High School Ranking

Christcorp

15-Year Member
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I've been dealing with similar questions about high school rankings for about 10 years. So I thought I'd make this thread. It will be short; "In Christcorp's law of relativity".

First; let me be clear about something. In no way in this thread meant to "dis" (Disrespect) or put down anyone who thinks or knows that their high school is considered "Competitive" or "Ranked" or any similar synonym. Most kids are very proud of their high school; and everyone wants to believe they attend a very good school. Especially when applying to one of the academies; some "HOPE" that their competitive or ranked school is going to give them an "Edge" on their application.

The main reason for this thread, is for those that don't come from a "So Called" Competitive or Ranked school, to NOT FEEL BAD!!! Why???? Because, "This might upset SOME of those in the first group"; the academy couldn't care less if you attend a competitive or ranked school. You get no extra points for that.

Caveat: There's always a caveat in my threads. The academies do care that your high school prepares you effectively for college; and that they PROMOTE higher education. Which "most" schools do.

The truth is; the academy, and most universities know, that approximately 99.23949% of all high school students had no say so in where they went to high school. That was their parent's decision. They also know that approximately 90.45993% of all parents had little say so in where their kids attended high school. Except for the 10% of high school kids who attend Private High Schools, your public high school is based on where your house is.

Therefor; the academies, and most universities, couldn't give a rat's "You know what" if your school is "Competitive" or "Ranked". What they care about is:
1. What courses were available?
2. What courses you took? "Did you do the MOST with what's available"?
3. How well you did in those courses?
4. How well you ranked among the other students in your school? "That determines yours, your teacher's, and your school's competency".

Plus; the academies and most universities know that the ranking system among high schools is too ambiguous. They also realized that they aren't quite fair. If you look at the U.S. News and World Report for nationally ranked schools; you'll see that how they do their ranking, leaves a lot of schools off the list. Matter of fact, U.S. News even mentions that out of 28,500 high schools, they only rank 20,000 of them. They rank based on a 4 Step process. Some are left out because they are too small. Some because they didn't show a high enough percentage of disadvantaged kids performing better; some because their "College Readiness" performance wasn't high enough. This makes ranking very abstract. Many rankings consider AP classes, but DON'T consider the IB Program because it's an "International" education system. Yet, the universities and the academies know exactly what the IB Program is. Or a state like Wyoming, with is 93% white; great unemployment and therefor not as many "Disadvantaged" students; only 2 High Schools in the ENTIRE STATE are on the National Rankings list. Many others are "nationally RECOGNIZED", but they aren't even RANKED.

There's a lot of variables in the school system.

If 400 graduated your senior class; you were ranked #100; and your GPA was a 3.9; then that shows your school gives out easy grades. If out of 400, you were ranked #10; and your GPA was a 3.8; then that shows your school is very hard on grades. "Hence, the main reason for the ACT and SAT. It's the one constant among ALL students in the country.

If you attended Basis Scottsdale; ranked #1; or School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas ranked #4; or Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia ranked #6; and you took the basic required to graduate classes......... compared to the individual who is in high school at PS#8 in Washington Heights, New York City; who taking 6-7 AP classes or IB classes every semester.............

Believe it or not, the academy, and most universities will look much more favorably on the individual who is attending public school #8 and is taking the most challenging classes that are offered. This also applies to the "Home Schooled". They don't look down on it. But, if you graduate at 18 years old, and finished the state minimum requirements; vs finishing up at 16-17 years old and also took additional classes at your local community college; you can see the difference.

And for what it's worth, the same applies to sports, clubs, and other activities. My high school was a regional school. One high school with grades 7-12 in it. Covered 2 different towns. My graduating class only had 92 students. We didn't have a football team because we were too small. But we had most other sports. We didn't have a lot of the EC's that other schools had. But; if you do the most with what's available, and do extra where you can; e.g. city leagues, outside clubs, junior college classes, etc. That will show that you are doing the most with what you have available.

So, for all those who have second thoughts about applying to the academy or to prestigious universities, because you think your high school is pretty low on the ranking or competitive scale; don't give it a second thought. Do your best. Do the most with what you have. Where you can do EXTRA; like junior college or out of school activities; do so.

And for those who think or know that you were fortunate enough to go to a Competitive or Ranked school..... DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!!! You are NOT going to get any extra points for going there. matter of fact; if you don't take the most challenging classes offered, you could actually be penalized.

