‘Compass Goals’

by Risley

Here’s an article from Tiny Buddha on setting “compass goals” instead of typical New Year’s resolutions. Have you made resolutions for 2017? If so, would converting them to “compass goals” be beneficial to you, or do you prefer the traditional type? Also, did you make resolutions for 2016, and if so, how did you do?

And related: do you subscribe to any daily e-mail services like Tiny Buddha, to receive articles on life improvement or other topics? Which ones do you find helpful and which do you usually delete without reading?

How to Set New Year’s Goals You’ll Actually Enjoy Pursuing

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182 thoughts on “‘Compass Goals’

  1. OK, sorry, but these Compass Goals are making my head hurt. Way overcomplicated. Kind of the Cornell notes of the goal setting world.

  2. Hi all! I have been gone a long time and was thinking of you all yesterday and thought I’d drop a hello.

  3. I’m trying to lose the extra five lbs that I gained over the holidays.

    Hi SoFL! How is your DS?

  4. Hey Sofl,

    We think of you from time to time and your kid, and about your fancy new car! How is it going?

    I hjust one goal – to be working out consistently. Nothing else.

  5. It seems just to be a spin on making sure you understand you can’t just stop at the goal statement and goals can’t be at cross purposes. When you set any sort of goal, you then need actionable steps and ideally a way to measure its progress and completion. I think the most unique thing here is the why you want to pursue this goal or the bigger outcome you are trying to achieve, but then he (author) never talks about did you reach the why. Using the increase your salary by $500 (we assume every 2 weeks because that is how he measures it), but then the why is to improve sense of freedom. He never addresses whether once you make $1K a month more did resulted in that freedom or made you feel more tied to your work than ever.

  6. Hi SoFl! Nice to hear from you? How’s the new business, and how’s your boy?

    Yeah, compass goals are too much work for me, too, Mooshi. My resolutions tend to be passing thoughts at various times throughout the year. I’ve never sat down and planned them out at once, or considered whether they should be compass or SMART or whatever.

  7. As you all know I gave DS my old benz. Alas it is no more, he totaled it in 9 months. But it did keep him safe and unharmed.

  8. Business is good. Tons of M&A (we are doing a roll up strategy) has had me on the road mostly. Working for PE firm has been really good, not the horror stories I had heard. I have to read back and catch up on all of you!

  9. Hi SoFL! Nice to hear from you and omg about your son’s accident. Has he decided on a college?

    LOL MM. It did seem a bit complicated, and I’m not sure I followed the author’s point completely. But I got that it’s important to enjoy the process and track your progress. I’m a meticulous tracker, and that actually helps me enjoy the process. But I still place importance on achieving the goal. My current resolution/goal is to read more books, but no way am I matching his goal of a book a week. I actually track my reading time, which when I think of it reminds me of elementary school. I wonder if I should get my husband to sign a sheet and turn it in to someone! :)

  10. Hi, SoFL! Someday I hope you can tell us more about your business. If you’re catching up on everyone, you might want to skip the political threads. Trust me on this.

  11. Hi SoFL! Great to hear from you.

    Houston, I, too, am resolved to lose 5 pounds. I had lost them, but found them in Alaska. Then I lost a couple of them, and found them during the Hurricane. Now I resolve to really, really lose them.

  12. Hi Sofl!

    This makes my head hurt too. I like general goals for things that should be fun like read more books but I don’t want to be held accountable to read one book a week or anything like that (sometimes I read like crazy and sometimes not). Same with exercise, I like to make a point to fit some activity in every week but I wouldn’t like a strict schedule (especially not every day).

    I’d like to travel more this year so I’ve got some things planned in the first part of the year and I keep track of money/savings goals with a spreadsheet and that’s good enough for me.

    Lark – I was in your city this past weekend for the first time with DD’s girl scout troop. It was beautiful!

  13. Hi SoFla! Glad to hear from you. Sounds like your son is doing well. Does he now drive another “safety first” car? I’ve been in and out here over the last few years, so if you want to catch up on me, drop me an email.

  14. Lark – how is it that 5 #&*$% pounds can make such a difference, and be so hard to keep off? It’s only five measly pounds–shouldn’t that mean we hardly notice if we gain it, and it takes no time at all to lose it? That seems most fair to me!

    Ever since my 50th bday in May, I have had 5 pesky suckers that refuse to let go, no matter what I do. Part of me thinks I should just accept that I now have a new set weight, and part of me thinks if I succumb to this, I’ll be heading down a steep and slippery slope to giving up completely.

  15. Ha! on political threads! I will read real estate, car and kid updates :-)
    After college visits DS decided that requirements were as follows: 1) warm or temperate weather 2) great engineering school (mechanical, aerospace) 3) more urban or suburban, no rural/college towns. He had a really good sport year after a very bad jr year (long story filled with coach drama) so sports are still of interest. Those requirements narrow the list dramatically. He is accepted at Georgia Tech and bet he goes there. (He has a few more where he got in to honors colleges but they don’t meet one of his desires.) He is still waiting on the UC’s (LA and Berkeley), USC and Harvey Mudd. Mudd is interested in him doing his sport there so that may sway him. I think academically Mudd is a big reach for him. So we will see, final decision won’t come until April. BTW – I LOVED Harvey Mudd and I was ready to go back to school for the Spielberg school of film at USC. I adored doing college visits as I didn’t have that option when I went.

  16. Lists of resolutions often include “read a book a week” or something like that. I’ll never understand that. After Carrie Fisher died, I got three of her books from the library and read them all in one day. On the other hand, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, unabridged, in three volumes, is sitting on my bookshelf as unread as the day I took it from my ancestral home in 2004. There are books and then again there are books.

  17. Ris: For you, it’s probably muscle. How can you gain weight on powered pea shakes or whatever the F you eat and call food?

  18. Welcome, SoFl. I think of you when my boys (now 10, 8 and 8) do Khan Academy, either math or programming. I can’t remember if Baby WCE (now almost 2) is on your radar or not. She is working on potty training and sleeping through the night. I missed you!

  19. RMS,your post on books made me laugh, because I’m reading “Down By the Station” no less than 4x/day, and Daddy and brothers are roped into reading it too.

  20. SoFL – welcome back. The warm climate will be my kids’ criteria for college as well.

    Risley – thought of you as I ate this weekend. I thought of healthy green shakes vs. the food I was eating and vowed to do better. I estimated I had to lose 2.2 pounds.

