Fri12192014

Community

Schools chief shares what it takes to get into college


Photo By: John Hammerschmidt/ Special to the Town Crier
Photo John Hammerschmidt/ Special To The Town Crier

Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, shares with a Rotary Club of Los Altos audience June 13 how much harder it is to get into college these days.

Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, shared his insight on what it takes to get into college these days at a Rotary Club of Los Altos meeting June 13.

Groves, who became schools chief in 2006, heads a district where 96 percent of graduating seniors pursue college degrees. Both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools prepare students to submit competitive college applications, he said. According to district statistics, both high schools ranked a 10 out of 10 on the California Academic Performance Index, and their average scores on Advanced Placement exams and the SAT and SAT II are among the highest in the state.

The criteria for college acceptance have changed since the last generation, said Groves, noting that perfect grades and test scores are no longer sufficient. Instead of seeking well-rounded individuals, he added, selective colleges now seek graduates from well-rounded high schools, those that provide environments where their teams win championships.

Groves outlined the current criteria for acceptance: rigor of courses, high school grades, SAT/ACT/AP/SAT II scores, socioeconomic diversity, development case, legacy/connections, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, interviews and class rank.

“Do you think you would be accepted in the college of your choice today?” he asked the audience.

After he presented criteria for acceptance today, most attendees acknowledged that they probably wouldn’t, because selective colleges are now much more difficult to get into.

Competitive students are advised to enroll in the most challenging courses offered at their high schools. Scholarships based on merit have decreased, Groves said, and are offered primarily on the basis of need today.

Stanford University is the most selective school in the U.S., according to Groves, as it accepts only 5.8 percent of applicants, while San Jose State University accepts 75 percent; Santa Clara University, 54 percent; and UC Berkeley, 20.8 percent. While most college costs are high, he said, they vary considerably, with Stanford and Santa Clara costing approximately $43,000 per year. The public universities – UC Berkeley and San Jose State – cost much less, as does Foothill College. Groves said Foothill is one of the best community colleges in the state, “an outstanding value for excellent instruction.”

For more information, visit www.mvla.net.

Marlene Cowan is a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

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