Friday, April 1, 2011

Seinfeld and Ivy League Admissions

The word is out on the street.

College Confidential has gone manically viral.

The blogsphere, Facebook, Twitter - they are all burning it up.

And the media - they are devouring these anorexic statistics like ravenous vultures.

Here is one recent segment entitled "Ivy League Letters".

Harvard admits 6.9%.

Stanford 7.1%.

Yale around 7.4%

Even Dartmouth went single digits this year.

Ever seen the "Soup Nazi" episode on Seinfeld?

I can't help but think of this scene when I think of Ivy League admissions.

Why is it that the Ivy League schools grow their business every year through customer dissatisfaction?

It's totally counter intuitive.

Last fall we had Maria Laskaris, Dean of Admission at Dartmouth College, on campus for an event. She was absolutely delightful. She talked about her daughter, a senior in high school. And going through the process as a mom. And how much she loved reading essays from students about their mothers. Ahhhh! But that was in September. In March Laskaris's alter ego takes over. She becomes the "Admission Nazi". "No Ivy for you!"

All joking aside.

What always amazes me is the glaring irony.

Every year more and more students (and parents and college counselors and board members) fall in love with these schools.

And every year these schools do not reciprocate that love.

They spurn. We woo. They spurn. We woo.

And the more these schools spurn, the larger the line is the next year with wooers.

"Pick me!""Pick me!""Pick me!""Pick me!""Pick me!""Pick me!""Pick me""Pick me!""Pick me!"

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Maybe.

To see acceptance statistics for Top 50 colleges/universities click here.

The numbers don't lie.

More applications.

Fewer admits.

I wonder now that most of the Ivies (minus Penn and Cornell) are admitting single digits,

how much longer will it be before the "New Ivies" will be admitting single digits as well:

schools like Duke, Northwestern, Wash U, Georgetown, etc.

When is it going to stop? I can't help but ask.

No doubt we're all frustrated.



College counselors.

School communities.

Heck, even alumni interviewers.

A recent Bloomberg article goes so far to interview alumni admission folk who are quitting.

In the meantime, we must all go about helping our students move on to embracing the schools that want them for what they can bring to that school.

And helping our parents find a new bumper sticker to put on their cars.

And helping explain to board members why Joe and Susie Casady with almost perfect ACT scores didn't get into these elite schools.

But ultimately I come back to this.

The Ivies are great schools. No denying that.

But there are so many excellent schools where our students can flourish.

And if you begin with the student and their thumbprint,

and proceed from there to schools and their thumbprint,

there will be many wonderful, validating matches.

Which is my definition of success.

And metric for measuring the health of Casady's college counseling program.

I am reminded today,

that as we near the end of another admission cycle,

we must go back to the beginning.

To remember our mission.

Our telos.

Our goal.

And that is to find the best college fit for each student.