Class of 2022 Waitlist Admit Rates and Notification Dates

More on the waitlist, this time admit rates and notification dates from College Kickstart.

The landscape doesn’t look much different than last year, or the year before. How the waitlist plays out depends a lot on yield. Yield in college admissions is the percent of students who choose to enroll in a particular college or university after having been offered admission. Some schools do a much better job of predicting yield than others. These schools have a high yield, and will not go very deep if onto the waitlist at all. The schools that have not done a good job at predicting yield will head to the waitlist to fill seats as needed.

Unfortunately, students can hang on the waitlist well into the summer, which drags out a process that for most should be finished on or around May 1. For all the waitlisted students out there, we feel your pain, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself busy. Check out our post on what to do if you are waitlisted.

 

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Federal Student Aid Webinars

The Department of Education Federal Student Aid (FSA) is offering free webinars about financial aid. The first one takes place on April 19 about comparing financial aid offers is very timely since families must deposit by May 1.

For students and parents:

Tips for Understanding and Comparing Financial Aid Offers (April 19 4–5 p.m. ET)

Common Mistakes when Filling Out the FAFSA Form (April 26 4–5 p.m. ET)

Registration fills up quickly so sign up today!

 

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Spring Break! And Podcasts

We’re going offline for a bit, but will be back in mid-April. We’ll be catching up on half-read books and missed podcasts.

Speaking of podcasts, a recent TED Radio Hour episode Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups is well worth a listen. Julie Lythcott-Haims (author of How to Raise an Adult) is one of the people featured, and provides some important commentary on kids mental health and wellness, the development of agency, chores (yes, chores!), and of course, the hyper-focus on what the top name-brand schools demand from high school students today. Her reminder, and one that we wholeheartedly support: you don’t need to go to one of these schools to be happy and successful in life! Happy and successful people went to state schools, community college, no college and everything in between.

 

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It’s Time to Tell Your Kids It Doesn’t Matter Where They Go To College

William Stixrud is the co-author of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, with Ned Johnson. Below is his recent article in Time. As we gear up for the 2018-2019 admissions season, I suggest both students and parents give it a read!!!
—-
When my daughter Jora was in high school, she went to a talk I gave on the adolescent brain, during which I pointed out that high school grades don’t predict success very well. On the way home she said, “Great talk, Dad, but I bet you don’t really believe that bit about grades.” I assured her that I did. To prove it, I offered to pay her $100 if she got a ‘C’ on her next report card — in any subject.

We’ve all heard the familiar anxiety-inducing nostrums: That a screw-up in high school will follow you for the rest of your life. That if you don’t get into Harvard or Yale, you’ll never reach the c-suite. That the path to success is narrow and you’d better not take one false step. I have come to think of this unfounded belief system as what we psychologists call a “shared delusion.”

So why don’t we tell our kids the truth about success? We could start with the fact that only a third of adults hold degrees from four-year colleges. Or that you’ll do equally well in terms of income, job satisfaction and life satisfaction whether you go to an elite private college or a less-selective state university. Or that there are there are many occupations through which Americans make a living, many of which do not require a college degree.

I am not against being a good student, and there are clear advantages to doing well in school. But you don’t need to be a top student or go to a highly selective college to have a successful and fulfilling life. The path to success is not nearly so narrow as we think. We’ve all heard the stories of the college dropout who went on to found a wildly successful company. I myself was a C+ student in high school who flunked out of graduate school. At one point I went for 20 weeks without turning in a single assignment. (I often tell the underachievers I see in my practice: “Top that!”) Long story short, I managed to do pretty well in life, and I credit my failure in graduate school with leading me to a career more in line with my skill set.

The problem with the stories we’re telling our kids is that they foster fear and competition. This false paradigm affects high-achieving kids, for whom a rigid view of the path to success creates unnecessary anxiety, and low-achieving kids, many of whom conclude at a young age that they will never be successful, and adopt a “why try at all?” attitude. Many of these young people engage in one of the most debilitating forms of self-talk, telling themselves either, “I have to, but I can’t,” or “I have to, but I hate it.”

Why do we encourage our children to embrace this delusional view of what it takes to be successful?

I’ve asked various school administrators why they don’t just tell kids the truth about college — that where you go makes very little difference later in life.

