College Post #2 – Getting into Ivy Leagues (and other selective colleges)

March 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm 232 comments


Here’s the 2nd official college-themed post to discuss admissions to Ivy League and other harder-to-get-into universities.

There are likely some unique considerations for parents in Chicago, given the existence of selective high schools that are filled with the top kids in the entire city.

Will your child be able to stand out and excel among so many smart, talented, and hard working kids?  Is it better to be the big fish in a smaller (read: lower achieving) pond?

Below, I’ve copied the comments from the HS 2014 post.  Apologies if I left anything out.  I didn’t include the references to the comment # since it wouldn’t apply so it may be difficult to follow, but I’m sure you can get the gist.

Feel free to continue the discussion here.

Entry filed under: College!.

CPS PreK Application Time 2014 (for school year 2014/15) STEM in CPS (Guest post by Caroline Pollock Bilicki)

232 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    From KLM;

    All these kinds of organisations (Quest Bride, LEDA, …many others) are designed to give low-income and working-class kids the knowledge they need to apply to selective HSs, colleges, be proactive in researching educational opportunities, become familiar with different achievement tests and help prepare for them, etc.

    I think you seem to think these are limited to under-represented minorities kids, but that’s not true. All the programs I’m aware of (including High Jump) are about socio-economics, not race or ethnicity. White and Asian kids can (and do) participate if they’re from low-income households.

    My (black, Ivy-grad) spouse volunteers for a similar organisation for promising low-income students that tries to get them applying to and getting into selective colleges. Yes, a large number are black and brown (beacuase a large % of low-income people are) but also there are manywhite ones that have familes that arrived as penniless refugees from Bosnia or from families that came from the Ukraine when the kids was 12, with parents unable to speak English, so the family’s low-income, live in a traler park on the wrong side of the tracks in Peoria, etc. One year, one of the participants was a white boy from Deerfield that went to Deerfield HS –his family (single mom rasing 3 kids without much money) was low-income, so he was able to participate –I think he ended up at an Ivy.

    If there’s a kid from a family where a parent’s working 3 jobs to get by, as you suggested, if the family’s low-income (even if they’re white and live in Lincoln Park –and if somebody’s working 3 jobs, I’ll assume the family is struggling), there’s almost certainly a similar program for that kids, maybe even High Jump.

    Go to LEDA’s website, for example. It’s goal is to get more qualified, low-income kids into selective, prestige colleges. Lots of the kids are white.

    Now, many of these (privately funded) programs are designed for/geared towards kids from the most challenging backgrounds, from socially isolated neighborhoods where there’s not as much knowledge about these things, etc., so lots/most (or all, in some cases) of the recruiting takes place in schools/neighborhoods where lots of these kids live, rather than Lincoln Elementary or Edgebrook –no big surprise there. Organisations that are designed to benefit low-income kids tend to work and recruit mostly in low-income communities (where the target demographic is most likely to live), which only seems natural, to me.

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    From Mom2:
    Getting into one of the top SEHS in Chicago has advantages and disadvantages as far as college is concerned. Advantages – bragging rights for the kid and parents, “safer” school, better chance of being friends with other college bound kids, more AP options… Disadvantages – your kid is one of many very bright kids and has less chance of standing out in comparison, more stress in terms of workload and competition, and one thing I find very important – the classes are skewed to be more rigorous/harder and therefore it is much less likely you will end up with a 4.0 unweighted GPA. That is huge. For many colleges, they look at your GPA and would be more impressed with a 4.0 than a 3.5. Outside of Chicago or maybe Illinois universities, the fact that you went to a selective school only counts if you get past the looking at the numbers portion of the college application. You can get a 30-36 on your ACT going to non-sehs or sehs. Not every school “carefully reviews” your application no matter what they may say on their web site.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    From SEES Parent:
    Do you think that schools such as Yale place some value on diversity of background including e.g. excelling in a less privileged high school environment or coming from an obscure state? If so, then coming from such a school or background could provide an advantage, all else equal (if it were somehow possible to measure that).

    I don’t think schools such as Yale have hard quotas for individual high schools, though I also think it is hard to say that they don’t look at performance relative to other applicants from the same or similar high schools at all, unless you are sitting in on the reading sessions and have visibility into the hearts and minds of the readers.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    From JustAnotherConcernedParent:
    We’ll politely disagree. I’ll simply add this: I attended a small rural high school. No AP classes. I, and my two sisters, were accepted to the very elite of the elite universities. In my older sister’s class, another student was also accepted to Princeton among others, and in my younger sister’s class, another student was accepted into Harvard, among others.

    I was accepted to all my choices, and I guess you could say Chicago was my safety school.

    We were all + 1400 SATs.

    I would venture to say that if I had attended Payton, I would not have stood out from say 50 other students.

    I think we can safely say that mathematically, regardless of the absence of quotas, Harvard will not accept 50 students from Payton. I think given that, that the logical deduction is clear.

    One more: one of my college friends is an Assistant Dean of Admissions and they assuredly look to diversify, and while they certainly look to the elite high schools, they will also be much more inclined to offer admission to say, an excellent student at a performing arts high school, or a rural high school in Arkansas than to say the 7th student they would be taking from Payton (provided the above students have similar GPAs and college boards).
    Edit Comment

    393. Sheri | February 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    From: SEESParent
    “the very elite of the elite universities”

    Is that a school like Yale or a school not like Yale?

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm


    Routinely Top 5. And no matter where it falls in some ranking, I consider MIT the best university in the world.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm


    ” East coast prep schools like Exeter and Choate will regularly admit a dozen kids to a single Ivy. Your commonly held assertion that a great student has better odds getting into the top colleges from a “normal” high school is false.”

    True enough for Exeter (and Andover–18 at Harvard and 15 at Yale from the class of ’13!!), but not really true for Choate–over the recent 5 years, the high aggregate of matriculants at an Ivy was 40 (8/yr avg) at Yale, and an avg of 37 each year for all 8 ivies, out of classes of ~220. Not likely a dozen got in to a single ivy, and certainly not ‘regularly’.

    As to the latter, it depends how one defines ‘great student’, and ‘odds’. If we’ve just straight up comparing academic + extra-curricular resumes, a ‘normal’ school kid could well get in to HYP with a resume that would get denied coming from a Andover/Exeter kid. So, it really depends on definitions and perspective.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Did anyone else think the answer was going to be a different (though nearby) school?”

    My experience is that the Cambridge College Crimson folks aren’t that circumspect.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    From CPSParent:

    401. Chris I stand corrected on Choate – you are right. two of my kid’s seven suite-mates are respectively from Andover and Exeter. Both were full scholarship kids from inner city, low income situations. Complete life changer for them. Both have very education focused parents. 45% of Yalies still come from private high schools although the number is dropping albeit slowly.

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    From: Chris
    “45% of Yalies still come from private high schools”

    I think that if you count the overseas students as ‘private’, it’s even a bit higher than that.

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    From: DisneyMagnetParent:
    If you want your kid to be the valedictorian, the odds are a lot better at a neighborhood school than at a SEHS. When most of the kids accepted by a school have been straight-A students who test well, what makes you think your kid is somehow going to emerge triumphant over all of those kids?

    Colleges like to brag about the percentage of students who were valedictorians or in the top 5-10% of their high school class. A brilliant kid who gets great grades at Payton is going to be competing against a hundred other brilliant kids for those top spots in the class. A smart, hard-working kid’s odds of having a lower class rank is way higher at Payton and Northside.

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    From: SEESParent
    “I think that if you count the overseas students as ‘private’, it’s even a bit higher than that.”

    Not possible that a third of intl hs students might have come from public schools

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    From SEES Parent:
    “two of my kid’s seven suite-mates are respectively from Andover and Exeter. Both were full scholarship kids from inner city, low income situations. Complete life changer for them. Both have very education focused parents.”

    Question is how they would have done at a different HS. If they had gone to whichever state it was from which Yale failed to find a student for class of ’17 would have been a lock.

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    From: PantherParent:

    You left out a couple of key components to college admission. Yes a student’s unweighted GPA may be lower at a SEHS but his weighted will get a significant lift.

    And even more importantly, what classes he took are looked at. So five or six AP classes and advanced-level math makes an impression.

    And don’t kid yourself. Admissions offices across the country know Payton, Northside, Young, etc. and will take a look at the application.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    From SEES Parent:
    “Sure, possible. Likely, even. Especially the Canadians. But, for purposes of thinking about the relative chances of CPS kid getting in, they are effectively ‘private’ schools.”

    The stat was given in the context of discussion about relative likelihood of getting into a school like Yale from SEHS versus other CPS HS versus HS in podunk state versus ultra-snooty East Coast HS. To the extent the percent from private versus public stat is informative, wouldn’t you actually want to restrict it to students from US HS?

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    From: Kayem

    “But, for purposes of thinking about the relative chances of CPS kid getting in, they are effectively ‘private’ schools.”

    Plus if a kid is an underrepresented minority, that is a hook that will help in getting admitted that can offset lower test scores and grades. Just as being a top athlete or musician can help with admission.

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    From: Chris

    “what classes he took are looked at. So five or six AP classes and advanced-level math makes an impression.”

    Makes more of an impression when those 5-6 AP classes are all of the AP classes offered by the school, rather than half, and grades from ‘normal’ schools get weighted, too, even if the school doesn’t do it–some schools [eg, NT] have multiple weightings, that most colleges will recalculate.

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    From SLParent:

    Don’t forget that one of the biggest advantages for the private colleges that are being discussed here is to be the child of a legacy (or better yet two legacies)

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    From PanterParent:

    Understood. And this issue is something we talked about as parents. When it comes to college admission, is it better to be one of the smartest kids at the neighborhood high school, or an “average” kid at a SEHS. Rather than try to outsmart the system, we supported the decision of our sons to go SEHS.

    And judging by these scores, an average kid there is pretty damn smart.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    From: Payton
    ” A brilliant kid who gets great grades at Payton is going to be competing against a hundred other brilliant kids for those top spots in the class. A smart, hard-working kid’s odds of having a lower class rank is way higher at Payton and Northside.”

    So much misinformation.

    To start with Payton doesnt record or report class rank, I dont think Northside does either.

    The urban myth that it is somehow easier to get into the Ivies from podunk high school has been refuted by both admissions officers and statistics for years.

    Exhibit A: in Payton’s current senior class (less than 200 students) 11 acceptances to Yale, 7 to Harvard, 64 to the Ivies. Adding in the ivy-peers, MIT Stanford Chicago, it was over 100.

    The very top high schools send the most students to the very top colleges. This shouldnt be surprising.

  • 21. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    From: SEES Parent
    ” A brilliant kid who gets great grades at Payton is going to be competing against a hundred other brilliant kids for those top spots in the class. A smart, hard-working kid’s odds of having a lower class rank is way higher at Payton and Northside.”

    So much misinformation.

    To start with Payton doesnt record or report class rank, I dont think Northside does either.

    The urban myth that it is somehow easier to get into the Ivies from podunk high school has been refuted by both admissions officers and statistics for years.

    Exhibit A: in Payton’s current senior class (less than 200 students) 11 acceptances to Yale, 7 to Harvard, 64 to the Ivies. Adding in the ivy-peers, MIT Stanford Chicago, it was over 100.

    The very top high schools send the most students to the very top colleges. This shouldnt be surprising.

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    From: James

    (Payton) –

    I generally agree with your point, but where are you getting those statistics for this year’s Payton seniors? Decisions aren’t even released for the regular decision cycle for another month. Yet you’re saying there have already been 64 acceptances to the Ivies? Really? Given that, at least as of this point in the admissions cycle, a kid could only have applied to single Ivy, that seems hard, if not impossible, to believe. I doubt 64 seniors even applied early decision or SCEA to the Ivies. After all, this year’s class is only about 180 kids. I’m pretty sure that a third of them have not already been admitted to Ivy League schools.

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    From: JustAnotherConcernedParent

    I’m sorry, I do not believe your numbers in the least. Over the last 6 or 7 years, NCP has consistently sent the most students to the Ivies, Chicago, MIT and Stanford of any of the SEHS. 20 to 25 students each year attend those universities after graduating from NCP.

    Last year, NCP sent 22 students. They led the city in that department.

    You are now claiming that WP exceeded their average by 4x?

    I say, show me the proof.

  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    From: Top1

    “Exhibit A: in Payton’s current senior class (less than 200 students) 11 acceptances to Yale, 7 to Harvard, 64 to the Ivies. Adding in the ivy-peers, MIT Stanford Chicago, it was over 100.”

    Just so people are clear even of that 100 number is correct, it is acceptances not matriculated. So its not like 100 out of 200 are going to top 20 schools. Its provably 30-35 of the brightest applying to multiple schools and getting multiple acceptances.

    And for having the top kids in chicago that number is not that good. Those kids could have gotten accepted no matter what the high school. Highest test takers in, highest test takers out. In fact thw probably are in a lower percentile than when they got in to high school.

    Most ivy leagues get students from top east coast boarding and day private schools. Total chicago kids are a drop in the bucket.

    However, the wall street journal did a ranking a few years ago of high schools who sent most kids as a percent of school size to ivy league type schools and only two illinois schools made the list….Illinois Math and Science Academy and Northside College Prep.

  • 25. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    From: MomOf5

    (Sorry, on my phone now and cannot see what number to reference)
    I did not mean to imply that admission to an Ivy guarantees anything. My point was to highlight just that — no guarantees. I understand that number of students admitted to the Ivies is a way to compare but is that truly the best way to judge a high school?
    The Ivies aren’t for everyone. I would venture to say that there are some amazingly intelligent, high performing kids who would not even consider applying to those schools because they just aren’t interested in attending there. Does that make their high school a lesser school? I would think not but perhaps I’m naive.
    Along the same lines, we have friends whose child went to WP and didn’t get in to Ivy League schools but was accepted to fabulous schools and felt like a failure. It made me really sad to see the child not see the forest through the trees. All ended up well as they are thriving and happy.
    I guess I feel this discussion should be on a separate thread.

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    From: James

    (Top1) –

    Yes and no. For the full admissions cycle, it is true that a kid can get multiple acceptances from different Ivy schools. But at this point in the admissions cycle, that isn’t true. The Ivies are all either Early Decision or Single Choice Early Action. In both cases, a kid could have only applied to, and heard back from, a single Ivy League school since you can only do ED or SCEA at one and only one school. Therefore, the claim that there have already been 64 acceptances at the Ivies means that there have been 64 different kids accepted at the Ivies — and that’s just not correct. (Admittedly, it could be muddled a little bit if a kid did SCEA and then recently got a “likely letter” from another Ivy as part of regular decision, but that just can’t be many, if any, kids.)

    In a month, when the regular decisions come out, kids who only applied regular decision at the Ivies or who applied to one SCEA Ivy and then did others in regular decision could be receiving multiple Ivy acceptances. But, at this point, a kid can only have a single Ivy League acceptance letter in hand.

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    From: Chris

    “it is somehow easier to get into the Ivies from podunk high school has been refuted by … statistics for years.

    Exhibit A: in Payton’s current senior class (less than 200 students) 11 acceptances to Yale, 7 to Harvard, 64 to the Ivies. Adding in the ivy-peers, MIT Stanford Chicago, it was over 100.”

    Your exhibit A says *nothing* about the relative ease of getting an admissions offer to any of those colleges from Payton v. West Podunk HS.

    As to what the admissions folks say, *of course* their statements are that they apply the same standards to every applicant (it would be *shocking* if they said they didn’t), but that ‘standard’ *may* (or may not!) be easier to achieve at West Podunk than it is at Payton. Those same admissions officers would say that legacy kids are held to the same standard, too, so I don’t know why we lend their (obvious) statements much weight.

