|By Larry on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 03:23 pm: Edit|
How do you convince a kid that you can make it in life if you don't get into an Ivy League college or other elite school? Several of my son's friends seem to spend hours debating which Ivy is best, which is worst, and imply that to go anywhere else is second-class. When he visits some of the college discussion boards, it's the same thing - everyone comparing incredible stats, and going through the best & worst Ivy debate, arguing about where Stanford and MIT fit in, etc.
My son's stats are unlikely to get him into a super-tough school, although I've encouraged him to try applying to one or two as reaches if he wants to. Right now, he's feeling like he's in a basketball tournament, and is about to be sent to the losers bracket. How do you convince him that there is life beyond the top 20 schools, and maybe an even better education?
|By California Mom (Calmom) on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 01:54 am: Edit|
I have a book to suggest. It's called "You're Going to Love this College Guide" by Marty Nemko. It has very practical, down to earth advice, plus lists of colleges organized geographically, by type of size/environment (rural/urban), and by selectivity. (i.e., colleges where B/C students can go).
I'll warn you, when you first get this book it looks like it is a joke, with big cute drawings and large type. But this is one that my son picked up and spent a lot of time with, and when it came down it there was more real, honest (no hype) information there than a lot of other books. So in the end, I would have to say it was more useful than anything else we had in terms of getting my son to think about what he wanted in college, and how to go about finding it.
Some other books to get a kid thinking about other colleges besides Ivies are Loren Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives : 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You're Not a Straight-A Student" and "Looking Beyond the Ivy League : Finding the College That's Right for You". Pope's books really explore what some lesser known colleges have to offer. The only problem is that Pope tends to oversell the colleges he features; so in the end there's just a lot more hype, and I think that tends to undermine his credibility somewhat. But it's a good start to focus on what other colleges can offer.
Try to help your son focus on what he wants from his education and also what sort of college environment he is interested in. If he goes to a college that is a good fit for him, then he will ultimately have more opportunities along the way.
Oh, there is a terrific article from Atlantic Monthly on line, here:
Confessions of a Prep School Counselor. Definitely print this out, read it and share it.
|By amd on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 04:50 pm: Edit|
I loved reading the article you refer to above. She wrotes so well in addition to making so much sense.
|By Roger (Roger) on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 09:48 pm: Edit|
You've probably found it, but we have a review of Pope's "Colleges that Change Lives" book on the site. We don't have a review of "Beyond the Ivy League" yet, but there are some customer reviews at Amazon.
These are definitely a couple of good antidotes to an over-emphasis on Ivy League schools and similar ultra-elite institutions. Part of the problem, I think, is that selectivity is often equated to the quality of education. While selectivity may indeed affect the quality of the peer group, that's far from the only measure of quality.
|By Larry on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 03:10 pm: Edit|
Thanks for the advice, people. I think it will just take patience and perhaps some of these references. Other people always have more credibility than Dad.
The Atlantic Monthly article is right on the money, California Mom. Unfortunately, changing this mindset like undoing brainwashing. When all you read about is a small number of top schools, you start to believe that they are the best and only targets to aim for.
|By California Mom (Calmom) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 03:46 pm: Edit|
That's too bad, Larry. I feel that my son is better off because his top choices were all strong matches for him, plus he had several schools that were safeties. So he ended up getting in to all his colleges, and getting merit aid offers from several -- much better for his ego. Plus there was a lot of enthusuasm built up over the summer. The college set up a web board for the new admittees, and they chatted all summer long.
It's harder to get excited about a college if you've convinced yourself that it is inferior to other "choices" that you were rejected from. I put "choices" in quotes, because I don't think aiming for rejection is a choice.
Here's two other books I can recommend:
A is For Admission, by Michele A. Hernandez
Admissions Confidential, by Rachel Toor
Both of these books are by former ad.comm. members at top schools (Dartmouth and Duke) and they present some hard facts about the elite admission process. It is important to keep in mind that these books apply only to the process at the most selective colleges - otherwise it would be too discouraging to read.
I know that the book A is for Admission left my son feeling that the admissions criteria was a reason that he didn't want to apply to the top schools -- he just did't want to be judged by those standards. He was much happier submitting his essays and recommendations to more appropriate colleges where he knew that they would be taken seriously.
Good luck with your son.
|By Roger (Roger) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 10:14 am: Edit|
A couple more good recommendations, California Mom! (For those who haven't found our reviews, they are at A is for Admission and Admissions Confidential.) These books really fill the gap in terms of explaining the reality of elite admissions. Too often, kids don't get adequate guidance and assume if their stats match the school's average, they'll be able to get in. In addition to those two, I'll throw in a recommendation of Dave Berry's and David Hawsey's book, America's Elite Colleges.
I'd hasten to add that while these books will bring some reality (as well as plenty of practical advice) to families with a fixation on elite colleges, they may do little to dispel the aura of desirability that surrounds these schools. In fact, even as these books explain how daunting the admissions process is, the reader might well conclude that these colleges MUST be the best - why else would so many students work so hard to get in, against such difficult odds?
