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Ballet Talk for Dancers
lorrainegd

High School Grades and Going to College for dance

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calamitous

Here's some of my view and our experience. DD will be a freshman in college for dance this fall. In the reverse of msd's DD mine started was an MY bound kid form 5th grade through 11th, then swtiched to dance for reasons that are still somewhat mysterious to her dad and I. So one kids change their minds in the process of getting to know who they are which may be different from who they or we as parents think they are.

Two, DD did attend an arts school and this had definite pros and cons for her in terms of course planning. This is an adequate, urban, public arts school in which excellence in teaching academics was not a priority. Many of the really intellectually driven, arts oriented kids did not stay at the school because of a lack of rigor. This allowed DD, who is a good student who works hard and is conerned about her grade to be a top 10 student (this is a HUGE plus in college admissions and scholarship money). Class rank was based on weighted grades and all arts schools - so the fact that dancers had 5 credits of dance a year and DD got A's in dance helped to compensate for the C's in geometry and Algebra 2 (again this is a huge plus).

When DD started HS we were working towards her graduating at the end of junior year. So by senior year she had met or exceeded all requirements, however we did not have DD take any AP classes at school. Because I had no confidence in the academic instruction at the school and a bad AP class is, in my opinion, worse than no AP classes. So I would say, check your confidence in your school's teachers when thinking about AP classes. Instead of AP classes DD took classes at the local university, her high school in the end did not count these in her overall GPA so they did not help or hurt her class rank and GPA, but different schools deal with these differently.

 

DD applied to a range of public and private institutions but they would not be considered "top academic" schools, but most were selective dance programs. For DD, unless she was going to an in-state public she needed a solid scholarship package and this was where her HS record was most helpful. DD did get some talen money at some schools, but far and away the majority of her money was merit based. DD did well on her ACTs,better than I would have thought the school prepared her for, but was not close to any national scholarships based on these. When we were looking at schools, we looked carefully at what they listed as the median range for scores, and looked for schools were DD was within that range.

 

So I am left with the feeling that school fit is important and High school should not close doors to where your child moght want to be.

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Treefrog

I am liking the direction this conversation is taking, and finding myself nodding in agreement with so many points.

 

Admissions really IS a crapshoot at the selective colleges. I've heard admissions officers say they could fill a class three times over with qualified kids. So the important thing is to figure out how to make yourself stand out. As best I can tell, the way to do that is to 1) be yourself, and 2) find the college(s) that fit who you are. Then go about making the case to the admissions office about why you are such a good fit and why you want to be there. And all of this stuff will develop throughout high school and, especially, in spring of junior year and fall of senior year.

 

One thing I'm realizing is how differently those of us who have older kids think about these issues than parents whose oldest kid is still a young teen. I can barely remember a time when I was so involved with a child's course selections! My youngest just graduated from HS, and it's been several years since I actively participated in that process. At best, she notified me (as did the school, so it certainly was possible for parents to step in and modify the choices). There's just this natural process of letting the child take over more and more of the decisions. But again, as vagansmom noted, my kids were at a private school with only 125 kids per class and excellent counselors, so my experience may be atypical. I imagine I'd have been more involved if my child were getting less guidance from the school.

 

Someone upthread mentioned getting A's in AP classes but then not getting the required 4 or 5 on the exam to get credit. I'd take that as a good indication that the teaching was not very good, and the class not truly representative of college level work. So that might be something you could check out -- what the mean and distribution of scores are at your school for AP classes your daughter might like to take.

 

Sort of off-topic, but at our school kids take AP classes as early as sophomore year. That totally makes no sense to me, since no matter how you cut it, most 15 year olds are not ready for college level work -- not in the sense of being able to think in sophisticated ways about the material that is presented.

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Momof3darlings
Someone upthread mentioned getting A's in AP classes but then not getting the required 4 or 5 on the exam to get credit. I'd take that as a good indication that the teaching was not very good, and the class not truly representative of college level work.

 

I have to respectfully disagree with this. Standardized test taking is a skill and artform as well as highly innate in some individuals. I am one of those individuals. Give me a standardized test and a little knowledge and I will score well. Doesn't matter how I've been taught. So while they can be an indication of what you've learned, but can also be just as much an indicator of how well you take tests and little of what or how you learned. You can be the Validictorian of your class and not take standardized tests well.

