After playing the college admissions game, did we win? Was the investment in an admissions consultant worth it? Did the predictions by the admissions officer come true? Did get Number One son and The Daughter get into their dream school? I sum up what happened in this retrospective.
The admissions officer who gave his talk said that most people get into their first choice college. Was he correct? In our case, he definitely was correct. The Daughter got into her top choice school. Overall, she did pretty well, getting into 10 out of 14 schools. Number One Son did well, also, getting into all three schools to which he applied.
To what do we attribute this success? The admissions consultant was very useful when it came to essays. He gave excellent suggestions on what to change. As I pointed out in part 7, The Daughter got into schools where her friends with more activities and better grades and test scores did not, and she felt that this was because of essays. The Daughter felt that test prep didn’t help her very much, and from what I saw, it really didn’t, as there was only small improvement in SAT scores before and after the test prep classes.
For Number One Son, things like interview preparation were very useful. Some of the questions for which we prepared were asked, and he felt his two interviews went well. The test prep course he took was very beneficial for him. The HSPT was scheduled for January, and we had him take the test preparation course between Christmas and New Year, close enough before the test so that he would still remember what he reviewed. He said that some of the questions that they went over in the course were on the test!
Sad to say, some of the predictions that the Admissions officer made came true. Public Universities and colleges are definitely catering to out of state and foreign students who can pay the full price. The time to complete public universities and colleges are being lengthened as classes are becoming increasingly more difficult to get. As a result, private schools are being considered by more and more families, and admissions are getting more competitive there. The Daughter’s class was the most competitive ever for her college, as was Number One Son’s class at his high school.
On some other points, he was not quite accurate. While statistics do, bear out the fact that most people get accepted into their first choice college (76% as described in this survey), that doesn’t mean that they enroll in that college. That same survey says that in 2011, only 58% of applicants enrolled in their first choice college, a number that is said to be the lowest since the survey started asking that question in 1974.
The First Year
At the time I am writing this, both The Daughter and Number One Son have completed their first year of school. Were the schools that they selected good fits? Fortunately for all of us, yes. I think that school visits were a key factor in making sure that their selections were good fits. Number One Son said that one of the schools he visited had an intimidating, bullying atmosphere, a feeling that he didn’t get at his top choice.
Number One Son did pay a price going to a highly competitive school full of overachievers. He’s a pretty good athlete, but in an intense school like his high school, he’s about average. He found that he really likes to run, joining cross country and track. In most other schools (and I have data to show this), he would be one of the top runners, but at his school, he’s average. More importantly, he is passionate about running and will probably run for the rest of his life, and to me that is more important. Academically, it’s the same case. He could be near the top at a less challenging school (which would help with applying to Ivy schools), but we would prefer to have him learn more.
What Would We Do Differently
I would have cut down on the number of schools to which The Daughter applied. She applied to a number of East Coast schools, but after applying (and after we paid the application fees), she decided that she wanted to stay in California. When Number One Son applies to college, just a few short years away, we’ll keep that in mind.
Number Two Son Learns to Play the Game
During all of this time, Number Two Son watched what his brother and sister were doing. He determined that he wants to the same school as his brother (applications for him as an 8th grade start this fall). He told me he joined his middle school’s choir. I asked, “Why? You hate to sing.” He replied that he was just doing that for high school. I told him that he really doesn’t have to do that, but he did it anyway. I was really saddened to hear that. I’d rather have him do things he passionate about, but he has learned to play The Game.