Selectivity is at least partially a feedback loop. As a school gets more selective, its ranking improves and it gets more exposure. This draws more applicants, the school gets more selective, and so on. This ride doesn't last forever - eventually other "hot" schools emerge. It's too bad, though, that so much attention is focused on schools that are so likely to lead to rejection.
Larry, good luck with broadening your son's horizons!
|By George Meany on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 10:59 am: Edit|
Maybe the Ivies are like luxury cars. You don't need a Lexus to go to the grocery store. You can get there in Ford Escort--and have enough money left over to remodel your kitchen. (That may be a non-sequiturious mixed metaphor, but I hope you know what I mean.)
|By GFI on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 03:22 pm: Edit|
George, you have a point. I'd add that there is an important difference, though. Few people would argue that a Lexus isn't a better all-around vehicle than a Ford Escort. On the other hand, an Ivy isn't necessarily the best choice for many students, even if cost is no object.
|By Dadster on Thursday, November 29, 2001 - 10:00 pm: Edit|
I feel for ya, Larry! No doubt, the more you try to talk your son out of Ivy envy, the more it will infect him. I recommend being low key and consistent, and relying more on external sources of information rather than "Dad's opinion." Visits to other schools where he can meet bright, committed students may help. Once he's accepted and starts somewhere, those other schools will fade into distant memories.
|By Roger (Roger) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 10:20 pm: Edit|
The other part of this is dealing with rejection, Larry. Many, many kids who DO have Ivy-caliber stats and great ECs still get rejected, which has to be doubly frustrating. As Dadster suggests, keep working to highlight the positives of other schools, while keeping any Ivy expectations grounded in harsh reality.
|By IvyGodfather on Friday, January 11, 2002 - 03:29 pm: Edit|
Michelle Hernandez burned her bridges, and after being "ousted" from an Ivy, she turned around and capitalized by writing a book that, although partly accurate at the time, no longer applies regarding many of the practices she referred to. We learned our lessons -- nobody leaves the Ivies unhappy anymore, if they leave at all.
You did see "The Firm", didn't you??
|By Dadster on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 02:46 pm: Edit|
Speaking of Ivy League hype, anyone know how the Ivy League schools are doing in terms of number of applicants this year?
|By Violet on Monday, April 22, 2002 - 09:54 am: Edit|
I really agree with George Meany. I have two very different daughters. One is going to a state school the other has an option of an Ivy or what I would consider the "Ivy" of engineering. I love my girls equally, but they are not the same person. My older daughter is a woman's studies major. Her masters will matter much more than her undergraduate. For the younger one, the school MAY make a difference. Let your son know that if he proves himself in his undergraduate work, he'll open up many more options on the graduate level if he chooses to continue his education. Everyone knows that much more important than where you go, is what you bring to your education. All the best to you and your son! V
|By Miss Frances on Monday, April 22, 2002 - 01:45 pm: Edit|
Remember that there are top tier schools that are less selective. Larry didn't give his son's stats, but if he's reaching for a few super tough schools, it most likely means he has a reasonable (ballpark?) shot at some top tier schools. He needs to get hold of the US News rankings and scroll down the admit rate column to see which top schools have less competitive admissions. U Rochester, Case Western, Lafayette, Kenyon and Oberlin are a few that come to mind as examples of schools whoase selectivity belies their quality.
Also he should be aware that a school like Vassar has a gender imbalance to correct, they are looking for more than a few good men.
I wouldn't say you can't make it in life if you don't get into an Ivy League college or other elite school but wonder why you think your son can get a BETTER education outside the top 20 schools, Larry, and why you want to convince your son of that?
|By Cath on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 02:23 am: Edit|
Vanderbilt University for all that is important
in education and living in a wonderful society.
Faculty and staff CARE! Such outstanding instructors and people from maintenance to dietary
departments who take the time to welcome and
embrace each and every student encourage the
best from them. Students CARE! They are some
of the most openhearted, bright kids I've ever
met. They are not so competitive that they literally hide their notes even from someone
who was truly ill- like I heard they do at
some Ivy's (from IVY students). They are a dynamic and extraordinarily friendly bunch who draw in even the most introverted kid into their groups(not cliques)! Yes, if privacy is what you crave- you are shown the respect. Sometimes, it isn't the buildings, the campus, the social life.. the noise about
the athletic teams...it is about the people
who will be your society for four plus years
and how they will be a major impact in what
shapes your adult attitudes and ideas. It is about being happily connected to your school and having a great college experience. Vanderbilt knows how to educate and beyond; how to build them up by wisely and encouraging their imaginations to flower.... Then, they give them the tools necessary to reap the harvest!
|By dotmom on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 07:48 pm: Edit|
with regard to helping your son deal with Ivy rejection - a wise friend of mine pointed out that great grades, great scores, and great ECs just get you a lottery ticket. At some of these top colleges, there is a great surplus of students who meet the criteria. There's more than a little luck to who gets selected. There's also the "blue-eyed moose" factor. Some schools are looking for kids who are highly unusual - because they have more than enough applications from just plain great kids. Another bit of advice from my kid's college counselor is that your safety school is your most important choice. You don't want to be upset if it turns out that's where you're headed.
|By Howdy on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 05:41 am: Edit|
"Larry"'s long gone.
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