January 16, 2017
By BETHANY DOANE
LYNNFIELD — High school guidance counselors want to increase their students’ likelihood of getting into Ivy League schools.
High School Head of Guidance Mike Moresco and LHS Councilor Kathi Moody spoke bluntly in outlining their plan to School Committee members.
“Lynnfield students are not getting accepted into Ivy League schools,” Moresco said.
Moresco blames the closed doors in part on significant changes in the college application process that accelerated in 1997. Colleges are more selective now, Moresco said, and encourage many more applicants than they accept.
“It would now be much more challenging for parents to get into the same college that they graduated from in their 20s,” Moresco said.
In the past 20 years, Northeastern University has seen a 200 percent increase in applicants. Their current acceptance rate is 20 percent.
“The applicant pool of students applying to college is bigger and more diverse; they’re not just competing against classmates, but against students from all around the country and the world,” Moody said.
The Guidance Department wants to help LHS students build a transcript that will allow them to compete with Ivy League applicants by addressing three issues: strength of schedule and general equivalency; standardized test scores and extracurricular activities.
Moresco said “SAT scores and college acceptance rates will increase if stress is placed on reading starting at a young age, if kids are engaged in one or two activities they’re really passionate about, and if they’re taking (advanced) classes in high school.”
But members of the School Committee are concerned about the impact that the college application process has on students.
“It feels like we’re focusing on the wrong priority as far as Ivy League schools, because that’s not necessarily what’s best for every student,” said Committee Co-Chairwoman Dorothy Presser. “I don’t want students to have the idea that they aren’t successful if they don’t get into their top school.”
School Superintendent Jane Tremblay tried to clarify the priorities that the School District intends for students.
“It’s not all about the top tier school, it’s about what makes each student individually successful, whether they’re at the top of their class or not,” Tremblay said. “We want students to have all the options they need for their personal success.”
In 2016, 90 percent of college-bound LHS graduates reported that they were attending one of their top two school choices. Additionally, 98 percent in 2016 said they felt their choice of post high school options were appropriate and correct for them given their experiences in high school.
LHS students from this year’s graduating class have been accepted to a number of colleges, including Northeastern, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of Michigan, Worcester State University, and Emerson College.
While college strategies in the Lynnfield School District appear to be paying off, not all students have the same dreams for their future.
“Children change what they’re passionate about, or they find a passion, but don’t know how to narrow in on it,” Tremblay said. “The School Committee’s gift to our students is providing them with as many options as possible to explore their interests, regardless of their choices in furthering their education.”