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How are our college acceptance rates this year?

Original post made by Paly Alum on Apr 3, 2014

While my son has gained entry into most of the name colleges he applied to besides his reach schools, I was amazed to read that even non-top tier schools had 50,000 applications for only a couple thousand spaces.

And while I always read the list at the end of the year lists which stated where students are attending college, I question the continued publishing of the list since only the top 1 percent relish in the bragging rights. Formerly, I would read the list and make a judgement (as most do) but now, as I have a senior, I realize that we need to choose not the highest rated college for him, but the best fit for his needs. For instance, the college with the best reputation has snow which he doesn't want to deal with. But being that the list only prints the name of the college he will attend, it neglects the list of options and readers are left to judge ("That's the best he could do?"). Therefore, I suggest that the list no longer be published. While the college he has chosen is a name school with a good reputation, it's not an Ivy or first-tier school and the list entices untruthful answers. Is it really anyone's business where our students attend college, except to encourage snickering?

Comments (27)

Posted by Mom, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Yes, it is none of anyone's business but Paly uses it as a resume. Paly should end the tradition. Those who want to brag can place the name on their graduation hat for all to see.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:16 pm

The college with the best reputation has snow? FAIL. No bragging rights for parent or for student. Buy him a BMW. There's more respect to be gained for knowing where you want to go and why, rather than mindlessly going where others expect you to go. I hope people learn this before choosing a spouse based on what others may think. "That's the best he could do?"


Posted by The List, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

My understanding is that the "list" you're referring to is something published in the student newspaper--take it up with The Campanile. I also understand that students can opt to not share where they're headed if they don't want to.


Posted by Former Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:39 am

I am glad my child applied to out-of-state schools and recommend this to others. My child is attending an out-of-state school on merit scholarship offered by the school (in the acceptance letter) so it lessens the financial impact of out-of-state tuition. The UCs are difficult, even if the application is strong - there just isn't enough space to accept everyone. Complete your personal essay in the summer to lessen the stress immensely (questions are released in June). Send out at least 15 applications - the quantity of rejection letters is alarming from top colleges.

As far as the list in the Campanile, students who opt out are assumed to be attending community college or unknown schools. There is a lot of academic pressure in PAUSD to attend top schools.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:46 am

It is not an accurate list that gets published. Various students do not go to the colleges that they are listed as expecting to attend. Our family knows many students who were listed as planning to attend various colleges including UCs and overseas colleges, and then ended up at Foothill. Foothill, by the way, is a great college and transfer into UC is a great option. Some 18 year olds are not ready for the moving away from home thing either for the actual living away from home or the managing of studies without tutor/parent intervention, and Foothill does a good job of preparing a student to manage their own education which high school does not do.




Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

I second what Paly Parent said, between the time that the list is published and the time school starts, many kids end up somewhere other than what is posted. This is for a number of reasons, they find out they got off the wait list for a school they would rather go to (or that gives them more $$), family finances change, etc. Another surprising large group of students ends up at Foothill after the first semester or first year of college, sometimes they were having too much fun instead of studying, some kids chose the wrong school and some really weren't ready to live away from home for a variety of reasons.

@Paly Parent is also correct about Foothill, great teachers, beautiful campus, priority transfer into UC's and CSU's (California CC students get preference over other potential transfer students) and as a bonus, many students find they have more academic confidence after attending Foothill after the rigor and pressure of PAUSD. Several of my son's friend attended and every one was able to transfer to their first choice school.


Posted by Pants on Fire, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

There is a lot of dishonesty in high school seniors reporting where they will be going to college the next fall.

The year our son graduated, the Campanile reported that two kids were bound for Harvard, two for Princeton, two for Purdue, and several for Yale and MIT.

I asked our son's counsellor about this, and she verified that absolutely NO ONE that year was going to Princeton, Harvard, or Purdue. Two were going to Yale and one to MIT, one to UCLA, two to Berkeley, several to Davis, one to Cornell. About one-fourth were going to junior college with the hopes go getting into a UC later. A few got into UC Santa Barbara, and many got into state colleges elsewhere...a few chose to go into the armed services,

The truth is, a lot of Paly seniors are embarrassed to tell the truth,


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Sorry folks, but this falls under the category of:

Mountain meet mole hill.

Don't like it, then don't participate and/or don't read it.


Posted by Something's wrong with that picture, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Sure, Foothill might be fine, but ironic to live in wealthy Palo Alto for the schools, then attend CC.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm

@Something… Going to college is about making the right choice for your future - its not about whether you live in "wealthy Palo Alto" or elsewhere. Foothill is a great choice for many kids and for some of them its a place to recover from the PAUSD pressure cooker and realize that they are actually intelligent, competent students. Not everything is about money.


