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Old 02-13-2014, 08:01 AM
 
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I'd second CMMom. I've looked at Trinity's graduating class acceptances and well over half go onto Westminster. That's a lot of 6th grade expansion year slots that are taken up. For the non-expansion years (e.g. 1st-5th) at schools like Westminster and Lovett, I was told by admissions informally that they get about 30-35 applicants for 1-2 slots. Add to that that many of the applicants may be siblings of current students or legacies and the pool shrinks a lot really fast. I think Paideia easily fills all of their pre-k, kindergarten with siblings and turn downs many even due to lack of space. I also wonder about the draw of Westminster. I have only toured the elementary school which is a completely separate building from the rest of the school but my main reaction was "This is Westminster??". They must put the majority of their money into the middle/high school because the elementary school looks almost exactly like the one I went to 30+ years ago in podunk Mississippi. It's clean and nice but definitely not impressive at all. Also, during my kid's evaluation while parents waited, they showed a brief film which was clearly created by elementary students and was definitely a little rough around the edges. Pace and Lovett have much nicer elementary schools and slicker info films highlighting the school and it's students. I saw nothing negative during my tour of Westminster at all, I was just shocked that it seems so average given it's reputation.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:41 AM
 
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Chabang...that's an interesting observation. I was quite impressed with the elementary school of Westminster and Lovett. While when I looked at Pace, my impression was "this is it". I expected much more from Pace. Maybe as parents...we all look at the superficial gloss and think of it as representative of the school, and need to find a way to look deeper. In the middle and higher schools, Lovett and Westminster were both very impressive. I did not get to see Pace.

Also, at Westminster there are many more openings in the 5th grade because they create one more new class...so I believe they add on almost 15-20 more students. I'm not sure how many apply for those openings.

One thing that I found quite interesting in my observations of these schools...was that Pace and Lovett were really trying to woo parents and it was easy to see that they wanted applicants. On the other hand with Westminster it seemed the opposite...parents with bated breath, wanting and waiting and hoping for their child to get in...I cannot understand this
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:00 PM
 
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Hi SNSH,

Maybe it is because many parents think of Westminster as the best private in the southeast. I have no real idea why parents think that or how Westminster received this reputation. Personally, my husband and I are not interested in Westminster for our son so I have never really studied the school in extreme depth or seen the facilities. I think that Westminster may have the biggest endowment and maybe that also adds to the perception. I think also that Westminster is the favorite among the uber-rich and we tend to associate that with desirability. The above could be the basis for the differences that you observed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by snsh5713 View Post
Chabang...that's an interesting observation. I was quite impressed with the elementary school of Westminster and Lovett. While when I looked at Pace, my impression was "this is it". I expected much more from Pace. Maybe as parents...we all look at the superficial gloss and think of it as representative of the school, and need to find a way to look deeper. In the middle and higher schools, Lovett and Westminster were both very impressive. I did not get to see Pace.

Also, at Westminster there are many more openings in the 5th grade because they create one more new class...so I believe they add on almost 15-20 more students. I'm not sure how many apply for those openings.

One thing that I found quite interesting in my observations of these schools...was that Pace and Lovett were really trying to woo parents and it was easy to see that they wanted applicants. On the other hand with Westminster it seemed the opposite...parents with bated breath, wanting and waiting and hoping for their child to get in...I cannot understand this
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek area
9,552 posts, read 8,612,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovelySummer View Post
Hi SNSH,

Maybe it is because many parents think of Westminster as the best private in the southeast. I have no real idea why parents think that or how Westminster received this reputation. Personally, my husband and I are not interested in Westminster for our son so I have never really studied the school in extreme depth or seen the facilities. I think that Westminster may have the biggest endowment and maybe that also adds to the perception. I think also that Westminster is the favorite among the uber-rich and we tend to associate that with desirability. The above could be the basis for the differences that you observed.
I think, too, that Westminster has historically had the highest acceptance rates among the top colleges and universities (whatever "top colleges and universities" really means...). It is nationally respected and, I imagine, more widely known than Lovett, Pace, etc. And, yes, the endowment does help as well as the background of the families who's children go there.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:34 PM
 
28,101 posts, read 24,632,008 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovelySummer View Post
Hi SNSH,

Maybe it is because many parents think of Westminster as the best private in the southeast. I have no real idea why parents think that or how Westminster received this reputation. Personally, my husband and I are not interested in Westminster for our son so I have never really studied the school in extreme depth or seen the facilities. I think that Westminster may have the biggest endowment and maybe that also adds to the perception. I think also that Westminster is the favorite among the uber-rich and we tend to associate that with desirability. The above could be the basis for the differences that you observed.
Good points, LS.

