College Post #1

May 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm 429 comments

Someone who commented in a previous post highly recommended this book.

Someone who commented in a previous post highly recommended this book.

Well, I can’t say when I started this blog 5 years ago as my son was starting 4th grade I ever dreamed I’d be making a post about college.  But… we obsessors need to start thinking ahead, right?

So maybe we start with just a general discussion of some questions and answers and things to think about in terms of gearing our kids towards the best/right college?

My college application experience was kind of weird.  As I may have mentioned, I had a knack for standardized test (that if my son is lucky as a CPS student he’ll inherit.)  My SAT scores got me lots of mail from good colleges, but my grades and activities didn’t really match the test scores.  Nor did I have any inclination to leave the state.   And my parents didn’t really push the issue at all.  Basically I was allowed to choose from Purdue and Indiana University.  I knew I’d get in so I recall preparing my application for IU and getting pizza sauce on it and not really caring.

So… I imagine the process will be a bit different than that for my son.  There seems to be so much pressure these days to be amazing and a leader and interesting and smart and studious and committed academically.   I mean, there are still colleges in Illinois where kids who aren’t all that academic can go, right?  And how high do we reach in terms of price/reputation?  So many questions but I’ve got years to figure this out.   At least I’ve calmed down a lot about the high school process.

Share your questions and thoughts about college applications and we can discuss.

Also, Chicago School GPS posted about this upcoming seminar:

I encourage anyone curious about pre-college to come to a FREE seminar about “College 101- Making the Most of Your High School Career” on May 22 @ 7PM at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness. Sponsored by NPN and primarily presented by Lighthouse College Planners, it is all about the fact that frankly, what our kids do in high school definitely affects their smooth transition (or not) to college.

It’s geared toward not only incoming freshmen or sophomore parents but anyone curious, including middle school parents starting to wonder about paving a smooth path to college.

Entry filed under: College!.

Disney II High School (and other schools still open) Lottery Elementary Letters Part 2 – 2013 (Magnet cluster, neighborhood schools)

429 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    From Mom2017:
    I think a new thread “college obsessed ” is in order. We too are looking at colleges and it is overwhelming. There are fee based consultants that are available but charge pretty hefty fees ($4000 I heard one parent paid). We have been to a number if seminars but are not at the point to start narrowing down some realistic choices and do some visits this summer. Where do you start? Are there tours or are you doing the visits on your own ?

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    From HSObsessed:
    @HS Mom and @ SSI4 – Oh, I have nothing planned out yet. My strategy so far is perusing top colleges lists. reading about financial aid, etc. I have starting mentioning to DD that extracurricular interests are considered carefully by most college admissions, unlike for CPS high schools. We’ll also be swinging by college campuses to take a look wherever we are in the next few years; i.e. during our family vacation this summer in New York, we’ll make sure to go to Columbia and New York University to look around. Mostly my prep is casually mentioning that she should keep an open mind about small v big, public v. private, Midwest v. out of the area location, etc. We’ll just try to go to a variety so that she can discover the “vibe” that would interest her most. She’s extremely sensitive about being “lectured”, so my prep has to be very much under the radar.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    From HSMom:
    Don’t worry too much about extracurricular’s. Colleges look first at level of coursework, GPA and test scores. If the club or group interferes with this it should come second. You can make up for this by filling summers with worthwhile volunteer work and enrichment programs.

    Start touring junior year if possible. One of the most helpful things I’ve found is the Naviance program that most CPS schools start using junior year. You can enter schools that you may be interested in and see a scattergram of the other past applicants from your school and if they were accepted or declined based upon GPA/ACT score. This is particularly useful if you go to a school that has advanced IB or honors classes and are working with a weighted GPA.

    We are in the process and not sure how everything plays out. I swear to come back and report after all the chips fall into place.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    From Oldtown:
    Many of my daughter’s classmates have similar schedules for this summer. Thus far, my HS sophomore has taken practice ACT and SAT (not PSAT) tests and awaiting results. This summer, we hope to visit several colleges that are near the summer camps that she will be attending. Also this summer, she will be using prep books to study for the two standardized tests.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    From HSMom:
    The test prep companies also offer a lower cost on line prep that is good for summer practice. Great idea to visit at least one college (small private and larger university) to start getting ideas about the type of college environment suits best.

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    From local:
    What are good summer camps for a HS sophomore, rising junior? Brainstorming here.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    From local:
    First, you read books about the college selection process, with a good dollop of CURRENT news on financial aid trends.

    Also, to start, view the virtual tours all colleges/universities now have on their websites. It’ll give you a feel for the typical spiel before you start your trip list.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    from 1stgradeparent:
    Camp Work ?
    Seriously, maybe I’m dating myself. Myself and my two sisters (+all our friends) worked all our HS summers… am I missing something?
    Is this a special camp? Have times changed?

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    From SoxSideIrish4:
    Some kids go away to camp ~ nothing new!

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    From HS Mom:
    most colleges offer programs for HS kids. Camps, enrichment, even classes for credit. There are a whole range of costs involved and some are free. Here’s the problem with the summer job – there are none! Maybe this year will be different, but most employers do not want to hire kids for first jobs for summer only.

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    From Anonymouse Teacher:
    I’m with you! I worked constantly during summers, either babysitting, mowing lawns, cleaning houses (as well as working a lot during the school year, too). These kinds of jobs are available even in this economy for enterprising teenagers. People in my neighborhood would kill for a high school sitter they could pay $8 an hour to watch their kids instead of $12-15 for an adult sitter! I have two jr. high kids who babysit mine on weekends and another who mows my lawn. The lawn mower (I asked) mows around 10 lawns a week at $25 a pop. That’s not chump change for a 12 year old!

  • 12. Chicago School GPS  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks, CPSO, for starting this thread! Glad to have others “college-obsess” with me, and eager to learn insight from the always astute veterans on this blog!

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Do you guys want to maybe do a book club about the High School superstar book?

  • 14. local  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    @ 8. cpsobsessed | May 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Yep. Drastic change. It’s hard to hire high school and college students for regular ol’ kid jobs in summers because they’re so busy “enriching” themselves. No judgement here.

  • 15. local  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I completely recommend that How to Be a High School Superstar. It’ll help prevent so much grief for these pressured high schoolers (middle schoolers, even).

  • 16. local  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Kids with babysitting or lawn care gigs are now supposed to package it as “entrepreneurship.” 😉

  • 17. local  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    You know, in addition to the high test scores, the top grades and rank, the sports achievements, etc. — I think there’s a lot to being able to “tell your story” when applying to colleges and scholarships. So, learning to be a storyteller is important. Perhaps with the right spin, even an “average” BWRK can stick out.

    Part of telling your story is knowing yourself well. Part of knowing yourself as a college-bound kid means really learning about the college options out there and making a match for you & your family.

    The college search and prep process can be a great journey of discovery (not to sound too college-brochure-ish).

  • 18. CPS Parent  |  May 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Good rule for summer activities-that-are-meaningful-for-college-entry —–> anything you need to pay for is not worthwhile. Internships, service projects and jobs (yes, babysitting and mowing lawns too) are good. Camps and tuition based summer programs at colleges are not.

    17. local has it right for schools that do holistic reviews – specifically the second paragraph is very important. UIUC does not do holistic admissions, it is strictly a GPA/ACT rubric. An essay is required but is rarely read or considered. Yale on the other hand is very holistic and the admissions officer for the Midwest takes a personal interest and advocates (or not) to the admissions committee.

  • 19. Iheoma  |  May 8, 2013 at 6:25 am

    As I was talking with suburban and city friends about the admission process for AC’s and the stress it caused our family, all of the (with college age kids) said that the college admission process would be easier. You know why – because the stakes are not as high, there is a college out there for everyone. It’s not like SEES or SEHS where living in a certain neighborhood requires (for many) admission to an SEES or SEHS in order to have a decent and safe experience. The college options are wide open for kids if they realize that a school shouldn’t be chosen only by name or reputation but by best fit.

    For me, middle school is way too early to be thinking about how to position my child for college application process. I’m determined not to let it take over our lives or let her believe that the college she attends makes her a more or less valuable or capable person. Personally I think that companies that market (overtly or covertly) college admission information seminars to middle school parents are a big problem.

  • 20. Questioner  |  May 8, 2013 at 6:48 am

    @19 Iheoma What about taking your middle school kid to visit some colleges? I think its not too early to do some informal visits to colleges while on vacation. For instance, we were in DC for the Inauguration and did a service project on the National Day of Service with some Howard Univ. students. My kids are curious about Howard now–so it was good exposure.

  • 21. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2013 at 6:55 am

    18. CPS Parent | May 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    There are a lot of good camps and tuition based summer programs at universities. I would not (and haven’t) ruled it out. This summer my child will be taking a college course (not a dual course, but a class that only counts for college). We are still deciding if he’ll take a class at the University of Chicago during the school yr starting in the fall~that may be just too much as they are college classes and don’t count for grad.

    I’ve talked to many top university counselors abt their admission process and basically they said the same thing. Essays count. The same kids are basically applying w/the same application. Str8 As, high ACT/SAT scores, sports and activities, service hours, but they look at your child’s essay to set them apart and they have to sell themselves. They each have said they want “well rounded” students.

  • 22. CPS Parent  |  May 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

    21. SoxSideIrish4 I stand by my premise – anything you pay for is not worthwhile for college acceptance purposes (although the program might be good).

    Your second paragraph is a common misunderstanding an/or over simplification of the holistic admission process as practiced by many universities.

  • 23. HS Mom  |  May 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

    @18 – I agree that service projects and jobs can lend a lot to a students “story” but keep in mind that some of these college workshops and enrichment opportunities have selective admissions. You need to write essays, submit grades, take tests or submit portfolios to apply for admission (to spend money on their program). If this is a school that you will apply to, it gives them an excellent chance to get to know you and you them.

    One university we attended offered a program for $90 one week in a dorm including meals to put together a newscast. We are in their system and remain in correspondence. Some colleges offer test prep for HS students and math classes. We have a talented friend who is attending math camp at an east coast school (not cheap) who will get noticed.

  • 24. RL Julia  |  May 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Where’s klm when you need her! Didn’t she work in this field? Future guest post?

    While it’s not as easy to find a summer job as it used to be – I think that it can be done – however, since most kids not absolutely nothing about getting a job, parents should be prepared to spend some time on helping do a resume, talking about how to act at a job and etc… Ideally there should and can be a balance between working and summer programming/camps after a certain age.

    Work teaches kids a whole new set of skills.

  • 25. Bernadette Pawlik  |  May 8, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I think that a big part of it is that college is so expensive, so deeply hits the family budget or mires a young adult in debt that we want to get the best ROI on those dollars.

    Your child can’t graduate with 200k in debt and major in French literature….

  • 26. HS Mom  |  May 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

    @24 – what are the job suggestions for summers only (not extending into the school year)? That leaves 1 week in June, July and half of August. Large companies (bag groceries, sell clothing, stock shelves etc) want you to apply on line. My son spent hours on an application that had an aptitude test to not even get a rejection notice (it’s just out there??). Small businesses are just hurting too much to hire HS kids. Camp counselors go to college kids. The park district has counselor in training that you actually sign up and pay for. Yes, there’s pet sitting and lawn mowing. The jobs for teens program is another on line application with no response with most jobs requiring an artistic portfolio working for a “stipend”. The best I can see is working for your parents or a relative at their place of work. Where does the resume come in?

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  May 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Are fast food jobs an option? Or do they not just want summer help?

  • 28. HS Mom  |  May 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

    27 – tried it. The summers only is a problem. Also another on line application (uggh). Gone are the days of walking in and talking to the owner.

  • 29. RL Julia  |  May 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I can only tell you what I did with my kids. At 12 -13, I started looking for volunteer opportunities which aligned with things he was interested in that he could do on his own without me. I also sent him to a babysitting class that offered a certificate and taught him how to clean the house – including the stuff that people will pay for like washing windows – and when he got older, do yard work. At 14, we looked at organizations that HE had a connection to who might take him on as a volunteer and I/he arranged to volunteer 20-40 hours a week via an internship program (which he was officially too young for, but since he was a known entity at this place and he started the process early in the hiring season, they made an exception). He was instructed by me and his Dad – to solicit feedback on how to improve his performance from his supervisors, how to negotiate and etc… This year he did not get a paying job from this organization (which was his first choice) but next year it is a strong possibility (provided he lets them know he is available -early. That’s o.k. as he has two other paying gigs lined up. He also knew that as a 15 year old, he it was going to be hard to find a paying gig – because he’d need to get working papers and etc…

    The trick with getting kids jobs as I am learning is that they need to be able to demonstrate work readiness via unpaid/volunteer work – so figure out what your kid is interested and what your friends do and if any of them would like some unpaid help a few hours during the school year/this summer. The other trick is to start early – both in the acquisition of working skills (like how to act on the job) and in starting to look for both paid and unpaid opportunities. It takes a while to find people and places willing to take them on – and I have found that the younger, the kid the longer it will take to find a place.

    Obviously, making sure you child understands and takes working seriously is key – I am happy to try and find volunteer and paying gigs for kids I know will act appropriately. If I think a kid is going to be arrogant, unable to demonstrate 100% enthusiasm for what is no doubt boring work, isn’t going to stay on task without a lot of supervision… I find it harder to ask friends to consider supervising them -however, I think it is key for kids to get experience being supervised by a non-family member who can provide reference later on.

  • 30. Christine D  |  May 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Some of the things to keep in mind is post college and where the child wants to live and who their dream employer or dream grad school is. The big corporations recruit from the large well ranked universities in certain subjects. But they may also have regional target schools they also recruit from. As an example, suppose your child majors in Accounting and goes to a school in Louisiana or Nebraska. It’s not realisitic to expect that they’ll get a job in Chicago using the companies that recruit on that campus because the Chicago firms have access to students in the better ranked schools that are closer: U of I, Notre Dame, Michigan. But the school they chose in NE or LA has great relationships with employers in the Southern region of the US. So if your child is the one that wants to remain close to home, pick a school in the midwest. If they want to be a buyer for Macy’s in NYC, go to a school near there. If they want to be a buyer for Target, probably need a school close to Minnesota. Basically, it’s important when visiting schools to find out who recruits there for jobs and internships.

  • 31. mom  |  May 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I refuse to stress about this. I have two kids in SE high schools and they should be getting a decent education. My son wants to go to college but has not touched the Barrons I left out for him months ago and does not even look at all the mailings that come unsolicited from colleges. He’s been working as a caddie and an umpire since he was twelve. He is a likely candidate for a gap year. This process has to come from him. I’m not wasting my money. I went to a top college and quite frankly I think it is overrated–and that was before outrageous tuition..

  • 32. Iheoma  |  May 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

    @ 20 I think that it’s always a great idea to get kids involved in service projects and the middle school years are a great time to do it. If there’s an opportunity on a college campus – great but I don’t have any plans to do college campus visits during her middle school years.

  • 33. laura  |  May 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Do kids not work during the school year anymore? I always worked between 5-20 hours per week. That amount did not interfere with school work or extra curriculars. And I saved all of it to help pay for college.

  • 34. Family Friend  |  May 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    There are two components to the college issue: getting in and affording it. They require separate but related strategies.

    Spend time on the websites: U.S. News College Rankings (you have to pay for this but it’s worth it); Princeton Review; College Board. Learn everything you can. Look at the raw scores, not just the rankings. Understand that there are separate rankings for large national schools, large regional schools, small national schools, small regional schools. Pay attention to how much each school has in endowment/alumni giving. It affects the amount of scholarship amount available. Check school websites to see if the school will fill the gap between expected family contribution and cost, and how that gap will be filled.

    Do not assume that your kid must go to a name school. There is no single “perfect” school.

    Visit schools around Chicago with your to get a feel for different types of campuses — city without green space, with with green space, suburban, small large, rural, small town, etc. Take the campus tours offered by every admissions department (sign up in advance). As some other posters have said, visit a campus when you are on vacation.

    Make sure your kid understands the economics of college, and encourage him/her to avoid excessive debt. Grad school costs money, too. I made both of mine apply to a “financial safety” school — a school in the target range academically that I knew we could afford with minimal financial aid.

    Private schools, whether large or small, have better systems for paying attention to each student. It’s part of what they are selling.

    I went to a huge public university and tried without success to talk both of my kids into small schools. Lots of support, someone paying attention to how each student is doing. But they did fine anyway.

    There is more literature than you can imagine. Spend some time at the bookstore figuring out what speaks to you. “Schools that Change Lives” is good. One of my friends kept a college guide in the bathroom, so everyone in the family could peruse it.

    If your student has a friend, sibling, or cousin in college, let him/her visit for a weekend. It’s a great way to see what a school is like.

    While the final decision is probably up to your student, you can and should have a hand in the process. One of my daughters wanted to be a chef. I didn’t think she would like the late hours and low pay, so I suggested that the only way to make a good living as a chef was to own a restaurant, and that she should major in business and think about cooking school for grad school. She settled on hospitality administration, and I said, OK, but you need to go to an academically challenging school, because some hospitality schools won’t give you what you really need. Also, I said she had to go to a school with a wide range of majors, in case she changed her mind. She ended up at Boston University, stuck with hospitality because she liked it, graduated magna cum laude, won a six-week wine fellowship to travel the world visiting and working in vineyards and wineries, rejected the restaurant business for the reasons I had anticipated, and is now a rising star in hotel sales where she makes enough money to keep her in designer clothes and fine restaurants. The point is that I didn’t tell her what she wanted to do, just ensured that she her keep her options open — and unapologetically insisted that she go to a school with high academic standards.

    Finally, relax. It will probably work out, and if it doesn’t, there are transfers.

  • 35. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    27. cpsobsessed | May 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

    My nephew worked at Burger King during summers of hs. Now in college (freshman) and he’ll be back there again this summer.

    34. Family Friend | May 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    You gave some really great advice. I’m TRYING to get my student to go to a medium size private college out East. He has plans of a larger public school in the South (that’s very well known). So he’ll be spending a weekend there soon. I’m so afraid he’ll change his major and then be stuck.

  • 36. local  |  May 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Ooo. Love gap year.

  • 37. Tier4ever  |  May 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I thought my parents did a great job transitioning me for college. Instead of “visiting” colleges my junior & senior year we, as a family, attended fall football games at different universities. I bet my dad started that around 7th grade. UWisc, ND, Purdue, Illini, and Stanford. During the winters we would catch a hockey games at Yale and Dartmouth.

    What’s really funny is that while we loved those trips and we had a blast my sister went to Harvard and I attended Michigan (we never visited either school on a family trip).

    However, I will say when it was time to pick a school I knew exactly how Michigan measured up to the other places I visited over the years.

    Good luck to every family starting the college experience.

  • 38. local  |  May 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Not sure this is on anybody’s radar, but…make sure your HS student has deep social and emotional resources and resiliency before he/she heads into college. Seriously. The number of college students cracking up during their first year is gi-normous. It’s tragic. It’s also very expensive (financially and emotionally) if a student needs to leave school before completing the coursework.

    It helps is the student knows how to deal with adults, with a bureaucracy, with personal disappointment in a non-perfect world, with policies, procedures, and deadlines, etc. Basic life skills are also critical: how to write a real business letter, how to use a phone book or other directory (paper or online), manage time, avoid substance abuse, get to bed at a regular and decent hour…

  • 39. local  |  May 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    A really cool place to go to school: Washington, DC. The Howard- and Georgetown-bound might already be thinking about it, but there are a ton of great schools in that area (and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore).

  • 40. local  |  May 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Given the CPS plans to add more military/ROTC programs in the public high schools, anyone have kids considering Annapolis, West Point, etc.?

  • 41. Tier4ever  |  May 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I watched a good friend’s son totally fall apart at the Air Force Academy. The stress the military schools place on a kid is incredible. For example, did you know the schools implement boot camp type activities to the students. It’s just another tool used in the total experience and it has worked great for over 100 years, but some kids- like my friend’s son couldn’t handle it and dropped out. His grades were very strong, he just couldn’t get accustomed to the lifestyle. Also, Leaving one of the military schools isn’t as easy as getting in the car and driving away. He was shamed and called weak by everyone from his roommate to the head of the Academy. In the end, the school just wasn’t for him.

    So, I think the post just prior discussing the need to really make sure your child is ready and prepared for a lot more than just books speaks volumes.