 

This is a well recognized phenomenon in the education sector. As well, I have several good friends who teach AP classes and have received "letters of distinction" from several colleges/regents boards about how prepared for college the students from their classes have been. In our state, especially, this is tracked for every incoming freshman year and high schools are provided with information to show how well their graduates did as Freshman, then Sophomores, etc. And many of those students made 3's and even 2's on the AP exams, not because they could not handle the tests and material in college as written by the class instructor, but because they could not take standardized tests well.

 

Many of those same teachers, who no one disputes their credentials for teaching or if the class is college level work because of how well their students do in similar classes in college. In fact, many times it is the opposite. In that students taking courses come back to tell those teachers that their class was much harder and much more detailed than the same type course they took in college. Thus making this class in college "easy". Many of these teachers will tell you that they, themselves could not make a 5 on an AP test, not because of lack of knowledge of the material but because of test taking strategies and test taking language miscued during the test that is just natural in some.

 

So, I agree that it may be used as an indicator if the child is already a good standardized test taker that maybe the material was not covered fully and in depth enough. However, if a student generally is not a good standardized test taker, it may mean nothing at all about how the class was taught.

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Treefrog

Point taken. I should have said "take it as an indication that the teaching MIGHT NOT be good." That's why I suggested looking at the mean and distribution of the scores of all the kids who have taken the class. (Although, granted, I can't right now come up with a way to access this information ....) Can we agree that, theoretically, one might feel better about the instruction if most of the kids got 4's and 5's than if most got 2's and 3's? And that if there were some 4's and 5's and some 2's and 3's one probably couldn't tell a whole lot about the teaching?

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Momof3darlings

Where we can agree is that a 3 (mid-range) is the score that most students will get on an AP test and what every teacher should expect their students to achieve without the consideration of test taking skills if they have done their job. Those with higher intelligence, or test taking skills equal to their intelligence will have the capacity to earn higher easily. Those with lessor test taking innateness/skills will likely score a 2 or 3. You truly can score a 1 by filling out your name and answering a few questions because there is nothing lower than a 1 but there is actually a pretty long range between a 1 and a 2. But even with the best of AP teachers, there will be a bell curve. The only way there will not be that bell curve is if alternate methods of selectivity for the class is issued before hand. As an example, in a highly selective private school where entry to the school is usually garnered partially, again through a standardized testing, the incidence will be higher that more students will naturally fall in that 4-5 range since those students who do not test well would likely either not gain admission to the school in the first place OR would have to show higher checkmarks in the other entry requirements to overshadow the low entry test score.

 

The information you mentioned is available in every Principal's, Superintendant's Office or Headmaster's office. Getting access to it is a whole other issue. In my county/state, I had access because I worked out of the College/Career Counselor's office and it was something that our State Board of Regents asked for to help with their tracking of student successes. But I could not give it out for any reason to other teachers or parents. As an example of selective knowledge, most schools will state the number of students making a 4 or 5 but will not say out of how many.....

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hippiechicken

Performance reporting is required in America by the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act.

School, District, and State reports must be made available. The reports must include SAT/ACT/IB testing data.

 

Here's a link to the Campus Level Texas Public/Charter School info.

http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/a...ampus.srch.html

 

Hopefully your state or district has a similar way to easily access the information.

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kdintx

Point well said "momof3darlings". Standardized testing is a skill and artform and something that comes easily for some individuals and for others not so easy. SAT, ACT and AP tests are timed tests which also makes it difficult for some students to do well with. I personally think that too much emphasis is placed on the SAT and ACT score that a college applicant is given and not enough on the merit of the students high school work. I say this thru experience from my daughter last year when applying for the university that she now attends. She obtained the GPA and class ranking requirement but missed the needed score for SAT and ACT in order to recieve a higher academic scholarship. It didn't matter that she was ranked 21st in her class and that her GPA was over a 4.0 This was really hard for her to accept but in the end the dance department recommended her for a scholarship based on strong academic work in high school on top of a really nice merit scholarship.

 

While it is true that colleges get more applications than they have space for it is different with the dance departments. If you get accepted into a dance program with a university and you have the rrequirements to get into the school then you get accepted. There is a really good chance that you probably beat out many students that had better qualifications. The difference is that you got into the school based on merit where other departments base rquirements on the other factors that have been discussed like GPA, test scores, class ranking and school activities and volunteer hours. I do feel that in my daughters case that her efforts in high school with taking higher level courses and ranking in the top 10% of her class paid off because it did open doors for her to get academic scholarships.