Our society tends to conflate expensive and exclusive with "desirable." I have always said that if you wanted to start a club the best thing to do would be to set the dues up in the stratosphere and let it be known that you are only letting a handful of people in.

That alone will appeal deeply to many people.

Having been through elementary school myself and having observed a slew of children and grandchildren doing the same, I have to wonder how much difference the programs really make. Of course they all have to meet a certain basic level -- every kid needs to learn how to read and write, do math, and get their basic grounding in history and science.

Beyond that, I am inclined to believe that the most important factors are for them to have fun, to develop confidence in themselves, to acquire a positive attitude about learning, and to learn how to be responsible citizens.

After all, how much data can you pack into a little kid's head?
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:17 PM
 
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Hi AP,

I hear you and thanks for your feedback. This issue of acceptance rates is one that is difficult for me, as a former scientist, to really see. Reason being, they rarely tell *how many* acceptances actually were received and spread out over how many students. For example, listing Harvard, Brown, Princeton and Columbia as schools at which kids got accepted really tells me nothing because that could have been 1 kid in the entire class of 100 that got into all four schools. However, the perception is that the school is producing lots of kids that are getting into ivies when that is not the case. By contrast, a different school could list the same four schools and it could mean that four kids got into those four schools, or - even more impressive yet - that 10 kids got into those schools. See what I mean? These lists of schools at which the kids got admitted could mean so many different things. As such, I really do not put alot of stock into lists because all of the "top" schools could have been the result of 20 kids in the class of 100. With kids applying to 10 schools sometimes nowadays, 20 kids could easily account for all of the "top" schools listed by the school. Scientifically, unless I am sitting in the college counselor offices for two schools and comparing the stats side by side to see how many children are really represented, etc., it is almost impossible to compare two schools. They almost all list the usual suspects, it seems. The bigger question is what do the lists really represent. None of us have any way of knowing that.




Quote:
Originally Posted by AnsleyPark View Post
I think, too, that Westminster has historically had the highest acceptance rates among the top colleges and universities (whatever "top colleges and universities" really means...). It is nationally respected and, I imagine, more widely known than Lovett, Pace, etc. And, yes, the endowment does help as well as the background of the families who's children go there.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek area
9,552 posts, read 8,612,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovelySummer View Post
Hi AP,

I hear you and thanks for your feedback. This issue of acceptance rates is one that is difficult for me, as a former scientist, to really see. Reason being, they rarely tell *how many* acceptances actually were received and spread out over how many students. For example, listing Harvard, Brown, Princeton and Columbia as schools at which kids got accepted really tells me nothing because that could have been 1 kid in the entire class of 100 that got into all four schools. However, the perception is that the school is producing lots of kids that are getting into ivies when that is not the case. By contrast, a different school could list the same four schools and it could mean that four kids got into those four schools, or - even more impressive yet - that 10 kids got into those schools. See what I mean? These lists of schools at which the kids got admitted could mean so many different things. As such, I really do not put alot of stock into lists because all of the "top" schools could have been the result of 20 kids in the class of 100. With kids applying to 10 schools sometimes nowadays, 20 kids could easily account for all of the "top" schools listed by the school. Scientifically, unless I am sitting in the college counselor offices for two schools and comparing the stats side by side to see how many children are really represented, etc., it is almost impossible to compare two schools. They almost all list the usual suspects, it seems. The bigger question is what do the lists really represent. None of us have any way of knowing that.
Points well taken. I don't know the statistics, but, anecdotally, I do know many of my oldest daughter's friends who did go to prestigious schools - Stanford, Duke, Harvard, NYU to name a few. Westminster does keep up with where their students go to college - there's a big map in the school that shows where they all wind up going.