    Note: the same can be said about the (ongoing) discussion about SEES v ‘hood v Private making it easier or harder to get into SEHS–yes, higher %ages of SEES and Private kids get into SEHS, but is that because it is “easier” to get in coming from SEES/Private? Clearly, college admissions involves more factors, but that just makes it *easier* to hold everyone to “the same standard” while still having different standards for Andover kids v Payton kids v West Podunk kids.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    **Pause for a break during the Oscars for an Ivy League mention: “thanks to the Yale School of Drama.” ** Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    From: James
    For the record, and I am happy to stop typing the words “Ivy League” afterwards, I certainly don’t think Ivies are the be-all-and-end-all in colleges. Far, far from it. My point was simply that because they are so difficult to get into and draw their students from across the nation, they represent a convenient and rough indicator of how well a high school prepares its kids for the college admissions game. (NOTE: I didn’t say how good the high school is or how happy its students are. Sadly, students can be well-prepared for the college admissions game, but be utterly miserable.)

    So if we’re going to look at that rough indicator, we should at least be accurate when referencing it. And the poster who purported to know about Ivy acceptances for this year’s graduating class at Payton was not — he was way wrong, in fact. I was just questioning and correcting, and didn’t mean to say or imply that I think an Ivy League education is the ultimate college education — or, in the case of some Ivies, even worth the $60,000 a year they charge.

  • 30. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    From: Mom2

    Getting into the school of your choice is a great feeling but if you are a great kid that pays attention in class and does the work assigned and goes to tutoring when you are struggling, you really can be a success at many other schools. Don’t feel defeated by this process.

    Is a kid that gets into a top SEHS more likely to get into a top college? Yes. Why? Not because this one SEHS is so great at preparing them for top colleges. Not at all. The reason? Because the kid is great at taking tests and doing homework and writing papers. That’s why the kid got into that SEHS to start with. It isn’t the school. It really isn’t.

    I’m not saying those schools aren’t great places to be (and I still feel they may be safer), but stop making it sound like school X will do anything more wonderful than school Y to help a kid get into a top college.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    From: Payton


    “where are you getting those statistics for this year’s Payton seniors?”

    School rumor mill, which is usually pretty accurate. We’ll see where they finally come out, they are usually noted around open house time. As I understand it the Yale number is similar to last year when 11 admits led to 5 matriculates.

    “I doubt 64 seniors even applied early decision or SCEA to the Ivies.”

    Its interesting that you doubt that. As you are surely aware it is dramatically easier to get in via EA/ED. Why wouldnt every highly motivated student send in an Ivy EA? Even if they dream of Stanford? And if you dream of Yale then you damn well better apply ED. Students are given one shot at a higher admissions chance – it would be foolish for them not to use it.

    @Chris You’re funny to read, reminds me of the one-handed economist joke. Anyway..

    “Those same admissions officers would say that legacy kids are held to the same standard, too”

    You are completely incorrect here. They readily acknowledge that legacies get a special flag, as do under represented minorities. What they do point out, continuously since they are always asked it, is that there is not even a mechanism to compare students against their own classmates. If anything they readily admit that there are schools that they know well and admit a lot of students from.

    Anyone who cares about this topic can read any one of a dozen books written by former admissions officers. Nothing I’ve written here is disputed.

    PS Ivy Ivy Ivy

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    From: PantherParent

    I guess it’s just the society we live in now. Before kids take one class in high school they are forced to think about college. What classes do I take? What clubs do I join? What looks good on my college app?

    It’s not unlike the Super Bowl winning coach who invariably faces the question “Can you repeat as champs?” within 10 minutes of winning.

    Let’s give everyone a chance to savor the accomplishment.

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    From: Chris
    “Nothing I’ve written here is disputed.”

    Yes, it is *absolutely* undisputed that your “Exhibit A” provides no useful information about comparative ‘ease’ of admission from Payton v West Podunk.
    Edit Comment

  • 34. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    From: Payton
    To be fair Chris I was discussing Podunk High, West Podunk High is another story altogether.

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    From: CrossWordFiend:

    One great thing about college admissions is that there are options at all levels. While the SEHS system on the North Side feels like applying to Yale and Harvard, the vast majority of colleges are not Ivy League schools. You’ve got liberal arts colleges, state universities, private universities, religiously affiliated schools, specialized schools for engineering and whatnot, commuter colleges, and community colleges all around the country offering a range of educational opportunities. Some schools accept a Harvard percentage of applicants like 5-10%, some accept 20%, some take 40%, some take most, some take all.

    Plus, a kid who doesn’t get into Harvard but is highly qualified may well get a generous merit scholarship to attend a less famous school.

  • 36. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    From: ChristopherBall

    Payton is correct, at least as far as elite school admission standards. For example, Harvard groups applicants geographically to create admission sub-committees with roughly equal numbers of students. Many other schools follow the same practice. They are well aware that Payton and other elite public schools have a high number of excellent students. A Harvard admission dean explains it here:

    Because of the similar size of geographic groupings, a senior in a small rural town in Wyoming would be competing with a roughly equal number of students as a student from Chicago.

    In any event, most of the students applying are academically qualified — it’s other features that they look for. I remember a Harvard admission officer saying in 1990 that 95% of applicants were academically qualified. Another once said that they could fill the entire class and then drop all those people and go on to assemble a new class that is equally good.

    One choice bit on the 2nd page:

    We have found that the best predictors at Harvard are Advanced Placement tests and International Baccalaureate Exams, closely followed by the College Board subject tests. High school grades are next in predictive power, followed by the SAT and ACT. The writing tests of the SAT and ACT have predictive power similar to the subject tests.

  • 37. cpsobsessed  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    From: James

    496 (junior) –

    “I don’t see how your (unsourced) stats represent back up any point you’re trying to make.”

    Stats? What stats? I cited no stats at all. I was questioning numbers cited by another poster about Ivy League acceptances at Payton for this year. As it turns out, that poster now admits that the numbers he was flinging around come from the “school rumor mill” and nothing else. And, as I and others showed, they cannot be correct.

    Anywho, my point (to the extent I had one other than correcting mistaken claims) was that IF we were going to use Ivy admissions stats as one indicator in how well a high school prepares kids for college admissions, THEN we should at least use accurate numbers. Believe it not, I stand by that point.

  • 38. Y  |  March 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I don’t think small pond has to necessarily mean lower achieving. There are just fewer people to compete with in order to stand out. Ideally, the small pond high school will have a similar level of academics for their college-bound track of kids.

  • 39. fat2fitmomma  |  March 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I haven’t seen anyone mention that an Ivy League undergrad education may not be the in the top 5 for the type of major the smart child wants to pursue. Does anyone know the majors/programs the HS grads are reporting? I would imagine that many of them would be business or engineering majors. If that’s the case, remember that the Ivy’s aren’t in the top 5 for that program.

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    That’s a good point. For some majors, probably not the best route.

    So what *does* a liberal arts degree from an Ivy get you these days job-wise?

    Or is it a good entre into the top law schools, med schools, business schools?

    As I’ve mentioned before, when I worked in one of the big ad agencies in chicago they hired mainly from top schools – few state schools other than those ranked near the top. I need to see if that has changed in the recent past, just out of curiosity.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 41. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:09 am

    @39 – Computer Science is also big. Lot’s of fine arts and humanities going on. Also a number of international majors – international business, language, and cultural studies – which is where we are leaning. My son is in the largest category of them all, “undecided” which has actually been encouraged by the schools that we’ve talked to. He did not go for “Ivy” but is considering a couple highly selective schools. UIUC, btw, says they had a very competitive pool and turned down many high scoring kids, especially if they applied for engineering.

  • 42. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    CPSO – interesting. Does “top” school mean….Ivy/highly selective or does it also include small liberal arts schools with intensive programs – like Beloit, 40 colleges that change lives, etc.

    One thing I find interesting about these small liberal arts schools is A) the scholarships they hand out 🙂 and B) the alum support in the way of hiring grads. 🙂 again.

  • 43. CPS Parent  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

    39. fat2fitmomma “Business” is the most popular major in the US. Of the Ivy’s, only Penn and Cornell offer undergrad “Business”. In general, really smart kids don’t gravitate towards the “Business” major which, after all, at the undergraduate level, is a bit of reading, writing and low level arithmetic.

    Engineering is one of the least popular in the US, only 6% the last time I saw a figure I believe.

  • 44. 2nd grade parent  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

    cpso – i would be willing to bet that the ‘top’ schools work very hard to make sure that nothing has changed in the way their students are recruited by employers.
    Even state schools (e.g. Michigan) are going to spend effort on making sure that the hiring protocol doesn’t neg. impact their grads too much.
    That’s why a parent would $pend on those top tier schools, it provides protection and surety (not unlike CPS magnets/SEES – sigh…)

  • 45. genxatmidlife  |  March 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

    This may be off-topic enough to be more appropriate for another thread (and for that I apologize), but what happens after the Ivy Leagues? It seems that we city parents have to maneuver to get kids into “good” grammar schools (CPS or otherwise), then step it up several notches to get them into “good” high schools (either by paying high tuition or paying for test prep — or both), and then step it up again to get them into college. This doesn’t even factor in what’s necessary for acceptance into universities with a large number of highly qualified applicants and few spots (sound familiar, SEES testers?).

    My guess is the first response to this question is “opportunity,” which is great, but there seems to be a rigidity and desperation accompanying getting a kid through childhood that I’m sure few of this generation’s parents ever intended. Yet, what is our role in perpetuating it?

    I hate to pick on the Ivy Leagues, and this is not so much about them specifically. But reading this thread, I wonder what’s on the other side for our kids.

  • 46. JustAnotherConcernedParent  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Well there’s a fine line to tread, as parents, in pushing our children to be the best they can be, while allowing them to be children and to experience the myriad aspects of childhood.

    Just for myself, my greatest hope for my son is that he lives a happy and fulfilling life. With that in mind, I’m aware that there is little to no correlation between *success* and happiness, especially 30 years down the road, when he is a doctor, engineer, artist, etc.

    What I can do, is make sure he has a good dose of happiness daily/weekly while he is under my care, give him good advise, open his eyes to the many opportunities and directions his life can go in terms of careers, and support him as he discovers the things that he is interested in.

    I tell him to aim high, do his best, understand that he doesn’t have to attend an elite university to please me, and that there are almost always second and third chances in life.

  • 47. @854  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Ok according to an earlier post that has a link to a WBEZ article. ISBE can’t sanction the title 1 funds. The article states that depending on how the school does on the ISAT that they may be forced to use sone of the funds for tutoring. So ok opt out away!

  • 48. cpsobsessed  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

    @42 HS Mom: Yes, I mean those schools like Carlton, Lawrence, Oberlin, etc. I guess those are considered top private colleges?

    I’m not very familiar with them except for having met people in jobs who went to them. They were not part of my consideration set when I went to college because of finances (but my sister managed to go to Lawrence. She works in insurance now, fwiw, as does her spouse who also went there – making a decent but not spectacular living in terms of money or personal fulfillment necessarily. I mean they both enjoy their work but I don’t know if that kind of degree was needed for their jobs – I could be wrong about that though, just speculating.)

  • 49. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:36 am

    @43 “In general, really smart kids don’t gravitate towards the “Business” major which, after all, at the undergraduate level, is a bit of reading, writing and low level arithmetic.”

    Don’t tell that to UIUC. They have their own little club going for business. AP calc a requirement. Other large universities will not let students enter directly into the business school, you must take liberal arts “pre-business” in order to determine if you qualify.

    @48 Thanks! That’s very interesting. One such college we are strongly considering has mentioned that while they do not have a “placement center” per say, they set up internships and interviews through the alum network and place kids into jobs this way. It’s good to hear that this is in fact practice.

  • 50. Chris  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:44 am

    “That’s a good point. For some majors, probably not the best route.”

    I have a friend who tried that route (at the PhD level)–started at a “top 3” program in his field, at a top 10 public university (so not a no-wheres-ville school). He switched to a lower ‘ranked’ program at a name university. He is now a holder of an endowed chair at an Ivy, so whether the other route might have worked, the actual route certainly worked.

    Gotta be critical about who is doing the ranking, and what the criteria for the ranking is. Sometimes, the ranking is based on stuff that is immaterial, or even counter to, the best interests of an undergrad (or grad) student. The best example of a faulty ranking is the Cooley ranking of law schools–wherein Cooley developed a system that ranked Cooley as the #2 law school in the country (behind Yale).

  • 51. Chicago School GPS  |  March 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for separating out this thread, CPSO! I know there is debate on whether this helps or not, but summer programs at some of these schools are a way to get a feel for a school (most cost $$) while still in high school. Now is the time to apply if students are interested in that route. Some do offer college credit should the student attend in college.

  • 52. CPS Parent  |  March 3, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Beware, quite a few university summer programs are not affiliated with the schools – 3rd parties rent the facilities.

    The rule of thumb tends to be – if it you have to pay for it it doesn’t “help” with admission. There are exceptions though – Math Camp at Hampshire college for example (

  • 53. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    @51 – Yes, there are some great options. Some of these programs require writing portfolios, essays, GPA and other qualifiers for admission and are a major lift for the “resume”. Especially for those students that don’t have a sport or lots of “extras” going on. It’s also a good chance to try out majors like engineering, media, journalism, writing etc to see if there is potential. Great way to check out schools as they give the full tour and information about the college with the chance to stay in dorms.

  • 54. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    “The rule of thumb tends to be – if it you have to pay for it it doesn’t “help” with admission.”

    Many exceptions. Programs that allow a limited number of participants based upon qualifiers can certainly be added to the academic accomplishments sections of college applications. While it’s doubtful that any one enrichment program will make or break admission, they certainly fill out the application nicely and demonstrate ambition and achievement. Certainly better than blanks or helping out at the food pantry a couple of times.

  • 55. Lady  |  March 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Wow, it’s crazy reading this thread. You guys totally discount the excellent schools in our own backyard that are continuously ranked some of the best in the WORLD. U of C, Northwestern, sciences/engineering at Champaign-Urbnana, etc. I’d much rather have my kid apply here and leave the ivies to all the silly people. I have two good friends who graduated Harvard and they are two of the most f’d up people I know. Just saying as an alum of U of C and married to an engineering alum from U of I. Best way to go about it is to think of a program your kid is interested in and pursue the best schools in those areas along with Plan B schools of a lesser tier.

    Good luck to all and try to think local.

  • 56. klm  |  March 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Oh, boy.

    We’ve only finished worrying about HS. Now,college? Ha, ha…

    I guess I’ll give my thoughts (when do I not?).

    I did work in college admissions for a short while. First at a top Big State School as part of my work-study, then full-time at the same school, before moving and getting jobs at two selective, private liberal arts colleges (more Oberlin/Occidental/Hamilton/Bates than Amherst/Williams/Pomona/Swarthmore.–selective, but not MOST selective). I was never a “higher up,” though I reviewed applications, collected data, and by the end was allowed to advocate for certain applicants that I found worth of making an offer. I was able to see how things went down (the good and the bad), the cost-benefit analysis made at the schools where I worked, relating to financial aid required for applicants (Does this applicant really ‘bring’ anything? It is worth admitting them since it’ll effectively mean giving them a full ride, given their family’s income, etc. If the applicant is on the fence and they can pay 100%, then it’s a little easier to make a case for him/her).

    I’m not an expert, but I have a (little) insight.

    As far as strategically attending HS A vs. HS B for having a better class ranking to look good to the admissions people in New Haven, etc., I don’t think some people understand how well admissions people usually know their own particular “territory” and are familiar with the high schools within it.

