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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


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Calamitous, Maybe I'm wrong but did I give the impression that this was a private school! Far from it, it's a run down school on the wrong side of the tracks and most of the kids are also from the less affluent side of town. It's in a bad neighborhood and has peeling paint. The other side of town has a beautiful new high schools, absolutely state of the art. It doesn't offer IB though. Academically it's not near as good and didn't make any list anywhere for it's academics. It's the opposite, the poor area school is the one with all the academic advantages. This is far from a private school environment. What's wonderful is that some of the poorest kids are the high achievers. Many who aren't IB/AP kids opt to go to this school because of it's high academic standards. They get the best available no matter what their academic level. Funnily enough, many parents don't want their kids in this school because of it's location.


I'm with you, state universities should not be dissed. It's where we are heading, it's where my husband gained his education as did his father and mother, brothers, sisters and the rest. Choose the right school, as with ballet school and go for the best. Private isn't in our budget! I also agree with you that raising a child to be a happy adult is of prime importance.

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State universities are excellent choices and most offer quality education. But in our state it is very difficult to get into the state university, even as a resident. And those AP courses make a big difference. I am not saying I agree with it but the higher your high school is ranked in the eyes of the colleges, the better chance of getting in. And one of the criteria colleges use to rank the school is the number of AP courses offered, the number of students who take AP's and the percentage of students enrolled in AP courses who take the exam. Our guidance director is emphatic about the importance of having the students take the exams if they take the course, even if they get a 1 or 2.


As far as colleges giving credit, it is true that not many students receive more than 6 credit hours no matter how many AP courses they take but they can waive requirements with a 4 or 5 on an AP exam, thus freeing expensive time for courses that may be of more interest. And many students tranfer after their first year. They may transfer into a college that awards more credit.


Ultimately what matters is that the student is happy, receives the education required to admit him/her into the next level of training (either college, ballet trainee, or other occupations) and they develop self confidence and competence

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If you want to see how important AP classes have become -- in the eyes of the colleges -- just take a look at any public or private school's "High School Profile" document, which is usually posted on the school's website. This is one of the tools that the college admissions people use to gauge the rigor & quality of the high school's curriculum when reviewing a student's application. For example, how to compare an "A" from one high school to another. (Though I realize that there are many other factors that they consider.)


I've only seen a few of these profile documents, but they all list the no. & type of AP classes offered, no. of students completing each AP class for the school year, and even the AP test results (1-5) for each class offered.

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As Gogator said, colleges rank high schools by the rigor of the courses offered. And one of the ways they can adequately judge that is with the AP test scores. Realisticaly an A from one school is not necesarily an A from another. This is even true from teacher to teacher. But a 4 on an AP test in California and a 4 on an AP test in Alabama are both 4's on the same test. That is why colleges want to know how many students who take the AP class actually sit for the test. As a teacher I appreciate what others have posted about students taking the challenge of the AP class without having to take the test. But if many of the students in an AP course in a particular school do not take the exam, it can adversely affect the rating of the school.


Again, I don't say this is right or wrong but soemthing to remember with our dancing kids. The pressure for even the middle range students to load themelves with AP classes is getting worse. As we are in AP testing period now, I can say that even the very best students are stressed with the 5 AP tests they are taking in these 2 weeks. It is a burden emotionally as well as time wise.


Ultimately each parent has to help his/her own child choose a schedule that will provide a balance of the right courses without placing undue pressure keeping up with the work and with dance. And don't forget the extracurricular profile and community service that these kids need to do to get into many colleges.


It seems to be totally out of control and it is easy to lose perspective.

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All colleges and universities do not use this same matrix when determining entrance standards and many schools outside the top tier have automatic admission requirements that are based upon GPA and SAT/ACT scores. If your dancer has reasonable grades and SAT scores, there are going to be many, many good colleges for which they will meet the automatic admission requirements and their AP coursework will be irrelevant, as will their extracurricular activities - except when it comes to scholarships. Every state has public universities which offer automatic admission for instate students who meet their admissions standards.


