Tag: high school

College Admissions Angst: When Ivy League Dreams Face a Less Lofty Reality

Harvard Square courtesy Wikimedia Commons

It’s the private school version of a horror story, no chainsaws or severed hands necessary:  the student, in the top five of the graduating class at one of Baltimore’s best private schools, was well-liked by all, spent afternoons practicing music and summers building schools in Latin America. Basically, the student did everything right. The student applied to ten colleges, a reasonable mix of safeties and reaches. And (cue the screeching soundtrack), come May, the student was rejected by every single one of them.

Call it “the curse of the well-rounded white girl” or a plain old demographic shift; in any case, Baltimore parents are saying it’s real, and they aren’t sure how to react.  Do schools need to be doing more? Should parents start caring less? When parents start marching into headmasters’ offices to protest what they see as an alarming trend – Baltimore private school students losing ground in the race for slots at elite colleges – is their concern warranted?

Getting In: Graduation is Tomorrow



Graduation is tomorrow, and my heart is in my throat.  I am told by friends with older children that college graduation is much easier on parents than high school.  Goodbyes have already been said.  But we have not said goodbye, and as I sit here writing, I am working hard to keep it together – not cry and say “don’t go!”  Emily is so ready.  She needs to go.  But what it means for us, for me, is something that looks much less like a beginning, and more like an end, at least to this stage of our family’s life.

Jack Andraka on ABC World News Tonight?


On ABC’s Good Morning America this morning, World News Anchor Diane Sawyer announced a teaser for a story tonight about a new discovery for cancer and the remarkable teenager behind it.  Could it be North County High School’s Jack Andraka? We posted last week about the Crownsville 15 year-old who won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his discovery of a better, less expensive way to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

Be sure to watch it tonight!


Getting In: Do Colleges Really Rescind Acceptances? They Sure Do…


My nephew was so excited to be admitted to the University of Maryland Honors College.  It is a rigorous academic program, with selective admission, and delivers high quality education affordably.  Kiplinger’s ranked University of Maryland number eight in the country for top-value public colleges this year, and the Honors College is its elite program for “students with exceptional academic talents.”   So, like any bright, accomplished high school senior with all the stars aligned, his response to his good fortune was to stop going to school.  I’m only exaggerating a little.

Students Speak: Gilman Senior Dares to Choose Happiness


Tim Jenkins, a senior at Gilman, shares with us a poignant speech, inspired by one of our favorite writers, David Foster Wallace, and the 2005 commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College.  Tim talks about finding truth in everyday lives and choosing how and what to think.

Tim will attend Colorado College in the fall. – The Eds.


Is College Easier Than High School?


Alex pulled his first all-nighter as a sophomore in high school. He toiled over research papers, lab reports, SAT prep books, and literary analyses. Studying and homework took up a huge chunk of his day. By the time he got to college, he was so practiced at poring over his books that it took him a few months to come to the realization that college seemed somehow… easier than high school.

As the competition for a spot at a top college becomes ever more fierce, high schools have had to ramp up their game, giving students a rigorous and extensive preparation for their future education. But not all colleges have kept up. While the average college student fifty years ago spent 24 hours a week studying, today’s undergrads devote only about 15 hours to preparing for class. “I was expecting it to be a lot harder,” Ashley Dixon, a sophomore at George Mason University, told the Washington Post. “I thought I was going to be miserable, trying to get good grades. And I do get good grades, and I’m not working very hard.”

Consider this:  in 1961, the average student studied for 24 hours and spent 16 in class, so college was akin to a full-time job. These days, students’ time spent on college endeavors averages out to about 27 hours a week, or, as the Post puts it, “roughly the same time commitment expected of students in a modern full-day kindergarten.”

Congressional Speech Slips by a Grade Level According to a New Study


A recent study from the Sunlight Foundation determined that congressional floor speeches have dropped in sophistication from that of a high school junior to that of a high school sophomore since 2005. I guess that means that whereas in 2005 congress was full of speeches that went, “Oh my god, seriously? You support that bill, you are a moron, son, straight up!” now they’re more like, “This bill is soooooo lame, but mom’s gonna ground me if I don’t vote for it.” (It’s a subtle difference, really.)

