Colleges With Generous Merit Aid

My favorite data site College Kickstart has compiled a list of competitive 4-year institutions that offer merit aid to 20% or more of undergraduates. Merit awards are typically not based on financial need but rather on academic performance and other qualities deemed desirable by the institution. As such, they can make college more affordable for academically gifted students—especially those that are unlikely to qualify for need-based financial aid.

Read more here!

In Transitional Year, SAT Scores Drop on Old Test

The College Board today announces average scores on the SAT for last year’s high school graduating class — and such announcements are typically a time of debate over the state of education, the value of standardized testing, educational inequities and more. This year’s results are somewhat difficult to analyze, because some students took the old version of the SAT and others the new. The College Board reported declines in the average scores from the class, but those averages are for those who took the old SAT. The ACT also reported declines this year, noting that more students are taking the test. Both the College Board and the ACT are pursuing more contracts with states to require high school seniors to take one test or the other, and that means more test takers may not in fact be prepared for or preparing for college.

In comparing the old SAT’s scores for the class of 2016, compared to 2015:

  • The average for critical reading was 494, down from 497.
  • The average for math was 508, down from 512.
  • The average for writing was 482, down from 487.

Full results are available here, but readers are cautioned by the many caveats about comparisons because of the transitional year.

2016 Survey of Admissions Directors – Insights

admission-survey-2016-cover-large

A few important, key insights from the 2016 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors. Read all of the notes on key themes in the full article by Scott Jaschik on Inside Higher Ed here.

A New Application

A year ago, the big buzz at the NACAC annual meeting was the announcement of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, a group of elite public and private colleges that aimed to make the application process more personal, more open to the needs of individual students and colleges and more educational. At the NACAC meeting, coalition members heard plenty of skepticism and vowed to explain in the months ahead just what their effort entailed and why it would help colleges and students.

To judge from the Inside Higher Ed survey, the coalition still has a lot of work to do. Among the findings:

  • Only 29 percent of admissions directors agree or strongly agree that the Common Application needs to have more competition, compared to 49 percent who disagree or strongly disagree. This finding suggests that the Common Application has repaired much of the damage from its technology meltdown two years ago that left many colleges frustrated to be stuck without what they considered viable alternatives to the Common App.
  • Only 23 percent of admissions directors agree or strongly agree that the “digital locker” — an online tool the coalition is creating to let high school students save materials throughout their high school careers — is a good way to prepare for college and the admissions process. Thirty-eight percent disagree or strongly disagree.
  • Only 8 percent of admissions directors agree or strongly agree that the coalition has done a good job of explaining its process to colleges and their applicants — compared to 68 percent who disagree or strongly disagree.
  • And only 15 percent of admissions directors agree or strongly agree that the coalition application would encourage more applications from minority and disadvantaged applicants (a rationale offered by many coalition supporters). Fifty-seven percent disagree or strongly disagree.

Annie Reznik, executive director of the coalition, said she wasn’t surprised by some of the negative reactions, even if she thought they might not reflect the work the group has been doing. “Any new initiative brings hesitancy and skepticism,” she said via email.

And much of the initial public discussion, she said, didn’t focus on efforts by member colleges to increase outreach to disadvantaged students. Numerous efforts have been started in recent months by the group and by its member colleges to increase college awareness in low-income areas and to talk to more students about the importance of college. In time, she said, people will see that the coalition is about these efforts, not just the application.

Much has been misunderstood about the locker, she said, but that is proceeding with positive results. “Many individuals external to the coalition have identified additional, excellent uses for this student space,” she said. “Some ideas include: supporting a portfolio grading system using the locker, encouraging students to save pieces from an English class’s personal writing unit in their lockers, collecting letters of recommendation from service work that could be shared with a teacher or counselor, scanning a copy of a student’s hard-earned compliment card for providing great service at work.”

The New SAT

Since Inside Higher Ed‘s 2015 admissions survey, the College Board has started using a new SAT, designed to align itself more closely than the previous version with a college-preparatory high school curriculum. A key feature of the new SAT was to revamp the widely criticized writing test.

The response of admissions directors to these changes appears underwhelming. And the new writing test is not attracting broad support. Nor is ACT’s writing test.

Admissions Directors on the SAT and ACT Writing Tests

Statement Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
The new SAT version represents a significant improvement over the old version. 2% 12% 65% 13% 9%
I expect more colleges to go test optional in the years ahead. 26% 47% 22% 4% 2%
I consider the writing test on the SAT to be a good measure of student writing ability. 0% 19% 44% 21% 16%
I consider the writing test on the ACT to be a good measure of student writing ability. 2% 18% 44% 22% 15%

The expectation that more colleges will go test optional may be of concern to both the College Board and the ACT, although it is important to note that most applicants to most test-optional colleges continue to submit scores.

But the test-optional numbers are growing. Just this week, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a critic of standardized testing, released data showing that half of the colleges on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the top 100 liberal arts colleges are test optional.

Also this week, ACT released a report questioning the rationale behind colleges going test optional. The report says that these policies are based on false assumptions and that test scores add to the information admissions officers need.

