discussed and agreed that if either of our boys wants to take a year or two off between HS & college, we're fine with that as long as they're doing something constructive. And "doing something constructive" could be moving to the city and working service jobs.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:30 PM   #94
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So when I hear someone talk about finding savings by trimming administrative waste, it resonates with me a bit...even though I'll also simultaneously acknowledge that most university staff are underpaid in relation to market value -- and they'll be the first ones to get trimmed...because God forbid we think about giving up the 3 or 4 competing customer relationship management software contracts because this school wants to use Salesforce, and this one wants to use Hobsons, and the university IT group chose (and deployed) a completely different enterprise solution...

Bingo. The waste people don't see is really where higher ed is crazy. Also the insane debt fueled building sprees by most universities and worse, by many small colleges over the past 25 years. I know because as a staff member turned consultant, I know the types of contracts they sign and it's insane.

Free money fuels this. Nobody wants to cut the head off the student loan debt issue because of 'access' but...it'll be up to the institutions to figure out how to make kids afford it, if we stop passing the buck in the form of cheap, easy money.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:36 PM   #95
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How do you guys feel about a gap year? My son just brought that up and I was surprised by it. I know he's burned out after 4 years of the #2 academic HS in CO and top 150 nationally but is this really a good idea?

Depends on what he's interested in. It can't hurt anything, really. Colleges will want to know what did with his year off. It'd be better to apply, get accepted and defer admission for a year than to just delay the whole process an entire year.

It might sound fun at first, but going from school to having all of that time to just do whatever will get a lot more boring than it seems from the outset. It's fine if someone has responsibilities or you know, friends who will be around.

But unless he's got a lot of friends going to DU, CU or UCD, he might find that there aren't as many folks around to hang with on weekends and he'll probably wonder if he should've just gone to school. I think from the outside looking in, college seems overwhelming and it can be, but you also end up having way more free time than you ever do as a HS kid unless you're just one of those people who overschedules themselves or has to work a non-campus job where you can't regulate your schedule. (Work study campus jobs are hour capped.)

If it's a gap year program or just wants to work, you can assess it. But I'd encourage him to at least explore the process if he knows he wants to go later of applying and narrowing down where he might be interested in, only because it's kind of a pain at some schools to apply outside of your class.
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:09 PM   #96
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I would have a hard time seeing it from a STEM perspective. Math seems like more of a use it or lose it proposition.
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Old 03-14-2016, 12:27 AM   #97
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Mileage probably varies a LOT.

Personally, I get the concept and I definitely see not only the appeal but the potential usefulness of it.

At the same time, losing momentum that might never be regained is a helluva risk IMO.

And of the last four kids I've seen do the gap year thing, two are currently living in their car, another is an out of college as abrupt & unplanned father.

I get the Kerouachian appeal of it. I completely get the enormous burnout experience HS can be. But the kid would probably have to be on the verge of hospitalization / breakdown sort of burnout for a gap year to seem like a good idea in practice.

I agree with this. I have known a lot of people who have done this and more often than not they never go back to school. Intentions are always good going into it, but a lot can happen in a year. They find a girlfriend locally they don't want to leave. They enjoy being 19 year old with no real expenses. But my biggest fear would be hanging around a group of people who are not going to college and who will drain the motivation to ever go.

On the other hand, my brother took a gap year and he's now got a PhD in Biochemistry and a nice job in the pharmaceutical industry. He spent his year working at a convenient store and smoking pot with loser friends. Was very close to him being one of those people who never ends up going. In fact I think if it wasn't for the fact my Dad badgered him relentlessly about it he may never have gone.

My suggestion is to avoid the gap year if you can. If you can't, I'd make your kid pay a small bit of rent and/or take a couple general courses at the community college. Show them life isn't a free ride and a couple courses will keep the mind fresh and even cut down on some costs when they go to a regular university.
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Old 03-14-2016, 05:53 AM   #98
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I have two friends who have taken a gap year, but both of them have done that right before entering PhD (and after getting sure they were admitted to that PhD). Both were Chemistry/Ceramic students in a UK university (can't remember which one now).

Then went together on a "travel the world" trip and ended up spending several months in Australia and the USA. They had to find small jobs to be able to cover the whole trip fees. That was a a very good experience and something that they wouldn't be able to do now that they are in the "job/work" industry.
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Old 03-14-2016, 08:37 AM   #99
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The plan for the gap year (or two) is the key, IMO. Sit around for a year and play XBOX? No. Get an unpaid internship in a field you think you want to study (and be supported by me, finally)? Yes.
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Old 08-22-2016, 11:51 PM   #100
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