What We Learned Through the 2016 Admissions Cycle
Now that colleges have released the bulk of their admissions decisions, and students are reconciling their application triumphs and defeats, it’s time to take a step back and assess the developments and surprises from this year’s admissions decisions. While not all of these findings are unique to the 2016 admissions period, they are noteworthy enough that all university bound students – especially individuals wrapping up their junior year – should pay careful attention. And if a person count yourselves among the thousands of hapless seniors who didn’t earn a spot at your dream college, perhaps the rationales below will help explain why you had been the recipient of a “thin envelope, ” while your neighbor/best friend/classmate was not.
New Rule #1: There are no “sure things” anymore when it comes to safety schools. Overqualified students (quantified primarily by GPA and SAT/ACT) are routinely being waitlisted or denied at “no problem” colleges because the admissions committee feels doubtful these students can easily enroll if accepted. When fewer admitted students choose to enroll, that college’s “yield” goes down, as will their perceived desirability. Given the weight of college rankings in publications such as US News and World Report , colleges are usually reluctant to admit students who have didn’t demonstrate adequate interest in participating in. Juniors, don’t be perceived as a “yield buster. ” Visit your protection schools as well as your dream schools in order to prove your intentions are genuine. (You might even find the best school for you is one of your “safety schools. ”)
New Rule #2: Did you hear the one about the student who was admitted to Yale and Columbia but denied at Stanford? Or who was waitlisted at Northwestern but accepted at Cornell? Entrance to the most selective colleges is really as unpredictable as ever. A student who is a phenomenal candidate for every program the lady applies to will stand out in some applicant pools but not others. Different schools…different pools. Juniors, as long as your last college list consists of a balanced mix of no problem, just right, and challenging schools, and you follow Rule #1, you will have plenty of options to choose from next year.
Brand new Rule #3: Just because a student has top marks, flawless SATs/ACTs, and stellar works doesn’t guarantee him a spot at an Ivy. A host of factors affect admissions outcomes, and students only have control of a portion of their completed application. Understand that even a “perfect” applicant might have some thing in their file – perhaps within a required letter of recommendation – that raises some kind of red flag in order to admissions officers. Juniors, don’t make assumptions about why an acquaintance had been admitted to a particular school or not. Unless you’re physically sitting within an admissions committee, it’s impossible to know what aspects of that student’s program was deemed the most compelling.
New Guideline #4: Although some say it couldn’t be done, the nation’s most elite colleges have become even more selective. All but one of the Ivies (Brown) saw a decrease in their overall acceptance rates this year. Additional colleges that announced an increase within selectivity are Barnard College (16 percent from 19. 5 percent); Stanford (4. 7 percent through 5. 1 percent); and Tufts (14 percent from 16 percent). Juniors, try not to get caught up in the hype surrounding the “name brand, ” ultra-competitive colleges. There are hundreds of excellent colleges that offer outstanding students a top-notch education… that aren’t next-to impossible to gain entry to.
Brand new Rule #5: Domestic students aren’t the only ones feeling squeezed out by single digit acceptance rates. International applicants are facing increased competition, as well. While some strong colleges still courtroom well-qualified, full pay international students, other elite colleges – most notably the Ivies and their peers – are seeing soaring numbers of full-pay international applicants, making it even harder for those students to distinguish them selves in the international pool. Juniors, it’s impossible to know what a college’s institutional priorities are in any given year, so don’t obsess over factors (such as race, ethnicity, geographic diversity) you can’t control.
Looking forward to the admissions season for the class of 2021, what trends do we anticipate? Despite the well-intentioned recommendations associated with Harvard’s “Turning the Tide Report, ” don’t expect prestigious colleges to relax their admissions requirements any time soon. As colleges like Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale continue to target plus attract larger numbers of applicants, their particular acceptance rates will continue to plummet. Early decision applications will carry on and gain an edge in the admissions process as colleges seek to lock in “sure bets, ” while schools will rely even heavier upon waitlists for managing their unpredictable yields. It may sound daunting, but it is possible to embrace the college admissions process optimistically. Armed with a realistic college list, a strong organizational plan, as well as the support of your high school and family members, your college admissions process can yield some pretty exciting outcomes.
Turning the Wave: An In-Depth Look At The Harvard Admissions Report
One thing is clear about the recent Turning the Tide report on the state of college admissions, released recently by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and learning: a single conversation simply isn’t sufficient to cover all the issues raised from the report. Regular listeners will remember that, in the March 17 event of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation , host Ian Fisher and guest experts Elyse Krantz plus Beth Heaton introduced the report’s basic findings. But in order to get a more comprehensive analysis, this week they continued their robust conversation, digging more deeply into the effect and effect the results will have on college admissions, and what it means for students. Ian, Elyse, and Beth addressed ways that students can engage with diversity and community, as the report recommends, while still allowing students to ‘find their authentic self’ in the app. They also addressed the concern raised by the report for ‘overcoaching’ within the college admissions process, and the function that strong college advising and counseling can play in the process.