Best of luck to all.
Mike
 
I concur with everything @Christcorp posted. It's not about the school, it's about the student.

I don't mean to get off track, but I couldn't help but choke on this:

If you attended Basis Scottsdale; ranked #1

We raised our kid in Scottsdale and didn't consider any of the Basis schools for a minute. They are AP mills that take federal money yet winnow out students until they end up with graduating classes of fewer than 40 (some fewer than 30). Because part of the U.S. News rubric is number of graduates who go on to college and number of grads to take and pass at least one AP, it's not hard to get 100% on those metrics with a tiny senior class in an AP-focused curriculum. Basis has finessed the rankings by tailoring their school to the rubric. It's a joke. We know lots of families who sent their kids to Basis and spent their high school years in a mind-numbing teach-to-the-test curriculum. Not for our kid, not our idea of education. This article sheds some light on the problems with the rankings and calls out Basis specifically:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...americas-high-schools/?utm_term=.a1be6e590919

In any case, wherever you go to high school, colleges will evaluate you based on what you did with what you had available; they admit students not high schools. Every point Mike made is spot on.
 
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Excellent point. That's why I included the school from Dallas and Arlington. Even thought they are %4 and 6, I consider them 1&2 because 1,2,3&5 are basis schools and I have little respect for them

Actually, I have little respect for the us news ranking. When I see posts talking about their school being ranked or competitive, I want to give them a cookie and say goodie for you.

The vast majority of academy cadets generally went to public schools. That's where 90% of all kids go. Maybe the majority of the private school kids come from money; as as such don't consider the military and go to private universities instead.

Either way, if you want to apply to the academies, don't worry about what school you attend. Concentrate on taking the most challenging curriculum they have, and do well in it. If they have the IB Program, great. If not, take all the AP classes you can. If you only have honors classes, take those. If you are from a small wyoming type town with a population of 200 and 10 seniors in high school; which we have a lot of; then take what you can and take some junior college or online classes if you can. And do your best to get that 36 in each ACT test or 800 in each of the SAT. That will mean much more to the review board than your school having some make believe label of competitive or ranked.
 
I concur with everything @Christcorp posted. It's not about the school, it's about the student.

I don't mean to get off track, but I couldn't help but choke on this:



We raised our kid in Scottsdale and didn't consider any of the Basis schools for a minute. They are AP mills that take federal money yet winnow out students until they end up with graduating classes of fewer than 40 (some fewer than 30). Because part of the U.S. News rubric is number of graduates who go on to college and number of grads to take and pass at least one AP, it's not hard to get 100% on those metrics with a tiny senior class in an AP-focused curriculum. Basis has finessed the rankings by tailoring their school to the rubric. It's a joke. We know lots of families who sent their kids to Basis and spent their high school years in a mind-numbing teach-to-the-test curriculum. Not for our kid, not our idea of education. This article sheds some light on the problems with the rankings and calls out Basis specifically:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...americas-high-schools/?utm_term=.a1be6e590919

In any case, wherever you go to high school, colleges will evaluate you based on what you did with what you had available; they admit students not high schools. Every point Mike made is spot on.

Thank you for the article. It was an interesting read. What schools do to boost their rankings reminds me of what my high school does to boost theirs. My school introduced new AP courses with unqualified teachers teaching these classes. Along with this, if you took an AP class, you were required to take the AP test for that class. If you refused to take the test the school either, 1) paid for the test and made you take it, or 2) did not grant credit for that class. So if a student took AP English and did not take the test, you may fail the class because you refused to take the test.
 
A big discrepancy between GPA or class rank and standardized scores can raise eyebrows.

Example: 3.95 gpa and 1120 SAT could indicate your high school was not challenging. Of course many things can factor in.

A high SAT or ACT goes a long way in the selection process. Good class ranks and GPAs are good too, but think of a homeschooled student... would the academies place more credence in a high GPA or a stellar SAT?
 
Our kids went to a MN high school with this USNews scorecard:
  • College Readiness Index
    16.9 out of 100.:eek:

  • AP® Tested
    23%:(

  • AP® Passed
    65%:(:(

  • Mathematics Proficiency
    50%:oops:

  • English Proficiency
    60%:oops:
At 1st glance, the numbers look bleak! Within the 2500 student body, there are a lot of students that want to learn (the top 20% kick butt). Obviously, most others simply want to coast.