They’ll shrug and say, “Even if we did, no one would believe it.” One confided to me, “We would get angry calls and letters from parents who believe that, if their children understood the truth, they would not work hard in school and would have second-class lives.”

Many adults worry that if their kids knew that grades in school aren’t highly predictive of success in life, they’d lose their motivation to apply themselves and aim high. In fact, the opposite is true. In my 32 years of working with kids as a psychologist, I’ve seen that simply telling kids the truth — giving them an accurate model of reality, including the advantages of being a good student — increases their flexibility and drive. It motivates kids with high aspirations to shift their emphasis from achieving for its own sake to educating themselves so that they can make an important contribution. An accurate model of reality also encourages less-motivated students to think more broadly about their options and energizes them to pursue education and self-development even if they aren’t top achievers.

Children are much more energized when they envision a future that is in line with their own values than when they dutifully do whatever they believe they have to do to live up to their parents’ or teachers’ or college admissions boards’ expectations. We don’t inspire our kids through fear. We inspire them by helping them to focus on getting better at something, rather than being the best, and by encouraging them to immerse themselves in something they love.

So if you want your kids to succeed in life, don’t perpetuate a fear-based understanding of success. Start with the assumption that your children want their lives to work. Then tell them the truth: That we become successful by working hard at something that engages us, and by pulling ourselves up when we stumble.


Like the author, I was not a perfect student in high school (although I did not flunk out of college or graduate school). However, I similarly credit my “failure” in high school, and not getting into my supposed dream college, with leading me to a school and eventually a career most in line with my skill sets. I am incredibly thankful for the unwavering support of my parents along the way, especially during high school when I was a rebellious and often not very pleasant to be around teen.

 

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Why You Should Look Beyond The Usual Suspects When Applying To College

Not a news flash: Getting into the country’s most selective colleges is more fiercely competitive than ever, with many schools reporting a record number of applicants (again). To many, this news is fear-inducing. How will I (or my child) possibly get admitted to a “top” college or university? Answering how is hard. There are no silver bullets in this process, and the reality is most applicants won’t get admitted to the top-top schools. Instead of trying (too hard in many cases) to become the applicant you think one of these uber selective schools will admit, I suggest a path of far less resistance and more authenticty—a path that includes looking at colleges where you have a realistic chance of being admitted.

There are schools outside of the top 30 ranked on US News, and they are excellent. We help families find these schools, and we’ve seen that when they can think outside of the box, they end up with incredible options and look back on the process much more fondly than those that are laser-focused on the same set of schools at which the rest of the world is aiming.

Here are some numbers from a recent Boston Globe article noting the 20-year admit rate changes at a few of the country’s most popular schools. I’ve been saying this for a few years now, but it is time to start looking outside of the bubble of these and the other “most popular” schools, and these numbers should provide a nudge in doing so.

 

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How to Get Off The Waitlist

Some colleges and universities just can’t admit all of the students they’d like to in regular decision. The result? Often, placement on the waitlist. Getting admitted from the waitlist is not easy, but it is possible at some schools.

After accepting a spot on the WL, many students just “sit” there—rarely do students continue to communicate with the school and go above and beyond in showing them they are their number one choice. The “sitting” method makes sense for many students, and especially students at schools that take very few students from the WL. But, for students who want to increase their likelihood of being admitted, “working” the waitlist can do exactly that—work!

Before getting busy implementing waitlist strategies, it is important that students deposit at their current top choice school (so a school where they have been admitted), and get excited about the prospect of attending. They should take advantage of admitted student days and other events that help students connect with their potential future classmates, including joining Class of 2022 Facebook groups. These forums are often very informative and fun and can help students take their minds off their waitlist status.

I also suggest getting familiar with the available waitlist data. How many students are offered spots on the WL? How many accept their spot, and more importantly, how many does school X ultimately admit? Some of these numbers are dismal, but it is best to know what you are up against rather than sit hopefully in the dark. Look at the Common Data Set first (http://www.commondataset.org/). College Kickstart also provides very useful waitlist data from many top institutions and presents it clearly and concisely, typically in tables.

Once a student has accepted their spot on the WL, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized themselves with the waitlist data, I suggest considering the strategies below. Not all of them here are new, but some of my students have tested the ones that are a bit outside of the box, and they work!