Making Good Choices
The overarching message throughout the whole discussion was an important one: any options, from the importance of community service, to the number of AP classes , to how many times to consider the ACT or SAT, should always start with the student’s best interests very first. In other words, students should always be considering what is right for them, not what to do to be able to fit into a specific college. Ian, Beth, and Elyse provided solid good examples and valuable advice on all of these areas, in this detailed and dynamic discussion.
Students and Taxes
With tax season completely swing, and the tax deadline just two weeks away, College Coach Financial expert Laurie Peltier joined Ian in the last segment for a timely conversation about the role of student taxation statements on the college finance process and student aid. Laurie addressed important questions about whether students ought to file their own taxes, and the impact that will have on financial aid and scholarships. For valuable information on the role that student tax returns play in the financial aid process, this section is definitely a must listen!
Recent Shows of Getting In: The College Coach Conversation :
- Turning the Tide Part Two: What Does this Mean for You?
- Asking for More Money, Part 2: Scholarship Negotiations
- Asking for More Money, Part 1: How to Appeal a Financial Aid Award
Julia Jones is a member of University Coach’s team of university admissions experts . Julia formerly worked as a senior admissions official at Brandeis University and was the director of admissions at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School.
Middle school is a crucial transition time for students between childhood and the teen years, however it fills so many parents with dread. Many questions arise, such as: What do I concentrate on now that my kids are older? What do they need to perform now to get into a “good” university later? What’s the balance between flying over them and letting them try and possibly fail?
College Coach Survey Discovers Crucial Commonalities in Ivy League Admissions Success
April 1, 2016 —College Coach’s annual survey an excellent source of school students turned up some astonishing common themes in students approved to Ivy League institutions. Probably the most surprising was that students living next door to Harvard and Princeton graduates were the most likely to be successful at all eight of the Ivy organizations, with their applications accepted at a lot more than six times the average rate.
Other similarities amongst candidates accepted to Ivy League organizations:
- Students who else played the triangle in their high school orchestra were accepted at five times the average rate
- Those participating in competitive lawn dart teams (popular in the South plus mid-Atlantic states) were 25 percent more likely to be admitted than students playing more common sports
- Writing essays about shoveling snow, practicing good skin care, or favorite chocolate choices resulted in acceptance rates fifteen percentage points higher than average
- Interestingly, only five percent of accepted applicants wrote about having a mother who returned to school to complete her degree more than two decades after graduating from high school, despite getting one of the most popular topics in earlier years.
“We have always suspected that creating a neighbor who attended Harvard or even Princeton positively affected admission for all of the Ivies, so it was great to see this corroborated by the study results. It’s just one of those unique things, ” stated College Coach spokesperson, Elizabeth Heaton .
Takeaways intended for families and students looking to enhance their chances of acceptance at the Ivies? Begin spending summers perfecting your yard dart game, make some early decisions about whether Twix, Snickers, or even Mars is the best candy bar, and be certain to check out your neighbors’ alma maters before buying a new home.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “When we relocated last year, we had our pick associated with Ivy League grad neighbors. I really wished we’d gone with the guy and his wife who both attended Princeton. Maybe I would have become into Cornell. ”
College Coach emailed more than two hundred, 000 students across the country who graduated in 2015 or 2016, inquiring them a series of questions about their particular personal habits, activities, and conditions, and the topics of their college documents. Final results were tabulated in the early hours of April 1, 2016, as the Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, released their decisions to the course of 2019.
For more information about the survey, and also to see the full results, click here .
Demonstrating Interest without Spending a Lot
You’ve discovered your dream school(s) and you have a strong list of other colleges to apply to. Your numbers (GPA, standardized test scores) are where they need to be. You are working on an essay that’s going to show your admission officer (AO) who you are and how you’ll fit into the girl school.
But have you ever shown them the love?
At a significant number of schools, demonstrating interest matters in the admission process —if you don’t show the particular AO that you are very interested in their school, they won’t show their interest in you (in the form of an acceptance letter).
There are lots of reasons schools do this—it might be an attempt to increase their yield rate (the percentage of admitted students who enroll) and therefore move up in rankings or an attempt to be more selective—but whatever the reason, what can you, the candidate, do to improve your demonstrated interest?
While officially visiting a college’s campus may be the most impactful way to demonstrate interest, the school you’re interested in might be across the country. If you add up travel costs and the impracticability or impossibility of someone in the family taking time off to travel with you, it’s just not reasonable to expect you’ll visit every school to which you apply.
