Decade by decade

by July

This writer had an unusual way of commemorating her 30th birthday.

My 20s passed away Thursday morning at their home in Brooklyn. It has been confirmed that they expired after a lengthy battle with expectations. At the time of their departure, they had just turned 10 years old.

My 20s are best known for creating, producing and distributing panic attacks. Although most episodes of my 20s’ panic attacks were centered on career issues, several of the most attention-grabbing installments were stand-alone: They include such classics as “Casual Sex,” “Could Be Doing More to Save Democracy” and, of course, the annual holiday episode, “Immediate Family.”…

The final hours of my 20s were spent in the presence of dear platonic friends. At the time of passing, there was singing. One friend described the gathering as “kind of like a celebration.”

My 20s are survived by my 30s, who ask for privacy at this time.

Here’s another article marking the end of a “period” in the author’s life.

AN OPEN BREAK-UP LETTER TO ESTROGEN

How would you characterize your 20s or other decades you’ve lived?  How do you remember the expectations, relationships, and goals of your past when compared to today?  Highs and lows?  Do the stages of your life have definitive themes or do they all meld together?  Do you miss aspects of some decades, or do you wish them “good riddance!”  Would you like a redo for some years?  No need to try to be clever like the linked essays, but you can write obituaries if you’d like or just simply reflect on olden days.

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149 thoughts on “Decade by decade

  1. My 20’s were all about college/grad school, starting a career, and determining I was married to the wrong person. My 30’s were focused on finding the “right” person and starting my family. My 40’s were focused on my raising young children. My early 50’s were focused on my parents’ end of life issues. Now in my mid-50’s, within 18 months of being an empty-nester, choices are revolving less around day-to-day care-giving for others.

  2. My 30s have been my first decade where nothing really changed. That’s when time starts passing in hyper speed.

  3. Hyper speed for me started at age 20. And it hasn’t slowed down since. It’s like my childhood went in slow motion, especially summers, and then everything sped up after that.

  4. My teens were all about getting away from the powerlessness of childhood into freedom. The 20s were about how I immediately made free adult choices that resulted in a life even more hemmed in than in childhood. The 30s were about coming to realize that despite the overwhelming job of fulfilling my responsibilities to the kids, including one doozy, I still had sufficient agency to go back to school to gain freedom once again. The 40s were about joining and rising in the workforce, becoming single again, launching the 3 non doozies, and actually making successful contracts for my time and energy in exchange for sufficient current income (the marriage contract of my 20s had not worked out in that score either). The 50s were about finding a partner again now that the kids were gone, paying off many tens of thousand of debt, taking care of my mother, buying my first house, job changes, and after all those years financial security. The 60s are leaving the workforce, nearby grandchildren, and finally having the freedom and the companionship I sought my whole life.

  5. My 30s have been my first decade where nothing really changed. That’s when time starts passing in hyper speed.

    That was true for me too. And it was also when I stopped having breathless updates for my friends. Instead of sagas about the sins of the latest boyfriend, or where I’m moving to next, or my new job, it was “Same husband, same house, same job. You?”

  6. “My 30s have been my first decade where nothing really changed.

    Not for me. In my 30s, I finished grad school, got married, had kids, bought my maybe last house, changed careers. Apparently, I finally got around to doing what I should have done in my 20s.

  7. “And it was also when I stopped having breathless updates for my friends. Instead of sagas about the sins of the latest boyfriend, or where I’m moving to next, or my new job, it was ‘Same husband, same house, same job. You?’”

    Hah — that was the 40s for me, when my holiday newsletters started getting REALLY boring. It has made me realize why newsletters can sound braggy so easily, because the only interesting things that you can think of to report are things like Jr. made honor society or we took a great trip to XYZ. Because, really, no one wants to hear “our life is exactly the same, probably a few more trips to McDonald’s this year because we stupidly let Jr. do two sports instead of one, and he rides the pine in both, so it was totally not worth the extra hassle.”

  8. Milo – agreed. For a while in my 30s, everything was marked by birth of children and how old I was when the kids were born or were X age (I was 29, 31, 33), and then the kids just kept getting bigger…although now that I think about it we had the move 3 years ago so the time around that time was really intense (and I remember it being that way).

  9. 0-9: eating, potty training, being kind to others, learning to read
    10-19: The second decade- learning about people outside my family, learning to learn, deciding on my life goals and who I am
    20-29: Foundation for life goals- BS and MS degrees, marriage, first professional job
    30-39: children, losing two parents to cancer, inability to balance kids with first professional job
    40+: raising children, return to professional job, attempting work/family balance, TBD

  10. 20s: full of excitement, lots of new things. A school year abroad, first ‘real’ full-time year-round job, grad school at which I met DW, marriage, not just a job, but a career…
    30s: corporate move from LA to here to continue the career, actually feeling like a grown-up adult between that and not just buying a house but going thru the process of having one built for us (and our marriage surviving that!), starting all over in a place where the only person I knew outside of work was DW, and she the same, kids’ births.
    40s: the amazement of the boys growing. Other than that the first half was same family, same house, same job. Actually feeling like we have some roots in the community. Halfway thru…laid off. “consulting work” for most of the rest of this decade until I got this gig right before beginning my…
    50s: now back to more of a job than a career, once I realized ‘career development’ is not something this employer really cares about. Interesting job, good, smart people, enough comp make it a good place to be. Kids becoming adults; DW & I becoming empty nesters.
    60s: it seems like we’re in a same spouse/house/job holding pattern having not really figured out what this pre-retirement stage will mean for us. Certainly not done parenting, but in the consultant/advisor role. Challenging the notion of moving away whenever retirement comes (not wanting to deal with the start up in a new place).

  11. I feel like there was a very clear demarcation between my 20’s and 30’s because I got married within weeks of my 30th birthday. My 40’s – not so much. I have gradually felt older in all the bad and good ways, and 40 didn’t seem like a massive milestone except on paper. It was traumatic mentally for some of my friends, but it never really hit me that way.

    It totally relate to the stage of “no breathless updates” for my friends or anyone else. The things that are big for me these days aren’t even necessarily all that interesting to anyone else. Career stuff isn’t all that interesting to anyone outside of my coworkers, and mundane family stuff isn’t that interesting to anyone outside of the family. However, I don’t miss the HIGH DRAMA of my 20’s one little bit. It was fun when I was dating and always mixed up in some stupid friendship drama, but I far prefer the stability of boring married life, friends I’ve known for decades, and grade school.

