Friday, September 28, 2012

USA Today: College Application Advice from Deans of Admission

One of my favorite colleagues in the business is College of William & Mary's dean of admission, Henry Broaddus.

We had Mr. Broaddus on campus to speak to students and parents at the outset of the college process a few years ago.

Our community still sings his praises.

Mr. Broaddus's spaghetti analogy is worth the price of admission alone. 

Anyway, in a recent USA Today article, Mr. Broaddus recently joined a handful of dean's of admission to distill some excellent things for students to keep in mind during the application process.

Here is what Mr. Broaddus had to say:

Essays and samples: Any topic can work, but the goal should be to treat that topic in a manner that reveals distinctive style and personal character. Admission officers are far more interested in essays that show personal voice than they are in reading something that’s persuasive.
Keep in mind that 500 words is a very short form. Especially in subsequent drafts, it’s often helpful to narrow the essay’s focus.

Deadlines and requirements: In college admissions and in life, there are only a handful of things completely within one’s control through careful planning. Meeting deadlines is one of those things.

Letters of recommendation: Choose recommenders who know you well and thank them effusively. Teachers who take the time to tell us the stories of their students are the unsung heroes of this process.

Other: Unfortunately, standardized tests present a dangerous illusion of empirical precision that’s at odds with the way we make admission decisions. Test scores matter to us as a limited measure of academic preparedness, but for the hardest choices between similarly qualified candidates, standardized tests play no greater role than the more qualitative information in the application.

To read the rest of this USA Today article click here.  

Q & A Part V with Princeton's Dean of Admission

Today, The Choice blog posted the 5th installment of their Q & A with Princeton's Dean of Admission, Janet Rapelye.

If you have ever asked about what a 9th grade student should be doing to become competitive in highly selective admissions...

If you are anxious whether or not the ACT and SAT I/II test scores in October and early November will get to the admission office in time for review...

If you have ever wondered if admissions give more weight to "team-oriented" activities over "individual oriented" (arts, music) activities...

If you have ever wondered how important sports, in particular, plays in competitive admissions...

Then click here

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Q & A Part IV with Princeton's Dean of Admission

Today, Princeton's Dean of Admission, Janet Rapelye, continued her up blog responses to questions students and parents submitted to The Choice blog.

If you have ever wondered if a student who does not shimmer with perfection -- gets an occasional B, for example -- can get into an Ivy league...

If you have ever asked if a "non-hooked" (aka. "subgroup" = minority, athlete, legacy, 1st gen, international) student can gain admission to an Ivy league...

If you have ever asked when the graduation tides will crest and recede...

If you have ever asked about the current trend in international applicants, and what prognosticators anticipate in future admission pools... 

Click here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Q & A Part II & III with Princeton Dean of Admission

Princeton's Dean of Admission, Janet Rapelye, continues to answer student and parent questions on The Choice Blog.

If you have ever asked, should my student apply early to increase their chances for admission...

If you have ever asked, how important is choosing a major factor into the admission process..

Click here.

If you have ever asked, how many times is an application reviewed in a "holistic process"...

If you have ever asked, how does a student go about finding their "good fit" college...

Click here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Q & A with Princeton's Dean of Admission

Janet Rapelye, Dean of Admission at Princeton University, has been answering student and parent questions on the Times Choice blog. 

 If you have ever (student) struggled to know what to write about in your essay, and whether or not taking the time to write, re-write, write, re-write, write, and re-write your essay for quality really matters...

If you have ever asked the question, what credential do Ivy admissions look at first - the test score, GPA, resume, recommendation letter, etc...

If you have ever asked the question, is my X ACT or X SAT test score strong enough to get in...

If you have ever asked whether or not colleges "really know" the school context of the your child's transcript, GPA, etc...

If you have asked any of these questions, then you need to click here to read Dean Rapelye's responses.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9th Grade: Top 10 College Planning Tips

Here are our Top 10 College Planning Tips for 9th grade students and parents:

Begin mapping out your curriculum plan for all four years in the Upper School.

