Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Class of 2012 College Stats, Part 1

This year Casady's 71 seniors submitted 307 applications to 115 different colleges and universities both in the US and abroad.

The Class of 2012 averaged 4.3 applications per student.

The first pie chart below illustrates the break down between seniors who put an application into one of the four "early buckets" (Early Decision 1, Early Decision 2, Early Action, Single Choice Early Action), and those who put an application in the "regular buckets" (Rolling and Regular).

The next pie chart breaks down admission results.  Our admit rate overall continues to improve every year (some argue we're "hedging our bets" with where our students apply;  others would argue that we are doing a more effective job of "identifying best college fits" for our students).  The "unknown" results represent students who were placed on wait lists at school. 

The final pie chart breaks down our In State to Out of State matriculation.  We are certainly seeing a new trend toward more students choosing to stay inside our state borders.  To date we have 23 seniors matriculating to OU, 8 to OK State, 2 to Tulsa, 1 to OCU.  Affordability, distance from home, the draw of "big, rah-rah sports with thriving Greek life", the way President Boren has "made OU cool", did I mention football?, and all the buzz and excitement swirling around the progress and development in Oklahoma (Thunder, Devon Energy Building, etc) - these reasons and many others have contributed to the "tipping point" in terms of more of our kids staying inside.
 (*  we currently have 5 seniors who have not chosen their college destination. )   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Need Based Schools vs. Merit Based Schools

The above picture illustrates the sharp bifurcation in the college admission landscape between schools that provide need-based aid and schools that provide merit-based aid.

Need aid is provided for students who can't afford to pay the price tag.

Merit aid is rewarded to students to help cover the bill.

The former is based on the governing principle that the fewer 0's you have on your W'2, the more 0's the college will tack on to the end of your financial aid package.

The latter is based on the governing principle that the higher the GPA, the higher the test score, the more prolific the involvement, and the more prodigious the leadership, the more 0's taken off the final bill.

Currently there are 74 colleges/universities that offer "no loan" packages.  To see a list of the schools and the qualifications for the "no loan" packages click here.

If you (student) don't qualify for need based on W'2's, you will then have to cover the bill either by paying out of pocket ("EFC" = Expected Family Contribution), paying through a self-help program like work-study, and paying the rest off through the other major self-help program via loans.  Hopefully you will get what you pay for in terms of the school's prestige and the "market value" of a diploma from a "name brand" school.

Some times, for example, our students are shocked when they discover that while OU offers an in-state national merit finalist almost $75,000 in scholarships over 4-years, a school like Northwestern will only give around $12,000, and a school like Georgetown will give $0.

The majority of the 3,000 colleges/universities, however, will reward merit in some way.  Many schools have scholarship tiers.  Denison University, for example, has scholarships ranging from $40,000 a year to $10,000 (click here to see an example of scholarship tiers).

For many of our seniors this year, price tag trumped prestige.  Students and families, in other words, placed a premium in their hierarchy of values based on affordability.  This really isn't "counter cultural".  In fact, more and more studies/articles are showing that students/families are making fiscally conservative decisions on their college choice.  Check out this New York Times article, for example, to see the growing trend.

In the end, we encourage our students to determine with their families what makes the most sense for them.  If best college fit means paying less, then that is the best college fit for that student.   If best college fit means paying more, then that is the best college fit for that student.  One is not "better" than the other.  Best college fit, then, is elastic and flexible enough to include both, as opposed to excluding or elevating one to the other. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Higly Selective Admissions: The Bucket Down Effect

"What is going on in SMU's admissions?"

It was first question that went off like a cannon ball blast out of this alumni's mouth over the phone.

This particular father was obviously hot over the fact that his son had been deferred in early action to SMU.

And he had reason to be upset. His son had solid, admissible academic credentials. He was captain and leader for all three team sports he played. And he was a legacy applicant.

And yet still he was deferred.

It was at that point that I tried to explain to the father that it is not what is going on in SMU's admission office as much as it is what is coming into SMU's admission office.

I call it the "Bucket Down Effect" in college admissions today.

Here is the illustration I use to explain my theory.

This year, for example, over 28,000 applied to Yale. What's freakishly scary is that the majority of students applying to Ivies like Yale are "admissible" based on academic credentials (GPA, test scores, class rank). Don't believe me, then I would encourage you to read this interview with Maria Laskaris, Dean of Admission at Dartmouth College.

This means that 94% of the bucket, which is filled with "Ivy admissible" kids are being dumped out, and a result, are being forced to go into the next bucket down.

As a result, the buckets just below the Ivies are now getting a higher quality applicant, which then allows these institutions to become more selective.

illustrates this.

In just 10 years they have gone from dumping out only half of their bucket of applicants to now dumping out 86% of their buckets - and again most of these kids have "Ivy quality credentials".

Look, for example, at the ACT average for admitted students this year (33-35). That's the same median range for all the Ivies. There is literally no different in the admitted credentials; there is now only a slight difference in the admit-to-deny stats (8% and less -> Ivies; 14% and less -> Vanderbilt's).

So as you can see again from this slide below, those being dumped out of Vanderbilt's bucket are then logically going down into the next bucket below, which in this case is a school like SMU.

This brings me back to what I was trying to explain to this SMU alumni father.

SMU's early bucket was the most credential pool they have ever had.

The average ACT, for example, of admitted students in early action at SMU was a 29.

What's happening then is that we are seeing 1) a proliferation of intellectual and scholarly capital that is making schools below the Ivies so much better, which 2) is making the quality of education (or brand) at these institutions that much better, which then 3) is making the competition for the "supply" of this new quality brand of education that much more intense.

It's very good news for the 60+ colleges and universities that are now admitting 26% and less.

And it is also good news for students getting admitted and matriculating to one of these schools, and many others.

But it is also bad news for those who a few years ago would have been admitted to the SMU's, but now just aren't able to.

Luckily, our student was admitted into SMU during regular admission, along with six other of his peers.

But come next year, we will see the bucket down effect in full effect once again...and the competition for a spot will be that much more intense.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Recommendations - Writing for Story

On Tuesday I am presenting to colleagues on the topic of recommendation writing.

To view my "Prezi" with the presentation's content see below.

Articles on Highly Selective Admissions

This week I was asked to present before Casady's Board of Visitors on the topic of "Highly Selective College Admissions - Then, Now, and Coming". In preparation for my presentation, I sent our BOV a cadre of links and articles on highly selective admissions.

Below you will find what I sent to the BOV that we pivoted off of in our conversation.

If you wish to read further on this topic:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

College Choice Month: 7 College Buying Tips

It’s crunch time for families in the college selection process. The admission decisions are in and, with less than a month remaining before the May 1 Candidates’ Reply Date, students are now turning their attention to the final choice of a college. It’s an exciting—and nerve-wracking—time to be sure, especially for families trying to reconcile cost and affordability against limited means and/or cash-flow concerns.

If you are in that number, there is a strong likelihood you applied for financial aid and are now trying to interpret the financial aid award letters you received from various colleges. Months ago, as you engaged in the grueling task of completing the financial aid applications, it was the promise of the “just reward” that kept you going. Now that the award letters are in hand, you are left wondering, “what does it all mean?”

To read the rest of Peter Van Buskirk's blog click here.