  1. Write a waitlist letter. This letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied. Consider including:
    1. A paragraph or two of “academic” updates. Spend some time talking about coursework and school projects, and make connections to future courses of study. You can even drop in related courses you’d like to take from the college/university you are writing to, like those you’d include in a Why School essay if you did not submit an essay of this type when you applied.
    2. A paragraph or two of “extracurricular” updates. This includes school and non-school clubs, service commitments, and/or other leadership experiences you can highlight. Like the academic paragraph(s), making connections to similar opportunities you plan to undertake at the college/university you are writing to would be nice additions. For example, if you talk about a new project you spearheaded as VP of your school’s Interact Club, you may want to include that you hope to lead a similar project within a specific club or group at school X. Being very specific is important.
    3. A paragraph that talks about the additional ways you have connected with and continued to get to know school X since you applied. This could include setting up an informational interview with a local alum, a current student, reaching out to your local regional alumni group (more on this below), or continuing to connect with your regional rep via email.
    4. A paragraph that reiterates your interest in the school, and that if admitted, you will attend. *If you are not 100% committed to attending, do not say so in the letter.
  2. Send your waitlist letter to your regional rep. Ask them if they have any advice for you as a waitlisted candidate. Keep this line of communication open; do not email them every week, but stay in touch to continue to demonstrate interest.
  3. Ask your guidance counselor to call the admissions office and advocate for you, as well as provide any additional information they may have that will support your candidacy.  Ask them to back up what they say on the phone in an email, too, if they have time and are willing! Make sure they send updated grades/transcript promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or gotten better, not dipped. If your grades have gone down, this will not work in your favor.
  4. Obtain and have an extra letter of recommendation sent, but only if the school welcomes extra LORs (some schools explicitly state on their WL docs they do not welcome or want extra LORs). A teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your potential contributions to the university could draft this letter. *Side note on alumni letters­ and letters from well-known and or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person really knows you or they are a very high-level donor with solid connections to admissions. If you think that a big name vouching for you will help, it generally doesn’t as a stand-alone factor, and officers can see through these often brief and less than meaningful notes.
  5. If you did not already, visit the school and swing by admissions to reiterate interest. Sit in on a class, stay overnight, take advantage of any admissions events/programming, and try to meet with students/faculty in your intended area of study.

Consider the following strategies in addition to the tried and true tips above:

  1. Check if the college/university has a local alumni group (Google search) and if so, reach out to them and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending.
  2. Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your WL school on FB, Instagram, Snap or other social channels, or Tweet to them your desire to attend.

I’m often asked if I think doing everything on this list is too much, and I do not—all of these strategies are acceptable forms of demonstrating interest even when combined. Accepting your spot on the WL is a standard, required communication. Sending a waitlist letter, and even a follow-up email after a few weeks if a student has something additional to add that is worthy of sending (for example, an award at school, National Merit, a promotion at work, or admission to a selective internship/summer program) is not communication overkill. When a counselor calls a school on the student’s behalf to advocate for them or helps them have an extra letter of support sent, it’s not viewed as bothering the school. Even if a student shows up on a campus visit and drops by admissions and says hello, they are not going to get penalized.

Now… showing up and begging, pleading, showering everyone in the office with gifts, staying for two hours until someone will meet with them, or other over the top gimmicks or antics would be looked down upon, so make sure students know this type of behavior is not appreciated or welcomed. Ultimately, students should look back on being waitlisted and feel like they gave it their best shot!

More questions about the WL? Email us!

 

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March (College Admissions) Madness

March. Quite the month for many students, parents, and counselors.

Alongside excitement, there is often a good amount of disappointment, frustration, anger, and confusion. Many of these feelings stem from rejections or waitlist responses from our country’s most selective schools. But did you know: there are thousands of colleges in the U.S., and the vast majority of them accept far more applicants than they reject? There are just so many fantastic schools that fly under the radar and not only those on the CTCL list, either. I hope that in the future more students and parents will look beyond the schools with the most significant brand recognition and prestige as they craft their college lists. In fact, they are going to have to if you look at this years admit rates. I think that is a good thing.

In addition to considering other colleges, I also hope students can take some time to reflect back on their college application process and see the positives—personal growth, self-actualization, maybe even becoming a better writer—in light of rejections or other perceived failures.