Maryland’s Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John Sarbanes deliver speeches at the level of a 12th grader, so I’m assuming they devote a lot of time to talking about how they “can’t wait to get out of this town” and how they’ve already got college girlfriends and how they’re smarter than half their teachers here anyway.

The group also ranked the words of each congressperson according to frequency. You may be happy to know that Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is frequently heard to utter “Ripken” and “Orioles” from the floor of congress.

Maryland Schools Make U.S. News List of Top 2,000 Schools


Courtesy of Citybizlist – Fifty-four Maryland high schools made U.S. News and World Report‘s List of Top 2,000 Schools. The top seven were located in the Rockville and Bethesda areas.

Locally, the following schools made the Top 25 within Maryland:

Severna Park High School
Ranked 8 in Md.
Ranked 211 Nationally

Eastern Technical High School
Ranked 9 in Md.
Ranked 222 Nationally

George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology

Ranked 11 in Md.
Ranked 242 Nationally

Dulaney High School
Ranked 13 in Md.
Ranked 264 Nationally

Towson High School Law and Public Policy

Ranked 14 in Md.
Ranked 267 Nationally

Centennial High School
Ellicott City
Ranked 19 in Md.
Ranked 360 Nationally

See the entire Maryland list here.

Read U.S. News’ report here.

Read more at Citybizlist


Should Ninth Graders Be Going on College Tours?


Last year, Dave Marcus’s son was in middle school; now, the ninth grader is embarking on a ritual usually reserved for high school juniors and seniors — the college tour.

At first, I assumed this was just another instance of over-aggressive parenting, shifting the college pressure earlier and earlier in high school. And there is certainly plenty of that going around; a recent New York Times article discussed several for-profit schools that start students on the college application process in ninth grade. “Is it better to get a jump on the process but risk turning high school into a staging ground for college admission?,” the article asked. “Or is it preferable to start later, when students are more developmentally prepared but perhaps missing opportunities to plan hobbies, choose classes and secure summer internships?”

You Missed Your Ravens Cheerleader Tryout!


On Saturday, 90 Ravens cheerleader finalists — male and female, culled from over 300 original competitors — auditioned for roughly 60 spots on the squad. Many were returning vets. Men tried out for “stunt” performance only, while women could strut their dance and/or stunt skills. Callback event happened loud and proud, before a paying 500-person crowd ($20 a ticket) at the Lyric Opera House. Fourteen “local celebrity judges” were on hand, including Ravens legend/TV personality Qadry Ismail. Spying the busy coverage in The Baltimore Sun got me pondering the value of performing as a cheerleader as an adult — I mean, I never saw the sense in the silly pastime when I was a kid. Growing up in Texas, cheerleading capital of the universe, I saw the sport as viciously competitive and snobby. Girls who secured a spot on the varsity or JV squad became the royalty of the huge school; they set the standard for looks and decided who fit into the larger popular crowd and who absolutely did not gain admission to keg parties in the woods.

After more patient research, I find myself hot-curler-ing a twist into my post’s narrative, a post that I first imagined would involve poking easy fun at these mostly blond and built, typically plainspoken + hyper-chipper gals. Sure, mainstream cheerleading will always sign up beauty and grace of the capital-C Conventional variety (though Cheer Coordinator Tina Galdieri promised she’s looking for beauty, brains, and skill, all three). But the Ravens cheer candidates I’ve recently videoed and read more closely about all come across as mature, realistic adults who are rather humbly passionate about both the Ravens’ team spirit and the joy of fitness. Many of the performers (blond/built/overly made-up included) are married people in their late 20s and early 30s, with kids to care for, and on top of that, full-time jobs to manage. (Full-time employment, full-time stay-at-home-parent status or full-time college enrollment is a requirement, as the Ravens pay cheerleaders only about $100 per game, though squad members can earn money through public appearances, according to About.com). A quick aside: In 2005, Molly Shattuck  famously became the oldest Ravens mom-with-pompom at 38.