Posted by Average PA parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Original poster:

Why in the world do you care about what people who read the list will think of the college your son decided to attend?

We really live in Shallow Alto.


Posted by Losers?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Many kids at Paly, and there parents, consider CCs to be " loser schools".


Posted by Too Bad, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

My son is going to lie about the college he is attending. He took classes with UCB, UCLA, Ivy League bound students and it's too embarassing to admit that he was declined acceptance to those schools. So don't believe the list.


Posted by JIm H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm

So, when it wasn't your child, it was ok to pass judgement, but now that your child, (and possibly your entire family) will be judged, you think it should be banned?

Maybe you should have been a little more empathetic in the past. Or did you just always assume that your child would be one of the 1%?


Posted by Athiest, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

JIm H: I doubt you are wearing a halo. Everyone is judgemental, consciously and subconsciously. At least the OP admits to viewing The List in a different light now. This was not a good year for admissions. It seems to be more difficult each year.


Posted by mom, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I want to know how many go to ivy schools, how many go to top two UC schools.


Posted by mom too, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

mom, about 10% I think which is lots better than most high schools which send one or none total.


Posted by mom, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 6:55 pm

How about this year? How many are accepted at ivy? How many at two UCs?


Posted by Mom3, a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

@mom: There is no way to truthfully answer your question because as stated above, students oftentimes lie about where they are attending college because there is so much pressure in this community to succeed academically. The high schools know where students apply to colleges because they have to send the transcripts but acceptances to colleges is on the honor system.

@mom too: 10% is way too high of a number. Plus, the only way you could guess is to read the school newspaper list, which is untruthful. There really is no way to know!


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm

If you child is actually a Paly (or Gunn) student, you can log in to Naviance and see accurately who goes where with no names. Students need to report where they are going, at least at Paly they need to report it to get their diploma.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

To get their diploma? Or do you mean to have their final transcript and diploma officially forwarded to their chosen college?


Posted by Mom3, a resident of Duveneck School
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Re Naviance, it shows college acceptance history from 2006-2013 - how many people were accepted and how many enrolled in the college. You can't narrow down by year unless you are tracking it from year to year. Plus, I am not sure students need to be honest on Naviance.


Posted by Average PA parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Naviance is very misleading, maybe because the stats are over 7 years and the game has gradually changed.

My child was supposed to be a shoe-in into some universities according to Naviance Stats, and was wait-listed this March by some of those colleges where he was supposed to be a shoe-in.

So, anyone looking at Naviance needs to take it with a grain of salt.

It is getting crazier every year. It's a snowballing phenomenon. People apply to more colleges each year, making it more difficult to be accepted. So, every year there is application inflation. I am sure universities love it because it makes them look very selective.

The whole system is broken IMO.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

If you press the college name in Naviance, it displays the stats by year. It is probably the same group of people who are applying to all these top schools. I am not sure how the school obtains this data and whether it's the honest answers of the students. Does anyone know how data is collected?

2013 Paly
Applied/Admitted/Enrolled

Princeton: 45/4/1
Harvard: 42/4/2
Yale: 43/4/2
Columbia: 45/6/3
UPenn: 31/1/1
Cornell: 52/6/3
Dartmouth: 35/2/1
Brown: 56/1/0
Stanford: 89/6/13 (PA students need a connection to be admitted here)
MIT: 27/4/0
Carnegie-Mellon: 50/8/6
Caltech: 13/2/1
UCBerkeley: 118/65/18
UCLA: 120/57/2
UCSD: 126/68/5
UCDavis: 129/72/7
UCSB: 117/61/13
UCSC: 85/39/7
UCI: 62/37/1
UCMerced: 9/4/2
CalPoly SLO: 46/24/9
NYU: 47/20/3
NWestern: 63/11/7
UWashington: 40/27/5
Duke: 41/4/3
UMichigan: 89/17/4
Foothill: 46/59/59 (typo?)



Posted by mom, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm

From above parent's report, we know that the total number of students attending ivy schools is 27. NWestern 7,Duke 3. Now we know the number of students accepted by top two UCs without ivy schools and Duke and NWestern offers are 65(UC Berkeley accepted)-27-7-3=28. The number of students attending top two UCs is 20.Carnegie-Mellon 6. The number comes to 28-20-6.
I believe most students report correctly with minus or plus two points error.


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

I would assume the Naviance application and enrollment info is accurate because Paly and Gunn need to send transcripts to all the schools students apply to and final transcripts to the schools they are attending (and they will only send the final transcript to one school). I assume the acceptance info comes from the student (unless anyone has other information regarding that).


Posted by Student, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 10:46 am

I doubt the schools police the newspaper list even if they know the student lied. Don't think the academic honesty rule applies. And how did "mom" jump to the assumption that no one lies based upon the numbers?


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