It seems that the problem lies with aiming for a select group of schools, that are highly competitive in their admissions. The answer to the problem is to broaden your horizons about which schools are 'acceptable' for your teen to attend. Regardless of all the talk about wanting our children to be happy, if we parents continue to silently set the barre (bar) at the top notch, we are leaving them little room to choose their own course and determine what is most important to THEM.


It is awfully easy in this day and age to fall into an elitist view of higher education and convince ourselves that a degree from only a select group of schools is going to ensure our children's future goals and their quality of life. I attended a public university and among my classmates are mayors, national senators/representatives (and chiefs of staff for these folks), doctors, lawyers, Rhodes scholars, college professors, national sportscasters and newspersons, syndicated columnists, celebrated authors, owners and CEOs of companies both large and small and everything in between (and those are just the ones I know personally). So, I do find it hard to understand the urgency to attend schools whose admission criteria might have eliminated some of these high achieving, highly successful adults.


Please don't misunderstand my meaning here. I think that the top tier schools are great and provide a wonderful education and many fabulous opportunities and lifelong contacts. My point here is that expecting our children to do all that it takes to gain admittance to one of these schools, in addition to pursuing pre-pro ballet training (or any other training regimen at this level), is dangerous. It seems that the fear of not being admitting to the top tier schools is driving the AP/IB/activity overload madness that is being discussed on this thread.


I just wonder if all those who are so informed about the upper tier college entrance requirements have done the same level of research on schools that might be a good fit for their student that are not so rigorous and have fully embraced the idea that one or more of these schools would be a great choice for your child? :)

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My non dancing daughter and I have researched thoroughly the colleges that have the programs she wants and that are within her reach. We have the demographic profile for those who enter as freshmen and know she doesn't need to take any AP classes and we know the SAT range she should attain. She will take honors classes in the Humanities and science because she enjoys the intellectual stimulation that being with higher achieving students provides.


My dancing son has no interest in college (or high school either for that matter) and would not be interested in any AP classes. He wants to graduate from high school period. He does not do the hours of homewirk that many of the dancers do. We of course as his parents urge him to take some challenging classes so not to close out his options. But like my daughter he would not be looking for the top tier colleges if he were to go.


But the public school in which I teach is very academic and more than 10% of our graduates are accepted into the top tier schools each year. But so many parents of students in the top 25% of the class want their child to be one of the 10% that get into the top tier schools that the pressure is intense for AP classes. And in truth, sometimes the 10% that get into Yale and Harvard and Dartmouth and Duke are not better students nor do they have more impressive credentials than those that aren't accepted. So everyone pushes for AP. And our state university is listed as highly competitive and it is not guaranteed that if you have the qualifications you are accepted. For many of our students the state university is a reach school.


What does this mean? For my children, the pressure is not as intense but for so many the fear of not getting into a good college when they see themselves as qualified is what drives the bus. I have more students suffering from depression, from eating disorders and anxiety disorders than I have ever had in my entire career. I agree that there are very good colleges out there that prepare students for success in life and career that do not require a sacrifice of youth to attend. Depending on where one lives, the trick lies in convincing some parents of that.

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It seems that the fear of not being admitting to the top tier schools is driving the AP/IB/activity overload madness that is being discussed on this thread.



[quote name='dancerdriver' date=May 6, 2006, 04:15 PM'

. . . colleges rank high schools by the rigor of the courses offered. And one of the ways they can adequately judge that is with the AP test scores. . . . That is why colleges want to know how many students who take the AP class actually sit for the test. . . . But if many of the students in an AP course in a particular school do not take the exam, it can adversely affect the rating of the school.


. . . The pressure for even the middle range students to load themelves with AP classes is getting worse


And these statements of 'what is' just prove my point that the tail is wagging the dog! The AP classes/exams were NOT designed for the purposes for which they are becoming more commonly used. They were NOT designed or intended to be used as a means to rank a high school. They were NOT designed or intended to be used to manipulate or boost high school prestige or "it" factor. They were designed to permit the accelerated learners to continue to be challenged academically and still permit them to remain among their emotional and social peers in high school. They were designed with a specific, albeit limited student population in mind.