  • 42. anotherchicagoparent  |  May 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Another useful online source for researching colleges is College Greenlight

  • 43. momof3boys  |  May 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    here’s my two cents…
    i met this woman a couple years ago who works for a prestigious university in chicago- well, im not sure what she does but i think she has works for admissions for the fellows or something like that. anyway, she said, that a good college is a free college and to spend the $ on grad school, if you have to. hence we’ve been going by that so when it came time to decide, ds went with the one with the lowest cost. in 4 yrs he might owe less than 10, if any. i explained to him, people borrow more than that for one year, why come out of school with a ton of debt if you dont have to. waiting on 2 more scholarships so hopefully he will be going to school this year free to him…

    the other thing to think about is that while all those top tier schools may seem ideal, it may be a set up to fail scenario depending on your student. i really didnt encourage my kid to apply to them because i didnt want him to struggle. if your child is super studious, then more power to him/her. mine, not so much. besides he wants to swim for college so he needs to be able to balance studies with his sport. anyway, a degree is a degree, and nowadays, its all about connections to get a job or go to grad school.

  • 44. HS Mom  |  May 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    @29 – sounds like you’ve got it covered starting early. Who would have thought there was a certification for babysitting. Always good incentive when they understand the importance of their work. A job that provides independence with some spending money and maybe cover bus fare and food would be an incentive for mine, but no such luck. Friends and relatives it is.

    33 Laura – I know, I worked too. Working during the school year is not an option for us because of the unpredictability of homework. We don’t know of any kids who work during the week but my son has a few friends that work on weekends. A lot has to do with the kid. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible and I’m sure someone has a relative or friend of a friend that can work, do college prep studies, play a sport and take violin lessons on the side.

    Family friend and 43 mom – nice post

    Heres the NYT article on picking a school you can afford

  • 45. local  |  May 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    The cert is likely for Red Cross training that’s part of babysitting classes. Sometimes hospitals offer these classes.

  • 46. Nina Abbott  |  May 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    What about simply understanding who your child is and giving him more chances to explore those interests to determine if a career path could be shaped from them. Our DS has always been very interested in nature…so he’s developing nature photography skills. He’s also interested in cooking, so we’re learning Chinese cooking together. He also is very interested in the environment, so we’re joining The Sierra Club as a family (which offers many opportunities for volunteerism.)

    He may decide to become a gourmet chef, a nature photographer, or an environmentalist. Or, he may decide on pursuing a career in none of those. But, helping him to pursue his real interests is what I think will make him unique in the eyes of any admissions director.

  • 47. Weak is weak  |  May 9, 2013 at 12:21 am

    To 41.
    What is the politically correct term to call that student?

    Does “weak” provide a clear description?
    Is it better to call the student “not strong”?

    It means the same thing.

    Thankfully the academies have a standard of excellence and are not weak

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  • 49. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    44. HS Mom | May 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    My child doesn’t work bc of commuting, but he has a few friends that work on the weekends as referees. His other friends that work go to Catholic schools so they don’t have the commute factor and the 2 who do commute downtown to a Catholic school get out earlier so they are home much earlier which is advantageous to most employers. Thanks for posting the link re: colleges you can afford. I’ve been to several financial planning seminars and basically they say the same thing…don’t use your retirement resources to fund your child’s education and try to have your child come out of university w/minimal debt.

  • 50. Esmom  |  May 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    @31, 36. I love the idea of a gap year. I think it would really help the child appreciate the undergrad experience/opportunity more. I know it took me almost my entire freshman year to settle in to college life and get used to the independence — and as a result it was by far my worst year, grade-wise. It seems like maybe a gap year would lessen the chances of a tough freshman year.

    Another trend that seems to be on the upswing (at least ion our neck of the woods) is for kids to do their first two years at a community college and then transfer to/graduate from a four-year university.

    My concerns are a) would a gap year cause the child to lose some academic momentum, so to speak? and b) are the chances to transfer into a four-year school as a junior the same or better or worse than starting as a freshman?

  • 51. local  |  May 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    AP, IB, CLEP and community college credits can help keep costs down. Sometimes, depends on the college.

  • 52. CPS Parent  |  May 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    50. Esmom Regarding the chances of transferring into a school as a Junior – Yale, for example, accepts about 1900 freshman each year but only a half dozen or so transfers.

  • 53. Kate  |  May 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    As a University professor who has taught >3000 students thus far I would say that each kid is very individual in how well they fit into college or University and the most important ‘rule’ is, if s/he is not ready, DO NOT force him or her to go. It may take until age 23-25 for some. Our returning students do better than most of the straight-out-of high school, definitely. Immature or needy teens have a very hard time with the separation from family or familiarity, and if you are strressed or drinking or in avoidance behaviors–the grades go down; anything that impacts your GPA negatively is to be avoided–you only get one chance for your primary bachelor’s GPA.

    Kids have momentum for study when they are ready.

    If your GPA is low, good luck getting into Any professional school or even a job. For assured success in medical/dental you should be minimally 3.5/4.0, for grad school minimally 3.0.

    We turn many students away from grad school here–low GPA and *just* average GREs the main reason. Similar reasons for dental, medical and pharm as well.

    A gap year or years isn’t going to hurt anyone…and read books and work and take classes to find out what you really enjoy. Going into college straight after high school can mean momentum yes, but can also mean train wreck.

    Many students I taught had very high GPA in high school but do poorly here because they cannot adjust to the independence and the writing/written communication skills are extremely poor.

    We expect students to arrive as grown ups, with grown up behavior and effort–they are legally adults so must act so, and so many are not, parents either did too much for them and they have not learned independence or the students just are not emotionally ready.

    I am much more stressed about my kid getting into a good high school. College, no big deal, so many choices especially of decent public colleges and Universities in Illinois. Many schools have a greater than 50% acceptance rate, some 75%, certainly better than our high school situation in Chicago.

    We also have excellent junior colleges in COok and DuPage; Illinois is an excellent state for higher ed.

    We are a top 50 public school and we are cheap…the biggest con on parents these days is they feel that have to go to some Name school or fancy private place. For some aspects of business that may matter (where names or very narrow disciplines rule) but for most science, technology and social studies related positions it doesn’t seem to matter much…parental wealth seems to be a bigger determinant of success in many ways.

    momof3boys and Nina A, I agree

    my kid is strong in Math and Art and he wants to be a math/art major and not ever have to talk to John Q public, or be in business. That’s fine with me. He can be another academic geek and take his time.

    whatever he wants and when he is ready.

    I have to grade these kids, and so many of them are struggling because they should not have come to University straight out of high school. No one should graduate with a 2.3 gpa who is bright and many do.

  • 54. Kate  |  May 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    The best way to evaluate a school is to meet with professors or recent graduates who have been successful at getting the job they wanted–how they did it is important. Kids do not listen to parents or authority figures as much as peers I think.

    They do have returning ALumni at most schools to speak to incoming or prospective students.

    I was in small private expensive college and giant cheap state school as a student. I preferred the big cheap public school since the technology was world class and cutting edge since that was what *I* wanted/aspired to as a student. I could care less about the social life and Greek life was repellent to me so what i wanted was cutting edge..every student is different and needs to seek out Who has the best program for him or her in terms of aspirations.

  • 55. local  |  May 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Fresh off the press:

    “…With their relentless pursuit of prestige and revenue, the nation’s public and private four-year colleges and universities are now in danger of shutting down what has long been a pathway to the middle class for low-income and working-class students.

    “…Nearly two-thirds of the private institutions analyzed charge students from the lowest-income families, those making $30,000 or less annually, a net price of over $15,000 a year.

    “…Overall, too many four-year colleges, both public and private, …are instead using their financial resources to fiercely compete for the students they most desire: the “best and brightest” students — and the wealthiest…”

  • 56. local  |  May 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Beware the Parent Plus loan.

  • 57. MayfairAM  |  May 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    My daughter has a gap year in her plans. Work, save money etc.
    We want our kids to graduate debt free if possible.

  • 58. local  |  May 9, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    HS seniors can either defer enrollment in college after acceptance, or just apply later, after the gap year, it seems. Anyone know otherwise?

  • 59. cpsmama  |  May 9, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    @18 CPS Parent: Admissions at University of Illinois (UIUC) is holistic. As a matter of fact, I am not aware of any colleges that use a “straight GPA/test scores rubric” for admissions.

    From UIUC’s admissions page:

    “The Review Process

    A variety of factors are considered upon review. Primary among the criteria is academic performance and rigor. When reading applications, the admissions and college professionals rank the application using a holistic approach by combining the criteria being evaluated. Most applications receive at least two readings. The Office of Admissions checks all preliminary decisions in order to assure a high level of consistency while recognizing that professional judgment is being used to make individual decisions about each applicant. In fact, individual applicants are evaluated in the context of the opportunities available. The multiple readings and the review for consistency creates a system of quality control that leads to the best possible decisions of professional judgment.

    While reading an application, admissions and college professionals carefully consider the wide range of information provided by the applicant. Applicants should understand that every word of the application is considered in making an admissions decision. Readers consider all evidence provided by the applicant, the context of the personal and academic circumstances, and the strength of the applicant pool in each college and to the University of Illinois overall. The weight of each criterion in the admissions decision depends on the combination of qualities presented by the applicant. There is no set formula of weighting criteria. Final decisions are made on the evaluation of a variety of criteria and not by a single point system or formula.

    Readers make admissions decisions based on the evidence included in the application. Applicants should be sure to present themselves and their stories accurately and completely. The academic record will be carefully and thoughtfully evaluated. The other sections of the application including the personal statement, list of activities, achievements, honors, etc. will be given equal, careful, and thoughtful attention. The best applicants create an application that is thoroughly prepared with close attention to detail and consideration of personal strengths and future goals.”

  • 60. Chicago Mama  |  May 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    UIUC used to use a GPA/class rank/ACT score tiering system to determine base criteria for admission, so changes to that may not be known among parents. I transferred into UIUC as a junior and found it weird that they didn’t seem to look at my college transcripts, just looked at my high school work.

    I’m not thinking about college for my kids yet. All in due time.

  • 61. HS Mom  |  May 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    @59 We recently toured UIUC business school. In the Q&A, the criteria was pretty well spelled out. First, GPA and the rigor of coursework (if the school offers AP calc and you need it for business, they check to see if you have taken it), second, test scores – they look at all tests if you have taken multiples, looking at sub scores, (eg engineering needs high math). They do not look at the writing scores. Lastly clubs and organizations – if you are close to the cut off.The essay will not be read by anyone in charge “they have people who do that”. The thing about a school like UIUC is that they have many more qualified applicants than openings. According to them “they can pick only the most accomplished”. They really don’t need to go beyond grades and tests. A mediocre essay certainly would not disqualify someone and a stellar essay will not make up for mediocre grades and tests.

  • 62. Kate  |  May 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    re #58. HS seniors can either defer enrollment in college after acceptance, or just apply later, after the gap year, it seems. Anyone know otherwise?

    It depends on the school–varies widely, and for some schools the deferrment request is up to the Dean of the College within the University that the student will be in. Some schools permit 1 semester defer, other max 2 years. It depends–and you may have to bank $$$ in the school to hold the spot. As a Professor I would never recommend deferring unless you are doing Doctors without Borders or Peace corp type thing as “i just want to travel” by some Deans is seen as holding up a spot for a kid who really wants to be there. Some schools require an in writing request of detail, where specifics for deferring has to be defended.

    It is better not to apply until you are really ready to matriculate. At least at our big state school students are 16-30 years old…doesnt matter anymore. If you have the test scores, decent personal statement etc, it is hard to get turned away (we accept >60% of applicants).

    If a student isn’t ready but has already has enrolled, taking classes and realizes s/he is unhappy or an unexpected negative event occurs (death in the family etc), they can do retroactive withdrawal without penalty with Dean’s permission and have up to 2 semesters ‘leave’ prior to return, the money is held until student comes back so tuition is not lost.

  • 63. CPS Parent  |  May 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

    59. cpsmama as HS mom has pointed out UIUC admission is 99% GPA and ACT scores. What the website says vs.reality is very different. When you ask individual admissions people there they readily admit to the GPA/ACT selection method. No one reads the essays.

  • 64. Esmom  |  May 10, 2013 at 8:50 am

    @53 Interesting insights, thank you. It’s good to hear from you and others that the age range of typical undergrads seems to be broadening. When I was at UIUC back in the 80s, I’d say the age range of everyone I knew was smack in the 18-22 range, I can’t recall ever meeting anyone older/who’d delayed entry.

  • 65. cpsmama  |  May 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

    @61- Hmm…I know of a number of of current UIUC business students who did not take AP Calc in HS but were still admitted.

    FYI—colleges don’t know how many times you’ve taken ACT/SAT unless you send them all of your scores. Not all colleges require that you disclose that information- UIUC only requires one ACT or SAT score (without writing)

    GPA/Scores are used to sort students into groups (Accept, Reject & Maybe) but if a student is placed into the “maybe” group, other factors (race, gender, extracurriculars, first generation, instate or out of state, international, athletics, etc) are looked at and can tip the applicant one way or the other.

  • 66. SW mom  |  May 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    For UIUC, I think class rank (top 10%) weight the most, different high schools have different GPA system. Some uses 4.0 scale, some uses 5.0 scale (Lincoln Park). I graduated from UIUC class 2002. I went to Curie High School. By end of junior class, my class rank was 24 (which was like top 7%). From my observation, no matter how high the kid’s GPA is, if the kid ranks below the critieria, they will not be accepted even though the GPA was high like 3.6 out of 4.0. In many cases, many good students’ GPA is above 4.0 because of the AP and honors classes. Therefore, in my opinion, there will be more advantages for have a bright kid goes to an above average high school which is less competitive, but in return, that child might have a better chance to go to a better college than the child who goes to either Walter Payton, Northside Prep, or other elite schools and ranked in the middle of their class.

  • 67. Tier4ever  |  May 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Above average less competitive HS?
    What? Name one because I can’t think of any school that is above average yet not competitive.

    I can think of a lot of schools that are Below average that a smart kid or a hard working kid can excel, but to assume a SEHS student that is competing with other very bright kids for class rank in Northside or New Trier is going to be denied I think is a stretch. Just my opinion.

  • 68. CPS Parent  |  May 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    66. SW mom – Many if not most good high schools, including Payton, no longer rank students. UIUC is strictly GPA and ACT. Going to a less competitive school might be a good strategy for “bright” students, however, for those students UIUC is rarely a first choice and going to a competitive high school WILL help with getting into colleges that take a holistic approach to admissions.

  • 69. HS Mom  |  May 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    65 – for accounting. Also engineering “your school offers AP physics so if you don’t take it we are going to wonder why”. Just telling you what they said.

    One thing they say on their site and on the tour is that “it depends on the applicant pool and the major”. I got the distinct impression that you needed high scores to make it to the “maybe” pile and then maybe they will look at things like special circumstances that affected grades, writing ability via the essay or at leadership in an organization. But, numbers come first, especially since their admissions has been under scrutiny.

    They mentioned that the applicant pool has been increasingly strong. Scores are lower in the General Studies college. Transferring in to business or engineering is difficult.

  • 70. anonymously  |  May 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    About paying for college — Elizabeth Warren is introducing a bill asking for a moratorium on the expected doubling of rats on student loans to 6.8% from 3.4% There is a petition you can sign to show your support for her very first bill, too.

  • 71. anonymously  |  May 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    rates — of course! — not rats.

  • 72. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I would agree with Local @17 on the need for a student to tell a story about who her or she is. I’m surprised by the advice that university admission counselors gave SoxSideIrish4 @ 21 In the late 1980s, high school counselors told us all about the need to be well-rounded, but if talked to an admission counselor from a highly selective college (in those days that meant they accepted less than 1/3rd of their applicants; I don’t know the guideline now), they would tell you they were looking for what made the individual unique, and how that person would help create a diverse class. Well rounded wouldn’t get you very far. Kids who study hard, score well, do sports, and take part in extra-curricular activities are a dime-a-dozen to the highly selective schools. It’s one thing if you learned Swahili while playing jai alai and put together Lego Mindstorm robots to help double-amputee squirrels store nuts for the winter, but being QB, editor-in-chief, and national merit scholar is ho-hum.

    Also, do not rely on the reputation of a school from when you applied. Many schools have changed drastically. In the 1980s, NYU was the butt of Woody Allen jokes, and Northwestern was a regional school. Today, NYU is highly selective and Northwestern is more selective than most east coast universities and draws many students from there (and the classes credentials are comparable). The same is true for liberal arts colleges.

    I would also 2nd much of the advice of Kate @54, especially in regards to private v. public in the sciences

  • 73. lawmom  |  May 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    To mom @ 31, if your child caddies, have them look into the Evans Scholars Program. Free tuition and they get to live in their own house on campus.

  • 74. oldtown  |  May 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    For those students pursuing sports, music or dance in college, summer is a great opportunity to hob knob with college coaches and teachers. I know of several HS kids who play in soccer, football, tennis leagues during the summer. These summer leagues will have college representatives who are already scoping out the talent. Ballet summer dance programs will also have guest teachers that are involved with top dance colleges.

    Obviously many of these HS summer programs are highly selective and require audition or minimum years of experience and training. Parents should start looking at these programs in 7th grade.

  • 75. HS Mom  |  May 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    @65 one other thing on the ACT scores. UIUC did ask to see all tests because they will look at your highest score in a given catagory. It is a modified “superscore” type application. I suppose if you have 2 tests and 1 has higher grades in every subject it would benefit you to only report 1 test. Good to know that they are only aware of what they give you.

    So, if a school superscores or uses an average of tests, can you only report certain tests? Would you technically be lying on an application if they asked for everything and you omitted something?

    Thanks for the info

  • 76. HS Mom  |  May 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    correction – only aware of what you give them

  • 77. CPS Parent  |  May 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    72. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins) Yes, personal experience confirms that the “well rounded” student is not what the best schools look for in the traditional “well rounded” sense. They look for kids who do well in all areas (“well rounded” if you will) but also have – what I call – a strong “arc” or multiple arcs of interest throughout all the high school years. This is where the “passion” element comes in.

  • 78. CPS Parent  |  May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    57. MayfairAM How much can a kid earn in a year and how much impact does that have on 120k – 240k over four years? each year without a degree is 40-100k lost (my kid will start at 65k his friend at 125k, both CS majors).

    One thing to consider regarding gap years – the complication of kids finding true love somewhere and then not wanting to go to the intended college. This was a friend’s predicament and it was very complicated and emotional to resolve. It’s much less complicated when they meet when at the same school.

  • 79. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    72. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins) | May 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I’m not sure why you are surprised what the admission counselor from a few private universities told me in #28 “The same kids are basically applying w/the same application. Str8 As, high ACT/SAT scores, sports and activities, service hours, but they look at your child’s essay to set them apart and they have to sell themselves.” Meaning that all the top kids are trying to get into the school and they are basically on paper having identical apps but the essay tells them who they are.

    Now, I don’t know what to believe. I’ve been told that by 3 ppl at at 3 dif universities~one in IL, MA & CA since October 2012.

    69. HS Mom | May 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I agree w/you re: ap classes and counselors wondering why they were offered at the school and why a kids didn’t take them. The counselors we met with said the same thing and to take the most rigorous schedule he could handle. I think he can handle it but who knows if I can?!?

  • 80. HSObsessed  |  May 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I didn’t freak out for the high school process and I refuse to stress about college. Repeat after me: It will all work out fine. Just in time for Mother’s Day, here’s a little present to all my fellow slacker moms out there. A new study apparently shows that children of Tiger Moms actually do less well in terms of academic achievement and mental health when compared to kids of parents who are supportive or easygoing.

  • 81. EdgewaterMom  |  May 12, 2013 at 11:20 am


    Beware the Parent Plus loan.

    I don’t know anything about it, but I am curious. What is wrong with the Parent Plus loan?

  • 82. MayfairMama  |  May 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Here’s an interesting article on what it takes.

  • 83. local  |  May 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    @ 81. EdgewaterMom | May 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

    This year, there’s been a large spike in the number of college financial aid award letters that purport to cover 100% of student’s need, but just plug the gap with the expected Parent Plus loan, which many families will not qualify for. So, it’s really not covering 100% is it? That’s not really access.

    Also, Parent Plus is not the student’s debt, it’s the parents.

    Consult a financial advisory about this. It’s heavy stuff.

  • 84. local  |  May 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Looks like the rich aren’t being slacker moms… 😉

  • 85. HS Mom  |  May 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Things have changed tremendously since I attended U of I. Much like CPSO putting the application together over dinner, my experience was so non-eventful that I don’t even remember filling out the application.

    To answer my own question, if anyone needs to know, I checked out some on line sources for information about super-scoring. One list contained some comments from the schools

    U of I – “We do what I like to call sub-super scoring where we take the highest overall composite and each highest individual scores even if it was on a lower composite exam. We will always use this to the students advantage. This is why we ask all scores to be sent to our office.”

    I take this to mean that you would give them whatever tests will benefit the student.

    @78 – What’s even worse is when “true love” sours after changing course. I’m a firm believer in keeping the momentum going, if the family decides that college is their thing. I would not want him/her to miss out on what could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would be willing to take the financial risk of investing in a college program and later changing course, if need be.