    Yes, it’s easier to be Top 5 at Podunk High School (ave. ACT score 20 and where 2-5 kids will score over 30 on the ACT) than in the Top 5 at Northside College Prep in Chicago (ave. ACT 29+, super selective just to get in there, literally hundreds of kids in the graduating class score over 30 on ACT). Don’t you think people in college admissions know this? There may be 1 or 2 really attractive candidates at Podunk, but NSCP will have lots. Most high-powered HSs with lots of really smart, motivated, kids don’t even rank anymore, but colleges figure who’s near the top by comparing transcripts.

    The kinds of kids that get into NSCP are the kinds of kids that are good students (do their work on time and study hard), have the ability and the motivation to succeed. Nobody will likely hold that against them, if anything they’ll get an appreciative thought for having been able to get accepted to a HS like that.

    The admissions offices in Palo Alto, Cambridge and Providence have 1 or 2 people very familiar with high schools in Illinois. They , know what kinds of kids attend particular schools, have a good idea of how hard kids have to work there to get straight A’s, etc. They know all about CPS SEHSs, which are the toughest to be admitted to, which ones have the most brainiacs per-capita, etc.

    The most selective’ colleges admit only highly motivated, “most likely to succeed” -type individuals and they want kids that have taken every advantage offered to them, not ones waiting for opportunities to fall in their laps, or ones that take the easier path because they’re a little lazy or afraid. In Chicago that often means SEHS –if you went to Regular Chicago Neighborhood High School,(ave. ACT 16),why? Is there a good reason (sports team, particular STEM program, bombed 7th grade despite real potential, family moved from elsewhere 1st week of school, etc.)? If it seems like a kid is taking a less-than-I-can-do-because-I’m-not-a-love-of-learning/not-a-big-ball-of-ambition route, it’ll turn off admissions officers off, most likely. .

    Super Duper Prestige College wants to admit somebody who has done the very best that they could, given the opportunities they have in life and also considering their circumstances (really hard, hard, easy, really easy). . If a kid’s from a working-class family in Hazard County, Kentucky, that means Hazard County High School and taking all the hardest, AP-type classes offered (even if that means only 2 or 3 at that school). If a kid’s from an upper-middle-class family from Kenilworth, then that means rockin’ it academically at New Trier, with all the world-class academics/classes that opportunity brings –crazy mounts of APs, taking advantage of all the excellent extracurriculars, etc. .

    Before I lived in Chicago, the local public HS where I lived was all abuzz one year because that year 5 (Five!) kids were accepted to Harvard. Well, guess, what? That year Harvard found 5 kids from that school that it liked, The next year maybe only one or none (I don’t know).. If a school finds a gem in an applicant, they’re not going to turn away because there already 1 or kids from that school that are admitted –schools full of smart, interesting, motivated kids are going to have lots of Rock Star applicants.

    Which leads me to my last point: How random admission to these kinds of colleges can be and very often IS.

    I worked once at a place where one of the manager’s kids got into Harvard, so everybody was congratulating him, etc. He knew I briefly worked in undergraduate admissions and quietly pulled me aside and told me how the same kid didn’t get into Princeton (not even wait-listed) or Columbia. He thought it seemed so crazy: Harvard accepted her, but not Columbia? But that kind of thing happens all the time..

    Every year the NYT has stories about college admissions and follows a group of seniors in HS. Over the years, the examples seem kinda’ puzzling at times. One year a girl didn’t get into her first choice (Middlebury), despite applying EA…but she got into Dartmouth. One year a girl didn’t get into the University of Chicago or Grinnell College, but she was accepted at both Princeton and Brown. Last year there was a guy who didn’t get into his first choice, Washington U. in St. Louis, despite applying EA, Guess where he ended up going? Yale!

    All these kinds of examples make me rethink advising kids not to apply to too many schools, just narrow things down to a small handful, etc. After all, schools get so, so, SO many applications from really great applicants that at some point it’s all kinda’ a crap shoot, when one’s trying to get a class of 1,600 from literally thousands and thousands of hyper-qualified applicants.

    Admissions officers are creating an entire freshman class. They’ll want it to be about 10% black, 10% Hispanic, have some super athletes, some potential Rhodes Scholars, have a decent number that are first generation in their family to attend college, maybe a child TV star here and there, a decent number of foreign students from various countries, etc.–all these play a role in who gets the big envelope, too (and sometimes how much schools are willing to give in terms of financial aid). . ,

    What does an applicant bring that we want in order to to make a well-rounded freshman class? Diversity? Proven enthusiasm for serving humanity? Somebody that did great, against all odds? Remarkable artistic talent? World-class athletic ability? Big Family money to build a new athletic center and increase the endowment (so that we can provide more opportunities for more low-income students)? —All these things go into the equation.

    Personally, I’ll be happy if my kids go to UIUC, Purdue or Iowa. Yes, it would be nice to say, “My daughter’s coming in from Yale for Thanksgiving, and Junior’s just been offered early admission to Stanford.” Why pretend that I wouldn’t feel like I’ve won a sort of Academy Award of Parenting if that happened.

    Plus, all those cool decal stickers on the back of the station wagon that I’d casually apply for anyone that rides to ask about: Yale? Oh, yeah Mary goes there. Princeton? Johnny goes there, so we felt like we needed to make him feel like we’re proud, –that’s the only reason why I put it there –I think anything on a car is tacky, but I did it for him, since I’m not one of those gloating parents, really,…..etc. .
    Then again, if all my kids just graduate from somewhere and get actual jobs (not internships) with paychecks big enough to pay rent, I’ll be really happy. I have friends with kids in rehab, some with criminal records, etc., so I’ll count my blessings, accordingly. Next to rehab or prison, Northern Illinois kinda’ seems like Harvard to me.

  • 57. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    klm – thank you for posting! Much appreciated.

  • 58. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    klm question – given your experience with both, do you think the big state school is a better option than the small private?

  • 59. mom2  |  March 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    klm, thank you so much. I have a kid that is doing very well at Lane with great EC’s, NHS, solid paying part time jobs, varsity sports and some AP’s and every friend with nearly the same stats (maybe a point or two higher on the ACT, but everything else fairly equal) got into UIUC but not my kid. It helps to hear that sometimes you just fall through the cracks and that it isn’t that they have a limit on the number of applicants from the same school that they will take.

  • 60. genxatmidlife  |  March 3, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Kim — love that post… thanks.

  • 61. pantherparent  |  March 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    @43 and @49 I was a UIUC business major and couldn’t help but chuckle at the generally proper assessment of business school. A little reading, a little writing, a little math.

    That said, the College of Commerce was definitely filled, and still is, with bright kids. But the smartest kids are and always were in the College of Engineering.

    Basically the smarteness pecking order at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is 1. Engineering 2. Business 3. Everyone else.

  • 62. HS Mom  |  March 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    @61 correction – per post 43, that was a little “arithmetic”. I was was there too and in business (specifically accounting so a little higher on the food chain, we were required to know ratios as well as addition and subtraction)! As of our recent tour, things have changed dramatically over the years. Liberal arts math majors and computer science have also joined the ranks.

  • 63. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    56. klm | March 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for your informative post…I really appreciate it.

  • 64. HSObsessed  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I feel like compared to applying to high schools, the college thing will be easier. Well, it will be harder to visit campuses, tour, etc. but the chances of getting in to many of them are much higher than the relatively small pool of so-called “acceptable” high schools in Chicago, as long as you look beyond the Ivy League. Heck, even Princeton has an admission rate of 8%, which is much higher than Payton’s 3%. But beyond HYP, very well respected institutions like Tufts have a 21% admit rate, Boston College 29%, Mt. Holyoke 42%, Syracuse 51%, Case Western 54%. Many regionally known universities are even easier to get into: DePaul 62%, Miami of Ohio 73%, U. Iowa 78%, Valparaiso 80%. (These numbers are from the US News and World Report website.) So I think it’s a matter of finding the schools that have the programs the kid might be interesting in, visiting to make sure they like the feel of it, and then applying to maybe 6-8 total.

  • 65. Chicago Mama  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Nah… the smartness pecking order when I was at UIUC was 1) Engineering 2) LAS … at least in terms of gaining admission to those schools. My younger brother graduated from the Ag school because some misguided guidance counselor told him that he wouldn’t get in with his grades (from a private, IB, international school).

    Personally, I am hoping my kid gets into Annapolis.

  • 66. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    @56 klm One of the best things I’ve read in years.

    What is sad is that to a great degree the people who would graduate from Ivy League schools used to go on to live normal lives, upper income, sure; respected in their community and professions, sure. But they were not expected to become entrepreneurs at 25 or senators at 35. Today, colleges seems to want outstanding futures for all of their students.

    It is harder to get into a good school today than years ago. In 1960, Harvard’s freshmen class was around 1,200; today is it around 1,660, but the US pop. has gone from 179 million to 317 million. So the Harvard class grew by 38% but the pop. grew by 76% over the same period. .

  • 67. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:25 am

    “If a kid’s from a working-class family in Hazard County, Kentucky, that means Hazard County High School and taking all the hardest, AP-type classes offered (even if that means only 2 or 3 at that school). If a kid’s from an upper-middle-class family from Kenilworth, then that means rockin’ it academically at New Trier, with all the world-class academics/classes that opportunity brings –crazy mounts of APs, taking advantage of all the excellent extracurriculars, etc. ”

    From an objective perspective, the kid from Hazard had the ‘lesser’ admissions resume, and therefore had an ‘easier’ time getting in. Which is the point of the ‘easier to get in from West Podunk’–a kid from New Trier with an otherwise identical application ain’t getting in to the same selective school.

  • 68. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

    “the chances of getting in to many of them are much higher than the relatively small pool of so-called “acceptable” high schools in Chicago, as long as you look beyond the Ivy League”

    That’s why the Ivies keep coming up (to the consternation of many)–PaNJY are–for better or worse (mostly worse)–the Ivies of CPS–as highly coveted, as hard to get in to. Then there is Lane as the “prestige” state school, and then the others that are basically just as “good,” but in less desirable locations (for most). And then we have the majority of HS that are viewed as basically the equivalent of for-profit unis or diploma mills, but with gang fights (tho that’s a fairly ‘shocking news at 10’ view of reality). What’s missing is the litany of other “lesser”, but still good, options.

  • 69. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Oh, one more thought on this:

    “taking all the hardest, AP-type classes offered (even if that means only 2 or 3 at that school).”

    Gotta get those classes taken by Junior year, if there are only 2/3–taking them senior year is too late. Even if that means a summer school science or math class, or something like that.

  • 70. HS Mom  |  March 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

    @64 – Hard to tell by acceptance rates. Those rates reflect the same top kids applying to 8-10 different schools. The applications are involved at this level, the costs are high (you get a number of kids applying and hoping for scholarships) and, as KLM suggests, there is this “randomness” factor. For probably 95% of us with high performing college bound kids, these are still “reach” schools with hit or miss odds. A close friend with math team, national honors etc has found themselves shut out due to only applying to 3 of these type schools and has gotten into UIUC – they are not happy. He had planned to apply to more but as the rejections started rolling in it was very demoralizing, also, a lot of work on top of a full school schedule with multiple AP classes. Keep in mind too that in order to get into these schools you need to get in front of them – that means speak with the rep at the college fairs, visit the school if possible, attend their meetings when they visit your school, attend their Chicago presentations usually at suburban hotels, interview with reps, research their website and ask questions. It’s a lot of work compared to a large university where you can just send in an application.

    On the plus side – you are right, many choices. If you do the research (just like high school) and apply to a range of schools that are a good fit, you should have multiple offers to choose from. Apply to both public and private and from an initial say 8 schools you should wind up with a list of 4-6.

  • 71. mom2  |  March 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Agree with the comments about acceptance rates. Many people don’t bother applying when they believes they won’t get in – don’t want to pay the application fees or get rejected. And for places like Iowa and a few other flagship state schools, they post exactly what you need to gain admission. So, people don’t apply when they see they can’t get in. Therefore, that will taint the normal conclusions people draw when looking at acceptance rates.

  • 72. H  |  March 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    “I feel like compared to applying to high schools, the college thing will be easier.”

    I don’t know whether it is overall easier or not, but the distinction to me is that there is a pretty smooth continuum of schools of different (perceived) quality and selectivity. With a reasonable strategy for applying, your kid can get into a school that s/he is qualified for. With SEHS, it is much more of a crapshoot. If you don’t get into e.g. Lane, the perception among some is that there’s a precipitous drop from there, rather than a school that might be just slightly “less good” than Lane.

    “Lane as the “prestige” state school”

    Yes, the people who go there tell you it is really just about as good, it was even the first choice of some because they didn’t want to go out-of-neighborhood, and they have athletics, but still…

  • 73. klm  |  March 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm


    Well, so much depends on the thousand different variables: which small liberal arts college?

    One in a cool, big city, like Reed or Macalester? One in small towns surrounded by soybean and corn fields, like Kenyon or Earlham? One’s that’s more that’s more conservative (like Hope –try being a lefty LGBT-rights advocate there –good luck) or “progressive” like Oberlin (try being a Young Republican who doesn’t think everybody to the right of Bill Clinton is an ignorant racist that wants to go back to the 50’s there –good luck), etc.

    Also, which big state school? UIUC? Ball State? UCLA? UNC? NIU? ASU? They are all so different have such different vibes, admission standards, etc. Some college towns rock (Madison, Ann Arbor), while others have nothing to do but ___________(fill in the blank, good or bad).

    Some people love the small size and closeness of a small liberal arts school (again, there’s Wells, with just over 500 total [in the WHOLE school] and schools like Oberlin with over 3,000 —kinda’ a big difference), while other people find them too much like high school: everybody knows everybody’s business, things can seem stifling at times, the same relatively small group of people for 4 years, “it’s b-o-r-i-n-g sometimes,” ….etc.

    Some people love big state schools because of all the increased opportunities that come with a larger scale: more varied areas of study, extracurricular groups more people with whom to find friendship, romance, share common interests, etc. But, some people feel totally lost in a freshman class of 7,000.

    I think of it as living in the city (and which one: Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco –these are all such different places) vs. living in a small town.

    Some people are city people and like the relative anonymity (and the feeling of not being judged), the ability to make a new group of friends when the old one turns negative, all the fun stuff to do, the energy, etc.

    Some people can’t stand big cities: they’re too impersonal, neighbors don’t even know neighbors, the traffic, the lack of space, etc.

    Some people like both.

    I’m more of a city person, but I’d rather live in a small town like that’s a nice place to live, than Detroit, for example.

    It’s more a personality thing and totally depends on the particular school, it’s location, its vibe, etc.

    Personally, I prefer larger schools, since there’s so much more to do, so many more people to improve the chances of the right ones that have a shared interest, etc. Not to mention in-state tuition or even the relative good deal offered to out-of-state students at some schools.

  • 74. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “Some college towns rock (Madison, Ann Arbor)”

    Both are *much* more than a college town. Each is a college town, too, of course, but comparing either to, say, Mt Vernon IA, or Ithaca or even a Champaign/Ames/Iowa City-type, is kinda unfair–Madison and Ann Arbor are going to come out ahead by being larger, closer/more connected to bigger cities (AA is about equidistant to DTW as 12 mile road is), etc. I could move to either tomorrow, and not feel weird having nothing to do with the Uni, notsomuch with most ‘traditional’ college towns.

  • 75. klm  |  March 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm


    Well, I’m not sure I agree with you. The working-class kid from Hazard County High School, can’t take as many AP classes as a kid from New Trier, not because he doesn’t want to, but because his school has limited options. If there’s only a few offered, he’ll take all three –if there were 10, he’d take all 10. But that option is non-existent for him. He’s done all he can to show that he wants to learn, challenge himself and excel. For him, AP Whatever Else simply may not be an option at his school (which in turn, is his only option for HS). He’s shown a love of learning by pushing himself as far as is possible.

