what is meant by "rigor" of high school re: USNA

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by ders_dad, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    I've read in several places on this forum that high school rigor is important and that SAs do take into account the rigor of the high school. Also, I've read that SA's "know the schools". What is meant by rigor? Rigor of the classes offered (AP/IB etc), rigor of the class make up/competition (90% to 4 year colleges, several to Ivies)? What if a candidate goes to an inner city school with the IB but only 50% go on to 4 year schools. Is that rigorous? If anyone has insight into how the SAs factor in rigor, that would be much appreciated.
     
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  2. 0302grnt

    0302grnt Member

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    Not all high school curricula re equal: some require 4 years each of English, Math, Science and 3 years of foreign language and offer many AP, IB or Honors courses, as well as dual-enrollment courses that are deemed college-level courses by some college standards. Other school require only the standards set by their state's for meeting the minimum for a high school diploma there. There are many schools that fall in between. Different states have different requirements for a high school diploma, etc. I think the factors you raised all come into play.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I would add that rigor, more than anything else, is what tough classes you took that were available. If your school offers 10 AP classes but you only took 2 then that's not rigorous. If your school only offers honor classes but you took them all, then that's rigorous. If you focus on taking the toughest classes available you will be fine.
     
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  4. joshhh117

    joshhh117 New Member

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    I think they want a mix of all of those things. One of the most useful things to know is that the SAs want well-rounded students. They don't want a kid with 20 APs with all A's, but cant run half a mile. They want a clean mixture of academics, leadership, athleticism, etc. Obviously roughly 60% of the admissions process is based on grades, but that is not surprising. Trust me, that other 40% counts A LOT, and they do allow you to be a little worse with grades, but you have to make it up with something else.
     
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  5. USMA 1994

    USMA 1994 Member

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    You are typically not penalized for the offerings of your high school. Your school submits a school profile that lays all of that information out.

    The best advice is to take the most challenging course schedule available at your school and do well.
     
  6. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    Two things. First, are the majority of your classes in core courses, such as English, math, science, advanced language, history, etc? Or are you taking mostly sociology, accounting, music, art, etc.? The occasional course in those areas (or courses required by your school in those areas) are fine but they shouldn't take up the majority of your schedule.

    Are you taking the highest level you can handle. AP/Honors/IB where offered. Calc vs. Pre-calc. Etc. Again, if you're taking 3/5 or 4/5 advanced courses, the one or two regular courses will be fine. And, you can only take what your school offers so, as noted, if they don't offer AP course, you can't take them.
     
  7. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    This may be related...

    I’m confused about how weighted & unweighted gpa is computed. I’ve always thought unweighted was based on a maximum of 4.00. Yet I’ve seen on this forum posters talking about unweighted gpas greater than 4.00. Does USNA adjust various weighted GPAs to max of 4.00 or does it use a weighted GPA & adjust various grading schemes accordingly. Just trying to figure out how course rigor is accounted for.
     
  8. MidwestDad

    MidwestDad Member

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    In short it means any GPA which is adjusted for AP or honors classes. Not all schools use A=4.0 but many count a grade in an AP class as a higher grade for purposes of GPA calculation, so an A in AP could be worth 4.2 or 4.5 etc.
     
  9. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    USNA focuses more on class rank than GPA. GPA in a vacuum is meaningless. For example, you have a 4.1. However, 75% of your class has a 4.11 or better. Thus, you have a "great" GPA but are in the bottom quarter of your class. Conversely, if your school is very strict on grades, you could have a 3.2 and potentially be in the top 20% of your class.

    Folks always say, "My school doesn't rank." USNA works it out. Sometimes they call the school. Sometimes, they have sufficient information on that school to make a pretty good educated guess regarding where you stand. If your school doesn't rank, that's USNA's problem to deal with, not yours. But they will try to sort it out.
     