    I do like celebrating big birthdays – mostly as an excuse to get together with friends and reminisce.

  12. I would say that my 30s was the most change-filled decade, really. Sure, my 20s were college, law school, first job, meeting/dating DH, and my job change to my current firm’s DC office — not insignificant. But we bought our first house together a couple of weeks before I turned 30 and moved in together when he moved out here, then got married about 3 months later; then there was the move to CO and new jobs for both of us and building our dream home; then multiple miscarriages and finally having DD, right about the same time I quit my job and began telecommuting to the firm; then DH’s shutdown, selling our dream house, and moving to NM; then depression, another miscarriage, and my thyroid diagnosis; and then finally moving back here, moving into our current jobs/offices, buying the house we are currently in, and making partner; and finally, topping that all off by having DS about 3 months before I turned 40. Plus in the middle of that a lot of travel and tons of skiing and many fun vacations and the kind of stuff you when you are DINKs planning to have kids but not yet. So, basically, one marriage, four moves, four (purchased) houses, 3 miscarriages, two kids, and 7 job changes (8 if you count my transition back to the office/partner here). Yeah, I’d say that’s a busy decade.

    So it kind of feels like everything that defines my current life happened in my 30s, and my 40s was largely just figuring out how to live the life that we set up before the 3 rolled over to a 4.

  13. For my 40th, I want to delay the party by a few months so that I can rent a lake house for the weekend and invite a ton of people. Through the afternoon, we’ll hang out on the dock and go in and out with the boat. We’ll loosely make it 80’s-themed, so come nightfall, we’ll play loud 80’s music and drink a lot.

  14. From the few posts so far I realize that the challenge of my current stage, which may go on for years, is to deal with a life that lacks struggle for stimulation. .

  15. I realize that the challenge of my current stage, which may go on for years, is to deal with a life that lacks struggle for stimulation.

    Yes, I think that’s probably in the future for me, and for others here. Of course one doesn’t want the alternative, an old age filled with struggle and/or penury.

  16. This morning, DH caught a 5:20 am flight to Florida. Made a tight connection through Houston. Got to Florida to find that Hertz was out of cars. Rounded up a car, only to find that opposing counsel now wants to settle. At that point, the last flight back to Denver had left.

    That’s the kind of stupid hassle that he won’t mind leaving behind. But he will have to find something to engage with in the next few years.

    I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was looking forward to a couple of days off, with no responsibility for shopping and cooking and making lunches and so on, so I’m slightly bummed that the business trip has collapsed.

  17. This morning, DH caught a 5:20 am flight to Florida.

    May I ask why he didn’t leave the afternoon or evening before? Does he know you really wouldn’t mind?

  18. “deal with a life that lacks struggle for stimulation”

    I’m not following this, and I thought it might be a typo.

    You want less stimulation?

    “But he will have to find something to engage with in the next few years.”

    I’ll find you two a good boat.

  19. He may or may not know that. But it’s entirely up to him. Unlike you, he kind of hates business travel, so he didn’t want to leave any earlier than he has to. Also, he’s going to a slightly obscure location in Florida, so the flights weren’t that frequent.

  20. Milo, I think she means that in earlier decades, the struggle was the stimulation. Now the kids are launched, the husband is more satisfactory, and the money is in place. Far less struggle.

  21. “life that lacks struggle for stimulation”

    So you are blessed with an abundance of stimulation? That doesn’t sound so horrible. Or you mean that with everything so easy life is boring? Hmm, that also doesn’t sound so horrible. I can create my faux struggle if I want some. Maybe I’m not understanding.

    “My teens were all about getting away from the powerlessness of childhood into freedom.”

    I closely relate to this. But then my decades turned out so differently than Meme’s. Yet here we are in our 60s, both having traveled some rough roads but experiencing freedom and companionship in our 60s. In hindsight, the two themes of “freedom and companionship” are sometimes incompatible in many decades. It can be hard to have both at once. To quote Kris Kristofferson: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

  22. I’ll find you two a good boat.

    Yeah, no. My stepson can sail. He wants us all to go down to the Caribbean and rent a sailboat and spend a few days on it. My experience of sailboats is that there’s always work to be done, they’re not very comfortable, and after awhile, all water looks the same. I start to feel cooked from living under the sun. My current excuse is the weekly dental work. I also suggested that we all just go to a nice resort, but of course that won’t do at all.

  23. Yeah, I’d choose far less struggle, thank you very much. However, I foresee more struggles ahead, unfortunately.

  24. He may or may not know that. But it’s entirely up to him.

    That he knows you wouldn’t mind him leaving early is up to you. He’s not a mind reader.

    And a 5:20 flight means getting to the airport at 4:20 which might mean getting up at….2:50? That’s so fucking terrible and unhealthy and soul crushing.

  25. Milo my life was full of struggle , some self inflicted but most external. an active crisis is when I am at 110 percent fully engaged and super competent. Failing that , a need to get unstuck or to spread my wings. Last crisis was DILs cancer year with the 3 little kids in 2014. At age 63 for me. Regular life doesnt get my juices flowing. I still procrastinate so that I can have a mini deadline crisis to get myself geared up to do things. So I train for bridge competitions or book a week long kayak trip just to create goals that require pushing myself a little. A stable life with money and companionship and plenty of sleep lacks needed stimulation.

  26. I had just turned 17 when I went off to college, not realizing that the Northeast would become my home for the rest of my life. I went to grad school when I was 21, and spent much of my 20’s digging deeply into computer science, travelling, and discovering cool music and art in NYC. I had little money but lots of fun. I was in my late 20’s when I started my academic career. My 30’s were spent establishing a career first in academia then in industry, getting married, playing house, buying a house, and eventually, kids. My 40’s were spent chasing kids and dealing with serious illness, scaling back my industry career and eventually hitting academia again, where I had to ramp up all over again. Now, in my 50’s, I am launching kids, trying to fight off calls to go into administration positions, and wondering what to do next.

  27. DH got up at 3:30 last week for an early flight. We have a companion ticket on SW but no way was I companioning for that kind of trip. There is often either a late-night or crack-of-dawn flight on the other end of those trips too. Not for me, thanks, no matter where he’s going. When we travel together, I insist on civilized flight times.

    Looking back, the 20’s had the most life changes, going from single college kid to married working mom. But the others have had their share of challenges. All things considered (especially the alternative), getting older isn’t all that bad. Though I do vividly recall thinking on my 30th birthday that it would all be downhill from there.