    If a kid from New Trier takes only a few APs, and avoids the other highly rigorous classes New trier offers, then he’s chosen not to avail himself of all the opportunities given to him. He has not done all he can to show that he wants to learn, challenge himself and excel. If he has a love of learning, why hasn’t he pushed himself?

    I get your point if it is that it doesn’t seem right to expect so much more from a kid, just because they have opportunities.

    However, “fair” in the context of highly selective college admissions doesn’t mean “the same,” it means judging each applicant as they need to be judged, given their opportunities in life –or lack of them.

    That’s when ACTs and SATs can come in handy. If the kid from Hazard, KY, scores a 33 or 34 on the ACT, then he’s also indicated further that he really is capable. If the New Trier also scores a 33 or 34, well then why did he take such an easy course load, given his top-notch New Trier options and apparent ability –where’s the love of learning? .

    I’m not saying every kid needs to be a Rock Star and take every tough class and AP available in order to be successful –I don’t believe that for a second. I’m all for not pushing kids to take lots of APs, crazy tough classes that will make them miserable and stressed —whatever happened to “high school” where kids prepared for college and didn’t feel the need to start taking college-level classes in 10th grade to make the admissions people at Northwestern and Amherst happy.

    But, kids don’t have to do that. They can still go the a good college, become engineers, physicians, lawyers, …whatever, without going to Swarthmore. Most physicians attend “regular” colleges.

    However, if they want to go to Harvard, Princeton or Stanford, that’s what they have to do.

    Again, that’s why 99% of our kids are not going to attend these kinds of schools –it’s just plain almost impossible to have all the quasi-secret ingredients needed. Not only does a kid need to be crazy smart, they must be hyper-driven, a saint, have a super-human work ethic and have the personal qualities that make them voted captain of the soccer team.

    WHO’s like that? Not me. Not most of us or many of out kids..

  • 76. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    “If a kid from New Trier takes only a few APs, and avoids the other highly rigorous classes New trier offers, then he’s chosen not to avail himself of all the opportunities given to him.”

    But *on paper* the two kids have the same academic resume (that was my hypo). They each have a 2300 SAT, 34 ACT, all As, 3 AP Classes, with 5s on all three exams. They have identical extra-curriculars, with identical roles in them. The Hazard County kid might get in to HYP, the NT kid ain’t gonna, bc there are 100 kids at NT who did “more”.

    And, is it “easier” to take 3 AP classes or 10? (I’ll answer that: OF COURSE IT IS!). So, if the NT kid has to take 10 to be the equal of the KY kid who took 3, then the NT kid has a “harder” time getting admitted.

  • 77. klm  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm


    Point taken.

    Look, it’s not my personal stance.

    I was just trying to point out how college admissions officers at places like Harvard and Yale think.

    That said, you are absolutely right that white (and Asian), middle/upper-middle-class kids that go to “good” schools (New Trier, Latin, St. Grottlesex-type boarding schools) are held to a really high standard. That’s because to “stand out” among their demographic, they need to show that they’re above all the other similar kids from Greenwich, Atherton, Lake Forest, Scarsdale, the Upper East Side, West LA, etc. with stellar grades and SATs AND something extra. Admissions officers will have a “profile” from the school the applicant attends: grading policies, 25-75th percentiles for ACT, the list of AP classes offered, colleges and numbers matriculated for recent graduating classes, etc. They’ll know if a kid really asserted himself and tried to get the most from his school.

    So, upper-middle-class white kid from New Trier/North Shore with a 34 ACT……yawn. Oh, yeah, he only took 3 APs when his school offers more than just about any school in the country. How’s that going to look? Where’s ther drive? Obviously he’s capable, but he took the easy route. Is there a “hook” of some sort (nationally-ranked athlete, is he half-Mexican, was he busy working on the foundation he founded as a 7th-grader to bring clean water to Guatemalan toddlers?) ?

    Yeah, he’ll probably go to a “good” college and then maybe get his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, Columbia or Wharton, etc…..
    Or maybe go to med school and be a successful anesthesiologist, etc. He’ll be able to succeed in life if he want to, sure.

    But, a kid like that isn’t getting into Harvard or Yale for undergrad, I’d bet good money.

  • 78. mom2  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    klm – that’s the point people make about how there are some disadvantages to getting to a SEHS (as you point out above). Is it worth going to school X instead of a SEHS because you might stand out more – you took 3 AP classes and got straight A’s and that’s all you could do at school X? In most cases, for now anyway, I’d bet the answer would be no (due to all the other factors – safety, bad influences, etc.). But it sure is frustrating that admission officers see things the way you just pointed out. Doesn’t seem right to me.

  • 79. H  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    “But *on paper* the two kids have the same academic resume (that was my hypo). They each have a 2300 SAT, 34 ACT, all As, 3 AP Classes, with 5s on all three exams. They have identical extra-curriculars, with identical roles in them. The Hazard County kid might get in to HYP, the NT kid ain’t gonna, bc there are 100 kids at NT who did “more”.”

    Is it as easy to achieve that in Hazard County as at New Trier?

  • 80. Chris  |  March 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    “I was just trying to point out how college admissions officers at places like Harvard and Yale think.”

    “But it sure is frustrating that admission officers see things the way you just pointed out. ”

    AND the way that I said that they do, and got jumped on with “oh no they don’t”. They most certainly do.

    H: “Is it as easy to achieve that in Hazard County as at New Trier?”

    The theory is that it is not, but the reality is: it depends.

    Make it apples to apples all the way down: each Hypo Kid is an only child of a single parent teacher who, through whatever set of circumstances, pays around 20% of gross income for housing in the district and is otherwise basically debt free. No meth-head/junkie cousins/drunk uncles around, etc etc, Not ‘poor’ in Wilmette, but certainly below median at NT (avg Teacher ~=$85k; *wilmette* median family = $144k), and above average in Hazard (avg Teacher salary = $47,546; median family = $27k).

    Which kid has a harder time achieving? I think it *really* depends on the kid’s personality, in addition to the smarts.

  • 81. karet  |  March 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    It’s also worth mentioning that many high schools no longer report class rank. According to this editorial in the Tribune about Evanston’s decision to stop using it, over half of the high schools in the country have already eliminated it.

    Interesting quote from the article:
    “The ETHS committee found that schools that eliminated class rank saw a greater percentage of their students admitted to colleges.”

  • 82. local  |  March 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    One of my fav higher ed books: Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites by Mitchell Stevens

    (from Amazon)
    In real life, Mitchell Stevens is a [sociology] professor in bustling New York. But for a year and a half, he worked in the admissions office of a bucolic New England college that is known for its high academic standards, beautiful campus, and social conscience. Ambitious high schoolers and savvy guidance counselors know that admission here is highly competitive. But creating classes, Stevens finds, is a lot more complicated than most people imagine.

    Admissions officers love students but they work for the good of the school. They must bring each class in “on budget,” burnish the statistics so crucial to institutional prestige, and take care of their colleagues in the athletic department and the development office. Stevens shows that the job cannot be done without “systematic preferencing,” and racial affirmative action is the least of it. Kids have an edge if their parents can pay full tuition, if they attend high schools with exotic zip codes, if they are athletes–especially football players–and even if they are popular.

    With novelistic flair, sensitivity to history, and a keen eye for telling detail, Stevens explains how elite colleges and universities have assumed their central role in the production of the nation’s most privileged classes. Creating a Class makes clear that, for better or worse, these schools now define the standards of youthful accomplishment in American culture more generally.

  • 83. HS Mom  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    @75 KLM – thanks for your response to my broad question. You verbalize the exact flip-flopping scenario going on at our household. I would have gone to the “big school” too as it jives with my personality but I already did my time. We just got back from U of Iowa presentation – really great school with a full student panel to answer questions. One senior mentioned the 300 person study hall classes freshman year (at least 3 times) and talked about how you have to sit up front and how kids are on facebook during class…….nah, things are different now. Not paying for that! I think we can give up the “multiple majors to choose from” for the smaller classes and better study abroad options which should break up the “4 years with the same people” syndrome. Again, things have changed. .And he will probably change his mind a few times until May 1. Down to 3 schools and I’m not going to agonize over which school will give him the best life and the best career and the white picket fence.

    Thanks for letting me talk this through, I feel much better now..LOL

  • 84. local  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    You know what makes it real? Running each college’s Net Price Calculator, doing a FAFSA worksheet, and listening to your financial planner tell you “how much” college you can afford. I wonder: Where are we going to get the money for room/board, books/tech, travel/transportation, and spending money? For four years (fingers crossed)?

  • 85. CPS alum  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Very few kids take 10 AP courses at new trier.

  • 86. HS Mom  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    @84 Uhh and if its more than 4 years?? Iowa mentioned that you can go summers at in-state rates. This way you can go to school year round, finish in 4 years and end the blood letting. What a bargain!

  • 87. HS Mom  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    @85 – or in SE schools. They do exist for all you about to write about your kid taking 15 AP classes.

  • 88. CPS alum  |  March 4, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    @87-It is almost impossible to take 15 Ap at new trier. They won’t allow you to.

  • 89. Counterpoint for discussion  |  March 5, 2014 at 12:02 am

    To 77: But, a kid like that isn’t getting into Harvard or Yale for undergrad, I’d bet good money.

    I disagree, The kid is going to Harvard or Yale if he’s paying full tuition and a family member makes a phone call to the powers that be. I have experience with this from many friends growing up in Lake Forest. The Harvard/Yale route is all about who your connection is. Sorry, but your post is otherwise solid.

  • 90. klm  |  March 5, 2014 at 8:11 am


    I know. There’s been a backlash against APs over the last several years, especially at more elite private schools HSs/prep schools (St Grottlesex, the Dalton/Collegiate/Spence/Fieldston-type private schools in NYC, etc.) and Scarsdale/NT-type public HSs. The trend, from what I understand, is to provide a rigorous class on a particular subject, without having to go through a week-by-week, prescribed list of areas to learn (as required in the AP curriculum), which does not allow the teacher and the students that are engrossed in a particular fact set/sub-area to go further etc. —then if the kid wants, he/she can go ahead and take the AP. Most HYP-type colleges don’t even take many (if any) AP credits toward undergrad graduation requirements, so lots of people figure, why even bother?

    I guess it figures that by the time the riff-raff start on the AP band wagon, the more elite schools figure that it’s not so special any longer.

    However, the HYP-type colleges are not looking for really good students with really good SATs, they’re looking at superhuman examples of near-perfection, especially when they’re going through thousands and thousands of applications, especially from middle/upper-middle-class white and Asian kids from great HSs with high SATs.

    Accordingly, if a student goes to New Trier, Lab, Hotchkiss, NSCP, Exeter, etc., they are going to have lots and lots of options in terms of classes. If they don’t take the most rigorous ones available to them (and in some/most schools that still means AP), then how’s that going to look? Especially when there are a ton of other applicants with identical SATs, but that have obviously pushed/challenged themselves harder in school? Which applicant seems more likely to seek challenges, take charge and go for it –qualities the HYP school want to see.

    Harvard’s freshman class is only 1,600. That’s really small for a nation of 315 million people. I remember a few years ago a story about how 7 students at Stevenson HS got a perfect 36 on their ACT. What’s more, something like 30 kids from the same class got a 35. That’s just at Stevenson HS in suburban Chicago. Think about all the perfect/near perfect kids at NT, Lab, NSCP, Deerfield, OPRF, etc., –and that’s just Illinois. Illinois is what, 4% if the U.S. population? 4% of 1,600 is 64. Of course there’s no presribed numbers for these schools interms of geography and demographics, but do the math to get an idea of how many crazy smart kids are applying to Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

    So, yes, if a NT kids get a 34 on the ACT AND he didn’t even bother taking the most challenging classes available, etc., then how’s that look? There are lots of kids with the same stats that DID push themselves.

    Also, I hope that people understand that I’m talking about the tippy-top of college admissions. Obviously, when one’s applying to UIUC, Loyola, Lake Forest College, Michigan State, etc., admission is a lot more predictable, based on GPA, ACT, etc. In that kind of scenario, it may well make sense to be a rock star at Senn IB than a middle-of-the-class student at Jones.

    However, if you want to go to HYP, the admissions people will wonder why, if you’re so smart, did you go to Senn, instead of NSCP, WY, etc., where all the smart, motivated Chicago public school kids (even the ones from the inner-city that have major challenges in their lives) go?

    If your goal is to be a pharmacist and go to UIC, well, then no it doesn’t matter so much. In that case, your higher class rank (per the input in the UIC admission software) at Senn may work in your favor.

    But, if you want to go to Yale, people in New Haven are going to wonder why you took the “easier” option with much less competition, believe me.

    While, yes, very few NT kids take 10 classes, I’d bet that the ones that get into HYP took that many.

    Now if a NT kid wants to go to Michigan or UIUC to study pre-med or engineering, does he need to have that many APs? No. But if he wants to go pre-med or study engineering at Harvard, then he almost ceratinly will/should, if wants to stand out among the thousands of other hopeful applicants.

  • 91. CPS alum  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I’m sorry, KLM, while I agree with you for the most part, I can think of a few specific examples of students at new trier who did not take the most rigorous curriculum possible and did gain entrance to Harvard. One specifically did a lower level in math for balance. new trier often counsels students to do this.

  • 92. CPS Parent  |  March 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

    My own experience with college admission with my kids is that the better the school the more holistic and personalized the process is. This is why for HYP et al there isn’t a magic formula for admittance nor can one make broad conclusions as far as test scores, grades, AP’s etc. go. Having said, that I would say that the teacher letter of recommendation (LOR) is super critical for better schools. The teacher’s LOR is not often discussed (probably because no one, student nor parents, sees them) but having your child develop a strong, authentic, relation ship with a teacher who puts real effort into writing LOR’s is important for elite college admittance.

  • 93. Looking at colleges  |  March 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I wanted to say something about AP courses. It’s great to take AP courses, but you need to do well in them. There is a college counselor, Katherine Cohen who writes about getting into the Ivy League. One of her more quoted lines is when asked about whether it is better to get a B in an AP course or an A in an honors course, her answer is it’s better to get an A in an AP course. If you take AP courses in subjects that you are not good in or interested in, it will not help much.

  • 94. Chris  |  March 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

    “Most HYP-type colleges don’t even take many (if any) AP credits toward undergrad graduation requirements”

    That’s not right, unless you are referring to HYP-type colleges that I wouldn’t include in the list (HYP, Stanford, CalTech, MIT, the two other Cs).

    For example, here is Princeton’s policy:

    Note that, with the right distribution of APs (with 5s, obv), one may be allowed to skip a semester or a *full year* (that’s $60k!)

    At other schools, they allow skipping out of ‘intro’ math and science, which helps a great deal toward having a balanced college experience if majoring in an applied science (ie, one can satisfy all the EE requirements, and the distribution requirements, and still have space in one’s schedule to take a non-requirement-fulfilling class or two).

  • 95. Chris  |  March 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

    “However, if you want to go to HYP, the admissions people will wonder why, if you’re so smart, did you go to Senn, instead of NSCP, WY, etc., where all the smart, motivated Chicago public school kids (even the ones from the inner-city that have major challenges in their lives) go?”

    That’s grist for the personal statement. For the right kid, that’s a slamdunk. Of course, there’s really no way to know for sure at 13 that any given kid is the right kid to pull that off, but it also means that Senn doesn’t necessarily foreclose anything.

