Why I’ve Stopped Doing Interviews for Yale: Because the Admissions Situation is Crazypants.

college-rejection-tinder

Ben Orlin is right, college admissions is crazypants. The Business Insider article that stemmed from his Twitter post is worth a read.

Rejection by a university ought to feel like getting swiped left on Tinder,” he wrote. “There’s nothing terribly personal about it. The admissions office doesn’t really know you. The university is just looking out for its own interests, and you don’t happen to fit into the picture.

Orlin’s hesitation to be a part of a process that results in near total disappointment for applicants is even more understandable when looking at Ivy League acceptance rates.

For the class of 2020 the admission rate is below 10% for almost all Ivy League schools.

He flips that number around to talk about how many rejection letters Yale doles out.

No matter how sincere their intentions, the Yale admissions team is beholden to grim statistical reality: 94% of students are getting rejection letters,” he wrote.

Orlin suggests that Ivy League admission decisions should be chosen by lottery, and have base requirements that students must meet before applying in the first place. Will it happen? No. But something needs to be done.

2016 Survey of Admissions Directors – Insights

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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

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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

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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

Back From California

I just returned from a two-week trip to California, where I was helping run a Common App and essay writing workshop at Hammer Prep, in San Diego. The workshops (we run two) are always a blast, and students leave with:

  • A completed Common Application.
  • A polished Common Application Essay.
  • An Activities and Awards Resume, which can be used with all applications.
  • A Master Plan for college admission success, which includes a task list and timeline of any remaining items: application deadlines, additional test dates, supplemental essay topics, etc.

Many students will also leave with:

  • Supplemental essays.
  • University of California essays.

If you are located in the San Diego area, I highly suggest checking out Hammer and asking about next years workshops for your rising juniors! I hope to be there again 🙂

 

Common Application Goes Offline Thursday

As per the folks at the CA, despite account rollover this year, that app will still go offline:

Refresh, unwind, take a break! The 2015-2016 Common Application will be offline starting at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 21. We’re putting the final touches on the 2016-2017 Common Application, but we’ll be back on August 1 – ready and refreshed for the new school year.

Boo!

More Schools Added to The Common Application

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So happy Indiana and Wisconsin will now be on the CA. It is always helpful to students (and counselors) to have one less school specific app to proofread. Big time-saver!

New Members of The Common Application

United States

Alvernia University
Antioch College
Baker University
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Baylor University
Benedictine College
Benedictine University
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus
Carthage College
Concordia College at Moorhead
Concordia University Chicago
D’Youville College
Dean College
Eastern Kentucky University
Edgewood College
George Mason University
Goddard College
Hastings College
Indiana University-Bloomington
Keiser University Flagship Campus – West Palm Beach Florida
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Middle Tennessee State University
North Park University
Northwest Nazarene University
Ohio University
Paul Smith’s College
St. Andrews University (NC)
Stephens College
The Culinary Institute of America (CA)
The Culinary Institute of America (NY)
The Culinary Institute of America (TX)
Touro College
University of Akron Main Campus
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Bridgeport
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Western Illinois University

International    

Birmingham City University
Bishop’s University
Doshisha University, The Institute for the Liberal Arts
IE University
Quest University Canada
Saint Louis University-Madrid
University of East Anglia
University of Hong Kong
University of Lincoln
University of Warwick
University of Worcester

Expanding Students’ Thinking about “Good” Colleges

landing_page_header Harvard GSE
The recent report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education entitled “Turning the Tide” suggests and recommends a lot of things. The report is in the news all of the time, so although I have no desire to read more about it, I do. Of all of the suggestions and recommendations, the one that I keep coming back to is recommendation #5: Expanding Students’ Thinking about “Good” Colleges

“Admissions officers and guidance counselors should challenge the misconception that there are only a handful of excellent colleges and that only a handful of colleges create networks that are vital to job success. It is incumbent upon parents to challenge this misconception as well. There is a broad range of excellent colleges across the country, and students who attend these colleges are commonly successful later in life in the full array of professions. There are many paths to professional success, and students and parents should be far more concerned with whether a college is a good fit for a student than how high status it is.”

The problem with this recommendation is that it ignores a) there are a ton of excellent colleges where meaningful networks can be created and b) there are many parents (and counselors) who have been for a long time encouraging students and families to look beyond the rankings, brand names and the haze of prestige.

I spend a good amount of time talking to parents and students who are “stuck” focused on a certain school or set of schools, many times unable to face the reality that attending one of these schools or school X of their dreams is slim. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with anything other than numbers, plain and simple, yet most students and families take this very personally because they have narrowly defined what a good (or even great) college is.

The saddest part of these conversations is knowing that either party is disappointed when they do not need to be, and that may of them wallow in this disappoints for the entire application process. There are so many GREAT colleges that fit the needs of so many students the choices are almost endless. I don’t know, but to me this is exciting. Having 3-5 solid options sounds like a dream to me, and this can be the reality for most students with proper planning and expectation setting (which includes having an expanded definition of what a ‘good” college is).

Having worked with college applicants for almost five years now, I know from experience how wonderful it is when a student receives a multitude of acceptances or acceptance to their top choice. This is not the result of luck, but of an appropriate college list. An appropriate list consists of a majority of match schools, and a few safeties and reaches—not a few safeties and then all reaches just for the heck of it. When you craft a list that sets your student up for success, nine times out of ten, the process ends on a positive note. The mindset of “just giving it a shot [regarding reaches]” is not a good one; it rarely if ever works out well.

There is very little if no luck at all in this process! Also, why would anyone want to attend a school where they are going be unsuccessful or be at the bottom of the class academically compared to their peers? Many people answer because they will build a better network, or because it is better to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. To this I say you will find people smarter than you wherever you go, especially in college—take a peek at any honors program and you’ll see. Regarding network, sure, there may be some merit to this argument in some cases, but if you want entry into certain circles, there are ways to make that happen with hard work and a little persistence. A degree from college X is not always the only way to reach a desired career or network related outcome. Lastly, I’d rather attend a school that fits my academic profile and do my best to excel and rise to the top of the class than fall somewhere in the middle. If you have grad school in your sights, then this is key—you need a killer GPA, no exceptions, for a top graduate program.

When students and families expand their thinking about good (and I say, great) colleges, they open up a world of possibilities and from my experience, avenues for not only academic success but genuine happiness with their college experience. It is time to stop thinking so narrowly about college.

 

TED-Ed is Awesome

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I am probably a bit late to the party, but TED-Ed is one of my new favorite online learning platforms. TED’s “Lessons Worth Sharing” are certainly that and more. TED-Ed lessons are built around TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or YouTube videos, with subjects ranging from the arts and mathematics to business, health, teaching and education, and my favorite thinking and learning. From “The Ethical Dilemma of Self-driving Cars” to “Why Do Some People Go Bald,” there is no lack of content worth checking out on TED-Ed.

There are also series, collections of videos on a particular topic, like “Superhero Science,” “You Are What You Eat,” or my favorite “Everyone Has a Story.” And last but not least, TED-Ed Clubs.

 

 

TED-Ed Clubs supports students in presenting their big ideas in the form of short TED-style talks. Some students may even end up on the TED stage and online. Want to learn how to start a TED-Ed Club (why not, right?)? Download the TED-Ed Club information packet.

I highly recommend checking out TED-Ed in its entirety. A solid resource for students, parents, educators, and life-long learners of all ages.