Best bets for getting into us ivy leagues; CLGS, G&L, Latymer Upper Jags

(43 Posts)
Panchali1 Mon 17-Feb-14 19:10:34

Which school offer the best chances of helping girls gain admission into US Ivy's versus, Oxbridge in which SPGS seems tops

missinglalaland Thu 20-Feb-14 10:21:43

Needmoresleep makes a good point, as more children apply for places, their uniqueness as an applicant declines and therefore their value to the university also declines. Basically, the competition is getting stiffer.

Also agree with Taz that well written, personalised references make more of an impression and add more weight. Presumably the teachers at any of these schools are intelligent enough and professional enough to do it.

Turning into a very helpful thread on US universities!

And op clearly CLSG is right for your DD - don't give it a second thought. It is more academic in its feel than G and L.

Finally just one minor challenge - don't automatically assume US universities are better for your child. Depending on your child's subject interest they may well not be. US children go to university a year earlier, they tend to be more general for the first two years and take four years. Some people I know that's perfect for especially if they are not quite sure where their long term interest lies, but for people like my DS with a very specific focus the US wasn't right. As always the answer is to be led by your DC not by some abstract notion of what is 'best'.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 20-Feb-14 11:23:28

Another point not yet mentioned on US universities is that some (all?) involve alumnae. One expat friend is a Georgetown graduate, and spends a not inconsiderable amount of time mentoring or interviewing prospective applicants to help them become, or assess whether they are good candidates. Hard to imagine Oxbridge getting away with trying that one in it's admissions process hmm grin

Taz1212 Thu 20-Feb-14 11:39:28

Oh yes, Shootingatpigeons . I doubt I would have ever considered Bowdoin if my 10th grade English teacher (who was class of '66) hadn't spent 2 years convincing me it was the ideal college for me. grin

Martorana Thu 20-Feb-14 11:44:36

And don't be disappointed if she shows absolutely no desire to go to an a Ivy a league when she is old enough. Who knows, she might have her own ideas and ambitions..

if she gets the chance

Needmoresleep Thu 20-Feb-14 12:12:12

Adding more thoughts. Things are changing fast. World ranking Universities are receiving unprecedented numbers of international applications. The numbers applying to Harvard verge on silly. At the same time London is becoming more international, and academic sixth forms even more so. It is no surprise that Whitgift is adding boarding, joining Westminster, SPS, and Dulwich as well as the more traditional boarding schools. There is huge demand from talented applicants for places at schools which will then offer a good platform for Oxbridge and Ivy applications.

This is leading to some oddities.

1. British Universities normally have separate targets for home (including EU) and international students. For some very popular courses requirements for international students can be lower than for home students. I absolutely don't know, but would not be surprised if the "improving year on year" Oxbridge success of some big name schools hides a shift whereby their success with those categorised as international students is improving and this masks increasing problems achieving places for home students. My understanding is that only 30% of students at the LSE are EU. My guess is that numbers at Imperial will not be dissimilar.

2. Contextualisation. Demand for popular, especially maths based courses, is huge and growing. If you are a very very bright European wanting to study engineering or economics, a three year degree with full access to loans and fee remissions at a British world ranked institution will be very appealing. These courses will be turning down a sizeable number of good students with three A*s or more. They will also want to recruit a higher proportion of students from "bog-standard comprehensives in the north".

Trouble is that entry requirements are now sky high, and the technical content of the course will reflect the ability of the students coming in, whilst there is a limited pool of strong mathematicians emerging from priority schools. This problem is exacerbated by the fee and loan system which means that less well off candidates from the north are more cost conscious and likely to prefer Liverpool or Newcastle to a more prestigious University in London. This is giving London a problem as the proportion within their British intake of both southern and privately educated students is growing, these figures are published and it simply does not look good. (In my day public school types went to Oxbridge or Bristol or Durham. Bright kids from the state system came to London which had the same standards but nothing like the same social prestige, and did not require you to stay on at school for an extra term.)

This may be some of the reason for the recent but marked shift towards British students without previous US connections applying to American colleges. If you can get into a top American college, perhaps more easily than an American based candidate might, but will need not just the same, but better results than your international classmates, and those applying from the state sector, it becomes appealing. Especially if your parents own a London home with bags of equity and a paid-off mortgage.

For Americans the reverse can be true. They had always assumed Earl Jr would follow father and grandfather to Yale but find that: he has his heart set on a specific subject, eg law, engineering or economics so is not interested in Liberal Arts; that he has a place at Cambridge whilst Yale no longer seems particularly impressed by family tradition; and that the degree is a three year course and only (!!) £18,000 a year, a massive saving.