  21. Houston – I wish. It’s less bigger quads (in which case I’d happily take the extra #) and more winter layer, imho. And the pea protein shakes and other pretend food are the insulting part of it: if I have to suck down that crap, shouldn’t I at least be rewarded with total sleekness? I’m a little ticked at the universe on this issue.

  22. Welcome Back SoFL.

    Yes, if I counted the number of books read (vs. number of different books read) to my girls as toddlers, I was reading 4-6 a day. Each girl wanted 2 per night at bedtime. Those were often short 10 page picture books! Though to keep me sane at bathtime (and to keep it from going on forever), we started with me reading one chapter of short (think Jack and Annie) books out loud after each body was washed.

  23. Dude, if baby/kids’ books could towards reading goals, I’m doing fantastic! Sadly, many of those books are on perpetual repeat, but hey, at least DS has found he likes to sit and read with me rather than spin around in circles until he fall down…

    I’m not sure if I use SMART goals or compass goals. They seem so similar to me… But, our 2017 goal is to improve the functionality of our home. I mentioned last week that we need to redo our bedroom and linen closets, and I have a plan for a built-in in our living room.

    The small goals towards that include figuring out clothes, bottles, where to put bigger items, etc for the new baby. Clothes are almost solved. Bottles, feeding, etc are being discussed/thought about, and I have space for a rock n play in the living room. I hope that once I figure out the new baby stuff, I’ll be able to turn back to closets. I figured out the linen closet (and have picked out the system I like for it), and I’d like to tackled our closet next.

  24. The Goodreads book goal was a fun one. I set my goal low, but it did encourage me to read, along with the 3 week limit on Kindle books from the library. (Unlike paper books which I usually could keep renewing.) My goal for 2016 was to read 15, but I read 18. It was a mix of the heavier/longer nonfiction (Hamilton/Dark Money) and the light (Eligible).

    I don’t do a lot of personal resolutions, although we do have money goals that we are trying to hit. We were successful in hitting our 2016 money goals as well, helped by the markets.

  25. BTW Rhode and others, I just tried out some vacuum storage bags and I’m very impressed. I might just vacuum bag everything in my attic . . . hope the dogs don’t get bagged by mistake. :D

  26. “I set my goal low, but it did encourage me to read, along with the 3 week limit on Kindle books from the library. (Unlike paper books which I usually could keep renewing.)”

    If you put your Kindle in airplane mode after downloading the library books, you can keep them forever….

  27. “hope the dogs don’t get bagged by mistake. :D”

    In our house, this couldn’t happen. The dog is afraid of the vacuum. She will hid in her crate when it comes out.

    Part of my clothes sorting is a hard look at what can get tossed into a textile recycling bag. Some of DS’s clothes are worse off than I remember. Also, I’m using this cleaning time to have a serious discussion with DH about ever birthing a 3rd child. I’m not opposed to more kids, I just don’t think I want to be pregnant again. Nor do I think I want a baby again.

    I may upgrade to vacuum bags this or next year. Right now I’m a fantastic packer who can fit way too much in a plastic box.

  28. On the original topic, I’m not very goal-oriented, in part because I’m living with the responsibilities that previous goals (graduate from college, get a job, get married, have kids) have given me.

    “I will continue to cook dinner every night and grocery shop so 120 meals/week can be eaten from my kitchen” is more goal than responsibility.

    Goals are usually very individual. “Make ham/potato casserole with strawberry/spinach salad for supper on MLK Day” is not a goal, but it was more important than most of the things that might otherwise be goals.

  29. Whoops, is more responsibility than goal. Maybe I should set a goal of better proofreading… nah, Finn needs something to do.

  30. SoFL, good to hear from you again!

    I’ve been wondering about your DS. Congrats on his acceptance to GT. My DS is also a senior, and my guess was that there might be quite a bit of overlap in the colleges they were looking at. Despite my DS’ preference for somewhere he could experience seasons, there is at least one school they’re both waiting on (USC).

    My DS has one acceptance, and won’t know about the others until March, unless he’s invited to interview for for a scholarship, which would probably be an indicator of likely acceptance to the interviewing school.

  31. “If you put your Kindle in airplane mode after downloading the library books, you can keep them forever….”

    I did notice that…but then something else comes off hold & I need to download it to replace what I’m reading…

  32. WCE – congrats on the baby, love 2 yr olds. Khan is still used here pretty frequently. Finn – I was wondering about your son too. Anxious to catch up with all of you.

    Scarlett – I have about 5 library books on my kindle, on airplane mode it will go! Great idea.

  33. SM – That duvet cover link is awesome. I must try it. I hate changing duvet covers because I can’t get it right without the lumps.

  34. “then something else comes off hold & I need to download it to replace what I’m reading”

    If you just want to grab the book before it’s gone, don’t have time to read it just yet (but can get to it before the due date), you can still check it out and it will stay in kindle limbo until you connect to wifi again.

  35. Hi SoFl! Please check back in and let us know what happens with college stuff — your DS’ list sounds very much like my kids’ (DS already decided on Harvey Mudd at 10!), so I will be very interested in his choice and in how things work out.

  36. So I finally got around to looking at that article. Wow, what a sad way she had to understand goals! Glad she’s getting past that, but what she says works for her doesn’t really ring true for me.

    “Compass goals don’t work nearly as effectively unless you write them down with a planned completion date and assign a category to them. You also want to make sure you can see them every day so that you’re continually excited about them”

    Goal-setting can become an end unto itself for me, as in parsing the decluttering a thousand different ways instead of just picking something up, and then another thing and another. The way I finally started really taking the weight off was not caring so much about outlining the whole process.

    Her “why/action/compass” steps all were obvious to me. I knew the steps (“actions”) I needed to take to lose weight (don’t we all?) diet and exercise, keeping track of each to keep me honest. I knew that I wanted to get back to where I used to be, which was 50-65 pounds less than where I was (different set points at different times), and that I’d see when I’d achieved the goal, because I’d look and feel better (“why”). This didn’t exactly fit her “compass”, because the closest to a planned completion date I had was the @#%*! family picture my mom scheduled for the day after Christmas (no one ever puts on weight leading up to then, right?). If I lost 2 lbs a week, which I know is entirely possible, I would make it. As it turned out, that was more work than I wanted to do; I’m losing one pound a week. I don’t worry about if I’m “on track” to weigh x lbs on dd/mm/yyyy. I weigh myself every week and if I’ve lost the pound, great! But whether I’ve lost it or not, I still try to lose one the next week. That is working. 33 lbs so far. As far as writing it down and putting it someplace where you can see it–I see it in the bathroom mirror every morning, and I have a tape measure in the medicine chest to take my measurements whenever I feel the need. Now that I’m getting there I also feel progress in the way my body moves. That’s more exciting to me than any plan on a piece of paper. If I keep this up, I’ll hit the lowest target weight the beginning of June, just in time for another round of family photos at my nephew’s wedding.