  • 86. IB obsessed  |  May 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Any one else here pondering the contrast of the level of involvement in planning/vetting them/preparing for college v what their own parents did many moons ago? Is this totally a class thing or are we in an era that’s just different? 30 years ago wasn’t this a upper middle to upper class parents thing? Are middle-middle class parents obsessed too these days?

  • 87. RL Julia  |  May 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    @86 in a word – yes.

    Also – college costs so much more these days, I for one find myself seriously scrutinizing if my kids should/need go to college at all -especially if they are as unfocussed as I was when I went to college.

    Mind you -I don’t see very many other options out there but when college tuition can be equal to roughly a year’s salary, it makes you think twice about sending someone to college in order to find themselves. It becomes a luxury that I am not sure I can afford to give them. I’d love to find another viable solution/option.

  • 88. SutherlandParent  |  May 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Agree with @87 RL Julia. My parents thought I was applying to Boston College until the first bill came due and they had to make the check out to Boston University. But then, like CPSO, I’m a fellow Hoosier and any school besides Purdue or IU (except maybe Notre Dame) was all kind of the same thing in their minds, I think 🙂

    Cost is a huge consideration today. If we don’t feel SutherlandStudents are ready to buckle down and get serious about college right out of high school, there’s always the military. There are a lot of Marines in my family, and I’ve seen first-hand what a good option that can be for the right kid at the right time.

  • 89. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Cost is a huge consideration for us. However, that being said, my son really wants to go to university and he’ll need it for his field. I’ve met w/many admission counselors and we’ve looked at universities and will do so this summer…My husband and I are committed to make something work so our kids don’t come out of school w/huge debts.

    My obsessiveness is that I can’t let go of wanting him to only attend a Catholic university and that’s not necessarily on his radar.

  • 90. averagemom  |  May 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I feel like my student could use a gap year to mature a bit more. I took 2 years off and worked, I’m sure I was a better student than if I’d gone straight to college. Unfortunately, college was so much easier to get into then. You could pretty much walk into UIC and start right away. I’m concerned that with 2 AP classes for senior year, if those grades aren’t good it will lower the GPS the college sees in the application if we don’t apply until after senior year. Applying during senior year they don’t see those grades. U of I doesn’t allow a gap year except in an emergency.

  • 91. also obsessed  |  May 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    For anyone intersted on this thread:

    All are invited, Do not miss this informative 1st-time event:
    Middle Schoolers and older, and parents:

    College Planning Workshop
    THIS Wednesday, May 15, 6pm-7pm
    Given by Jaqueline Gaines, Manager of College Advising and Admissions at the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program
    at Waters School (4540 W. Campbell)

    Middle school students and their parents are invited to a College Planning workshop on Thursday, May 15, at 6:00pm. Students will learn about key components of the college application process — beyond grades and test scores (such as extra-curriculars, volunteer work, advanced academic coursework, social capital/networking) and receive resources for goal-setting and planning during high school.

    This workshop will be led by Jacqueline Gaines, Manager of College Advising and Admissions at the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program. All are welcome to attend.

  • 92. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 4:52 am

    NYTimes article about parents and recent college grads buying franchises as both face a tough job market. One could even consider using the college money for the start-up costs, I suppose.

  • 93. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 4:59 am

    And a brief interview with a dean who discusses what HS classes are important when applying to ‘selective institutions that perform a holistic review” of student records. Summary, they want to see that the kid is taking challenging courses.

  • 94. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 14, 2013 at 8:01 am

    @79 I guess we are looking at the same phrase (“well rounded”) differently. Let me put it this way: if your child had a choice between 1) participating in soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter and 2) playing in a rock band that frequently traveled to other cities on weekends, all other things being equal, #2 would make him or her stand out. Make #2 a jazz band, and even better. Again, I think this applies much more at the highly and most selective institutions v. a school that accepts 50% of applicants.

    Generally, what shocks me is how little a price gap there is between a highly selective college and a school that accepts 50% or more. The only way to cut the cost back is to qualify for in-state tuition & fees, which are generally below $20k per year. Add room and board costs in plus books and you are still close to $30k at many state schools. I consider that outrageous.

  • 95. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Chris so what is an example of a school that take 50 percent?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 96. HSObsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I just want to say thanks to all for providing interesting links and insights. So in my perusing college stuff for the first time in 25 years recently, I was shocked to see that the average price per year for a private college or university is $40K tuition and $20K room and board, so $60K. Yikes. Some schools have on-line calculators where you can enter your financial info to see approximately what level of grant/tuition discount your kid may likely qualify for at the school, and that brings the price down somewhat, but never enough, right? I’m kinda having sticker shock. I went to UIUC in the 1980s, when the state would propose a tuition hike from $1000 per semester to $1050, and there would be angry protests on the quad.

  • 97. HS Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

    @CPSO 93 – So “holistic” admissions means they look at your coursework, degree of difficulty, and that the student is challenging themselves with a high or upward trend in grades. You just need to make sure the essay is grammatically correct at a minimum or a stand out at a highly selective smaller school. In essence, it’s a mistake to think that a kid with medium grades and test scores can get into a selective school based upon sports, clubs, volunteerism and other activities that we think says something about the kid. Kinda sad – but thank goodness there many options for higher education that will most likely be a better fit.

    @91 – I think the workshop is a great idea. The earlier kids get on board with a plan the better. It’s good encouragement and nice to hear people other than your parents giving direction.

    @82 – thanks for that “what schools look at” – very helpful!

    Regarding admissions rate – Isn’t that all relative? When you have a school like Harvard with 7,000 students and a 6% acceptance rate because every top student in the country or world actually is applying vs. UIUC with 32,000 students, 68% acceptance rate with qualified candidates mostly from Illinois – it just makes sense that the rates are what they are. I don’t think that statistic really defines the school.

  • 98. HSObsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

    @95 cpso – The acceptance rates at universities and colleges are much higher than I would have expected. Case Western, ranked #37 nationally by USNWR, has an acceptance rate of 51%. Boston U – 49%. Grinnell College – 51%. Michigan State – 73%. Valparaiso – 74%. University of Iowa – 80%.

  • 99. mom2  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I, too, am interested in knowing about some good schools that take students more in the 20-25 ACT range. If someone goes to these schools, are they really at a disadvantage for getting a job after a 4-year degree? Feeling very stressed right now.

  • 100. HS Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:26 am

    @99 – you mean other than checking out those franchise options that are looking better and better 🙂

    Yes – Is there anyone who can comment realistically about job placement from Illinois State, SIU, MIZZOU, Kansas or others. One advantage I can see is that you may be able to get into a “hard to enter school” like engineering, business, nursing that you would not otherwise have access to at a highly selective school. For example, I know someone who wound up at Bradley for engineering. Doing fine.

  • 101. anonymous  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

    It’s often said that after the first or maybe second full-time job experience, where you went to college is not really all that important to prospective employers.

  • 102. local  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

    College Planning Workshop
    THIS Wednesday, May 15, 6pm-7pm
    Given by Jaqueline Gaines, Manager of College Advising and Admissions at the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program
    at Waters School (4540 W. Campbell)

    Oh, this is so worth the time!

  • 103. SutherlandParent  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

    @98, some of those numbers surprise me too, particularly for Grinnell and Case Western. BU is enormous (33,000 students in grad and undergrad), so 49% is about what I would anticipate.

    And I imagine it’s true for most good-sized universities, but the acceptance rates within the different schools and colleges at BU vary quite a bit.

    @99, some schools offer a two-year program for kids who need a little extra help or who didn’t get the highest grades or ACT scores. Then, those students are automatically accepted into a four-year program as juniors (BU has the College of General Studies. Notre Dame used to have Holy Cross, before that transitioned to a four year college). Might be worth checking out.

  • 104. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

    @100: Regarding job placement, it really just matters what your field will be. I work at a marketing research firm that I’d say is a decent place to work, no grad degree needed, decent upside potential, moderate pay for the marketing world (not horrible, not great.)

    We recently interviewed some college grads who had gone to school like you mention and really as long as they’d gone to a halfway decent school like that, it was fine. I realized that if we’d interviewed someone from an Ivy League school, I’d be tempted to say “what are you doing here” since nobody I work with has an Ivy League degree and I’d assume they’d have better opportunities. Both young women we hired were working within a month of college graduation, so it was an easy transition for them. They both had managed to get a decent internship prior to graduation which really was their main selling point.

    As I may have mentioned before, the ad agency I used to work at (better job opportunities, much higher pay) would almost never hire anyone from those “regular” schools. They wanted people from the selective colleges.

    I’m sure it’s the same in law, accounting, etc… depends how high you aim.

    I certainly think it’s better to attend the best college possible… but I’m also a financial realist so I wouldn’t put my retirement at stake to make it happen unless I really thought my son wanted to go into a field where it mattered and he could help pay back any debt by earning a good salary.

  • 105. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I watched an episode of Suzy Orman once where a girl realllly wanted to go to an expensive Ivy league school that was going to compromise the parents retirement but she mentioned how parents (especially what seems to be our generation who want to help our kids succeed like never before) get pulled by the heartstrings to give the child the chance to attend the school that they’re passionate about.

    Suzy felt it was a poor decision because of the impact on their retirement fund and point out that SHE herself attended a big 10 school and ended up being very successful.

  • 106. oldtown  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Most of the parents that I know say that cost is the biggest factor in choosing a college. I personally will not allow my child to graduate with over $100k in college debt, nor do I have the funds to pay for the cost. IMO, this debt will hamper my child to pursue opportunities because of this burden.

  • 107. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

    UIUC with 32,000 students, 68% acceptance rate with qualified candidates mostly from Illinois

    Is the acceptance rate really that high? I keep hearing that it’s so hard to get in. I mean surely my kid could make that cutoff. Jeez, he better!

  • 108. Mayfair Dad  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

    @87: For my oldest son, who is plenty smart and plenty unfocused as a student, we will insist on two years of community college or Northeastern Illinois University (commuter state university near our home where he can take the Foster Avenue bus to school). We can’t financially justify two years of room & board at a downstate university so he can attend keggars, enjoy late night bong sessions, flunk a few classes and “find himself.” After getting the 100-200 level required courses out of the way and demonstrating the necessary maturity, then we can have the discussion about going to Columbia College, UIC, IIT, etc. to take film-making courses, computer animation, television production, becoming a chef or any other non-traditional degree & career path he might wish to pursue. We definately won’t go down the path of outrageous student debt. Maybe he’ll become a paramedic. Maybe he’ll design the next killer app. Who knows at this point – its his journey, not mine.

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

    @MFDad: haha, that made me laugh. Is that what it says in the school brochures?

  • 110. Dad of 4  |  May 14, 2013 at 11:11 am

    That is a smart, smart father. He’s honest and practical and has devised a plan that works for his son.

    His post described about 75% of my friends that made it 1-2 years at ISU, Northern, Southern, and Eastern. They all drank their way out of school, came home and got jobs.

    I applaud you sir, IMO you posted one of the best posts so far.

  • 111. Little sister  |  May 14, 2013 at 11:21 am

    My brother was as dumb as a box of rocks, but he could play football. It was the 1980s and he was a student at a south side catholic HS. He was pushed through HS with a 2.0 GPA and a 14 on the ACT.

    He ended up at Notre Dame (for free) where he was again pushed through. He didn’t end up going Pro but let me say this… That dumb ass (who I love dearly) has made a killing in his career in sales.

    He will be the first one to tell you football got him in, but the name recognition of a “members only” university has opened up more doors than he ever expected.

    He has friends from college that only hire ND grads-Period! It’s like a cult. I suspect it’s that way with a lot of elite/select universities operate.

    Everyone on this site is doing their homework. Pace yourself and it’s gonna be fine.

  • 112. mom2  |  May 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I would love financially to have my child go to Northeastern or some community college, but I fear for the social impact. All my child’s friends are going away. I had a friend growing up that stayed home while the rest of us went to a 4-year university. She was always depressed because she was living at home and had no friends except the few she met in classes. She felt terrible about herself and her parents finally let her go away. She really never felt the same. She felt she missed out on all those freshmen learning experiences, etc. Is that really a concern for most kids or was that just her?

  • 113. RL Julia  |  May 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I don’t think any school has a bigger cult following to it than ND – not even the ivies.

  • 114. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    @95 Consider UC-Santa Cruz: out-of-state tuition is $22,878 with total estimated cost to attend of $55,626 for AY14. Acceptance rate: 48% according to NY Times. Dickinson College in PA accepted 44% but its total costs are estimated to be $60,262. Its tuition alone is $46,094, which is what U. of Chicago charges and it admits around 8% of its applicants.

    Compared with Tufts, which now accepts less than 20%, but total costs are $56,546 w/o health insurance (another $1,878 if you need the student plan).

    So Dickinson expects someone to pay more to go to a less selective school (which is fine if it has the programs and environment you want), but in many cases you are not paying a premium for selectivity anymore.

    @98 USNWR data is lagged by a few years. That 49% is accurate for 2011 BU applicants, but for 2013 applicants – 36.22% were accepted. Same for Case Western, it is now 39.13%.

  • 115. Mayfair Dad  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    @112: Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses is not high on my list of sensible reasons for incurring huge college debt. I know just as many kids who went away to school and were depressed, homesick, missed their girlfriend, etc. and ultimately dropped out or flunked out. When it is time to review school options with our son, we will be very upfront about the financial ramifications and our expectations of demonstrated academic focus. If he meets the mutually agreed upon goals, we will consider downstate university options. (I don’t see him wanting to head off to a cornfield school anyway, but I could be off the mark…)

  • 116. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    114. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins) | May 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Our friend’s child goes to Tufts, loves it and they took some loans ~don’t forget you have to adjust and factor in $$$ for airfare several times a year.

    115. Mayfair Dad | May 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Since the school yr started Sept 2013~2 boys and 1 girl (all three from dif families) did not go back after Christmas~they transferred to a university in chicago. I don’t know abt the girl, but the boys were homesick & missed family/friends/chicago. I think my child will be ready when the time comes, but I don’t know if I will be!?!

  • 117. HS Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    @114 – I don’t understand how admission rate translates to “selectivity”, although I see where it does. In the UIUC example, I assume that 68% acceptance reflects the applicant pool. The schools post their requirements and expectations and most applicants review the criteria before blindly sending applications to top tier schools. I would assume too that most Illinois applicants qualifying for top private and Ivy universities would apply to UIUC as a “safety” school.

  • 118. CPS Parent  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    107. cpsobsessed The acceptance rate at UIUC varies widely depending on what major the student wants. Easy/not popular majors will take kids in the 23 -25 ACT range. Bio Med Engineering is one of the toughest to get accepted into – even a 35 on the ACT might not guarantee acceptance. It is also very difficult to transfer into the harder and more desirable majors – almost impossible for some. Applicants have to declare a major or college.

  • 119. mom2  |  May 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    118 – what are some of the “easy/not popular” majors that might take a 23-25?

  • 120. Working mom 60610  |  May 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I suspect some crazy religious cults could learn a few things from Notre Dame. “Little sister” hit the nail on the head with the story of her brother.

    My girlfriend was a ND student that later was a TA at the university. She “helped” (and let me say the word “help” takes on a whole new meaning at ND) a football player who later did make a career in football. The guy became an analyst for a network. The two hadn’t spoken in over a decade but reunited on LinkedIn last year.

    He told her if she was ever interested in a job at the network he would help her. Just for kicks, she took him up on the offer and before you knew it this guy had a group of ND grads in the television industry backing her and she was soon hired for a job she would have never EVER gotten without this guy and the salary she was offered was ridiculous. All for helping a jock.

    Craziest part of the story… After getting the job the former football player as well as the ND grads all contacted her and reminded he how important it was that she “help” another ND grad in the future.

    I can’t think of any other school that has those kind of family.

  • 121. CPS Parent  |  May 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    119. mom2 high school counselors would know My guess is stuff like Tourism Management, Hospitality Management, Art Education, Early Childhood Ed. etc.

  • 122. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    In general, keep in mind that admission rates for those selecting early admission can be much better than the regular admission rate, or the overall admission rate, which is what I have given. Williams College has an overall rate of under 17% (tough to get in), but if you applied for early admission (promise to go if accepted), then the rate is over 40%. Big difference if you really want to go to Williams. Harvard is the same: over 18% for those selecting early admission, but below 6% overall. Still hard to get in, but not as hard if it is your 1st choice. In short, know where you want to go before you apply. You can improve your odds for you best pick.

    @117 “selective” is just the lingo for the admission offer rate ranges. You are correct that applicant pools vary — the flagship state university is often the safety school for those trying for admission to hard-to-get-into private schools. ( “Highly selective” used to mean less than a 1/3rd of those who applied got in. Today it seems to be less than 1/4 or 1/5.) If you can get the data, you should look at the % of those offered admission who attend. Re ND below, 51% of those offered admission actually attended the school. Contrast that w/ Tufts (above) that was only slightly more selective (21% accepted) but only 37% of those accepted enrolled — many Tufts students are hoping for admission to nearby school in Cambridge.

    @120 That is the reputation of ND in terms of its alumni network. Regis Philbin was an alum and strong booster for the school. Today, ND is hard to get into; in 2012 only 23% of applicants were admitted.

  • 123. HS Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Christopher Ball – good info! Yes that is interesting. Checked Harvard 6% acceptance 76% yield (those that said yes of the 6%) – U of Chicago 16% A 40% Y, Notre Dame 24% A 50% Y , UIUC 68% A 37% Y.

    @119 Sutherland Parent points out something interesting. UIUC has a “General Studies” college. All that means is that you have an undecided major, take all the core courses and need to decide on a major within 2 years. The middle 50% ACT is 25-30. Depends on what the student wants to study. Switching into the business or engineering college would be very difficult and would be based on college grades. Once you are in a college, you can switch majors as much as you like. So if your strength is math and not so much writing, enter Liberal Arts and go into math or computer science. The counselors work with the student to figure out best path based on interest and talent.

    Question: Is it better to go to the “good” school and take the easier major or to a lower ranked school and take the hard major? Or is it the same overall (given of course that we all know people who beat the system one way or another). Oh and assume cost of options is within your acceptable threshold.

  • 124. averagemom  |  May 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    City colleges of Chicago have a guaranteed admission program with UIC if you meet some requirements. You can do your 1st 2 years cheap then finish at UIC. I think they have arrrangements with some of the private schools too, I think IIT is one of them.
    UIUC has a similar program with the local community college there, but I think you have to pay out of district tuition if you’re from Chicago.

  • 125. Sped Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Those are called “articulation agreements” and lots of 4-year schools have them to facilitate the transfer of community college students into the 4-year institutions.

  • 126. Sped Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Each year, as high school seniors apply to more and more colleges (Common Application helps make it easier), those colleges look more “selective.” It’s an arms race in admissions statistics. Not sure it has all that much to do with the actual quality of the educational product.

  • 127. Sped Mom  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    @ 108. Mayfair Dad | May 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Newly graduated HS students can attend just one or two summer courses at a college to take things like those TV and film classes. Sometimes that type of course activates the student into a driven, successful college student. On the other hand, the two years taking only gen eds might leave certain students dead to academics and failing, even at a community college. Depends on the student. Might want to check out cool summer options. As long as the school is accredited, the course credits will transfer into whatever school where the student aims to finish the bachelor’s.

  • 128. local  |  May 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Maybe DePaul (from catalyst-chicago):

    “DEPAUL DEAL: Word leaking out of City Hall indicates that a big chunk of the financing for a new DePaul arena would come from the pot of cash that robs millions from public schools, WLS is reporting. This would be very controversial because Emanuel is on the point of closing 54 schools.”

  • 129. cpsobsessed  |  May 15, 2013 at 8:39 am

    What is the pot of cash? The general city budget? Or a specific pot?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 130. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

    129. cpsobsessed Probably TIF money – the small minded anti TIFers will be raising their voices again.

  • 131. Interested mom  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Here is a program at DePaul where you have dual admission at both DePaul and a community college. It is a great program because you are part of the DePaul community from the start, but you take your first two years of classes at a community college.

  • 132. RL Julia  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    CPS’s budget is separate from the City of Chicago’s budget – Ditto CHA and CTA and Parks.

  • 133. Mayfair Dad  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    @ 129 and others. Likely the public contribution of the funding will come from taxes levied on hotel rooms, restaurants, cabs and other services paid for by conventioneers and tourists. This is the norm for convention center expansions. I can’t speak for why this deal makes sense for DePaul vs. free at United Center, but I do know the marketing arm of McCormick Place has been coveting a venue like this to attract certain SMURF (social, military, union, religious) groups to Chicago who require a 10,000+ seat auditorium adjacent to exhibit space. The nearby former Michael Reese property makes sense for a city-owned casino – convention planners like these types of amenities close, but not too close. Convention-goers should spend their time walking the tradeshow floor, not the casino floor. (Although I would wager a bet that the casino will be built at Navy Pier.)

