Where the smart money is going: elite prep school college matriculation

My gifted niece is 12-years-old and my brother is starting to think about where to send her to high school. My brother decided to look into some of the elite east coast prep schools as well as the highly regarded Washington, D.C. area prep schools to see how well they place into college.

Obviously, all of the schools place well into the Ivy Leagues and Stanford, Duke, Chicago and MIT. But I found some interesting information about where students were matriculating who couldn't (or chose not to) matriculate into the Ivy Leagues + SDCM.

My brother looked at Phillips Exeter, Phillips Andover, Hotchkiss, Milton Academy, and Roxbury Latin (among the truly elite east coast prep schools) and Washington International School, Georgetown Prep, Episcopal High School, and Gonzaga in the Washington, D.C. area. (A few of these are all boys schools, but I guess my nephew is 6.)

For the 65-80% of the students who didn't matriculate into Ivy + SDCM, here are some patterns that emerged:

- Georgetown was the single biggest non-Ivy + SDCM target.

- After Georgetown, Williams; Washington University (St. Louis); Trinity College (CT); George Washington; Boston College; Carnegie Mellon; NYU; Vanderbilt; and Tufts were the most consistent significant targets.

- UVA was a consistent target among the prep schools, but among the D.C. area prep schools it was the single biggest target.

- College of William & Mary; Bowdoin; Case Western; Lafayette; Wesleyan; and Colorado College consistently saw a handful of students (1-6) enrolled each year from the various prep schools.

- After UVA, Michigan and Berkeley were the most sought after public universities, followed by UCLA and Illinois - Urbana-Champaign.

- St. Andrews (Scotland) was the biggest international target, with most of the schools seeing a few of their graduates each year enroll.

- One of the most bizarre trends was the fact that Rhode Island School of Design received several students each year from most of the schools.

My brother also found that some of the schools have particular pipelines (based on some patterns in the data):

- Phillips Academy Andover: Georgetown
- Phillips Academy Exeter: Carnegie Mellon; NYU; Tufts
- Hotchkiss: Middlebury; Georgetown; Johns Hopkins; Trinity College (CT); Yale
- Roxbury Latin: Harvard
- Milton Academy: Brown; Columbia
- Gonzaga: Georgetown
- WIS: Berkeley; McGill (Canada)

So, I thought some of this information was interesting. Follow the smart money in investing; follow the smart money in college selection. My brother did all the work, so I thought this might be interesting reading for someone here to see where the smart money is choosing to attend school.

 

Very interesting, thanks. Did your brother also look at any international schools, e.g. Le Rosey or Salem?

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. See my Blog & AMA
 

Isn't Le Rosey the type of school you don't even have a shot of getting into unless you're royalty or a Kennedy/(equivalent level of social/political cache in other countries)-type family? The only kid I know who went there was some next level shit in terms of family background.

 

Nope. He was looking at a handful of east coast and D.C. area prep schools.

He really hasn't come to a conclusion yet. The college matriculation statistics are truly incredible, but because these prep schools have highly competitive admissions, one has to consider whether these schools are producing Ivy League talent or if they are simply recruiting it. Of course, to the question of @Name of Profit, these schools apparently produce amazing post-graduation networks, which I find weird given that I currently talk to nobody from my high school days. But the network might be worth the price of admission depending on the industry one ends up in.

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Virginia Tech 4ever:

- One of the most bizarre trends was the fact that Rhode Island School of Design received several students each year from most of the schools.

Why is that a bizarre trend? Isn't RISD one of the top art schools in the country / world?
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AndyLouis:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

- One of the most bizarre trends was the fact that Rhode Island School of Design received several students each year from most of the schools.

Why is that a bizarre trend? Isn't RISD one of the top art schools in the country / world?

Because it's an art school. It's not even ranked by the ranking sites. The degrees they offer are bull crap. If I had just spent $200,000 to send my kid to Andover I'd be pissed if they pursued an art degree from an art school. If it were Julliard or something that would be different--Julliard is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So that's why to me it seemed like a weird trend. But it's probably explainable in that those kids' parents have money to blow and have set up a nice trust fund. RISD is also probably a great place to meet hot rich girls.

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Virginia Tech 4ever:
AndyLouis:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

- One of the most bizarre trends was the fact that Rhode Island School of Design received several students each year from most of the schools.

Why is that a bizarre trend? Isn't RISD one of the top art schools in the country / world?