    A different milestone reached today–after years of teachers and me harping on him to show his work, DS came out of a math quiz today (I picked him up early, so got him straight from the quiz) and said “showing your work helps make it easier, because you can go back and retrace your steps”. Sounds obvious, but I could swear I saw the heavens open up and a choir of angels singing. Now approaching math Nirvana!

    SoFla, those are great schools, whichever he chooses. What a nice place to be!

  37. Thinking about the “why/actions/compass” and schools–kids have the action and the compass right in front of them all the way through school, but they don’t really get the “why” until later. Some, like my DS, may look at alternate compasses–he lost points for not showing his work, but as long as he got the right answer, he insisted he didn’t need to do it. Now that the “right answer compass” has aligned with the “grade compass” (because he can’t do the math in his head any more), he’s ready to take that “action”.

  38. DD, lol, I thought of that too!

    Rhode and CoC, what kind of vacuum bags? I’ve tried a couple and the air seeps back in. On one brand, the entire seal would pop off the plastic bag part. Between that and seeing how fancy “compression” Eagle Creek cubes work, I’ve decided that just putting stuff in the suitcase, zipping it, sitting on it and zipping up the expansion gusset is just as good.

    I’ve never tried a pea protein shake, but I was amazed recently to realize that whereas banana not bread is a fat and calorie bomb, using Greek yogurt instead of butter completely transforms it into a protein power bomb, with twice as much protein as fat.

  39. I always make my bed, and I’m so compulsive about it that I delayed going to the hospital when in labor with the first kid so I could finish. (It was a *really* long labor, so I got to walk back home from the hospital and admire the tidy bed for a few more hours.)

    I have been trying to instill the same feeling in the kids but it isn’t working. On the days when they take the bus to school I let them skip it and do it myself in the blessed silence after they leave.

    I don’t think making beds is going to get them into MIT, but if any of the neighbors has to chase a kid upstairs I feel less embarrassed because it seems less messy. And someday they will have roommates, so it is better to teach them to tidy up after themselves now than pay the movers mid-lease when their roommates kick them out….

    And hi SoFl! Glad your DS was unscathed; my first car was a (used) Mercedes for the safety record.

  40. Welcome back SoFL! :)

    This article was way too long and seemed to repeat itself over and over. If/when I set goals, it is more making a google drive doc and then going at it, no pausing to think whether the goal is “SMART” or compass or whatever.

  41. USC is #28 for engineering according to US News and Word report tied with Harvard. They have invested a bunch of money in the Vterbi school and the facilities are amazing and modern contrasted with UCLA (#18). What wowed DS is the campus is really beautiful and we were there on a picture perfect SoCal day being led around by an adorable, accomplished tour guide.

    I don’t envy any of you heading in to this process if you are looking at top 20ish schools. It is ridiculous what the kids have accomplished. Ds’s resume is way more impressive then mine and I have a feeling he looks like many other kids out there as he will get no merit awards at GT. I am happy to share more if any of you are interested in what he did and didn’t do.

  42. “Compass goals don’t work nearly as effectively unless you write them down with a planned completion date and assign a category to them. You also want to make sure you can see them every day so that you’re continually excited about them”

    So, clearly, the author has not learned Rule #1 of Life: what works for you may not work for everyone, because People Are Different. Me, if I did what she said, my inner contrarian would roll out of bed every morning, get pissed off by the chipper pertness of the happy little list, and immediately start working on some excuse not to do it. Scheduling is a necessary evil; too much detail and I get claustrophobic. For me, I need to set pretty basic, process-oriented goals (“I am going to Crossfit 2x this week so I can work up to 3x next week without re-injuring myself”; “I am going to eat more vegetables and fruits and less crap”), and then leave the details to whatever I feel like for that particular day or week.

    Tired of all the people telling me that if I’d “only” do X or “just” not do Y, all of my problems would be over and I’d be happyhappyhappy. You need to try enough different options to find out what works for you. And then if that stops working, try something different.

  43. “I am happy to share more if any of you are interested in what he did and didn’t do.”

    Yes please!

  44. I’d love to hear more about SoFl’s son. Anyone else who’s been there recently, or has a HS senior now, please chime in!

    LfB, your 7:26 post says succinctly what I was trying to say in my long example last night.

  45. Thanks SoFL – just keeping things in mind for my kids.

    My first thought is to find a PSAT tutor. This is mainly for Test taking strategies.
    I don’t quite know how to do this. I see students being tutored at Starbucks but I just can’t walk up and interrupt.

    I can only tell this board – DD scored high enough for Duke Tips.

  46. SoFL – nice to hear from you. In the end, the main differentiator between Harvey Mudd and GT for his future is the regional reputation and likely companies that will recruit there.

  47. Congrats, Louise! I think you have the right idea, but ime a student who already scores in the top 5%ile (or certainly 1-2%ile) typically needs very little tutoring. A bit of practice and minimal coaching perhaps.

  48. Here goes:
    Academic – NMSF, 4.5 WGPA, took AP Calc BC and Physic C as a sophomore, 9 AP classes- all 5’s so far, 2 college classes in diff equations and multivariable calc, 1 IB class in music, 1 independent research project on tides and water composition, another independent research project with math prof and enviro science dept using some obscure calculus to calculate the volume of the school lake, this project led to him doing summer research with local U’s cartography engineering department using a drone and some engineering software to map a local inlet.
    Sports – year round swimmer, State qualifier in two events, regularly wins local 5k’s, tris and open water swims
    Music – lead trumpet player, focus on jazz, won awards at state competitions
    ECs – Student Body President – this was huge. His school went through a big scandal and the administration has relied heavily on him to keep the student body engaged. He has done a bunch of interesting things, including serving on the headmaster search committee, redoing the budget and rearranging the school schedule to better facilitate lunch. This resulted in the interim (well connected) headmaster asking if he could write his letters of rec. He shared with us and they read like, in all my years of running schools, I have never seen a child with such respect of his peers, he is a natural leader, smart, etc. etc. This gave him lots to write about in his essays, especially since he ran his Jr year for class president and lost.
    He dives and catches specimen tropical fish for the local aquarium, and our aquarium. This was also used in essays, I think it is unusual.
    He just returned from a humanitarian/people exchange trip to Cuba that he was selected to go on by his school. also used in if you have a ticket where would you go essays.
    He runs a small business repairing and refurbishing phones, by teaching himself how to do it on the internet. He has made about $10k.