  • 134. James  |  May 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

    @122 Christopher Ball —

    One note about the higher admission rates for early action/decision programs at selective universities. Keep in mind that the early applicant pool generally includes lots of recruited athletes and legacies, both of which have a clear leg up in admissions. That earlier pool also tends to include kids with more outstanding credentials in general, and thus kids more likely to be accepted in general. My daughter and I attended an information session at an Ivy League school last March, and the admissions person was (refreshingly) honest in this regard.

    So, yes, applying early can slightly increase your odds of admission, but not as much as the raw numbers might suggest. And the odds are so ridiculously low that I think I have nearly as much chance at winning tonight’s Powerball drawing as my kid has of getting into an Ivy League school. A smart well-rounded kid from the Midwest with no connections, no “hook,” and no legacy just doesn’t cut it.

  • 135. Mayfair Dad  |  May 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

    @127. You make an excellent point. I remember peers who ended up at College of Lake County (i.e. College of Last Chance) eventually dropping out because it felt too much like high school all over again. Our son is clearly not made to sit behind a desk and grind out reports all day as an adult. We have tried to interest him in things like the Coast Guard Academy — how cool would it be to fly helicopters and rescue people for a living — and other non-conventional education paths that lead to a career and lifestyle he would find rewarding. His motivation wanes because he does not yet see the connection between passing Trig class and lifelong happiness. School for school’s sake holds no interest.

  • 136. RL Julia  |  May 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

    So if I had done better in Trig…. I would have never been unhappy? If only I had listened to my parents!!!

  • 137. Mayfair Dad  |  May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Ha! He doesn’t yet see the connection between doing well in school and having fulfilling career options. Better?

  • 138. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    134. James – about 15 kids from Payton got into Ivy’s this year – 6 at Yale. out of the 15, 2 are legacy and one is a recruited athlete. Six at Yale is not unusual for Payton. Graduating class is 252 kids.

  • 139. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    @123 I think the best thing is to find a major that you enjoy. Being miserable in half of your classes is not a good recipe for success.

    @126 I agree. A low admissions rate apart from data on those accepting the offer and the characteristics of the class doesn’t tell you much about who attends the school and why. And it is not a measure of academic quality per se. I’m sure you could find schools that differing admission rates but similar class profiles in terms of ACT/SAT scores.

    @134 Thanks. That’s interesting.

    From the admissions office point of view, if you have a class made up mostly “well-rounded” students, you have a somewhat uniform class in terms of passions and interests. That said, I think that in many cases you could identify all those academically qualified to attend your college, put them into a pool with some weighting for those from less populous states, randomly pick students from that group for admission, and still have just as good a class as you have with tweaking by admissions officers. A Harvard admission officer conceded in one NYT Magazine interview that he could take the entire group of students offered admission, put all of them aside, and go ont to compose another equally talented group from the remainder of the applicants.

  • 140. James  |  May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    @138 CPS Parent —

    Thanks for the information about Payton. As it happens, my kids go to Payton, so I’m particularly interested. When I check Naviance, however, it shows that from 2008-2013, Payton had an overall 13% acceptance rate at Yale. And it shows only 1 kid admitted this year, not 6. I suppose that Naviance may not have been updated with this year’s stats yet. Is your information from word-of-mouth by the students or FOP or something like that (which, admittedly, is often the best source of information)? Just curious where you’re getting your information from. Thanks.

  • 141. oldtown  |  May 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    @140 James, How do you like Naviance? pros and cons?

  • 142. HS Mom  |  May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Christopher Ball, Mayfair Dad, RLJ

    You mean in my quest to do whats “best/right” I forgot about happiness! Thanks for reminding me 😉

  • 143. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    140. James I know almost all the kids personally including all six Yale acceptances. Very few of the 15 are URM’s in case you are wondering. Last year there was only one admitted to Yale and that student ended up going to MIT. Six has happened before though. It is not by quota nor is there a cap – merit and good “fit” are fully in play as far as I can tell. Most are admitted early admission or with the Ivy system “Likely Letter”.

    141. oldtown Naviance is a great tool. Very predictable for those colleges where there is a few years of data and enough data points per year.

  • 144. anonymouse teacher  |  May 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    This whole conversation makes me kind of queasy. I hope to god my children either get large amounts of scholarship money or go to community college. I’m also kind of uncomfortable researching all the details of college admissions for them. As much of a control freak as I am, I really hope I am not still trying to figure out their lives when they are 18 years old. That’s their job.
    My own college decisions revolved around choosing between a few schools, basically which ones offered me the most in scholarships. The one that was the lowest price overall won. My husband took 4 years after high school to decide what he wanted to pursue. Both of us had somewhat unusual routes to our degrees, but we both got our undergrads and grad degrees with no debt. That has certainly made our lives easier. I hope no matter what our children decide, they are heavily weighing the end cost in mind.
    It seems like most people who push for a selective school weigh that cost too, but put a lot of weight into the networking and the school name getting the student a good job upon graduation. Two different ways to look at it I guess. I lean towards the community college + cheap state school + working+ scholarships route myself. But I have a feeling, in the end, it all works out, one way or the other. Or at least that’s what I tell myself to make myself feel better.

  • 145. CPS Parent  |  May 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    144. anonymouse teacher we put zero weight on networking and “name”. My kid likes being around academically oriented, smart, interesting, and hard-working kids. The more “selective” the school the higher the percentage of that type of kid that will be there. His first choice school fit those criteria AND he felt it was the best fit for him in terms of his choice of major, urban vs. rural, large vs. small, etc. Fortunately, the school saw him as a good “fit” as well.

    Yes, he is 18 and is very capable, but 18 is not quite fully adult and you may find supporting your kids, when that time comes, to be a rewarding and appreciated experience.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that for middle income families, the more selective schools offer more aid with HYP being amongst the most generous but need based only – no academic scholarships at any Ivy’s.

    For us, UIUC offered zero, need based, assistance but his first choice school is giving him a three-quarter ride based on need. We will pay much less than the in-state tuition at UIUC. No loans.

  • 146. HS Mom  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    @144 – a little bit about the process, as we have experienced it thus far – we are not “researching the details for them” but with them. It usually starts at school. CPS high schools are on the Naviance system. It’s a great tool where kids enter 5 or so schools they have an interest in to track and research. Parents are encouraged to set up their own Naviance account to help their child and gather information.

    Once kids get a little older and start listening more to their friends and stop doing all those betterment activities that you had in mind for them, making college plans becomes a way for the family to connect. They need help. It can be a bonding experience and it’s interesting. The college tours are fun. I’ll be dammed if my sole function in this process is to run and get the check book.

    Just read 145 – we seem to be on the same wavelength.

  • 147. oldtown  |  May 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Several parents pointed me to this website, Colleges that Change Lives. Anyone read the book or have first hand knowledge on these particular colleges?

  • 148. James  |  May 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    And I am completely with you, 145 and 146. The idea that assisting your kid in navigating the complex and high stakes process of choosing a college amounts to “researching all the details of college admissions for them” or trying to “figure out their lives” for them is absurd.

  • 149. anonymouse teacher  |  May 15, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Yes, 146, I can see very clearly that you and 145 are on the same wavelength.

  • 150. HS Mom  |  May 15, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    ok and

  • 151. Esmom  |  May 16, 2013 at 7:15 am

    @123 “The counselors work with the student to figure out best path based on interest and talent.”

    Ideally that’s how it is supposed to work but when I was at UIUC I had a hard time finding someone willing to help me figure those things out. It’s a huge school and people are busy, so I think it’s important that parents stay in tune with what their kid is doing if possible all throughout their college years. I don’t see it as figuring out their lives but as offering support at a crucial time.

    At UIUC I started in LAS (one of the “easier” colleges to enter at the time) and was thinking about transferring to the Communications college as a junior based on my budding career interests. The deans and counselors I was finally able to talk to gave me conflicting advice and were just not that helpful. I felt like a huge bother to them and ended up figuring out stuff on my own. It worked out just fine but I remember feeling like I had nowhere to turn.

  • 152. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 9:58 am

    HS students might want to check out the resources for academic and career planning at their prospective colleges. Will there be access to faculty advisors with expertise in the students intended academic AND career fields? Will there be professional academic and career advisors? Will there be academic and career advisors with EXPERIENCE in the student’s intended field, rather than just generic advising for academics and careers?

    Those are the lynchpins in tailoring the graduation requirements and options for majors/minors/grad programs to oneself. Most college students are pretty clueless about how to manage the HUGE investment in higher ed, sorry to say. Even those 99 percentile kids.

  • 153. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

    @ 144. anonymouse teacher | May 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I’ll bet you’ll become much more comfortable with this “engaged parent” approach once your kids are in HS. Things drastically change in parenting philosophy regarding this once you’re right in the middle of it, imho. Even then it can shift.

    I started out a couple years ago intending to turn my oldest kid onto all the options for HS life, only to find out the kid was not going to board that train. So, I got off the train. The situation ultimately is going to hurt the kid’s chances in college admissions, but, we’ll (yes, we’ll) figure it out when the time comes. And, it’ll be for the best, ultimately.

  • 154. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Re Colleges that Change Lives:

    Here’s a US map with the listed colleges. I’m fairly familiar with some, but personally applied to only one of them (St. John’s in Annapolis – Great Books curriculum – like Shimer, now in Chicago at IIT).

    I’d say you can find many of the qualities highlighted for the schools on this list at many, many other colleges if you look/screen for those qualities. It’s a great model to use when shopping for schools. It can move a kid’s head out of the nation’s college marketing efforts’ influence.

  • 155. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

    BTW, Cornell College in Iowa is particularly interesting to me for my HS kid b/c students take one class at a time. So it’s a series of short bursts completely focused on one subject. That would match the kid’s style, as opposed to taking and array of five courses at once for a full, traditional semester. Not sure Iowa would be the best place, though for a variety of reasons.

  • 156. Family Friend  |  May 16, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Colleges that change lives: A friend’s son went to Clark University. Despite attending an outstanding high school, he was a typical “duh” high teenagel guy — underachieving, prank-playing, uncaring about his future. Clark worked out exactly the way his parents hoped it would. He became not just a good student, but an interested student. After college he was accepted to a prestigious fellowship in Germany. Right now he’s working on a PhD.

  • 157. Family Friend  |  May 16, 2013 at 10:41 am

    That’s “teenage guy” not “high teenagel guy.”

  • 158. HS Mom  |  May 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    @151 Esmom – that’s good advice, doesn’t surprise me, thanks. It is completely different since I was there. I also had the feeling that in some respects they may be overly directive – so, you want to go into accounting, we will advise you.

    @152 local, good questions. A school that allows you to take one class at a time!? How does that work and how long does it take to get a degree?

    Colleges that change lives: We will be looking at Beloit. They have true holistic admissions.

  • 159. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    @ 158. HS Mom | May 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    “At Cornell, you’ll focus intensely on one course for three and a half weeks, then move on to a new subject. Known as One Course At A Time (OCAAT), our academic structure enables you to spend a month creating a theatrical production, conducting high-level scientific research, or immersing yourself in a new language—giving each your full attention and best effort. It’s an innovative approach that attracts a diverse group of students from across the country and around the world, and it’s practically unique: Cornell is one of only two national liberal arts colleges on the block plan.”

    Good for ADHD & obsessive types, & other smart people. 😉

  • 160. local  |  May 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Oh, and BA in typical 4 years.

    “Opportunities are not restricted by the borders of a traditional classroom. You might spend a month in Spain exploring the origins of Spanish civilization, or work as a full-time intern on a presidential campaign. With just one course at a time, off-campus study is both manageable and meaningful.”

    “Studying at Cornell on the block plan means you’ll immerse yourself in a single course each three-and-a-half-week block, then engage in a new subject after a four-day block break.”

    This is Cornell COLLEGE, not Cornell of the Ivies.

  • 161. cpsobsessed  |  May 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Man, I’m sold on Cornell!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 162. Mayfair Dad  |  May 17, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Not so fast, CPSO. Consider Collorado College:

    Skiing vs. cornfields?

  • 163. Mayfair Dad  |  May 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

    That’s Colorado. Smart alecky comments with typos don’t sound so smart alecky.

  • 164. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Skiing is not in the plan for this height-fearing family. But I HAVE thought about trying to move to California or somewhere warm a couple years before college. I’d really like to break the grip on the cold climate.

    For those who went to a Big 10 type school, what did you think about your education? Mine at Indiana University was so un-stimulating. Large lecture halls, non-English speaking grad students as teachers. I don’t know if I should have made more of it. Or course with tuition as cheap as it was then, it doesn’t seem like a huge loss, but still. I wonder if those schools are still as impersonal in their education.

    I DID get one good piece of advice from a counselor there who advised me not to switch my major from business to Fashion Merchandising. Thank goodness for that piece of input!

  • 165. HS Mom  |  May 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Seems to me that the big traditional universities are great for traditional education – business, engineering, pre law, pre med. Once you venture “outside of the box” there is so much out there at all different levels. One school we spoke to had a really cool major that encompassed several interests of ours. It was “philosophy, politics & economics” as one major. Something that UIUC is encouraging is study abroad. According to them, almost 50% of students now participating. That was something that spoke to my kid – the chance to get away from the lecture hall.

  • 166. HS Mom  |  May 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    hit enter too fast

    One additional advantage we saw at some small colleges is that they may offer programs through the college in other cities such as Washington DC, included within the tuition. So, if getting exposure to the political scene is your thing and you couldn’t get into Georgetown this would be the next best thing.

  • 167. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    It appears that several colleges are now using the “J semester” and kids are going abroad for all of January~it seemed almost expected. This interested my child too. I would prefer for my child to study at a much smaller school and that some consider an ‘out of the box’ school, but most of those don’t have engineering degrees~they have programs that are part of the 3+2 but not degrees of their own.

  • 168. HSObsessed  |  May 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    @164 CPSO – UIUC in the 80s was big and impersonal and yes, big survey classes with TAs teaching the sections, but the 200 level courses and up were taught by profs and we had some good discussions, as I recall. You can get a great education at a big state U and it’s certainly a bargain for your money, but I can see the beauty of going to a smaller school with smaller classes at all levels, so that the in-class discussions start earlier. On the other hand, I think there are way more classes to choose from at a U, and you’re often being taught by the person who literally “wrote the book” on the subject, which is kind of cool. As in all things, tradeoffs abound.

  • 169. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I think I actually geared myself more towards those impersonal classes, frankly. And being a business major it’s all more dry. I assume the people doing liberal arts majors probably had a lot more discussion. Oh, if I had to do it again I’d have taken such a different set of classes! Of course our adult brains and interests are so different than those of a 20 year old. Well, at least this 20 year old. I’m so impressed by kids who knew what they wanted to do going into college.

    Although… I knew by age 22 when I graduated what I wanted to do (marketing research) and I’m still doing it! Maybe I wasn’t as unfocused as I recall!

  • 170. RL Julia  |  May 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Went to UW-Madison and loved, loved, loved it. Loved that I had a million classes to chose from. Had huge classes and tiny ones, independent studies with awesome professors etc… Loved the variety and the endless choices. That being said… it was not a school for a kid who wanted to be noticed but is not so good at putting themselves out there. I loved the anonymity personally but for a different sort of person, I think it could be soul crushing.

  • 171. Working Mommy of 2  |  May 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I went to UW-Madison as well and it was one of the best periods of my life. Would love for my sons (still in Pre-K) to have a similar experience — somewhere with great academics and also a lot of fun things going on. The out-of-state tuition is pretty shocking there now. I’m pretty sure mine was around $8K per year in the early 90s. It’s $26,800 now.

  • 172. Working Mommy of 2  |  May 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Also, as to bigger universities feeling more impersonal, at least in my experience there are a lot of smaller communities within the school.

    Once I was accepted into Wisconsin’s journalism school (sophomore year) I had a lot of students following the same course path I took for those classes. I also worked on a student publication, so that further gave me a sense of belonging (as well as great experience, which helped me land a job quickly after graduation.)

    But I agree with RLJ that you have to be the kind of person who is comfortable making things happen for yourself.

  • 173. Esmom  |  May 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    @164 My experience at UIUC started out as fairly unstimulating, until sophomore year when, after loving and doing well in an intro to poetry course, I switched my major from Poli Sci to English. It was like a light switched on and suddenly I felt like I had a more clear path after stumbling blindly through courses that weren’t what I was expecting.

    Finding the right major was key. I was almost overwhelmed with gratitude at being able to get credit for classes that I considered to be nothing but pure fun. No drudgery whatsoever. I had a mix of large lectures and smaller discussion sections. And teachers and professors that were amazing. I felt almost guilty compared to classmates/friends who had been pushed down a more “practical” path by their parents, such as accounting or business. They seemed to be having a lot less fun than I was.

    The tricky part, as I mentioned, was figuring out what I wanted to do with an English major. I got very little help or direction from the faculty and administration, even after actively seeking it out. It felt to me that unless you wanted to pursue a graduate degree, you were on your own.

  • 174. local  |  May 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Not sure why the Amazon link to Great Jobs for English Majors posted an image of the book cover. Huh.

  • 175. mom2  |  May 17, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    So what did you do with an English major?
    Cpsobsessed, what would be a major for someone that wanted to go into market research – marketing or statistics or ? What is informatics?

  • 176. Esmom  |  May 18, 2013 at 6:01 am

    @175 I became an advertising copywriter, something I stumbled into while searching for an editorial job in publishing. I know I was lucky as those jobs are hard to come by. Right place, right time, I suppose.

  • 177. Family Friend  |  May 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I went to UIUC a long, long time ago. It was laughably impersonal — I once received a postcard that began, “Dear [social security number], We take a personal interest in you.” My advisor was inept, and most of my courses were replays of my excellent high school education (and this after I tested out of a full semester of courses).

    However, there was a lot going on that I didn’t find out about until I was about to graduate. Professors’ office hours, tutoring programs, discussion groups. Study abroad. Both of my kids went to private universities, but they were big schools. The first one didn’t care to hear any advice from me, but did fine anyway; the second one took advantage of every support her school had to offer. While she was going to tutoring in French and writing, she was the tutor in accounting. Both studied abroad.

    If your student is willing to reach out when s/he is having a problem, help is there for the taking, even at big schools.

  • 178. Family Friend  |  May 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I should have said “most of my freshman courses.” As I advanced, I got into specialized topics, and had to work at least a little.

  • 179. local  |  May 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    “However, there was a lot going on that I didn’t find out about until I was about to graduate.”

    Folks, make sure your kids read their student handbook. It’s like an in-depth owner’s manual for a very, very expensive thingy. It’s stunning how little info college students gather about what they’re buying.

  • 180. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    162. Mayfair Dad | May 17, 2013 at 9:04 am

    You and your son might want to check out Lake Forest College, depending on his major. CPS has scholarships for LFC and it’s a great college.

  • 181. local  |  May 19, 2013 at 9:32 am

    There’s a goodly number of colleges in this region the offer serious scholarship money just for CPS graduates. Plus the UofC scholarship for CPD cop kids.

    Was just thinking this morning how most scholarship programs haven’t kept up with inflation in higher ed. Really, $1000 would likely cover required books for a year. $10K is more like what’s needed to make a dent.

  • 182. local  |  May 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

    BTW, MFD, in addition to Lake Forest, Columbia College Chicago has scholarships for CPS grads.

  • 183. Esmom  |  May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    @181, I agree that the $1,000 scholarships, that once seemed like a great windfall, seem pretty paltry in light of today’s typical tuition/expenses scenario. I had an interesting chat just yesterday with a parent whose son is a sophomore at Michigan State. He said they have been told repeatedly to expect a full five years to complete a bachelor’s degree and he was feeling frustrated because they hadn’t factored in that extra year when saving for tuition and are now scrambling to find a way to finance it. The son says it does, in fact, seem like it will take him five years to complete his studies.

    The lesson they took from this is to push their younger son, who is in seventh grade, to pursue interests that are likely lead to scholarship money. For example, he’s in the band program and recently switched to tuba, which is not his first or even second choice of instrument, because he has been told that the demand in college for tuba players is among the greatest and therefore should lead to some $$ he might not get from playing a more common instrument.

    I feel like back in the 80s when I was an undergrad, “fifth year seniors” were more of an exception than the rule. I know I had no trouble finishing in four years (despite a somewhat rocky freshman year) and I hadn’t considered how much that may have changed.

    And on the flip side, I have friend whose son just graduated from UIUC in just three years. So I’m not sure what to think anymore about how many years to plan for an undergrad degree.

  • 184. local  |  May 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    To speed up that BA: Add AP, IB, CLEP & summer community college credits.

