The College List: Balancing Risk

The College List: Balancing Risk

University of Michigan psychologist Clyde Coombs developed an innovative theory of risk. If you are going to make risky investment, you protect yourself by playing it safe in other investments. Successful people do the same thing in their daily lives balancing out risks in their portfolio. When we embrace danger in one domain, we offset our overall level of risk by exercising caution in another domain.

This is a good way to think about building your college list.

Some students like to take a big risk with their top choice school. Not always a good idea, but here’s where making good use of different application plans might be beneficial in balancing that risk. If you know Cornell is an “aspirational” school for you—beyond a reach—I would advise to not apply there ED. However, if a student decided they wanted to go for it (and I could not change their mind!), I would strongly advise they balance that decision by applying EA to a range of schools with different levels of selectivity that they liked. For example, UNC, U-M, Penn State, Ohio State, Richmond, and Clemson. I would also advise applying to all of these EA schools if the ED school choice was a bit more reasonable, say, Wake Forest. It is just a good strategy to apply EA along with ED!

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What to do if you’ve been deferred to regular decision

What to do if you’ve been deferred to regular decision

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to via early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer some and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small at many top schools) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone! A not so nice practice. Most students that fall into this category should move on and focus on other schools.

A few notes before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision II (“ED II”), and keep moving forward!

2. Consider ED II if you are currently not. Not all schools have ED II; check your Common App to see if ED II is offered at any schools on your list. Why? because….

3. The RD round is tough and this year’s early numbers demonstrate it might be even tougher than before; it is smart to get familiar with the ED I and RD numbers and understand why ED II can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

4. Don’t make the same mistakes again (or again, and again…). You should be very open to doing a thorough evaluation of what might have gone wrong with your early app(s). With fresh eyes, you might find a few things you would change. Or, with the feedback from someone else, see that you missed the mark. If you’d like an expert evaluation of your deferred app, contact us.

Other Tips:

–Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor advocate for you.

-Make sure updated grades/transcript are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

–Get an extra letter of recommendation*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person really knows you or they have a solid connection to admissions.

–Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings are beneficial to include in your deferral letter.

-Connect with your regional rep and consider sending a deferral letter. You should have connected with them prior to applying, so this email won’t be out of the blue. Ask if they have any specific advice for deferred candidates. Are reasons for the deferral that you can address in the coming months (grades, test scores, lack of interest or understanding the mission and values of the school)? If you had an interview and established a good relationship with your interviewer, you can also reach out to them to see if they have any tips. A deferral 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 as a way to show your fit for the school, how you will add value, etc. It should not be a list of your accomplishments or a brag sheet. Contact us if you would like some help with your deferral letter.

Secondary Efforts:

-Visit the school and swing by admissions to reiterate interest. Sit in on a class and take advantage of any admissions events and/or programming you may not have the first time around. Keep in mind that if you already visited and the school is more than a drive or train ride away, this might seem extravagant.

-Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your top choice schools on Facebook, Instagram, Snap or other social channels. Most schools also have LinkedIn pages you can follow. These touchpoints likely won’t help significantly, but can’t hurt as a way to demonstrate interest.

 

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Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

College and universities are releasing early decision and early action results this month and into January. Schools often post results in advance of their “official” notification dates.

My favorite college-admissions-related data site, College Kickstart, has compiled release dates along with the notification dates from last year, which might help you predict when a school will release early. Bookmark this page, as they post updates often.

 

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Boston College Switching from Early Action to Early Decision (I and II Plans)

Boston College will introduce an Early Decision program for undergraduate admission this year, in an effort to meet the growing preference of today’s high school students and enroll more “best fit” applicants for whom Boston College is a first choice, the University announced today.

The decision will result in a shift from BC’s non-binding Early Action policy to a binding Early Decision program that will include two opportunities for students to apply early to Boston College. For high-achieving high school students who view Boston College as their top choice, Early Decision I will offer a November 1 application deadline with a decision notification by December 15. Early Decision II will feature a January 1 application deadline with a decision notification by February 15.  Students who prefer to apply Regular Decision will continue to have a January 1 deadline with a notification of April 1.

 

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Make The Best of It

I am “borrowing” this image from an email I received a while ago from Bulldog Drummond; I think I am on this listserv because I also closely follow The YouSchool.

Anyway, time for some real talk now that early application decision releases begin in a few short weeks or less.

In most cases, three things happen with early applications:

-You get in
-You get deferred
-You get denied

If you get in, congrats! Celebrate! For most of you, the process of applying to college is now over. If you get deferred, and I know this sounds negative, in most cases you need to consider this a denial. Very few students get admitted off deferral at top colleges. If you are denied, I actually think this is better than a deferral. Why? Because it makes it much easier to move on and focus on the schools that are next on your list whether that is an ED II school or a select group of RD schools.