So the way I look at it is if there are enough families where kids are passionate AND the district spends enough on education and programs, students who want an exceptional education will get one. I'd argue (and I welcome the debate) that our kids got just as good of an education as Basic Scottsdale. Our kids took all the advanced classes and programs and they were taught by passionate teachers. To be challenged even more in their last two years of HS, they were full time college students in the 11th and 12th grade as sponsored by our district.

He graduated #1 in his HS. He went off to USAFA and graduated 1st in his class. Now he is at Harvard Medical school. Putting it another way, I would expect he would have been at the top of his class in the Compton's or at Scottsdale Basic. Our daughter did great things too all with a "16.9 out of 100" college readiness index. So where I come from, that stat is meaningless. If you take the exact same student and put him in the best ranked HS school in the USA and with a family culture that really didn't care, I would expect average GPA and average standardized tests.

So to Christcorp's point. USAFA got it right. Our son had a USAFA "Academic Composite Score" of 3900. That score accurately predicted how he would do at the Academy based off of incoming class difficulty and standardized scores (as well as supporting 1st semester GPA ).

In other words, Scottsdale Basics average scores C-R-U-S-H-E-D our average high school score. To compare, Scottsdale Basic:
  • College Readiness Index
    100.0

  • AP® Tested
    100%

  • AP® Passed
    96%

  • Mathematics Proficiency
    90%

  • English Proficiency
    81%
To me at least, these scores as compared to our dismal averages meant absolutely nothing to me or USAFA admissions. USAFA has figuring it out.

edit: Oh... If we sent our kids to Scottsdale Basic, I'm sure I'd be (wrongly) convinced that Scottsdale basic had a lot to do with it.;) The Scottsdale Basic does well on average because 100% of their families are passionate about their child's education. It's just that our kids HS had>50% that didn't care all that much and they dragged down the averages.
 
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Since most students have no choice about where they attend high school - take the most challenging STEM based curriculum you can.

MN-Dad-2016's comments are spot on. 'Bad schools' can produce great students, the SAT/ACT are not 'the measure' of college success (though there is some correlation to them and college success rates)

Control what you can control. USAFA is pretty good about determining who can be successful academically and they do factor in how the ALO's 'rank' the schools.

The majority of USAFA cadets come from public schools because the majority of students attend public schools - not because private school students 'come from $' and choose not to pursue careers in the military.

What is the purpose of this thread???
 
MN-Dad; you said your kids had just as good of an education as those at Basis Scottsdale. I would argue that your kids probably had a much BETTER EDUCATION than those at Basis Scottsdale.

I am very familiar with schools; public, private, charter, church based, and home schools. Normally, I would say that all have their pros and cons. A lot depends on the student, their environment, their ability to learn, etc. For some kids, the smaller class size and more one on one of a charter school is something they need. On the other hand, for many/most, the realistic social environment of the real world and dealing with others is something that public schools really help kids with. (They better prepare kids for the REAL WORLD). Private schools; if finances are available, is definitely great for certain career minded students. And for others, home schooling has the advantage of allowing kids to learn at their pace, while maintaining a certain environment.

Of course, the many negatives of each can be overcome by proper parenting. I was close friends with an individual who went to a very prestigious prep school and high school. But his parents did not let him cop a holier than though and better than you attitude. They also ensured their son was involved in city league sports and activities. A lot of home schooled parents overcome the lack of social preparedness by ensuring their kids are involved in outside social events; sports; etc.

My point is; a "SUCCESSFUL STUDENT" is a lot more than just their GPA and ACT/SAT scores. And this is where I have some issues with many of the "Charter Schools". If a student needs a specialized learning environment, that's great. A charter school may be exactly what they need. But I've seen too many of those that attend charter schools; where the school and parents put more/too much emphasis on the academics; and the student suffers in the social and other "Real World" preparedness. Of course, the Charter School will tell you that they involve the kids in social events; but it's not the same.

Like MN-Dad, my son was in the same boat. Graduated #1 in his high school class; 4.0gpa unweighted; went to the academy, graduated #7, went immediately on to grad school and finished his Master's in 18 months and his PhD 18 months after that. And he went to public school his entire life prior to the academy. We were fortunate that his high school had the IB program. He could have the best of both worlds. The extra challenge of a higher level curriculum; while still at the same school as all his friends, sports, clubs, etc. He even spent some class time with his Non-IB friends in elective type classes. And honestly; had he attended a Charter type school, I'm sure he would have succeeded academically. But I really believe that he would have been behind in social maturity and "Real World" preparedness. He probably would never have applied to the academy.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the charter schools. I think they are necessary for certain students. Either because of the student's uniqueness or because of their environment, where a proper education isn't being offered in the public school. I'm simply saying that ALL schools; public, private, charter, church based, and home schooled each of their pros and cons. And if you're applying to the academies, it DOESN'T MATTER which school you go to. It doesn't mean anything if they are ranked or "Competitive". What matters is WHAT you have available to you and HOW you use it. If you don't do the MOST with what's available, your chances go down considerably at being appointed to the academy.
 