  • 96. klm  |  March 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm


    I read that book when it came out. It was a good read. From what I understand, it’s Hamilton College. It’s similar to the 2 private colleges where I worked –very selective with a good reputation, but not “most selective.” .

    The state school where I worked used a less-holistic formula/point system based on GPA/test score/race-ethnicity for admission. URMs (underrepresented minorities) were given an automatic 0.5 added to their GPA, but this wassoon replaced with a point sytem (80 needed for admission). URMs were automatically given an extra 20 points. ACT/SAT scores were given points (1-12 points, perfect scores were worth 12 points). An outstanding essay got an extra point, having an alumnus parent(s) was worth an extra point, being from a rura/underserved county in the state was worth an extra 2, etc.

    The one thing that really stood out to me was what a hard time working-class white and Asian kids had. At that time, Diversity in higher education was defined almost exclusively by the numbers of URMs (underrepresented minorities) in the freshman class. There’d be protests and veiled threats to the admissions department from students groups, certain faculty and even the administration about what would happen if the numbers aren’t “right.” The state school finally had a separate admissions department for URMs, with their own staff, alternative admissions procedures , separate more fluid deadlines, (I remember aswering the telephone and when people would ask if there stil was time to apply as a transfer, I’d have to say, ‘No, but non-Asian minority applicants wil be considered until the beginning of the term.’.).

    All us low-wage underlings would sometimes have to show up and set up for the admissions officers in high school libraries, etc., Sometimes, as part of the alternate admissions program for URMs, we had to set up for “on sight” admission (the student’s transcript and scores would be there, they’d talk to the admissions officer, then if all was OK, the admissions officer would offer the student a place in next year’s freshman class, without having to apply the tradional paper-application way). Once, I remember an Asian girl ask what I was doing, I explained where I was from, there’s was an non-traditional admissions program being set-up, etc, She was so excited and wanted to run to her counselor’s office to get all her doc’s –but I had to let her know that she couldn’t participate if she’s
    not a URM. Awkward.

    I kinda’ remember thinking, “Gee, somebody going to file a lawsuit.”
    Sure enough, that what happened eventually, yada, yada, … the U.S. Supreme said that strict racialism/points cannot be used in a race-based fashion for college admission, but if it’s just one of several factors, that’s OK. Some states (Michigan, Washington, …) have passed laws proscribing the use of race/gender/ethicity in state-supported instituitons for puposes of hiring, admissions, etc.

    Accordingly, there’s more of a trend towards using class (CPS Tiers for SEHS is an example in K12, although that’s a whole separate Supreme Course case and lots of us have problems with it because it’s so imperfect on an individual level) and race-neutral stats (like class rank, coming from a high-poverty neighborhodd or low-income school, etc.) to diversify colleges, since race and ethicity has been limited in more ‘holistic’ admissions. Schools are looking at the number of kids from the bottom-half of incomes, the first generation to attend college, etc., to diversify, which I’m all for. I’m not saying the kid from Hazard, KY, is more deserving than the NT kidsimply because he’s a hillbilly, but if the NT kid hasn’t shown that he’s done all he can with all he has, but the Hazard kid has done so,…why not pick to Hazard kid?

    At the colleges where I worked, there was money for financial-aid, but (like at Hamilton) not a bottomless amount like at a school like Harvard or Stanford, which are genuinely “need blind.” Since Diversity at that time meant URMs, that’s was a primary focus. Sure there were lots of great working-class/low-income Asian and white kids, but in terms of the all-important final numbers, they weren’t going to bring anything, as far as Diversity was concerned. If they were paying full-tuition, maybe there’d be a place for them, but since they were going to effectively require a full-ride, there was a lot more cost-benefit analysis. Now, if they had Rhodes Scholar potential, high SATs, great transcripts, etc., they got in no matter what. It’s just that financial need played a larger role than anybody would have liked, had there been unlimited resources.

    Accordingly, the white kids at that schools where I worked were largely upper-middle-class and middle-class (even at the state school), even more than grades and scores would otherwise indicate. Yes, I understand white kids in Winnetka are going to do better on the ACT than white kids in Podunk, on average, but the white kids from Podunk almost had to do better than the kids from Winnetka, to justify all the financial aid they were goping to need. I doubt that it’s changed all that much, but with the current trend towards trying to pull up low-income kids from all races, maybe it has.

    There were all the tricks virtually every college uses, like trying to get as many kids to apply as possible (even if they only had a snowball’s chance), so as to make admissions stats make the colleges look more “selective.” Did your kid ever get a letter from a college saying, “We want you to apply since you’d be a great fit. We want it so bad that we’ve pre-filled some of the application for you and are waiving the fee, just out the rest and click” –that school wants more applicants so that it can deny more and make itself more “selective” and “better”/higher in the rankings. With the U.S. New rankings, etc., somehow a school that accepts only 25% of applicants is ‘ipso facto’ “better” than a school that admits 50%, all things being equal.

    There’s the “right” college for everybody. The only thing we all can see from the horror stories in the news lately, etc., is that getting way into debt is a horrible idea. If a school promises a kid a wonderful undergraduate education, but with $100k in debt at the end, it’s not the “right” school, no matter how idealic its setting, how great the professors are, etc. No school’s worth going into the poor house (a/k/a your parents’ basement) and being stuck there for years. A college education is supposed to improve personal finances, not destroy them.

    The way way I feel about choosing where to go to college is a little like having a healthy romantic relationship. If somebody doesn’t want you, move on. Why obsess about somebody you like, but that doesn’t even like you back? Aren’t you going to be happier in the long run to be with somebody that likes you as much as you like them?

  • 97. RL Julia  |  March 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Another thing to contemplate about AP classes – is at least at NCP – just because you want to take one doesn’t mean you’ll get in. Space is limited. I know of one child who signed up for AP classes for Junior year and was place in none of them. Since she is now attends a small liberal arts college, I am assuming that college admissions counselor also understand this dynamic.

  • 98. klm  |  March 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm


    From what I understand, there’s a trend to re-think AP credit among prestige colleges. Dartmouth, for example, has announced that it’s not going the accept AP credit at all, starting in 2018. Duke allows only 2 classes towards graduation credits, etc.

    Some schools don’t allow any credits at all from certain AP courses, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong –it somebody can avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition by getting a 5 on an AP exam, I’m all for it. It’s just that it looks like it can go only so far at some schools.

  • 99. Lucy  |  March 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Regarding acceptances: students at my “lower tiered” SEHS have been admitted to UIUC with ACT scores of 23-25. (with NO ap courses) Students at my son’s suburban HS have been rejected with ACT of 32+. (with strong gpa and AP courses)

    Where you go to school does make a difference. It could help, but it also can hurt.

  • 100. CPS Parent  |  March 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    99. Lucy The only criteria for admission at UIUC are GPA and ACT scores. Depending on the major/area of study selected (which is required) the minimum scores vary widely – from low 20’s for Early Childhood Ed. and similar to 34 for Bio Engineering. Although essays are requested they are very rarely read which is what we were told by an admissions person when we went to visit the school. Admission is almost always entirely based on a calculation of GPA and ACT – the opposite of holistic admission. I don’t think UIUC cares one bit where students went to school.

  • 101. Looking at colleges  |  March 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I believe at UIUC it does matter which “College” you apply to. For years city kids have been applying to the College of Agriculture because it is easier to get into. If you go down to the bottom of this link you can see different schools have different ACT requirements.

  • 102. LUV2europe  |  March 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    95 – when the admissions counsel asks why Mr./ Ms. Smartypants went to Senn, the easy answer is “I’m from Tier 4, sir”. Enough said.

  • 103. mom2  |  March 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I can honestly tell you that UIUC does not admit everyone into their easier colleges with a 23-25 – even with a 4.0 GPA and AP courses. I think what klm said about being white and maybe needing aid is playing a larger role than anyone will admit.

  • 104. CPS Parent  |  March 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    103. mom2 Unlike private colleges, UIUC cannot favor one race/minority over another. Federal law prohibits it. In addition, there is no financial disclosure requirement on the UIUC application and the FAFSA (nor the CSS Profile) are required at the time of application.

    As far as I know UIUC is strictly GPA & ACT with the admission scores varying according to the field of study.

  • 105. Beth  |  March 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    As a parent of a Payton Senior and former academic:
    1) There are @150 kids in the current senior class, many have applied to Ivies+, no more than two, in some instances just one, have been accepted into each so far. Many deferrals and many out-right denials (even for legacies).
    2) I think the obsession with the Ivies is un-necessary because if your kid is an Ivy type of kid, and which Ivy-type of kid at that since Princeton and Brown for example are very different schools, you’ll know, especially if you start thinking beyond brand and think about actual fit—who your kid is, what makes them happy, what they want. The best way to get into any Ivy, just as it is to get into any other type of school, is for your kid to be themselves and do what it is they want to do, and do it super-well. The fact is that you won’t necessarily get a better education at an Ivy, but you’ll almost always get A’s and you’ll get so much hand-holding it will be nearly impossible for you to flunk out.
    3) My own personal bias is this—save the Ivies for graduate school if you’re more on the intellectual side of things, Ivy undergrad for business, government, pre-professional schools. It’s a bias.

  • 106. realchicagomama  |  March 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    When I applied to UIUC almost 20 years ago, the admissions requirements used some kind of a rubric among 3 points: class rank, GPA, ACT score. It is possible that it uses a different rubric now. But if the rubric has held, it is what prevents all of NCP from getting into UIUC, for example, and also allows the top _% of students from Roosevelt or ESL to get into UIUC. Not that all of NCP wants to go UIUC, of course. As this post attests, apparently the NCP crowd has their sights on the Ivies. An interesting question that I think CPSObsessed or something already asked is: does having an Ivy League degree translate into higher success or happiness in life?

    As I said in an earlier post, that is also what leads misguided guidance counselors to recommend that students who couldn’t get into LAS under that rubric to apply to the Ag school, as happened to my brother 15 years ago.

  • 107. CPS Parent  |  March 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    106. realchicagomama UIUC still asks for class rank but many high schools don’t rank anymore – including Payton and NSP. I’m not sure if class rank is actually used by UIUC at this point. About 30 – 40 seniors are admitted to UIUC from Payton every year with about a quarter to a third attending. Many use it as a “safety” school. Often, private colleges are more economical for many Payton students. That was the case for us – it would have been full fare at UIUC vs. full ride tuition at Yale.

  • 108. Lucy  |  March 5, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    @104. I strongly encourage you to look into This program is available at your high school and is an enormous source of information for college info. You can click on any school and see how many students applied and how many were accepted from your school. AND, it will tell you the average ACT score of acceptance as well as the average GPA. Ask a parent of a child at another school to access their data. Compare. Check with suburban friends for more info. I bet you will be surprised at what you find.

  • 109. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Let’s not confuse the AP issue. Schools still look favorably upon them, they just don’t want to give students college credit for them. Why? Because that means littlle Johnny might be gone in 3 years not 4. And that’s less money in the coffers.

    Make no mistake. College is a business. They want your money for as long as possible. Remember when college used to be 4 years? Now it’s become a 5 year plan for many. Why? Because colleges get an extra year of tuition. (And litltle Johnny won’t argue as he gets an extra year of avoiding the real world.)

    Even a prestigious school with lots of money needs more money. The Chicago Tribune recently had an article about the University of Chicago’s obsession with their rankings among top colleges. Because the higher the ranking, the higher the desirabilty, and the higher the tuiton. (And you thought we were the only one’s obsessed over rankings.)

  • 110. CPS Parent  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

    108. Lucy Agreed – Naviance is a good tool. Payton is fortunate to have it thanks to the parents who support the school with their wallets (I was involved with it’s initial purchase). It’s an expensive annual license and very few CPS high schools can afford it. It also requires continuous upkeep of the data points adding to the guidance counselor staff work load. At Payton, that department no longer has administrative staff support.

    A shortcoming of Naviance is that it doesn’t indicate acceptance by area of intended study which makes it less useful for schools like UIUC which have wide ranging admittance by intended major. You will see kids accepted with very low GPA & ACT as well as those who were rejected with almost perfect scores all reported on the same two axis graph.

  • 111. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

    110. CPS Parent | March 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

    That is interesting. I thought every CPS high school had Naviance. It’s a great tool.

  • 112. mom2  |  March 6, 2014 at 10:23 am

    According to Naviance for Lane Tech, 39 were admitted to UIUC last year. However, those stats are only as accurate as people report and the staff fills in. I know we haven’t reported our results and they don’t even have the numbers filled in for those that actually decided to attend. So not sure you can go by those numbers.

    I agree it would be nice to break the graph down by the specific college admitted or denied.

    I can also tell you that UIUC must not only go by ACT and GPA because we applied to the “easy” college and didn’t get in with a 23 and 4.0 and others got in with a 22 and 3.9. So they do look at something else such as applying for aid or legacy, etc.

  • 113. CPS Parent  |  March 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    112. mom2 I believe their rubric doesn’t “like” kids with a mismatched ACT and GPA – 23 and 4.0 is a red flag for their formula. I have noticed this on Naviance (for other schools as well). I think 99% of their admittance is done by machine – in one sense very fair and unbiased but probably not a good selection method for some deserving kids.

  • 114. mom2  |  March 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I can see in the graph that others with the exact same score combinations were admitted. The graph makes it very clear.

    By the way, some kids do great in school every day of the week for months and months but get very nervous for these standardized tests. I think their red flag might make sense at schools known to grade easy, but at CPS SEHS, that makes no sense at all since the classes are more rigorous to start with. (Guess I’m still quite angry)

  • 115. realchicagomama  |  March 6, 2014 at 11:53 am

    114 – Are they more rigorous than CPS neighborhood classes? Or is that perception?

    113 – after the clout list issue at UIUC in 2002-2003, I think I would prefer a transparent, formula-based admissions process.

  • 116. Looking at colleges  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    114-I truly feel your pain because I have two kids, in my opinion they work equally hard and I feel they are both equally intelligent, however, one of my kids tests so much better than the other. It’s gotten to the point where the one who doesn’t test as well is actually testing worse because of the pressure these tests bring.

    Although many people on this blog feel that UIUC is the only good state school in Illinois, I know many, many people that have gone to NIU, SIU and ISU and have done very well. All of these schools have excellent programs and nice kids. Remember that in the end, hard work is going to bring the rewards and it sounds like your child is a good worker.

  • 117. mom2  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    115 – I think they are more rigorous but that would only be based on the facts that some kids we knew from elementary school that really had trouble keeping up in class in 8th grade are getting mostly A’s at some neighborhood high schools. That may mean nothing if they all started buckling down once they got to high school. There really isn’t a way to be certain.

    116, thank you for feeling our pain. It does help to hear that.

  • 118. mom2  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Also, 115 – I would prefer a transparent formula, too, but that is not what we have right now. Iowa has a transparent formula. UIUC does not.

  • 119. klm  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm


    That’s true.

    Also, from a few things that I’ve read, some schools find that kids that take APs aren’t up to par with their standards. At Dartmouth, for example, they found that kids that come in with a 5 on the AP Psych exam do really horribly on the Psych 101-type class final exam (most fail), when it’s been presented in an attempt to judge the value of the AP.

    Now there are schools like Michigan State that accept AP without limits (provided kids have the scores), so there are examples of kids going right from high school leaping into junior year, AP college credits-wise, since they have so many APs. I remember reading story years ago about a student from Grosse Pointe that got a 4-year scholarship to Michigan State. Since he AP tested into his junior year, he was able to use his “4 year” scholarship to pay for 2 years of grad school –they let him do it.

