The Future of College Admissions

We 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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Don't Miss Out on Applying Early to George Washington

gw_txt_4cp_pos_0Most students have already caught on that applying early decision gives you an added edge in the admissions process. If you can narrow down your college list to one dream school, don't miss your chance! Over the years, the Common App has revolutionized the college application process, making it easier for students to apply to multiple schools resulting in confusion as to which students will accept offers if admitted.

For more information on how this has affected George Washington's admissions process, don't miss this article. In short, GW had a significant drop in early admission applicants in 2014 receiving 1,089 applications, nearly half of what the University brought in in previous years. As a result, the University admitted 65 percent of those applicants, 21 percent more than the overall admission rate that year. So if you feel like GW is a good fit for you, applying early decision can only help!

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