More Colleges Making Admissions Tests Optional

act or satEven with recent changes to the ACT essay and the newly overhauled SAT, many colleges are admitting that standardized test scores are not as effective as other measures such as the application essay when admitting students. According to this article published in BloombergBusiness, 850 colleges across the United States now give students the option to apply without standardized test scores, and 145 colleges have a test-optional policy when applying.

Some schools are finding creative ways to replace the missing information. Franklin & Marshall College asks for a teacher-graded paper which gives a more accurate assessment of a student's writing than the SAT or ACT essay, and Wake Forest added compulsory applicant interviews. It is, however, unlikely that standardized tests will ever go away completely, and most students will still wind up taking either the ACT or SAT at some point during the application process.

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The Coalition is Opening April 2016

coalitionThe Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success was created to simplify the college application process for students by providing a centralized space to journey through the admissions process. As of now, 80 colleges are members including all the Ivys and top liberal arts colleges and publics with many more expected to join.

The Coalition will work much like The Common App does, giving students yet another application option. However, The Coalition boasts other tools that will help students of all income levels navigate the admissions process, and all member colleges are required to have a 70% 6-year graduation rate and be committed to either making tuition affordable or meeting the full, demonstrated financial need of admitted domestic students. The Coalition will include a virtual college locker allowing students starting in ninth grade to upload videos, photos, and written work. It still remains to be seen whether starting the college application process even earlier (students applying via The Common App create an account the summer before their senior year), will decrease stress or make it more rampant.

For answers to frequently asked questions about The Coalition, please click here.

 

 

 

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The Future of College Admissions

making caring commonWe are all aware of the pressures students feel to achieve, and how they have resulted in devastating consequences in recent years. Unfortunately, the reality of the college admissions process ensures that only a small percentage of students get admitted to top schools. While this is unlikely to change, colleges are slowly working to transform the admissions process in an effort to temper the negative side effects students currently face, aiming to place more value on a students' overall character as expressed in their college essays and activity choices.

According to this article by the Washington Post, the report entitled Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions, "lays out a blueprint for addressing three of the most intractable challenges facing college applicants today: excessive academic performance pressure, the emphasis on personal achievement over good citizenship, and the uneven opportunities available to students of varying income levels and backgrounds."

Frank Bruni's article Rethinking College Admissions, acknowledges that this is a step towards colleges taking responsibility for the messages they send out, though there are still many changes that need to follow:

Colleges are becoming more conscious of their roles — too frequently neglected — in social mobility. They’re recognizing how many admissions measures favor students from affluent families.

They’re realizing that many kids admitted into top schools are emotional wrecks or slavish adherents to soulless scripts that forbid the exploration of genuine passions. And they’re acknowledging the extent to which the admissions process has contributed to this.

But they still need to stop filling so much of each freshman class with specially tagged legacy cases and athletes and to quit worrying about rankings like those of U.S. News and World Report. Only then will the tide fully turn.

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How Deep Should Your College Essay Be?

adversityAs you gear up to write the rest of your college essays before the holidays, many of the questions may cause you to hesitate. Take this option from Amherst where you respond to this quote:

"Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.” Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst Class of 1925, the first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals

Many colleges offer similar options indicating that students should have experienced some hardship in their 17 years.  But what if your life hasn't been fraught with adversity? Can you still get into a top college without having truly suffered during your short time on earth? Should your essay demonstrate that you have life all figured out, even before attending college?

In the end, colleges do understand that you're struggling to make sense of all the changes around you, just like we all are, and the more straight forward you can be in sharing your unique journey, whether it involves moving mountains or not, the better. For more insight on this topic, see this thought-provoking article here.

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Early Application Numbers Released

timeAs early applicants wait to hear from their top-choice colleges, schools are beginning to release their numbers of early applicants. While there is still not much data available, a look at a few of the Ivy League schools indicates an increase over last year's numbers:

Princeton: 9.4% increase

UPenn: 44% increase

Dartmouth: 2% increase

Yale: .6% increase

See this article for more information, as well as some great Early Decision II options if you missed the fall deadlines.