Again, I state that the overachieving parents, high school administrators, and State legislatures are hijacking and corrupting the AP classes/exams for their own purposes:


The parents who push their kids to take the classes, but who struggle with the class material/workload/ and/or pace and complain to the high school administrators that the classes are "too hard", "too much work", and "take too much time". They lobby for the classes to be dumbed-down so that their kids aren't so stressed.


The administrators push kids to take the classes (and sometimes the exams) just to boost their rating in these ranking polls (such as Newsweek) ---because the rankings are based upon the number of kids taking the classes (and occassionally the exams) without regard to the class grades or test scores the kids are achieving.


The State legislators crow that they have implemented/mandated more rigorous academics,simply by virtue of having kids taking the classes---without regard to whether the kids are actually performing in the classes.


So, I would advocate everyone stepping back and returning the AP classes/exams to their intended designed purposes and find some other more appropriate means of ranking high schools that puts less stress on the kids who get pushed beyond their limits. I have no issue with those kids that want to stretch their limits, I just would rather that those who get too stressed don't then advocate for the dumbing down of the courses.

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dancerdriver, I wasn't targeting you or anyone on this thread specifically. :sleeping: I was just trying to present the other side of the coin and add some food for thought to the discussion. I do understand about the pressures that students face in this arena. My daughter has attended highly competitive private schools in three different cities and if she was still in that environment, I'm sure that I would have to work VERY hard to not conform to the expectations set by the schools, the other parents, etc. The problems you are seeing exhibited by your students are the fallout of such unrealistic expectations. I think it is awfully easy to fall into it, thinking you are wanting only what is best for your child and finding out that it does more damage than you ever imagined.


Dancemaven presents another interesting aspect to consider, where parents want the courses 'dumbed down' to cause their children less stress or so that they all can excel, when what they should be fighting for is an end to the unrealistic expectations (coming from a number of sources) that are at the root of the issue. :)

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I just read the last few posts on this thread. An aspect of what I feel is being expressed is something we came in contact with last year. Here's a little story. One of our top dancers, who got year round at a couple of incredibly prestigious ballet programs, spent her last year of high school in a flood of tears. She'd decided not to dance professionally at the end of her junior year. She was perpetually overwhelmed. Why, because it was Ivy league or nothing. By the time May came and she sat her AP/IB exams each and every dancer was ready to disown her. Not for caring to do well but for the ridiculas emotional stress she was putting on herself. It was decided that she was innoculating everyone against IB. If thats what it took, it wasn't worth it.


I say all this because it seems that it's all out of whack! You will not be happy if you squeeze yourself into a Harvard or a Yale with what I believe are false exam results. The dancer in question took the SAT/ACT at every opportunity allowed, to try and increase her results. It was every month and it was obsessive. She studied herself into near hysterics and one and all lost patience. Crying during plies gets a little annoying! She did not get Ivy Leage, she did well but the outcome of her pain was not what she'd wanted and by all accounts, college is not easy for her. It's a shame really because she really did get Ivy League in the ballet world with the programs she was given.


To know your ability and to be able to accept it is essential. Not everyone is an AP/IB candidate but they can still get a good university education, even advanced degrees!. As was said by calamitous a page or so ago, aren't we hoping to help our children be happy adults i

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Wow, what a thread! I've been reading the posts here and I'm finding fantastic information. Thanks everyone!


This has been a topic of great discussion between my DD and me for a few years now. DD is finishing her Freshman year. She'll actually have enough credits to be considered a Junior next year and graduate early if she chooses. She is one of those highly motivated and gifted kids who likes advanced academics ALMOST-NOT QUITE as much as ballet. We are making decisions as we go along to help her find balance. Last year she was considering attending a private highly competitive academic school. She took the entrance exams and was offered scholarships to two very prestigious private high schools. When we went to discuss class schedule and workload, both schools put her on the "ivy league" track and completely dismissed her dance schedule. We thought long and hard about what she should do. She decided to attend the same public school district high school she'd been in since 3rd grade. This public school also put her in every honors class. However, knowing how important ballet is to her, they allow her to miss first period and take online courses. She is very happy with her decision. Her homework load is actually lighter than 8th grade because of less projects. She is #1 in her Freshman class of 1,350 kids. She is stimulated, but not overwhelmed.