    What didn’t he do? He never took AP history classes. He determined they were too time consuming and his time would be better spent elsewhere. He didn’t win any awards at science fairs or even enter any. He never did any summer enrichment. He spent his summers swimming, scuba diving, on ebay with his phones and last summer helped fly a drone. He didn’t learn to code, but I may have him try to do that this summer. He did very little volunteering. That is not really his thing and he didn’t have a passion there. He hasn’t held a regular job. He had very little involvement in all of the above from us.

    And with all of that, I still don’t think he is that unusual.

  49. Forgot SAT/ACT scores! Perfect in math on both, not as great on verbal but managed 98 percentile overall. 800 on SAT Math 2 subject and physics. Did not do any prep other than working the workbooks. Also. some of you may remember DS has a learning disability. He did take Spanish but only through Spanish 3, I am very proud of him for getting A’s in that as they told him he could have waived it. He obviously has figured out how to work around it.

  50. And wow, even though you said “not unusual”, your son sounds amazing. Love the real-world experience he’s gotten through being student body president and his science projects!

  51. “He shared with us and they read like, in all my years of running schools, I have never seen a child with such respect of his peers, he is a natural leader, smart, etc. etc”

    SoFl,
    I was an outside reader in our university admissions office (top 20? maybe). The sentence above is one of the golden nuggets for which we were instructed to look when scanning applications.

    Also this:
    “He runs a small business repairing and refurbishing phones, by teaching himself how to do it on the internet. He has made about $10k.”

    Unfortunately, there are lots of kids with high test scores and GPAs, and every school has a class president and lead trumpet player. And many Totebaggy kids travel abroad to interesting places. But not many elite swimmers have the whole package that your DS presents, and his private school is likely known to the admissions offices at top universities.

    Is he interested in swimming in college?

  52. Maybe on swimming – he is not quite fast enough for GT, no where near fast enough for Cal but would be a star at Mudd. We are not really encouraging it as I think it may be too much with school.
    His LD – he has cognitive audio processing disorder (CAPD). He has learned to sit in the front of the class, take the best notes he can and supplement with lots of book learning and Khan academy for reinforcement. Neither his current HS or the colleges know about this and we never asked for accommodations. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all in math and science. It was almost impossible for him in Spanish and he had to learn by complete rote memorization. It was time consuming and very hard and frustrating for him. We early on ruled out schools with foreign language requirements for admission or application. Luckily, the tech heavy schools don’t care.

  53. Wow, SoFl, that’s an amazing kid you have there. If he doesn’t get in, my kids are apparently never going to college. :-)

    Congrats Louise!!

  54. Swimming is like a job at a DI school, but can be really fun elsewhere. It gives kids an instant group of friends apart from their classes and can be a great stress-reliever.

    Kudos for your DS for deciding against volunteering just to pad his resume.

  55. “Swimming is like a job at a DI school, but can be really fun elsewhere. It gives kids an instant group of friends apart from their classes and can be a great stress-reliever.”

    Agreed. As a D-III school graduate, I will advocate for continuing to play if he decides Mudd is the right school for him. I played my sport my freshman year, and then dropped it because it was a lot of time spent on practice to ride the bench (and I had no hope of really escaping the bench – I just wasn’t good enough!) But it was still a great experience overall, and I don’t regret it. I had lots of friends who played sports & still had plenty of time for both classes/studying and fun, including people who majored in hard sciences went on to grad school, law school, etc.

  56. SoFl, welcome back!

    Your summary of your son is what drives me nuts about the college admissions process for the top schools. He is clearly a smart, talented student that would excel in any college. I meet kids like your son all of the time, and they don’t get accepted to my alma mater. It is a top 20-25 school, and there are just too many of these kids that want to go to the same schools. The good news is many of these talented kids have good experiences in their 2nd or 3rd choice schools. I just can’t believe how hard they have to work for four years in HS, and then it still isn’t enough because of a musical chairs game at these schools.

  57. He never did any summer enrichment. He spent his summers swimming, scuba diving, on ebay with his phones and last summer helped fly a drone.

    The horror of a kid wanting to do something just for fun during his teenage years.

    Seriously, sounds like an awesome kid Sofl.

    And with all of that, I still don’t think he is that unusual.

    We obviously live in completely different worlds.

  58. I just can’t believe how hard they have to work for four years in HS, and then it still isn’t enough because of a musical chairs game at these schools.

    The takeaway is tell them not to work so hard. Why set them up for the disappointment of getting rejected from the HSS schools? Encourage them to get good grades and test scores, but also to take time and enjoy life, like Sofl’s son did with is summers.

    If a 2.6 WGPA is enough for SIL’s stepson to get an academic scholarship at Seton Hall, why the heck would anyone want to bust their butt to get a 4.6 just so they can get rejected from their top choices?

  59. I agree with you Denver Dad. He has been lucky so far with the acceptances. But we visited some schools we were SURE he’d get in to and he did and they were great. And the requirements are much less and I am also sure he would have a great experience there. He is still considering some of those choices too.

    I also have no regrets about his summer activities nor does he.

  60. DD, I agree with you. I have a smart kid, but she will never get into these top 25- 30 schools unless some hook appears in the next year or so. My husband has a degree from a top ten school, and I think I finally convinced him to ratchet down his expectations, and to stop trashing certain schools when we’re watching college BB games. I am actually relieved that we know that our daughter won’t get accepted to one of these schools because I think HS will be challenging for her, but hopefully she will also be able to sleep and see her friends.

    One of my close friends in town has a daughter that is a senior, and she is special. Very smart, natural leader, and she is just a great person. She spent five years (including 8th grade Spanish, Algebra and Earth Science) making sure that she could get the best grade possible in every class. She took many APs, and hardly sleeps because she is taking two government/history AP classes this year. I think they will finally hear this month from a school that she applied ED 2 because she couldn’t get into a top 25 school. She is captain of a major sports team, President of Robtotics club, Amnesty International, volunteers in low income schools, and I could go on and on. She also checks the hispanic box on applications, and they still are considering this second choice school as a “reach” school.

