Parent Presentation Grade 10 May 2014

April 2014

We started with an activity to explore types of colleges. While picking colleges by ranking or name recognition is certainly done, it misses actually exploring student experiences and outcomes. Some very useful websites to explore include:

  • Unigo#mce_temp_url#: A student review website
  • Collegeprowler: another student review website
  • Payscale tracks college gradautes earnings. Take this information with some healthy skepticism as it does not tell the whole story. 

There are all sorts of interesting rankings out there. 

Which colleges has the smartest students? Lumonosity has the answer. 

A different sort of intelligence can be seen in which colleges produce the most PhD’s

What if your kids is heading to MBA or Law or Medical schools and not a PhD?

Wall Street Journal feeder schools

A document which lists the top 50 schools which feed students into the “selected 15 elite graudate school programs in medicine (Columbia, Harvard Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco, Yale), law (Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, and Yale) and business (Chicago, Darmouth’s Tuck School, Harvard, MIT’s Sloan School, and Penn’s Wharton School).

15 of the top 50 are liberal arts colleges. 



The more classic rankings of course include the three big rankings (be sure to read their methdologies):


Malcolm Gladwell take a close look at college rankings and concludes “Who comes out on top, in any ranking system, is really about who is doing the ranking.” 


There are many thinkers and list makers in college advisement world. One of our favorites is Steven antanoff author of College finder. This book is simply a series of lists like “Colleges where movies were filmed” or “colleges with the most students involved with fraternities.” His lists are available for free at the collegeexpress website. Some of my favorites from the 800 include:



Hit “next” to see more lists or choose some new filters and sub-categories to keep exploring!


Hit “next” to see more lists or choose some new filters and sub-categories to keep exploring!

Does going to a top college equal getting a top job?

While this is a widely held belief, the truth is far more complex. While going to a college with a strong name recognition probably does move you up list for a job interview so do good internships. 

Consider all these stories collected about students lack of career success inspite of the fact they attended an elite college. Perhaps more worthwhile reading can be found here:



“Irrespective of college major or institutional selectivity, what matters to career success is students’ development of a broad set of cross-cutting capacities…”


Attending An Elite College Won’t Increase Earnings 

 It tracked top high-school students through their 30s and found that their alma maters had little impact on their earnings. Students who got into both, say, the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State made roughly the same amount of money, regardless of which they chose. Dale-Krueger study. read the follow up




Malcolm Gladwell takes a very close look at two colleges, Hartwhick and Harvard, and their respective completation rates for STEM majors:



Top 3rd

Second 3rd

Bottom 3rd


























Hear Gladwell explain it himself

Malcolm Gladwell on why you should never study at an elite college, but should rather choose a college where you are sure you can be the top student in your program. “When it comes to choosing your undergraduate institution, you should never go to the best institution you get into. Never. Go to your second or your third choice. Go to the place where you’re guaranteed to be in the top part of your class.”


relative deprivation  theory: “And it describes this exceedingly robust phenomenon which says that as human beings we do not form our self-assessments based on our standing in the world. We form our self-assessments based on our standing in the — in our immediate circle, on those in the same boat as ourselves, right?”

“The smarter your peers, the dumber you feel; the dumber you feel, the more likely you are to drop out of science.” 

CEO’s of the fortune 500 companies

Liberal arts and sciences

A side not on raising girls for leadership

Essential reading for all our girls and their parents (good idea for the boys):

Lean in.


Side note: Lean In has partnered with Marcus Buckingham to offer, for free, the Standout strengths assessment.


Perhaps it is not so much about getting a job as creating your own job. Here is a list of Colleges top in producing entrepreneurs.


What do Colleges actually look for?

How admission decisions work

Stanford outlines some context for how admissions works

Note: I have been tracking admission process for some time here

List of schools known as the Hidden Ivies

SAT/ACT and preparation

Start by signing up for

Test preparation

  • Free online for both SAT and ACT at Number 2
  • very good free instruction for the SAT at the Kahn Academy



You can purchase very good SAT prep books here in China

  • Recommend collegeboard, barrons and princetone review books.


Test prep courses

There are no shortages of companies offering SAT prep in Shanghai. Buyer beware. Many advertise claims that may be too good to be true. There is about 15 to 20 hours of actual instruction at most needed for SAT prep. The rest of the time is simply drilling. The oldest test prep companies in the world, the Princeton Review and Kaplan, both offer 35 hour courses. Many other companies offer intensive cram courses. There is little evidence to suggest these 200 to 300 hour courses make much of a difference than 35 hours.

Things to look for:

    Small classes.

    Grouped by ability. (Should a student with a 400 math be in the same class as a student with a 650 math?)

    Shorter instruction sessions (2 hours, 3 maximum). Three hours is a long time to have to sit and learn about test preparation, four hours is absurd.

    Frequent practice testing. If you don’t practice, you can’t implement the recommendations made by the teacher.

    Quality material. Choose a company that uses the College Board’s The Official Study Guide for the New SAT. The questions/tests in the book are formulated by the company that writes the SAT – the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Be suspicious of someone who uses Barrons, Kaplan, or Princeton Review’s version of the SAT. These are virtual reality tests and are substandard. If the instructor tries to convince you that these books are just as good, watch out. Especially on the reading comprehension, these books can cause a great deal of confusion and loss of confidence.

    A course given over enough time to get a full review. Very few people can prepare for the whole test in just a week. If you are looking for super-good gains you have to give yourself enough study time. Six to eight weeks should help you pace well. A caveat: even a quick preview of the SAT is better than nothing. You can download a free real SAT from

    Instructor who teaches the math, not just how to plug in answers until you find the right one. Back-solving may salvage the score of a hopeless math phobic but if you are starting with a 600 and want to score in the 700s you need to clean up your math and practice.

    Service-oriented staff. Prompt responses to calls and emails are good signs that someone cares.

    A company or individual that has an address. A real address, not just a website, post office box, or email. If you are dissatisfied with the service how are you going to contact the powers-that-be?

Quality instructors. Recently a client told me that the previous place she had used for test prep hired first year college students and the company advised these “teachers” to lie about their age to gain authority. These “teachers” were also instructed to lie about their own test scores and claim they were higher. All industries have there questionable components and, sad to say, test prep is no exception.

 “Let your child drive the bus.”

a most excellent article for all parents to read. 


Research Universities

Liberal arts and sciences


Brand recognition

Focus on undergraduate teaching

Common focus

More choice




Too coddled

Lack of options

Big classes

lack of resources

Lack of diversity


“The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

This summer


1) Recharge


2) Reconnect


3) Reflect


Reflect on what? 

We will have all students do the Myer’s Briggs Type Inventory (found in Naviance–called Do What You Are). Do you know your results? Find your own with this free version of the test.