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S04.E13: The Great Cookie Challenge

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When Katie learns that the top prize is an all-expense paid vacation, she doubles her efforts to help Anna-Kat win top prize in cookie sales against her fellow troop members, The Wildflower Girls. Meanwhile, Oliver's attempt to help a student he befriends through the Teen Help Line center backfires.

 

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I was happy Anna Kat got her cookie win.  I guessed that Taylor got accepted.  However, it used to be that college acceptance notifications came with a thick envelope with info and paperwork; thin envelopes meant rejection.  Has that changed?

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I've been under the impression TV always uses small envelopes to create (fake) suspense, but last I checked, indeed Big Envelope = accepted. Small envelope = waitlist or rejected. Because if you're in you have a ton of paperwork to do. If you're not it's a one page letter.

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I love how this show makes it's characters grow. I did not expect Oliver and Taylor to handle their situations with such maturity, and the thought also entered my head: how will the show handle Taylor being gone? It would change the dynamic. But now they don't have to deal with that for another year.

As for Lonnie, he was annoying in the first half of the episode, but what he did in the end was really sweet. I was impressed.

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Telling your parents that you didn't get in a college when you actually did isn't a good thing to do IMO. Didn't this family discuss the financial issue in the first place with their daughter prior to applying? They should have. We all know what's going to happen...the parents will find out that Taylor was actually accepted and have numerous dialogues about it. Not very original.

The son should never have been on a confidential hotline when he obviously lacks the self discipline of confidentiality. I didn't like that he 'slipped'. I hope they recover this one in the next episode.

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2 hours ago, floridamom said:

Telling your parents that you didn't get in a college when you actually did isn't a good thing to do IMO. Didn't this family discuss the financial issue in the first place with their daughter prior to applying? They should have. We all know what's going to happen...the parents will find out that Taylor was actually accepted and have numerous dialogues about it. Not very original.

The son should never have been on a confidential hotline when he obviously lacks the self discipline of confidentiality. I didn't like that he 'slipped'. I hope they recover this one in the next episode.

The problem even goes back to last season where you had Louise trying to make it where Taylor was going to fail her American Idol audition. Because Katie and Greg were all: "You need to go to college." First forgetting about her IQ or even life skills. Then right after she decided to do it, Greg was all: "You know how much this is going to cost us?" Like he, a college professor didn't think of it. Even more, why not just have Taylor go locally and get a discount for Greg working for the University? I mean, Trip is talking about trade/auto school, which you know he be great at. The only difference is his parents would throw money to get him out of the house.

  I am very TIRED of the writers still having Oliver say: "I'm hoping my REAL family will come get me." Just drop it! Even someone Oliver's age would go buy an Ancestry Kit by now and do a DNA test by now. Plus, they even just a few episodes ago had Oliver admit his former Harry Potter obsession, ect. I'm very happy the writers are letting Taylor, Oliver and Anna-Kat grow as characters. However, they have to stop throwing out those lines. Plus, you know that Greg and Katie are going to be alerted by the college that Taylor was accepted. 

  Also, yes, colleges STILL send Large envelopes for acceptance and emails with 7 attachments too.

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I was so happy when Taylor said she wasn't accepted instead of having the usual fake sitcom trope of a slacker getting into a prestigious(?) university.

And then they took that away from me.

 I haven't rolled my eyes this hard since Zack Morris got accepted into Yale over Jessie.

Edited by Snow Apple
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2 hours ago, Snow Apple said:

I was so happy when Taylor said she wasn't accepted instead of having the usual fake sitcom trope of a slacker getting into a prestigious(?) university.

And then they took that away from me.

 I haven't rolled my eyes this hard since Zack Morris got accepted into Yale over Jessie.

I remember Mark Paul Gossier saying he thought that was just plain stupid years later. He got the SAT was more about what you know and not how "well" you are doing in school. However, those schools also look into your academic background, clubs, activities, ect. To have it that Jessie wouldn't be on the radar who was such an over achiever. It was like with Paris over on Gilmore Girls where she didn't get into Harvard. Even critics went: "Oh come on, not even remotely possible." 

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I hate that Youtube guy, but I have to admit he did a good turn there. I'm glad Greg had a positive influence on him.