  61. “We obviously live in completely different worlds.”

    This is what I was thinking too! SoFl – I’m sure your DS will do extremely well no matter what. He sounds like an exceptional kid to me – very unusual! One in a million – not just one of many. It’s a small pond that you are comparing him to for sure.

    The college process is insane. Once again, all I can think is Go Illini! :)

  62. One more tip. DS and DH gamed the GPA system at his school a little. They have all these required non-weighted classes. Religion, ethics, public speaking, etc. DS is taking them all now, last semester of senior year. They would have dragged down his GPA, so we pushed guidance to let him do this crazy schedule. Also, because he only did honors US history, we flipped AP econ to Jr year and US history to Sr to also help with the weighted GPA.

  63. She spent five years (including 8th grade Spanish, Algebra and Earth Science) making sure that she could get the best grade possible in every class. She took many APs, and hardly sleeps because she is taking two government/history AP classes this year. I think they will finally hear this month from a school that she applied ED 2 because she couldn’t get into a top 25 school.

    Would there be signs earlier on that top 25 wasn’t going to happen for her? To use a sports analogy, you could have a boy who is a gifted basketball player at 10 and a girl who’s a gifted gymnast at 10 and if she shoots up to 5’10” and the boy stalls out at 5’10” no matter what they do, no matter how hard they work, it will never happen for them.

  64. “The takeaway is tell them not to work so hard.”

    Yes, exactly. DS3 just got accepted into the 4th (of really 4, although he applied to a 5th school just to piss his older brother off) school he really likes yesterday. Not as much discount as the other 3, but we’ll see where that goes.

    Anyway, facts: 80 gpa (so 2.7), 1230 SAT. Got $15k/yr from the school DD mentions. Realistically it’s probably his #3 school now because the area around the school isn’t that attractive and they do not guarantee housing. Programmatically it’s good and in a good location for him near NYC but it may lose out on those two facts.

    He clearly has not worked “to his potential” freshman-junior years. This year has been significantly better academically. He works in fits & spurts, no consistent effort. He does have a part time job, does a couple of sports and other extracurriculars at school, helps out at our parish (actually getting an award from the bishop for that), plays club ice hockey. All around good kid. Did I mention I have to accompany him to traffic court today when he appears to plead mercy from the court for doing 62 in a 35? So a completely normal kid.

  65. Rhett – I disagree with you there. They need a hook. And sometimes that hook doesn’t come and sometimes it comes late. DS had a miserable start to jr year. He was not elected class pres, he got injured and had a terrible swim season and didn’t make states and quit swimming, His grades continued to be good but so are many kids. But what I am most proud of is that he bounced back. He rejoined swimming, switched club swim teams and changed his training completely. He started to get fast and his confidence grew. He focused on finding out the issues at the school to be student body pres and also came up with the independent research project. This all happened the spring of his Jr year. We were attending college visits that spring break and I was sure he wouldn’t get in any top schools. Then, he was fortunate or unfortunate to have the school erupt in scandal and put him in a critical PR role for them. He was right place, right time, with the right skills and had some administrator take him under his wing. If he’d have done his college essays 6 months before they were do, he’d have had little to write about. Kids change and can change a lot at that age.

  66. This conversation has inspired me to call up the cat shelter about a volunteering gig for my catophile son.

  67. SoFl,

    If Lauren’s friend’s kid is that far out of the running it’s more than just the lack of a hook.

  68. “Would there be signs earlier on that top 25 wasn’t going to happen for her? ”

    To follow up on Rhett’s question, is she a NMSF? I wonder that she “hardly sleeps” is a sign that she is being pushed too hard because I have known students who do very well in multiple AP courses but get plenty of sleep.

    SoFL’s son is extraordinary in his accomplishments, and I agree with Scarlett that the “one in a million” letter of reference is telling. However, even for him the top ten schools should be considered a lottery because of the acceptance process. But he probably stands a significantly higher chance than the students who are “merely” top 10% or lower in their accomplishments.

  69. Fred, congratulations to your DS!

    Something that occurred to me this morning while reading Lauren’s post – is there less pressure in the South to get into these “top” schools? The large state universities here seem so much more appealing to us Southerners than the rest of you. Is this a regional issue?

    I will be thrilled if our kids go to GT or UGA. If they want, and are accepted to, schools that are harder to get into, more power to them. But I certainly don’t see it as a must-have goal for them, or something they should arrange their high school careers around.

  70. In addition to the “overcame adversity” hook, I see that SoFL son has as his hooks the fact that he made $10k from his own business. And I note that he was SELECTED by his school for the Cuba trip, which is a bit different from many humanitarian trips other students take. Plus, in a weird twist I can see his lack of volunteer hours as a hook, something that makes him stand out. With his business and other pursuits, he’s doing good without going the usual route.

  71. There is no other story with the kid from my town. All 5s on her AP exams, high SAT and ACT. I think that some people don’t realize how competitive the process has become until their kid is in HS, or their friend wants to discuss everyday (my life with 3 friends across the US).

  72. The lack of sleep is because she plays her sport for the school, and for a club school. She was recruited to play for a few schools, but she is choosing academics instead of her sport in college.

  73. Is this a regional issue?

    Per the discussion we’ve had before, there is more awareness in SV or NYC of the lifestyle available to those who manage to get their ticket punched at a top school.

  74. Per discussion we’ve had before, some go to college to get their ticket punched, but not everyone wastes four years of their life that way. Some go to learn and grow and get the most out of those experiences.

  75. I concur with Lark that geography probably plays a factor in who is admitted to highly selective schools. Last year, I noticed that 5 students from the ~800 graduates in my metropolitan area were going to HYPS, and those 800 graduates aren’t very Totebaggy. I suspect that a statistical analysis of the differences between strong students who go to HSS and those who go to state universities would reveal that the top factor is family size (kids from families with more than three kids can’t afford HSS) and the number 2 factor is family background/ethnicity (Asian parents tithe to the college fund; LDS parents tithe to the church)

  76. (kids from families with more than three kids can’t afford HSS)

    Most of them are free if you make less than $120k

  77. Rhett, if that’s true, and the threshold probably depends on parental asset levels, most kids still don’t aspire to attend HSS here. Most parents with $120k incomes look at the expected parental contribution for their first child based on FAFSA and rule out private schools, I suspect.

