College Waiting Lists: What to Expect

College Waiting Lists: What to Expect

Many are convinced that next week when Ivy League and the remaining highly selective colleges theoretically tell applicants if they were admitted, they actually won’t for thousands of students. Those students will be placed in waitlist purgatory. 

Read more from Inside Higher Ed on what might be in store for the waitlist this year, and check out some of our insights here (and here) on how to navigate the wait. 

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Waitlist Letters: What You Need to Know

Waitlist Letters: What You Need to Know

Despite more schools possibly needing to go to the WL, getting admitted from the waitlist is not exactly easy. However, it is possible with some work! Although I do not suggest being overly optimistic, there are strategies that have worked for students in the past that I shared in this post. If you want individualized guidance, please reach out.

Once you have accepted a spot on the WL, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized yourself with the waitlist data, also read this article by Rick Clark from Georgia Tech

Accepting your spot on the WL is a standard, required communication, but you might want to consider sending a waitlist letter once you have some meaningful information to share. This might not be the same day or even a few days or weeks after you’ve been WL’d, so don’t rush it. It is better to send something that might be valuable than just send something to say “you’d attend if admitted.” 

Please remember, showing up on campus or other over-the-top gimmicks or antics are looked down upon, so please understand that this type of behavior is not appreciated or welcomed. The good thing is, you can’t show up on many campuses now; so please don’t. 

More questions about the WL? Email us!

For a sample letter, please subscribe to our blog (link below) and email us requesting it and we will share it within 24 hours. 

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LGBTQ+ Virtual College Fair

LGBTQ+ Virtual College Fair

Attend NJACAC’s first annual LGBTQ+ College Fair (Sign up here!)!

From the New Jersey Association for College Admissions Counseling:

NJACAC has organized college fairs and college readiness events for decades, but we had yet to build a safer space for LGBTQ+ students to freely ask the questions that are most important to them. Will I fit in at this institution? Can I see myself as a student there? Will I matter?  

Each school in attendance today has taken an active step in building its LGBTQ+ communities. By participating in this fair, they have acknowledged wanting LGBTQ+ students in their greater communities. Additionally, we have utilized the Campus Pride Index to showcase an objective rating as to where the policies of each institution fall in terms of LGBTQ+ friendliness. The Pride Index is always a good place to start with your search but it should not be the only place you look.

At this fair, please ask questions. In a heteronormative society, it can be challenging to envision yourself in different places. Take this time to explore these schools. Ask the representatives about the experiences you hope to have. Share your concerns about the barriers you may face. Follow up with the representatives after this event and when it’s safe to, if you are able to, go see those campuses you liked in person.

We hope after this event, you are one step closer to obtaining what every student hopes to find in a college; the best fit for you.

Sign up here!

In addition to the college fair, sessions include:

Should I Come Out in My Personal Statement (And If So, How)?

LGBTQ Students and the College Search Process

 

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Rejection Often Happens Because of a Lack of Fit

When someone rejects you, it helps to remember that there’s another you.

Each year since it was posted, I have revisited a wonderful article by Adam Grant on rejection.

We are thankful that most of our students gain admission to their top choice schools in the EA, ED 1, or ED 2 rounds. But every year, we wait for RD results alongside students who were not so lucky or strategic in their choices. I love seeing students’ “pictures” come together in their applications, and I don’t love the anxiety that leads up to decision releases and knowing how hard most students (and many of their parents) take rejection.

As someone who has been rejected an appropriate amount, How to Bounce Back From Rejection is something I know well. However, it is not something you can really teach or prepare a student for when it comes to the college process. It is especially tough during a sea change year (i.e., this year) and when there is a lot of misinformation and misguidance around how hard it really is to get into top schools in the US, but this post is not about that!

What Grants points out that I hope all students and parents can keep in mind is rejection often happens for a reason: lack of fit. It is not entirely personal or a reflection of your whole self or success as a student. You don’t control a school’s behind-the-scenes institutional priorities, and they are shifting drastically. Sometimes, no matter how qualified you are on paper, you are not what a school needs and there is simply nothing that you can do about it. 

Please keep in mind:

We are more than the bullet points on our resumes. We are better than the sentences we string together into a word salad under the magnifying glass of an interview. No one is rejecting us. They are rejecting a sample of our work, sometimes only after seeing it through a foggy lens.

Hang in there, folks! In the end, things almost always tend to work out just how they should.

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Junior Jumpstart: Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Williams

Junior Jumpstart: Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Williams

Event Alert!

The college search is already challenging for students and families. So Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Williams are putting their rivalries aside, and hosting a series of virtual events for students, families, and counselors.

Students: RSVP for the events that interest you, and browse recordings of previous sessions at the bottom of the page. You can also fill out one easy form to get admission information about each school.

Image: sixcolleges.org

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College Waitlist: What to Do to Maximize Your Chances

College Waitlist: What to Do to Maximize Your Chances

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to, so many are put on the waitlist. And this year, COVID-19 might again impact yield, meaning more colleges will need to go to their waitlist to fill the incoming class.

For a sample update letter, please subscribe to our blog (link below) and email us requesting it and we will share it within 24 hours. 

