When we visited Reed, I came away with a few impressions and information. I am sure you know all of these but I thought I would share just in case.

     Grades, grades, curriculum strength, SAT/ACT scores. Those were the top 4 factors for admissions (NACAC)

    1. Your counselor is your advocate. Go to them. Use their expertise.
    2. Class rank has diminished greatly in importance since 2003. (33% to 9%) Percentage of colleges attributing "considerable importance" to factors in admission decisions
    3. Demonstrated interest has increased (7% to 14%) Percentage of colleges attributing "considerable importance" to factors in admission decisions
    4. As above in #3 & #4, Grades in College prep courses,all grades, Test scores,  and Strength of curriculum are the top 4 factors in college admissions.
    5. Letters of Rec should ONLY be from academic teachers. He made this point repeatedly. Over and over again. And then a few times more!
    6. Trends in grades are important your Jr and Sr year. Sr year curriculum really matters. Continue taking challenging courses. If you don't, they aren't impressed. Keep your grades up too.

    He decided that Reed was not the school for him but we learned a lot. 

    Another factor in looking at colleges that we were made aware of was the role of adjunct vs tenured professors. 

    Also that there are colleges who hire professors that are concentrating on research over teaching.

    At Reed, they say they don't hire adjuncts (according to one website they had 17% adjuncts). They said they hire and retain teachers who are great TEACHERS. If they happen to publish and do research, that's great but the main concern is how they teach.

    Adjuncts can be wonderful teachers but they are freelancers and don't have the time to be on campus and be dedicated to the students.

    So we are looking for schools that have a low % of adjuncts. Schools that are more concerned with teaching undergraduates, not graduates and research/publishing. And schools that have a fairly high percentage of small classes.

    Example: San Diego State 56% adjuncts, 29:1 ratio

                       Middlebury 12% adjuncts, 8:1 ratio

    We also learned that the student to teacher ratio at most schools include all teachers/TAs and others. It doesn't mean there is one tenured teacher teaching 8 kids. 

     2 things we wished we had known...

                   Since he decided to apply to Princeton (partially to make his grandpa happy!) these 2 things matter.

    1. He needed to have a graded essay or paper in English or History. Unfortunately, we decluttered so he had to scramble and submit not his greatest work.
    2. He should have taken a Science SAT subject test. (He didn't feel like he knew enough in Chemistry, not reflective of the teacher.  He was also busy enough with everything. But still, we now wish we had known.)

    Not big deals but this is advice I would share with kids who are contemplating more rigorous schools.

    In general, I think that kids should just plan on filling out all applications (common app not just UC/CSU) and prepare for the most rigorous even if the are SURE they are only applying to one kind of college. They are 17 and are allowed to change their minds and they should be changing their minds as they learn more about the process and themselves. If you prepare for the most rigorous app, then if you change your mind, you are all set and not locked out of a chance. I really see this as a time of growth and exploration. It is stressful for sure, but it is also enlightening and exciting. 

    My student was stressed about writing the extra essays for Princeton, and it was tough, but he actually started examining his life and learning about himself. We're not sure if that is the point of these essays, but it was a valuable outcome.


    Shared w/ Sheila Souder and permission to publish granted on 11/2/2018.