Now back to the quote. A deferral or denial is not the end of the world. It simply is what it is. The best thing you can do if you fall into one of these two pools, and remember—you are one of many who do—is to look positively forward toward the other schools on your list and flip any negative feelings you have into energy that you can use to make those apps the best they can be if you are still working on them. There is really no time or need to wallow in a denial or deferral; you can’t change the outcome. What you can control is your reaction to it. Use this time wisely and don’t spend much if any time or energy on thinking about why things did not work out. Instead, think about how you can ensure they will for the schools left on your list!

 

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Class of 2023 Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

 

It is that time of year again! Early decision and early action decisions are already being released (we’ve had students admitted to Elon, Rollins, Penn State, Indiana and many more so far), though the majority of schools aim to send them out by mid-December, including the Ivies and other top tier schools.

College Kickstart keeps one of the most up to date lists on the web, here. Keep it bookmarked for quick access to checking early decision and early action release dates for the class of 2023.

With 12/15 falling on a Saturday, we might see many decisions released on 12/14 or even 12/13!

Update –> A few notable releases confirmed:

12/12 — Princeton, Barnard

12/13 — Harvard, NYU, Penn, UVM

 

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What to do if you’ve been deferred

Some colleges and universities just can’t admit all of the students they would like to via early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer a few and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone—the dreaded courtesy deferral. Most students that fall into this category should move on. But before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision II (“ED II”), and keep moving forward!

2. Consider ED II. Not all schools have ED II; check your Common App to see if ED II is offered at any schools on your list.

3. Understand the RD numbers. The RD round is tough; it is smart to get familiar with the RD numbers and understand why ED II can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

Other Tips:

Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor 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 are willing, have them send an additional note to the top 1-2 schools on your list.

-Make sure updated grades/transcript are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

Get an extra letter of recommendation*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person really knows you or they have a solid connection to admissions.

Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings are beneficial to include in your deferral letter.

 -Write a deferral 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.

Secondary Efforts:

-Visit the school and swing by admissions to reiterate interest. Sit in on a class and take advantage of any admissions events and/or programming you may not have the first time around. Keep in mind that if you already visited and the school is more than a drive or train ride away, this might seem extravagant.

-Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your top choice schools on Facebook, Instagram, Snap or other social channels. Most schools also have LinkedIn pages you can follow. These touch points likely won’t help significantly, but can’t hurt as a way to demonstrate interest.

 

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What’s Worse Than Waiting to Hear From Colleges?

….getting asked about it!

Later this month and throughout April, colleges and universities will notify students about their regular decision applications. Students will either be admitted, denied, or placed on the dreaded waitlist (although we have helped quite a few student get off the WL and into their dream school, ask us how!). Needless to say, it is a stressful time for all seniors who did not commit to a school after the release of early round results.

As we approach decision dates, consider giving this post (with video) from the Wall Street Journal a read!

Upcoming Early Application Decision Release Dates

It’s that time of year again!

TODAY (FRIDAY)
(12/9) Wiliams (PM), Bowdoin (PM), UPenn (3pm ET), Stanford (3pm PT)

SATURDAY
(12/10) Wesleyan, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon

SUNDAY
(12/11) Week of 12/11: Boston College

MONDAY
(12/12) Vassar (5pm ET), Columbia (6pm ET), Colgate (mailed)

TUESDAY
(12/13) Harvard

WEDNESDAY
(12/14) Brown (7pm ET), Dartmouth, Duke (7pm ET)

THURSDAY
(12/15) MIT (6:28pm ET), NYU (5pm ET), Yale (5pm ET)

Early Admission Plan Changes for the Class of 2021

college-kickstart-logo

More insightful data from College Kickstart!

Many colleges and universities have begun updating their websites for the Class of 2021 (Fall 2017) admission cycle.  While we expect the activity to continue into the late summer, several of the changes we’ve observed are worth noting.

In particular, roughly 20 schools have introduced changes to the early admission plans available to you this fall.  Unsurprisingly, the vast majority have added binding early decision options, including the University of Chicago (Early Decision 1/2), Wake Forest and Wellesley (Early Decision 2) and Tulane (replaced Single Choice Early Action with Early Decision).  Several also introduced/refined their Early Action programs, including Texas A&M (a new Early Action option for engineering applicants) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (revamped).   On the flip side, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo eliminated Early Decision.

Be sure to check out this College Kickstart list as it may impact how you decide to apply this fall.