    RE: the need for APs to impress HYP

    When I’ve mentioned that the very few, most selective colleges want kids to have lots of APs, I meant that the HYP-type schools want kids to take the most challenging classes available to them. At most public high schools that still means AP. If (as is the case at some elite [academics-wise] HSs) that does not mean AP, then it’s whatever class that is: Very Challenging Math Class, Very Challenging Language Arts Class, etc, without the AP designation.

    Now, obviously at a school like NT (or Exeter or Styvesant) , there’s probably a math class or two for kids that are truly exceptional in math — kids that score 800 on the math SAT without having to think twice and will fit in at Caltech, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon or the world-class engineering schoos at UIUC, Michigan, or U-C/Berkeley, etc., later on. Even most kids going to HYP can’t handle a class like that, so no school’s going to hold it againt them. But if they’re smart, capable and they take a class that’s obviously a little too easy for them, then that’s not going to look good. If it’s an “easy A” class not a ” I had to really work hard and challenge myself” class, that’s not going to look good to HYP admissions officers. HYP wants to see an impressive, challenging course load.

    At most high schools, the “most demanding” classes still means AP, that’s why I was talking above about the need for 10 APs to get into a HYP-type school.

    Now, if we’re talking about the kind of colleges that most of our kids will be going to attend, AP (or IB) still can mean leap-frogging over intro classes, earn advanced standing (and subsequent financial savings),etc.

    AP is not the end-all-and-be-all of American high school academics (especially when we’re talking about HS with lots of exceptionally talented students), but in some/most high schools, it still kinda’ is.

  • 120. LP  |  March 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for your posts KLM. Lots of opinions out there but few people have actually worked in admissions.

    Our friends with kids at Latin are convinced that our kids at Payton will receive an advantage (perhaps unfairly) by applying from CPS. At the same time I’ve heard Payton/NSCP parents grumble about certain boarding schools.

    Its a crazy opaque process that leads to all sorts of conspiracy theories. I just listen to people who recently worked in admissions – they are all consistent with what you say.

  • 121. klm  |  March 6, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    RE: Admission to UIUC

    People need to remember UIUC (like every other college in the country that’s in any ‘selective’) obviously uses a certain level of social engineering when building a freshman class.

    I recall (back when this info was easily accessed on the ‘Trib’s website a year or 2 ago –it gave more stats, including which IL public colleges the given HS’s grads went to college, numbers, the ave. HS GPA, ave. ACT, for those enrolled, then ave. Freshman GPA at the college per HS, drop-out rate per HS at the college, etc. —this was state schools with at least a few matriculants, including UIUC) that there was quite a big difference in ave. HS GPA and ave. ACT score between public HSs in Illinois.

    I recall that the the ave. ACT for enrolled freshman from one of the Naperville HSs (I can’t remember which one) for freshmen enrolling at UIUC was 29. For CPS Simeon HS, for example, it was 19. That’s a big difference. I’d bet really good money that admission to UIUC depends greatly on the socioeconomic stats: underrepresented groups, attending a low-income HS, performance of public schools from the applicant’s neighborhood, etc.

    When people are say “So and so from a neighborhood CPS HS got into UIUC with only a 22, but my friend’s kid from the suburbs was rejected with a 30 –so how can you tell me the CPS school is ‘bad’, etc.” they need to keep all that in mind.

    UIUC wants a minimum # of kids of certain races, ethnic groups, rural, urban, etc., since it’s lierally THE University of Our State.

    There are many things to input in order to create a true “apples to apples” comparison in anecdotal admissions stories.

  • 122. reenie  |  March 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    68 Chris, I think if you look under the surface, CPS is slowly developing a pool of high schools that aren’t the equivalents of HYP or highly-ranked state schools. The neighborhood IB programs, new STEM high schools, and the Noble charter high schools bring some different strengths to the table. There’s been a lot of buzz in the local education news world (WBEZ, Catalyst Chicago) about the death of the neighborhood high school. The schools you characterized as for-profit colleges with gang fights are dying a slow death by attrition. I think the rise of high schools like Alcott and Ogden shows that demand for alternatives to SEHS is starting to force the system to develop new schools.

  • 123. reenie  |  March 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    116 if your child who struggles with testing hasn’t already started looking for test-optional colleges, I’d highly recommend investigating them. FairTest has a list:

  • 124. JustAnotherConcernedParent  |  March 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I’ll be honest. I can’t see how test stress materially affects mathematics scores. Under stress, I may not remember who wrote Pygmalion, but I’ll still be able to add 2+2. I know that’s an extreme example, but for kids who know their math, SAT math questions are not whole lot harder than adding 2+2.

  • 125. mom2  |  March 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    123 – Thank you, but we are well past that point. We have some very good options but I just wish UIUC was the type of school that would look past a lower ACT score and look more at the whole individual – like other flagship schools around here did for us (funny how that worked). I think they care so much about being X on a ranking list that the only way you can get in with a lower ACT score is by fitting some of their other criteria – out of state, out of country, able to pay full out of state tuition, minority of some sort – to fit their perfect freshman class. I would have hoped that they would care more about their in-state students than they actually do.

    124 – you can’t see it because you don’t know what anxiety does to people. You’ll never understand.

  • 126. Chris  |  March 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Reenie: ” I think if you look under the surface, CPS is slowly developing a pool of high schools that aren’t the equivalents of HYP or highly-ranked state schools. The neighborhood IB programs, new STEM high schools, and the Noble charter high schools bring some different strengths to the table. ”

    I don’t disagree, but (1) I noted that it is a *perception* of the ‘bad’ schools, (2) my main point was that PaNJY ~ Ivy, and (3) *most* of those ‘middle’ HS options are still basically new and, thus, perceived (that word again) to be unproven.

  • 127. UIUC  |  March 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Is regular (non-engineering) UIUC considered competitive? The school as a whole has a 63% acceptance rate. Pull out the engineering school numbers and that would jump.

  • 128. HS Mom  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    @109 Panterparent – right! to add to that, the scholarships are up in 4 years so you’re kind of stuck finding the money if you want to finish.

  • 129. HS Mom  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Mom 2 – Your are right about it all regarding UIUC, and legal or not, there is some way that race is incorporated in the mix. Looking at our naviance plot diagram for UIUC there is a distinct line where GPA/ACT drop into continuous X’s. There are few exceptions and I can guarantee that those are not for the agricultural school. Admissions to Liberal Arts is challenging and who wants to take general studies? In analyzing the admissions, as cps parent suggests, you need only to assume that an X with higher scores has to do with major selection. Best to move on, the important thing is to attend a college that your son will be successful with and the rest will follow.

    SSI – not sure about all but many schools, including neighborhood schools have Naviance. Plug in a few zip codes and you will see. This is not something reserved for select schools.

    AP – Once the workload became too much, we cut back on the number of AP’s he intended to take. With all honors level classes and a few core AP classes, the strategy worked well for us getting into more selective schools. He was never on track for Ivy……but who knows, our “hail Mary” went to a small private school that he’s been deferred on, so not holding out for it. As others have mentioned the most selective schools really require a kid to be driven in pursuit of a passion – along with the tests and grades and community leadership in their spare time.

  • 130.  |  March 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    In truth, a number of offices now don’t even bother to possess intercoms installed for
    they depend on the services. It’s important that you select styles
    and colours that will compliment your existing decor or fit in with your new scheme.
    One of the inventions that is making the biggest waves of change in today’s society is the computer system.

  • 131. parent  |  March 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    This discussion is interesting…the following link has videos that address what is being discussed in this thread and worth watching if you have the time.

  • 132. Turning down your spot  |  March 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I don’t think the couple of people who turned down their SE spot realize that just because they turned down a spot doesn’t mean another child will get that spot. All of the schools “over offered” spots because they are trying not to have a second round. Some schools over offer more than others depending on past stats for kids declining.

  • 133. another cps parent  |  March 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    132 – agreed. The time to think about whether or not your A/C student wants to stay at the school would be before they apply not after they are accepted and turn it down.

  • 134. Once Upon a Time LTAC Mom  |  March 8, 2014 at 10:25 am

    @133,132 That would be nice in a perfect world! Unfortunately, CPS has taught me to keep every door open until it closes. My daughter, for instance, was almost shut out of being able to apply for the LTAC program because she did not test for the WYAC program that year. (We knew she would not be going to WYAC because of its distance from our home and the length of the commute. Many of her fellow RGC classmates did take test, mostly to see how well they could do on the test.) My daughter, then, was initially shut out of the process when the program opened because she did not test for a program that had not yet been created! Fortunately, CPS responded to a petition and opened up the testing for kids like her. Our takeaway was to always be prepared, because things with CPS can change at any minute.

    And let’s not forget, kids turn down seats at SEHS to which they’ve been accepted to attend private schools, IB programs, STEM programs, Arts programs. It’s not only AC kids. AC kids have the same right to test and chose as any other. That’s why SEHS overaccept in the first place. Perhaps, though, rather than looking at this as opening up seats for admissions, it should be thought of as opening classroom space within a school–so that a student won’t be locked out of an AP class they want because it’s filled.

    Finally, the pressure on these kids to get into certain schools is incredible. And it’s not only coming from parents. When my daughter got into LTAC, one of hers classmates told her that she could have’ done better.’ “Better for what? For who?,” I told my daughter is what she should have replied. I can’t tell you the number of neighbors, acquaintances, peers, peers’ parents! who had opinions about where she should apply and offered them unsolicited! My daughter thought she wanted to stay where she was–but there was so much pressure. So yes, we told her to test and then make her decisions–like everybody else.

    Congratulations to Peter and CPS Dad on their son’s decision to stay! My daughter is having a great experience and is very happy with the decision she made.

  • 135. klm  |  March 8, 2014 at 11:19 am


    Using race/ethnicity is not proscribed in IL, so UIUC uses it, I’m sure.

    Even when it is legally proscribed (in a state like Michigan or at school like U. of Calif.), admissions officers use ‘holostic’ admissions to let in a decent number of kids from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. There was an article in the NYT a few months back by a woman who worked one year at admissions at U-C/Berkeley. She discussed 2 applicants to the engineering school. She was confused why a Hispanic applicant with SATs a little over 1,800 was given more a more “positive” admission recommendation profile (for overcoming life ‘circumstances’ which were vaguely defined and hard to figure out) than a South Asian applicant from India with SATs of over 2,300. Now, engineering schools like U-C/Berkeley’s have qualified Asian applicants galore, but not many Hispanic ones, they’re going to try to get more Hispanics enrolled, one way or another without technically breaking the law (there have been all the usual criticisms about the vagueness of what ‘adverse circumstances’ mean). Schools where race/ethnicity are proscribed use CPS Tier-like “race neutral” stats to give kids from certain backgrounds (low-performing schools, high % of poverty schools, living in a low-income zip-code, overcoming ‘hardship’ –like the time somebody felt racially profiled at a store per their essay, etc…..) more points in the admissions equation, in order to approximate a freshman class they would get if race/ethnicity can be used

    Some White and Asian kids in Michigan also benefit when they attend inner-city high schools when they apply for admissions to state-supported colleges which is now technically race-neutral (I personally know a white family that kept their kids in the urban, mostly low-income school where they live, instead of moving to the suburbs just for that reason. They wanted to increase the chances of their kids going to the University of Michigan, get more financial aid, etc.). I’m sure that the same applies for out-of-state applicants as well, so if a white or Asian kid in Chicago wants to attend the University of Michigan or Michigan State, their chances are probably higher if they go to Senn or Sullivan (low-performing, majority low-income) than NSCP or Payton, all things being equal.

    Now, in Illinois, schools can still use race and ethnicity.

    Some context may be in order, however. I did a little Googling to find these stats: The % of students in IL meeting college readiness scores on all 4 sections of ACT (these don’t even seem all that high to me -English-18, Math-22, Reading-21, Science-24): White-35%, Asian-46%, Black-5%, Hispanic-10%.

    When you get into the higher scores, the disparities are even greater. Nationally, the % of kids that score 28 or higher on the sections: Asians- English-26%, Math-35%, Reading-28%, Science-20%, Blacks- E-2%, M-1%, R-3%, S-1%.

    UIUC’s 25th-75th %entile ACT scores are 26-31, For the engineering school, it’s 32+ (per its web site). Schools like Northwestern and Stanford will have ACTs in the 31-34 or even in the 32-35 (at some Ivies) range. They typically aim to have at least 10% of freshman be black, 10+% Hispanic. Add in higher drop-out rates/lower graduation rates for URMs….

    Do the math.

    Admissions offices feel like they have no choice but to differentiate by race (that’s why CPS schools that have virtually 100% URM enrollment, like Simeon will have an ACT ave. of 19 for its freshmen at UIUC, while for the HS in Naperville (mostly white and Asian), it’s 29 [and if they get lots of kids into engineering, as I suspect it does, that’s one big reason why it’s so high/inflated –engineering at UIUC requires a really high ACT]), otherwise the enrollment at a public univerity like UIUC would be so out of alignment with the state demographics, it would likely be untenable poltically, etc.

    Same for grad programs: imagine if the pipline of physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, civil engineers, lawyers (future judges, DAs, etc –the judicial system) at public (for which everybody in one way or the other pays through at least sales tax, even if they’re too poor to pay income tax) schools were limited to being only 1 or 2% black or 2-3% Hispanic without differentiated admissions. This in a state like IL where the current public HS demographic is 50.6% white, 17.6% black, 24.1% Hispanic and 4.3% Asian, per what I found online. Politicians would be up in arms, probably threatening to cut funding, etc Consequently, differentiating by race and ethnicity is considered a quasi-necessity by people who run things in higher education.

    When people are talking about student A who got into UIUC with a 24, but student B didn’t with a 30, I’d want to know the facts before I assess that statement. To which school at UIUC were they applying for admission (for engineering, 30 is below average), what’s the GPA situation, the demographics of the HSs attended, the race/ethnicity/economic status of the applicant, ….etc.

    If they care, and since it’s a public university, anybody can file a FOIA request to UIUC to find out the details of how they do admissions.

  • 136. WRP Mom  |  March 8, 2014 at 11:36 am

    132,133. My LTAC 8th grader took advantage of the early testing so we found out her score ahead of time. Her dad & I wanted her to at least keep her options open. She got a 900 so could have gone anywhere. We discussed it in December & she really wanted to stay at Lane so we decided not to put in the application. We didn’t want to take away a spot from another child who really wanted to go to NSCP.

    It sounds like several families didn’t realize that the spot left open by their child not accepting would go unfilled. Maybe I was more attuned to this fact since we went through this 2 years ago. My kid used to go the Decatur which is a K-6 school. So, 6th grade there is like 8th grade everywhere else, in which the entire grade is testing and hoping for a selective enrollment spot (AC’s). There were kids that didn’t get offers and had to scramble looking for other options for the following year. Later, when chatting with parents of other schools, I encountered families from RGC’s that declined AC spots who had only gone through the process for test practice. They never had intentions of moving their child from their present school. WYAC and LTAC did not have a 2nd round and those spots went unfilled. It frustrated me that there were Decatur kids who would have gladly accepted those spots.

    I guess my point is, I feel people should apply for SEHS and AC only if they are considering taking the spots, not just “to see”.

  • 137. anonymouse teacher  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I wonder if some point if there could be a thread on how families are paying (or not) for college. My kids’ college selection will be determined by overall cost, first and foremost. For us, an Ivy selection isn’t really something I am concerned about because unless they are offering 90%+ in scholarships, even if our kids would get in, they wouldn’t be able to attend due to price. The cost is the thing that looms larger than anything else for our family and I can only assume we are not the only ones.