Don’t worry – here are some things you can do to demonstrate curiosity without getting on a plane:
- Local receptions. Many colleges do a “road show, ” traveling by themselves or with other schools, where they go to cities throughout the US (and more and more, the world) to present information sessions. Once you sign up for a school’s mailing list, you’ll receive notification of when an admission representative will be nearby. And it’s likely the person traveling in your area is the AO responsible for reading your application, so you can demonstrate interest and put a face to the name he’ll see on the application file later.
- High school visits. No, not you visiting other high schools, but college admission officers visiting yours! If you’re lucky enough to be in a high school where college representatives come for a visit, go talk to them! Even if it’s a situation where they come during your 3 rd period physics and you have a quiz, try to at least stop by early, fill out an information card, introduce yourself to the admission officer, and say, “I’m really thinking about your school. ” Even that brief conversation will be noted and will count toward demonstrated interested.
- Alumni interviews. Look, honestly, these are often not super significant in the admission process. How well you do or don’t get along with Bob Alumnus or how long you spend talking about your shared passion for politics with Maria Alumna? It probably doesn’t matter. It’s pretty unlikely that a graduate’s interview report has much weight in the final evaluation of a student’s application—but what does matter is that you, the applicant, have made the effort to be interviewed. More than the notes about the conversation, the simple fact that you interviewed demonstrates your interest.
- Email your admission officer . Okay, don’t go overboard here—you don’t want to be “that daily email kid” who has no questions to ask but wants to make sure his AO knows who he is. But it’s a good idea to develop a relationship with your AO. Don’t ask questions that are readily available on the website or through a simple web search. Instead of asking, “do you have study abroad, ” which may take you two seconds to find out, do some research and ask instead, “I’m interested in (X) major, and I see you have study abroad programs in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Spain. From what I’ve seen, Chile and Spain are full year programs, and Ecuador and Spain are fall semester only. Have other students with my intended major been able to fit in a fall semester of study? Do you have summer programs in Spanish-speaking locations as well? ” See the difference? Show you’ve done your research, and your AO will appreciate you reaching out.
(You can often find the AO for your high school through the entrance webpage of any given college. Try clicking on “Meet the Staff! ” or “Contact us! ” If you don’t have any luck, you can always call the general admission office number, tell whoever answers where you’re from, and ask for the name of the AO for your area. )
Demonstrating interest can mean the difference between admission and waitlist (or even denial) in some college’s application pools. You don’t want to be a “stealth app”—a student who applies with no contact beyond the application. If you can’t visit, the cumulative effect of demonstrating interest through even a handful of these free opportunities will show that you’re truly interested in the college. And who knows? In the process you might learn what you needed to know to move it up—or off—your list!
Relevant Episodes of Getting In: A University Coach Conversation:
‘Tis the season for college finance, and last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, was chock full of great information about paying for college.
Over the last fifty percent year, there have been major changes in the world of college admissions testing . The SAT came back to the old 1600-point scale, do away with the mandatory writing area, and made it optional instead. The ACT changed the scoring level for its own optional writing examination and the resulting scores caused an uproar among test-takers that has yet in order to die down. As an admissions consultant here at College Coach, I’ve acquired countless students ask me in regards to the importance of the writing score, and I’ve seen a lot of stress over lower-than-anticipated scores on the writing part of these tests. Below is the information I’ve been giving over these final few months.
In today’s entry, we continue the conversation between Ian Fisher and Elyse Krantz on the Turning the Tide statement from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can re-read part one on our blog here, and when you’re interested in further conversation, you are able to explore the archives of our Getting In radio show to hear more from Ian, Elyse, and Elizabeth Heaton, on the impact of the report.
Ian Fisher: Interesting to see you highlight community service first, because that’s the one that stood out to me. Nearly one year ago, I wrote an article for this blog titled “Colleges Don’t Care About Community Service. ” I felt pretty good about that declaration because absolutely nothing I had ever seen from college admissions suggested that there was something special about community service inside the full suite of extra-curricular actions. At a glance, this seems like a leaving from that position.
But I’m not so convinced. The report also argues students can fulfill this ideal through “community engagement, ” e. g. “working in groups on community problems, whether the problem is a local park which is dangerous, bullying in their schools or communities, a high teen pregnancy rate or some form of environmental degradation. ” This kind of engagement might be satisfied simply by more traditional school clubs like the GSA, the Black Student Union, the particular Recycling Club, or Students Towards Destructive Decisions (SADD).
For me, the big takeaway from this suggestion is that students should first generally define their community (family? college? city? cultural group? state? ) and then identify the best way to get individually involved in improving one element of that will community. And like you say, that needs some thought about what a student’s interests and values are; which I believe is precisely the point of the report. Colleges are hoping that students will use their high school yrs as an opportunity to reflect on what they value and how they can impact the world.
Does that summary from the report sit well with you, or do you see this report since aiming at some other objectives (implicit or even explicit)?