Things will keep changing. The competition for popular courses is likely to continue to grow at a fast pace, and more English students will start looking to the US and increasingly Europe including especially Ireland grade requirements are higher but they don't contextualise them, giving English students from good private schools a much clearer run. As well as new degree courses taught in English in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Sorry most of this is completely off topic. OP your daughter should go to the school she wants to go to, work hard and enjoy her education, finding time for some rewarding EC. It will have changed again when she is ready to apply.

VQSV Thu 20-Feb-14 12:38:29

I'm a little confused by this (+ the other thread) you started...
Your main choice appears to be between CLSG + G&L...
By "reputation" these are very different schools...

CLSG is seen as attracting girls from a wider social spectrum from across London...very urban setting...girls all hardworking etc.

G&L is seen as a West London back-up school for girls who fail to get into SPGS...but whose intake is still of high enough academic quality to produce excellent University results i.e. Oxbridge / Ivy League etc.

When I suggested G&L to the head at my daughter's prep school...she politely laughed and said that my daughter would "get bored" pretty quickly.*
(She made slightly more complimentary comments about CLSG...but only got really enthused about the quality of teaching at SPGS.
Sorry...SPGS haters...but that's the truth)

The US + International expat community in West London is huge...and this is reflected in the much greater numbers G&L (+ SPGS) have leaving for US destinations.

I think the logic of choosing between different schools is as follows:
Only go for the significantly longer commute if there are serious + tangible benefits.

You mention that you "didn't want" SPGS because of academic exam pressures... but you are already pre-programming your daughter's Ivy league application.
I don't understand at all...do you want to go with your instincts about which school will be more stimulating academically or are you trying to prioritise extra-curricular stuff + downtime for your daughter?

FWIW if you are in such a muddle...I would go with the only criteria you seem to have clearly identified i.e. track record of US University admissions + stick with G&L (the closer school).
If you give in to your daughter's (clear) preference for CLSG...I would tell yourself the following:
1) The extra commute can help focus the mind on getting everything she can out of her secondary education (this extra 25 mins journey must be worth something)
2) She can later on always try to move to another 6th form with better US university experience.. if that is still your wish + (more importantly) hers as she gets older.

*I think the above perception of G&L is maybe a little out-dated as is the perception that CLSG is clearly stronger academically.
When I look at the academic performance of London schools for girls...it is very obvious that there is clear water between SPGS...then NLCS...and then not a lot to choose between a whole group of schools:
CLSG / Habs / JAGS ...with G&L / SHHS very close as well.

Reputations of schools tend to develop over a long period of time...and can sometimes not reflect what is happening on the ground.
My instinct is that the huge affluent / connected ex-pat inflow into Central + West London in recent years has upped the ante for West London schools.
i.e. more competition for West London preps (Bute House etc) which feed into SPGS...and a higher overall academic quality of intake feeding through into schools such as G&L...previously seen as a back-up school.
It would not surprise me if G&L consistently rises up league tables in years to come.

Also, the statistics on offers / acceptances from the Bute House website are interesting:
From last two years:
SPGS: 45 offers / 42 acceptances
G&L: 85 offers / 30 acceptances
CLSG: 26 offers / 2 acceptances.

This is a very academic West London Prep school and it is very clear that G&L is the preferred destination for the vast majority after SPGS.

missinglalaland Thu 20-Feb-14 12:56:18

Needmoresleep I think you have hit the nail on the head.

It's hard to "play the game," when the game is changing so rapidly. Just value an education as an inherently good thing, go for what substantively suits your child and don't worry overly about the "credential-ing."

Shootingatpigeons Thu 20-Feb-14 13:04:02

Just to offset VQSVs post. I wouldn't necessarily take a Heads word entirely at the face value as presented here, firstly the Head knows your DD and there is undoubtedly a personality that thrives at SPGS, some girls are happy there, the Head's advice is specifically for one girl, it might be different for an equally bright girl who the Head thinks does not have the personality that a girl needs to thrive there.

Also a Head wants SPGS on their list of destinations, not saying that all of them would be guided by that alone but it is a consideration. My DD comments that had she stayed in her UK prep she would have been groomed and trained like a prize racehorse and would probably have chosen to go there, indeed at Year 3 we had exactly the same advice as VQSV when we asked prior to leaving the UK "Aim for SPGS, she"ll be bored anywhere else". In the event she turned down her SPGS place and choose somewhere else because she detected the arrogance mentioned by needmoresleep and preferred the more open minded down to earth ethos she encountered elsewhere, it wasn't for her. She is far from alone, plenty of girls do choose LEH, NLCS, G&L, Latymer Upper over SPGS. All of those schools and others enable bright girls to get to Oxbridge, Ivy League, and most crucially to follow the path they choose, SPGS girls do go to art school too!!!! To say that a girl is going to be bored at any of the selective west London private schools is frankly rot! To say that a particular girl will thrive at SPGS is true but not that for all girls with a particular IQ it is the only school that will challenge them, indeed some would, and do, crash and burn. Indeed some crash and burn at all the other schools mentioned.