Because it's an art school. It's not even ranked by the ranking sites. The degrees they offer are bull crap. If I had just spent $200,000 to send my kid to Andover I'd be pissed if they pursued an art degree from an art school. If it were Julliard or something that would be different--Julliard is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So that's why to me it seemed like a weird trend. But it's probably explainable in that those kids' parents have money to blow and have set up a nice trust fund. RISD is also probably a great place to meet hot rich girls.

LOL. Would you really rather these hypothetical kids go to Tufts and major in Government or something? RISD is best of the best for what it is.

Look, if you just spent 200k for your kid to go to Andover you probably aren't going to mind if they go to RISD. It's not like these kids are FOB immigrants that need to become doctors and lawyers to establish themselves (for the most part).

 
real_Skankhunt42:
AndyLouis:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

- One of the most bizarre trends was the fact that Rhode Island School of Design received several students each year from most of the schools.

Why is that a bizarre trend? Isn't RISD one of the top art schools in the country / world?

Because it's an art school. It's not even ranked by the ranking sites. The degrees they offer are bull crap. If I had just spent $200,000 to send my kid to Andover I'd be pissed if they pursued an art degree from an art school. If it were Julliard or something that would be different--Julliard is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So that's why to me it seemed like a weird trend. But it's probably explainable in that those kids' parents have money to blow and have set up a nice trust fund. RISD is also probably a great place to meet hot rich girls.

Ah, the good old rule of "if I've paid (a lot) for my kid's education, he better study and become what I want". Well done, sir

 
real_Skankhunt42:
Because it's an art school. It's not even ranked by the ranking sites. The degrees they offer are bull crap. If I had just spent $200,000 to send my kid to Andover I'd be pissed if they pursued an art degree from an art school. If it were Julliard or something that would be different--Julliard is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So that's why to me it seemed like a weird trend. But it's probably explainable in that those kids' parents have money to blow and have set up a nice trust fund. RISD is also probably a great place to meet hot rich girls.

I would imagine that if you are wealthy enough to blow $50k/yr on sending your child to Andover, you aren't too concerned about their financial future. You'd probably rather your kid make 40-50k a year in a career they find fulfilling and a have a talent for.

And yes, RISD is a phenomenal fine arts school... I think that and SCAD are the top two, though I only think that from some very outdated info from when I was hearing classmates apply years back.

And obviously none of us know what your brother wants for your niece, but you seem to be thinking about this from a high school --> college --> finance/business trajectory, which is fine (and understandable for this site). But there are plenty of lucrative careers that can come out of a fine arts degree; browsing the wikipedia "notable alumni" section, RISD has some super wealthy alumni who own galleries, are film directors (my favorite is the guy whose claim to fame is listed as the "Whassup!" commercials), decently well known architects, etc.

 

Its all about Eton:) Hardest to get into imo. Uk private school offer shit all in terms of aid or financial assistance but they are fucking awsome. IMO the most exclusive in the world. I know of some people that went to La rosey but they were more impressed with places like Eton, harrow, charterhouse etc... La rosey just screams I am stupid but rich.Its just a place to hang out and chill but your parents know you are safe. The education at La rosey is shit from what I have heard.

 
£IB£:

Its all about Eton:)
Hardest to get into imo. Uk private school offer shit all in terms of aid or financial assistance but they are fucking awsome. IMO the most exclusive in the world.
I know of some people that went to La rosey but they were more impressed with places like Eton, harrow, charterhouse etc...
La rosey just screams I am stupid but rich.Its just a place to hang out and chill but your parents know you are safe. The education at La rosey is shit from what I have heard.

not sure I agree with your comment re Le Rosey, but then again, I am not an expert

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. See my Blog & AMA
 

Extremely interesting read. However, I think one thing being overlooked is the role athletics plays in the college process at these schools. For example, at my alma mater, I can't think of a student who went to Milton Academy who DIDN'T play a varsity sport during undergrad. Not to say that you're screwed if you can't get recruited for a sport...because that's just false (I also know a few Milton kids at top schools who don't do sports). Being a recruited athlete is a reason (that can't really be quantified) a fair amount of kids from places like Andover, Exeter, Milton, Hotchkiss, Choate...etc get into great schools

 

You can also find data on the top NYC prep schools. Trinity is here: http://www.trinityschoolnyc.org/Page/Our-Program/College-Counseling/Tri…. Horace Mann and Dalton are the others in the top 3 in NYC and have similar matriculation. For co-ed, you have Fieldston, Riverdale and a couple of others one step down. The pipeline from Trinity/Horace Mann/Dalton is 35-40% of the class to Ivy/MIT/Duke/Stanford each year (Trinity's top 5 schools fed to are Penn, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Yale in that order). I graduated HS 10 years ago, but can confirm that for the kids not getting into Ivy/SMD, the biggest targets were Gtown, WashU, USC, Vanderbilt and a couple of others, with the biggest publics being UMich, UVA, Berkeley and probably Wisconsin.