 

The comment that was made about 15 year old kids taking AP classes and how young of age this is for them to be taking college level courses is a really good point. The AP course that you are talking about is AP World History and according to my daughter and her friends all agree that this was one of the hardest AP tests that they took. Much harder that AP US History. If you think about it World History is difficult at any age to take because it is so broad and covers alot of history in time. Something that is becoming more popular in the school district that my kids attend is dual credit courses which will get you college credit at the same time as getting high school credit. I don't know how universities are weighing this against AP credit, but it would be great if anyone has first hand knowledge in this area to reply. My son is not great in English and will be taking regulars in English 1V but is planning to take duel credit English V during his senior year. We are doing this so that he gets college credit and not have to take more English in college than necessary. He will have his hands full with courses that he needs for a Engineering degree. There is so many decisions as parents to make for kids in high school that will effect their chances of getting accepted to the college of choice. I feel sorry for the kids that get no help from parents and that don't have high school counselors that are knowledgeable or have the time to help. I guess my kids are the lucky ones.

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Momof3darlings

Thanks hippiechicken. Our state does have a similar website, but it doesn't help our parents much because we are one of only 5 states out of 50 who do not "restrict" certain students from their test scores. In other words, if a student takes the test, their score stands in our state and students are not allowed not to take the tests. In many other states, certain students scores can be excluded to level the testing playing field so to speak. However, in ours, if a student moves in the week before the test from another county/state, is under an IEP, is ESOL, , etc. their scores are used in the averages. In other states they would be removed from the averages. Since our county has also in the past been one people wanted to move to because of the schools, it has become a local joke what test scores really mean in both the overestimation of what those scores can mean and the underestimation.

 

Guess I'm getting off track. Key is to look at all the info, but realize that information posted like that can be skewed. There is alot to "know" before you simply take a peek at scores. Use them as a guide but not a determinate if you don't have all that behind the scenes info about the school you are researching. Understand fully who takes the tests, if that grouping has been pre-qualified by some determinate (such as a private school with test based admissions), before using that information in your research. Almost any teacher/friend could give you additional questions to ask the person showing you those test results to help you better understand what the score lists show.

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vagansmom

Please do check that the colleges you are interested in will accept the AP classes. Some don't. My daughter scored a 5 on the AP Biology exam, but one of the schools she applied to still wanted their students to take their own bio class.

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dancemaven

Somewhere there is a recent discussion that included cautions/information/things-to-know about all manner of AP credits, how colleges do/don't use them, as well as a number of considerations for the 'dual-credit' approach to classes (i.e., courses taken in high school at a local community college or via on-line college courses).

 

The nutshell cautions are: Not all colleges accept AP scores for credit; some accept them for placement purposes only; some accept them for credit in non-major subjects only; some require specific scores for credit versus placement.

 

Likewise, not all colleges will accept the 'dual credit' courses for college credit. Some accept only ones they have pre-approved; some accept only certain ones from certain colleges; some don't permit college credit for courses in which the student received high school credit (i.e., no 'double-dipping' using the same course to satisfy required courses).

 

You would need to check with your high school and investigate what 'dual credit courses' will get you at individual colleges.

 

DD's AP credits count in non-required courses at her college; placement only for required courses. In non-DD's college, AP credits are not counted for anything other than placement. Therefore, for non-DD, she took many AP courses (including World History as a freshman), all before her senior year and before she had been accepted into her college of choice. However, once she was accepted and we checked that particular college's AP policy, we saw no reason to pay to take the tests for the five AP courses she took her senior year. She'd taken the courses and done well. But for purposes of her college, paying and taking those tests would have simply been a waste of time and needless energy--not to mention money we could put elsewhere.

 

So, my point, is----keep all options open, but do check into what all those options get you as you go along. My kiddos both took AP courses because those are the ones they needed to be in for their own educational purposes. So, even though the tests may or may not have moved their college course credits along, they got what they really needed out of the classes.

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Pierrette
If you get accepted into a dance program with a university and you have the rrequirements to get into the school then you get accepted. There is a really good chance that you probably beat out many students that had better qualifications.

 

This was my daughter's experience as well, even beating out her brother by getting accepted to the University of Michigan via the dance program, when he had outstanding scores, several math/science AP classes, extracurriculars, etc, while she had average scores and no AP classes. But to the specific point of high school grades, she had a much better GPA, thanks to being able to coast through her regular track classes.