So totally sound advice to choose the school at which you and she, all factors considered, consider she will be happiest.

And parents choose Bute because of its reputation as a St Paul's feeder, it is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 20-Feb-14 13:17:47

And actually one very bright DD I know who was offered a scholarship at SPGS, and who I thought was a perfect fit, rejected it after the taster days because she found the lessons boring and uninspiring and preferred the buzz at one of the other schools along the road in Hammersmith. She isn't bored there either........ grin

Needmoresleep Thu 20-Feb-14 14:03:26

For anyone who read to the end of my over long post I am sorry about the missing words and typos. memo to self that I should improve my proof-reading.

VQSV neatly sums up my concerns about the wider community around SPGS, and the SPGS or bust approach so often seen in west London. It also highlights a concern about ranking, eg ranking schools, ranking within a class or year group etc which has not been a traditional part of the English educational system, where A levels allow illiterate scientists and non-numerate linguists to as well as the all-rounder and education was seen as something beyond simply picking up the grades.

Statements such as:
- a bright child would would "get bored" pretty quickly at G&L
- it is very obvious that there is clear water between SPGS...then NLCS...and then not a lot to choose between a whole group of schools

only tell part of the story. There are plenty of arguments for sending a good scientist to Latymer Upper, where there are lots of bright boys to help set the pace. Results are an end product, and will reflect selection, not necessarily value added. At 11+ girls have very different levels of maturity. Some will thrive is a smaller school or in more nurturing environment, or enjoy being one of the brighter girls in the year group.

I think to suggest that OP, I or others are "SPGS haters" simply for suggesting SPGS is not the only choice for an academic girl, is unfair. We know plenty of girls who have absolutely thrived at SPGS, though a personal view is that some might benefit from time spent in a slightly wider social circle. It is the right school for the right girl. We also know girls who have been very unhappy. In my daughter's age group we know three girls who left between 11 and GCSE, two of whom were certainly able to take the pace academically but who each pulled out part way through a term not wanting to stick it through to the end.

So OP, it is all decided. Your DD goes to CLSG, and enjoys her teenage years. The world is changing fast and resilience, flexibility and emotional intelligence will count for a lot. Have another think when she is 15, about what she is likely to want to do and the best way to get there. She might want a move anyway at that stage, many do. Equally she may be really happy and settled and doing very well. No need to over-think it now.

Obviously though you are at liberty to ignore us all!

ClaraMaugham Thu 20-Feb-14 14:37:16

I'm sorry, I must be horribly naive, but could someone please spell out for me what it is about attending an Ivy League university that makes it worth dedicating your child's entire life towards? I genuinely want to know.

The world seems to have gone mad...

Needmoresleep Thu 20-Feb-14 15:00:22

Not the world...just West London.

Presumably most of MN have worked this out already.

wordfactory Thu 20-Feb-14 15:20:35

needmoresleep I think you make a fair point.

At 11, I kinda assumed my DD would go to a highly selective secondary, but she had other plans.

I swallowed my misgivings and went with it. Proved wrong!!!!!

The calm nurturing environment with huge emphasis on drama, music, singing, art etc has been the making of DD. The school even supported DD in juggling academic life with a stint performing in the West End...

The result is a girl who has grown in all aspects and now intends to attend Westminster at sixth form...

I suppose what I'm saying is that a highly selective environment doesn't suit all personalities, even amongst the bright and able. Not from 11 anyhoo. Other kids thrive beautifully from the get go.

wordfactory Thu 20-Feb-14 15:24:48

As for dedicating a child's life to university destination...I don't really see it that way.

We choose our DC's school taking in account amny factors. University destinations would be one, I guess. But that doesn't mena the whole shebang is dedicated to it.

missinglalaland Thu 20-Feb-14 17:22:12

ClaraMaugham I agree with you. Even if you are an American and plan to spend your career in America, an Ivy League undergraduate degree will only take you so far in certain fields in certain places. It could be a downright disadvatage in some parts of the US where you would be resented and stereotyped.

What good it would do you starting your career in Britain, I am not sure. Perhaps US banks and US Consulting firms would like it. Beyond the City it might not be much of an advantage. To be fair, I don't know, but I do wonder.

ClaraMaugham Thu 20-Feb-14 18:11:29

I'm sorry if I sounded a bit aggressive earlier. I really do want to know what the end goal is. A better job? Contacts? Being well placed in an increasingly uncertain world?

