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> Academic Decathlon and Top Universities
Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 16 2015, 04:46 AM
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I've been curious, how is AD looked upon by places like the Ivies and other top schools? I've heard from some that they've never even heard of it in their life, and even interviewers often won't have a clue about what it entails. I've also seen people on here complaining about their parents not letting them participate because it takes away from other extracurriculars, as if AD is lesser than others. Is this the case for admissions officers as well? It's a big part of my application, as I'm sure is the case for many others, and I wouldn't want for my hundreds of hours studying for it go to waste (not that admissions is the only reason I study, there's a myriad of factors that keep me going). Any thoughts?





This post has been edited by macomber_1: Feb 16 2015, 07:02 PM
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Guest_NathanDrake_*
post Feb 16 2015, 09:55 AM
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If you browse the forums a bit here you will some answers to your question. I think the consensus here is that it is a good plus if you are a varsity or maybe a scholastic. If you are an honors it's more of a meh. There are of course a lot of other extracurriculars that look just as good. For reference from a moderately distinguished California public school, our H2 from 2013 got into Stanford with very little on his resume besides AD (the ninja interview skills might have helped). Last year our 9k H1 who did AD and waterpolo not get into any of the Ivy Leagues he applied to, so he settled for UCLA, I think
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The Evil Dr. Cal...
post Feb 16 2015, 01:20 PM
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I moved this thread for you. smile.gif

It was been my experience that Academic Decathlon helps students in other ways, besides as an entry on a resume. Probably the most significant is that it helps spawn good essays. Admittance into competitive schools is less about what's on your resume, than how good your essays and teacher recommendations are. Certainly, West Coast schools are more aware of it than East Coast schools, but I don't think I've ever seen any evidence that it's a hindrance to acceptance anywhere.
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Guest_fyzics_*
post Feb 16 2015, 05:57 PM
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An H1, who had no extracurricular activities except Acadec, is currently enjoying her junior year at MIT. A V1 with a 1.8 GPA, who competed as my S1 his senior year (even with a GPA that would still have qualified him as a Varsity) got full ride scholarship offers to both ASU and Northwest. The only successful appeal of a UC rejection I ever heard of was based on awards won at regionals (which occurred after the application was due). So in my 10 years as a coach, I've seen a lot of evidence that Decathlon can make a huge impact on college acceptances. But I also agree that it goes farther than that - one of my former decathletes got 8 interviews with accounting companies her senior year in college, and got called back to every single one of them. Go decathlon interview practice!
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Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 16 2015, 08:18 PM
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QUOTE (The Evil Dr. Calculus @ Feb 16 2015, 06:20 AM) *
I moved this thread for you. smile.gif

It was been my experience that Academic Decathlon helps students in other ways, besides as an entry on a resume. Probably the most significant is that it helps spawn good essays. Admittance into competitive schools is less about what's on your resume, than how good your essays and teacher recommendations are. Certainly, West Coast schools are more aware of it than East Coast schools, but I don't think I've ever seen any evidence that it's a hindrance to acceptance anywhere.


Thank you! And yeah that's what seems to be the case. I thought my best teacher rec by far was my coach (who I've had for 3 years and for 5 classes now), and I wrote the bulk of my essays on AD as well. Hopefully that should all help in the end!

QUOTE (fyzics @ Feb 16 2015, 10:57 AM) *
An H1, who had no extracurricular activities except Acadec, is currently enjoying her junior year at MIT. A V1 with a 1.8 GPA, who competed as my S1 his senior year (even with a GPA that would still have qualified him as a Varsity) got full ride scholarship offers to both ASU and Northwest. The only successful appeal of a UC rejection I ever heard of was based on awards won at regionals (which occurred after the application was due). So in my 10 years as a coach, I've seen a lot of evidence that Decathlon can make a huge impact on college acceptances. But I also agree that it goes farther than that - one of my former decathletes got 8 interviews with accounting companies her senior year in college, and got called back to every single one of them. Go decathlon interview practice!