Cerberi; you asked: "What is the purpose of this thread???"

I could say: "Read my initial post" on the thread. But I'll be nice.

The purpose is because a lot of kids reconsider applying to the academies because they didn't attend some "Special School" that is considered ranked or competitive. I've seen a lot of kids reconsider applying to higher end universities and stick with the basic University of Whereverthehellyouarefrom because they didn't think they had a chance at the harvards, yale's, stanford's, etc. of the world.

In other words, there's a lot of individuals who have "Self Limited" themselves applying to the academies and other universities because they think such universities are for the RICH Kids, the Private School Kids, etc.

Stereotype:
Rich Kids/Private School Kids go to Private Universities like the Ivy's, or if they go into the military, become Officers in the military and go to the academies
NORMAL Kids/Public School kids go to State Universities and if they go in the military, they are "Enlisted"

YES, the stereotype still exists. It existed for decades. I BELIEVED IN THIS STEREOTYPE when I was in high school. I grew up about an hour from West Point and 2 hours from Annapolis. Yet, I was convinced, with no help from my parents or school, that no matter my stellar GPA, my "CLASS" of people went to local Community College; maybe state 4 year if parents had the money, or if the military was of interest; definitely Enlisted. Don't get me wrong. I don't regret my life at all. I've done quite well for myself. Even as a Retired Non-Commissioned Officer. Financially and educationally, I'm quite well off. I have multiple degrees and make a good living. Both kids did even better. Between the 2 of them, they have 5 degrees and not 1 PENNY in student loans or debt. And both have great careers. I do wish that when I was in high school, I knew of "Other Options". Not sure if i would have chosen differently; but I would have liked to have had the option.

But the stereotype is definitely there. And I still see kids in the local public high school who believe in these stereotypes. Their teachers, guidance counselors, and parents don't help. I've had quite a few kids ask me at the high schools when I was there as an ALO promoting the academy; that they didn't really consider the academy because they didn't think they had a chance. Mostly because of the stereotypes.

So that's why I started this thread. To try and reduce the stereotype for those interested/probably LURKING this forum wanting the academy; but don't think it's for them. And while I'm not DOGGING any of the current posters in other threads, it doesn't help the stereotype when people start threads about "WHAT ARE MY CHANCES" and the first thing they mention is. "I have a 3.XX GPA. I attend a "COMPETITIVE SCHOOL" or "My School is Ranked", or anything similar to that. The lurkers of course are thinking....... "If that person, attending this "Competitive, Ranked, prestigious, etc." school is having a hard time getting into the academy....... then I have no chance in HELL. That's the main reason for this thread. You DO have a chance in hell of getting an appointment. And to be honest with you, you PROBABLY have a BETTER chance of an appointment than the Charter School kid, because your life is probably more than just academics. You're probably more involved in sports, clubs, school activities, volunteering, working, and other leadership and team activities. And THAT'S what the academy is looking for the WHOLE PERSON. I've seen a LOT of 4.0gpa and 35 ACT applicants get turned down.

That's the purpose of this thread.

Mike
 
If we sent our kids to Scottsdale Basic, I'm sure I'd be (wrongly) convinced that Scottsdale basic had a lot to do with it.;) The Scottsdale Basic does well on average because 100% of their families are passionate about their child's education. It's just that our kids HS had>50% that didn't care all that much and they dragged down the averages

As @Christcorp noted above, your kid got a MUCH better education than ANY of the Basis schools provide because Basis offers absolutely nothing but a test-prep curriculum, no art, music, band, drama or any other EC--you have to pay for those outside of their program. It's an AP-only curriculum at the high school level designed to finesse the rankings. They take all comers in the lower grades (they have to because they take federal money) and then winnow them out until they have tiny graduating classes of 25-35 kids who pass at least one (or more) AP exam and all, of course, go on to college. So, voila! Top of the US News chart with no regard for real education. I feel so bad for these kids. They are bright and deserve so much better. And, yes, our neighbors feel that their kids got so much from Basis without understanding that those 25 or so winnowed kids were destined to go to good colleges regardless of the high school they attended and didn't need to suffer their high school years in a test mill. The ROI on a high school education is the quality of the education received not the college results; Basis only cares about the end game and cherry-picks students who produce the correct metrics. IMO, that's the antithesis of education.