Race and Admissions

The Supreme Court ruled in June that colleges have the right to consider race and ethnicity in admissions (and presumably also in financial aid) in certain circumstances. The ruling came in a challenge to the policies of the University of Texas at Austin in litigation that had been going on for years. The Supreme Court ruling cited the research Texas did over the years to show why it needed to consider race in admissions — and the decision said that colleges need to have conducted such studies to consider race.

The survey results suggest that relatively few colleges have done or plan to do such studies. This may be because many colleges do not consider race in admissions (and aren’t competitive in admissions). But this could make some colleges vulnerable to lawsuits.

Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of admissions directors said they believed the Supreme Court ruling would preserve the legal right to consider race and ethnicity for the foreseeable future.

But only 13 percent of colleges said they conducted studies similar to those the Supreme Court cited as making the Texas approach legal. And only 24 percent said they planned to either start or continue such studies.

Only 4 percent said they planned to change admissions practices in light of the court’s ruling.

Critics of affirmative action, during the months before the Supreme Court ruled, repeatedly argued that colleges’ current practices have the impact of making it more difficult for Asian-American applicants to win admission.

This year’s survey asked the admissions directors two questions related to that argument. A significant minority indicated that they believe Asian-American applicants are held to a higher standard generally, and that this is the case at their institutions.

Admissions Directors on Asian-American Applicants

Statement Public % Yes Private % Yes
Do you believe that some colleges are holding Asian-American applicants to higher standards? 39% 42%
At your college, do Asian-American applicants who are admitted generally have higher grades and test scores than other applicants? 41% 30%

Early Admission Stats – Class of 2020

usa-college-map

As you determine if you are going to apply to a school ED, or a few schools EA or REA, it may be helpful to know last years early admit rates. Early admit rates tend to be much higher than RD admit rates.  Check out where the schools on your list stand, below!

Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

Institution (Plan) Applied Admitted Rate Link
Amherst (ED) 454 180 40% Link
Boston College (REA) 8,600 2,700 31% Link
Boston University (ED) 3,461 1,050 30% Link
Bowdoin (ED1) 614 207 34% Link
Brown (ED) 3,030 669 22% Link
Columbia (ED) 3,520 Link
Cornell (ED) 4,882 1,337 27% Link
Dartmouth (ED) 1,927 494 26% Link
Davidson (ED) 692 290 42% Link
Dickinson (ED1) 251 220 88% Link
Duke (ED) 3,455 818 24% Link
George Washington (ED) 1,373 841 61% Link
Georgetown (REA) 7,027 892 13% Link
Georgia Tech (EA) 14,861 4,424 30% Link
Hamilton (ED) 578 240 42% Link
Harvard (SCEA) 6,173 918 15% Link
Harvey Mudd (ED) 464 77 17% Link
Johns Hopkins (ED) 1,907 559 29% Link
Kenyon (ED) 378 240 63% Link
Middlebury (ED) 954 398 42% Link
MIT (EA) 7,767 656 8% Link
Northwestern (ED) 3,022 1,061 35% Link
Pitzer (ED) 423 117 28% Link
Pomona (ED) 914 177 19% Link
Princeton (SCEA) 4,229 767 18% Link
Scripps (ED) 236 113 48% Link
Stanford (REA) 7,822 745 10% Link
Tufts (ED) 2,070 663 32% Link
Union College (ED) 400 228 57% Link
University of Georgia (EA) 14,516 7,500 52% Link
UNC – Chapel Hill (EA) 19,682 6,948 35% Link
Notre Dame (REA) 5,321 1,610 30% Link
UPenn (ED) 5,762 1,335 23% Link
Virginia (EA) 16,768 5,203 31% Link
Vanderbilt (ED) 3,400 800 24% Link
Wesleyan (ED) 1,009 381 38% Link
Williams (ED) 585 246 42% Link
Yale (SCEA) 4,662 795 17% Link

 

Source: College Kickstart

Tags: Boston College, Brown, Class of 2020, Colorado College, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Davidson,Dickinson, Duke, Early Action, Early Admission, Early Decision, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hamilton,Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pitzer, Pomona,Princeton, Scripps, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Wesleyan, Williams,Yale

Class of 2021 – Early Admission Plan Changes

student-laptop-image

Many schools have updated/changed their admission plans this year. College Kickstart compiled a list that I include below. Make sure you are up to date!

Class of 2021 Admission Plan Changes

Institution ED1 ED2 EA1 EA2 REA Comments
Assumption College  + ED1 added
California State Polytechnic University – San Luis Obispo  – ED1 removed
Drake University  – EA2 removed
Elmira College  – + ED1/2 replaced with EA
Fairfield University  + ED2 added
Haverford College  + ED2 added
Loyola Marymount University  + ED1 added
Pace University  +  + ED1 and EA2 added
Providence College  + ED2 added
Saint Anselm  + ED1 added
Seton Hall University  + EA2 added
Texas A&M University – Engineering  + EA added for engineering
The New School – Eugene Lang  – + ED replaced with EA
Tulane University  + SCEA replaced with ED1
University of Chicago  + + ED1/2 added
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign  + Revamped EA
University of Miami  + ED2 added
Wake Forest University  + ED2 added
Wellesley College  + ED2 added
Wheaton College – MA  + ED2 added
Willamette University  – ED2 removed

 

Source: College Kickstart

Tags: Assumption, Cal Poly SLO, Class of 20201, Drake, Early Admission, Elmira, Fairfield, Haverford, Loyola Marymount, New School (Eugene Lang), Pace, Providence, Saint Anselm, Seton Hall, Texas A&M, Tulane,University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Miami, Wake Forest, Wellesley,Wheaton – MA, Willamette

Book Recommendations from IECA Members

stack_of_books

Recently, some fellow IECA members sent around a compilation of books, and I want to share them. I have read many of these books, and suggest students and parents take a look! Enjoy!