Great to hear! I know that ASU looks very favorably on it with the many scholarships that they give out, so obviously it's been a very reasonable option for me.
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TinDefacto
post Feb 16 2015, 09:02 PM
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I think that for the most part top-tier colleges don't really particularly care about AcDec. Sure, you'll hear about a fair number of Decathletes getting into really great schools, but I think this is largely because (at least in the case of Honors kids) people who do Decathlon tend to do a host of other activities as well and set themselves apart in other ways. Thus, while there may be a correlation of Decathletes getting into good colleges, let's not forget that correlation does not imply causation. Instead, the same thing that led these kids to do Decathlon probably led them to do other things as well which increased their likelihood of acceptance into top-tier schools.

So I don't think AcDec particularly helps. In fact, of the five people from my school who are at/headed to top-tier schools (1 Stanford, 2 Harvard, 2 MIT), only one was a Decathlete. (Though another did try out for the team a couple times.)

But remember, bottom line: college admissions are a crapshoot. Thousands of fully qualified students get rejected from top-tier schools every year. Luck is a huge component. So not getting into the college you wanted doesn't mean anything about you, and in a decade, hey, you'll find it really didn't matter much at all. Wherever you go you'll meet awesome people and have fun. So don't forget that.
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Guest_cepae_*
post Feb 16 2015, 09:03 PM
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I'm here in Georgia at a Title I high school (high population of free and reduced lunch) and I've coached for nine years. My kids have gone to so many different schools (I bet many of the coaches could bring out an extensive list of where their kids have gone) and so many of them are doing well post college (I have a varsity at the University of Michigan med school and a scholastic making tons of money working in oil/energy in Texas). I root for my kids and will help them in trying to succeed post-Acadec life. It seems surreal to see their lives now.

My H1 had interviews with Harvard and Duke and both of her interviewers did Decathlon in high school. She was extremely happy with that and felt her interviews went well. And even if you have interviewers who have no idea Decathlon was, you could use your interview skills and talk about the all the merits of Decathlon to them. Getting into a great undergrad school is wonderful but I feel like Decathlon is more than just getting into a good/great undergrad school. It helps set you up for something more.

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TinDefacto
post Feb 16 2015, 09:14 PM
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QUOTE (cepae @ Feb 16 2015, 04:03 PM) *
Getting into a great undergrad school is wonderful but I feel like Decathlon is more than just getting into a good/great undergrad school. It helps set you up for something more.

++++++++

Exactly. As I said, in the end you'll find that where you went to undergrad really doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things. What I truly got out of AcDec (besides incredibly amazing friends and an awesome community) were not only presentation skills like being able to do public speaking and be an interview badass but also life skills like learning how I learn, teamwork/leadership skills, and more that I probably am not aware of yet considering that I'm just a college sophomore...
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Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 16 2015, 09:22 PM
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QUOTE (TinDefacto @ Feb 16 2015, 02:02 PM) *
I think that for the most part top-tier colleges don't really particularly care about AcDec. Sure, you'll hear about a fair number of Decathletes getting into really great schools, but I think this is largely because (at least in the case of Honors kids) people who do Decathlon tend to do a host of other activities as well and set themselves apart in other ways. Thus, while there may be a correlation of Decathletes getting into good colleges, let's not forget that correlation does not imply causation. Instead, the same thing that led these kids to do Decathlon probably led them to do other things as well which increased their likelihood of acceptance into top-tier schools.

So I don't think AcDec particularly helps. In fact, of the five people from my school who are at/headed to top-tier schools (1 Stanford, 2 Harvard, 2 MIT), only one was a Decathlete. (Though another did try out for the team a couple times.)

But remember, bottom line: college admissions are a crapshoot. Thousands of fully qualified students get rejected from top-tier schools every year. Luck is a huge component. So not getting into the college you wanted doesn't mean anything about you, and in a decade, hey, you'll find it really didn't matter much at all. Wherever you go you'll meet awesome people and have fun. So don't forget that.



Well there's my problem. I spend/have spent way too much time to focus on other extracurriculars apart from a couple clubs that meet for an hour a week. Coupled with my AP classes, I find I hardly even have free time either. This is why it's a bit upsetting if colleges don't understand the caliber of AD.

I do agree that it does improve my interviewing/public speaking skills. I've had three interviews already and I feel like I wouldn't be able to understand what I was supposed to do had I not been through countless interviews in AD (although an interview on the top floor of a skyscraper for Harvard is about 100 times more nerve-wracking)
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Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 17 2015, 02:27 AM
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Guess I could update this, I just got into UPenn via a likely letter, so at least for them AD is considered a good activity!
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TinDefacto
post Feb 17 2015, 02:32 AM
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QUOTE (macomber_1 @ Feb 16 2015, 09:27 PM) *
Guess I could update this, I just got into UPenn via a likely letter, so at least for them AD is considered a good activity!