Add me to the "How the hell did Taylor get into Carnegie Mellon?" camp.

Off topic: My mother's parents are from Pittsburgh, and a couple of my great great aunts were domestics for the Mellon family. They had some furniture and other items which were castoffs from them. When my great aunt inherited the house she had no interest because that was "old stuff" and she liked "modern" things. My parents drove up there and rented a trailer and came back with a BUNCH of stuff - beautiful tables, a couple chests, chairs, crystal.... nothing was really valuable, but good quality. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

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I knew the popular jock guy was going to turn out to be gay. Sadly that's become a cliche. I want to see the fallout from the Instagram account announcing Oliver as gay. How will Cooper react? They better not gloss over that.

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Add me to the "How the hell did Taylor get into Carnegie Mellon?" camp.

You know, plenty of athletes get into top schools even when their grades are lousy because the schools want them on their sports teams. I don't know if it's a similar situation with performing arts schools but I can be persuaded to believe it might be.

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2 minutes ago, iMonrey said:

You know, plenty of athletes get into top schools even when their grades are lousy because the schools want them on their sports teams. I don't know if it's a similar situation with performing arts schools but I can be persuaded to believe it might be.

I spent my career in a fairly prestigious arts school at a private university in the SW. First of all, TV writers need to learn how financial aid works. (We've been having this same discussion on The Connors string.) Private schools can offer generous aid on par with Public schools, sometimes even better because of donors.  A family with the income of a liberal arts college professor could probably do well with aid. Yes, like athletics, performing arts seek rare artists with exceptional skills (male dancers, violists, etc.) and sometimes make exceptions on grades.  Female singers are not in short supply and would likely have to qualify with grades, unless they were extraordinary which Taylor is not.

Also, the writers need to learn some math.  How does selling 650 boxes of cookies net a paid family vacation to L.A.? Anna Kat's sales could end up covering the costs, but that was an unexpected exception.  Or did I miss something?

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47 minutes ago, MarthaEllisanne said:

I spent my career in a fairly prestigious arts school at a private university in the SW. First of all, TV writers need to learn how financial aid works. (We've been having this same discussion on The Connors string.) Private schools can offer generous aid on par with Public schools, sometimes even better because of donors.  A family with the income of a liberal arts college professor could probably do well with aid. Yes, like athletics, performing arts seek rare artists with exceptional skills (male dancers, violists, etc.) and sometimes make exceptions on grades.  Female singers are not in short supply and would likely have to qualify with grades, unless they were extraordinary which Taylor is not.

Also, the writers need to learn some math.  How does selling 650 boxes of cookies net a paid family vacation to L.A.? Anna Kat's sales could end up covering the costs, but that was an unexpected exception.  Or did I miss something?

TV writers seriously probably NEVER went to outstanding universities, so they just gloss over that: "They just get better breaks than we ever did." Which is another TV cliche. The show that ever did a realistic piece on Financial Aids or Scholarships was really: The Middle in the last few years. Though they stretched it with Axl a bit, but went back several times to correct it. Shows like American Housewife and The Connors seriously have NO IDEA how school finances or even tuition breaks work. Same goes with girl scout cookie sales or boy scout popcorn sales. That's what takes me out of the episodes is when you just role you eyes with: "Don't act like they are smart people when they act like they live under rocks."

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20 hours ago, zoey1996 said:

I was happy Anna Kat got her cookie win.  I guessed that Taylor got accepted.  However, it used to be that college acceptance notifications came with a thick envelope with info and paperwork; thin envelopes meant rejection.  Has that changed?

 

17 hours ago, theatremouse said:

I've been under the impression TV always uses small envelopes to create (fake) suspense, but last I checked, indeed Big Envelope = accepted. Small envelope = waitlist or rejected. Because if you're in you have a ton of paperwork to do. If you're not it's a one page letter.