 

Yeah, Wisconsin showed up some and so did Southern Cal and Vanderbilt. I might even say Southern Cal showed up a disproportionate number of times given that they were a continent away from all of the schools my brother looked at. So that could probably be added to the list. I'd imagine elite prep schools on the west coast feed into Southern Cal.

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Masterz57:

You can also find data on the top NYC prep schools. Trinity (my alma mater) is here. Horace Mann and Dalton are the others in the top 3 in NYC and have similar matriculation. For co-ed, you have Fieldston, Riverdale and a couple of others one step down. The pipeline from Trinity/Horace Mann/Dalton is 35-40% of the class to Ivy/MIT/Duke/Stanford each year (Trinity's top 5 schools fed to are Penn, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Yale in that order). I graduated HS 10 years ago, but can confirm that for the kids not getting into Ivy/SMD, the biggest targets were Gtown, WashU, USC, Vanderbilt and a couple of others, with the biggest publics being UMich, UVA, Berkeley and probably Wisconsin.

I went to an all-scholarship NYC prep school and met many folks from Dalton, Horace Mann, Collegiate, and Trinity.

Very impressed and more so with the chicks at Brearley, Dominican Academy, Spence, and Marymount.

 

On the one hand this has to be the most absurd use of money I've ever seen, after all how much of a difference is the education for public vs private 6th grade classes? On the other, if the money is immaterial and you have kids why wouldn't you give them every advantage.

 

Roxbury Latin sends a higher % of its students to Harvard than ANY high school in the world. Truly amazing placement stats.

Overall, I would rank Andover and Exeter as the best boarding schools in the country followed by the likes of St. Paul's, Lawrenceville, Groton, Deerfield. From talking to my prep school buddies, Choate, Hotchkiss, Taft, are considered a bit below those other schools.

 
mbavsmfin:

Roxbury Latin sends a higher % of its students to Harvard than ANY high school in the world. Truly amazing placement stats.

Overall, I would rank Andover and Exeter as the best boarding schools in the country followed by the likes of St. Paul's, Lawrenceville, Groton, Deerfield. From talking to my prep school buddies, Choate, Hotchkiss, Taft, are considered a bit below those other schools.

That leads to a dilemma for an upper middle class / lower upper class parent like my brother. His daughter is gifted, but the local public high school is a well respected high school with the International Baccalaureate diploma. Can one justify a $50,000/year price tag (possibly $25-30,000 with financial aid) if the child is likely to excel academically either way and would likely go to a school of her choice either way? I'd think for males especially the network might be worth it, but I haven't seen women utilize their network the way men utilize it. Men seem to have a particular gift (some might call it sinful tribalism) for utilizing their network to their advantage.

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Interesting point about women networking... can anyone of the fairer sex chime in?

Keep in mind also the networking doesn't just stop at your alma mater. If you're trying to network with someone who went to any prep school, it's an easier intro if you can say "I went to Exeter/Andover/Deerfield/Choate" than it is to say "I went to Local Public High School." It's an automatic (if not always accurate) qualification for someone who runs in those circles.

 

I had this debate with my older sister and her son about this. I wanted him to apply to andover and exeter since they offer generous need-based aid to those who get in. My nephew is pretty good at math and music but is lazy; he plays video games with his loser friends all day long. I was hoping that an elite boarding school would force him to get his act together since he will be surrounded by talented ambitious classmates. However, my sister could not think long-term and would not let him go. His public high school is mediocre, so I'm pretty pissed at my sister's lack of wisdom on this matter.

As a general rule, I suppose it's better being a big fish in a small pond when it comes to admissions. Adcom judges a high school student within his context. They are asking, "Did this student make the most out of the opportunities that were afforded to him?" So in a way, going to an average high school could work to one's benefit. On the down side however, to get into an uber elite college from a regular public high school, he has to be an absolute demi-god, perfect in nearly all areas. I'm one of only like 4 or 5 students from the entire history of my high school who got into an elite undergrad; we were all valedictorian/salutatorian, 1500+ SAT, numerous academic and leadership awards, glowing recommendations, etc. Anything less would have relegated me to a state school or a lower T25 such as Vanderbilt, Emory, Tufts, WUSTL.