Anyway, I don't want to waste any more time on this particular peeve of mine. I just don't want anyone to compare their high school to the Basis model and feel inferior or that they have to explain or justify their perfectly fine high school against the Basis sham.
<end rant>

Carry on.
 
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I've been dealing with similar questions about high school rankings for about 10 years. So I thought I'd make this thread. It will be short; "In Christcorp's law of relativity".

First; let me be clear about something. In no way in this thread meant to "dis" (Disrespect) or put down anyone who thinks or knows that their high school is considered "Competitive" or "Ranked" or any similar synonym. Most kids are very proud of their high school; and everyone wants to believe they attend a very good school. Especially when applying to one of the academies; some "HOPE" that their competitive or ranked school is going to give them an "Edge" on their application.

The main reason for this thread, is for those that don't come from a "So Called" Competitive or Ranked school, to NOT FEEL BAD!!! Why???? Because, "This might upset SOME of those in the first group"; the academy couldn't care less if you attend a competitive or ranked school. You get no extra points for that.

Caveat: There's always a caveat in my threads. The academies do care that your high school prepares you effectively for college; and that they PROMOTE higher education. Which "most" schools do.

The truth is; the academy, and most universities know, that approximately 99.23949% of all high school students had no say so in where they went to high school. That was their parent's decision. They also know that approximately 90.45993% of all parents had little say so in where their kids attended high school. Except for the 10% of high school kids who attend Private High Schools, your public high school is based on where your house is.

Therefor; the academies, and most universities, couldn't give a rat's "You know what" if your school is "Competitive" or "Ranked". What they care about is:
1. What courses were available?
2. What courses you took? "Did you do the MOST with what's available"?
3. How well you did in those courses?
4. How well you ranked among the other students in your school? "That determines yours, your teacher's, and your school's competency".

Plus; the academies and most universities know that the ranking system among high schools is too ambiguous. They also realized that they aren't quite fair. If you look at the U.S. News and World Report for nationally ranked schools; you'll see that how they do their ranking, leaves a lot of schools off the list. Matter of fact, U.S. News even mentions that out of 28,500 high schools, they only rank 20,000 of them. They rank based on a 4 Step process. Some are left out because they are too small. Some because they didn't show a high enough percentage of disadvantaged kids performing better; some because their "College Readiness" performance wasn't high enough. This makes ranking very abstract. Many rankings consider AP classes, but DON'T consider the IB Program because it's an "International" education system. Yet, the universities and the academies know exactly what the IB Program is. Or a state like Wyoming, with is 93% white; great unemployment and therefor not as many "Disadvantaged" students; only 2 High Schools in the ENTIRE STATE are on the National Rankings list. Many others are "nationally RECOGNIZED", but they aren't even RANKED.

There's a lot of variables in the school system.

If 400 graduated your senior class; you were ranked #100; and your GPA was a 3.9; then that shows your school gives out easy grades. If out of 400, you were ranked #10; and your GPA was a 3.8; then that shows your school is very hard on grades. "Hence, the main reason for the ACT and SAT. It's the one constant among ALL students in the country.

If you attended Basis Scottsdale; ranked #1; or School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas ranked #4; or Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia ranked #6; and you took the basic required to graduate classes......... compared to the individual who is in high school at PS#8 in Washington Heights, New York City; who taking 6-7 AP classes or IB classes every semester.............

Believe it or not, the academy, and most universities will look much more favorably on the individual who is attending public school #8 and is taking the most challenging classes that are offered. This also applies to the "Home Schooled". They don't look down on it. But, if you graduate at 18 years old, and finished the state minimum requirements; vs finishing up at 16-17 years old and also took additional classes at your local community college; you can see the difference.

And for what it's worth, the same applies to sports, clubs, and other activities. My high school was a regional school. One high school with grades 7-12 in it. Covered 2 different towns. My graduating class only had 92 students. We didn't have a football team because we were too small. But we had most other sports. We didn't have a lot of the EC's that other schools had. But; if you do the most with what's available, and do extra where you can; e.g. city leagues, outside clubs, junior college classes, etc. That will show that you are doing the most with what you have available.

