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May 31, 2006


I've noticed for the past few years, at least as long as I've been a parent at BHS, that there are not that many attending Ivy Leagues, maybe just one or two, normally. But it is my hunch that it is not for lack of ability, but out of choice, not to go that far away. There are usually a few that get into Stanford, and we are blessed with so many great public universities right here at home. Also the community college system is still excellent; as you see from that map, probably half start there.


I think Jen is right....of kids I know from this area that were accepted to an ivy, most chose to go to Stanford...it's hard to get our kids out of the beautiful California sunshine into the snowy sleet of New England. In addition, as a Wall Street Journal article recently pointed out, many kids are choosing a "less competitive" school that offers money rather than a more competitive one that does not. I know kids that did that -- academic scholarships of 1/2 expenses are hard to turn down -- especially if the kid has advanced degrees to think of paying for too.


What is the size of the Class of '06? 10 going to Berkeley is good and 4 going to Stanford is OK, but the list thins out from there.


I'm pretty sure that the BHS graduating class is about 300 -- so the 14 you mentioned who are going to UCB or Stanford are probably in the top 5 to ten percent of the class....which is probably about right. Getting into Stanford or UC Berkeley is a BIG accomplishment and shouldn't be poo-pooed. According to the book, Admission Matters, if your child scored in the top ONE percent of people taking the SAT's s/he would have 15,000 other kids as her competition. And, all 15,000 of them are applying for the same 1600 or so spots at Stanford, 1600 or so at Harvard, etc! In 2003 there was a WHOPPING 155,000 students who scored over 650 in verbal -- which put them in the top 11 percent of the nation. Kids should definitely not feel like "failures" because they "only" got into UC-Berkeley! Admission to the Ivy's is so intense that it often seems random..and probably is a bit random...are you the one badmitton player they need that year....Moreover, even if admitted, not everyone can afford the $50,000 that must be shelled out each year for the privilege of attending! On the other end, I noticed that the San Mateo Times said that the SMUHSD only had 13 kids (spread among 6 schools) that did not pass the California exit exam.

just looking

The top 14 students in a class of 300 would be in the top 5 to 10% of the class-- the top 4.67% to be exact. So is the debate about whether the top local students could get into the Ivy League or whether they did and chose not to attend? In my experience, a kid from the Bay Area has a bit of an advantage in applying back east regardless of his or her badminton skills since they are looking for geographic diversity. The cost is about equal too after airfare.


Thanks for the math calculation, Just Looking. The 14 UCB and Stanford bound kids would be the top 4.67% of the class, IF all the top 4.67% of the class chose to apply there -- but they didn't. Some of the top ranked students did not apply at either school and chose a school of "lesser national ranking" (e.g. Syracuse) because the schools offered money or because they preferred to go to a UC outside the Bay Area (e.g. UCLA/UCSD). So to your question: Some BHS kids don't apply to the ivy's; some are chosen, but decide on other schools and some aren't chosen (despite the kids A+ credentials) because the ivy was looking for something else that year: a kid from Wyoming (not sure how much Bay Area "geographic diversity" would be an advantage at the very top schools given the large number of kids applying from here, a badmitton player, a kid with a certain ethnic background or a kid whose parent is an alumni (the "legacy" factor). Yes, even "boys" are a prized category at some schools -- given the fact that girls are out-performing boys at the high schools.....


The BHS Career Center does keep the data on student admissions. This data will reveal both where our students were accepted and chose to attend. This may end the speculation above.

The list above forgot to mention two students attending Harvey Mudd. BHS normally gets four students into Stanford. College applications are more difficult now than in the past. Parents cannot compare the admissions process of yesterday to today. BHS does have more students applying to private schools than ever before and a few key teachers (and counselors) are being swallowed up writting letters of recommendation. One former BHS advanced placement teacher composed over 75 letters each year. It took him an entire day just to fill in the paperwork and check response boxes.

In applying to high end schools, a solid letter or recommendation is a key element of the application. The new school calendar with finals before Winter Break puts intense pressure on a handful of teachers whom students are dependent upon for these essential letters. Some teachers plan to limit the number of letters they write in order to remain sane.

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