  78. One more tip. DS and DH gamed the GPA system at his school a little. They have all these required non-weighted classes. Religion, ethics, public speaking, etc. DS is taking them all now, last semester of senior year. They would have dragged down his GPA, so we pushed guidance to let him do this crazy schedule. Also, because he only did honors US history, we flipped AP econ to Jr year and US history to Sr to also help with the weighted GPA.

    I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way. Don’t you see the absurdity in a system that encourages you to do this to try to eke out that extra tenth of a GPA point?

  79. Related to today’s topic, HS sports can be a huge time suck.

    “Per the discussion we’ve had before, there is more awareness in SV or NYC of the lifestyle available to those who manage to get their ticket punched at a top school.”

    And the reverse is also. IME many NYC-area people are not aware of the lifestyle options available outside of crazy competitive and expensive big cities. I’ve seen how this applies to both affluent and low-income residents. Sometimes it takes a relative or close friend who moves to flyover country for these big city folks to realize these other options exist.

  80. SoFL – wow!!!!!! Your DS sounds like an incredibly smart and ambitious and well-rounded person. You must be so proud of him. Congratulations to him on all of these amazing accomplishments, and to you and your DH for whatever you did to raise such a person.

    Louise – congratulations to you and your DD, too!

  81. Most parents with $120k incomes look at the expected parental contribution for their first child based on FAFSA and rule out private schools, I suspect.

    I wouldn’t assume that at all. As we’ve mentioned so very many times before the aid packages often come out to the same out of pocket cost public or private.

  82. Rhett, I suspect most people here don’t know that and many of those who know (my German literature/statistician friend, for example) don’t care. She comes from a line of PhD’s and her attitude is that it doesn’t matter where he goes for undergrad classes, nor is she particularly interested in maximizing her income. She likes living here, going to concerts at the local university and riding her bike everywhere. Her semi-retired husband enjoys “consulting” for start-ups at his convenience. As CoC observed, for the right people, it’s not a bad life.

  83. most people here don’t know

    Most people in rural Oregon? Only 15% of people live in rural areas but I think your life experience tends to make you think the number is much higher.

  84. Interesting fact while 15% of people live in rural areas those areas comprise 75% of the US’s land area. Nearly 2/3 of Americans live in just 3% of the land area.

  85. “why USC ? Is it a good school for engineering ?”

    Yes, as SoFL mentioned, USC has an excellent school of engineering.

    For us, probably much more than SoFL, a large factor in including USC is that it has a history of being very generous with merit aid, and is about the highest-rated school academically that is so generous, e.g., automatic half-tuition scholarship for NMF, and many full-tuition scholarships, which are not limited to NMF. DS also likes that it is not a specialized school; it is strong across most disciplines.

    It also has a very strong network locally.

  86. “Ds’s resume is way more impressive then mine and I have a feeling he looks like many other kids out there as he will get no merit awards at GT.”

    Well, he’d be OOS (out of state) at GT, and I’ve heard that GT (and UGA) give very little aid to OOS students. GT doesn’t need to; they are already extremely competitive and can get top students without handing out aid.

  87. “That ends any question of my kid getting into a really top school.”

    No. Your kid is very bright, well above average, and has a big hook (not to mention another, somewhat smaller, hook).

  88. “is there less pressure in the South to get into these “top” schools? The large state universities here seem so much more appealing to us Southerners than the rest of you. Is this a regional issue?”

    We’ve discussed here before how the top schools in the northeast aren’t public, but in many other parts of the country, the top schools are the flagships, or the flagships are among the top schools.

    GT is a good example of that.

  89. “kids from families with more than three kids can’t afford HSS”

    Once again, not necessarily. Many privates offer very generous need-based aid that take into account the number of kids, especially when more than one is in college.

  90. “Don’t you see the absurdity in a system that encourages you to do this to try to eke out that extra tenth of a GPA point?”

    I think people in TX go to much greater lengths to eke out hundredths of GPA points, since that affects class rank and thus which/whether kids get into which state schools.

  91. “I think people in TX go to much greater lengths to eke out hundredths of GPA points, since that affects class rank and thus which/whether kids get into which state schools.”

    Yes, they do.

  92. “We’ve discussed here before how the top schools in the northeast aren’t public, but in many other parts of the country, the top schools are the flagships, or the flagships are among the top schools.”

    Maybe that’s part of it, but Northwestern, U of C and Notre Dame are all local, but the people in my circles are still pretty high on UIUC which Google says is #44. I’m not sure if the culture is just different or if I am just un-Totebaggy. Most of the parents at my kid’s Totebaggy school went to Big 10 schools, at least for undergrad. Lots of consultants, lawyers, and yes – engineers. Lots of MBA’s from Northwestern and U of C though.

  93. And again, don’t people see the absurdity in a system that encourages this?

    Of course the answer in Texas is obvious – go to a less competitive school since it’s all about the class rank.

  94. DS, who had the D- in robotics, just texted me to tell me he made the honor roll. I find this shocking because In My Day, you had to get all Bs or higher. At his school it’s just the GPA, and since he has all other As and Bs with two honors classes, his GPA is high enough.

  95. ” the answer in Texas is obvious – go to a less competitive school since it’s all about the class rank.”

    Yeah, I asked someone here– I think it was Austin– whether they’d considered that. IIRC, she considered but rejected that idea.

  96. URM?
    Having a single mom is a disadvantage that balances out any “hook” effect. Any protected class gets that status in an attempt to ameliorate the disadvantage that the status brings.

  97. “Honor roll is not more than two Bs.”

    Well, DD’s DS might have met that criterion.

    I’m guessing the criterion is actually more like all As and Bs, and no more than two Bs.

  98. SM, I’m not commenting on the rationale, just pointing out that your DS could very well get into a really top school. Please don’t dismiss that possibility, or deny him the chance to try. From what you’ve posted here, I think he would thrive at a HSS.

    URM=underrepresented minority.

  99. “And again, don’t people see the absurdity in a system that encourages this?”

    I told my kids that you can choose to play the game or not. Neither choice is better than the other. DS1 seems to like the GPA game, which seems akin to fantasy football. However, no auto-admit to UT. The cut off is top 7%–DS is 7.9%. We are not bothered.