Helping Teenagers & Parents Deal with the Pressures and Stress of the High School Years:

  • How To Be a High School Superstar by Cal Newport
  • College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family by Steven Roy Goodman & Andrea Leiman
  • Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni
  • You Are Not Special: …..And Other Encouragements by David McCullough
  • Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Daniel Siegel
  • Your Defiant Child: Eight Steps to Better Behavior by Russell Barkley
  • Parenting with Love and Logic by F. & J. Fay Cline
  • Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood by F. & J. Fay Cline
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by S. Covey
  • Parenting Teenagers: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting by D. Dinkmeyer & G. McKay
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by A. Faber & E. Mazlish
  • Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots & Wings by M. Kenneth & R. Ginsburg
  • Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People, by S. Glenn & J. Nelson
  • Boys and Girls Learn Differently: A Guide for Teachers and Parents by Michael Gurian
  • The Wonder of Girls by Michael Gurian
  • The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian
  • Second Shelter: Family Strategies for Navigating Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers by R. Haid & E. Donnelly
  • Attachment-Focused Parenting: Effective Strategies to Care for Children by Daniel Hughes
  • The Parent Playbook by Russell Hyken
  • Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow by G. Keck & R. Kupecky
  • Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine
  • How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
  • Teens in Turmoil: A Path to Change for Parents, Adolescents and their Families by C. Maxym & L. York
  • An Unchanged Mind: The Problem with Immaturity in Adolescence by John McKinnon
  • To Change a Mind: Parenting to Promote Maturity in Teenagers by John McKinnon
  • When Parents Love Too Much: Freeing Parents & Children to Live Their Own Lives by M. Meyerson & L. Ashner
  • The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel
  • Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers by Wendy Mogel
  • Positive Discipline for Teenagers: Empowering Teens and Yourself through Kind and Firm Parenting by J. Nelson & L. Lott
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by K. Patterson
  • Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack
  • College that Change Lives: 40 Schools that Will Change the Way You Think About College by Laren Pope
  • Power and Compassion: Working with Difficult Adolescents and Abused Parents by Jerome Price
  • The Journey of the Heroic Parent: Your Child’s Struggle and the Road Home by Brad Reedy
  • The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins
  • Raising NLD Superstars: What Families with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities Need to Know About Nurturing Confident, Competent Kids by Marcia Rubinstein
  • Boys Themselves by Michael Ruhlman
  • The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied by Brad Sachs
  • The Good Enough Teen: Rising Adolescents with Love and Acceptance (Despite How Impossible They can Be) by Brad Sachs
  • Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax
  • Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax
  • Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love by Scott Sells
  • Parenting from the Inside Out: 10th Anniversary Edition: How a Self-Understanding Can Help you Raise Children by D.J. Siegel & M. Hartzell
  • Not By Chance Tim Thayne
  • How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
  • The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development by Richard Weissbourd
  • Parenting Your ADD Child: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation by Craig Weiner

The Transition from High School to College:

  • For Students:
    • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen
  • For Parents:
    • Letting Go by Karen Coburn
    • When Your Kids Go To College – A Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
    • Almost Grown – Launching Your Child From High School To College by Patricia Pasick
    • Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult Toward Success and Self-Reliance by Brad Sachs
    • The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only: A Parent’s Guide to the New College Experience by Harlan Cohen

Kaplan Will Offer Free Online PSAT Prep

Kaplan 2016 Image

Kaplan Test Prep is announcing today that it will offer free online PSAT instruction, starting in October. Kaplan will offer eight one-hour sessions live, with recordings available for those who can’t participate live. Kaplan’s announcement noted that, for many students, the PSAT is “the first meaningful step on their path to college.”

The move comes at a time that more testing services are offering free test prep. The College Board has been boasting about the free test prep it is offering for the SAT through the Khan Academy. In April, ACT and Kaplan Test Prep announced a collaboration to provide free online instruction, taught by teachers, for low-income students. That service will be available to all, but those who are not low income will have to pay a fee, estimated to be under $200.

Asked if the latest announcement was part of competition in the free test prep space, Lee Weiss, Kaplan Test Prep vice president of college admissions programs, said via email: “Not at all. Kaplan has been developing our live online instruction capabilities for years. We know that good live teaching makes a meaningful difference in student performance, and we’ve recognized that quality live instruction is not available at scale. As technology has evolved, we saw an opportunity to use technology and our respective expertise to create something that didn’t yet exist.”