 

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Schools With High Graduation Rates

carletonAs you continue to finalize your college list and contemplate which school is your first choice, you may want to consider graduation rates. It can be often overlooked, but obstacles such as illness or financial distress can and delay graduation.

According to one study, 59% of students who started at four-year schools in the fall of 2006 graduated by 2012. Please find the ten schools with the highest graduation rates below, and see this article for more details. Kudos to Carleton College for topping the list!

School name (state) 4-year graduation rate U.S. News rank and category
Carleton College (MN) 91% 8 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Georgetown University (DC) 91% 21 (tie), National Universities
University of Notre Dame (IN) 90.7% 18 (tie), National Universities
Columbia University (NY) 90.3% 4 (tie), National Universities
Davidson College (NC) 90.2% 9 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Princeton University (NJ) 90.2% 1, National Universities
Washington University in St. Louis 90.2% 15 (tie), National Universities
College of the Holy Cross (MA) 90.1% 32 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pomona College (CA) 90.1% 4 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University (NY) 89.7% 19 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

 

November 15 Early Application Deadline is Coming Up

occidentalIf you feel like you missed the boat on early applications, think again! There are lots of schools whose Early Action and Early Decision deadlines are Nov. 15 or even Dec. 1, which gives you ample time to get an application out to a dream school. Occidental College is one example, and accepts the Common App, requiring only four additional questions to complete the application. Take a look at the questions below to see if you're up for the challenge!

  1. There are thousands of colleges and universities. Why are you applying to Occidental? In your opinion, what distinguishes it from your other choices? (175 words maximum)
  2. While we realize your interests may change in college, what are your current academic and intellectual curiosities? (175 words maximum)
  3. Our values are shaped over time. What learning experience transformed your thinking during your high school years? It could be a class assignment, a book, a film, an academic interaction – anything that inspired you to view an issue through a different lens and alter your opinion. (175 words maximum)
  4. Everyone has a personality quirk. What's your idiosyncrasy, and how does it reflect your distinct character? (128 words maximum)
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Where Should I Go to College?

puzzleThere are thousands of colleges in the United States, and trying to decide which one is the best fit can feel a lot like tackling an enormous puzzle. Fortunately, you've probably narrowed down your list by now, and would be relatively happy attending any of the schools you're applying to, but what if you end up getting accepted to a few different schools.  First off all, it's always nice to have choices, and secondly, which college you decide to attend might just come down to whether to stay close to home or to travel farther afield. If considering the latter, this article gives some great insight into what you might have missed staying close to home. In the end, there's no right or wrong decision, and your college experience will be what you make of it.

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Can I Submit More Than One Version of my Common App Essay?

commonappNow that many of the early application deadlines have passed, students may be wondering whether or not they can change their Common App main essay if/when they submit applications to other schools. While in the past the number of drafts submitted has been limited, it is now possible to submit a different version of your essay each time you submit an application. This can give students some necessary breathing room when wanting to tailor their main essay to a particular school or program.

Click here for answers to other frequently asked questions about applying via the Common App.

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SAT Score Reports Are Delayed

the-official-sat-study-guide-college-board_MLB-F-4659889379_0720131-911x392Students who rushed their SAT scores in order to make the November 1 early application deadline, may have received the below note from The College Board letting them know that their reports will most likely be arriving late. Fortunately, The College Board is reaching out to colleges, and students will in no way be penalized for this delay. Nonetheless, it's another added stress to families worried about getting all of their materials in on time, as well as to colleges wanting to stick to their notification dates.

Dear Student,

Processing of rush SAT® score report orders placed on or after Oct. 15, 2015, is taking longer than expected, and your scores are among a set that have not yet been sent to universities. We will deliver score reports as soon as possible. For colleges that allow self-reporting on their applications, you can view your scores online and report them directly.

We are reaching out to colleges with early action/early decision deadlines of Nov. 1 to make them aware of the situation, and we are encouraging them be flexible should scores arrive late.

If you ordered your score reports for rush delivery on or after Oct. 15, you will receive a refund of the $31 fee if your order was not fulfilled within two business days from the time your order was placed. Please allow 5–10 business days for the credit to appear on your credit card or PayPal account.

We recognize the importance of timely score delivery and apologize for the inconvenience.

The College Board

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