    To slow down: Flunk or fail to earn minimum grade required in a course (such as C or higher for a course in your major), or successfully complete fewer than five courses (or 15-16 credits) a semester.

  • 185. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    183. Esmom | May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    We know 2 boys that received full scholarships from ISU for band. They didn’t play tuba~can’t remember, whatever they took in HS. No, ISU was not their first choice but how could they say ‘no’? One graduated w/no debt and one will be graduating this year. One boy changed his major and had to add a semester~one boy will be done in 4yrs.

    In the 80s the typical/average yrs to complete college was 5~I know hard to believe~since 2010 that has gone up to an average of 6yrs. I’m planning on my kids being done in 4 yrs. I hope they are planning the same.

  • 186. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    A friend of mine whose oldest is a sophmore at UIUC recommended that I get my child into tuba just for the scholarship $. I guess it’s true!

    As far as the 5-year degree….unless you change your major, double-major or take a light class load, why would you need 5 years to finish a BA?

  • 187. local  |  May 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Beyond failing/repeating courses, changing majors late in the game, double-majoring in a way that’s inefficient, or taking fewer than five courses or 15 credits per semester…the main reason any student would have to extend beyond four years would likely be the student did not take his or her course requirements in order – in “sequence.” Smart people doing dumb things, that.

  • 188. Esmom  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:08 am

    @187, yes that was what this dad was talking about and railing against. He said his son has tried to be careful about making sure he takes everything he needs and in the correct order yet the university seems set up to ensure that it can’t happen — for example not offering certain courses during some semesters so he is forced to go out of order or wait. He said it feels like a scam designed to keep the kids for as long as possible.

  • 189. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

    188. Esmom | May 20, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I think it feels like a scam as well. I’ve talked to several admission counselors who actually told me that ‘we’ shouldn’t put so much pressure on kids, to let them take their time in school.~This could put a child graduating at the 5-6 yr mark. Making a boatload of cash for schools. My parents would have NEVER thought I didn’t need to be taking a full load of classes.

  • 190. HS Mom  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:15 am

    @188 – Only one college we’ve looked at actually tries to set up a 4 year plan and put the kids on track. Everyone else is talking 5 years like it’s the norm. I think it’s a scam too. I mean it’s one thing to go for a masters and another to stretch out a bachelors.

  • 191. mom2  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

    HS Mom – which schools have you looked at? Which is the one that tried to set up a 4 year plan and which ones didn’t? You are all scaring me about this 5 year plan. We cannot afford that.

  • 192. Family Friend  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I have never heard of “expecting” kids to take more than 4 years, except in engineering school, where it has been the norm since I was in college, in the Ice Age. This is a disturbing trend!

    Taking AP courses etc. is not always a way to shorten the time in college. Some schools will give credit for AP, others only placement (you skip the intro class, but don’t get credit hours toward graduation). Taking courses (cheaply) at home during the summer also does not always work. Some schools will take most credits, some only those gained before initial admission.

    Sometimes these rules make sense from an academic perspective, sometimes it just feels like they want the money. So check it out.

  • 193. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:34 am

    It probably would be a good idea to meet with one’s advisor early in freshman year to plot out a coursework strategy to finish in four years. Maybe it involves overloading for a few semesters as well as summer coursework at community college. But if no one at the school in your major is able to graduate in four years, I would avoid that school like the plague!

  • 194. OutsideLookingIn  |  May 20, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Let kids take their time in school? Five years is the norm for a BA? WTF?!! Not with my money.

  • 195. HS Mom  |  May 20, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Mom2 – U of Iowa has a 4 year plan. UIUC was talking 5 years for certain majors our student guide (who was not in the 5 year program) was talking 5 years for herself and “lots of her friends”. University of Missouri charges by the credit hour which I thought was interesting. We are set up to tour Michigan State so I will be asking some hard questions. This is good information to have.

  • 196. mom2  |  May 20, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thank you, HS Mom. I’m liking Iowa more and more. UIUC is making me nuts on many levels – having to pick a major before Freshman year or it is hard to change later, the price for in-state tuition compared to surrounding states, their (what seems to be) numbers mentality rather than the whole child, etc. etc.

  • 197. RL Julia  |  May 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

    when I was at UW in the mid-eighties, I was the only person I knew who managed to graduate in four years with out taking summer school etc… the reasons- all those stated above but also – some courses (inevitably required for a major) had to be completed in a sequence and weren’t offered every semester so if you missed getting into the class (which sometimes were full) you wouldn’t be able to take the class and would have to wait a year. I almost had to stay longer because I had taken too much history – so even though I had more then enough credits to graduate not enough of them were non-history courses and they wanted me to stay an extra semester.

  • 198. Portage Mom  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    The same was true at NIU’s business program in the mid 80s. Students often had to stay an extra semester due to not being able to take the required classes needed for admission into the College of Business. The demand for the required classes was far greater than the supply. I withdrew from the university after my first semester freshman year and finished my requirements at a community college. I transferred to NIU junior year and was admitted to the College of Business. I was able to finish in 4 years with almost no debt.

  • 199. local  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I think it was U of Iowa where if the student promised to follow the sequence, the college would ensure seats were available in needed courses in the needed semester, and if not, they’d pay your way to finish the degree. It was some kind of mutual agreement that had responsibilities on each side for a timely bachelor’s degree.

  • 200. local  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    “The demand for the required classes was far greater than the supply.” If (As) MOOCs get accredited, that supply problem might go away.

  • 201. local  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    @ 190. SoxSideIrish4 | May 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

    There can be good reasons to go light in any one semester. First semester at school (consider adding gym as the fifth course) when getting adjusted, working full-time (or more than 20h/wk) while attending school, dealing with certain disabilities, etc. Still, it’s an expensive choice (in time & money).

  • 202. local  |  May 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    “Taking AP courses etc. is not always a way to shorten the time in college. Some schools will give credit for AP, others only placement (you skip the intro class, but don’t get credit hours toward graduation). Taking courses (cheaply) at home during the summer also does not always work. Some schools will take most credits, some only those gained before initial admission.”

    Yes. Look under “transfer credit policy” or some-such for the college under consideration. What will they take? Is that policy expected to change anytime soon?

  • 203. Cps alum  |  May 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    @192—I went to uiuc in the mid 90’s and had loads of friends in engineering. None of my friends took more than 4 to graduate (and many were cps graduates!) While it might be different now I really think it has a lot to do with how serious the student is, how well a student plans their course load, and the willingness / ability to take > than 15- 18 credit hour semesters.

  • 204. Beth  |  May 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I have a hs junior and we are going through this now–I have helped her begin to sort through the hundreds of college choices out there. First I gave her Fiske’s and told her to page through it to see what caught her attention and we had casual talks about what she was interested in studying (what kinda classes do you want to take for four years), what sort of school was she interested in (small or large, what sort of social reputation, what part of the country), and we visited some campuses. I made her a spreadsheet based on schools she suggested, schools I knew, schools suggested by others. And yes I researched them, re: av standardized test scores, admin rates (both general and on naviance), av fin aid, graduation rates, size, fiscal safeties. It’s basic data–which I could do as easily as her so she could focus on tests, and school and APs. It’s an impressive spreadsheet (as RL Julia will attest!):a list of maybe 50 has been reduced to maybe 15- 20. She gets to do the in-depth research to whittle it down to 7-9 over the summer. I would be fine with her applying at UW and calling it a day (which is what I did, although its much more expensive out-of-state than it was when I went)–but she refuses to even consider it.

  • 205. RL Julia  |  May 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Beth’s spreadsheet does rock.

  • 206. local  |  May 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Is there an app for that, Beth? 😉

  • 207. HS Mom  |  May 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @204 Beth. Great system. Something that someone earlier mentioned and now you – think about the classes you WANT to take. What classes will be “easy” because you are interested or passionate or talented in a certain area. Here’s a link to a site that compares colleges and details much of the info you discuss.

  • 208. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    204. Beth | May 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Sounds like you have a gr8 plan going forward for the correct fit for your child. My hope is to have my child whittle down his choices b4 the end of summer. I’d like it be around 5, but he may have to cast a much larger net.

    207. HS Mom | May 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the link.

  • 209. CPS Parent  |  May 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    204. Beth, Yes a spreadsheet is super useful – when the choices are narrowed (middle of Junior year preferably) add columns for all the different test requirements which will come in handy when deciding what to take but also as a way to track what to submit and by what date. When applying to the more selective schools, the matrix of what goes where can be complicated.

  • 210. local  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Oh, brother. To grease the college-search machine in our home, I started the college search for the HS kid last night.

    Completely overwhelmed.

    I think I’ll focus on geographical regions first, as the kid needs to be near world-class healthcare facilities and within a 3-hour drive/flight from home. Does that rule out Cornell College in Iowa? Argh. I favor DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Madison (WI), Chicago and the SF Bay area. Maybe NYC. Urban life is important to us.

    Then, we have to match the kid’s likely ACT scores to the middle scores of the schools & examine the majors. The kid is a BWRK with not a single hook (except for undergrad legacy, if alumni donations don’t matter – or if grad degree legacy is considered). Not expecting super-duper SAT/ACT scores. No access to AP/IB/Honors in HS, b/c none are offered.

    Don’t care at all about the schools’ admissions stats for “selectivity” or “yield.” We are hoping for high racial and economic diversity of student body and racial diversity in staff/faculty, but from the numbers I saw last night, that might be something we have to take a pass on. Do want high campus residence, rather than high commuter student population.

    Then, it’s the kid’s ballgame from there. Until we have to look at the $.

    Experienced parents, what am I missing at this stage?

  • 211. HSObsessed  |  May 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    BWRK = Bright Well-Rounded Kid, for everyone else new to the terminology like I am

  • 212. momof3boys  |  May 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    @210 would you consider junior college. personally, i think its easier to transfer into a university as a soph or junior than it is to get in as a freshman… i would have considered that for my kid except he’s going to college for almost next to nothing…

  • 213. Beth  |  May 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I wish I could market the spreadsheet as an ap! Maybe it could pay for college!. . . and yes it also has columns on the application requirements, etc. Once its whittled down it will function as an ‘exploded workplan’ for college.

    My kid is one of those bright, well-rounded ones (everyone in her “select” high school is). My attitude toward the whole process is this–schools fall in reach, target and safety based on their admission rates, regardless of test scores/hooks–neither you nor your child can control that at all, so let it go. What you can control is the application you submit and where you submit.

    What you submit: Be genuine. Have your child write about what matters to them, have them pursue “stuff” (classes, excurrs, community service) that they are truly interested in and that makes them happy, not just what looks good (or you think will look good) on a college application.

    Where you submit: what is really a good fit? Once you start looking at admin rates, etc, you understand that the smallest part of your kid’s chances of getting into any school with admission rates under 30% is meeting the floor level qualifications (GPA/ACT)–even if you’re in range, it’s no guarantee. It’s not the numbers game that getting into a select HS is; it’s mostly chance–for whatever reason your child’s set of quirks/interests fits with all the other applicants that year in such a way that catches an admission officers attention for that year. In other words, its not personal–it’s too random to be personal. We are trusting the process — that the school that wants her is the school that she will thrive at–oh, and that they’ll give us a lot of money . . .

  • 214. local  |  May 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    @ 214. Beth | May 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    “My attitude toward the whole process is this–schools fall in reach, target and safety based on their admission rates, regardless of test scores/hooks–neither you nor your child can control that at all, so let it go.”

    Could you explain this more to me? Instead of setting up the safety/target/reach by scores, it could be done by % of applicants admitted? Like 90% of apps accepted, 50% apps accepted, and 10% apps excepted? Can you give me an example to help me “see” it? Thanks!

  • 215. HS Mom  |  May 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

    @210 – It seems to me that most peoples vision for their child is the same as their own experience – whether its Ivy, big 10 or community college. I think this is why there are certain kids who are driven from an early age to test tutor and build up their resume with activities that they may or may not be interested in. There are a lot more options out there now to consider.

    Your own advice – it’s important to tell your story. Be true to yourself and your best will come out. Sometimes, only a particular school with offer or have an expertise in a certain area of study – eg marine biology, ecology etc.

    ACT and SAT scores just came out. I hope people here had good news. We were pleasantly surprised. If anything, this should increase our chances of getting in and hopefully mean something in the way of money. Added a new school to the list – those schools offering one class at a time are looking good – both of them.

    CPS parent – if you’re still reading. I’m curious to know what school your son wound up with over U of I that was able to provide funding. I have to say that my kid is not particularly interested after our tour. Our favored options are out of state.

  • 216. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 24, 2013 at 10:08 am

    215. HS Mom | May 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

    That’s wonderful that you and your child were happy w/ACT & SAT scores. I hope that may throw another university into the mix for you both to look at.

  • 217. HS Mom  |  May 24, 2013 at 10:30 am

    @216 thanks 🙂 definitely.

    I have to say that I’m surprised he did so well….yes, I know he’s smart and tests don’t tell it all. Some folks here were talking about the expensive tutoring that people were doing for tests. We did none of that. Just basic prep and whatever was done at school. I was a little worried about that.

  • 218. oldtown  |  May 24, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Does CPS post graduates and colleges attended per year? I’m looking for something like this:

  • 219. RL Julia  |  May 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

    @218 I think you can maybe get some of that information on a school by school basis (from the schools themselves) but I doubt there is any aggregate information about who is going where. Too many kids – and too many last minute changes I’d imagine.

  • 220. CPS Parent  |  May 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    210. local Re: “Experienced parents, what am I missing at this stage?” Intended choice of major can be super important. My older kid choose made his choice based on the ranking of the major he was interested in which meant USC in California which is where 90% of the jobs in that field are. He graduated last Friday and started his job Monday. All the graduates in his major (about 35 kids) have jobs lined up.

  • 221. CPS Parent  |  May 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    215. HS Mom – Yale

  • 222. cliff  |  May 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm


    Every CPS counselor has access to a report like this for their school, which is drawn from National Student Clearinghouse data. No idea whether cps makes this info publicly available, but you may be able to contact individual schools you’re interested in to see if they’d share.

  • 223. HS Mom  |  May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    @218 – We have access to this type of information about our school only through Naviance. It shows offers and acceptances. The list is very similar to the Parker list with 1 or 2 kids going to each of the exclusive schools, larger numbers of kids going to universities and a great many kids going to local and community colleges possibly because of affordability or the need to work while going to school.

    @221 – Perfect! Have to ask because we see kids from our school go there, A average a must? Seems like the one upper tier school that looks beyond the numbers. Lower cost than UIUC- wow

  • 224. HSObsessed  |  May 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    @218 – There’s this from 2011. Not sure why they never posted the 2012 numbers. It only reflects the top 50 schools to which CPS seniors are attending.

  • 225. CPS Parent  |  May 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    223. HS Mom I don’t know about “must”, a couple of B’s is probably ok. My kid had a 4.0, 35 ACT, 800, 800 SAT2’s, 5’s on all AP’s. I know of at least one kid with the same who was rejected – less focused extracurricular stuff and not as much leadership though. The teacher’s letter of recommendation is very important for Yale I think.

  • 226. HS Mom  |  May 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    225 Phenomenal. Well done! Got the ACT part, everything else all over the board, which makes it even trickier to find the right fit along with affordability. Our situation seems unique.

    Any advice, anyone, on retaking the exam for writing when you have a test that you just want to say Stop! Freeze! Let me put it this way, going into the test we sat down and agreed there was no pressure, there are always retakes and this could be practice. Everyone kind of has a number/goal in mind and we decided that anything over 25 would be great. So, needless to say we’re numb. Kind of concerned about a retake messing with the “chee”.

  • 227. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    225. CPS Parent | May 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Fantastic numbers!!! So glad for you that the decision is made!

    226. HS Mom | May 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I know that most universities only look at the highest ACT number (if you were worried abt a lower number on the retest). So it probably wouldn’t hurt your child in anyway. My niece took the ACT one time and was happy w/the number~was accepted into UIUC.

  • 228. local  |  May 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    @ 221. CPS Parent | May 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I really like the idea of honing in on an intended major and then seeking a robust program in that major.

    Just wish the HS kid had a more specific goal at this stage, but I do expect it to evolve as the kiddo gets more experiences and career research under the belt. If no strong niche interest emerges, then a solid liberal arts program with a dab of management & media coursework is what I’ll likely recommend.

    I’ve been informed that social work grad school will be a goal. So, we’ve got that.

  • 229. local  |  May 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Just finished the two Colleges That Change Lives books. Convinced me.

  • 230. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    For parents like CPS Parent whose child will be leaving for college in the Fall, is considered a reliable source when scheduling. You may enter either the university or the teacher’s name and it shows what the kids think of their teachers.

  • 231. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Some college kids are taking between 6-8 yrs to graduate (6 being the new norm). YUCK~,0,1770603.story

  • 232. local  |  May 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Use caution: While all info can be useful, I’ve seen students rave about profs who don’t get the job done in the end. Then, as students move to the next level of coursework, the prof who inherits these students wonders WHF?. Why aren’t these students prepared for the higher level work? Well, at least they enjoyed the first prof. — Consider a salt-lick for ratemyprofessors. Ditto for ratemypizzaplace.

  • 233. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    True~just like take it with a grain of salt with Cappex, student reviews, etc.

  • 234. local  |  June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

    What’s the poop about Cappex. I just learned of it. Not sure how to best use it. There seem to be so many “college search” web tools out there. Considering my child has almost zilch school support for college search (not even Naviance), this will be a DIY project. She/We need insight on what tools would be most useful in the college search – mainly to track the search and to figure out likelihood of acceptance (safety/target/reach) for schools.

  • 235. HS Mom  |  June 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    @234 – sure you don’t have Naviance? They usually don’t introduce parents to it until junior year.

  • 236. local  |  June 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Nope. No Naviance. Tiny school, too.

  • 237. HS Mom  |  June 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    hmmmm. I thought all CPS was on. With the log in you need a zip code. When I enter the zip I get 2 choices, the selective or neighborhood school. An account does need to be set up to enter. I would inquire about this feature the school. It’s most helpful. Being small, there may not be a lot of information about your particular school but it has some useful features in researching schools and helps you track colleges that you’re considering.

  • 238. cpsobsessed  |  June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Just posting this to keep track of an article about the helpfulness of a school tour.

  • 239. local  |  June 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Yikes. I’m dreading the financial burden of any college tours (other than at Chicagoland colleges). I wonder how much we can do to assess the fit of a school without stepping onto its campus. Any advice?

  • 240. HS Mom  |  June 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Can’t find the original post asking if HS’s had a list similar to one private school with names and colleges. Ours just came out and is probably representative of selective enrollment HS’s – top schools, Williams, Stanford, Amherst, UofC, Claremont,Vassar. What is striking is that there are almost 200 kids and over 90 different schools with the bulk by far going to UIUC. Surprisingly only 4 kids listed for community college – contrary to suggested trend. This could mean that reality adjustments come later or more money out there now, maybe both.

    @239 – I suggest starting local by el – UIC or DePaul. Enough to get your student excited about prospects. Later, once you have a better idea contact the schools. Many offer free transport on certain days etc. We are thinking of a couple long distance schools. Will do the on-line virtual tours and actually go there if we get in.

  • 241. local  |  June 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks! BTW, I had no idea about free transport. And, yes, the local campuses and the online virtual tours will be our first steps.

  • 242. also looking at colleges  |  June 12, 2013 at 11:49 am

    If you go on Lane Tech’s website, under Academics, there is the Hewitt College and Career center. Once you get there, click on College Events and they have some listings of college bus trips.

  • 243. local  |  June 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    @ 243. also looking at colleges

    Thank you!!

  • 244. local  |  June 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Hmmm. How do these college bus tours work? Are they exclusive to the school or SEHS students? Does CPS’s college office get involved? Might there be someone in that office who can help? – Clueless in Chicago

  • 245. also looking at colleges  |  June 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Hi local. I don’t know if you are still reading this since nothing has been posted for over a week, but I found some interesting blogs related to the college search. I go on College Confidential, but these are some other ones.

    They are:

    In the FAQS section of the last blog (Do It Yourself) she answers the question of whether college visits are necessary. I am still on the fence about what we are going to do. My sons are just ending their freshman and sophomore years, so I think we will just look in the area or if we happen to pass some on our vacation this summer. I know so many families that have gone on extensive college visits and then found out that either their students haven’t gotten in to the schools or they find out that they can’t afford them. I am tempted to wait.

  • 246. HS Mom  |  June 20, 2013 at 10:00 am

    @245 – those are great links. Thank you so much. We are applying now and this info is very useful. Also answers my question about a distant out of state visit that we can’t really afford.

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  • 251. slangy1971  |  October 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I heard about this thread today. I do not have the time to read all these posts but I will say this: you need to visit as many campuses with your child so your child knows if it’s a good fit. The college visit is so important and virtual tours don’t cut it. October and November are the best times to go. Avoid summer and school spring breaks. Students aren’t there so it’s hard to pick up on the vibe. Waiting until April after letters come out is too late. Make an investment now or you may pay for it later.