  10. THParent

    THParent Member

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    I am pretty sure that when the applicant inputs the data for unweighted GPA, the maximum value is 4.0.
    My DS's unweighted GPA was over 4.0, but there was no way to enter anything higher in the online application.
    His weighted GPA was 4.88, but I don't think they even ask for it as input. It's on his transcript, but honestly why would they care?

    I would think from a stack-and-rack standpoint, they would just use the unweighted GPA - with 4.0 being the best - to level the field.
    When it comes down to it, a 4.0 isn't going to make that much of a difference over say, a 3.8 when they start looking at ACT/SAT scores and how many AP tests they have taken (and scored 4 or 5 on).
    And extracurricular activities...
    And leadership activities...
    And all the other stuff that goes into the Whole Candidate Score (WCS).
     
  11. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    These questions are arising, in part, because DS's NASS application asked for a numerical class rank - number X out of a total of Y class size. His school does not rank (many don't, I understand). He went to his career counselor and explained what he needed a rank for and asked them to estimate (my bet is that they know EXACTLY his rank). They refused to give it to him, citing school board policy. The best they were willing to do was say what decile he was in (top 10%), using unweighted GPA. So he put "41 out of 410". For all we know, he might be 1o out of 410 or even 5 out of 410 if weighted. I realize this is USNA's problem and not my son's but it frustrates the heck out of him (and me). Most of his competition in our district will be from one of 5 or 6 very good private/parochial schools who consistently send graduates to SAs (last year, one school sent 5 - they draw from two Congressional Districts). They make a big deal of where these folks stand in class rank and ALL use weighed class rank (MOCs even cited their class rank in their press releases) to give credit to the students who load their schedules up with AP/IB/honors. But, as I tell DS, "play on - the word 'fair' should not be in your vocabulary."
     
  12. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    I agree that it's frustrating and annoying b/c so many schools refuse to rank and USNA is very focused on class rank for USNA applications. If it's any consolation, I don't think class rank is nearly as important for NASS as it is for USNA applications. However, if in the future you're asked to estimate, and you know the decile, I would "estimate" in the middle of that group. I realize you did the most conservative thing, which is commendable. But I could easily defend putting a rank in the middle of the decile group provided by your school. As noted, not a huge deal for NASS.
     
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  13. MidwestDad

    MidwestDad Member

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    Also 'rigor' of a HS can be measured by average / median SAT score; comparison of avg GPA vs avg SAT; comparison of a 4.0 GPA vs SAT score, etc etc.

    eg if a typical 'A' 4.0 student underachieves on SAT then the HS is not very rigorous. But if a 1400+ SAT student has less than 3.xx unweighted GPA it is a sign of rigorous curriculum.

    Grade inflation is rampant and a 4.xx GPA by itself is virtually meaningless nowadays.
     
  14. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    "However, if in the future you're asked to estimate, and you know the decile, I would "estimate" in the middle of that group. I realize you did the most conservative thing, which is commendable. But I could easily defend putting a rank in the middle of the decile group provided by your school. As noted, not a huge deal for NASS."

    Thank you! This is good advice that I am sharing with DS.
     
  15. Musicman

    Musicman Member

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    Most schools will send a school profile along with your transcript. It usually details all of the classes offered as well as graduation statistics for your school. If you are taking challenging courses and succeeding in them, this looks far better than breezing through some easier courses when there is the possibility of higher level courses. Just my two cents from what I've heard from admissions counselors!
     
  16. CrewDad

    CrewDad Member

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    If your school doesn’t rank let the SAs figure it out. They will most likely use the SAT ACT percentile. Your GPA maybe normalized to Unweighted Scale since all schools have different grading scale. This is why SAs look at the classes you took and look at your school profile to compare but use the SAT ACT scores to do the comp nationally.

    My DS school Average SAT is 1450 and ACT Average is 29. There are schools with average SAT 1500 and average ACT 32 with 1200 students in a graduating class. That was my high school in New York City. At DS school, 99% go on to 4 year colleges. So maybe 1 or 2 kids enlist or go to post grad high school. His school has few kids with 1600 SAT and 36 ACT every year. His school doesn’t rank. So cannot compare schools like this with school averaging 1100 SAT and 24 ACT. This is why SAs often refer to test scores to get the percentile when no rank provided and schools don’t comp well with national average.