  100. I’m guessing the criterion is actually more like all As and Bs, and no more than two Bs.

    Yes, that’s what I meant to say :-).

  101. S & M, I agree with Finn. If his URM is benefit …good! He is a really smart kid and would get into some great schools anyway. The hook is the hook, and it should definitely boost his chances.

  102. “If Lauren’s friend’s kid is that far out of the running it’s more than just the lack of a hook.”

    Totally disagree. This is not the NFL draft or the Olympic swim trials, where there are clear objective metrics to define the very best among contenders. We’re talking about 17-year old kids, who have only a few data points on the Common App to set forth their qualifications. Without a hook, it’s just a lottery. It’s not question of working harder or not being “good” enough, but of the reality that there are too many highly qualified* kids chasing too few spots in the HSS pantheon. So much of admissions at that level is not about qualifications but about filling slots in the “diverse” class such schools all obsessively claim to seek. Every year, there are more hooks — the latest is being an undocumented immigrant — which leaves even fewer slots for the non-URM UMC kids of college-educated parents who aren’t legacies, potential donors, residents of North Dakota, or survivors of some serious personal hardships. Toss in the increasing competition from foreign students, and it’s easy to see why the pages of College Confidential are filled with bewildered kids listing their amazing credentials and wondering why they were rejected by their dream schools.

    *as defined by the colleges of course

  103. “However, no auto-admit to UT. The cut off is top 7%–DS is 7.9%.”

    Is the 7% cutoff for all UTs, or just the top campuses?

  104. Scarlett,

    Maybe I’m not remembering correctly but I thought you mentioned in the past that in your review of the applications it was fairly obvious who was getting in and who wasn’t getting in.

  105. Rhett, you’re right, because I was reading from the bottom of the barrel, so almost all of my files were doomed from the getgo, and my role was to provide cover for the “holistic admissions process” story.
    However, apart from the very top kids who would be shoe-ins everywhere, the “holistic” approach means that admissions are subjective. Read a few threads on CC and you’ll see what I mean. No rhyme or reason to the decisions among kids with top 5% scores at/near the top of the class with great XC/letters and compelling (they say) essays.

  106. it’s easy to see why the pages of College Confidential are filled with bewildered kids listing their amazing credentials and wondering why they were rejected by their dream schools.

    All the more reason not to enter the race.

  107. I agree with Scarlett.
    A school such as Harvard, Stanford or Yale receives applications from the most qualified students. They’re not getting a ton of bottom of the barrel applicants. After you use up the spots for athletes, musicians, legacies, etc…you might not be left with many spots that are truly “open” to anyone in the freshman class. Your odds are not the 8% that the is published as the number of accepted kids, but possibly closer to 4- 5%. That becomes more of a lottery. As these super qualified kids are rejected from Harvard, Mudd, Stanford etc…then they look to their second choice schools. Those schools are the “reach” schools for the kid I described above, so then her chance of admit gets diminished as the next tier of ranked school starts to admit some of these rockstars.

    Unfortunately this doesn’t always stop after college. True story…one year when we were interviewing kids from Wharton for a training program, we had 50+ resumes for 12 interview slots. I think we were able to eliminate 3 kids from the pile as unqualified. The remaining applicants were outstanding. We dropped the pile of papers on the floor, and selected 12 resumes that landed further than the rest of the pile. I am not kidding.

  108. (they say)

    Exactly.

    kids with top 5% scores

    Is it subjective or are they breaking out the 5% from the .5% from the .05%? With 4.7 million freshman 0.5% is 23,625 kids. That a lot of the slots at top 25 schools.

  109. Lauren and Finn, you might want to revisit Meme’s post where she she explained piece by piece how poverty is a disadvantage. That’s not my boy’s situation, but is analogous. There are also some articles out there on how the stress of being an underrepresented minority leads to mental illness. It is also a real thing, with actual steps, that influences a person’s life in ways that can be clearly articulated. If you want me to help, I could probably find a couple articles that explain either for you.

  110. Lauren, that selection process sounds like job applications for academic positions, except there are often 100-300 applicants for one job, most of them well qualified.

  111. S and M,

    I will just spell it out for you. I am not trying to make any kind of statement or judgement.

    I’m going to assume that he can check the box that identifies that he is a person of color. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you are single or consider yourself to be in a certain economic bracket.

    That’s one of his hooks. You might not like it, but it’s the reality of how the process works. It will work in his favor especially because he is smart and deserves to be there on his on merits. Some of these top institutions want to market themselves as diverse. An qualified applicant like your son allows them to admit someone that can do the work, and allows them to pump up a stat.

  112. Lauren, how can you not understand this? The reason people in certain classes are, as you call it “given an advantage” is as a type of compensation for all the DISadvantages they deal with in everyday life and the biases that show up repeatedly in studies of how applications for all sorts of positions are chosen in ways that disadvantage minorities, even when names are removed. It is not that the people reading applications are intentionally racist; they are operating on assumptions that are embedded deep within our culture that do pertain to race. It is not a free ride, nor is it an advantage. I am amazed that I need to explain this to highly-educated people, but that’s the world we live in today.

  113. Finn, and I’m pointing out to you realities that affect him in, before and after the application process. It is not a made-up thing. Bigotry and prejudice are very real, and are growing.

  114. S&M I don’t think anyone is trying to say your son is so lucky to be an URM or is in anyway getting anything unwarranted. They are just pointing out that it may draw attention to his application at some schools seeking to ensure a diverse freshman class, like an outstanding athlete or a musician, that might bring a level of visibility the application might not otherwise have received.

  115. “It is not that the people reading applications are intentionally racist; they are operating on assumptions that are embedded deep within our culture that do pertain to race.”

    If that were true, then black applicants would need to have higher standardized test scores to be competitive for admission to highly selective schools. Instead, whether you like it or not, the opposite is true. A black applicant can be considered competitive for admission with SAT scores several hundred points lower than his white counterparts (and their minimums are lower than those of their Asian counterparts).

  116. “As these super qualified kids are rejected from Harvard, Mudd, Stanford etc…then they look to their second choice schools. Those schools are the “reach” schools for the kid I described above, so then her chance of admit gets diminished as the next tier of ranked school starts to admit some of these rockstars.”

    OTOH, an increasing number of schools are practicing “yield management,” and not necessarily accepting the super qualified kids if they think those kids are not likely to attend. This of course leads to kids applying to even more schools, and this whole admissions process gets worse each year.