Despite more schools possibly needing to go to the WL, getting admitted from the waitlist is not exactly easy. However, it is possible with some work! Although I do not suggest being overly optimistic, there are strategies that have worked for students in the past that I am going to share in this post. Of course, if you want individualized guidance, we can provide it, so please reach out.

First, get familiar with the WL data from past years. 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. Look at the Common Data Set first (http://www.commondataset.org/). A few other sites to review:

Before implementing waitlist strategies (below), it is important to deposit at a current top choice school (a school where you have been admitted) and get excited about the prospect of attending. Take advantage of admitted student days and other events that connect you with potential future classmates, including joining “Class of 2025” social media groups. These forums are often very informative, fun, and can help you take your mind off the waitlist waiting game.

Once you have accepted a spot on the WL, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized yourself with the waitlist data, I suggest considering the strategies below. Not all of them are novel, but without much to lose, why not do all you can so you can look back without any what-ifs?

  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. Academic Update: 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 at school X, like those you’d include in a Why School essay, but only do this if you did not submit an essay of this type when you applied, otherwise you are being redundant and that is not well-received.
    2. Extracurricular Updates. But only if significant and can be connected to how you will add value to the school where you are deferred. 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 in college can be helpful 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. 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.
  2. Send your waitlist letter to your regional rep (if an option) or upload it on your applicant portal. Ask whoever you address it to if they have any advice for you as a waitlisted candidate. Keep this line of communication open; do not send updates 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 if they have time and are willing. Make sure they send updated grades/transcripts promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or gotten better, not dipped.
  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 knows well you or they are a very high-level donor with solid connections to admissions (even then why count on someone else?). 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.

Consider the following strategies in addition:

  1. Check if school X 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 via Zoom or Skype for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, as those learnings might be good fodder for a WL update.
  2. Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your WL school on TikTok, Instagram, or other social channels to connect. Don’t forget to open all email correspondence from the school, as schools track opens/clicks as interest.

Now… showing up on campus or other over-the-top gimmicks or antics would be looked down upon, so please understand that this type of behavior is not appreciated or welcomed. The good thing is, you can’t show up on campus now, but take this note as a reminder of the level of inappropriate that is a big no.

Ultimately, you want to look back on being waitlisted and feel like you gave it your best shot!

More questions about the WL? Email us!

For a sample letter, please subscribe to our blog (link below) and email us requesting it and we will share it within 24 hours. 

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Sunday 3/7: NACAC Virtual College Fair (STEM Focus)

Sunday 3/7: NACAC Virtual College Fair (STEM Focus)

The Common Application is collaborating with the National Association for College Admission Counseling to offer NACAC Virtual College Fairs. 

—Event Info from the CA below:

The NACAC Virtual Colleges Fair for students interested in STEM majors and careers will take place this Sunday, March 7. Registration is free.

These fairs offer students an incredible opportunity to connect with colleges and universities in all 50 states and more than 15 countries. Hundreds of colleges will be available on each fair date to offer Zoom sessions and one-on-one appointments, so students can easily explore their options. 

Students are encouraged to sign up now at virtualcollegefairs.org. They’ll want to start tagging the sessions they want to attend.  

To help get the word out, please visit the counselor resources page for ready-made resources such as social media graphics and sample text. Also available are links to a how-to videotips for STEM students and a PDF list of participating colleges.

As we all look for new ways to explore colleges, NACAC Virtual College Fairs offer an easy and accessible way to connect counselors, students, and families with colleges and universities around the world. We look forward to seeing you online!

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Regular Decision Notification Dates

Regular Decision Notification Dates

March snuck up on us! If you are waiting for regular decision results, they will begin to release in a few weeks. Sometimes schools release before their notification date; this year, however, we have already seen a few schools push out their release dates. With application numbers up at many schools, who knows if schools will be running ahead or behind schedule. 

Every year my favorite college data site, College Kickstart, compiles a list of regular decision release dates and updates it frequently when changes are made. 

Review the list here, and keep an eye on your email and school portals for release updates. 

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Why B Students Make Great Leaders

Why B Students Make Great Leaders

As a solid B student myself in high school, I love articles that normalize B’s. As a college counselor, of course I have to be transparent about the A expectation of top colleges and universities. However, many of my B students have gone on to do great things in college and in life—no Ivy-league or top-30 school required.

Two of my favorite takeaways from this old-ish article that I have seen be true for some of my favorite B students:

  • Leading rarely has anything to do with pure intellect alone.
  • B students flourish by using a combination of good-enough mental horsepower with a kind of emotional intelligence that gives them the ability to relate to people.

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Test Blind Colleges

Test Blind Colleges

Test optional and test blind are two very different things!

Test optional means if students send scores with their application, those scores will be used in the evaluation of their application.

Test blind (or what Cornell calls score free) means students may not submit scores nor will scores be used in the evaluation of files.

Colleges and universities that are currently test blind:

University of California System
California State System
Cal Poly (Pomona and Slo)
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Catholic University
Cornell University (CALS, AAP, Dyson, Hotel)
Dickinson College
Hampshire College
Reed College
San Diego State (SDSU)
Washington State University

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