So, for all those who have second thoughts about applying to the academy or to prestigious universities, because you think your high school is pretty low on the ranking or competitive scale; don't give it a second thought. Do your best. Do the most with what you have. Where you can do EXTRA; like junior college or out of school activities; do so.

And for those who think or know that you were fortunate enough to go to a Competitive or Ranked school..... DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!!! You are NOT going to get any extra points for going there. matter of fact; if you don't take the most challenging classes offered, you could actually be penalized.

Best of luck to all.
Mike
Great points Christcorp.

My kid went to a mid-sized public school in rural Michigan, and had no choice (I am an elected, and required to live in the county). Many, if not the majority of kids who graduate from his school will never earn a bachelors degree; even many who were in the top third of the class. The expectations are different here than in larger communities. Where my wife and I grew up, in metropolitan Detroit, most kids were expected to attend four year universities, and it was status to attend a "higher level" college. There was more pressure to "succeed" academically; which was not a bad thing, as it motivated. I found that in this community, and the school my kids attended, there is very little to motivate kids to excel academically; which means that kids need to be very self-motivated to achieve. Thus, it tells the academies something when kids are able to not only get good grades, but get high ACT/SAT scores, when attending schools like this. I also think kids who come from small rural towns do well historically at academies.
 
I love this thread!! :jump1:

Steve
USAFA ALO
USAFA '83

Why? Pray Tell!!!

Inquiring minds want to know.

Steve; you've been an ALO since......... Well; probably since there was an Air Force Academy. LOL. I'm curious if you found, as I did when visiting schools as an ALO; how many kids fell into the belief that the academies and certain colleges and universities were for a "SELECT" group of students. And that the "Regular" kids had a "Different Path".

Of course, I'm not really blaming. Most parents are ignorant; and most school guidance counselors and teacher are either too busy or too lazy to really motivate kids to break out of the molds. Academically; Economically; Socially; etc. There's a lot of "Norms" that kids are held into; and they don't realize that they CAN break out of those norms/molds.

Mike
 
We are a very low income family, in a town with 70% free lunch students. DS knows his path to success lies in scholarships or trade schools. He chose in 8th grade that USNA was his dream. Along the way, he discovered that his dream is preparing him for all kinds of success. Early admission to 2 colleges, great physical shape, sounds skills and a deeper connection to our family military traditions.

He does attend a charter high school (public school of choice), ranked in the 8th percentile, college classes concurrently and the most challenging classes offered. His counselor stopped me to tell me she is thrilled DS is so motivated because it pushes her to learn more about the SA process. DS is always in her office bugging her for transcripts, school profiles, scholarship letters- she can't wait to help him 1) achieve his dream 2) get him ouy of her office (she winked) :D

I am so glad for this thread. Great reminder the SAs see the merits of smaller lower income areas where kids bust their tails.
 
Why? Pray Tell!!!

Inquiring minds want to know.

Steve; you've been an ALO since......... Well; probably since there was an Air Force Academy. LOL. I'm curious if you found, as I did when visiting schools as an ALO; how many kids fell into the belief that the academies and certain colleges and universities were for a "SELECT" group of students. And that the "Regular" kids had a "Different Path".

Of course, I'm not really blaming. Most parents are ignorant; and most school guidance counselors and teacher are either too busy or too lazy to really motivate kids to break out of the molds. Academically; Economically; Socially; etc. There's a lot of "Norms" that kids are held into; and they don't realize that they CAN break out of those norms/molds.

Mike
Mike (and others),

No, not an ALO THAT long...although I was born the year the first class graduated! And I did go to Air Academy High...

I have found that a LOT of students believe that the academy; indeed, ALL the academies, are for the "upper crust elite" students, with military connections, generals and admirals either in their family or friends of theirs, and politically connected. And while the SAT/ACT and grades of appointees may "seem" that way (elitist), it's just not so. I have seen so many home-schooled kids enter the SA's, a LOT of kids from schools that are rated "B and C", kids from foreign schools, etc. I remember one kid that was on the ALO "chatter" years ago...short version: lived in the middle of a "flyover" state, bunch of kids, father died in a farming accident...this kid was the oldest...worked the animals before school, went to VERY VERY rural school, after school worked the farm until dark, then did the "older brother/pseudo father figure" things for his mom and siblings, and then he did homework late at night. This was from about age 12. He wanted DESPERATELY to fly! Was he an "elite" student? No. Was his school highly ranked? Uh...not ranked at all; too small. Did he have AP/Honors classes...nope, none offered: basic schooling. Did he have a great athletic and boy scout history: no, farm took all his time. Were his SAT/ACT scores amazing? No. But he received an appointment. WHY? In a word "diversity." No, not racial or ethnic...his diverse situation was his life/upbringing and the challenges he faced. Through all that, he excelled and showed leadership, followership, motivation, dedication/determination, and a work ethic that set him apart. And THAT is what the USAFA/SA's are looking for. I know you know that but some others might not realize just how critical those intangibles are.