We just went through the university admittance process, in our experience, letter size is no longer any indication of acceptance or not.  The only large envelopes my daughter received were from schools trying to coax her to apply to their university.  Every one of her acceptance letters were regular business size envelopes with one, maybe two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper.  Everything, and I mean everything, is done online now.  In fact, one of the coolest acceptances she received was via text with a link to a "personalize" video that included a giant banner being unfurled with her name on it - all done virtually of course, but cool none the less!  This new fangled way, surprised me because when I was at that stage most definitely big envelope = good news, small envelope = bad news.  I was seriously concerned when the first two letters arrived on the same day both from her "safety" schools and both were small envelopes but alas, all was well.

eta: oops, forgot the other exceptionally cool acceptance was indeed a big "envelope", the unusual part was that the envelope was actually fashioned out of the school flag!   And since this particular school is my (and my ex's) Alma mater, I was very excited to have it.  Unfortunately, my daughter only applied as a courtesy to her dad and me so she didn't carry on the legacy.

Edited by sharkerbaby
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21 hours ago, zoey1996 said:

I was happy Anna Kat got her cookie win.  I guessed that Taylor got accepted.  However, it used to be that college acceptance notifications came with a thick envelope with info and paperwork; thin envelopes meant rejection.  Has that changed?

My college acceptance (small private liberal arts school in rural PA, 1993) was a postcard. The paperwork came later, after I told them I was actually going to go there (which had to wait until I got my financial aid offer to see if we could afford it).

9 hours ago, Snow Apple said:

I was so happy when Taylor said she wasn't accepted instead of having the usual fake sitcom trope of a slacker getting into a prestigious(?) university.

And then they took that away from me.

I, too, am having trouble suspending disbelief at Taylor getting into a school like Carnegie Mellon, and as a music major. (Maybe I shouldn't compare her singing to my voice-major college roommate, but I can't help it. I doubt her singing would have even gotten her into my school's music program.)

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8 hours ago, sharkerbaby said:

We just went through the university admittance process, in our experience, letter size is no longer any indication of acceptance or not.  The only large envelopes my daughter received were from schools trying to coax her to apply to their university.  Every one of her acceptance letters were regular business size envelopes with one, maybe two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper.  Everything, and I mean everything, is done online now.  In fact, one of the coolest acceptances she received was via text with a link to a "personalize" video that included a giant banner being unfurled with her name on it - all done virtually of course, but cool none the less!  This new fangled way, surprised me because when I was at that stage most definitely big envelope = good news, small envelope = bad news.  I was seriously concerned when the first two letters arrived on the same day both from her "safety" schools and both were small envelopes but alas, all was well.

I worked in college admissions decades ago but keep in touch with people who still work in it and know this to be the case.  What used to come with an acceptance letter that made it big and/or fat was forms to fill out which are all now online.  Accepted applicants now have an online account where they would fill out these forms.  What I would presume is that parents also have access to this online account, and quite possibly would receive emails about it, so there would be no way to hide an acceptance from a parent.  The only thing I could possibly believe is that Katie would just "forget" to look at these things.

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I, too, am having trouble suspending disbelief at Taylor getting into a school like Carnegie Mellon, and as a music major. (Maybe I shouldn't compare her singing to my voice-major college roommate, but I can't help it. I doubt her singing would have even gotten her into my school's music program.)

I think it almost comes off as a dis to Carnegie Mellon that Taylor, who has been written as such a total dunce would get into the school.

Edited by Yeah No
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13 hours ago, iMonrey said:

I knew the popular jock guy was going to turn out to be gay. Sadly that's become a cliche. I want to see the fallout from the Instagram account announcing Oliver as gay. How will Cooper react? They better not gloss over that.

I knew he would turn out to be gay too.  Mr. Yeah No thought I was a genius.  I thought it was totally predictable.  I don't think Oliver realizes what he just set himself up for.  It may give him some first hand experience to change his opinion that this is "no biggie".  It might also give him some empathy.  I'm also wondering how Cooper will react as I think they've already made it believable that he might be gay.  And yeah, they better not gloss over that!

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Carnegie Mellon has a great music program. According to their website, their acceptance rate for the School of Music is 20%. I can't believe that Taylor got accepted. It doesn't make sense. Even with gifted singers, I assume that ones that get in have actual accomplishments (solos, winning competitions).

Harvard has 100% need-based financial aid. If your family makes less than $65,000 a year, you do not have to pay anything. Other ivy league colleges have similar programs as well.

I went a private liberal arts college in the early 2000s, and my tuition was covered by financial aid.