Elyse Krantz: Absolutely. The authors of the statement, as well as the 80+ individuals who have formally endorsed its general message, genuinely wish that more high school students would step out of their comfort zones and look outside of traditional measures of success plus achievement. What better way to realize personal growth in high school in order to support the greater good and create the lasting impact in one’s community?
And it’s wonderful, too, that this “Making Caring Common” project acknowledges emotional wellbeing as a key motivation behind their recommendations. In recent years there has been a marked uptick within reports surrounding college student depression and stress at both the high school and college level. As the frenzy to gain entrance into an elite college is at an all-time high, acceptance rates in these institutions continues to plummet, leaving behind many high achieving students asking yourself if it’s physically and emotionally possible to push themselves harder.
I worry that some families will read this report and think, “Great – now Jane has to volunteer a lot more to stand out at the Ivies. ” I also worry that other families will review these recommendations and falsely assume that their service-oriented kid with straight Bs and humble testing will be a shoe-in for Harvard. They won’t. Last month, Harvard’s Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons told the Harvard Crimson that he doesn’t support the particular report’s suggestion that students limit their number of AP classes. And despite the report’s recommendation that colleges consider eliminating their SAT/ACT requirements, Dean Fitzsimmons firmly believes that standardized tests are a useful way to measure students’ “academic excellence. ”
Within the admissions game, grades come (and have always come) first; in case you’re a student who is drawn to this belief of “giving back, ” and you’d like to immerse yourself in community service, take on a community problem, or authentically experience diversity, move out there and do it. Not with regard to colleges, but for yourself.
For more on this topic, catch the Turning the Tide portion on this show of Getting In: A College Coach Discussion .
Ian Fisher is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Ian received his master’s in policy, organization, plus leadership studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Prior to becoming a member of College Coach, Ian worked like a senior admissions officer at Reed College.
Last week’s episode associated with Getting In: A College Coach Conversation covered the recently published “Turning the Tide” report, continued our students’ perspectives series, and perhaps most importantly, offered timely advice for appealing financial aid awards!
Turning the Tide
Harvard Graduate School of Education’s recently published report has been making waves in the college admissions community. Host Ian Fisher, Elyse Krantz, and Elizabeth Heaton boiled the report down to its three overarching recommendations. They also talked about the ways they feel that the particular report will (and won’t) change what admissions offices are looking for in applicants. Keep an eye out for a return to this particular topic in the coming weeks, each here on the blog and on the radio display.
The particular Student Perspective
Current Brown University junior Mike Colonna shared insights into his application process, focusing specifically on how he developed his choice criteria. Michael shared how this individual arrived at one of his more unconventional selection criterion—schools that would challenge him to mature both personally plus academically. Michael also provided some fodder for the conversation on the Turning the Tide report, sharing his wish to have committed more deeply to the activities he most loved in high school.
Appealing Financial Aid Awards
Michelle Clifton returned to the show for the first in a two-part series on appealing financial aid honours. Michelle set the stage by categorizing the three main types of is of interest for listeners and also by providing numerous tips and tricks to get on—and remain on—your financial aid officer’s good part throughout the appeals process.
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Abigail received the girl bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School.
Your brain is like a muscle that grows and gets stronger whenever you stretch it. You wouldn’t run a marathon tomorrow without any training, correct? If you’re serious about completing the convention, you’ll start training and improve your distance incrementally.
Having a rigorous course insert throughout high school requires similar training. Colleges are not searching for perfection over four years—they are searching for growth. Each year’s curriculum ought to stretch your brain a bit further, but within reason, based on previous initiatives. If you struggled for a C in a particular subject area, you might not be ready to jump to the honors degree the next year. But if a person earned an A or N without losing sleep, you might be looking forward to a more rigorous challenge. As rigor increases, it’s normal to experience a slight dip in your grades while your own brain-muscle gets used to it. But over the course of the year, you’ll grow, plus ideally be ready for more stretching the following year.
As you think about the opportunities your high school offers in order to deepen your course rigor, think about your strengths and interests, ask your current teachers for advice, and select a balance of courses that allows you to definitely be successful.
Please also keep in mind the value of cross-training. Marathoners don’t train by running twenty six. 2 every day – they combine long runs with medium and short runs, as well as yoga or basketball or whatever cross-training draws their fancy. You need to do the same. Schools want you to continue deepening your own extracurricular commitments , as well as to get a full night’s rest and have time to relax. Make sure your program load still allows you to live a balanced life.
For more info on this topic, listen to our most popular episode of Getting into: A College Coach Conversation : What’s Better: A good A in College Prep or a B in Honors?
Becky Leichtling is part of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Becky is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Education; prior to becoming a member of College Coach, Becky was a senior admissions officer at Tufts University or college and Carleton College.