  28. Maybe I’ll get YOU a boat. :)

    And I’ll get her a job. Maybe a job on a boat!?!

  29. And a 5:20 flight means getting to the airport at 4:20 which might mean getting up at….2:50? That’s so fucking terrible and unhealthy and soul crushing.

    Yeah, well, that was his preference. His actual preference was to not go at all.

  30. having the freedom and the companionship I sought my whole life.

    That made me happy to read. May all or our retirement years feel the same.

    My 20s were a stage of cluelessness where I just bumbled happily through life. Finished college, sat for the CPA during finals week if my first year of grad school, married at 24, job changes, first child at 28. Decided in there I wanted to move back to my hometown from another city in the state so just sent out DHs resume without telling him. That makes me laugh now – I would never do that today. We both got jobs that we liked. My college roommate and closest friends lived there, we were less than two miles from my parents, life was easy. My mom would call me at work and say honey you sound tired, why don’t you stop by on the way home and I’ll fix dinner and we can play with DD a little. I did not get at the time how awesome that was.

    At 30, DH got transferred to Houston. It was good opportunities for both of us career wise, but man is life more difficult with no friends and family around. This decade was just the intense parenting decade. Had DS at 34, then in addition to time consuming work discovered I had two kids with learning challenges. At the time the internet had about 0.01% of the info available today, so I spent at least 12 hours a week for years trying to learn how to parent kids who weren’t learning at school. Through my 30s and 40s I was essentially homeschooling when I got home from work every day. The 50s feel like sweet spot. DD made it all the way through, got her degree (in the much-maligned Communications) And is now working in marketing in a job she really likes. DS is doing very well in college (and during middle school I worried daily that he would drop out because he hated it so much) and is currently planning on grad school. All of that stress and effort feels like it paid off. We are kind of boring and less social than I’d like to be as a couple, but that’s fixable. DH and I are in a good place in our marriage, can see the path to retirement and are able to enjoy each other more than in the intensive parenting years. I have girlfriends I get together with for long weekends a couple times a year, siblings I adore that I do an annual siblings weekend with, and I still have both my parents. They’re both very sharp still at 81. So I’m spending my 50s counting my blessings, and hoping this relative calm and feeling of overwhelming gratitude lasts for quite a while.

  31. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was looking forward to a couple of days off, with no responsibility for shopping and cooking and making lunches and so on, so I’m slightly bummed that the business trip has collapsed.

    Nothing to be ashamed about at all. DW was bummed last month when we I was taking DS to Arizona and DD was going on her trip to Japan that DD didn’t leave until Sunday. They were expecting to leave on Friday but the tour company scheduled it two days later. DW was hoping to get a full weekend to herself.

  32. Yeah, well, that was his preference.

    And you made it clear that you’d prefer that he take the 3:30pm the afternoon before?

    Note: you seem to be having a really hard time and I’m being a guy and attempting to offer constructive advice rather than just offering to listen and commiserate. I send my love and I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  33. “But he will have to find something to engage with in the next few years.”

    “I’ll find you two a good boat.”

    Milo, on the theme of struggle in later decades, I think you can replace ‘engage’ in the first sentence with ‘struggle’ and the response stays as is. :)

    Full disclosure – I am firmly in the ‘you don’t want a boat, you want a friend with a boat’ camp. Ours is a 12 (maybe 11?) ft jon boat whose only maintenance requirement is bailing after rain, tho we have considered a pontoon boat.

    BTW – your birthday celebration sounds perfect.

  34. And you made it clear that you’d prefer that he take the 3:30pm the afternoon before?

    Actually, that wouldn’t have made any difference, because dinner was already mostly complete. I mean, slight change isn’t a big deal.

  35. She could give lectures on cruise ships.

    Just a one woman show where she tells her story.

  36. I have another birthday that ends in zero coming up in one year and three days. I never wind up doing anything for them. I’m not sure what I would do even if I wanted to plan something.

  37. Ha! We’d have to start by picking a body of water. Most of y’all are on the wrong coast.

  38. I am like Meme in that the “struggle” of constant busy-ness is what gets my juices flowing, and so when that busy-ness goes away, it is very very easy to slide down to meaninglessness and depression. The problem is that relying on the adrenaline rush to give a feeling of purpose is kind of the same as eating a brownie for quick energy vs. eating well and going to the gym for longer-term energy and strength — it’s a nice, quick hit, but adrenaline always fades, and so then you need another hit to pump yourself back up, and another, etc.

    The reality is that the busy-ness is all superficial, rat-race stuff — it *feels* important because it Must Be Done Right Now, but in a year or two, I won’t even remember most of that stuff.* So to me, the dropping off of the busy-busy part of life feels like an opportunity to figure out what provides real satisfaction and purpose — the gym-and-health-food version. The problem is that the shift is pretty darn dramatic when you’ve been feasting on brownies for 40+ years. . . .

    *Not all of it, for sure. I mean, bringing in a paycheck for my family and keeping my kids out of jail has been important in the big-picture sense, but the actions needed to accomplish those goals are not exactly personally satisfying on a daily basis.

  39. Oh, Rhett, I would totally go to a silent retreat. There’s an Episcopalian one in Healdsburg that I’ve looked at a few times.

  40. Late teens/Early Twenties were significant for me because after leading a very prescribed and unhappy life as a teen, I decided that I had to escape. My escape took the form of getting myself to another country by means of education. Twenties were a lot of fun, lived in a nice city, had a good job, met spouse, got married. Thirties and forties have been spent raising my children while keeping up with my job. My hope is I did a good enough job with my kids. I look forward to my 50s and the empty nest years.

  41. DH and I were in school for pretty much all of our 20’s. I think I finished at age 29? Those years were hard! We both worked really hard, not to mention we were really trying to minimize debt, and our parents didn’t pay for grad school so we really felt the financial stress. Finding internships, etc.
    Ugh. I wouldn’t go back for a million dollars. Then our 30’s of working but being at the bottom of the totem pole and no real autonomy, plus babies – I think 30’s were the hardest decade. I have loved my 40’s, with the exception of the slower metabolism and repeated running injuries. Financially secure and then some, kids still at home but old enough that we get to enjoy them rather than constantly caretake, in charge of our own work schedules. Active with friends and school/sports activities so don’t have to look for ways to be engaged. I fall asleep every night mentally listing the things I am thankful for at this stage of life and it is many.

    I think about when the kids leave home but we are still working – what will occupy us other than work? I can only plan so many trips!