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I'm not worried about Taylor getting away with lying about not being admitted. She's the sort who might not realize her parents get notified, and it's less than a day since she found out, so it's totally plausible that neither of her parents checked their email, as Katie is making lasagna all day and Greg is busy with the prankster he's writing the book for. Also, the parents have no reason to be surprised she didn't get in-- there's really no reason she would.

 

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9 hours ago, Unraveled said:

Harvard has 100% need-based financial aid. If your family makes less than $65,000 a year, you do not have to pay anything. Other ivy league colleges have similar programs as well.

Carnegie Mellon has an income scale with an EFC (expected financial contribution) depending on the yearly family income.  It's not as generous as Harvard's though.  EFC for families that make between $100,00 - 149,000 is just over $37,000.  For families making between $50,000 and 99,000 the EFC is just over $29,000 per year.   I'm sure that those amounts can be further discounted by other sources of financial aid if available, and of course, student loans.

I HIGHLY doubt that the Ottos could afford to live in Westport with an income of under $100,000 a year with 3 kids even with cheap rent, so I'm sure they have to make at least that.  The cost of living in CT is astronomical.  I live there so I know.

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On 1/31/2020 at 10:13 PM, zoey1996 said:

I was happy Anna Kat got her cookie win.  I guessed that Taylor got accepted.  However, it used to be that college acceptance notifications came with a thick envelope with info and paperwork; thin envelopes meant rejection.  Has that changed?

It'a almost all online now.  There's a date and time when decisions are released for a particular school, and the applicant logs into a website ad hits refresh until the result appears.  If it's a rejection, that's it.  No mail (it would be a waste of money for the school to mail something).  If it's an acceptance, there will be a follow-up package, often with a school-branded folder containing a welcome packet, information concerning a deposit, financial aid information, if any, etc.  The envelope would not be one-sheet thick since the school is trying to make an impression, and wants to have a high admitted student yield for statistical purposes, although it is true that deposits would likely be paid online.

On 2/2/2020 at 2:30 AM, Yeah No said:

What I would presume is that parents also have access to this online account, and quite possibly would receive emails about it, so there would be no way to hide an acceptance from a parent. 

Only if the kids give their parents their login, which they are not supposed to do. It's not uncommon for the parents to sit with the kids as they click on each school's password-protected website on the various acceptance days to see if they have gotten in, but the kids can certainly do it in private.  However: (I know the show does not have to be completely accurate, but from the CM website): If you are admitted to Carnegie Mellon and wish to defer your admission for one year, you must submit a request in writing to the Office of Admission. If permission is granted, your enrollment deposit must be paid in order to confirm enrollment for the following year.  So, she would need to ask her parents for the deposit, which for CM is $800 (non-refundable), or her spot would be gone.  (And the list price of Carnegie Mellon is actually $72,283 inclusive, with tuition being about $54,000.)

On 2/1/2020 at 2:07 PM, readster said:

TV writers seriously probably NEVER went to outstanding universities

Many writers did indeed go to competitive universities: The Harvard Lampoon has produced some very famous sitcom writers, Mindy Kaling attended Dartmouth, etc.  However, most sitcom viewers have not, so they don't know how the system actually could work.

On 2/2/2020 at 2:30 AM, Yeah No said:

I think it almost comes off as a dis to Carnegie Mellon that Taylor, who has been written as such a total dunce would get into the school.

I agree.  And with regard to her singing, has she starred in more than one school play?  Has she done regional performances, or participated in summer arts programs?  Her experience is minimal compared to other applicants, and she doesn't have any proven scholastic ability to make up for that.

Finally, Greg arranging Taylor's interview with the alumnus interviewer would, in real life, seriously hurt Taylor's chances in the interview.  Colleges don't want helicopter parents (which Greg normally isn't) to be so involved in the application process.  Taylor would have used her cell phone number on her application anyway, so Greg would never have spoken to the interviewer.  That part required a huge suspension of disbelief.

On 2/2/2020 at 5:37 PM, Unraveled said:

Harvard has 100% need-based financial aid. If your family makes less than $65,000 a year, you do not have to pay anything. Other ivy league colleges have similar programs as well.

And if  Oliver is admitted, his parents will be able to afford it, since financial aid is based purely on income.  At Carnegie Mellon, it is based on a combination of merit and financial aid.  Taylor would never win a merit scholarship, and she seems not to have applied for financial aid. 