So why do I love this thread? Because you started a great topic and gave outstanding information! And it has resonated with many people and will spread...and the word will get out, and somewhere out there will be a parent/guardian/student that will read it and say "...huh...so...I just might be able to do this just as I am...let's go for it!" And that student might one day be like my classmate Dave "Fingers" Goldfein...and get the call from the President of the United States and be asked: "Dave...I'd like you to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff...do you accept?"

That's why.

(Only @74 more days to Thudgate!)

Steve
USAFA ALO
USAFA '83
 
One thing I would recommend, is if there is not many options regarding EC's, start your own. That would look way better than just joining a club anyway, and shows your leadership.
 
Mike (and others),

No, not an ALO THAT long...although I was born the year the first class graduated! And I did go to Air Academy High...

I have found that a LOT of students believe that the academy; indeed, ALL the academies, are for the "upper crust elite" students, with military connections, generals and admirals either in their family or friends of theirs, and politically connected. And while the SAT/ACT and grades of appointees may "seem" that way (elitist), it's just not so. I have seen so many home-schooled kids enter the SA's, a LOT of kids from schools that are rated "B and C", kids from foreign schools, etc. I remember one kid that was on the ALO "chatter" years ago...short version: lived in the middle of a "flyover" state, bunch of kids, father died in a farming accident...this kid was the oldest...worked the animals before school, went to VERY VERY rural school, after school worked the farm until dark, then did the "older brother/pseudo father figure" things for his mom and siblings, and then he did homework late at night. This was from about age 12. He wanted DESPERATELY to fly! Was he an "elite" student? No. Was his school highly ranked? Uh...not ranked at all; too small. Did he have AP/Honors classes...nope, none offered: basic schooling. Did he have a great athletic and boy scout history: no, farm took all his time. Were his SAT/ACT scores amazing? No. But he received an appointment. WHY? In a word "diversity." No, not racial or ethnic...his diverse situation was his life/upbringing and the challenges he faced. Through all that, he excelled and showed leadership, followership, motivation, dedication/determination, and a work ethic that set him apart. And THAT is what the USAFA/SA's are looking for. I know you know that but some others might not realize just how critical those intangibles are.

So why do I love this thread? Because you started a great topic and gave outstanding information! And it has resonated with many people and will spread...and the word will get out, and somewhere out there will be a parent/guardian/student that will read it and say "...huh...so...I just might be able to do this just as I am...let's go for it!" And that student might one day be like my classmate Dave "Fingers" Goldfein...and get the call from the President of the United States and be asked: "Dave...I'd like you to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff...do you accept?"

That's why.

(Only @74 more days to Thudgate!)

Steve
USAFA ALO
USAFA '83

VERY WELL SAID!!!!!
:usa:

And YES on Thudgate!!!!
 
1. The ALO's and BGO's in the Memphis area do care how your high school is ranked - they rank them - I provide input to both groups. Both USAFA and USNA ask for a school profile to help them determine how a 3.8 at school A in the area equates to a 3.8 at school B. Do they discourage anyone from applying because of it - absolutely not - but the school profile is not filled out to simply collect paper. My daughter's GPA was adjusted by USAFA from her official unweighted GPA to account for the courses she took and the school she attended. I saw the GPA on her portal and we called to make sure it wasn't a mistake (it was higher on the USAFA portal than on her transcript) BTW - I didn't call just anyone - I called my classmate, the Director of Admissions to understand if a mistake had been made and she assured me it is not uncommon - so where she went to high school mattered.

2. You state: 'If 400 graduated your senior class; you were ranked #100; and your GPA was a 3.9; then that shows your school gives out easy grades. If out of 400, you were ranked #10; and your GPA was a 3.8; then that shows your school is very hard on grades. "Hence, the main reason for the ACT and SAT. It's the one constant among ALL students in the country.' This is false because the SA's want to know where the first 99 go to school. If it is to Ivy League and other topped ranked schools - they (the SA's) do not imply that your school 'gives out easy grades.