Just making it through high school today is no joke, so I suggest starting there! The students I work with are so accomplished, every single one of them, and they have a lot to feel proud of every day. Sometimes it just takes some honest reflection to see and internalize all of the good that is already in your life. Second, where you go to college does not determine your happiness, your success in life, or set your future path in stone. This has been true since before Frank Bruni told us so. What is more important is much more personal—like how hard you work and how you treat others. To me, that is what will take you far in life. Third, I suggest practicing gratitude during this time, even though it may feel hard. Gratitude is a skill, so you must practice it. Lynn Goldberg at Tiny Buddha has some great tips for getting started:

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

Make gratitude a daily habit. Every day, jot down ten great things that happened to you or that you are grateful for. Keeping your focus on the positive will really make a difference.

2. Practice present moment awareness.

The habit of being fully present and not wishing for something in the future or the past—but just being grateful for what is—can really shift your perspective. Catch yourself when that moment escapes you, and gently remind yourself to come back.

3. Think bigger than yourself.

Become involved in a cause that is important to you. As you become aware of other people who are less fortunate than you, you will start to feel a deeper appreciation for what you do have. Many of us have so much.

4. Share the love with your family and friends.

Cultivate an appreciation for others and let them regularly know that you are grateful for them and for what they do for you—whether it be helping with homework or always inviting you out to do something fun. Focusing on the positive will make people want to keep doing it, and help you realize you should be doing the same.

5. Replace complaints with gratitude.

When you find yourself focusing on what you believe you’re lacking—I wish my car were nicer, I had more money, or I got into a “better” college—replace it with thoughts of what you are thankful for.

To all the college applicants out there who know where they are headed at the end of the summer, this advice applies to you, too. And to everyone else still waiting to hear, still waiting to decide, or who is going to tough it out on the WL this spring and into summer, stay positive and remember:

“Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications are not your life.” (JK Rowling)

I will be posting more thoughts from Rowling about “failure” later this month, from one of my favorite tiny books, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.

 

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Why “Early” School Choice Continues to be Critical To Admissions Success

Now more than ever before, colleges and universities are filling the majority of their freshmen classes via early admission programs. Unfortunately, this means applying early is a must at many selective schools, as regular decision admit rates are at all-time lows. Why? A recent article via Applerouth notes:

College admissions officers love early applicants, and not just because they tend to be among the best and the brightest. Remember, a college admissions officer has one goal: to enroll bright, dedicated students who are passionate about attending their school. From their perspective, early action and early decision candidates are a safer bet than regular admissions candidates – especially in restricted early action and early decision schools. A student who applies early is less likely to be “shopping around” or considering multiple schools. Early decision, in particular, is a guaranteed enrollment for an admissions officer, and that helps the college’s yield rate – the percent of accepted students who choose to enroll in a given college.

But as the article also points out, early admit rates are going down, not up. Why?

The pool of early applicants is getting bigger. Regular deadlines have passed, and many colleges are reporting record-breaking applicant pools for the class of 2022: Princeton saw a 14% increase this year in applications, while Penn saw a 10% increase and UVA’s numbers hit an all-time high for the third year in a row. Early application numbers are up as well, as students try to reserve their spot by getting in early. A rise in application numbers means a rise in competition across the board.

However, keep in mind:

Although schools are reporting lower acceptance rates for early applicants, students who apply early still have a better chance at acceptance than they do in the regular admissions period.

Hopefully, these numbers encourage you to choose your early school(s) wisely and perhaps err on the side of caution. More final numbers from this admissions season will be out soon. In the meantime, here are some numbers from a 2017 article on the same topic. Still very relevant, and help paint the picture:

Colorado College accepted 87% of its class through early admissions programs (they have ED and EA). Although hard to believe, the regular decision admission rate at Colorado College was just 5% this year. For students applying ED, the admit rate was 26%.

The story is not much different at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt accepts about 53% of its 1600 freshmen through its EDI and EDII programs.  This past admissions cycle, students who applied to Vanderbilt EDI or EDII had a 23.6% admit rate. Students who applied during the regular admissions cycle had an admit rate of just 2.7%.

Regular Decision candidates didn’t fare much better at Tulane, either.

Lindsay Hoyt, Assistant Director of Admissions at Tulane, said during a presentation in San Antonio that the university’s inaugural ED year was “successful” for the admissions office. She estimated that Tulane’s incoming first-year class for 2021 would have around 1470 total students, just 50 of whom had not applied either ED or EA.  