  • 252. slangy1971  |  October 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    @242 I am in charge of the Lane trips. Let me know if you have questions.

  • 253. local  |  October 1, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    @ 246. also looking at colleges | June 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Thanks so much! Am working hard on this and needed some direction. 🙂

  • 254. mom2  |  October 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Any plans for Lane to visit Iowa State? So far, they have been the best at scholarships and communication, but still may be out of our price range. I’m sick over the money. Still better than UIUC. Has anyone visited there? I’ve heard the campus is beautiful.

  • 255. slangy1971  |  October 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    We have many trips planned for the next year, but Iowa State is not on the list. We are really trying to expose Lane kids to more private schools. If a family needs money for college, most private schools prove to be a better option. They give a ton of money to people who need it, whereas public schools do not because they cannot. Public schools just can’t afford it.

  • 256. mom2  |  October 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Are there any large private schools? My child picked Lane because it is very large and that’s what it wanted for college too. We’d love to know about large private schools that give money and don’t require a 30 on your ACT. Seems they are all on the smaller size with no football, etc.

  • 257. Chris  |  October 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

    ” Seems [private colleges] are all on the smaller size with no football, etc.”

    Lots of small colleges have football, just not 75,000 seat stadiums (or even a stadium better than Lane’s), and not Division 1.

    Most of the privates don’t have **football**–it’s really Southern Cal, BYU, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Stanford, Syracuse, Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Miami (FL) that are private and have big-time football.

    But even smaller scale football can be a big part of the campus culture, if that’s the goal (which seems like a fair criteria), rather than just being at a stadium with 75,000 people and national tv coverage (which seems like a strange thing to make a ‘must have’ rather than a tie-breaker).

  • 258. mom2  |  October 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Chris, I agree that it is a strange thing to have this be a “must have”. You can see where my 12th grader has their mindset – thinking about the future when they can be an alumni watching the games on TV with fellow alums. Very dumb reason to pick a school. I couldn’t agree more.

    Do you know if any of those larger privates take kids with great GPA’s and EC’s but lower standardized test scores 🙂

  • 259. mom  |  October 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    We are getting inundated daily with mounds of unsolicited mail from all kinds of colleges so I think that aside from the elites, there is a lot to choose from. I am choosing to step away from this madness. I’m sorry, these cost are out of control. I’m not spending my retirement money so my kid can go to football games. A recent brochure from Colorado-Boulder did not have one academic related photo. It was of kids having a good time.

    True about the privates having more money for financial assistance, A milliion years ago, it was much cheaper for me to go to N
    Norhwestern than to my in-state school.

    Are any more Lane trips planned for this years seniors? We are doing a few on our own but will probalby put off college for a year.

  • 260. Chris  |  October 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    “Do you know if any of those larger privates take kids with great GPA’s and EC’s but lower standardized test scores ”

    They certainly do if one of the ECs is ‘starter on the football team’.

    Seriously tho, my experience on that front is dated enough that I hesitate to advise specifically (even tho I went to one of those schools). Might any of them? Yes, of course. Might any one in particular? Depends how great and how low.

    As to “the future when they can be an alumni watching the games on TV with fellow alums”, (1) many of the ‘smaller’ (but not U of Chi small–I mean 1-AA/FCS division teams) schools can still be seen on TV regularly, (2) there’s something to being part of a smaller club, so long as it still matters on campus, too, and (3) there’s always grad school to use to hook onto a lifetime rooting interest.

  • 261. slangy1971  |  October 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve been visiting campuses with Lane students for years and most kids walk away preferring the smaller, private schools to the big football schools. Lane kids think they need a big school but many are at small schools, doing well, getting a free or close to free education and having a ball. Tell your student to have an open mind or he/she may not be able to go to school at all. Sure, big public states are fun and have their benefits. I went to one and loved it. But the money is rarely there, which means kids need to be flexible.

  • 262. slangy1971  |  October 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    We are leaving tomorrow morning with 35 seniors to visit Knox, Mizzou, Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University. Next trip with most likely be to North Carolina in the spring but this trip is for juniors only.

  • 263. slangy1971  |  October 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Look into test score optional schools (there’s a list online) – like Knox, Lawrence, Denison, etc. They are great places.

  • 264. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    258. mom2 | October 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Schools That Do Not Use SAT or ACT Scores

  • 265. mom2  |  October 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks everyone.

  • 266. mom2  |  October 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    slangy1971 – can you mention a few schools that seem to offer good financial aid or scholarships to Lane students – even those with 3.7-3.9 gpa and 22-24 ACT scores?

  • 267. local  |  October 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Was on the verge of being completely overwhelmed by the college search (our first) until the Child announced niche-specific career goal. Thank god. Now, at least, we can narrow the list by schools with undergrad programs in the chosen field accredited by the profession’s accrediting agency. At least it’s a manageable pool once we add the kid’s geographical (urban area) and other preferences and needs. Still I have no idea how we’re going to send the kid on three major college-visit trips (DC/NY/Boston , Minneapolis & SF). Talking to college kids about their college search processes, I’m becoming a believer of in-person visit.

  • 268. HS Mom  |  October 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    @267 – We have a couple west coast schools and can’t really afford to travel unless we know A) that he can get in B) that the price is affordable. We have contacted the Illinois rep for those schools and have had meetings here in Chicago. We will travel (and they may even pay for it) once A and B have been determined.

  • 269. slangy1971  |  October 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Most money from schools is either for grades or for need. Because I don;t know your level of need, I can’t say for sure. That being said – your student should check out Bradley, Carthage, Cornell College in Iowa, Loras College in Iowa, and maybe Augustana College. The test scores might hurt your student that’s why you should also look into test score optional schools. They look at the total package. Also – for some schools race does play a factor. Schools looking to diversify sometimes offer money, in-state tuition prices, etc. Good luck!

  • 270. local  |  October 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Too bad we don’t still get travel for professional conferences at the job. If I did, I’d be very “creative” in choosing which conference to attend over the next two years. Would pull the kid out to tag along.

  • 271. local  |  October 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    @ 270. slangy1971 | October 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Your reply wasn’t intended for me, but we’ve learned the Child’s targeted accredited degree is offered at Carthage, Loras and Augustana on that list. At least those are within driving distance to visit.

  • 272. HS Mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    CPS Parent (or anyone else) please comment, if you can, about Common App prep class. Insights on a class that costs over $3,000 just for the Common App? If necessary, at what level – top 10 or 25 schools? Any benefit to the student just using their own knowledge/resources in school etc and getting the application in early? Gotta say that I’m genuinely perplexed about this process. We have 1 school that may be a potential fit at the top end but come on, now it’s prep class for the application!!!

  • 273. Sarah  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    A class for Common App? It’s the easiest thing around. No class needed. What’s your question? Maybe this blog can help!

  • 274. HS Mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Sheesh I thought so too. Now there’s a Common Application Boot Camp Chicago “designed to lead your college-bound students through the Common Application process, helping them cross their final paperwork hurdles and gain attendance to the best college for which your school has prepared them.”

    Too much…..just wondering if this is the latest thing that everyone who wants to get into “selective” colleges is doing. Or does the old fashioned way of agonizing over a well thought out idea list developing your own creative essays by collaborating with teachers, parents and Aunt Judith the grammar expert still hold water.

  • 275. slangy1971  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    A class on how to write essays and how to select colleges is one thing, but the Common App is easy and I can’t imagine what this class would be like. If you find out, let me know.

  • 276. HS Mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Here’s the link – I was hesitant to post because I didn’t want to promote this idea

  • 277. slangy1971  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Most Independent Education Consultants charge this much for 10 – 15 personal visits. Seems way too high. Having someone help with essays though, is key. Check out the book Admission Matters instead.

  • 278. HS Mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Slangy – thank you!

  • 279. local  |  October 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Oh, brother. That Common App bootcamp includes THIS kind of copy: “…helping them cross their final paperwork hurdles and gain attendance to the best college for which your school has prepared them.”

    You don’t CROSS hurdles, you CLEAR them. You don’t gain ATTENDANCE TO the best college, you gain ADMISSION to it. And, …for which YOUR SCHOOL has prepared them? Where’s the student’s OWN agency?

    Shoo. Buyer beware, eh?

  • 280. cpsobsessed  |  October 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    It’s parents being able to buy peace of mind that they did all they can do to facilitate acceptance. For some people it’s worth it, for others, BS.

    I read that “college superstar” book this summer that someone recommended and it was very enlightening. Maybe an app class will help eliminate your chances of screwing up, but I don’t think it can get you into the “stretch school” or whatever the term is for the schools where you’re a long shot on grades/scores.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 281. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 17, 2013 at 12:08 am

    272. HS Mom | October 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I wouldn’t buy into this~schools help kids w/the common app but I have to say (as not the brightest person on this board)~I’ve figured out the common app and it’s easy~I can’t believe there is a class for it~I think it would probably be geared toward parents who aren’t ‘school obsessed’. There is no way that using common app which most colleges are using will gain acceptance into a highly selective university. I’m offended that they would think parents would buy into that. But it was good for a chuckle!

  • 282. HS Mom  |  October 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

    @279 – Ha! Good point. You should seriously consider reviewing essays (for a fee of course, something shy of $3,500). Let us know.

    @280 – I get that. Believe you me, I will sleep fine at night with my own $50 method for peace of mind. It’s called applying early to “gain admission” at a school that the student clearly qualifies for, is a sure thing and high on the wish list. Everyone should have 1 or 2 of those schools.

    I wonder if any parents here who got their kids into Yale or other such schools based upon their stellar academic records would disclose whether they felt they needed something like this to “seal the deal”.

  • 283. slangy1971  |  October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I totally support the use of college consultants, but the process needs to start no later than junior year and a relationship needs to be built. You will most likely get that $3,500 back if a qualified consultant finds schools that are a good fit and excellent with aid.

  • 284. momof3boys  |  October 17, 2013 at 11:30 am

    i agree. those companies are there to make money. kind of like sports camps. you dont really learn anything new or something spectacular you could find out on your own. i’d spend the $3500 on something else. seriously, so you get your kid into an ivy or other highly selective university, how about the money $? unless you are totally poor or make under their threshold, you are going to be paying a mortgage and then some, or your kid is going to owe >$200,000 for a degree that may not even guarantee a job.

  • 285. cpsobsessed  |  October 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I have a friend whose son (Evanston school system) just got an offer from MIT on a football scholarship. I asked if they used any paid services for the application and he said no, his son was adamant that they didn’t.

    Although I suppose if your child is more in the gray area of admission (this kid is a stand-out) you may need more help to fine tune the application.

    I’ve told stories about my old boss (quintessential baby boomer, on the leading edge of helicopter parents.) Both got into Ive Leagues (her dream) and I’m sure she felt confident that her work on the essays and applications would be way better than what anyone could pay for.

    But I can see a lack of confidence on the part of parents. I don’t feel a sense of what they’re looking for or what makes one better or not. I think the issue is that we all think we need to say the same things about leadership, challenges, obstacles, passion. But what really makes one stand out from all the others that do that is the je ne sais quoi” of an applicant. Which makes total sense.

  • 286. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 19, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Has anyone started ACT test prep? If so, what company/place are you using.

  • 287. Sarah  |  October 19, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Dan McDonnell – ACT Guru is worth talking to.

  • 288. HS Mom  |  November 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Can anyone tell me if there is a place to go online that will list information about various colleges enrollment rates. Specifically, % of students admitted under early action and regular admissions and then the number of applicants in the pool.

    Thanks! We are in the heat of the process and finding it difficult to wade through the individual school websites for specific info.

  • 289. also looking at colleges  |  November 20, 2013 at 10:09 am

    The College Board website has information regarding early action and early decision acceptances but it looks like not all colleges report this information (Knox College has this information, but not Northwestern). If you look up a college, it is under the “applying” tab.

  • 290. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Thank you 289. Yes, lots of useful info on College Board website.

    How are things going for folks? Tomorrow is a big deadline for many early action applications. The Common App is having some technical difficulties so many schools have extended deadlines.

    We decided on 8 schools (4 large universities and 4 small colleges), have finished most of the applications and have 2 decisions so far (both positive!). Not sure if he wants big or small and will investigate with visit/shadow day once we narrow down. I know of someone applying to only 1 school with a back up plan for 2 others and another applying to 10 schools.

    Interesting article on the process. We have found it to be quite involved working on this as a family. Every school has different requirements and it’s important to read the application instructions for each college online. Some of these instructions are not crystal clear. Some have an easier online, fill in the info and hit enter. Some have application with supplements and interviews. Not at all that easy to navigate on your own.

    If you know someone floundering, reach out and help.

    “Even application fees can be financially taxing. And the process gets even harder if there’s no computer at home.

    Many low-income students would be the first in their family to go to college. If their parents haven’t gone through the application process, there may be no one at home to help guide them.

    Then there’s the big decision: Where to apply?”

  • 291. IB obsessed  |  November 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Best Wishes, HS Mom! How much/what kind of college ap help does your HS provide.?

  • 292. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    We’re preparing already – a year or so ahead. I thought the list was going to be short, but its grown quite long at this point. More research will help shorten it. That, and test scores and GPA when they’re known near application time. The search has taken A LOT of time already. My time.

    Question: How much are parents helping by doing initial research on schools, scholarships, recommended/required high school subjects, other admission requirements, test prep, financial aid, etc.? It’s really a massive undertaking.

    Thank god my HS kid at least has a specific major and is seeking a specific type of accredited program. Plus, some screening factors decided: no rural, heavy Greek or sports, or highly selective schools.

  • 293. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    @291 Thank you!

    We do get a lot of help and some guidance on where to apply. Much assistance is given directly to the student. The flip side of that is depending on the kid, that information may or may not be implemented or interpreted correctly. The process is very confusing.

    For example, we have a friend who filled out the common app, which requires an essay and sent it out to 6 different schools thinking that they’re done. Some schools require a supplement with more essays. They started getting e-mails from some colleges thanking them for the application and letting them know that it’s not complete without the supplement. The family thought the supplement was some information the school was supposed to provide. In the meantime, they miss the early application deadline and in the case where a school will cover the money need those deadlines can coincide.

    Also, a student may not discover that they are applying to the right schools until they start getting rejections.

    Another tip, these presentations that the colleges make, usually at hotels in the suburbs, are very good to get specific information. Not only does it get you on their radar, but we would never have known about early deadlines for certain scholarships.

    Bottom line, I can completely see how kids are having difficulty as the article discusses.

  • 294. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    290. HS Mom | November 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Congrats! I think 8 schools is a good number. I also feel the ap fee is a killer! Unfortunately, my child wants to apply to 1 university and have a few back up. I was told 6 should be the least one applies to~2 reach, 2 sures, 2 back ups…I think we’ll probably go with 8.

    292. Sped Mom | November 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Initially, I’ve put a lot of work into research the best colleges for my child’s field~We’ve gone to colleges, attended many college days at schools/hotels. I’ve talked to many admission counselors who were so generous w/their time and thoughts. This summer we will investigate a few more universities. But ultimately scholarships and $$ will play a role in where my child attends.

  • 295. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    @292 that is so smart. Ideally, you need to start early. With kids really having their plate full with school, homework etc I think parents may initially have to do some or much of the leg work.

    If you have a handle on how they test and what the GPA looks like start by looking at school rankings, their requirements and what they are about. Then you need to apply your own filters (otherwise go crazy) – geographic area, religious (or not), large/small, special needs (some schools have programs specifically for ADHD, LD, AD as opposed to just honoring an IEP or 504) or other student supports/services that you deem important. I think it’s difficult to filter by cost because there are so many factors that go into the price.

  • 296. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    You know how JAMA started requiring standardized formatting for content in journal articles, what?, a decade ago? Colleges need to have an online area where they list – in a standardized manner – all this admissions-related stuff, including freshman scholarship info. I guess something like Fiske’s guide already provides that, but I think it should be the school’s responsibility to make it public and user-friendly – and standard. Outside the standardized section, they could place all the flash and dango webpages. But, do you know how difficulty it is just to find specifically what HS subjects are required or recommended to freshman applicants for each college??!! Unfortunately, foreign language (3 to 4 years of same lang) seems to be quite popular. Groan. FL is last on the list of what my kid needs to learn now, given limited time in HS.

  • 297. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    295. HS Mom | November 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    We’ll just filter for cost last. But, yes, it’s layers and layers and layers of research…

    – Percent reside on campus v. commuter
    – LD supports (program or services) (effective or not) (profs in dept LD-supportive or not)
    – access to international airport
    – percent grads’ matriculation into masters program for field
    – work-study rules

    If you can send a man to the moon, could there not be some uber-filter/search engine for this process??? Colleges would have to standardize their info, and they might not like it.

    The kid knows I’m fixing to transfer this work off my hands (winter break is coming up!).

    Apparently there’s an alternative to the Common App emerging, and it’s getting great reviews for ease of use: the UCA.

  • 298. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Also, I’ve decided the kid will pay the app fees. Start saving, honey.

  • 299. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Sped mom – Agreed!! Some of these websites are really difficult to navigate. Does this say something about the school? Some separate the requirements by major or after following various nondescript links. With the enormous amounts of information and numbers of schools out there, no quick way to locate the vitals.

    The school fairs are helpful but mostly Q&A. Some of the reps get miffed if you ask questions about the school without having researched it.

    Great list of filters.

    One tool we found helpful is the scatter-grams on naviance. They show you by GPA and ACT the acceptances/rejections of the applicants from your school. One thing that was intimidating about some of these school tours is that they tended to dwell on how they only take the best and top % of the class rank etc. The scatter-grams help cut through all that with more realistic view based upon your scores and the HS you attend.

    Interesting about Common App – definitely a problem this year.

  • 300. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    One more thing Sped mom, on the foreign language thing – we have the same issue. It usually means that your child will need to take a year of language in college if he/she only has 2 years in HS. It is not a dis-qualifier so no need to filter for language requirement.

  • 301. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    297. Sped Mom | November 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for that link re: UCA. That’s interesting.

    You’re right, it is layer upon layer re: research. I just started with the field my child will enter and also to make sure that my child is accepted into the school of field as a freshman as opposed to a junior. I don’t want to find out 2 years later, my kid is SOL. My child is def going out east, so it’s not abt commute vs dorm…but we still have to see what college is giving the most bang for our buck. As HS Mom wrote, I really think the scattergram of how your child’s classmates stack up with the universities applied to is a great help.

  • 302. anonymouse teacher  |  November 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I wasn’t aware that colleges provided LD or any kind of special needs support. Can someone say more about that? Do students pay more for that or is it included?

  • 303. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    @302 yes some schools have a specific program, some charge and some provide for the need. University of Arizona SALT program, University of Denver, University of Connecticut, Southern Illinois Carbondale, University of Iowa, lots of regional colleges with LD programs, several colleges offer a “TRIO” program for disadvantaged and first generation college students, 2 colleges offer 1 class at a time scheduling, there are a host of “colleges that change lives” that offer a one on one experience. Several schools offer tutoring if that alone is a factor.

    So, when a high school will not extend services over the bare minimum in order to get a kid “college ready”, that’s a crock. Colleges are more than happy to work with kids and their special needs. More and more every year.

  • 304. HS Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    To add, finding information on these programs is difficult often buried in their websites. Best to talk to reps directly about the need.

  • 305. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    302. anonymouse teacher | November 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    This biggie is this: grade/high school operate with ADA and IDEA. Colleges operate ONLY under ADA. So there is no “IEP” in college. Rather, the colleges are supposed to “level the playing field” with needed but reasonable accommodations. This seems to be the main professional organization regarding SWD in college: Also, in college, the SWD must, must, must self-advocate. Each semester. No one will do it for him. Often, the student did not prepare himself to handle this, and fails. HS, it ain’t.

  • 306. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    “Do students pay more for that or is it included?”

    Sometimes there’s a separate program and it does cost more. But, it seems most colleges has an office for services for SWD, which is included in tuition/fees. If the student who presents himself is deemed eligible (documentation needed) for services, the office would provide the accommodations letter to the student to pass to each instructor, and would help the student find all the on-campus support offerings, like an LD writing tutor in a writing center.

  • 307. Sped Mom  |  November 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    “I just started with the field my child will enter and also to make sure that my child is accepted into the school of field as a freshman as opposed to a junior. I don’t want to find out 2 years later, my kid is SOL.”

    Ha! This was the freak-out at dinner tonight. 🙂

    The “university college” model runs students through gen eds for the first two years, then makes them apply for the major as rising juniors. I was worrying that we’ll have to have a plan B and plan C for majors at schools with these models. I’m even looking up the criteria and even the applications for declaring a major to see how high the kid will have to jump. How many applicants to the major get denied? I would understand if it were a BFA program, but, really, — taking such a huge risk just for a BA?!

