Elevating Your Extracurriculars for Summer 2024

Elevating Your Extracurriculars for Summer 2024

The strength of your curriculum (rigor), the grades you receive in academic courses (core academic GPA), and your extracurricular activities (ECs) are what matter most in the evaluation of a college application. 

College counselors can help students choose the right courses and connect them with the learning support they might need to achieve excellent grades, but advising on the extracurricular activities that will help students stand out is much more complicated!

It’s getting harder and harder to stand out extracurricularly; a lot has been done before, and it can be tough to come up with original ideas when the internet provides conflicting information. It is easy to pay to undertake research or get published; spend time on a college campus taking a course alongside peers; or travel the world serving communities you don’t have an intimate connection to but that are exciting to visit and experience. For some applicants, these ECs do the trick—really! 

However, if you are targeting selective schools, you’ll benefit from not taking the easy path when it comes to ECs. 

Your ECs will need to not only support a clear academic narrative and demonstrate your intellectual curiosity but also highlight what matters most to you and what you care about in your world. You will benefit from getting creative! 

We understand not everyone needs or wants full-blown college counseling, but we also want to make sure students really understand the role of extracurriculars in the college admissions process and spend their time wisely. If you are interested in a standalone extracurricular planning session to maximize the summer of 2024, reach out!

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Virtual “Office Hours” Tuesday June 13, 7pm Eastern: Undergrad Business Applicant Discussion

Virtual “Office Hours” Tuesday June 13, 7pm Eastern: Undergrad Business Applicant Discussion

Mark your calendar for June 13, 7 pm Eastern!

Brittany (ex-Wharton admissions) will lead a casual discussion about applying to college with an interest in business, covering studying “business” vs. economics (and which path might be right for you), high school course selection, and the importance of a differentiated academic narrative and corresponding resume.

Here’s the link! Feel free to sign on between 7-730 and bring your questions. This open “Office Hours” session is for students and parents.

Please direct any questions to Brittany at hello@brittany.consulting. Hope to see you then!

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Public Flagships Are Hard to Get Into!

Public Flagships Are Hard to Get Into!

UGA continued to serve up a competitive EA round, especially for out-of-staters. Look for other public flagships to do the same again this year (we’re looking at you UF, UNC, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and of course the more selective UCs). 

The UGA admissions blog is a must-follow, but if you want to make even more sense out of data they shared, head to Edison Prep’s website.

It is crucial for students to maintain excellent grades in rigorous classes, raise their GPA if possible, and consider the impact of test scores; at schools like UGA, and we would argue MANY other schools—even those that are test-optional—they matter.

Academic rigor continues to be far more important than extracurricular activities, with the average EA applicant (not admitted student!) having 9+ AP/IB classes by graduation. 
Senior Associate Director of UGA Admissions David Graves posted a quote on the UGA Blog that we still sincerely wish were included at the top of every UGA mailer: “When parents or students say that their schedule is already so busy with other activities that it is tough to handle challenging courses…instead of dropping rigorous courses, maybe an activity could be dropped.” We tell students daily that no one has ever been ever rejected for having too low of a “play practice score,” but millions of applications are rejected each year for low GPA, low rigor, and/or low SAT/ACT scores. Activities matter if and once your core academic metrics are in the right ballpark.

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TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

Join us on March 14th at 8 pm eastern for a casual discussion on all things test prep and college planning. We’ll be presenting a few of our top tips and strategies but will leave most of the session open for your questions. This session is for students and parents.

Register here!

Hope to see you on March, 14th!

Test Optional, Kinda…

Test Optional, Kinda…

Don’t subscribe to Jeff Selingo’s NEXT newsletter? You should! 

Here’s his recent download on test-optional. As predicted, many colleges are NOT releasing an admit rate breakdown regarding submitters versus non-submitters, but he’s managed to gather a few data points. He notes in NEXT:

With less focus on standardized tests scores in admissions for at least another year, high school counselors and next year’s seniors are already asking what the lack of required test scores had on admissions decisions this year. Good luck finding out—at least from the selective schools that ditched required test scores because of the pandemic. Many of them aren’t releasing detailed numbers.

Context: Before COVID-19, 77% of students self-reported a test score, according to Common App. This past year it was 46%.

What’s happening: One vice-president for enrollment at a top-ranked school said that in the rush to go test-optional last year, the admissions staff never had the chance to discuss how they would talk about the results of test-optional admissions. “Just releasing numbers of how many applied and were accepted test-optional misses the nuances of the overall pool,” the official told me.

  • Without test scores, students who in previous years would have been discouraged from applying after seeing the school’s median test score, applied this time around. Many admissions deans reported big differences in their applicant pools as a result—from demographics to the courses applicants took in high school.
  • Who got admitted with tests and without also differed by major. One public university dean I talked with showed me admissions rates that were remarkably similar between those with and without test scores, except in STEM and business, where students with test scores got in at much higher rates.

By the numbers: In general, my discussions with deans at about a dozen selective colleges over the last few weeks found that about half of their applicant pools applied without test scores.

  • In every case I heard so far, students with test scores got accepted more often. In some cases, the admit rate was twice as high for students with test scores vs. those without.
  • Emory: Admit rate 17% (with tests) vs. 8.6% (without tests)
  • Colgate: 25% (w/tests) vs. 12% (w/o tests)
  • Georgia Tech: 22% (w/tests) vs. 10% (w/o tests)
  • Vanderbilt: 7.2% (w/tests) vs. 6% (w/o tests)

Bottom line: For students from the Class of 2022 who are applying to schools without a long history of test-optional admissions, it’s best to have a test score if it will help your overall case.

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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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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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