Brown alumni interview gone wrong…

From the Brown Herald:

A YouTube video in which high school senior Matt Sarafa claims that his Brown alumni interviewer used racist and homophobic language during his interview has gone viral. Sarafa said that during his alumni interview in Southern California, the alum told him Brown was “not very accepting of your kind,” implying that Brown students would discriminate against him because he is gay. Sarafa said that Leora Johnson ’01, assistant director of alumni interviewing and admission, told him in a phone call that the alum had admitted to using homophobic and racist language but that there wasn’t enough evidence to remove him as an interviewer. Sarafa withdrew his application to the Class of 2020 following his experience.

Not a good move Brown!

Student-Counselor Ratios Only Getting Worse


The National Center for Education Statistics has released the latest student-to-school-counselor ratio data, showing the nationwide average student-to-school-counselor ratio increasing to 491-to-1, from 482-to-1 the previous year. Only three states, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and Vermont have an average student to counselor ratio falling within the recommended 250 to 1 by the American School Counselor Association. Three. Three states. Given the uproar over the findings, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) took an even deeper dive into the data, which I will provide below.

NACAC has compiled a by-state document containing student-to-counselor ratios for each state and school district in the United States. Within this document, states are in alphabetical order in the tabs at the bottom. Within each state, school districts are listed in alphabetical order.

Student-to-Counselor Ratios, by district

The information comes from the Common Core of Data at the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education.

The following states did not report district-level data to the Department of Education:

  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Washington, DC

Many states reported partial data, enabling us to calculate ratios for only some school districts within those states. NACAC is working to fill in those gaps. In the meantime, access NACAC’s Student-to-Counselor Ratios by state.

We need more funding for counselors. No art, no music, no gym, no counselors. It is just no good.

Regarding the “New” SAT

Thank you, Bob Schaeffer, for pointing out what may not be obvious to the masses: The “new” SAT, and let’s not forget the ACT, will remain a weak predictor of undergraduate success. High school grades will continue to provide more accurate forecasts of college graduation.

Read his letter in The Opinion Pages here.

2016-2017 Common Application Essay Prompts

No changes to the CA essay prompts for the upcoming admissions cycle; yay!

Most of my students disregard the prompt when thinking about their essay, but when it comes time to submit end up categorizing it as #1. See all five options below. Time for juniors to start brainstorming!

2016-2017 Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.



Geographic Diversity as an Admissions Priority?

Penn’s admitted student pool has for some time now represented all 50 states and is ~10% international. What would be interesting and insightful to publish would be the socio-economic diversity within the pool per state. This recent article attempts to highlight that Penn is diversifying their class by admitting more students from previously underrepresented states, but does it really make a difference if they are from the same socio-economic backgrounds as those from the east coast, Texas and California? I also wonder what the admit pool per state would look like if legacy admits were taken out? The world may never know!

Don’t Believe The Hype

No, this post is not about the famed Public Enemy jam (but if you’ve forgotten it, sit back, relax and take a listen here: It is about the onslaught of “college admission revolution” talk/projects/reports of late. Remember a few months ago when 80 colleges and universities joined “The Coalition” for access, affordability and success, and everyone freaked out? Well, the hype train has left the station again with “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions,” a report who authors hope to inspire a more caring and authentic generation of young people. But, these hyped coalitions and reports are just that. As Sarah Harberson’s HuffPost College article aptly points out:

“Turning the Tide” beckons our youth to focus on quality and authenticity. What’s missing is a call to action for colleges who have been complicit and damaging to the “common good” of youth and opportunity. If colleges want to encourage caring, authentic and ethically-sound students, they need to make sure they are living by the same mantra. It is time to rebuild the playing field of college admissions. It should not only be a level playing field, it should be hallowed ground. To do that, colleges need to come clean about who really gets admitted before students believe that being authentic is more valued than being privileged.”

I won’t be holding my breath for colleges to change, but it could happen. Maybe, hopefully, someday.



Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

The institution (Plan) Applied Admitted Rate Link
Brown (ED) 3,030 669 22% Link
Columbia (ED) 3,520 Link
Dartmouth (ED) 1,927 494 26% Link
Dickinson (ED1) 251 220 88% Link
Duke (ED) 3,455 813 24% Link
Georgetown (REA) 7,027 892 13% Link
Harvard (SCEA) 6,173 918 15% Link
Johns Hopkins (ED) 1,929 584 30% Link
Middlebury (ED1) 636 338 53% Link
MIT (EA) 7,767 656 8% Link
Northwestern (ED) 3,022 1,061 35% Link
Princeton (SCEA) 4,229 767 18% Link
Stanford (REA) 7,822 745 10% Link
University of Georgia (EA) 14,516 7,500 52% Link
UPenn (ED) 5,762 1,335 23% Link
Williams (ED) 585 246 42% Link
Yale (SCEA) 4,662 795 17% Link

How many schools should I apply to?


For most students, counselors recommend applying to between six and eight colleges, with at least one safety school, one reach school, and a few good fit schools where you feel you’re likely to be admitted. I agree! Too many students today are applying to 10, 12, even 20+ schools. Applying to more schools does not mean, in most cases, getting more acceptances (from my experience). Read more from Money’s Kaitlin Mulhere, here.