Don't get me wrong, I do want my DC to have a great education - but what I mean by that is that they learn to think for themselves, make good friends, become confident and caring human beings - etc. I'm not criticising anyone else's choices, I just don't quite understand them. But more than happy to have them explained!

VQSV Thu 20-Feb-14 20:27:49

I think people are misunderstanding the point I was trying to make..

If the choice was between NLCS + CLSG....or HBS and NLCS....or SHHS and CLSG...I wouldn't even mention SPGS (particularly as it divides opinion so strongly...and the mere mention of its name tends to hi-jack threads unintentionally as everyone piles in..)

But...it is undeniable that G&L lives in the "shadow" of SPGS...and is perceived by some as a back-up school in West London.
I'm not sure where OP lives...but in the West London area it appears to be a popular second choice to SPGS...and in many cases 1st choice for girls who don't fancy the perceived arrogance / academic intensity of SPGS.

If you picked up G&L (and its current achievements in University Destinations etc) and plonked it down in another part of London...I'm sure it would attract a lot of local support...and in time develop an even stronger academic reputation than it does now.
i.e. G&L is rather unfairly under the spotlight of "not being SPGS" in a way that many other schools in other parts of London aren't.

As another poster put it, London is importing "East Coast" practices from the US when it comes to schooling...not really that surprising when you think about the influx of overseas buyers of prime London property.
We can all bemoan this...think dreamily about the "good old days"...but current trends suggest it will only intensify over coming years.
The most relaxed families that I know live outside London...attracted by fresh air / more space / + good local schools.
The "arms race" in Central London is being led by "International" families seeking to secure every possible advantage to secure the best education for their kids.
(See the famous "statesmom" thread for jaw-dropping attitudes in this regard)
I thought that I had been "thorough" in exploring the educational opportunities for my daughter... but every interaction I have with an Asian tiger-mom / US wife "tasked" with getting little Joe into Westminster ...makes me realise I have been a complete bumbling amateur.

My prediction would be that in 20-30 years time...it is possible for the academic standards at G&L to be second only to SPGS within London.
It will benefit from Schelling's product clustering effect and the huge excess of demand for school places from affluent well-connected international families living in West / Central London.
Alongside SPGS it will have developed an international reputation for high quality academic teaching...and an expertise for getting girls into top US Universities + other top Universities around the world...as well as Oxbridge etc.
A quota system will eventually need to be developed by schools such as these to maintain their charity status...i.e. they must commit to send a certain proportion to domestic Universities or provide entry for a minimum quota educated within the UK State system...

Anyway...back to present-day:

CLSG benefits from a reputation of being a "destination" school which draws in from a huge catchment area across London.
For many girls...CLSG will be their first choice school...for others it will be their second choice...but the feeling you get is that whatever the historical preferences were...these are forgotten pretty quickly...everyone rolls their sleeves up + gets on with it.
It is exactly the sort of school I would feel very comfortable sending my daughter to from a state primary...without overdue worries about "fitting in" (50 / 50 split at year 7 entry point between State + Independent...not sure off-hand whether similar for G&L)

If I were OP...I would seek out Ena Harrop directly at CLSG open-day next Wednesday and explore her thoughts about IB vs A-Levels / US University admission vs Oxbridge / domestic etc and see what she says.
The good news is that she is a new appointment (so half a chance she will be there for entirety of your DDs education at the school...so her views will be pretty important)
But she comes from a hands-on academic background (current Director of Studies) so does she have marketing drive to put CLSG "on the map" with US Ivy league...in the same way that Bernice McCabe fights her corner for NLCS?

I would ignore some of the criticism you are getting for considering US University admissions...even at this early stage.
If it is quite likely that this will be an option for your daughter... you are being perfectly sensible in exploring the track-record / likely amount of assistance you will be getting from a school in this regard.

Education (for parents) is about keeping as many options open as long as possible...when it is possible to do so.
Many posters having a dig about US Universities...would not send their DC to a particular school if they felt it was clearly harming their chances of achieving a suitable University destination be it Russell Group / Imperial / Oxbridge or whatever.

I'm more North London than West London...so an equivalent choice here would be between SHHS and CLSG.
Again... local "perceived wisdom" is that CLSG is far stronger academically than SHHS...but when you dig a bit deeper into the results...the differences are not that great.

It's very easy to confuse difficulty of access with academic standards of intake...SHHS (and presumably G&L) is easier to get an offer from than CLSG...but that is partly because it is attracting applications on a more local rather than London-wide basis...with relatively fewer girls having it as first choice...so greater need to over-offer places.
In the end we would probably have chosen CLSG...but the decision would have been very close...and had CLSG been another 10 mins away we would have favoured the more local school in SHHS.

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