  42. Oh, Rhett, I would totally go to a silent retreat.

    Then go! It might be cheaper in the long run – emotionally, financially, etc. The prices seem very reasonable.

  43. When my parents were in their 50’s with an empty nest, they moved across the country for my dad’s job. It seemed crazy to me at the time, but now I understand a little more their interest in an adventure.

  44. I look forward to my 50s and the empty nest years.

    I hope you’re saving for the down payment on the condo you’ll move to, leaving your husband to cope with his own stupid parents.

  45. The prices seem very reasonable.

    Oh, they absolutely are. And I think the programs, like Easter Meditations and the Aramaic Jesus, sound really interesting (although it’s too late to sign up for that one, obvi.)

    https://www.bishopsranch.org/

  46. I like being available for vacation week babysitting, and I really like the time to shop cook and eat well. GrandKids are 5 7 and 9. I thought Shazam would be okay for the older 2, since their parents bought them Spiderman into the Spiderverse, and they have seen some Harry Potter movies, but live action superhero is I guess at another level and it was nixed. So we had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Tomorrow they want Mexican.

    I also have a big job at home. The cleaners come every 2 weeks and the mgmt co does landscaping, but otherwise I do everything else. Today I had to do a full search of the office until found his black computer mouse wedged in his black office chair. He dropped it when he got up in a hurry. I had to bring him his prepped by me each week pill box at 3 pm because he forgot to take his pills today. At 4 pm he told me the thyroid pill was missing from its solo compartment. He brought me the box. It was not missing. Showed him the location of the Japanese toilet plug that had been loosened by the cleaners. No the toilet was not broken. Yesterday….. well you get the idea.

  47. RMS,

    A Day of Prayer for the Life of the World: The smoke in the air is a call to prayer.

    Uh huh… Is that “smoke” included in the price?

  48. It’s the smoke from the entire state burning to a crisp. Come to a Day of Prayer for the Life of the World (November 3)—we will pray together, grieve together, speak truth together, in word, silence and chant—and look for strength and hope at the heart of our faith. There will be time for reflection, time for prayer, time for thanksgiving. The day will end with a celebration of John Philip Newell’s Celtic Earth Mass.

  49. Sorry RMS I was trying to make a (terribly inconsiderate) funny.

    That said I think a few days worth of retreat might be just what you need.

  50. “BTW – your birthday celebration sounds perfect.”

    I just hope DW feels the same way.

  51. And he was 3rd in a regional qualifier for a national bridge event on Sunday. No lack of intellect, just ever worsening absent minded professor type stuff. I get a little frustrated, but we get along so well. I’ll see how I feel after the river cruise when he can’t walk more than a couple of hundred feet before stopping to rest. I will plan a solo vacation every year, and I am working hard on developing friendships with women younger than myself.

    The use of the word “engage” is a great suggestion. I had tons of natural struggles to keep me sharp in the past. Now I should seek engagement. I don’t want a boss/client, no thank you Rhett, and Milo I can’t afford a boat with a crew. I don’t need yet another item for which to assume significant and entire responsibility. We got cats, not a dog, for that very reason.

  52. “His actual preference was to not go at all.”

    This is generally my business travel preference. I have a trip next week with two junior team members, and they are so EXCITED to go. I am trying to harness that feeling because I would really much rather not go, especially the morning after Easter.

    One of the downsides of my newish role is more travel. Although I am starting to get more points & stuff, which is kind of nice. Rhett – you’ll be proud that I signed up for the Bonvoy double points bonus & purposely have been booking their hotels.

  53. @RMS – Party at the CA house!!

    My friends & I do long weekends the year we all turn a “5” or “0” – we’ve done NYC, Napa, Marco Island, and a Mexico all-inclusive that was incredibly fun & relaxing. Planning is underway for the 45th. For 50, we’ve talked about doing a longer trip since the kids will all be older (college or HS aged) – maybe Europe. I keep saying we’ll rent a villa in Italy. We’ll see.

    @Milo – That sounds like a great BD party!

  54. Rhett – you’ll be proud that I signed up for the Bonvoy double points bonus & purposely have been booking their hotels.

    Warms my heart it do!

  55. I don’t need any extra stimulation because my house growing up and now has plenty of drama from relatives. I would like to join RMS on a retreat.

  56. ““His actual preference was to not go at all.”

    This is generally my business travel preference.”

    Same here! The dean and her lackey are floating the idea of sending me to some town i never heard of in southern China to explore a transfer agreement with some podunk Chinese university. Needless to say, I am pushing back with all my might…

  57. some town i never heard of in southern China

    Which, being China, could mean it has a population greater than Los Angleles.

  58. “The dean and her lackey are floating the idea of sending me to some town i never heard of in southern China”

    Would they pay 100% of your travel costs?

    I recall you saying your school typically covers less than 100% of your travel costs when you travel representing them.

  59. But, but Mooshi…you are the best they have for the job, considering you have been to China more than once and are well versed with Chinese culture !

  60. I think they would pay 100% for this one, but that would not be enough. We aren’t talking Shanghai or Chengdu here, just some godforsaken town in Guangdong Province. They would need to pay a bonus for this one.

  61. “Which, being China, could mean it has a population greater than Los Angleles.”
    True that! I always joke that in China, if the population is less than a million, it is a hamlet

  62. This particular town is just barely over a million, so pretty podunky by Chinese standards. It looks like the main way to get there is to fly to Macau and then take a bus. It is somewhat close to Hong Kong. If they would pay for me to stay an extra weekend in Hong Kong with my daughter, I might consider it, but that would never happen. And it would be an economy flight too,

  63. I’ve come to realize that as long as I have a job in corporate America there will always be change and with it busyness. Now, all of it is advertised as change for the better (buying businesses, exiting businesses, laying people off, hiring new people). My manager was essentially demoted in the most current round of changes so he found another position.
    More change and more busyness.

  64. any thoughts about travel to Dublin/Ireland? Has anyone visited recently? We want to take a 4 day trip this summer and we don’t want to go to Iceland. I really want to go to Italy or Greece, but we don’t have enough days.

  65. If schools that were once considered “safeties” now have admissions rates as low as 20 or 30 percent, it appears tougher to get into college every spring. But “beneath the headlines and urban legends,” Jim Hull, senior policy analyst at the National School Board Association’s Center for Public Education, says their 2010 report shows that it was no more difficult for most students to get into college in 2004 than it was in 1992. While the Center plans to update the information in the next few years to reflect the past decade of applicants, students with the same SAT and GPA in the 90’s basically have an equal probability of getting into a similarly selective college today.

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/04/15/increasingly-competitive-college-admissions-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/

  66. As usual, I’m late to planning a summer trip. For a while I’ve been saying I’ll get better about trip planning, but here I am. I’m the ultimate procrastinator.

    As far as struggle or engagement, my latest attempt at a double spinning turn in last night’s salsa class had me recalling those dejected, angry feelings I experienced in my youth when I couldn’t solve a math problem or was slower than the rest of the kids in learning to ride a bike. Somehow I don’t think I’ll soon have the problem of enough struggle in my life, but this is the type of struggle I prefer for now!

  67. @Rhett: I will need to read that study. I guess my question is whether the “same chance” comes from kids applying to more places to offset the lower admission rates (in which case there is still a lower chance of getting into THE school they want), or if it is primarily due to more kids with lower scores/grades applying and getting rejected.

    Happy screwup last night: we got busy with other stuff and didn’t buy tix for our wine trip this fall, so the only reasonably-priced ones left were several days earlier. So we are now going for almost 2 weeks instead of 10 days – and the first half of that will be just me and DH for the first time in, well, years.

  68. And Rhett: you will be happy that my ticket is free and DH’s is over half paid for by Amex points. 😄👍

  69. Rhett, SAT scores are different now from the 90s. There’s a conversion chart and everything. It’s hard to find the chart because now the “old” SAT is from about 10 years ago, but the old-old SAT scores were lower than today’s scores. Where’s Finn when I need him?

  70. LfB, I’m thinking long the same lines about the study. I’m sure a lot of the lower admission rates are because the same group of “top” students are applying to many more schools than they used to. So per previous discussion, that should result in more people getting in off the wait lists.

    And congrats on the bonus trip!

  71. The percentiles aren’t.

    I wonder if that’s true? If they make all the kids take the SAT now, it seems that the percentiles would be different from the days when only the college-bound kids took the test.

  72. Were the individual schools held constant in terms of selectivity over the 30 years of the study, or were they allowed to change selectivity tiers? In other words are they saying “Given similar qualifications, you have just as much chance to get into a selective college as you did in 1995. (however, too bad for you, Tufts–or insert your favorite specific school that’s become a lot more competitive–is now in the highly selective category. oh well.)

    People here at work suck. I try to do something nice and bring in half a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts (I already ate one of them) on a Thursday-but-it’s-really-Friday morning. My offers have been reluctantly refused by three admins and a visiting consultant. Everyone’s watching their weight. :)

  73. RMS,

    Not in terms of SAT percentile but in terms of the combination or ambition, work ethic, congnative ability etc. that the top schools are looking for. The top 10k kids 20 years ago (1999) were going to HYSP and the top 10k kids are still going to HYSP.

  74. Rocky, do you mean that in the dark ages, let’s just say 1975 for a random example, a 500 on English = ~50%ile and a 690 on Math = ~90%ile (not that I would have any first hand knowledge about those kind of numbers) that today those raw scores would equate to a significantly (higher) %ile because a wider swath of the HS population is taking the SAT vs 45/30/15 years ago?

  75. Fred, yes. Also, (dammit, Finn, wake up in Hawaii already!), the 500 in 1975 terms would be maybe a 590 in today’s terms. No, really, the College Board acknowledges it, but googling for it is a pain because now everyone’s obsessed with the 2016 conversion charts. Remember how they used to mark us off for guessing? And now they don’t? That changed the scores too.

  76. Fred,

    Maybe the best wayt to think about it is in terms of how many kids did better than you. If 20 years ago 1.2 million took the SATs and you were the 120,831st highest scorer. And they suddenly push more kids to take the test it’s quite possible that while 1.7 million now takign the test you’ll still have the ~120,000th best score.

  77. Milo, I know this doesn’t really apply to you, but it reminds me of the song “Code Monkey”.

    Code monkey hang around at front desk
    Tell you sweater look nice
    Code monkey offer buy you soda
    Bring you cup, bring yoe ice
    You say “No thank you for the soda ‘cos
    Soda make you fat.
    Anyway you busy with telephone
    No time for chat”
    Code monkey have long walk back to cubicle
    He sit down, pretend to work
    Code monkey not thinking so straight
    Code monkey not feeling so great

  78. Also keep in mind that 20 years ago was 1999 not 1979. I think as you get older your idea of when “back in the day” was doesn’t update. If “20 years ago” was 1979 when you were 20 then when you’re 70 and think “20 years ago,” you’ll still think of 1979.

  79. I can’t imagine a universe where someone would offer to pay for a trip for me to go to a random, untourist-y part of China and I would be sad about that.

    I really wanted a job with travel when I was a kid. I didn’t know anyone who travelled on planes for work other than flight attendants. I did have the vague idea that doctors could go on medical missions.

  80. RMS – my DH also hates to travel for work *and* has been traveling a lot for work lately. Guess what that means? He is even less likely to want to go anywhere or do anything with the family. ;)

  81. Oh, also my class took the SAT right before the 1994 changes. IIRC the net result was to raise everyone’s scores about 30-40 points so we were grumbling that the class behind us got a bonus for no reason! And calculators! We didn’t need no stinking calculators!

  82. Maybe the best wayt to think about it is in terms of how many kids did better than you. If 20 years ago 1.2 million took the SATs and you were the 120,831st highest scorer. And they suddenly push more kids to take the test it’s quite possible that while 1.7 million now takign the test you’ll still have the ~120,000th best score.

    But the 120,000th best score would be in a higher percentile now than 20 years ago.

  83. But the 120,000th best score would be in a higher percentile now than 20 years ago.

    Right so percentile is a bad way to think about it. It’s better to think about it in terms of the number of kids who did better than you.

  84. “Guess what that means? He is even less likely to want to go anywhere or do anything with the family. ;)”

    That’s exactly what happens around here. But tbh, I know many people who don’t like traveling for work.

    Milo, next time take broccoli spears and carrots to work instead of donuts. :)

  85. In the 1960s a double 800 or even a combined score of 1500 or above was extremely rare and pretty much a ticket into any college of your choice. A combined score of 1300 or above was plenty for most of the HSS schools (not just HYPS) of the era. Test prep classes may have existed somewhere, but not in my Bethesda MD high school. I think there was a book of old tests you could buy from the college board. Fancy private and Catholic schools did not have test prep baked into the curriculum – they still just picked up the phone and ranked and placed their kids. some things over time changed the test profile: 1. Large increase in number of kids seeking colleges that required the SAT. 2. Realization that the test was not entirely of aptitude but of academic and cultural learning as well, and various changes to accommodate that along the way. 3. Rise of a home grown test prep industry teaching not only vocab but strategies plus the large influx of immigrants from a test prep culture. 4. Test score based differential pricing – all the merit aid at many tiers of private and state institutions – which means non HSS candidates are in the competitive grind mix for funds, not necessarily admission to the institutions they seek.

    In the 1990s when my kids applied high score middling GPA wouldn’t cut it anymore, but high score good GPA plus unusual academic interest or music/athletics/drama was plenty to get into a HSS program. State flagships other than limited admission ones such as UVA or Ann Arbor or Berkeley were still in reach for most decent college prep students. College was getting expensive by then, differential pricing/merit aid wasn’t at the current level, so in-state tuition was quite a bit cheaper than private and the statewide budget cuts had not yet kicked in.

  86. In the 1960s a double 800 or even a combined score of 1500 or above was extremely rare and pretty much a ticket into any college of your choice.

    Only 300 kids out of 1.7 million get a perfect double 800. I think that’s something to keep in mind when you hear about some kid who had perfect SAT scores and didn’t get into Harvard or whatever. Really, perfect? I’m going to need to see some documentaiton.

  87. “any thoughts about travel to Dublin/Ireland? Has anyone visited recently?”

    We were there in October 2017 with all our kids (minus the babies). We have a good friend living there now and spent a lot of time with him showing us the trendy bars and restaurants. College DS is studying the Irish language so he got a kick out of trying to read aloud the signage. It’s not a big city, so you can easily spend a few days in Dublin and then take a day trip out to the little nearby scenic towns. It’s quite easy to manage without renting a car.

    However, it doesn’t have the same “foreign” feel that even London does, at least for me. There are so many Irish bars and shops here in the states that experiencing the “original” versions isn’t as fun as it might otherwise be. And even in the fall, there were a ton of other Americans roaming about. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a short trip.

  88. “I can’t imagine a universe where someone would offer to pay for a trip for me to go to a random, untourist-y part of China and I would be sad about that.”

    Would you feel the same way if you realized there would be no time to see sights or even to interact informally with Chinese people? That you would be herded around with handlers the entire time?
    There are also some icky politics at my own university having to do with this project, which I want no part of.

  89. Rhett, where does your stat come from? Just curious. My oldest had a 1570 – I wonder how many had that score. Probably lots more.

  90. Right so percentile is a bad way to think about it. It’s better to think about it in terms of the number of kids who did better than you.

    In a previous post, RMS said “Rhett, SAT scores are different now from the 90s.” You responded “The percentiles aren’t.”

    I have no actual data to back this up, but here’s my theory: Back in the day, there were X number of spots at HSS, and they went to applicants with GPAs and SATs at a certain level. Today there are still about X number of spots at HSS, maybe a bit more but not a whole. But now due to all the test prep and more emphasis at the totebaggy high schools, plus simple population growth, there are more applicants with GPAs and SATs at that level. Obviously there still can only be 10% of the applicants above the 90th percentile, but the percentiles are larger now.

  91. Lauren – would you consider Mexico City? May be the same flight time, but easier time zones. Such a great city, easy to navigate, great food.

  92. Since we are on this topic, need some ACT advice. Kid#2 did his ACT, with a overall score of 33. The subscores ranged from 29 in math to 36 in reading. I am not really familiar with the ACT. He is aiming at schools like BU and NYU on the high end, with CUNY as safeties. His SAT is 750 English, 690 math. Should he retake ACT or SAT, or neither?

  93. Would you feel the same way if you realized there would be no time to see sights or even to interact informally with Chinese people? That you would be herded around with handlers the entire time?

    Absolutely. I am not a collector of sights. If I had the chance to go to a grocery store, I consider the trip a success. I assume handlers are like scribes. Young, untrustworthy, required to laugh at my jokes and treat me like I am super smart and special.

  94. But now due to all the test prep

    There is very little evidence that test prep works.

  95. MM – I would hesitate to suggest a kid with those scores to retake either test. If he wants to, that’s one thing, but maybe Mom needs to be satisfied with those.

  96. From that same Mercury-News article:

    Ben Shumaker, an 18-year-old senior from Holland, Mich., who was denied from every Ivy League school he applied to as well as USC and Case Western…

    He earned a 4.43 weighted GPA, he said, a 1550 out of 1600 on his SAT and 34 on his ACT. He took 22 semesters of Advanced Placement coursework and was ranked No. 1 in his class of 536 students. He even had what he thought was an unusual, extraordinary achievement: being the youngest player, by far, on a pro tour of the strategic trading card game “Magic the Gathering.” He was admitted to the University of Michigan, but it’s not his top choice. As he’s coming to terms with his rejections, he’s come up with his own explanation, one shared by many college admissions experts for the top schools.

    “I sort of felt like in academics, the courses you take and the grades you earn, there is a level where it stops mattering,” Shumaker said. “If you get perfect grades and near-perfect scores, it just puts you in the pool.”

    Well, we can guess why he didn’t get into USC, anyway. No one pasted his head on a basketball player’s body.

  97. For Mooshi s kids it is also about merit financial aid. I don’t have any idea on the effect of test scores on that. But the stratospheric score for number one didnt do enough at one of his other options. No 2 is a hearing impaired cancer (and one that is hard to survive) survivor. He will be able to use what life has dealt him in his college quest and i for one don’t find that in the least bit “unfair.”

  98. “I sort of felt like in academics, the courses you take and the grades you earn, there is a level where it stops mattering,” Shumaker said. “If you get perfect grades and near-perfect scores, it just puts you in the pool.”

    He is absolutely correct. Far too many applicants and their parents imagine that college admissions staff simply rank students by their numbers and then start counting down the list from the top until they fill the class. The best you can do is to get into the pool, and then be prepared to accept that the admissions decisions will be random, and not a reflection of your relative merit within that pool.

  99. And I agree that MM’s DS should not retake either test. Those scores are good enough.

    And even if he doesn’t want to write about his cancer experience in his essays, he should make sure that his guidance counselor mentions it. Right upfront so it won’t be missed in a quick scan. Or else included in the “Additional Information” section.

  100. My friends son who got into Johns Hopkins has a 36 ACT. GPA, not sure. I think it was good but not stellar. He didn’t apply to any of the Ivy League colleges.