On a somewhat related note - folks may be surprised to know that the whole "legacy" thing is pretty much of a fallacy - at least at W'minster. My oldest is a W'minster grad, and one of my younger twins goes there, but the other twin was not accepted.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:35 PM
 
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Arjay,

You are totally right and I actually wish private schools were not so expensive. As you mentioned, people conflate expensive with desirable. I see that even with builders in Atlanta. It's a brand recognition type of thing too, I think. Some schools have better brands than others and the brand is what people are buying in some cases. Same thing with cars, home builders, etc.

I think the smaller class sizes in some schools can make a big difference but the reality is that, as my husband who has been a teacher for 20 years in public school has explained to me, all private schools are not good schools just by virtue of being private. But many parents do not thoroughly evaluate the school. For example, I want to know pound for pound, what is my child going to learn at grade 3 in this school versus grade 3 in that school. I want to know what books are being used. Do you know that some private schools are using Everyday Math? I disagree with that mathbook. It is a watered down version of math as far as I am concerned and I believe that Singapore math books are better. So is the math watered down or not? I do not know. However, I do know that sometimes the smart students are driving things as SNSH pointed out, rather than the school (and the textbooks) driving things - although the assumption is always that it is the school driving things.

I also want to know things like what are the qualifications of the teachers and is the student-to-teacher ratio always the same or does it fluctuate throughout the day (because it does fluctuate in many cases). Do people know that private schools do not have to adhere to state guidelines regarding teacher qualifications and, as a result, you very well could get a private school with teachers who are less qualified than public school teachers. It happens. Parents must really delve into the school rather than just buying a brand and leaving it at that.

I think it makes more sense to talk about schools with certain characteristics rather than public vs. private. For example, we like small class size. The reality is that that is not readily happening in public schools nowadays. When I say small, I mean no more than 15 or so. Some of the privates that we are looking at have no more than 20 with TWO teachers. That, I think, can make a difference although maybe I'm wrong about that. I went to public school and never had less than 25 and always had one teacher. I thrived, no problem so maybe we are going to throw away a bunch of money for soemthing that doesn't really matter after all, who knows.

All of this to say that parents shouldn't equate private with an automatic stamp of superiority relative to public because it may or may not be, and depends on the child as well, as many posters have pointed out time and again. I cringe when I think of parents pushing their kids into some schools that are known for being hypercompetitive when they really do not know if their child wants to be in that type of environment everyday. The reality is that most of us do not want to go to work each day with people that are hypercompetitive and always trying to best each other for the top slot. That is not fun for most people yet we push our kids into these environments and hope they like it. I, like you, think that the most important thing is that a child be challenged (at whatever level the child operates) and that the child has FUN, makes friends and enjoys life. This is why I have also internally (and sometimes outwardly) questioned high schoolers who are taking tons of AP courses. Where is the fun? Where is the time to simply chat with friends by phone and hang out. I think I am in the minority, however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay57 View Post
Good points, LS.

Our society tends to conflate expensive and exclusive with "desirable." I have always said that if you wanted to start a club the best thing to do would be to set the dues up in the stratosphere and let it be known that you are only letting a handful of people in.

That alone will appeal deeply to many people.

Having been through elementary school myself and having observed a slew of children and grandchildren doing the same, I have to wonder how much difference the programs really make. Of course they all have to meet a certain basic level -- every kid needs to learn how to read and write, do math, and get their basic grounding in history and science.

Beyond that, I am inclined to believe that the most important factors are for them to have fun, to develop confidence in themselves, to acquire a positive attitude about learning, and to learn how to be responsible citizens.

After all, how much data can you pack into a little kid's head?
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:49 PM
 
39 posts, read 110,973 times
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Many schools list only where students have been accepted (usually over the past few years); however, Westminster publishes where the graduates matriculate. I believe that this gives a slightly better picture of how the school is doing with respect to college admissions, since each student can appear only once, even if that same student was responsible for 3 or 4 impressive acceptances.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:58 PM
 
3,966 posts, read 10,796,748 times
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Originally Posted by intownmom View Post
Many schools list only where students have been accepted (usually over the past few years); however, Westminster publishes where the graduates matriculate. I believe that this gives a slightly better picture of how the school is doing with respect to college admissions, since each student can appear only once, even if that same student was responsible for 3 or 4 impressive acceptances.
This is absolutely correct.

Westminster probably has a disproportionate percentage of parents who attended those "top" colleges and while the legacy factor has diminished greatly at top colleges and universities (for the most part, there are some exceptions), it is certainly still a factor.
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