3. I talk to dozens of kids about Service Academy opportunities - most simply have never heard of them. I have never spoken to anyone that didn't apply because it was for other 'elite' kids. I am from a very small Indiana town/high school. It never dissuaded me from applying and getting an appointment to USAFA, it didn't dissuade my sister who also graduated and it didn't dissuade my other sister from applying to and graduating from elite medical schools (and my parents were not college graduates).

4. So I for one, get confused when I read your 5000 word manifestos about topics that I rarely agree with as a Prop and Wings Officer, a USAFA graduate, and a parent of a USNA Mid who also had an appointment to USAFA.

5. I am in complete agreement as to what diversity means and the life story matters. I also agree standardized test scores matter more than GPA.

6. Lots of kids make up excuses as to why things don't happen. Most people that don't get appointed to the SAs simply never apply and they always have some excuse as to why. Frankly - they didn't want it enough in most cases. The application is elongated not to add value to the process but to weed out people that don't have the real desire to go (and I find it extremely painful to read about the TWE's of highly qualified folks that don't get appointed and do want it - but most self eliminate and find their own reason to do so.

But otherwise - I still don't get the point or relevance of your OP and I disagree with many of your points.
 
2. ........This is false because the SA's want to know where the first 99 go to school. If it is to Ivy League and other topped ranked schools -
I get why the SA's and more selective universities try to figure out a way of rack and stack HS's. Because GPA and class rank can be difficult to benchmark from school to school. With that said,
knowing where the 1st, 99 high students go to college might be valid; but not always. It's valid if the top 99 have desires to get into the best college that they can. But all too often, I can confirm that our districts in MN (statistically speaking) only apply to regional universities.

As an example, at the high school that I went to (which is the same as our children), the overwhelming majority of the smartest and most motivated students didn't consider going to an Ivy's or other top ranked universities. I'd argue they can go toe-to-toe with any other of the brightest students at any other top ranked HS. After all, the 7,000th "ranked" high school teaches Calculus, Physics, Humanities and English just like the #100th ranked more "competitive school" (whatever that means). This assumes you don't cut/gut your public budgets like in the #50th state (AZ) and demotivate the teachers.

In our district, more often than not, the top students go to our state Flagship (UofMN) or other local privates with generous financial aid. The students listen to other students around them and conclude in their own minds that the regional private colleges like St. Thomas or St. __________ (fill in the blank) is an ideal path. Thirty miles away, the students at Edina would look down at UofMN or regional schools. So it's a student/family culture that drives who applies. Plus, in 2017, most students that went to our HS don't know how generous the financial aid packages are to the top (massive endowment) Universities even with above average family incomes. So the 1st 100 really don't bother applying to other avenues. That includes our son and daughter's friends (some of which got a 36 on their ACT). One student was so advanced at math he was in the most elite math program at the UofMN post graduate program while he was in the 10th grade (off the traditional college grid). He didn't consider going to MIT. The UofMN cultivated his expertise and he stayed put.

Our son was recruited at the UofMN for the College of Biological Science as well as the Carlson School of Management. He was getting phone calls from department heads asking him to reconsider his choice. He never applied to Harvard or even Purdue. I was involved in negotiating additional financial aid from the UofMN. It was flattering and they wanted the local boy to stay local. So the net-net is if any college stares at where the incredibly talented top students go to school at our lowly ranked HS, they will be missing a big part of the formula. But why should they really care? Harvard received 34,000 applicants. There is plenty of talent that already applied. I've concluded that students at their HS who do apply to an Ivy for instance will be penalized because the "top 99" didn't bother to apply. In fact, out of the 600 HS students that my son graduated with, no one got into any top tier traditional college because they didn't apply or because if they did, the colleges looked at their bleak ranking plus who got in last year. The SA's were interested because he was athlete (3 sports; captain of 2). Plus, when they interviewed him (nearly every applicant gets an interview) they found that he was pretty articulate. NOW they can get a better idea of who the whole person really is. Therefore I predict that the SA's are going to capture top talent that the Ivy's miss. I happen to be passionate on this topic and watched what was happening around me. I'm very sure my story occurs all around the country.
 
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ACT/SAT scores are more important, just for these reasons. The test scores are far from perfect, but still the most reliable academic assessment of a candidate.
 
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