Congrats!! smile.gif But remember, don't buy into the correlation = causation fallacy. tongue.gif
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Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 17 2015, 02:52 AM
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QUOTE (TinDefacto @ Feb 16 2015, 07:32 PM) *
QUOTE (macomber_1 @ Feb 16 2015, 09:27 PM) *
Guess I could update this, I just got into UPenn via a likely letter, so at least for them AD is considered a good activity!

Congrats!! smile.gif But remember, don't buy into the correlation = causation fallacy. tongue.gif


Thank you!! Don't worry, I understand that, but when more than half of my application consisted of AcDec it's hard to say that it didn't have at least some effect
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TinDefacto
post Feb 17 2015, 06:57 AM
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QUOTE (macomber_1 @ Feb 16 2015, 09:52 PM) *
QUOTE (TinDefacto @ Feb 16 2015, 07:32 PM) *
QUOTE (macomber_1 @ Feb 16 2015, 09:27 PM) *
Guess I could update this, I just got into UPenn via a likely letter, so at least for them AD is considered a good activity!

Congrats!! smile.gif But remember, don't buy into the correlation = causation fallacy. tongue.gif

Thank you!! Don't worry, I understand that, but when more than half of my application consisted of AcDec it's hard to say that it didn't have at least some effect

Oh, then like yeah, I guess that's a pretty fair conclusion. xD
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Guest_Stealer of Souls_*
post Feb 17 2015, 06:59 PM
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QUOTE (NathanDrake @ Feb 16 2015, 01:55 AM) *
If you browse the forums a bit here you will some answers to your question. I think the consensus here is that it is a good plus if you are a varsity or maybe a scholastic. If you are an honors it's more of a meh. There are of course a lot of other extracurriculars that look just as good. For reference from a moderately distinguished California public school, our H2 from 2013 got into Stanford with very little on his resume besides AD (the ninja interview skills might have helped). Last year our 9k H1 who did AD and waterpolo not get into any of the Ivy Leagues he applied to, so he settled for UCLA, I think



He chose UC Berkeley over UCLA.
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Guest_Allan21996_*
post Feb 18 2015, 04:00 AM
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California loves decathlon. I had a bad GPA and a bad SAT scores. I got into UCR, and we call it UC Reject, but Riverside is a pretty damn good school, compared to other states. I got wait-listed at UC Irvine which is amazing considering they are a top ten public school on many lists. Unfortunately, you're from Arizona, and a UC is only worth it, is if you're from California. Out of state money is insane.
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Guest_macomber_1_*
post Feb 18 2015, 05:08 AM
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QUOTE (Allan21996 @ Feb 17 2015, 09:00 PM) *
California loves decathlon. I had a bad GPA and a bad SAT scores. I got into UCR, and we call it UC Reject, but Riverside is a pretty damn good school, compared to other states. I got wait-listed at UC Irvine which is amazing considering they are a top ten public school on many lists. Unfortunately, you're from Arizona, and a UC is only worth it, is if you're from California. Out of state money is insane.


Exactly, when I was younger I always wanted to go to UCSD but this realization really crushed my dreams.
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Guest_the_crazy_honors_*
post Feb 18 2015, 06:20 AM
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I'd like to play devil's advocate and throw in a word for not going to top schools. tongue.gif This is all based on my personal opinions and experiences, so please don't take this as a rebuttal. I mostly just wanted to add to the conversation but know very little about actually getting into colleges. (I go to the University of North Texas, which is by no means a bad school, but it's also not the type of college you're all discussing.)

Prior to the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was enamored with Ivies and tiny liberal arts colleges alike. I had an entire drawer of a file cabinet dedicated to college brochures I'd been accruing for years. I was very motivated by college admissions to succeed in high school so that I could go to as prestigious a university as possible. However, for financial and geographical reasons, my parents encouraged me to look at in-state public universities. I couldn't tell you why exactly I changed my mind, but I decided that an in-state public university made sense for me. I maintain that view wholeheartedly now that I've been at one for a semester and a bit.