  • 138. rj  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Nothing wrong with smaller selective colleges like Bates, Colgate and Tufts. I would rather be a big dog at a small school than be just another poodle at a large school. Also think local, we have Northwestern, University of Chicago, Depaul, Loyola and even UIC. That’s just me…

  • 139. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    KLM – that is absolutely what is playing out at UIUC. If you did not get in it’s either due to both GPA and ACT not strictly matching with their designated cut off. If “holistic admissions” means that they look at what you can bring to the mix ethnically then there is consideration along with scholarships. Otherwise forget it.

    I don’t have a problem with racial balancing, there are so many schools that it’s not even something to begrudge when it comes to some kids getting in with lower scores. Doing the math, it’s not a big deal. We’re looking for a school that is challenging yet places our student at the top half. Living in Chicago, having what we have and noticing schools “brag” about the 15-20% “non-white” population that they have is laughable. UIUC, however, needs to fill more of their engineering and pre-professional programs with kids from the US instead of China.

    One thing we considered is the ability to direct enter the school of business (or others, I’m sure) and the uncertainty of getting your intended major. The stats on transferring into the “better” majors from other programs within the school were not great and even lower from outside the school. There are so many other large universities that will allow direct entry with lower thresholds that this became a deal breaker for us (among a few other issues).

    Speaking of Michigan….U of M will meet the financial need of any in state student that gains admission. That’s what I call support!

  • 140. klm  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm


    If you’re lucky enough to have a kid that gets into HYP, Stanford, Amherst, etc., paying for it likely won’t be such an issue.

    For example, I remember that Stanford announced in 2007 that no family making less than $100k will have to contribute towards tuition, under $60k, nothing for room and board, either. Maybe, with inflation, this has even gone up. For some lucky middle-class in-state families, it’s often cheaper to go to Stanford than UCLA, U-C/Berkely, UCSD, etc., from what I’ve read.

    A middle-class family I know in Michigan (one parent a nurse, the other a teacher) was amazed to find that their expected contibution for their daughter was lower at an Ivy (which had a debt-free financial aid program) than as an in-state student at the University of Michigan (which also expected their daughter to graduate with a little debt) several years back. The Ivy even gave her a stipend one summer for an unpaid internship related to her field of academic interest –I’m pretty sure that seems like science-fiction at most public colleges.

    Those kinds of schools have a huge price tags, but they have huge endowments, especially relative to their generally smaller undergrad populations. The only families paying full-price are people with real money.

  • 141. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    @134 I can see why you feel the way you do but also get what the other parents say. With limited seats and competition and now kids from the suburbs joining the mix, the mom who said that PD was for kids who didn’t get an SE seat is showing much consideration. I think some consider a kid already in a AC happy with the school to be in the same position, they have a guaranteed SE seat. Yes, there’s always going to be kids who choose private or other non-se schools but it’s not the same as having an SE seat and trying for another. Also consider that AC kids can theoretically raise cut-off scores (not sure how many of them test or if the scores are higher). I guess you have to do what you have to do….just something for people to keep in mind.

  • 142. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    @137 – these same financial supports are available at many small private colleges. If they want you, they will put together an attractive financial package to meet your need. Not so much at larger flagship universities where you are just one of thousands. Some people like that and pay for it.

  • 143. OutsideLookingIn  |  March 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    It’s WAY harder to get into an ivy than to pay for it. A student can get a full ride at Harvard but if the same kid goes to UIUC, kid will have to pay. Non-ivy privates will bring their net cost down to public university net cost. But ivies will cover tuition, room/board and give kid a campus job to help kid earn money. So a kid can walk away after four years with no student loans and a degree from Harvard. If the same kid attends UIUC or Loyola, kid will get a tuition discount but still walk away with debt to pay off. Folks don’t just aspire to go to Harvard for the “prestige”, they go for the ability to get a great college education for free.

    If you really want to be screwed, go to a for-profit diploma mill and rack up extreme debt that you will never be able to pay back with the crappy degree you just earned.

  • 144. mom2  |  March 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Anonymouse – we are in the same situation for college. We have to pick the one that we can afford even if it means that our kid will not be going to the “best” school as far as ranking goes. It breaks my heart that we can’t just say “go where you find the best fit” or “go to school X because it has the best school for your major”, etc. Aid packages are just starting to come in. Hoping one will offer enough that we won’t have to move to pay for it. Maybe just refinance our mortgage and take an extra $20-$30,000 to help out a bit. The rest is going to have to be loans for the kid – like it or not.

  • 145. local  |  March 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    “For example, I remember that Stanford announced in 2007 that no family making less than $100k will have to contribute towards tuition, under $60k, nothing for room and board, either.”

    The dang thing I’m just learning is that with $100K the family has to find $15-20K per year for room/board, etc. Everything except tuition. Beyond the annual $5,500 loan the kid can take, the rest need to come from the family. $100K can be almost hand-to-mouth in this area. Ouch.

  • 146. local  |  March 8, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    @ 135. klm | March 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Thanks. It would be very interesting to see those same stats for the undergrad and grad degrees awarded. We’re looking at input, and need insight into the output, too.

  • 147. CPS Parent  |  March 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

    137. anonymouse teacher – The Ivy’s and Stanford are the least costly schools for people with limited resources. The aid starts at annual incomes of about $190,000 and becomes just about full ride by $100,000 or so. All the awards are loan-free but kids can do the Stafford loans if they want to.

  • 148. HS Mom  |  March 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    144 – Good luck mom2!

  • 149. Chris  |  March 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    147: “The Ivy’s and Stanford are the least costly schools for people with limited resources.”

    Not all of the Ivies.

    But, yeah, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford (and some others) will almost certainly be less than at least 95% of colleges (not counting outside scholarship $$) for a family with HHi under $60k, and probably also if under $100k. The idea is that getting in + financial need = evidence of deserving a ‘scholarship’. There is *no way* that Iowa or Mizzou or UIUC would be *cheaper* than Yale for a family with less than $60k income (assuming no large pile of financial assets), and it is unlikely with income up to $100k.

  • 150. Chris  |  March 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    “Beyond the annual $5,500 loan the kid can take”

    The kid can take a lot more loan than that.

    Also, the ~$13k they expect can include any ‘outside’ scholarships–get a $1000 scholarship from the Moose Lodge, that’s part of the $13k. And part of the $$ is from a job during the school year. And it includes ~$2500 in ‘personal expenses’.

    In any event, where’s the kid gonna go that’s *less* than $13k/year, when you make ~$80k? NEIU isn’t free, either.

  • 151. H  |  March 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    “Also, the ~$13k they expect can include any ‘outside’ scholarships–get a $1000 scholarship from the Moose Lodge, that’s part of the $13k.”

    Really? Is this a change from days of yore? Coulda sworn outside scholarships offset school grant aid 1 for 1.

  • 152. Chris  |  March 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    “Really? Is this a change from days of yore? Coulda sworn outside scholarships offset school grant aid 1 for 1.”

    my spot checking sez it is true now. do know that it was offset back when–when $13k was full tuition.

  • 153. H  |  March 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    “my spot checking sez it is true now.”

    At a school like Yale, it appears to reduce the expected student contribution but cannot replace the expected parental contribution. So it could not fully replace the e.g. $13K. A $1K Moose would reduce to $12K, but at some point it would offset school grant aid. I thought in the past it would go straight to offsetting grant aid from the first $, but maybe I am misremembering.

  • 154. rj  |  March 15, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    When are selective enrollment elementary scores being mailed out?

  • 155. LSmom  |  March 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Letters for selective enrollment and magnet schools are supposed to be mailed out March 21.

  • 156. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    @144 Best to go to the best school that you can afford without taking on much unsubsidized debt. There’s no point in trying to find the best fit at great cost for college only to have to pursue a poor-fit career after college to pay off the debt. Especially if the student thinks that he or she might want to pursue graduate school.

    Excelling at a good-enough school that is affordable is better than being anxious over costs at better school that strains finances.

  • 157. Momof5  |  March 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    @137 and @144:

    We are going through the college selection process now and are AMAZED at the scholarship opportunities bring offered to my son.
    U of C (and Northwestern, I think) have made a commitment to CPS HS grads by creating a CPS scholarship program. My son has been accepted at U of C, Cornell, SLU, UIUC, Illinois Wesleyan and all but UIUC have offered academic scholarships. We are still waiting to hear from a few more schools but U of C has made him an offer that would be idiotic to refuse. Cornell has said they’ll better anything the other Ivies offer financially. I had been thinking we shouldn’t even apply to these schools as we have other children to educate and the cost is staggering but I am so glad my son’s teachers encouraged him to do so.
    If your child has worked hard, challenged themselves and succeeded, I would strongly encourage you to have them apply to their “dream” or “reach” schools as long as you have the honest discussion that it may not be financially possible or prudent to attend.

  • 158. HS Mom  |  March 20, 2014 at 6:51 am

    @157 Wow! That’s great. UIUC has offered a $986 scholarship (couldn’t even round it to $1,000). We applied to 3 smaller private schools and did not get into 1reach school. Deciding between 2 schools (good schools, not Ivy) that will both cover 100% need and them some. Wish we would have looked into more instead of the 4 universities we applied to. Illinois Wesleyan would have been on the list if we had it to do over.

  • 159. mom2  |  March 20, 2014 at 9:19 am

    157 – Very happy for you and you, too HS Mom. Due to lower than we ever expected ACT scores, we would never have the options you have. Our other self-made issue is that our kid wants to go to a big school. Therefore, the price tag will be higher because state schools don’t offer nearly as much financial assistance as smaller LAC or private schools. We are still waiting on financial packages, but so far things are very good. We do have three schools on our list that offered some scholarships, so it will most likely be one of those plus refinancing and kid taking out loans and work-study.

  • 160. mom2  |  March 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

    correction – so far things are not very good (kids top two choices offered no scholarships or aid – just loans). But the other three are still looking possible, so all is not lost.

  • 161. Chris  |  March 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

    “My son has been accepted at U of C, Cornell, … U of C has made him an offer that would be idiotic to refuse. Cornell has said they’ll better anything the other Ivies offer financially.”

    1. Congratulations!
    2. If considering Cornell, and if he has not been to Ithaca, I’d strongly recommend a visit. It’s beautiful, but not for everyone.
    3. Ditto UC (which is, of course, easier to pull off), even tho it is *much* different than 20 years ago.

    4. (and not specifically relevant to Momof5) Lookit that: *this* is why a discussion of the Ivies (and similar) is relevant: for those who get in, it is frequently the cheapest college option for the non-wealthy. Obv, have to keep the rose colored glasses in the desk, and be realistic about chances.

  • 162. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

    157. Momof5 | March 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    My girlfriend’s son is graduating from Cornell U in May (can’t believe it’s been 4yrs) and has been accepted into UCLA for grad school. He loved Cornell, but Chris is right, Ithaca is not for everyone.

  • 163. Looking at colleges  |  March 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Obviously, every college/university has their own “vibe”, but I am curious what it is about Cornell that does not make it “right for everyone”.

  • 164. Cornell  |  March 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Ok I have to put in a plug for Cornell and Ithaca! Great school! Amazing connections and alumni – winter break internships in some fields even in Chicago. Ithaca is gorgeous. Especially in fall and late spring. Will be in great shape with the hills! Buses or friends can take you to Boston, NYC, etc. about 5 hour ride. Ride shares available to get to Chicago for holidays, summer- about a 10 hour drive. Close to niagra falls and Corning and driving to Toronto and Montreal not too far. Cornell does work it’s undergrads though. Not a get in and relax environment as I’ve read on this blog about some ivies. Sunshine is not ever present -overcast a lot, so if your child loved this winter in Chicago, Ithaca is a great match.

    Good luck with ur decision!

  • 165. Cornell  |  March 20, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Not right for everyone refers mostly to the weather from my experience. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, Ithaca is not the right fit. Cornell has the most beautiful campus – likely in the entire country – that is it’s reputation and it lives up to it. Great town / area for hikers, those who enjoy idea of swimming under many waterfalls, bikers who want challenging hills, students who want to study near a brook while doping their toes in the water. Plus lake for boating, fishing. Non-dorm housing – well it’s been years, but it was subpar compared to uiuc non-dorm housing. That seems to have been improving.

  • 166. Chris  |  March 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    “Not right for everyone refers mostly to the weather from my experience”

    Agreed. Biggest issue.

    ” if your child loved this winter in Chicago”

    This winter was *much* sunnier than ‘normal’ for Chicago. Ithaca is normally considerably cloudier than Chicago in the winter–it’s basically 6 to 15 percentage point (ie, Feb in Chicago 42.86% sun; Ithaca 32.14% sun) less available sun. But pretty comparable on teh snow (days and accumulation) side of things.

    Nothing “bad” to say about Cornell or Ithaca, just advice to try to visit before the deadline, if Cornell v UC (or wherever) is otherwise a close call. If Cornell is the clear winner, then I don’t think a visit matters.

  • 167. Momof5  |  March 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    HSMom, Mom2, Chris, SoxSideIrish4, Thank you for the kind words!

    We will be planning a family road trip to see Niagara, Ithaca and any other eastern colleges we hear from. I had heard the same things about the weather in Ithaca and will take it into consideration.

    Chris, ” *this* is why a discussion of the Ivies (and similar) is relevant: for those who get in, it is frequently the cheapest college option for the non-wealthy.” This is exactly why I wrote my post. But I would really hope that parents learn that it’s most private universities that have the ability and are willing to help with school affordability.

  • 168. HS Mom  |  March 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    @167 and everyone. Thanks for your words of support and advice. We will be checking out University of Denver Daniels school of Business. Has a great reputation with a respectable ranking and a “go to” grad school if it comes to that (not pushing anything right now). The size is considered “medium” which sounds perfect (roughly 5,000 undergrad). Otherwise 2 very small liberal arts schools that claim to “change lives” (I believe!!) Cornell COLLEGE and Beloit – both very similar in offerings one with a block schedule. Any experience out there? Please feel free to give an opinion either way.

    CPSO – thanks for these college threads, very helpful when it’s your first go around.

  • 169. local  |  March 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    New thread idea: ACT/SAT test-prep in Chicago (in-school and outside). Those higher scores pay off in dollars.

  • 170. Patricia  |  March 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    @ Local. Khan Academy ( is creating FREE ACT/SAT prep classes online. II think they already have some now too. This was in the press when the SAT changes were announced a few weeks ago. Khan goal is to level the playing field and provide free quality test prep to all. I just love Khan Academy!

  • 171. HS Mom  |  March 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Patricia – great advice

    Local – would never have applied to Cornell if it wasn’t for your suggestion a while ago…..thanks

    We used a combination of on line (during the summer) and standard type test prep program with a class once a week. I found that the discipline of attending a class with other kids was necessary. We did not use any expensive tutoring.

  • 172. Cornell  |  March 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    167. Momof5. I visited U of Minnesota back in the day when I was deciding between schools. When I arrived, there was a snowstorm, lots of snow on the ground, gloomy – just as you might imagine Minnesota in the winter. Then I visited Ithaca – bright, sunny day. Both had great programs in my field but the bright, sunny day and beauty of the campus was the clincher. Minnesota had great year long internships for students since they have strong relationships with the businesses (could go to school and work in related field), so it was a close decision. But weather during my visit was the real clincher.

    Boy did I deceive myself! 🙂 It all worked out despite the lack of sunshine. Loved meeting people from all over the world and all over the U.S. Having Cornell on a resume opens doors and definitely gets you extra consideration. Might want to budget in a spring break trip to somewhere sunny and maybe for winter break with the family as well. Sounds obnoxious to suggest it as money is tight for families, but a break with sunshine can help.

    Having a car was great, but I lived off campus. Housing was pricey and most off campus housing at the time was of the slum lord type. Nicer and more reasonable if willing to take bus to school. Nice downtown area at bottom of the hill.