    Don’t worry about the rigor of your school. That’s beyond your control. Just do the best you can with what is offered in your environment. Some schools entourage taking many APs and some schools regulate how many APs you can take each year so explain your situation on the App.

    If your school regularly places half the class into top 30 schools in the nation, that shows rigor. If your school places 3 kids to top 30 schools each year then that demonstrates less rigor of your school. Rigor is also demonstrated by the performance of your school not just by your classes. If average kids in your school take 8 APs and you took 4 then you took less rigorous path. But you should get bonus points by being enrolled in a nationally rigorous school. All SAs should have a list of these schools since they are so well publicized.

    So you get the big picture.
     
  17. Ravens

    Ravens Member

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    Please, please, please let me know the name of the schools with the above statistics. These are certainly not public schools if they exist.
     
  18. DannyBoy

    DannyBoy New Member

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    College Academy at Broward College (South Florida High School) fits that criteria. All the students graduate with a 2 year degree, 100% go to 4 year University, and it’s a public school.
     
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  19. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    Wow! The stats on those high schools are a bit intimidating. They must either be doing something very, very right, or they have an unusually gifted population that they serve. In our inner city schools, there is a huge binomial distribution.

    In DS's school, there are 40% who are great students, IB diploma candidates, AP classes, etc. about 60% who bump along, struggle, drop out, etc. They report two ACT averages on the school profile: for the school as a whole and for those bound for four 4 year colleges. In the class mix, we have 28% who are ELL students and over 50% who are on free and reduced lunch (an unfortunate surrogate for low income). There are 25 different first-languages spoken in the homes of students. 22% of the students were born in another country. And 8% of the class have learning disabilities ("main streamed"). My DS's class size at the start of this (junior) year was 410. He just got his first semester report card yesterday - while they do not report class ranking they still include class size - it went down from 410 to 384, which ironically means that even though DS had straight A's in all IB courses, his class ranking (reported in deciles) could go down. One graduate has gone to an Ivy (Cornell) in the past 3 years. No one remembers a grad going to an SA. DS's high school has a rigorous program for those who chose to follow that path but by standards of judging the overall class, it is not a rigorous school. We hope USNA will take into account DS's coursework and ACT and not the school's overall statistics. I will say, however, that DS has benefited so much from rubbing shoulders with a great range of kids from different backgrounds.
     
  20. CrewDad

    CrewDad Member

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    Hi Raven.

    They are public schools but exceptional ones. Must take competitive exam from 8/9th grade to get admitted. And there are about 100 schools like them in the United States spread out across the country. But among the very top are nationally recognized STEM schools with deep history. They are about 100 years old. And they are the feeder schools to many top 20 schools and country’s STEM programs.

    These are the 3 original STEM schools in America that regularly place about 100 +/- from each school to the Ivies and MIT CalTech and Stanford. In my class about 600 were admitted to NYU and over 100 admitted to schools like Cornell, 25 to MIT, 25 to Harvard back in the 1980s. I know they are just as strong today. You can google them and read them on Wikipedia. All are in New York City. Between them, their alumni have contributed 13+ Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chem, Nuclear Physics, Astro Physics. Astronauts, Colonel Carol Bobko is the first Air Force Academy Grad and the first Astronaut from the Academy and to fly the Space Shuttle Mission. 4 Star General James E Dalton USMA ‘53 US Air Force NATO Supreme Allied CDR. Olympic Medalists, Congressmen, University Presidents. The list goes on....About 3-6 go on to SAs each year from each Schools.

    Brooklyn Technical High School, 5500 Students

    Bronx High School of Science, 3,300 Students

    Stuyvesant High School, 3,800 Students

    These schools are the founders of National Consortium for Specialized Schools of STEM. They make up about 33% of national members.