I won't pretend money isn't a factor. I hope to go straight to medical school after college, which means another four years of tuition and about five of crappy pay after that, so I decided to make a goal of getting my bachelor's degree without taking out any loans. This might be feasible with lots of summer jobs, begging parents, and applying for random scholarships, and I have immense respect for people who balance all of that with school. I personally have really enjoyed being able to focus on my studies thanks to in-state tuition and the awesome merit aid many if not all state schools offer. If you're a pragmatist, you're welcome to stop reading. Unless you'd qualify for wonderful amounts of need-based aid at top-tier schools, which are great at giving money to people who need it, state schools are probably a cheaper option.

What I came here to say, though, was that I've found a positive educational experience here that I couldn't at a top-tier school. While many of my classes are less rigorous than comparable classes at, say, MIT, I feel that I'm able to learn just as much by striving for A's or A+'s here as I would by striving for C's or B's somewhere more challenging. I also have missed out on the opportunity to surround myself with lots and lots of incredibly bright, driven people, but I still have found incredibly bright, driven people here. I feel that I've benefited quite a bit from being closer to the top of my class in that my success here allows me to form highly rewarding relationships with faculty and student mentors. At the risk of sounding conceited, there are academic benefits to being and feeling valued. (I had a professor hug me when I asked her for a rec letter.) I'll be a small fish in an enormous pond soon enough, but for now, I appreciate being able to focus on learning and retaining material for years to come, cultivating academic and personal relationships, and even being happy and physically and mentally healthy.

None of this is to say that the experience in a less rigorous school or program is in any way better than that in a more rigorous one, of course, but the experience is different in quite a few ways that have had overwhelmingly positive effects in my life. I honestly could not be happier, and as much as I understand and support the desire to go to big-name schools, I'd like to encourage anyone weighing colleges to consider what going to a particular school would mean for you, in your life.
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Guest_Allan21996_*
post Feb 18 2015, 06:29 AM
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QUOTE (the_crazy_honors @ Feb 17 2015, 10:20 PM) *
I'd like to play devil's advocate and throw in a word for not going to top schools. tongue.gif This is all based on my personal opinions and experiences, so please don't take this as a rebuttal. I mostly just wanted to add to the conversation but know very little about actually getting into colleges. (I go to the University of North Texas, which is by no means a bad school, but it's also not the type of college you're all discussing.)

Prior to the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was enamored with Ivies and tiny liberal arts colleges alike. I had an entire drawer of a file cabinet dedicated to college brochures I'd been accruing for years. I was very motivated by college admissions to succeed in high school so that I could go to as prestigious a university as possible. However, for financial and geographical reasons, my parents encouraged me to look at in-state public universities. I couldn't tell you why exactly I changed my mind, but I decided that an in-state public university made sense for me. I maintain that view wholeheartedly now that I've been at one for a semester and a bit.

I won't pretend money isn't a factor. I hope to go straight to medical school after college, which means another four years of tuition and about five of crappy pay after that, so I decided to make a goal of getting my bachelor's degree without taking out any loans. This might be feasible with lots of summer jobs, begging parents, and applying for random scholarships, and I have immense respect for people who balance all of that with school. I personally have really enjoyed being able to focus on my studies thanks to in-state tuition and the awesome merit aid many if not all state schools offer. If you're a pragmatist, you're welcome to stop reading. Unless you'd qualify for wonderful amounts of need-based aid at top-tier schools, which are great at giving money to people who need it, state schools are probably a cheaper option.

What I came here to say, though, was that I've found a positive educational experience here that I couldn't at a top-tier school. While many of my classes are less rigorous than comparable classes at, say, MIT, I feel that I'm able to learn just as much by striving for A's or A+'s here as I would by striving for C's or B's somewhere more challenging. I also have missed out on the opportunity to surround myself with lots and lots of incredibly bright, driven people, but I still have found incredibly bright, driven people here. I feel that I've benefited quite a bit from being closer to the top of my class in that my success here allows me to form highly rewarding relationships with faculty and student mentors. At the risk of sounding conceited, there are academic benefits to being and feeling valued. (I had a professor hug me when I asked her for a rec letter.) I'll be a small fish in an enormous pond soon enough, but for now, I appreciate being able to focus on learning and retaining material for years to come, cultivating academic and personal relationships, and even being happy and physically and mentally healthy.