  • 173. Momof5  |  March 20, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    @172 Cornell: Thanks for the tips! As my name suggests, I’d better start saving today for sunny vacations if that’s where my child decides to go!

  • 174. local  |  March 21, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    U of Chicago students offer a free test-prep course to Chicago HS kids: Whatever it Takes…

    WIT offers free SAT and ACT prep class that is taught by several University of Chicago students. Classes are held for 3 hours on the weekends on the U of C campus. Classes run continuously for 10 weeks from 10 AM to 2 PM.

    Registration for Spring 2014 is now open. STARTS SOON!!!

  • 175. local  |  March 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Format of the class ^

    Class 1 (Saturday, April 5th): Full length practice test 1

    Class 2-9 (weekly, on Saturday): Test content instruction, test taking strategy, etc.

    Class 10 (Saturday, June 7th): Full length practice test 2

  • 176. anonymouse teacher  |  March 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Its pretty cool that U of C is doing this.

  • 177. local  |  March 22, 2014 at 12:24 am

    They also present Cascade and Splash! Wonderful enrichment courses free to high schoolers and taught by UChicago undergrads.

  • 178. Stacy  |  March 27, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking
    into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty
    penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • 179. Even One More CPS Mom  |  April 1, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    “New York high school student accepted at all eight Ivy League schools”,0,6052470.story

  • 180. HS Mom  |  April 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    NYT article on missing out in admissions. Hits the nail on the head.

    “And right now many young men and women who didn’t get in where they fervently longed to are worrying that it’s some grim harbinger of their future, some sweeping judgment of their worth.

    This is for them. And it’s intended less as a balm for the rejected than as a reality check for a society gone nuts over the whole overheated process.”

    Hope to hear good news from everyone now that we’ve entered the big “month of decision”.

  • 181. reenie  |  April 2, 2014 at 5:40 am

    This WashPo piece is similar, with the useful stat that less than 1 percent of college-bound teens go to an Ivy:

  • 182. HS Mom  |  April 2, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Reenie, that was good, thanks (Kiai!)

    This comment struck me

    “Kids today apply to more colleges than kids of yesterday, so schools get more applications”

    Kids are applying to a lot more schools (8-10) instead of (5-7) of just 2 years ago. At least the ones I know. This has got to throw a whole new angle on the game.

  • 183. Looking at colleges  |  April 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I wanted to put a link on here to this blog – Educated Quest. There has been a lot of talk on here about UIUC and how the choices in Illinois are limited. His post here is about brand name schools and whether you need to go to one.

    Here is the link:

  • 184. HS Mom  |  April 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    183 thank you! that was very helpful….good timing

  • 185. reenie  |  April 3, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Glad you liked it HS Mom. And a big Kiai! back to you.

  • 186. local  |  April 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    A great alternative to the Ivies:

    Chicago-area summer college fairs for Colleges That Change Lives.

  • 187. HS Mom  |  April 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    @186 – we went to this last year….very worthwhile. We are in!

    Since the article in the link @183 mentions Juniata, I followed the link on the CTCL list. Here’s what they say

    “One little group of upperclass students felt so strongly about the quality of their Juniata experiences that they asked me, ‘What’s the difference between Juniata and Amherst?’ My answer was that Amherst has more very bright, more sophisticated, and more well-to-do freshmen than Juniata, but by the time they’re seniors the situation has been reversed. The Juniata seniors’ talents have been doubled and sharpened, and they have been better equipped to cope, to adapt, and to take risks—things they will have to do in this new world.”

    Some very interesting schools. Check out the New School in Florida with no required courses. You take what interests you. Steve Jobs would have liked that.

  • 188. HS Mom  |  April 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm


    my son went to Marwen starting 6th grade. It’s free.

    Just to be clear – he’s not gifted and I’m not bragging. In fact he was pretty mediocre at art (for the record LOL)

    There were other very talented kids there…..OK to talk about others?

  • 189. spam  |  April 20, 2014 at 1:02 am


  • 190. HS Mom  |  April 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Not sure if anyone is following this story but U of I (both) is having an issue with pensions and fear losing their good teachers.

    Not only that, they have sent letters out to students retracting the measly scholarships they have offered. Glad we decided to go out of state.

  • 191. Looking at colleges  |  April 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

    HS Mom – I have been following your posts, but maybe I missed it. Where did your son decide to go to college?

  • 192. HS Mom  |  April 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Cornell College

  • 193. Looking at colleges  |  April 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Congratulations on your choice. I think he will really love it. I love liberal arts colleges and I think Cornell’s one class at a time is great. I know someone who is graduating from there this year and she loved it and did very well there.

  • 194. HS Mom  |  April 25, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you. Our family is very excited. I think it’s a great fit for my son and I’m finding out that there are many advantages to a small school starting with the scholarships and all the way through to a potentially better customized education. He is looking forward to spending a block of time abroad without worry of messing up the school schedule and graduation at no additional charge. I believe that these small LA schools will start playing a more predominate roll in college choice as more kids look to get a quality education/experience prior to work or grad school.

    I hope others have good and exciting news and I look forward to hearing about it.

    My only advice to those just starting the process is the same as for high school. Cast a wide net, you never know where you’ll end up. We would never have guessed.

  • 195. elsword hack  |  April 27, 2014 at 3:31 am

    I wanted to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.

    I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…

  • 196. Looking at colleges  |  May 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I saw this item on a blog I go on occasionally. It is about a family that turned down Northwestern in favor of University of Pittsburg, which gave their daughter a full tuition scholarship. My son is a junior so we are just really getting into the whole process. I was curious if anyone had any thoughts on it.

  • 197. College  |  May 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

    #196. Thanks for sharing the link. As an 8th grade parent, the article gave a good perspective. We are used to trying to give our kids the “best” or what they want regardless of the cost, but this article is helpful in that it shares that it is o.k. not to do so even when you can. Kind of like we need permission to make these types of decisions since everyone around us (event those who have no money saved) are making crazy decisions.

    I’ve heard great things about U of Pittsburgh. Their ACT target is like 27-31+. I was surprised since I had never heard of it. Heard it is a beautiful campus as well.

  • 198. jetpack joyride hack  |  May 13, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to
    protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked
    hard on. Any suggestions?

  • 199. HS Mom  |  June 20, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Another article about cost of college. Interesting to read about this program at Kettering.

    “In a 2013 study by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy think tank, researchers found private institutions routinely charge low-income students much more than their families can afford.”

  • 200. HS Mom  |  June 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    @196 – Good article. We had that exact decision to make and are going with the scholarship school. No tears here, his new school of choice has so much going for it…….especially the fact that he’ll get tons of support at a small school and he has redefined his plan to include grad school now that we can afford it.

  • 201. anonymouse teacher  |  June 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I love the article from 196 and am 100% in favor of choosing a decent school that pays all or most of the cost over pretty much any other school. We’ll be encouraging our children to be savvy about educational costs and the long term cost/benefits of taking on more than very minimal loan amounts.

  • 202. HS Mom  |  June 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    201 – agree, of course. 196 does bring up an interesting point. How do people feel about the parents insisting on the low/no cost school when the kid has their heart set on something that you could conceivably find the money for?

    I was kind of fortunate that my student understood the $ implications and was willing to make sacrifices – which of course turn out to be non-issues as the article describes.

  • 203. anonymouse teacher  |  June 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    For me, I feel it teaches kids about the value of money to say no to the “dream school”. And, in the end, the money belongs to the parents. Saving 200K is no small thing. I think denying ourselves what we want and can have is often the smarter long term choice.

  • 204. CPS mom too  |  June 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    @202 I dealt with this as a hs student back in the 90s and my parents basically told me that they weren’t going to pay for the ivy league college I had my heart set on (and got into). I didn’t understand at the time, but I do a lot better now after seeing so many friends bogged down with student loans well into their 30s/40s and parents who can’t retire. I think it helps to set expectations early. My parents had no idea how much college could cost, so they hadn’t prepared me for the possibility that even if I got in we wouldn’t be able to afford it.

    The one downside is that at certain jobs I’ve held there’s been a snootiness about people who get degrees from less prestigious schools. One boss even went so far as to suggest that a job candidate was lying when he said he’d chosen xyz well-regarded state school over an ivy because of cost. But as more and more people make those choices, hopefully that will change.

  • 205. parent  |  June 25, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Here is some (sort of) good news about student loans. Apparently a new study suggests that the student loan crisis isn’t nearly as bad as it’s been represented by the media:

  • 206. pinellas county dui lawyer  |  June 28, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Hi I am so thrilled I found your blog page,
    I really found you by error, while I was searching on Aol for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just
    like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all
    round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment
    but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have
    time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  • 207.  |  June 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. But just imagine if you added some great pictures or video
    clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images
    and clips, this site could definitely be one of the best in its niche.
    Good blog!

  • 208. karet  |  July 24, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    There’s a new article in the New Republic with a provocative (and funny!) title:

    “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The Nation’s Top Colleges are Turning our Kids into Zombies”

    There are some interesting insights about admissions.

  • 209. second chance mortgage loans after foreclosure bankruptcy  |  August 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    However, housing assistance and loans are still plentiful especially for those
    people who have low income. For those of us who have hard money problems, sub-prime lenders can often be a
    great choice. So what if you have something in your financial background that has affected your credit score to
    be lower.

  • 210. free id business card templates avery  |  August 7, 2014 at 4:44 am

    It also built-in variety of templates to help you design your own ID cards.
    To learn more information about ID Carrd Workshop and download the free trial version, visit:
    Card Workshop is a professional membership management and id card software that enables users to
    creaye membership cards, id cards, staff cards easily.
    Special ID card printers are ussed for this, by a person specialising
    in card printing.

  • 211. HS Mom  |  September 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    For those looking at colleges – U of I is in the news lately

    “More than 600 Chinese teenagers have made the same decision, and soon they will arrive on campus as part of the Class of 2018.They will represent nearly 10 percent of the entering freshman class at the state’s most competitive public university, up from fewer than 20 freshmen in 2006…..Meanwhile, the number of students from Illinois is down, to 5,358 freshmen last fall, but that is more a function of students passing on Illinois than the university rejecting them. U. of I. has admitted a consistent number of in-state applicants over the past five years, but a higher percentage of them are enrolling elsewhere.”

  • 212. HS Mom  |  September 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    In the meantime. They are now considering why Illinois students are now choosing other schools

    “University of Illinois officials say they may need to boost financial aid because state students are increasingly choosing to go elsewhere for college.”

    Gee….Ya think?

  • 213.  |  September 24, 2014 at 12:33 am

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that
    you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield
    this increase.

  • 214. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 17, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    ‘…financial experts foresee mass closings in the years ahead, only 500 or so of the 4,000-plus colleges and universities in the United States seem to have stable enough finances to be truly safe.’

    I thought I would resurrect this thread~since some of us are planning on sending our children being to university in the fall.

  • 215. 3rd grade - neighborhood school parent  |  January 18, 2015 at 10:30 am

    oh, that’s reassuring…. almost makes the state of CPS look better in comparison. (little sarcasm)

  • 216. HS Thoughts  |  January 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Frightening. Although, there was an article about the UIC and he Chancellor walking away with $100000

    Professors are not making $$$, students are paying high $$, coaches are making $$$…I think it’s a mess.

  • 217. Newcomer  |  January 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Question about legacy: The legacy benefit applies to kids who have a parent who attended the college? Or who have a parent who has made significant financial donations to the college?

  • 218. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    216. HS Thoughts | January 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    It is frightening. Also there are many, many professors making huge amounts of cash…it’s a hot mess that has gotten out of control. When I look at UIUC and find this it’s $37,000 for a state school, that’s crazy. However in the fall of 2015 there will be a freeze for those students and I believe more scholarship $$ will be awarded.

    217. Newcomer | January 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Legacy could also be a grandparent who has made substantial donations~however, there is no guarantee any longer of the legacy that will be chosen. At one time a big donation would get you in the door, not you are still with the rest of the 25% legacies trying to get in.

  • 219. IBObsessed  |  January 19, 2015 at 12:45 am

    @218 SSI4, What is your source for the claim that many, many U of I professors are making huge amounts of cash? Count me hugely skeptical. Administrators and university professors do not have the same power when it comes to “cash”. Professor salaries are not what is driving the tuition level at U Of I.

  • 220. (ex) CPS Parent  |  January 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the end of 8 years of college tuition for my kids but 35k (in state) seems cheap given that UIUC is a pretty good school, especially for certain majors. Cost of attendance for each of my kids schools is currently a bit north of 60k/yr. One is generally ranked in the top 25, the other in the top 3.

  • 221. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    219. IBObsessed | January 19, 2015 at 12:45 am

    220. (ex) CPS Parent | January 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    $35K sounds cheap when you look at private schools, but if you look at other good public (in-state) universities~it’s high.

  • 222. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    219. IBObsessed | January 19, 2015 at 12:45 am

  • 223. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    219. IBObsessed | January 19, 2015 at 12:45 am

  • 224. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    220. (ex) CPS Parent | January 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    $35K sounds cheap when you look at private schools, but if you look at other good public (in-state) universities~it’s high.

  • 225. HS Mom  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Not to mention the scholarships/need based money available at privates that for many people make it far less costly than our flagship University……But yes, I agree for certain majors still a good investment.

    Interesting facts off their web site.

  • 226. HS Mom  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    @223 SSI – I totally agree.

  • 227. IBobsessed  |  January 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    @SSI The Weekly Standard article itself quotes the Bureau of Labor stat on the average salary for full professors: $108,749 . That is not a huge amount of cash and ‘average’ does not mean most make that salary. A full professor is at the height of their career and has usually been in the field at least 10 years. Assistant professors make well less -start in the 50-60k range. The author of that article is a sorry excuse for a professor, bragging about how he could get away with doing as little as possible

    The golden parachutes given to the x pres. and chancellors is a completely different issue.

  • 228. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 21, 2015 at 2:17 am

    225. HS Mom | January 19, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    I know ppl who are really struggling trying to find a way for their kids to get into a decent university where the amount of debt won’t be crushing for their kids and themselves. Ppl are torn. And it’s maddening when the flagship school doesn’t meet their financial needs.

    227. IBobsessed | January 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I agree~the author of the article is a “sorry excuse for a professor.” I really don’t think the ‘golden parachute’ is a different issue~more like splitting hairs. Just my 2 pennies.

  • 229. Question?  |  January 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

    they can go to community college for free! Why is this only available to CPS students and not all Chicago HS students?

  • 230. SouthSideIrish4  |  January 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    229. Question? | January 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Free City Colleges is for #CPS kids because many of them won’t be able to afford to attend university. It’s used as incentive to keep grades up and if they have a 3.0 gpa, they will get an opportunity to receive an associates degree for free. However, Obama is trying to make CC free for everyone~but I doubt that will happen bc of the expense.

  • 231. hack jetpack joyride  |  March 29, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Hurrah, that’s what I was seeking for, what a information! present here at this webpage, thanks admin of this web

  • 232. karet  |  February 8, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I know this is an old post, but I saw this really interesting article that addresses a question that CPSO and others have asked here:
    Does an elite college really guarantee a better job or higher salary?

    This well-researched article in the Wall Street Journal says: it depends on the field.

    “Specifically, for business and other liberal-arts majors, the prestige of the school has a major impact on future earnings expectations. But for fields like science, technology, engineering and math, it largely doesn’t matter whether students go to a prestigious, expensive school or a low-priced one—expected earnings turn out the same. So, families may be wasting money by chasing an expensive diploma in those fields.”

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed




Blog Stats

  • 6,161,345 hits

%d bloggers like this: