A West Coast Ivy League Hook

Last Updated May 11, 2011 10:40 AM EDT

With the rejection rates of Ivy League schools continuing to climb, students who dream of attending these The Bishop's Schoolelite schools are frantic to find an undiscovered hook.

David Montesano, a college strategist at College Match Educational Consultants, which has offices on the East and West coasts, thinks he's found one. I recently asked him about this new Ivy League hook:

Q. How can you increase your child's chances of getting into the Ivy League?
A. Go West.

Specifically, send your son or daughter to a West Coast independent day school. Independent day schools located in or around tech areas like the Bay Area, parts of Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle can play a significant role in paving a student's path to one of America's most selective colleges.

Q. Why are these areas hot among elite colleges and universities?
A. A new class of Ivy League students is starting to bubble up from the unique economic geography formed by a mixture of fresh ideas and money that is particularly present in the cities that line the West Coast. The top recruiting ground for college seems to be where parents have new economy jobs.

Q. Can you give me the names of West Coast schools that are enjoying great Ivy League success?
A. What is perhaps most interesting is that instead of the usual cadre of West Coast prep school suspects that for years dominated top college placement from the West Coast, a new crop of day schools for the techno elite have sprung up.

On closer examination of the list of West Coast feeder schools, the Bay Area dominates and the Silicon Valley is especially well-represented on the scoreboard of Ivy-level college placement.

Schools where parents, who work for a myriad of tech companies like Google and venture capital firms, like send their offspring include to The Harker School in San Jose, Menlo School in Menlo Park and Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough.

In the finance and Internet start-up worlds, you've got San Francisco University High School and Katherine Branson School (alma mater of Julia Child), which gets its students into Stanford at a 30% acceptance rate and a rate of 29% at Columbia. In 2009, Branson recorded a whopping 47% percent acceptance rate at Swarthmore College.

For many years the College Preparatory School in nearby Oakland has come in fourth place on the national list, topping such venerable institutions as Trinity, Milton, Groton and St. Paul's, where John Kerry attended.

Q. What about hot West Coast schools outside the Bay Area?

A. Polytechnic School in Pasadena, which is just down the road from California Institute of Technology, is having better luck placing its children at elite schools than Phillips, Exeter and Andover. Lakeside School, which is the alma mater of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, belongs on this list too.

The Bishop's School and Francis Parker School in the San Diego both do better on in terms of Ivy League placement than such Eastern stalwarts Deerfield Academy, Boston Latin, and that presidentially-known school, Sidwell Friends. For those who have watched technology this is no surprise, San Diego's recent growth within the tech sector, including cell phone companies and bio tech, is obvious.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
The Bishop's School image by Kansas Sebastian. CC 2.0.

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