College Admissions and High School (economic discrimination)

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Discus: College Admissions: December 2003 Archive: July 2003 Archive: College Admissions and High School (economic discrimination)
By Fonzie (Fonzie) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 08:07 pm: Edit

The entire selection process to me seems very bias and unfair to those who cannot afford a private high school education. When competing for a spot on a selective school's list, recommendations, course selection, and difficulty of school are all used; private schools ALL have the advantage in this aspect. Furthur, all these "who's who" awards and other various conferences cost money to go to, along with other camps and college classes in the summer, all of which can give an applicant a clear advantage over someone else with close stats. Furthur, public schools in my opinion would have worse teaching and make it harder to prep a student for ACT/SAT tests, along with APs and makes it more difficult for extra help when they have to coach or work another job, or frankly don't care because they know they can't be replaced. To me, it would seem the normal middle class family that cannot afford such an education would just perpetuate a student who cannot compete with the richer students, unless they have outstanding statistics.

I don't really want to argue in this thread, but I would like someone to prove to me that I can go to a public school with an economic disadvantage and still have the same shot in the american education system. In the end the question comes to this: is it just an inherent problem and unfourtunatley in a system of capitalism it is going to occur, or do colleges realize this and work to help close the gap?

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 08:38 pm: Edit

Much of what you say is true...but so what? Money talks. It gives an edge at every step of the process, private school or no, even for a part of the process such as visiting schools (which was an economic "ouch!" for us but it *was* doable, something I am intensely aware is not true for most people). Ditto tutoring and test prep. Ditto familiarity with resources and how to play the game (EA & ED is tilted *heavily* towards students from families with resources.)

But from what I've read, colleges do take economic biases into account; this is why a kid who has 2 AP's can do better in terms of admissions than a kid who has 10; why someone with a 1400 SAT from a school where the average is 1020 is going to be regarded better than someone with a 1500 where the average is 1400.

Aside from the admissions process being nutso, stressful, and often "unfair," there is a lot of subjective evaluation that goes on and "fuzzy logic." If you look at the overall admissions results, there's a lot more fairness now than there was 30-40 years ago. Who your family is still matters...but it matters a lot less; how much money your family can bring to bear on the process matters...but it matters a lot less; what prep school or high school you graduate from matters...but matters a lot less.

If you can step back out of the painfully intense moment you're in, the evolution of college admissions had a lot of positive results in terms of results, if not process. Better now than 1960, I can tell you (not that *I* was applying then).

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 09:24 pm: Edit

Colleges are aware of opportunities at various schools, at least in general. If you have a rigourous private school education, you are expected to have certain SATs and grades, to have taken advantage of your advantages.
For a student with not so many opportunities, she isn't going to be marked down for not taking 15 AP classes, when her school doesn't offer any.

One of the most expensive private schools in our area ( Lakeside) has the same number of National Merit Scholars and Ivy league admits as Garfield, an inner city public school.
While my daughter did indeed attend a private high school ( with the help of fin aid BTW), she did not take any SAT prep classes summers ( she worked), in fact the only prep she had for SATs was checking a book from the library that I don't think she ever looked at.
Her school didn't offer APs, to her relief as there was enough to do to prepare for college as it was.
If you are motivated, there are things you can do on your own.
There are also a ton of good and great schools out there, it takes a little research and an open mind , the first is as close as your keyboard, the 2nd you have to work on your self

By Apguy (Apguy) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 10:00 pm: Edit

>>I don't really want to argue in this thread, but I would like someone to prove to me that I can go to a public school with an economic disadvantage and still have the same shot in the american education system. <<

I can see where you are coming from as I go to a public school as well. I'm sure teachers are screened better and expected more in private schools giving them a better chance to do well on APs. But if it is worth anything at all, colleges do try to bridge the gap by not penalizing you for not taking APs if your school does not offer it. If your school has one honors course and you take it, they will still consider you as having the hardest courseload. So if your school offers 10 APs instead of 30, so as long as you keep all your classes strong you will not be hurt. Also, our nations colleges and top colleges are more populated with public school kids than private school kids after all...

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 10:58 pm: Edit

EmeraldK...there's got to be several of them. Are you by any chance in Seattle? Something had made me think you were in Michigan.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 11:20 pm: Edit

nope not Michigan, only part of the midwest that I have even visited is Mo. , cause Colorado doesn't count as midwest I don't think.