Finally, assuming your niece is white/asian, non-legacy, non-recruited athlete, she will be subject to discrimination by the ultra-liberals who run the admissions offices of our nation's finest colleges. Keep that in mind.

 

I went to a large public high school and was comparing my experience with a friend who went to a top prep school. It's pretty insane how different the classroom experience is. The discussion format you get at those prep schools along with the diverse range of classes you can take are unparalleled. I wouldn't hesitate to sent my kids to prep school if possible.

 

Not sure about some of VT 4ever's conclusions. I graduated from one of the Phillips'. If you weren't going to an Ivy, Stanford, or MIT, NESCAC was the place most students found themselves (alongside the Claremont Colleges and Swarthmore). CMU was not very popular, Duke was surprisingly an uncommon destination (I know a lot of students who got into Duke and an Ivy then chose the Ivy, even though Duke was on paper the stronger school. Schools like Northwestern, WashU, Emory, and Hopkins also fell into this situation). Michigan and UVA were by far the top public destinations (UCLA year in and year out beat Berkeley for matriculation but was still lower on the pole). Georgetown and NYU, as you mentioned, were very popular but you always got the sense that they were consolation prizes for people who wanted to go Ivy or NESCAC. There were a ton of transfers in the second year among students who went to my school (Gtown->Penn, UNC(Morehead)->Dartmouth, Columbia->Yale, etc).

In short, people fell into two camps: those who looked for a larger school and those who looked to replicate the boarding school experience. The former went to the top schools between 4K and 15K students, the latter went to the NESCAC+Claremont.

College counseling pooled schools into 4 tiers and asked us all to select at least two from each tier. For most students, schools like NYU and even some top public were never more difficult than the third tier.

Wow.. my longest post

 

Not really sure where you disagree with my conclusions. But in any event, the conclusions are based on Excel and arithmetic. So I'm definitely not speaking of first-hand experience--just reported the conclusion of a physical count and some Excel.

But my #s aren't exclusive to the Phillips'. They include other schools that aren't quite as elite.

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Yeah this is in line with my buddies from andover/exeter when they were choosing colleges. There is a HUGE east coast bias towards the Ivies and the top liberal arts colleges. Aside from Stanford, the non-east coast schools did not get as much attention (northwestern/uchicago/wustl/duke/vandy, etc.).

Transferring from Georgetown to Penn, UNC Morehead to Dartmouth, are strange moves. Not sure what they were thinking especially given how prestigious Morehead is.

 
mbavsmfin:

Yeah this is in line with my buddies from andover/exeter when they were choosing colleges. There is a HUGE east coast bias towards the Ivies and the top liberal arts colleges. Aside from Stanford, the non-east coast schools did not get as much attention (northwestern/uchicago/wustl/duke/vandy, etc.).

Transferring from Georgetown to Penn, UNC Morehead to Dartmouth, are strange moves. Not sure what they were thinking especially given how prestigious Morehead is.

I get the sense that at elite private colleges and prep schools, there is a ton of anti-public school sentiment.

 

Competition to get in the Ivies is pretty fierce at the top boarding schools. If you are someone who has the opportunity to go to a public high school in an area of the country considered "diverse" (some states in the south for example) and be valedictorian there, then your chances of getting into the Ivies will in my opinion be greater than someone applying from an Exeter/Andover equivalent who is only in the top, say third of their class.

 

My graduating class (~300) sent about 15 people (conservatively) to Harvard, Columbia, and Pennsylvania each. For the Harvard bunch, the average GPA was a high B+ (That said grading is often harsh at these institutions, with competition obviously being stiff). It is much easier to make it to an Ivy for an elite prep school than a public school, especially if you're banking on sashaying out as a valedictorian. IMHO, the top public school students I met in college were at least hungrier if not more accomplished than my boarding school classmates.

THEN there were the beasts from the specialized highschools all over the country (Stuyvesant, Hunter College High, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Thomas Jefferson in no particular order). These were hand over fist my smartest classmates in college. Some of them sent equal numbers as my prep school to my college (by volume, not percentage). That said, I hear competition is nearly murderous at these places.

 

Yup. And that's why us beasts were so damn bored in college. Bunch of jocks, legacies, diversity folk who just aren't as bright and/or educated as our high school pals. How I pine for my high school philosophy classes, my educated and diverse and natively brilliant classmates. Undergrad, medschool, it was all SO BORING and the peer group (if you can call it that) just not up to snuff.