 

I wish lorrainegd would follow-up on her original post, because I had the impression that she was talking about acceptance into the top dance schools, not necessarily the top academic schools. I'm going to echo what kdintx said - that if your daughter is aiming for a strong dance program, then priority #1 is getting the best training possible - and that includes at least 12-15 hours a week of dance classes. Priority #2 is pursuing a full-fledged college prep curriculum (with a minimum of 3 years of science and math, including Algebra 2, and 2 years of a foreign language) and earning a stellar GPA (above a 3.5 on a 4-point scale). My daughter's stellar GPA earned her academic scholarships in addition to dance scholarships at several schools.

 

That said, it disturbs me to read that your daughter's pathway to the math/science track is blocked. Why can't she take Algebra I and Geometry concurrently to get back on track? Students in our district are allowed to do that.

 

Even though I understand that your daughter's "main focus" is ballet, the very fact that she has other academic interests means that she owes it to herself to fully explore them. My daughter was absolutely certain by the time she entered high school that dance was her exclusive professional focus, which is why she pursued the regular track classes. She earned her BFA two years ago and has been dancing professionally since then (not with a ballet company), but it's very hard and, already, she's wondering how long she can stick this out. Balanchine is quoted as saying, "I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance." Personally, I think that's a good rule-of-thumb for whether parents should steer their DDs to top college BFA dance programs or not. Without that exclusive focus on dance, I think kids should follow the most rigorous academic program they can handle.

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alk5
Please do check that the colleges you are interested in will accept the AP classes. Some don't. My daughter scored a 5 on the AP Biology exam, but one of the schools she applied to still wanted their students to take their own bio class.

 

My understanding is that even though some colleges do accept AP classes, most high school students take them not for credit in college but to get accepted into competetive college, which do look at the quality of courses high school students take to judge their ability to do college level work. Some colleges do weigh AP courses during admition process, some don't. If a child can get a decent grade in AP class, I would encourage him/her to take it, i.e. getting a "B" in AP course is better than an "A" in a regular course...

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Treefrog

Right, there's a difference between taking the AP class, and taking the AP test. It's perfectly okay to take the class -- because it's the appropriate class to take, for whatever reason -- and skip the test if it will be of no use to you. My kids did this. It saved us a couple of hundred dollars in test fees and lots of anxiety, and as far as I can tell had no downside.

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sgmca

Interesting fact... at my kid's high school you actually have to pay to not take the AP tests. The school district pays for them for the students and if you don't want to take them it costs like $15 each to bow out. Just thought that was funny..

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edgart6

Having just finished the college process for the fourth and final time (thank goodness- they are on their own with grad school applications) here are a few thoughts. First, in the last two years, applications to colleges have skyrocketed due to the changes in early admission processes at many of the highly sought after colleges. It has caused kids to over apply and colleges to be flooded with applications. I read a couple articles, one that stated in the past year the average high school senior applied to 20 colleges! This means the admission crew has very little time to go thru your DK's application so whatever you so, make it stand out. Research and VISIT (I cannot emphasize this enough) each school they plan to attend (or at least their top 5-6) and make the application fit the school's philosophy. Work hard at the admission questions and essays. Highlight their extracurricular activities, especially the non-dancing ones and any volunteer and leadership positions. Make a great dance resume to send along.

 

As for courses- many,many private schools have no AP courses- they just teach tough courses, especially at the upper levels, and then the students take the AP exams from there, so in some cases, simply taking an AP course with no test does you no good since colleges know that calling a course AP does not necessarily make it that. If your child takes an AP course, take the test and include it in the admission. They may not get credit in college but it will prove that they took a high level class, got a good grade in the course and a good grade on the standardized test.

 

Prepare for the ACT and SAT- in the past each school had a wide range they looked at and were flexible but not so much any more. With so many applications, it is one more way to stand out in the crowd. Take courses that will help you get those higher scores (they will also be classes colleges are looking for). The dance department may love your child but the final decision on admission lies with the admission department. My DD had a friend that was all set to go to a great college with an outstanding dance department because the dance department said they wanted her. Admissions thought differently and she was placed on the wait list. When she called, they told her her test scores were not high enough, no matter how much the dance department wanted her.

 

I should also add that I have worked in admissions from both sides of the process- in high school as an admission councilor and with my alma mater in the admissions office. Having said that, you high school admissions councilor can make all the difference. If you feel the one you are working with is not a good fit, ask for a different one or even considering hiring your own. But so your research first.

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