I am in Seattle- actually born here as well, which I guess makes me a rarity.

My screenname came from "emerald city" which was supposed to be a moniker to draw tourists or something

By O71394658 (O71394658) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 12:34 am: Edit

One thing I can tell you: Going to a private school does not in the least give you a better education. The teachers in public and private schools are exactly the same. The assignments they give are exactly the same. It's just that you're paying for one...believe me on this. One of the few areas I have "inside" knowledge about.

Fonzie, adcoms know that anything you pay for isn't a good thing. Who's who, National Leadership Conference, Harvard Summer School...none of these things really matter in admissions.

By Canadian_Idol (Canadian_Idol) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 01:10 am: Edit

Being in a private school definitely helps students in their applications for universities. If you enroll in one of these schools, you are bound to get much more information about the entire application process. The more familiar you are with the system, the more chance you will succeed.

Private schools from my region in Canada send students to ivies yearly while in public schools, that is certainly rare.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 01:54 am: Edit

There are private school advantages--smaller class sizes, better support (e.g., guidance counselors and college counselors), cherry-picked peer group (all students academically competitive, fewer discipline problems), and all around higher expectation--that say you *can* get a better preparation for college in a private school than you will in public schools *on average.* Motivation or lack thereof, willingness to take advantage of what you've got, can make a difference.


EmeraldK, son of gun. My sister in-law is CFO at Lakeside. Has given me a window into that world and how it stacks up against D's high school.

The college counseling materials are...impressive.
So are the average SAT scores. D would be just one of the crowd at Lakeside. At her school, she's in the top 3-5 percent.

By Gianscolere (Gianscolere) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 02:06 am: Edit

They are long as you take the hardest courseload in your school, you'll be fine.

0713: Well, that may be true for certain private schools, but there are some that are actually better than public schools. Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter, and Milton are certainly three examples I can think of that offer better education than my regular public high school. But there are also private schools (I've been in one of them in fact) that actually offer just about the same quality as the typical public school (maybe even worse).

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 03:37 am: Edit

My sister in-law is CFO at Lakeside. Has given me a window into that world and how it stacks up against D's high school.

CFO huh, she must be an alum parent.<g>
At my daughters high school , quite a number of parents have found ways to keep coming to the school even after their kids have graduated.
I am wondering what buildings her college will add after my daughter graduates. Her elementary school has an enormous new addition that practically dwarfs the new building, and the school where she spent her 6-12 years added building while she was there, and a state of the art gym( visiting ballet companies have been using it for a rehersal studio including the Bolshoi and Alvin Ailey) and an arts center after she graduated. No mean feat to find money and space for an urban school to expand its grounds.

There is something to be said for being one of the crowd, many of these kids are big fish, and it is good to learn to swim with the big fish, but also something to be said for being tops in your class, especially at schools that may not be able to give attention to all except for the ones that stand out.

For my oldest daughter, attending a private school was mostly beneficial for the smaller environment that a public school usually doesn't offer. She had really wonderful teachers, who had more autonomy than the public school system usually allows their employees.

The public school system has other opportunities though that private schools may not. Even though my oldest daughters school was fairly diverse as private schools go, it still doesn't come close to the student body at her sisters school or at Garfield.

By Aparent (Aparent) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 10:58 am: Edit

I am really torn on this subject. Unlike ours, most public schools in our area are very uniform racially and socioeconomically, whereas the private schools work toward diversity. My impression, based on kids I know in hs and college, is that it's ok and maybe even cool to be smart in private school, whereas in public school it is often very uncool.

I know quite a few kids whose parents transferred them into private schools in order to enhance their college admissions chances. Dumb move. As Thedad says, they found it hard to stand out in the crowd. Lots of very disappointed families who had all sorts of expectations. However, those whose parents transferred them into private school for the *educational opportunities* fared far better, both during their school educations and in college admissions. They enjoyed the highly motivated peer group and interesting course offerings as well as the sense of belonging and pride that seem to be cultivated among the students.