I often advise students (and their parents) to not “waste” their early decision card. It is not because I don’t want students to pursue their dream college—I do, but this can often wait until graduate school. It’s because they may end up at a school that is far less selective than their profile warrants solely because RD is nearly impossible today.

Here’s an example. Your top choice is Harvard. You have all A’s, a 34 ACT, 2-3 subject tests that are above 750, a strong but standard profile (which is most applicants), and attend a well-known competitive high school. You are not a recruited athlete, legacy, or underrepresented minority student. Harvard is a reach for you; I would advise you not to apply as your chances are going to be much greater elsewhere. You apply anyway and are rejected (or worse, deferred, which almost never works out!).

Your sights are still set on an Ivy, so you end up applying to them all RD, plus Stanford, and Emory, Rice, JHU, Vanderbilt, and Duke. In the best case scenario, you get into Emory and *maybe* (with a bit of luck) get into Cornell, JHU, Rice, Vandy or Duke—but there are no guarantees for you at those schools RD. Chances are you’ll get into at least one, but you could not get into any of them depending on how the early round played out at your high school. If it was a bloodbath (this sometimes happens), you could get shut out of all these schools because competition RD will be that much greater at your high school. A smart option would be to apply somewhere ED II (UChicago and Tufts = great choices).

When you have to apply during RD, you need to cast a very wide net. You need to throw in some schools that are safe bets from your high school, and this means safety schools. Apply to your state school early just in case, or if you apply ED, pair that app with as many “match” EA’s as you can so you can avoid relying on RD. If you have a top choice on your list that has ED II, highly consider that option if you do not get into your first choice early.

Contact us to learn more about our college counseling services, and how we can work together to choose your early school(s) wisely!

 

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What to do if you’ve been waitlisted

Some colleges and universities just can’t admit all of the students they’d like to in regular decision. The result? Often, placement on the waitlist. Getting admitted from a college waitlist is not easy, but it is possible at some schools.

After accepting a spot on the waitlist, many students just “sit” there—rarely do students continue to communicate with the school and go above and beyond in showing them they are their number one choice. The “sitting” method makes sense for many students, and especially students at schools that take very few students from the waitlist. But, for students who want to increase their likelihood of being admitted, “working” the waitlist can do exactly that—it can work.

Before getting busy implementing waitlist strategies, it is important that students deposit at their current top choice school (so a school where they have been admitted), and get excited about the prospect of attending. They should take advantage of admitted student days and other events that help students connect with their potential future classmates, including joining Class of 2022 Facebook groups. These forums are often very informative and fun and can help students take their minds off their waitlist status.

I also suggest getting familiar with the available college waitlist data. How many students at school X are offered spots on the waitlist? How many accept their spot, and more importantly, how many does school X ultimately admit? Some of these numbers are dismal, but it is best to know what you are up against rather than sit hopefully in the dark. Look at the Common Data Set first. College Kickstart also provides very useful waitlist data from many top institutions and presents it clearly and concisely, typically in tables.

Once a student has accepted their spot on the waitlist, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized themselves with the waitlist data, I suggest considering the seven strategies I outlined in a recent Grown and Flown article. Not all of them are new, but some of my students have tested the ones that are a bit outside of the box, with success.

 

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Colleges Where Demonstrated Interest Matters

Does “demonstrated interest” matter in college admissions? It depends.

Demonstrated interest is one of the admissions criteria used by many competitive colleges and refers to ways that an applicant shows he or she is serious about enrolling at a given college. There are lots of ways to demonstrate interest. An applicant who connects with their regional representative or attends an info session or campus tour is demonstrating interest, and in turn, might be more valued than one who doesn’t communicate beyond applying. Although some schools say it does not matter, from my experience—more often than not—it does. When two files are on the table being compared side-by-side, you don’t unsee the way(s) one applicant demonstrated interest and the other did not. If all else can be held equal, this might end up being a factor.

I believe that if you live near a school on your list and you can get to campus, you should, even if the school says they do not take demonstrated interest into account. Why miss out on learning more about a school you could end up attending? If financing visits is a barrier, look into college fly-in programs as many schools offer them. And everyone should connect with their regional rep! It’s not hard or time-consuming to send an email or two.

College Kickstart identified schools where the Common Data Set entry for “level of applicant’s interest” is reported as important or very important. Check out their comprehensive and helpful list here!

 

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