Aim for Breath and Depth:  four years in five core subjects (4x5 = 20), moving upward to the next level of rigor (English, math, science, history, and foreign language)  [Selective colleges aren’t looking for passion on the transcript;  they are looking for appropriate level of challenge + consistent performance] 

Become involved in school activities (clubs, sports, debate, theater, Logos, The Crier);  take advantage of leadership opportunities available to you.  (“To whom much is given much is required”) 

Work hard in all your courses.  The #1 rubric for college readiness is the transcript.  Moreover, the ACT covers content in the classroom.  Read more.  This will improve your PSAT and SAT scores. 
 Take the PSAT in October for experience with standardized testing and to evaluate your progress.

Make good use of your summer;  get a summer job (responsibility), go to camp, travel, take a course, etc. (What do you do when you don’t have to do anything?) 

Make use of family trips and vacations to take a first look at colleges.  Aim for a “cluster of three” schools:  small, liberal arts;  mid-size private university; big, public university;  specialty schools.  (What did you learn about yourself while touring the school?) 

Begin using Casady’s Naviance.  Take the Learning Style assessment.  Explore the Super College Match.  Look at the College Maps.  Begin building your resume.  Keep “Journal” notes about your freshman experience. 

Parents:  begin financial planning for college now!  Don’t wait!  Investigate college costs, saving plans, etc.  Click here to do an early "Expected Family Contribution" ("EFC"). 
Parents:  utilize college counseling resources found in the UD Hub.  Start by reading College Bound Field Guide.  Click here to find the CBFG and other college counseling resources.

9th Grade College Night: The 3D-Model

Last night we had a packed house for our 9th grade parent college night.

Our overarching goal was to educate our parents about the college counseling program, to ensure them that they were in good hands, and that every student would find a college fit.

It's important at this stage in the process to keep it simple.

9th graders are having enough difficulty just adjusting to being in high school.

One illustration I like to use with 9th graders to help them visualize what they should aim for in all four years in high school is the "3-D" model."
The aim is to go "up, "in", and "out".

Up:  Each year aim to go to the next level of appropriate rigor in terms of ability and readiness in each of the core academic disciplines (math, science, english, humanities, language).  Aim also for incremental performance growth.  

In:  Get involved.  Join a club.  Or a team.  Or a theater company.  Tech crew.  If there isn't a club that you wish was on campus - lobby to start it up.  Lend your talent, abilities, and passion to the school community.  And over time, find ways to lead and influence. 

Out:  Find ways to move beyond your school community out into the broader local and global community to give yourself away to others.  Colleges are hungry to find students who are a part of the Generation G movement - young people who are committed to a lifestyle of generosity and transformation.  To be a change agent is to be someone who brings order to chaos.  This can be as simple as volunteering at the local chapter of the Boys and Girls club.  Or partnering with organizations like charity: water, Invisible Children, and The Adventure Project to help give people a "hand up".  Or daring to start a grassroots project to help repair, store, and heal what is broken in your neighborhood and city. 

In a recent Times article, in fact, the Dean of Admission at Harvard, Bill Fitzsimmons, addressed many of the the 3-D's that they are looking for a candidate.  

There is indeed a simplicity on the other side of complexity.

And Out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Early Decision II (ED II) College List

We have a number of students who are looking for an "ED II bucket" option.

Early Decision II allows students to apply to a binding admission program in January.

They can give the ED 1, SCEA, or EA bucket a go.

If a student gets denied, deferred, even accepted (SCEA or EA), that student can go ED II.

The odds are better.  Smaller applicant pool.  Larger admit rate.

Here are a handful of popular ED II schools among our students.

Washington and Lee

To see the full ED II list click here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

UVA Dean's Recent Tweet on Sending Test Scores

Students, and particularly parents, fret all the time over whether they should send the best ACT or SAT I test score to colleges, or send all their scores.

Not long ago the Dean of Admission at UVA, my favorite "Twitter Dean", responded to this common question...with candor and levity as usual.

Thank you, Dean Greg.

20 Questions to Ask Your College Counselor

Next week is 9th grade Parent College Night.  

One of the handouts we will give the parents is a list of 20 questions to ask us.

Although you will need to modify the questions in relationship to your school community, these questions will help you learn the basics going into the college process.