Frankly, we consider our kids to be partially home-schooled. The top kids in our hs get very good results in college admissions, but for the most part they all come from families where intellectual and cultural endeavors are an important part of everyday life. Left to the school alone, with its fairly wretched English department and spotty Social Studies (math and science are good, for whatever reason), I hate to think how little my kids would have learned....To be honest, they have had many wonderful teachers, and yet quite a few others who do not seem to be people who read for pleasure or who get very excited about the life of the mind or the arts.

I am not sure, though, that we can make generalizations about public school. Even in our little corner of the world here, they are all so different. The only thing I hear all parents agreeing on is that middle school has become a total waste of time!

By O71394658 (O71394658) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 11:54 am: Edit

My dad taught for 33 years at a public school. Then he went to the private school after he retired from the public school system. He said the private school was MUCH worse than the public school. It isn't AT ALL diverse (private Jewish school -I'm not Jewish-), the classes are very large, they offer little AP courses (compared to something like 15 at my public H.S.), and since they pay for their education, the kids feel they have a "right" to be rowdy and undisciplined (not in my dad's class though...hehehe).

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 12:23 pm: Edit

and since they pay for their education, the kids feel they have a "right" to be rowdy and undisciplined (not in my dad's class though...hehehe)

Sounds very different than privates in our area. Since private schools can expel students for behavior that publics could not, students are expected to be engaged in their studies and not disruptive. Parents of students also expect them to get as much as they can out of school, which does not include wasting the teachers and other students time as well as their own.

Example, one student in my daughters class, brillant just brillant. He had been attending since 6th grade he was now in 12th grade, National Merit scholar, all kinds other awards. Both his parents educators one a university professor, the other a former member of the public school board, and an instructor at the school among other things.
The student was bored of school, even though it was plenty challenging for everyone else, and often told the teachers how easy it was and what a waste of time. They gave him a couple warnings to shape up, which he ignored than gave him one last warning that they were going to expel him, even though it was just a couple months before graduation, if he didn't quit acting like he was the second coming.
He ignored the warning and they kicked him out of school, even though he had been attending since 6th grade and did his schoolwork, just for attitude they kicked him out.
If the public school system was allowed to do that, we would have class sizes of about 8 in a class in some areas.
( He actually did graduate with the class but he recieved a state diploma not a school diploma- the state had much lower standards for graduation than the

If the private schools had class sizes larger than public, had little academic challenge and had a rebellious and disrespectful student body, why in hell would anyone send their kids there?

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 03:01 pm: Edit

AP, I don't consider D to be homeschooled but in the larger sense you're right: education is something that should take place in an on-going fashion in many different ways, starting with lots of reading in the home and moving out from there.

By Jimjunior (Jimjunior) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 03:30 pm: Edit

I dont know how it is in the rest of the nation, but around where I live the private schools generally offer between 3 and 6 APs, but the public schools offer closer to 15. Public schools have a much larger variety of classes offered. Private schools/money help the rest of the way

By Sunshine916 (Sunshine916) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 06:01 pm: Edit

i don't know. i go to a large, public school, 3rd largest in ohio, and i dont really see anything wrong with it.

however, our AP selection is like...negative. Officially, we have AP Bio, AP Enviro Sci (just starting this year, we're "guinea pigs", only 15 taking the class), AP English (Lit and Comp), AP Calc AB, and AP Calc BC (usually only 5-10). So that's...5. However, we have many Honors level classes that are fairly AP focused and many people decide to take the AP Exam after it (i consider these classes AP)-Physics B & C, *H Jr L.Arts (Eng Lang & Comp), French, Spanish, Latin, Poli Sci (Govmt), and Econ (micro).

there arent many private schools in the area besides for two small, Catholic ones and a tiny little Christian Academy, but i think the quality of education is better at our school. OK, so we have an avg SAT score of 1080 (or something) but we have our fair share of extremely bright and motivated kids.

Many kids from our school every year get accepted and head off to extremely prestigious schools (Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, Brown, being the main ones). They took what they were given and made the best of it!! These kids weren't "amazing" in the sense that they were geniuses and prodigies. They were nice, normal kids who worked hard for everything, found their passions, and stuck to it.

I think that's enough to convince me that I have the ability to get into an Ivy or a great school if I set my mind to the task. Top schools aren't looking for everyone to be affluent, prep-school kids who had every opportunity in the world handed to them because of their wealth. They value the normal student who worked for what they got and took advantage of it.

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