  101. DD keeps talking about going to Duke just to spite me, because I keep saying that I wouldn’t pay for her to go there (purely due to my dislike of their basketball team). So for kicks I checked their estimated price calculator last night. Based on having DS in college at the same time, they would give her about $42k in aid, bringing the cost down to about $33k. That’s actually reasonable. Of course she’d have to get in, which is definitely not guaranteed.

    There are a few schools that I am totally serious about refusing to pay for, but neither kid has any interest in any of them.

  102. Merit aid is definitely a factor here. And his grades, while better than DS1’s for sure, are not stellar. Maybe a 3.4? He was pummeled in French this year, which I was adamantly against him taking but he did it anyway because he is friends with the kids in the class. The problem is, he has trouble distinguishing consonants, and at this level of French oral discussion skills are a big deal. We have asked for the teacher to weight his oral discussion grades a bit less due to his hearing issues, but she hasn’t budged. He can discuss that grade in the health supplemental letter though (did that one with DS1 too). HIs math grades are all B’s, no A’s, and same in AP Chem though he is rocking Regents Physics right now. He is not aiming for engineering programs, so hopefully his good grades in other classes will help. He has taken way too many honors and AP courses – and yes, I told him not to do it – and that has been a problem. He is a stubborn kid.

    He is leaning towards retake of the ACT to get his math score up. He says there was material on it that he didn’t realize would be on it (arrays for example) and that he could study that material and be better prepared.

  103. MM, what is he getting in French? Unless it’s a D, I don’t see why he would have to explain it. Cs happen, and he’s not applying to schools that are expecting straight As. And is the 3.4 weighted or unweighted?

  104. He has taken way too many honors and AP courses – and yes, I told him not to do it – and that has been a problem. He is a stubborn kid.

    My kids school discourages kids from taking too many honors and AP courses especially if any factors make it harder on the kid. Sometimes I think they are too discouraging but then again they have seen lots of kids come through and have a good idea of raw potential, work ethic and any other issues.
    Having the kids being happy while working through high school is one of their considerations.

  105. Having the kids being happy while working through high school is one of their considerations.

    They clearly don’t have their priorities straight.

  106. On college admissions unintended consequences..

    One of my DD’s friends brother who is a quarter Hispanic has been checking the Hispanic box. He’s also been applying for various scholarships. So, he gets a letter asking for an essay on his struggles.

    On some standardized test the proctor was helping my DD’s class fill out the boxes. The proctor most certainly wanted DD to check Native American.

  107. @Mooshi — FYI, your kid’s ACT scores sound *exactly* like DD’s first time through. She decided to retake it based on advice that engineering programs tended to put the most emphasis on the math score (and she still ended up with a 33, but flip-flopped the areas she did better/worse in sufficiently to raise her overall to a 34 for schools that superscored, and she got the math above 30). She was in the pool for all of the schools she was looking at, and if she hadn’t been focused on STEM, we wouldn’t have bothered with the retake.

    SAT changes: By way of comparison, back in the mid-’80s, a PSAT score equivalent to mid-1400s SATs was good enough for NMF, in a pretty competitive state, and that mid-1400s SATs was good enough to get me into several HSSs, even with an imperfect and non-scaled GPA. I suspect nowdays you’d need at least the equivalent of 125 points higher to achieve NMF,* and the likelihood of admission to HSS, even at that level, is lower than in the past, because there has been so much grade-and-test-score inflation, and there is so much more competition.

    *Anecdata says @195 did it in 1984, vs low 220s now.

  108. NMSF is most states in 1993 was 193-198. There used to be a lot more hard vocabulary questions on the SAT-V. Those were the ones I always missed.

  109. MM — In the case you described where a little study of the material would prepare him better for the specific material, then I think a retake would probably result in a higher math score. The concordance tables indicate that either the ACT or SAT would be fine.

    “One of my DD’s friends brother who is a quarter Hispanic has been checking the Hispanic box. He’s also been applying for various scholarships. So, he gets a letter asking for an essay on his struggles.”

    haha I have stories . . including veiled assertions that colleges were only seeking “authentic” Hispanics.

  110. July – the Native American box checking got us started on Columbus’s poor navigation skills, ending up in the wrong country….it was hilarious.

  111. MM, my daughter also was maybe over-ambitious with her schedule this year, especially adding in the level of her extra-currics (water polo is 20 hours a week — it is literally a half-time job — and it’s not even her only serious extra-curric). Now the sort of student the HSSs are looking for would simply give up the idea of free time to ensure adequate study time to post top grades in the tough classes, but apparently my daughter is not that sort of student! Louise’s kids’ school would be happy to know that she is enjoying high school, though ;-)

  112. Mooshi, my DD had scores in that ballpark, although reversed (higher math). We left it up to her whether to retake, as did her CC, who just nudged her to decide, because the registration deadline was coming up.

    She decided to retake, and also to take the ACT, which she hasn’t taken yet.

  113. RMS, sorry, I was reading through today’s posts but had to run off to a meeting before I had a chance to respond.

    As I believe you and WCE have mentioned here before, the SAT has gotten easier over time. But with the scores spread over the same range, there’s a lot less granularity at the high end.

    In some ways, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It makes in more difficult for HSS to distinguish between its applicants, while for schools like Sonoma State and its 82% admissions rate, it doesn’t add any value. It also reduces the value of the SAT in finding extra-smart diamonds in the rough, or for programs like Johns Hopkins’ to identify super smart kids.

    I think that also contributes to parents being surprised when kids aren’t accepted to certain schools. E.g., they may remember a 1400+ SAT getting kids into all sorts of schools, but don’t realize that a 1400 SAT now correlates to a lower number (maybe 1250?) BITD.

  114. “Remember how they used to mark us off for guessing? And now they don’t?”

    Oooh, sounds like you drank the College Board Kool-aid.

    They didn’t used to mark us off for guessing. The old scoring system was, IMO, very elegant in how it was neutral WRT guessing, neither rewarding nor punishing guessing. E.g., if there were 5 possible answers for each question, a right answer would be worth 4 points, and a wrong answer worth -1, and a unanswered question was worth 0. In probabilistic terms, completely random guessing had an expected value of zero.

    The new test is no longer neutral WRT guessing. It rewards guessing, or punishes not guessing, depending on how you look at it.

    One result of this change is that it makes test prep more valuable. If a kid gets nothing out of test prep other than to make sure to answer every question, that kid’s expected score will be higher than an otherwise identical kid who wasn’t taught that.