We found a great balance this year, but we still worry about college entrance. DD wants to dance first and then attend college. However, we all know how difficult it is to get into a ballet company. DD is my oldest so I'm not well versed in what colleges are really looking for. I know it's a lot different from when I went. All I hear from other parents is how difficult it is to get into even public universities these days. They tell me colleges also look for a variety of extracurricular activities. DD was student council president last year, but it was too much. This year she tutors and does other community and church related activities when she can. Is ballet considered a "worthy" extracurricular activity?


As for the AP exams. Does it hurt them to at least take the exam even if they don't feel they are ready? Can a low score hurt them? My DD isn't afraid to try things as long as it can't adversely affect her. She is concidering taking one or two AP classes next year.

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I am extensively researching the the whole college admission scene (daughter is a soph, son to be a freshman). From what I understand- colleges want depth, not necessarily breadth- for ECs (extracurriculars, in the jargon). So it does not have to be ballet and 10 other activities. The common application used by many colleges has a place to indicate how many hours/week for each EC. Of course, the common application is at least partially at fault for increasing the frenzy- it makes it much easier to apply to 20 colleges, as long as one has the $$. Back in the old days- each single application was painstakingly typed on a typewriter (for those who remember what that is :-). How many of us could do much more than 5?


As for AP- there is a mechanism in place (for a fee, of course, good ole College Board) to have one's scores deleted. They do not have to be sent to the college, nor does one have to indicate one's scores on an application. My daughter was going to take AP English Lit this year, but due to a variety of reasons, she decided to defer. The major advantage to scoring well- and again, for most colleges it's a 4 or 5- not a 3- is to get college credit and/or be able to take more advanced classes. I would say for a soph- why the rush? The only way my daughter can combine high level HS courses (inc AP) and her dance schedule is thru cyberschool, and she is very happy doing it. I know exactly how she is doing and how much- much more than I ever knew when she was in public school. Of course, depends a great deal on the kid- I would never let my son do this- discipline is essential.


Of course, I constantly worry too about these decisions. My daughter has said she will think of it as a waste of money if nothing comes of her training, but she will have had years of doing something she loved. I don't consider it a waste, and fortunately, can afford it- altho the college savings is slimmer. She has other talents that will stand her in good stead with the appropriate academic training, so I hope it all ends well!

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CEO, Your daughter is highly motivated and gifted. She is Number 1 in her 9th grade class. She was offered scholarships to "prestigious" private schools. And you're worried about college entrance? I don't get it.


In my extended family we have college graduates from Harvard, Brown, from small little known liberal arts colleges, from state schools, from community colleges, from art schools. We are equally proud of everyone. There's something for everyone out there.

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Since this has turned into an thread more about college acceptances than adjusting to high school for ballet students :blink:, you all might be interested in - or shocked by - the Parents Forum on College Confidential. Keep in mind that 99% of the children/students referred to there are "above average". :blink::shrug:


That said, it's geared towards these sorts of college related discussions. :clover:

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Reminds me of Garrison Keillor describing Lake Wobegon as a place "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."


(BTW, one should note that Lake Wobegon is a fictional place that exists only in our imagination. :blink: )

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:devil: I was going to use that one, gogators, but I'm so fond of Prairie Home Companion, that I didn't want to sully its name.


Actually if you can overlook many of the obscenely over-the-top, "stat" posts and avoid the "EC" posts about whose kid discovered the cure for some important disease during their summer studies while they were building a village :hyper:....the site might be helpful to a number of BT4D folks who want a discussion forum about college related topics as opposed to ballet discussions. It's not all that bad, really - but it can be angst producing for those who take it too much to heart (think about the SI madness) :sweating::wink:

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