None of this is to say that the experience in a less rigorous school or program is in any way better than that in a more rigorous one, of course, but the experience is different in quite a few ways that have had overwhelmingly positive effects in my life. I honestly could not be happier, and as much as I understand and support the desire to go to big-name schools, I'd like to encourage anyone weighing colleges to consider what going to a particular school would mean for you, in your life.

"somewhere more challenging." This is coming from the girl with FOUR MINORS.
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Guest_the_crazy_honors_*
post Feb 18 2015, 06:35 AM
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QUOTE (Allan21996 @ Feb 18 2015, 12:29 AM) *
"somewhere more challenging." This is coming from the girl with FOUR MINORS.

...two of them are literally just part of my major with no extra classes...
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Guest_Herohito_*
post Feb 19 2015, 01:05 AM
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QUOTE (the_crazy_honors @ Feb 17 2015, 11:20 PM) *
I'd like to play devil's advocate and throw in a word for not going to top schools. tongue.gif This is all based on my personal opinions and experiences, so please don't take this as a rebuttal. I mostly just wanted to add to the conversation but know very little about actually getting into colleges. (I go to the University of North Texas, which is by no means a bad school, but it's also not the type of college you're all discussing.)

Prior to the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was enamored with Ivies and tiny liberal arts colleges alike. I had an entire drawer of a file cabinet dedicated to college brochures I'd been accruing for years. I was very motivated by college admissions to succeed in high school so that I could go to as prestigious a university as possible. However, for financial and geographical reasons, my parents encouraged me to look at in-state public universities. I couldn't tell you why exactly I changed my mind, but I decided that an in-state public university made sense for me. I maintain that view wholeheartedly now that I've been at one for a semester and a bit.

I won't pretend money isn't a factor. I hope to go straight to medical school after college, which means another four years of tuition and about five of crappy pay after that, so I decided to make a goal of getting my bachelor's degree without taking out any loans. This might be feasible with lots of summer jobs, begging parents, and applying for random scholarships, and I have immense respect for people who balance all of that with school. I personally have really enjoyed being able to focus on my studies thanks to in-state tuition and the awesome merit aid many if not all state schools offer. If you're a pragmatist, you're welcome to stop reading. Unless you'd qualify for wonderful amounts of need-based aid at top-tier schools, which are great at giving money to people who need it, state schools are probably a cheaper option.

What I came here to say, though, was that I've found a positive educational experience here that I couldn't at a top-tier school. While many of my classes are less rigorous than comparable classes at, say, MIT, I feel that I'm able to learn just as much by striving for A's or A+'s here as I would by striving for C's or B's somewhere more challenging. I also have missed out on the opportunity to surround myself with lots and lots of incredibly bright, driven people, but I still have found incredibly bright, driven people here. I feel that I've benefited quite a bit from being closer to the top of my class in that my success here allows me to form highly rewarding relationships with faculty and student mentors. At the risk of sounding conceited, there are academic benefits to being and feeling valued. (I had a professor hug me when I asked her for a rec letter.) I'll be a small fish in an enormous pond soon enough, but for now, I appreciate being able to focus on learning and retaining material for years to come, cultivating academic and personal relationships, and even being happy and physically and mentally healthy.

None of this is to say that the experience in a less rigorous school or program is in any way better than that in a more rigorous one, of course, but the experience is different in quite a few ways that have had overwhelmingly positive effects in my life. I honestly could not be happier, and as much as I understand and support the desire to go to big-name schools, I'd like to encourage anyone weighing colleges to consider what going to a particular school would mean for you, in your life.

There is a lot of truth to this, though I would say it much more simply: wherever they end up, the brightest students definitely find a path that makes good use of their talents. It's the lesser students who benefit more from being in a top tier school because the structure of a program like that gives them what they would not have been able to gain on their own, with the motivation and skills that they have.

I personally am no fan of giving brighter students enough work to feel like a failure simply because they do very well with an average course load. There is merit in giving credit where it is due. There is no benefit in teaching students more material if it convinces them to leave the field in search of something less mentally exhausting. In some important ways a fraction of the top schools do scare off promising future scientists/engineers/academics etc through mental exhaustion. Good educators are those that teach even the worst of students well, not those that just throw out everyone who is of a lower caliber than they would like.
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