 

I am a recent Exeter/Andover grad and I will throw my 2 cents in. It is true that the "upper tier" prep schools people have mentioned here (your Exeter, Andover, SPS, Deerfield, etc) do send an abnormal high percentage to the elite colleges but also EVERYONE applies Sure my graduating class sent 20 kids to Harvard , but 100 applied. I currently attend an Amherst/Williams and love it but sometimes I do believe I would have a shot at HYPS if I stayed at my local school. The competition at prep school is fierce.

That being said, I do not regret my decision to attend what so ever. My prep school experience has definitely over prepared me for college academics which allows me to pursue other activities and passions, whether its sports or clubs. It gives you access to an unbelievable alumni network that is extremely helpful, especially in finance. I think I have leveraged my prep school network more than my college network so far. Prep school however isn't for everybody and I would highly recommend making it a student decision than a parent decision.

 

That's still a 20% acceptance rate to Harvard from Andover/Exeter, which is significantly higher than the overall acceptance rate of 5-6% and higher than pretty much every high school out there except a few. There are a lot of public high schools where getting into Harvard is considered a "miracle" as in only like 1 or 2 have gotten in EVER.

 

I am a recent Exeter/Andover grad and I will throw my 2 cents in. It is true that the "upper tier" prep schools people have mentioned here (your Exeter, Andover, SPS, Deerfield, etc) do send an abnormal high percentage to the elite colleges but also EVERYONE applies Sure my graduating class sent 20 kids to Harvard , but 100 applied. I currently attend an Amherst/Williams and love it but sometimes I do believe I would have a shot at HYPS if I stayed at my local school. The competition at prep school is fierce.

That being said, I do not regret my decision to attend what so ever. My prep school experience has definitely over prepared me for college academics which allows me to pursue other activities and passions, whether its sports or clubs. It gives you access to an unbelievable alumni network that is extremely helpful, especially in finance. I think I have leveraged my prep school network more than my college network so far. Prep school however isn't for everybody and I would highly recommend making it a student decision than a parent decision.

 

This is the most balanced analysis. I am a recent Exeter / Andover parent and cannot agree more that while the school may give a lot, it takes a lot for the student to absorb it or realize the value of the school while being there. The Ivy matriculation is impressive but if your GPA is in the median, you can very well forget about Ivies, and the disappointment can be poignant. A student may be truly better off being a top student in a top public school than a mediocre in a top independent school. Having said that, once you visit these schools as a student or parent when the S/D is just 14 years old, it is hard to pass it if you are selected from an incredibly competitive pool.

 

Let me offer up a different point of view. I attended a "lower/middle tier" boarding school, won't name, but a couple tiers below Exeter/Andover, maybe a tier below Choate/Hotchkiss/Taft. I actually think this was an advantage.

I came from a public school system previously and it was INCREDIBLY easy to differentiate myself from 90% of my classmates who I found by and large underwhelming - spoiled, extremely lazy, wannabe socialites, and frankly just unintelligent - mostly hailing from former WASP families who weren't good enough to get into the top prep schools. Again, there was the minority 10% who were very motivated and gifted who went to top schools, but we were predominantly a feeder school into mediocre liberal arts colleges like Hobart, Dickinson, F&M, etc. Nonetheless the opportunities and support offered by the school were simply amazing and on par with the eliete prep schools (and very few took advantage of this, because most were too busy doing drugs and getting expelled - parents say goodbye to that $50K tuition). The teachers took their vocations seriously, mentorship opportunities were wide, and most importantly - you grow a lot during these 14-18 years and learn to be independent / self-sufficient which prepares you for university extremely well.

I was by no means a great student w/run of the mill test scores and EC's, but I felt that having at least a prep school degree the admission office was swayed a bit (who didn't realize that the average kids from my school had no business in applying to the school) and so I got into a top 10 uni.

In summary: being the big fish in a competitive pool (top prep school) > big fish in a noncompetitive pool (shit prep school)...but maybe not by that much.

 

I think the potential higher percentage has to do with the competition and the caliber of students. Jnaz is right that the competition is nearly murderous. Our SAT average, from my memory, was 2100 and even having 2200 was a "you're screwed mentality". Also I do not think I will ever be surrounded by more well rounded people. I am obviously biased from background but it was expected you were an athlete or artist (some cases both!), speak a 2nd or 3rd language, some academic niche (like math, economics, physics, english, whatever), volunteer, and still get b pluses or a minuses if you had a shot at an ivy. Grade deflation is also a thing at these places and I also had Saturday classes.

 

@jnaz very true! If anyone has any questions about prep schools feel free to pm me as I feel that is all I have to offer at this forum as I am just a lost chimp attempting to navigate the jungle that is wall street