    I really wish these schools started the student in the major as freshmen. Usually, even if a student switches majors down the line, they can squeeze a new major into two years and change. I’d rather see the kid on-task for four years in a major than for two years (our high schooler is aiming for four years at the same school, not junior college followed by junior and senior year at a four-year school).

  • 308. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 1, 2013 at 12:49 am

    307. Sped Mom | November 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    We are only looking at universities that accept them in their field as a freshman. I know 2 kids that weren’t accepted as juniors in their career choice ~one left the school and one changed her major. Either way, it wouldn’t be ideal for my child.

  • 309. cpsobsessed  |  December 1, 2013 at 10:39 am

    It is still so difficult for me to imagine an 18yo selecting they’re major (and corresponding career path) given the young age!
    On the other hand, I saw a lot of people at my college get turned away from the business major option that started junior year and they were stuck with a much less desirable set of options at that point.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 310. HS Mom  |  December 1, 2013 at 11:29 am

    @sox – very understandable. What majors/careers are kids choosing freshman year? My son is very undecided but leaning towards English/writing because not only is it his strength but also a path that can lead to a lot of different careers. His first choice school is small and encouraging flexibility with major because there are so many different directions the kids go in. His next choice is a large university known for writing.

    CPSO – good point. That was kind of a turn off about U of I. The advantages of a large school is that there are so many choices and numerous classes to take. Yet, transferring into business is very difficult. Starting out in business doesn’t guarantee your desired field either (eg accounting) because they determine based upon your strengths/performance what your options are.

  • 311. pantherparent  |  December 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I’ve been telling my son, a junior at a selective enrollment high school, that the best undergrad college he can go to is the one that’s free. And I believe that. Graduate school is where the focus should be when looking to your professional future.

  • 312. HS Mom  |  December 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    311 – good, I mean great, point. We have a friend now applying from a SEHS who is a math whiz. On the math team, loves it, excels at it and looking to be a math major. They are evaluating the math programs at various large and small colleges of which he will likely have his pick. Cost will ultimately be a factor – is it worth an extra $X to go to the #10 ranked school vs. 25 vs 50 with the possibility of even the top school as the best bargain. Then even with the best of intentions getting an advanced degree, can the bachelors degree stand alone if they decide not to pursue or put off further education.

    This kid is really driven with regards to Math. Wondering if most kids electing career paths early are driven like this or is it about selecting a major that has security and viewed as marketable.

    There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about this

    “The result is that parents guiding their children through the college-application process—and college itself—have to be something like venture capitalists. They have to think through the potential returns from different paths, and pick the one that has the best chance of paying off.”

  • 313. HS Mom  |  December 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    to further quote

    “Another important caveat that doesn’t get discussed much: It may be worse to have the wrong career focus in college than having no career focus—because skills for one career often can’t be used elsewhere.”

  • 314. local  |  December 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    @ 312. HS Mom | December 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Interesting article, and while it raises great questions, the solutions are a bit dated. Grad rates and placement rates don’t tell a lot, but they can help you form good questions for a school or program. Colleges stink at tracking students’ post-graduate status. There’s no such thing as “placement” – the job search is on the student.

    IMHO, it’s best for most students to be both broad and niche in their studies. A third of courses are likely to be liberal education requirements, about a third in a major (which includes both broad and narrow), and the final third could be in an array of exploratory courses or could be formed into a minor (or even a second major).

    There are a lot of basic skills in marketing and management all students need to prepare for emerging career paths. Add to that media/tech skills, those liberal education courses, and internship early and often, and I’d expect most students to find good work. Of course, some will go to grad school.

    What I’m more worried about is the job market – will there be ENOUGH full-time, paid jobs out there for the number of college grads the country is producing. Maybe we’re heading for an oversupply of graduates?

  • 316. HS Mom  |  December 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    @315 WOW! Just went to their website. With some earlier prep for this schools requirements and some insight on their CPS program, who knows….

    from the ACT website

    “IOWA CITY, Iowa—Only about a third of ACT®-tested high school graduates selected a college major that is a good fit with their interests, according to a new research report from ACT titled College Choice Report Part 1: Preferences and Prospects….Although the majority of ACT-tested graduates selected a major that was at least a moderate fit with their interests, only 36 percent selected one that was a good fit, while nearly as many—32 percent—selected a major that was a poor fit with their interests.”

    @314 – while the placement rate alone may not be the best indicator of success as it combines students going into the workforce with those going on to grad school, some of these colleges kick butt at getting students jobs and counseling students with regard to their interests and aptitudes. Some named companies, positions and number of students hired from their school. Many are now suggesting that you come in undeclared so they can help you figure out the best option. I would wager that if students chose majors more wisely, the drop out rate would be lower too. It can be an advantage to study in a field that you like and you’re good at it even if it’s not traditionally perceived as a “the good high paying” field.

  • 317. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I’m probably late in this shocking discovery – I didn’t realize that U of I’s tuition alone is $20K a year! I just was discussing it with someone and I was insisting that $20K covered everything for the year while they insisted it was tuition alone. Yikes, that is just unfathomable to me. Does a U of I education get you that much more in value than say, Northern, which looks to be maybe $8-$10K per year? (I assume like anything else it is about major…)

  • 318. slangy1971  |  December 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    U of I is close to 33K a year. NIU is probably 23K. I would say the ranking of U of I (top 50 public univeristy) counts for something.

  • 319. HS Mom  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    @317 CPSO – the problem with U of I is twofold. Cost and getting in. They offer very few scholarships. Not to take away from NIU or the other Illinois state colleges, but the gap in ranking and presumably the value is very large sending Illinois kids to other states who for a little more (or even less with the scholarships they offer) can get into top schools in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. University of Michigan, for example, will meet the entire need of any in state student they accept (that’s huge) and the back-up plan is Michigan State another well regarded school. In Illinois, the schools are either way up top or towards the bottom, not a lot in the middle. Even the prepaid college plan costs more for U of I so why bother.

  • 320. slangy1971  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Schools that come in below or about the same price as U of I: Mizzou (my alma mater), Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, MSU. Indiana is close to 45k for out-of-state and Michigan is nearing 50k. Ugh.

  • 321. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Yeah, seemedd like madison is $26 for out of state so not much more. I don’t know how I underestimated it so much. I won’t start on the “back in my day” but it’s hard not to! I wonder if there is a higher education bubble like there was a housing bubble when house prices were way out of line with salaries.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 322. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    The problem with University of Michigan is it is harder to get into than U of I~ depending on major. UIUC is running between $29,594 – 34,514 depending on major for instate students. The low end is also for kids that came into the school in 2012, there has since been an increase for kids coming in after that year.

  • 323. slangy1971  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    UW Madison with room and board is close to 36k out of state.

  • 324. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I believe madison is also very difficult to get into.

    My son (who has never expressed much thought about the future) has said recently he’d like to be a lawyer (would be perfect for his nature.). Anyhow, anyone you ask in the profession says “don’t let him!”. Not like it matters yet, he’s only 10. But it’s depressing to think that a once desirable profession that almost guaranteed you a good job now leaves you with (what people tell me) is huge debt and minimal job opportunities. Well, I guess there will always be criminals. Especially if Illinois continues to under-fund education. I’m only half-kidding, sadly.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 325. HS Mom  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Seems like many of them do compete for the same students so there is some kind of ceiling to the madness. Iowa has lower tuition in general so they get a lot of kids from the suburbs who could not get into U of I but are able to pay. Mizzou used to offer in state rates to mid-westerners. Now that they are so popular, that’s out. Michigan has always had a reputation of being top dollar they now offer in-state rate depending on ACT score and they now look at the weighted GPA.

  • 326. slangy1971  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I can honestly say that the University of Missouri is an underrated affordable research university in an amazing college town. It is also really easy to get into compared to U of I, Wisconsin and Michigan. They also have a good football team and basketball team! Go Tigers!

  • 327. slangy1971  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    i went to Mizzou from 89 – 93 and paid out-of-state tuition. They haven’t done that for awhile. However, if you are a student and you live in Columbia for 12 months straight, make $2000 and you don’t have your parents claim you for for one year on their taxes, you get in-state tuition. Other schools don’t make it that easy. This could save a family close to 40k in college costs. Just saying… Go Tigers!

  • 328. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Univ of california in state tuition is 13,200. Seriously, I object to UofI on principle! But living in CA is so expensive. They list room and board at 13k per year. As someone here once said, that’s a lot of $ to spend for the first couple years of keggers etc…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 329. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm,34656/

    You may have seen this Onion piece already…

    “My God, they’ll be lucky if they’re able to pay this off while they’re still in their 70s,” said the 23-year-old film studies major and unpaid intern, noting the minimum monthly payments his father and mother will need to make just to keep their heads above water.

  • 330. Even One More CPS Mom  |  December 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    @321….higher education bubble…..I like the sound of that. Gives me hope for my children’s educational future…….meaning they might actually have one! Ugh. It’s all so crazy.

  • 331. lane mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Is U of I required to take in a certain number of in-state students? Do you think they care at all about the fact that the best students in the state go elsewhere because it ends up less expensive due to scholarship offers and their much less expensive housing and equal tuition despite being the out of state rate? Is U of I really worth about $40,000 more over four years than NIU? I know someone said ranking was worth “something” but is it really worth that much? I think being an Illinois resident is just horrible and it doesn’t seem like anyone who can do something about this cares at all. In state tuition at nearby flagship schools are nearly half the price of UIUC. Wish we could move!

  • 332. PatientCPSMom  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    @329 Call me old fashioned (definitely I’m old) but the fact this young man in the clip does not once take ownership of what is his debt is outrageous. I would have been encouraged if the young man had said he was working two jobs to help pay his parents back but he did not. He didn’t say he’s washing dishes, he’s working at McD’s, he’s started a gardening business, he’s working construction – no he just wants people to feel sorry for the poor judgment his parents showed by helping him out. Parents who sacrifice their future retirement savings for their children’s “higher” education should seriously rethink this strategy.

  • 333. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    @PatientCPSMom – it’s the Onion 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 335. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

    @lane mom, I believe a few years ago UofI wanted to increase the % of out of state students. I think they are lower than some surrounding states in that regard and they wanted the extra $. But I think there was a backlash about it and they didn’t move forward with the plan.
    During that time there was an article about the % out of state for the big midwest state schools. I recall beingsurprised that indiana was reallly high. I’ll see if I can find it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 336. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

    CPSO~just to let you know I have a comment awaiting moderation~ it has 2 links re: IL student flocking to Missouri & IL’s share of students at U of I continues to decline~both good articles.

  • 337. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Thx, saw the note, will approve when I get to work.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 338. neighborhood parent  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:47 am

    there was a trib article (maybe a year ago?) that detailed the expanded enrollment of foreign students at Uof I. I understand global competition, but this is an IL public institution…. student seats are increasingly being taken by non-voting/non-constituents of the public officials that run the school. A better balance/voice is needed to control the value/cost factor.

  • 339. also looking at colleges  |  December 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

    While Mizzou is a good school, I was talking to some people I know from Missouri and they told me that the best public university in Missouri is Truman State University. I looked it up and it is actually a really good school. It is a public liberal arts school, with 5800 students. 25% of the population has ACT scores over 30 and 58% with scores between 24 and 29. Illinois students can go their for less than U of I and they give amazing scholarships – check it out.

  • 340. HS Mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    @331 completely agree. Other states offer really low in state support for their kids. U of Mich the state flagship actually pays for the entire need of Michigan kids at such a prestigious school….incredible. There are no advantages for Illinois kids unless you are looking outside of UIUC.

    335 – looking forward to that article. Have to say that MIZZOU wowed us. U of I on the other hand was a Q&A with the emphasis on how difficult it is to get in. Yes, other states are certainly taking advantage of the U of I scenario. And yes, for 10,000 less we would go elsewhere – and there are some really good options.

  • 341. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    339. also looking at colleges | December 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Our friends’ son is graduating from Truman in 2014. He loves it. But it’s a much smaller school & doesn’t really offer any sciences/tech/engineering. It’s hard to compare Truman w/Mizzou~both wonderful schools~both very different.

    340. HS Mom | December 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    The article has been approved~it’s #334.

    I love Mizzou 2.

  • 342. NorthCenter Mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Is distance a factor to anyone here?

    Mizzou is a 6 hour drive. That seems reasonable.

    Less than University of Minnesota

    But more than University of Michigan

  • 343. lane mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I am really hoping Mizzou will still be affordable like it was for all those students that used to have the midwest student exchange as an option for lower tuition. We like it, too. It sounds great, but if the tuition goes up much, then we are still only left with places like NIU or ISU and that stinks when you have kids that could easily get into higher ranked places but you just can’t afford it – especially UIUC that SHOULD be there for the better Illinois students!

    I hope they never change their residency rules at Mizzou. That will help if I can talk my kid into staying there over the summer and working and if jobs are easy enough to get during that time.

  • 344. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    The University of Chicagoland — at Missouri
    In an academic border war, Mizzou is luring ‘highly talented’ Illinois students.

  • 345. lane mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Love the article. Just FYI, there used to be an option for kids from Illinois to get much lower tuition by being in the midwest student exchange program. However, starting this next Freshman year, Mizzou stopped participating! I was really counting on that. I guess they feel they got the Illinois students without it, but that could change. Iowa State is looking the strongest this year.

  • 346. Gobemouche  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Just to be clear, when you all say U of I, you mean at Urbana Champaign, right?

    What are your thoughts on the other campuses? UIC? Springfield?

  • 347. lane mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Mid kid doesn’t want to stay in the city, so UIC is out. Otherwise, I’ve heard good things about it but it is still quite pricey and more of a commuter feel. I don’t know much about U of I Springfield except that our family felt almost uncomfortable in Springfield during a recent visit – not great neighborhoods, oddly empty for a state capitol. Great Lincoln Museum, but that’s about it. UIUC really gets me mad.

  • 348. slangy1971  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    UIC is not a bad school but as far as recognition goes, it doesn’t go beyond Chicago. And yes, many students leave at the end of the day to go live at home. It will not provide the true college experience. The campus is also not very appealing. I have heard similar commuter stories about Springfield.

  • 349. slangy1971  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    @347 – Lane Mom – I teach at Lane. We should talk. I’m in charge of the college tours.

  • 350. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    345. lane mom | December 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    So far, the kids we know going to Iowa State next year are getting fantastic scholarships~I’m really looking into that school as well. So many kids are flocking there~I was quite surprised.

    346. Gobemouche | December 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I really like UIC~a LOT! They have a fantastic pre-med program~ if you start at their school, you are automatically accepted into their med school. You can NOT transfer into the program from UIUC~you must have already attended UIC~we know some1 who wanted to transfer to UIC their 2nd year, but was not allowed into this particular program. I don’t know of any other school that does this, although may other do, I’m just unaware.

  • 351. Gobemouche  |  December 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I am currently a student at UIC as an adult, so it’s difficult for me to evaluate in terms of an outside parent perspective…that’s why I wondered what parents think of it for their kids. I’m in a very small college there (in a class of about 30 people). I’d say about a third of my class seem to live on campus and the rest commute. I will have to ask the campus kids how they feel about living there…if they feel as if they’re having a “real” college experience. FWIW, I did get an “excellence” scholarship for a 4.0 GPA (not sure what the GPA cut off is for that though) worth about 10k for those of you thinking about finances.

    I lived in Springfield for a brief period when I was 20 (a long time ago;) ). Can’t say I recommend the town, but I don’t know anything about the school.

    Thanks for your perspectives.

  • 352. HS Mom  |  December 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    351 – your attending UIC as an older student going back to school is not uncommon but would be at UIUC. Would kids going/living at UIC really know what they are missing elsewhere? Likely, just like yourself, their choice is driven by many other factors – needing to be close to home for work or taking care of family, existing personal relationships, internship possibilities, scholarships, metropolitan location and access to all the city has to offer. Sox – My understanding was that the medical school was exclusively UIC which is why they changed their name from Circle Campus to U of I at Chicago. Either way, UIC has always had a great reputation with marketable students particularly in Chicago – we’re opting for the more traditional experience.

    From the article above

    “Illinois policymakers should pay attention — and work to keep the brightest students from leaving, said Diane Dean, an Illinois State University education professor who studies college student migration…”Other schools cherry-pick — and they are recruiting them with money,” Dean said. “These aren’t just any students who are leaving; these are the highly talented students. We are not talking about 20 people who went to the University of Denver because they loved skiing.”…And when they leave, there’s a good chance they might not come back.”

    Yep, this is exactly where we’re at.

    Sox, thanks for those articles. It seems to me that UIUC is more concerned with maintaining its stellar ranking than making room for smart Illinois kids who don’t quite make the cut-off. They had fewer acceptances than anticipated… kidding, their target group can get into schools like U of C and Northwestern at a lower cost. I guess they need to outsource these students now….jeeze!

  • 353. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I can’t find the article I mentioned, but this says UofI says 75% in state is ideal. 10 years ago it was 90%!

  • 354. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Oops, same article that was posted up above!

  • 355. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:32 am

    353. cpsobsessed | December 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Yes, I read abt 75% being ideal, but now they have dropped to 73%. I feel exactly like HS Mom~”UIUC is more concerned with maintaining its stellar ranking than making room for smart Illinois kids who don’t quite make the cut-off.”

  • 356. mom2  |  December 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Not only does UIUC care more about their ranking, they also seem to only care about money because the only people that can afford to go there are kids from upper income families.

  • 357. CPS Parent  |  December 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

    My kid was one of those who turned down UIUC this year. It was his “safety” school so not surprising to us. Our income is high enough so that we would not have qualified for any financial aid at UIUC but we did receive 40k per year in need based aid from the school he is now attending. Our cost is now 12k per year.

    For many CPS students, schools better than UIUC, are often much cheaper to attend.

  • 358. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

    checking it out

    seems to be a trend with better schools taking larger out of state population

    U of Mich 66% in state
    U of Wisc 66% in state

    I guess someone is giving consideration to all those smart Illinois kids. They both have very small international student population. UIUC ranks as one of the largest international populations

    As an aside, Michigan State the next highly ranked school in Michigan takes 91% in state. I’m sure Illinois State takes a large % of instate…..but Michigan State its not. I think we’re losing something here.

  • 359. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Hm, so UofI is actually aiming for a much higher rate of in state kids (75%) versus WI and MI. So basically a bunch of midwest kids with cross state lines and pay more. Kinda crazy. So does that mean UofI has gotten easier for out of state students to get into?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 360. mom2  |  December 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

    CPS Parent, where does your son go now? A smaller LAC or a large school? I assume he had great test scores. 12k would be outstanding!

  • 361. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    @359 by approximating 100% less 72% instate less 13% foreign is 15% out of state vs the two above at around 30% out of state.

    I would guess that Illinois provides little money incentive to attract top students inside or outside Illinois whereas other schools do. By default, they will get the students who do not qualify for out of state scholarships making their in state price lower. They are missing a ton of students who can get into better out of state schools able to pay the higher rates.

  • 362. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    So IU tuition is half that of UofI. If I’m reading this correctly. Out of state is 3x in state which was the same when I was there. Although back then I think it was $1500/$4500.

    It’s like exponential growth factor hit tuition more so than any other commodity.

  • 363. IBobsessed  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    “It’s like exponential growth factor hit tuition more so than any other commodity.”

    Universities have experienced no market pressure to limit tuition increases. The student loan industry has eagerly provided the financing to cover the tuition inflation. Why shouldn’t they? Many loans are federally guaranteed. It’s a win-win situation for universities and banks. It’s a big bubble that’s going to pop for neither the gov’t nor the students can pay off the loans.

  • 364. mom2  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Why or how can Indiana offer about $10,000 a year in state tuition and Iowa State offer under $8000 a year in state tuition and UIUC be soooo much more for their in state students?

  • 365. mom2  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Oh, and I agree about Michigan – that state has two “go to” schools. It appears that we only have one that people consider good enough. Is that really true? I’ve heard good things about NIU from others, but not much talk on this site.

  • 366. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @362 – Looking at Indiana, they have a link with merit scholarships available to in state and out of state students plus departmental scholarships and they offer links to outside scholarships. Other schools do this too. Illinois does not. They only offer departmental scholarships which tend to be smaller. Also, if you go in undecided (which they say is about 25% of applicants) there are no scholarships. The top student that schools are targeting will likely get lower tuition at Indiana vs. in-state rates at Illinois

  • 367. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Looking just at UofI and IU, IU charges proportionally much more for out of state people so I guess that help covers their in-state tuition? IU is 3x instate, UofI is less than 2x instate. But of course nobody would pay $60k for out of state for Illinois.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 368. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    @367 – I know someone who got in last year, no discounts, for a total of 45. They mentioned that everyone they knew got some sort of discount. That’s pretty much what the kids in the better suburbs are doing. First try to get into UIUC then spending 40-45 at Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, etc. So would it be a fair statement to say that the small number of out-of-staters willing to pay 60 grand at U of I is compensated for by spreading the costs over the large Illinois student population?