1.    What do you mean by a “philosophy of best college fit”?
2.    What courses do I need to take to be ready for selective or highly selective colleges?
3.    How should I plan my schedule accordingly?
4.    Which elective courses do you recommend?
5.    What Honors, Pre-AP, and AP courses are available, and how many can I take each year?
6.    What is the PSAT? 
7.    What is the PRA?
8.    What are the differences between the ACT, SAT I, and SAT II Subject Tests?
9.    What should my “testing timeline” look like for the ACT, SAT I, and SAT II Subject Tests?
10.  What college programming is offered 9th-12th grade?
11.  What is Naviance?  How do I access and utilize Naviance?
12.  What should I be doing on campus, at home, and in the summers to get ready for    college?
13.  Are there any college fairs I can attend?
14.  Where do other students from Casady attend college?
15.  Can you put me in touch with a recent graduate who is going to college on my   exploration list?
16.  What is the “pyramid of selectivity”?
17.  If my colleges need a counselor recommendation, how can I help you know me better so it can be nuanced and personal?
18.  How do I access scholarship information?
19.  What is a school profile, and where can I find our profile?
20.  How does Casady compare to other schools in terms of test scores and reputation?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The 6 Admission Buckets

Earlier this week I had a couple 8th grade parents in my office to get a "jump start" on the college admission process.

At one point, one of the parents said matter-of-factly, "So kids today apply a lot like we did back in the day, where we apply around January 1st."

I smiled wryly.

This poor couple was about to have their heads sent spinning.

"Actually," I responded, "there are now like 6 different admission buckets."

There is the Rolling Admission Bucket. 

This bucket is a big and wide bucket.

It stretches from August to May.

Often public universities with automatic admission criteria use this bucket.

And often the application is found on their admission web site.

OU, for example, uses this bucket.

Then there are the "Early" Buckets.

There are typically 3 Early Buckets.

There is the Early Action Bucket (unrestricted).

Students can apply EA to more than 1 school.

Deadlines are often around Nov. 1-15.

There is no lid in EA.  That means that students can decide to wait until May to matriculate if they are admitted in December.
 (These schools are "holistic" in that they assess a student's admissibility based on test scores, gpa, strength of academic program, along with resume, teacher recommendation, counselor recommendation, student essays, and sometimes, interviews.)

The Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) Bucket has a bit of nuance.  Students apply same time period.  There is "no lid" (have until May to decide), but they can only apply to 1 school, the exception being public universities that aren't highly selective.

There are 5 SCEA schools:  Stanford,  Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Boston College.

Watch out for those SCEA schools.  They can be a bear trap.

Most of those schools are reading the applications through a "bifocal" lens in which they are "trolling" for applications who are both a "holistic match" (profile + in terms of test scores, GPA, strength of curriculum) and "institutional match" (diversity, legacy, athlete, 1st gen, international, engineering).

When 90% of the applicant pool is admissible (read this interview with Dartmouth dean of admission, Maria Laskaris), and you only admit 21% in early round, and around 6-10% in regular - who do you pick?  

Unless you have a "hook" or an institutional credential that the school really wants, it is best not to apply SCEA.

Finally there is the Early Decision Bucket(s).

This is a bucket that comes with a lid.  To apply ED 1 means that you are 100% committed to this one school.  If admitted, you matriculate.  The odds are definitely better in ED 1 and ED 2.  There is a smaller volume and higher admit rate.

ED 2 is a new bucket.  There are a handful of schools that have added a January ED bucket (Vanderbilt, Emory, NYU, Davidson, Swathmore are a few with this bucket).  This bucket tends to have about the same application volume as the first ED bucket, and the acceptance rate is around the same.

Vanderbilt, for example, admits roughly 25% in both ED 1 and ED 2.

You can see from the Penn buckets the big difference between applying ED versus Regular.

Note how Penn filled up nearly half their class in ED.

There are about 6 times fewer apps in ED with a 15% higher admit rate.

And remember:  when you apply ED, you are ONLY applying against students applying to Penn.  Come regular admission, you are applying against students who are applying to most of the Ivies.  

The Regular Admission Bucket.

To put your application in the Regular Admission bucket is to invite the element of  uncertainty into the process.

There is simply no way to predict outcomes in regular admission, not even for the top students.  Just look again at the slide of Penn's admissions in early versus regular.

In regular you have almost 6 times the volume;  they take 15% less;  and only have 57% of the chairs to fill in.

That's why it tends to be "Scorcese bloody red" in regular admissions at highly selective schools.

The key then is to think not just in terms of where your student will apply, but when.

To view 2012 Admission Results click here.