Anxiety is definitely a real part of the college application process, and as applicants know, it becomes increasingly intense as the day of judgment nears. For most early applicants, that day is December 15. Will Walker, one of eight students chosen by the New York Times Choice Blog to document his story, shares his woes in this entry. After fighting his own fear demons, his resulting epiphany is one we can all benefit from:
"And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’d urge you, all of you (but especially college-bound seniors like me) to take a second over the coming week to reflect on the things that you do have: the opportunities you’ve been given, the possibilities you’ve been presented with, and the people around you who care about you. Because yes, this process is bad. But it’d be a lot worse if we had to go at it alone."
Taking advantage of your support network will definitely make this an easier process, as will making sure you're on top of your game and haven't missed anything. Use your College Essay Organizer account to double check that you didn't overlook any essay questions, and begin to get organized for writing the remainder of your essays if your early applications do not turn into acceptances.
Take a moment and submit the best first line of a college essay by Friday, November 30, 2012 (must be your own original creation, and one submission per person) to win a FREE premium account (valued at $49). Even if you applied early, it's sure to come in handy as you work on your other college applications. Here are a few examples of past winners of our exclusive contest:
- Peanut butter and celery is by far the oddest snack time pairing, but the benefits exceed the oddities.
- I change my name each time I place an order at Starbucks
- Three days before my 11th birthday, my mother had brain surgery.
- Wearing a Dole pineapple shirt to a Del Monte pineapple farm is probably not a good first impression.
Follow us on twitter to submit your entry or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
While thousands of early applicants wait to see if they make the cut, this article focusing on Philip Ballinger, University of Washington's Director of Admissions gives insight into what colleges are looking for when selecting candidates for admission. Ballinger has his eyes peeled for tough students who have the ability to go against the grain, describing "the best applicants as salmon, swimming upstream tirelessly against the current to meet their goals."
Unfortunately, there is more to the quality of what Ballinger calls "gumption" that gets an applicant on the accepted list. Financial concerns are playing more of a role, especially in the current economy, a factor out of the control of many families:
"These are tough times for college admissions directors. The cost of tuition has skyrocketed. Popular articles question the value of a four-year degree. The state’s flagship university has made room for more international students, attracting top scholars and millions in extra tuition dollars — but sometimes raising the ire of local families when their children don’t get in."
University of Washington receives approximately 26,000 college applications, the largest portion of which are out-of-state, and on average 6,000 are international applicants.
While often overlooked as a vital part of the college admissions process, letters of recommendation do have the power to make or break your college application, and deserve a bit of introspection. This article in The Buffalo News by Lee Bierer, an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. and a member of College Essay Organizer, discusses what students should consider before soliciting their favorite teacher for a recommendation. Here are a few points to consider:
- "Be strategic" about choosing a teacher. The teacher whose class you found to be the easiest, may not be your best choice.
- Think about choosing a teacher who knows you well enough to provide information about you inside and outside of the classroom and can "tell a good story about the applicant."
- If only one letter of recommendation is necessary, be sure to choose one from a "core subject teacher (English, math, science, social studies or foreign language)."
- When you do decide on a teacher, ask in person so you can get a good sense of his or her reaction. If the teacher agrees, be sure to provide a resume so that he or she can know more about you. And follow up with a thank you note after completion.
Colleges demand a lot from their applicants: integrity and hard work, to name a couple. But do they live up to their own standards? This article in The Atlantic Wire brings up another example of how colleges succumb to many of the same pitfalls as their applicants. Every year, U.S. News collects statistics from colleges in order to publish annual college rankings. The temptation is great for colleges to game the system, moving themselves up in the rankings, and unfortunately this has been quite easy to get away with since there is little fact-checking that occurs.
U.S. News has been slowly catching on to this problem, and in a bold move has unranked a university for the first time, temporarily removing George Washington University. While George Washington is clearly at fault, as are Emory University, Claremont McKenna and others for doing the same, author David Wagner ponders deeper: "...perhaps they should reconsider their policy of publishing unverified figures that come straight from the schools that stand to benefit from inflating them. Or perhaps parents and their college-bound teens should eye these rankings with a healthy dose of skepticism." Definitely something to think about.
Now that you have gotten in your early applications and are likely taking a well-deserved breather, you may be wondering what your chances are of actually getting admitted early. While higher than regular admission rates, acceptance is still far from a guarantee, so make sure you continue to work on your other applications. Now is a great time to use College Essay Organizer to check out how many essays you still need to write and how best to organize them so you're not stuck writing essays over the holidays. Here's a list of 2012 early admission rates for some common schools:
|University||2012 Early Acceptance Rate|
|Binghamton University (N.Y.)||56.00%|
|Carnegie Mellon (Pa.)||26.00%|
|Claremont McKenna (Calif.)||29.00%|
|Cooper Union (N.Y.)||9.00%|
|Harvey Mudd (Calif.)||20.00%|
|Johns Hopkins (Md.)||38.00%|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic (N.Y.)||35.30%|
|U. of Pennsylvania||25.00%|
|U. of Virginia||29.00%|
|U.N.C., Chapel Hill||38.00%|
|Washington and Lee (Va.)||40.00%|
|Washington U. in St. Louis||30.80%|
|Wesleyan U. (Conn.)||44.54%|
|William and Mary (Va.)||48.33%|
Hurricane Sandy's impact on the college admissions process continues to unfold. Colleges first reacted to the storm by extending early application deadlines. However, extending deadlines did not solve the problem for early applicants intending to take the SAT or an SAT Subject Test on November 3. When the College Board postponed this test till November 17 or December 15 due to test center closings, it made it impossible for schools to receive the results in time. Following a flood of inquiries, colleges are beginning to post their revised policies on this issue on their websites.
Boston College whose early deadline was extended to November 13, has stated that they will review early applications following the receipt of subject test scores from applicants taking the test on November 17. Columbia University is waiving SAT subject test requirements for students registered for the November 17 test. Columbia also notes that students who had planned to take the SAT for the first time on Novemeber 3 should apply regular decision. To view more details, see this article posted by The New York Times Choice Blog.
Now that many seniors have submitted their early applications, what's next? The New York Times Choice Blog has posted a helpful checklist for seniors. While it's good to take a moment and breathe a sigh of relief that this important step is complete, there are other things that need attention:
- Review your list of colleges one more time. You can always change your mind or make additions to your list.
- Make sure to work on the applications for the schools that you will be applying to if you don't get in early. Don't wait till you hear back from those schools to get started. Nobody wants to spend their winter break scrambling to finish their essays and complete their applications.
- Keep your teachers and counselors informed of your plans to apply to more colleges.
- Keep your school grades up so you can finish your senior year on a high note.
For those students who were expecting to take the SAT last weekend, it has been rescheduled for November 17, 2012, giving students affected by Hurricane Sandy some needed recovery time. According to the College Board website, students for whom the SAT was canceled will be receiving an email with the makeup date, and they also have the option to switch their registration to another national administration at no charge. Waitlisted students will not have the option for makeup testing:
"If you had a Waitlist Ticket for a center that canceled testing on November 3 or 4, your original Waitlist request was canceled, and you are not eligible for makeup testing. Please register for the next available date as soon as possible."
Please call the College Board at (866) 756-7346 or check their site for the latest information.