  • 369. also looking at colleges  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Indiana also has 2 “go to” schools. Purdue is a state university and offers engineering. A large percent of Chicago suburban kids go there too.

  • 370. HS Mom  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Good point 369 – not only do most states have more than one “go to” university but they really support their own kids by offering very low tuition (comparatively speaking).

  • 371. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Purdue tuition, 10k. Out of state 2.9x that.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 372. CPS Parent  |  December 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    360. mom2 He goes to Yale. 35 ACT, 800’s SAT2’s, 4.0 UWGPA

  • 373. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Interesting article:

    Statistics from The College Board show that in 2010-11, 57% of public 4year college students graduated with debt averaging $23,800~likely the biggest debt college kids will ever take on besides a mortgage~ some student loan servicers may be charging borrowers several kinds of unwarranted fees.

  • 374. local  |  December 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    “The campus is also not very appealing. I have heard similar commuter stories about Springfield.”

    We were just checking out U of I-Springfield, thinking…state capital, state school, must be OK (it has the BA program our high-schooler is seeking). Just scratched it off the list last week after chatting to a Springfield native (who’s parent teaches at that university) who confirmed that Springfield is heavy commuter with a fairly dead campus.

  • 375. local  |  December 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm


  • 376. local  |  December 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    @ 343. NorthCenter Mom | December 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Yes, distance is a factor in our search. But in an odd way. Syracuse is too far, but Boston and DC are fine. It’s not so much the miles as the transportation options. A major airport in a major city helps. Minneapolis is fine, but Quad Cities are too far.

  • 377. local  |  December 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I don’t know what to think of this. Some private colleges are now offering a LESS enticing financial aid package to students they feel confident will attend if given an offer. So, the student gets “punished” if they’re “burning” to attend the school and share that info. The more generous financial aid packages are then offered to the “hard to get” students who seems less likely to attend. I understand the strategy, but it feels so wrong!

  • 378. karet  |  December 8, 2013 at 12:52 am

    I am confused by the tuition rates at various colleges that have been mentioned. According to this page, the (resident) tuition at U of I appears to be $11,834 (some programs are more — business and engineering, for example):

    Are you all including “fees” in the figures that you are citing? Is that where the $20,000 number comes from? (Do people typically mean “tuition and fees” when they say “tuition”?)

    If you include both tuition and fees, it looks like the range at U of I is from $15,000 to $20,000. If you don’t include fees, it’s about $12,000 to $17,000.

  • 379. cpsobsessed  |  December 8, 2013 at 3:30 am

    This is the link I’ve been looking at which has tuition and fees going forward as $20K. Total yearly costs of $30-34K.

    It varies a few thousand by major with these being the most expensive if you look at the 3rd line on your link: Chem/Life Science/Business/ Engineering

  • 380. cpsobsessed  |  December 8, 2013 at 3:36 am

    I do find this situation with the state schools pretty depressing. It does appear that living in IL we have a less than ideal situation.

    According to this ranking (and we all know that ranking are not the be-all end all…but) IL is ranked as the #11 state univ, tied with Madison and UC Santa Barbara (which is the 4th ranked CA school on the list.)

    Does that level of ranking mean much? Does a degree from UofI open more doors for a kid?

  • 381. HS Mom  |  December 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    @380 CPSO – Been scrutinizing these rankings and never thought to filter by national university….thanks….and the college board info in 289….you really do pick up a lot of information here.

    I think colleges can be compared to the CPS HS situation. Like the selective high schools, the selective colleges and universities are a target rich environment for fortune 500 companies, prestigious grad schools and certain higher level careers. It always matters in a job interview which U of I you went to. Some colleges, like some HS’s may be lower ranking but be a “go to” for certain specialties/careers. Other regular colleges like neighborhood schools require the student to be at the top to be able to move into a promising career.

    Whether it’s worth it money wise is all an individual issue. My sister in law who went to Brown never did get a job out of college and when she was ready she wasn’t particularly marketable. Very intelligent and content to stay at home. Another friend who started out in community college while working answering phones got hooked up with a brokerage firm and eventually worked up into sales. They paid for classes and she finished up at DePaul doing quite well.

  • 382. HS Mom  |  December 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    to add. I guess as a parent at this point, it’s like sending your kids to test prep classes etc. You want to make sure that you’ve done everything in your power on your end to get them on their way. Money and scholarships getting the best buy for the $ (especially with multiple kids) will all impact what kind of power parents do have.

  • 383. karet  |  December 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    @379, Thanks. It’s so confusing because different schools list different things as being included in “tuition” or “tuition and fees”. Is this the page you used to get the $13,200 figure for U of California in state tuition?:

    They have health insurance and transportation listed as separate fees (not part of “tuition and fees”), whereas it looks like U of I does include them. So if you add them to U of California, their cost is actually $16,900 (a little more than U of I for most programs).

  • 384. HS Mom  |  December 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    @383 U of I does not include transportation in tuition and fees, it is also listed separately. I know that colleges require insurance. Is this cost usually included in with the fees or is this an extra if you don’t provide your own?

    Also, for anyone with experience, is it more cost effective to buy insurance through the college (can you even do that?)?

  • 385. karet  |  December 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    @385, It’s so hard to tell what is included in the fees!
    Here is a list of fees at U of I– I assumed these were all included under “Tuition and Fees” but perhaps they are not (scroll down to fees and assessments):

  • 386. Curious  |  December 8, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Question for you all: How do know which schools are best for a particular major/career path?

    Of course, I’ve seen US News rankings and such, but how do really know?

    For example, my son says he wants to be a surgeon. How do we determine what the best pre-med program is? Not based on word of mouth or possibly rigged rankings?

  • 387. karet  |  December 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Here’s a nice page that shows tuition for all universities in Illinois.

  • 388. local  |  December 9, 2013 at 12:15 am

    @ 387. Curious | December 8, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Gosh, that’s such a big question. If he knows what surgical specialty he’s most interested in, he should probably work backwards from medical centers that are considered “tops” in that niche around the U.S. Could he start a high school program that’s designed in introduce kids to careers in medicine? Start doing informational interviews with surgeons?

  • 389. local  |  December 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

    @ 385. HS Mom | December 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Lots of college kids keep their family’s medical insurance (what is it, until age 24 now?), if the parent/s have insurance. Otherwise, colleges do connect students to med insurance. Ask in a college health center or dean of students office.

  • 390. CPS Parent  |  December 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    384. HS Mom The cost is about the same for college medical plans or your own insurance – that is of course if you buy your own and it is not an employee benefit. We buy our own and the college plan deductible is much less but the various benefits/restrictions/limits on the college plan were worse than our own. The Affordable Care Act will probably equalize the plans to a larger degree except for the deductible where ours will still be higher – $6,000 pp/yr. vs. $500 pp/yr.

  • 391. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    A friend of mine who is in college search mode with a high achieving kid says that that type of kid can receive good financial aid from southern state schools who appear to be eager to get the high scorers. It sounds like his son could get a very generous package at univ of alabama.
    Never thought about regional things like that.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 392. slangy1971  |  December 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I’ve heard good things about University of Georgia. University of Kansas also gives money for good grades.

  • 393. mom2  |  December 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Kansas gives money for good grades if and only if you also have good test scores, too. It is all about the ACT or SAT for most schools. And those schools never even ask about your extra curricular activities, leadership, jobs, etc.

  • 394. Gobemouche  |  December 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    At UIC insurance is automatically included. It’s about $450, but now I can remember if that’s per semester or year. I think semester. If you have your own insurance, you have to fill out a waiver and they reimburse you. You can buy their insurance for spouse and kids. They also have a separate dental plan. I would think any U of I school would be similar.

  • 395. Gobemouche  |  December 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    The ACA made children up to 26 years old able to keep parent insurance.

  • 396. Chris  |  December 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    “For example, my son says he wants to be a surgeon. How do we determine what the best pre-med program is? Not based on word of mouth or possibly rigged rankings?”

    It’s about being somewhere that makes it possible to complete all the pre-med requirements, while getting As, as easily as possible, while still providing a rigorous enough program to do well on the MCATs. THEN, he needs to do well in med school–test scores, research, jobs, etc.

    But, either way, based on recent data from here:

    if he wants to be a surgeon (rather than a *plastic* surgeon, say), and is willing to move wherever for his residency to get there, then he can be a surgeon so long as he gets into and through a US medical school.

  • 397. HS Mom  |  December 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    For all those deciding between colleges – this listing of colleges by ROI

  • 398. cpsobsessed  |  December 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Interesting NYT article about how some small colleges are reducing their “list price” tuition. Turns out very few families actually pay those prices, but a survey said that parents actually prefer that a school have high tuition but offer big financial aid (I guess high sticker price implies high quality.)

    But some schools were seeing reduced applications because the price was scaring parents off. So they’re offering lower list price, but less in financial incentives (with the end result being basically the same.)

  • 399. cpsobsessed  |  December 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    @397, thanks, interesting list. Harvey Mudd College? Am I supposed to have heard of that?

  • 400. cpsobsessed  |  December 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Well, I’m pleased to see that U of I is one of the very few public institutions on that ROI list (coming in at #50, but within roughly the top 10 of public universities.) Actually, I haven’t read what “ROI” refers to here, but I assume it’s something good.. 🙂

  • 401. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    This is the list of ROI universities for 2013~UIUC is not on the top 50…Yes, you would have heard of Harvey Mudd if you child was interested in engineering!

  • 402. cpsobsessed  |  December 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Hm, U of I dropped to #68 in 2013, but it’s ROI went up a lot. It’s a mushy calculation anyhow, depending what your major and career is, I suppose.
    And my son just rejected Engineering without even knowing what it is. Oh well, that should save us around $120 K at least if he doesn’t go to Harvey Mudd.

    I’ve read recently that Engineering is a very good degree to have. I believe the new Yahoo CEO, the blond woman, has an engineering degree.

  • 403. HS Mom  |  December 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    @401 – wow, what a difference a year makes! thanks for that. I suppose in 4 or 5 years when they’re ready to graduate it will all be different anyways……hopefully up, up, up

  • 404. HSObsessed  |  December 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for posting the ROI list, HS Mom. Very interesting to peruse. Fun to play with the columns, to find out which schools are most $$, etc.

    @CPSO – Harvey Mudd is part of that consortium of small colleges outside of LA, which incluces Pitzer, Pomona, etc. All very well regarded.

  • 405. local  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    That’s an odd list. Not sure how meaningful it is. Soooo many variables are not accounted for. It’s a gunky list. But, the questions that are raised for a student seeking a college are good. As an individual, what’s your out-of-pocket investment and what’s your likely return (financially and otherwise)?

  • 406. cpsobsessed  |  January 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    U of I tuition increase is minimal this year (1.7%).
    They list base tuition as going up to $12K a year, which I think we saw doesn’t include some of the key majors.,0,7291460.story

  • 407. Chris  |  January 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    “I believe the new Yahoo CEO, the blond woman, has an engineering degree.”

    Symbolic Systems.

    Basically no “engineering” qua engineering involved (little bit of ‘math for engineers’ possibly involved).

    MS in Comp Sci, too, which is closer but still not ‘engineering’, really.

  • 408. College  |  February 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Interesting article in Forbes: “Don’t Buy the Hype, College Education is Not an Investment:

    I think the point about weak and disengaged students is powerful. Seems like too many college students fall into this category. With college expenses so high, something to think about b4 shelling out lots of $$$$ for college. Here is an except.

    No one receives any payment or premium merely for having finished college. Employers do not reward workers just for having passed enough classes to earn a degree. They reward workers for their productivity. Going to college might increase a person’s productivity, but it’s neither necessary nor sufficient for that.

    Let’s consider three students to make that point.

    Student A was diligent in high school and enrolls in college with an excellent academic foundation. He concentrates on his work and substantially raises his level of knowledge and skill. After graduating, he finds a good job in his major field and continues to advance. For him, college was worthwhile because it helped augment his human capital.

    Student B got through high school with a minimum of effort. He has little interest in or aptitude for academic pursuits, but still he enrolls in a college – many schools will gladly accept weak and disengaged students like him – because he’s heard that getting a degree will boost his earnings. Thanks to grade inflation and the watered-down curriculum, he coasts through college and obtains his degree in some undemanding field.

    After graduating, the best job he can find is working in a game store. He has nothing show for his college years but a piece of paper and lots of debt.

    Student C was a good student in high school, but instead of enrolling in college, she earns several badges and certifications in things she’s interested in, such as computer programming and (her grandmother’s native language) Portuguese. She assembles an online portfolio with those and other material showing what she can do. Shortly after her 20th birthday, she’s offered a job by a Brazilian importer that needed a capable American representative.

    She is doing well without a college degree because she understood that you’re not rewarded for credentials, but for capabilities.

    College used to look like a good “investment” because earning a degree usually entailed at least some serious work and having done it set the individual apart. Having that degree was a competitive advantage in landing a job, but success always depended on personal performance rather than educational pedigree.

    These days, with the labor market saturated with college graduates, the time and money spent on college is often wasted. What young Americans should think is, “How can I raise my value and demonstrate it?” That might best be done in college, like Student A, or it might be done elsewhere, like Student C.

    College itself isn’t an investment, just one way of increasing your value.

    George Leef is Director of Research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. He is a graduate of Carroll University in Wisconsin and Duke University Law School.

  • 409. HS Mom  |  February 10, 2014 at 10:58 am

    @408 – that’s a great article, thanks. Ironic it comes from a magazine that also ranks colleges.

    I totally get the point and see the logic. I don’t view college as an “investment”. I do, however, see the value in college on the resume. Yes, things have changed and the degree no longer promises a “better” life but having had to look for a job myself recently, there are numerous opportunities that say “degree required”. At least, one would conceivably have more options, including jobs/careers that do not require a degree. Many employers may look for both productivity and the degree.

    In many cases it’s difficult to determine at age 17/18 whether they are or will be student A, B or C. My own son is really just blossoming in senior year.

    This article comes at a good time as we are considering our actual costs from various college offers. It makes sense to rule out ridiculous out of state public universities that are more than happy to accept your student and string you along for 4 or likely more years as long as you’re willing to pay big time.

    I’m going to show the article to my son and ask him which student he thinks he is or wants to be. I would go along with his choice.

  • 410. College  |  February 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    So, here is my perspective on a college degree. In a country where H.S. degree unfortunately doesn’t guarantee much in terms of ability to speak, write, do basic math, a college degree signals a hope among employers that these abilities can be assumed for someone with a college degree. Thus even though some may actually acquire great skills in these areas in H.S., the requirement for a college degree is added as a safety net to a job description.

    As a recruiter, I am finding it is not a good safety net anymore. You can coast and do very little and still get a college degree.And some students do just that. Not impressive.

    Thus some companies who do proactive college recruiting, will target the colleges with the higher academic entrance requirements for recruitment, again making assumptions. In that regard, prospective students would be well advised to speak with the college’s placement office and ask about % of students graduating with a position in their field. Really dig in and ask about this. Will tell you 1) the esteem employers hold for the school and 2) supports college provides to students to assist them in being competitive for job market (ask detailed questions about this); some schools are really bad with this and students are basically on their own.

    So many jobs I hire for really don’t require a degree, but it is a requirement.

  • 411. mom2  |  February 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    College – your comments about recruiting and college placement offices have always been the reason why we are considering going into debt to help our child go to a flagship school even if it means going out of state (didn’t get into U of I). Does it make sense to do that vs. NIU, ISU, etc.? In other words, is it worth the extra price?

  • 412. College  |  February 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    411. It is a complicated question. Common sense (which is hard to have when we are so used to giving our kids everything we can) is to send your child to the best school you can afford while maintaining your financial health.

  • 413. mom2  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you, College. For those of you still on this thread, do you consider NIU, ISU, SIU, etc. schools “not the best” in comparison with the surrounding state flagship schools – Indiana, Missouri, Iowa? If the other state schools are better, how much better (if you can say) and why?

  • 414. slangy1971  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Flagship schools are nationally ranked/recognized whereas the other schools are only known to us here in Illinois. Networking and alumni connections are also most likely better coming out of those schools. I would send my children to ANY of those three schools over the more affordable ones here in Illinois. Also – those three schools are also have gorgeous campuses in amazing college towns.

  • 415. College  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve been out of college recruiting for awhile, but among the IL schools you mentioned, I’d put NIU above ISU and SIU for the undegrad business school. Plus proximity to Chicago means more convenient for recruiters to hit. For one of the Fortune 500 companies I worked for, NIU was on our list but not SIU or ISU.

  • 416. mom2  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Are those flagship schools worth spending more than $40,000 more over 4 years vs. NIU?

  • 417. HS Mom  |  February 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Mom2 – Mizzou had the residency feature that you could qualify for after 1 year. I was also very impressed by their placement center that they made a point of bragging about. They provided more information than most about companies and number of students employed which I found helpful. Nice business school.

    As far as the Illinois schools go. Not a bad fall back. Of those you list, look for strong programs in a particular major. This may be an opportunity to get a degree in engineering, sciences, business, pre law that he would not otherwise be able to get into at a more selective college.

    We are still waiting on bottom line price and wonder if some of these large universities may offer some financial aid this year……OK, one can dream.

    Best of luck to you!

  • 418. slangy1971  |  February 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    That’s something only you and your student know. I think visiting all the schools will help too. If your students is going to end up dropping out because he or she is unhappy or not challenged, then I would say it is worth it. Also – I have never been to NIU, and although I know it has some amazing programs, I also hear it is a suitcase school. I wouldn’t want to go there if everyone is coming back to Chicago every weekend. Another thing to consider. I believe both ISU and SIU are more residential campuses where people don’t leave on the weekends.

  • 419. HS Mom  |  February 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    @418 – slangy – It seems that all these colleges have honors programs and courses to fit academically advanced kids. The worry is usually the other way around – going to the selective school and then not being able to cut it, dropping out. You do bring up an interesting thought, if he is unhappy, he can always transfer. May have more opportunities, even UIUC, with good grades (which will presumably be easier to obtain at these 2nd tier colleges).

  • 420. slangy1971  |  February 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    But at the same time, transferring can be emotionally draining as well. It might be harder to transition, make friends, etc.

  • 421. also looking at colleges  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I agree that you should look at various programs within schools. I was an Accounting major 30 years ago at ISU and it was and continues to be an excellent and challenging program. Since we are looking at college for my boys, I have looked at ISU’s business program and I am impressed. Bloomington, IL is the world headquarters of State Farm insurance and there are many opportunities for internships. Also, since ISU’s teacher education program is excellent. I spoke to someone in the School of Education, since one of my boys wants to teach and she told me that one out of every 5 teachers in the State of Illinois went to ISU.

  • 422. mom2  |  February 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Agree that looking at programs would really help. Unfortunately, my child has no idea and is just picking a major since most schools make you do that. I, too, have heard good things about NIU’s business school and ISU for teaching.

  • 423. HS Mom  |  February 11, 2014 at 11:26 am

    agree with everything in 421

    Mom2 – MIZZOU has a “phenominal” major placement service. They encourage you to not select a major until you understand where your strengths are and what you would be good at. A lot of schools do this. So basically you’re back to deciding on the best fit for the budget. I’m sure these schools would allow an overnight, sleep in a dorm and attend classes. May be a good way to figure it out. We have 2 of those scheduled.

  • 424. mom2  |  February 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Thank you HS mom. We were plannning a trip to MIZZOU over spring break. Maybe I’ll check into the sleep in a dorm thing. I appreciate your information.

  • 425. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Just thought this link may be helpful for some parents looking into colleges now for their juniors~it’s called’ A+ Schools for B Students’ (good student with less than stellar test scores or a so-so GPA).

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  • 428. HSObsessed  |  August 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I’m resurrecting this thread to post a link to a site I found that’s really helpful to anyone starting to look into colleges, and importantly: it’s free. It’s College Navigator, maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics. I think it may be part of the Obama administration push to make college costs more transparent. You can sort for colleges and universities by state or zip code, size of enrollment, % acceptance rate, and more.

    Now that I have my kid’s 9th grade Explore test results and am getting a better idea each year of what she may eventually score on the ACT, I spent a few hours last night obsessing on this site to see what the average ACT scores are of accepted students. I like that it shows the total tuition/housing costs for the past year, and also the average grant package per freshman. Many of the private universities are in the range of $60K cost but give an average discount of about $30K, so the final $30K annual cost is only a little higher than a $25K total cost for UI-UC.

  • 429. west hills college coalinga  |  April 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm


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