  117. S & M, Exactly. That is why I didn’t want to spell it out because I was concerned that you would take it the wrong way. I am not saying it is unfair to have diversity at these schools. I actually think it is needed, but what I am saying is that in almost every other aspect it works against him. Even though it is 2017, it is still isn’t an even playing field. So, why should you be against the fact that it will work in his favor this time? PLUS, he deserves a spot in these schools. Every child needs a hook unless they are the child of someone really famous or really rich. I just think that you have to acknowledge that this will help him, and it isn’t something to ignore.

  118. “Every child needs a hook unless they are the child of someone really famous or really rich.”

    Middle-class Asians are screwed then.

  119. It should come as no surprise that schools like Middlebury and Colgate have the highest % of students with 1% students. They’re extremely expensive, of course, but the key factor is that they are not at the ultra-selective level for which the merely upper middle class are willing to sacrifice.

    Still, I’m a little surprised by the actual stats. A full one in five students have parents with taxable incomes over $630k??!!

  120. Milo,

    Even crazier is they let you pull up any school and it gives the incomes at age 34. Princeton 108k, CalTech 93k, Stanford 101k.

  121. ” Every child needs a hook unless they are the child of someone really famous or really rich.”

    That is their hook.

  122. Milo,

    Scroll down till you see the list of schools that starts with Washington U in St Louis and click on. Then scroll down. If you go back to the list right below it says compare any school. It lets you add any school to the list it to the list and your can click on it.

  123. Unfortunately this doesn’t always stop after college. True story…one year when we were interviewing kids from Wharton for a training program, we had 50+ resumes for 12 interview slots. I think we were able to eliminate 3 kids from the pile as unqualified. The remaining applicants were outstanding. We dropped the pile of papers on the floor, and selected 12 resumes that landed further than the rest of the pile. I am not kidding.

    It’s all of the working world. I’ve talked to recruiters (internal HR) who said they don’t even look at most of the resumes they get for job postings. They take the first four or five that look good and pass them on to the hiring managers for approval and call them for interviews.

  124. On Lauren’s first article, both my parents went to City College because it was pretty much all they could afford – it was free back then. My dad followed up with an MBA for the sole reason he didn’t want to get drafted. They both had very successful careers.

  125. Those college comparisons are interesting. It would be helpful to have other data points. Not this one so much, but other articles I have read imply an unstated criticism of the elite schools that don’t have larger enrollments from the bottom quintile, but they never show the percentages of students in the bottom quintile who would be competitive applicants.

  126. MBT, I don’t know if that criticism comes so much from a perspective of ‘elite schools should be accepting more students from lower socioeconomic strands’ as from a perspective of ‘we spend waaay too much time talking about elite schools and the students hoping to attend them when they are just a tiny and very specialized slice of higher education.’

  127. From the first article Lauren posted:

    “There is a real problem with the elite privates and flagship publics in not serving as many low-income students as they should,” John B. King Jr., President Obama’s education secretary, told me. “These institutions have a moral and educational responsibility.”

    I tend to disagree. I think there is a crucial role for elite colleges in educating the very bright, and creating a collaborative, creative environment in which the very bright can make advances for the betterment of all. Watering that down could reduce the impacts of those schools.

    Isn’t that sort of stratification part of the design of the CA system, with the Cal States and JCs providing much of the upward mobility and the UCs cultivating the very bright? Although I notice that UC Irvine is #4 in upward mobility ranking.

  128. “MBT, I don’t know if that criticism comes so much from a perspective of ‘elite schools should be accepting more students from lower socioeconomic strands’ as from a perspective of ‘we spend waaay too much time talking about elite schools and the students hoping to attend them when they are just a tiny and very specialized slice of higher education.’”

    And yet the article suggests that going to an elite school is very strongly correlated with elite earnings, and that that holds true for poor kids as well (so it’s not just pre-existing parental advantages/connections). So I’d say the relative insularity of that world does merit scrutiny.

    But since when is the income threshold for top 1% $630K?? Last I head it was on the order of $450K.

  129. “But since when is the income threshold for top 1% $630K?? Last I head it was on the order of $450K.”

    I thought the same thing. $600k something is certainly a local threshold in many areas, likely including NYC, so that’s where the authors may have gotten confused. If so, it would be good to know if they really mean 1% and substituted the wrong dollar figure, or if it was the other way around.

  130. Lauren, I’m pretty sure I sent CoC your second article as a topic idea. Towards the end it discusses which universities bring about the most social mobility (up and down)

  131. Laura, I posted an article a few days back on what the top 1% is for every county and MSA in the US.

  132. My colleague, a minority woman of color from a lower income family – smart and hard working attended the state flagship. She says that years later in her career having the name of the state flagship on her resume has helped her. She regretted that at the time she attended she didn’t take advantage of many of the campus activities and opportunities. One reason was the negative vibe she got from her own community who implied that she got in solely due to the fact that she was a minority. Totebaggers had posted several articles about the lack of support minority students receive but this was the first time I heard someone say it. And it is so different from my cultural experience where family and friends would do what they could to help a student with their education.

  133. “I posted an article a few days back on what the top 1% is for every county and MSA in the US.”

    What’s interesting about that report is not just the threshold to enter the 1%, but the local average of all those who are in the 1%.

    Who knew that Easton, MD was just a hair behind Vineyard Haven, MA in threshold, and a couple hundred thousand above it in average among the 1% (at $1,500,000)?

  134. Milo, the article is about the widening wealth gap, and there is more than one chart. Scroll down.

  135. Louise, it comes from all directions: “you’re acting white” and “you don’t belong here”.

  136. “Milo, the article is about the widening wealth gap, and there is more than one chart. Scroll down.”

    I know, I saw it. The most Democratic areas have the starkest income inequality.

  137. Milo, I haven’t gone through it that way, but I’d be extremely surprised if the areas in Western states that are at the very top vote for Democrats, and I know that Naples-Marco-Immokalee is heavily GOP. But if you want to pres this further, take it to the politics page.

  138. “areas in Western states that are at the very top vote for Democrats”

    Just curious– is this sort of thing right in your professional wheelhouse?

    I do find many of the geographic links you find quite interesting, providing another way of looking at things. Sort of like reading some of Rhett’s posts.

  139. S&M – I think that the wealthiest areas in Northern California definitely go Democrat, and probably Seattle and Portland as well. Possibly Southern California areas like Orange County still may lean Republican, but the majority are democratic.

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