  115. It seems like the ACT has more room at the top when you look at percentiles. My older 2 have both had ACT scores that translate as noticeably higher than their SAT scores, and I had wondered if the ACT ended up favoring depth of knowledge over being meticulous from having more of the harder questions. But it might just be that the format feels better to them, or maybe (since the public schools have all juniors take the ACT) the standardized testing through the years has been designed to be more like the ACT and thus made them more comfortable with it.

  116. They didn’t used to mark us off for guessing. The old scoring system was, IMO, very elegant in how it was neutral WRT guessing, neither rewarding nor punishing guessing. E.g., if there were 5 possible answers for each question, a right answer would be worth 4 points, and a wrong answer worth -1, and a unanswered question was worth 0. In probabilistic terms, completely random guessing had an expected value of zero.

    Huh. Okay. I remember them telling us to guess if we were pretty sure, but not to guess if we really didn’t have a clue. And it was over 40 years ago for me, so I am surely not remembering all the nitty gritty details.

    Thanks for your help.

  117. “There is very little evidence that test prep works.”

    Perhaps, but I think it does help.

    I’ve already mentioned one way the SAT change increased the value of test prep.

    A common story, which I think is more common for the ACT than the SAT, is of kids running out of time and not finishing the test. Of course, with both tests now rewarding guessing, this rewards the kids who learned in prep class to guess the answers to any questions they didn’t have time for. It also provides an advantage to kids who are able to take the test multiple times, whether official or not, in being able to learn to pace themselves and not be surprised to be running out of time with a lot of questions left.

  118. If the ACT rewards fast workers more than the SAT does that could explain why it seems to do well by my kids.

  119. What I’ve heard is that the SAT is still more of an aptitude test than the ACT, which is more of a test of what material learned.

    So the ACT tends to reward students in rigorous curricula who study hard.

  120. “He has taken way too many honors and AP courses – and yes, I told him not to do it – and that has been a problem.”

    I think he had a good reason for taking those courses.

    And per our CC, at some of the schools he’s considering, e.g., BU, per our CC, that kind of rigor is interpreted as a willingness to challenge himself and is viewed favorably.

    “Having the kids being happy while working through high school is one of their considerations.”

    As it apparently was for Mooshi’s DS2.

  121. Finn, O Fellow Totebagger, I don’t consider a 36 composite to be a perfect score on the ACT. I consider a perfect score to be 36’s on all subtests. The ACT typically rounds a 35.5 subtest average to 36.

    And the people of Omaha doubtless care about this important distinction.

  122. WCE, it’s not clear from the article whether the 16 kids they honored had 36s on all subtests.

    BTW, 1600/1600 is also not necessarily a perfect SAT either. It’s possible to get 800 on a test and not get every single question right.

    But more generally, I think that datum suggests it’s harder to get a 1600/1600 SAT than a 36 composite ACT.

    One reason our CC recommends kids who score high on the SAT to take the ACT is to increase the chances of nomination for Presidential Scholar.

  123. “Only 300 kids out of 1.7 million get a perfect double 800. “

    I’ve read that the number of 1600/1600 scores has gone up. IIRC, more recent numbers are more like in the 500-600 range per graduating class. Still, not enough to not call BS on Ivy presidents who claim they can fill their class with kids with perfect SATs, even if we include all the 1600/1600 kids who didn’t get every question right.

    “I think that’s something to keep in mind when you hear about some kid who had perfect SAT scores and didn’t get into Harvard or whatever.”

    I did read an article an LSJU publication that said they rejected more kids with max SAT scores than they accepted.

  124. Rhett, here’s a datum from a few years back, when the SAT was still on a 2400 scale, that indicates 583 scores of 2400/2400 (still not enough to fill a Princeton class):

    https://blog.prepscholar.com/on-the-sat-how-many-people-get-2200-2300-or-above-2400

    Keep in mind that in the 2400 days, the SAT included the subjectively scored essay test, which I’m guessing made it harder to get a 2400/2400 than it is now to get a 1600/1600.

    And for Mooshi, go to the bottom of the page for another opinion on whether to retake the SAT.

  125. Huh. Okay. I remember them telling us to guess if we were pretty sure, but not to guess if we really didn’t have a clue. And it was over 40 years ago for me, so I am surely not remembering all the nitty gritty details.

    I’m sure you are remembering correctly. I was told basically the same thing – guess if you can eliminate at least one answer, otherwise don’t guess. But I guessed anyway because I knew from test prep that it was guessing neutral.

  126. “With a score of 1570 your son is the 2038th smarest high school student in America.”

    More like he was approximately the 2038th smartest kid in his nationwide HS class.

  127. “denied from every Ivy League school he applied to as well as USC and Case Western…”

    And we were just recently discussing CWRU…

    “I sort of felt like in academics, the courses you take and the grades you earn, there is a level where it stops mattering,” Shumaker said. “If you get perfect grades and near-perfect scores, it just puts you in the pool.”

    And the SAT becoming easier tends to make that pool larger, by reducing the granularity among those at the right side of the curve.

  128. There’s an interesting disconnect in the Mercury News article RMS posted (which BTW is about a year old).

    The kid mentioned at the top of the article is a student at Monta Vista, in Cupertino, an ethnoburb noted for the competitiveness of its high schools, and how that competitiveness led to white flight. But not only was there no mention of Monta Vista in the list of schools with at least one student with a 36, there were no Cupertino high schools on the list.

    It’s also a bit surprising that Lowell HS, the competitive entrance SF public, had only 3. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the policies of Richard Carranza, now head of NYC public schools.

  129. My BIL and SIL live near but not in a highly competitive school district in NJ. However, they are feeling the pressure and their kids are still in elementary school. My other relatives live in CA, again not in a highly competitive school district but I think the competitiveness from the surrounding school districts rubs off.

  130. I think we’re being a little pedantic about the SAT penalty question. Under the old system, with respect to any individual question, there was clearly a penalty for getting the wrong answer (-1 point). However, the overall scoring system was designed so that it was still mathematically in your best interest to guess as long as you could exclude one or more of the other answers, because the odds were that you’d earn more points from the times you guessed right than you would lose from the times you guessed wrong.

  131. LfB, I had a high school friend who was so error averse that even though she understood that mathematically, she STILL wouldn’t guess. Drove me Nucking Futz. One of the reasons for the scoring change is that women are a LOT more likely to have that attitude than men, which affected scores.

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