 

Edited by ItCouldBeWorse
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4 hours ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:

Only if the kids give their parents their login, which they are not supposed to do. It's not uncommon for the parents to sit with the kids as they click on each school's password-protected website on the various acceptance days to see if they have gotten in, but the kids can certainly do it in private.

Most parents traditionally would ask their kids to see the acceptance or rejection letter at the very least, especially if they knew that one came in the mail. I don't know too many parents that wouldn't ask to see it, but who knows with the Ottos, especially Katie?  I am reading advice sites from admissions people telling parents not to contact the admissions office and to leave that up to the kids, and that it annoys admissions people when parents call - That was absolutely NOT the case 30 years ago.  Parents were by far the primary ones to call admissions to find out information and admissions people expected it.  A lot of kids are unable to handle the process on their own, plus parents' involvement in the process is necessary from the POV of approving of and paying for the place, so admissions is not about to discourage them or insist on talking to the child when parents contact them.  When I worked in admissions decisions were rarely given over the phone but if they were the students had to be present.  But everything else was discussed with parents alone, and it was assumed that parents had a right to be involved in many aspects of the process.  If their kids were rejected parents would often call to complain about it.  Of course Katie Otto would probably not call but what else is new from her?  I don't think Taylor is going to be able to keep this decision a secret forever.  Someone is bound to contact her about her next steps and financial aid package, orientation logistics, etc.  She may also receive future mail about whether she is going to accept her acceptance.  There are too many reasons her parents might find out.

Edited by Yeah No
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I don't think it's a problem if they find out, though. They will probably be proud of her for thinking about the family and not just herself, for planning to get a job and contribute to the expense, and they will be relieved that they don't have to come up with the money right away.

But $29,000/year is a ridiculous amount of money for any family living on $50,000/year. I don't see it as reasonable or realistic. Taylor would have to make a lot more money than is possible during her gap year, in order to offset her tuition enough to actually be able to afford it.

Even if Greg is making $100,000, that's still a lot of money.

College tuition is insane these days.

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23 hours ago, possibilities said:

Even if Greg is making $100,000, that's still a lot of money.

Yup.  No one could live in Westport on $50,000 a year, not even a single person.  No one could even live in Norwalk for that unless they rented a small apartment and had roommates.  It would even be next to impossible for a family to live in Westport on $100,000.  It's even hard in my area.  Adding college tuition to that?  Insane.

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On 2/1/2020 at 7:14 PM, ams1001 said:

My college acceptance (small private liberal arts school in rural PA, 1993) was a postcard. The paperwork came later, after I told them I was actually going to go there (which had to wait until I got my financial aid offer to see if we could afford it).

I, too, am having trouble suspending disbelief at Taylor getting into a school like Carnegie Mellon, and as a music major. (Maybe I shouldn't compare her singing to my voice-major college roommate, but I can't help it. I doubt her singing would have even gotten her into my school's music program.)

As a private music teacher,  there is no way I believe that Taylor would get into a prestigious music program like Carnegie Mellon.  You have to be outstandingly talented with a serious musical background and training/experience plus have a killer audition to get into music program like theirs.  Patrick Wilson graduated from Carnegie Mellon and while he was a drama major, he also did musicals and had serious musical theater experience and training in high school.  Josh Groban also attended Carnegie Mellon as a music major before he dropped out due to being offered a recording contract.  Groban attended a performing arts high school, studied privately and even attended the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan before being accepted into Carnegie Mellon.  No offence to the actress playing Taylor, but pretty girls with decent pop singing voices are a dime a dozen.  I work with a dozen right now as good as Taylor is!  Nor has the show ever shown Taylor having the experience and training that would be needed for acceptance to a program like theirs.  Of course, we know she didn't have the grades or SAT scores she would need.  As to not being able to afford it--financial aid is available!  Like someone said upthread, Greg is supposed to be a college professor and it's as if he's never heard of filing a FAFSA.   I have written similar comments before about other sitcoms who love to persist in this idea that financial aid and student loans don't exist!  It's frustrating that the shows' writers don't do some minimal research before creating these storylines. 

Edited by lark37 · Reason: grammar
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