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Author Topic: Question about High School Diplomas  (Read 14558 times)
kbeard
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« on: February 22, 2012, 3:09:43 PM »

I wasn't sure where to put this thread, but the Meet and Greet seems to be the best place for something "off topic" on the other boards.

Anyways, I teach at a high school in Alabama, and our counselors are telling our students that there is no difference between a regular and advanced diploma when applying to colleges.  Because of this, many students are foregoing the advanced option in order to take easier classes and get a higher GPA.

I'm concerned because one of my students who is in all honors classes except for math has decided that she would rather take Algebraic Connections instead of Algeba II because she wants an easy math class.  When I told her that she would no longer be eligible for an advanced diploma, she said that the counselor told her it wouldn't matter in the long run. 

This may be a question solely for those working or for those who have worked in the state of Alabama, but does this matter?  Should I bring this concern to thecounselors? 

Thanks.
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zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 7:35:50 PM »


I am not familar with Alabama, but in the Northeast, colleges look for not just GPA, but also for the rigor of the HS courses.  The state flagship actually has its own formula, giving 0.5 extra points for honors classes, and 1.0 points for AP classes, and only counts the "academic" subjects in calculating GPA.

Based on what I know, I think the student was misled.
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__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
snowbound
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 7:52:00 PM »

Of course the rigor of courses matters!  Students frequently half-remember, and don't understand, or hear what they want to hear.  I sometimes shake my head in despair when I see what they write on exams, and when a student says, "But professor So and So told us [something completely wrong]", I take it with a large grain of salt.  That is probably what is happening here.  Maybe the counselor was talking about what you need to get into  community college or a very non-selective 4-year school.  Or the value of any HS diploma vs having no HS diploma. 

In any case, a few words with the counselor should clarify whether or not students are indeed being given this terrible advice.
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kbeard
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 12:57:30 PM »

The problem is that my school has put its entire focus on the lower achievers.  So while the regular diploma is probably sufficient for a lower-tier college, I'm not sure it will make them competitive when applying to top schools.

For example, this particular student I mentioned has aspirations to attend Emory.  I could speak to her individually about her future schedule and her diploma, but the counselors are speaking to classes as a whole.  There are many students - for example - who are taking the easy English class because they don't see the point in earning an advanced diploma. 

Also, it seems like they are putting too much of an emphasis on "just getting in."  "You don't need to take advanced classes; just take the easy ones so that you'll have a better GPA when applying!"

Maybe I could call a particular school and ask them directly.   

 
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theritas
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 3:44:37 PM »

When I was an admissions counselor, I definitely looked at the courses taken, especially junior and senior year, and if any other measure was borderline.  I'm pretty sure I was given guidelines for the area/school/major to which they were applying, based upon the professors' recommendations.  Math rigor was important to them.
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zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 4:39:37 PM »


Sounds like the "advanced" Alabama diploma is what other states consider the standard HS diploma:

http://blog.spn.org/id.1880/detail.asp

I strongly suspect that Emory would pass on any Alabama student unless they had the "advanced" diploma.  But I bet they'll tell you if  you gave them a call.
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__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
chromatic
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 11:29:32 AM »

I have, since my own high-school days, been placed under the impression that one could either optimize rigor or optimize GPA in one's high school studies. So either going for GPA whoredom, if successful, would impress college admissions; and going for high-school rigor, if the GPA was decent, would also impress college admissions. So the high-school student has a choice in this matter.
Is that true?
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zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 1:35:24 PM »

I have, since my own high-school days, been placed under the impression that one could either optimize rigor or optimize GPA in one's high school studies. So either going for GPA whoredom, if successful, would impress college admissions; and going for high-school rigor, if the GPA was decent, would also impress college admissions. So the high-school student has a choice in this matter.
Is that true?

No, selective schools look for both GPA and rigor.  Here is an example (look under High School students):

http://www.northeastern.edu/admissions/apply/what-do-we-look-for.html

While NU does not list specific GPA requirements, they do say (at admissions visits) that the middle 50 pct of admitted students have GPAs between (I recall) 3.7 and 4.2.  (AP and Honors classes carrying more weight, of course, in determining the average.)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 1:39:13 PM by zharkov » Logged

__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
brixton
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Posts: 3,130


« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2012, 2:50:50 PM »

A high GPA of basket-weaving classes will not get you into a competitive school.  College-bound H.S. classes like Algebra II and Pre-Calc are expected.  If AP classes are offered and you're not taking them, competitive colleges will want to know why.  I would talk to that student, if you care about her.  I'd also talk to the counselor to make sure that's what s/he said.  I think this info is on a lot of admissions sites at a lot of colleges, so finding one that is well-phrased will support your case.
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