Thursday, December 19, 2013

Early College Acceptances!!!!

For the past week, Casady seniors have been hearing back from colleges and universities that they applied to early

So far our 74 seniors have been admitted to 41 different schools.

This list grows by the day.

In the midst of the most competitive admission cycle in US history, the Class of 2014 has had incredible success among some of the most prestigious technological, research, and liberal arts schools in the US and abroad.

That said, we are proud of EVERY college acceptance that our seniors have received thus far...and to come in the months ahead!

Our mission continues to focus on finding the best college fit for each student.

Click here to see a map of where the Class of 2014 has already found a college fit!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Is your student receiving a college admission decision soon? (revisiting an old post)

(I wrote this blog post last year.  I thought it was worth recycling as seniors enter into the admission results season again!)

It's that time of year again.

Early admission decisions are coming out.

The wait will finally be over.

And reality will come to roost.

I was asked by my headmaster yesterday what the "early forecast" looks like for our students.

Talk about being put on the spot in our administrative meeting.

My response.

The weather doppler shows an early winter mix of snow and sunshine.

Emily Dickinson gave great advice when she poetically waxed:

"Tell the truth but tell it slant."

Metaphors are helpful "slants" (/) to convey hard truths.


Just today The Choice blog published a post on advice for parents and students who are receiving news from colleges.

Many of my colleagues had excellent insights and anecdotes to illustrate the do's and don'ts.

The story of the mom recording "the moment" and failing to see her daughter sobbing because of the bad news - that's a "parent fail" moment (not that I haven't already had a bevy of fail moments with my 6 year old)

Or the parent who ordered two different Christmas cards.

One with the daughter in her Duke sweatshirt.

The other with her daughter in another outfit.

Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes - isn't it?


One thing I have to keep in mind is that this is not my moment.

It's not about me.

This is the student's moment.

My job in that student's moment is to try and practice what Harvard professor and theologian Henri Nouwen called the "ministry of presence."

To minister presence simply means being present in the present with the person in my presence.

This is never easy to do.

I have to resist the impulse to "fix" the situation.

I'm learning though that it is OK for things not to be OK.


All of us deep down hate to see our kids suffer disappointment.

We are a pain aversion society - aren't we?

We're a Happy Meal culture.

We're a Lake Woebegone world where every kid is now well above average.

We don't want to acknowledge that most meaningful success stories are shaped by a trajectory of suffering.

People who end up really mattering to the world are people who end up enduring great suffering to matter to the world.

I'm reading Team of Rivals right now, for example.

I've been amazed in just the first 100 pages by how Lincoln's suffering in his formative years molded his character.

And I've been equally amazed at how Lincoln handled personal loss and political defeat.

He wasn't a Clint Eastwood type.

He didn't just grit it out.

Lincoln grieved it out.

He had unstinting bouts of "hypocondria" that drove him to the edge of despair.

But it's that emotional edge that ultimately gave Lincoln his moral edge.

Lincoln wouldn't have been Lincoln without the personal and political set backs.

One salient thing Lincoln possessed during his lifetime was the ability to navigate those painful moments through story telling and good humor.  

Lincoln found ways in moments punctuated by grave disappointment or ferocious intensity to keep his sanity and perspective by telling a funny, homespun anecdote he gleaned from his father while growing up in the backwoods of Kentucky. 

The film Lincoln illustrates this poignantly when Lincoln tells a crude story about a toilet and portrait of George Washington that had his entire cabinet in raucous fits just moments before they received critical news from the Civil War battle front.

Perhaps there is something we can all glean from Lincoln here.


Often times the best thing to do when it is bad news for kids is not to say anything all.

"Chicken Soup words" just don't warm the soul.

It's best to do what Jews have done down through the centuries amid suffering.

Call it the ancient practice of just shutting up and being silently with. 

A hug.  Tears.  A steaming cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows bobbing on the frothy surface.

A fun Christmas movie like Elf.

Moreover, it's best for this moment [when the student thumbs open the letter, or clicks on to his or her admission portal] to occur in a private place with supportive people.

It's days or weeks after that I will try to reasonably explain the hidden perils that may have factored into the unfavorable application decision.

Especially at highly selective institutions where the goal is for the admission officer to find a reason not to admit the student.

I often begin by reminding the crestfallen student that the college made a decision on a 10 to 20 minute application review, as well as a set of institutional goals that the student may or may not have fit into as an applicant.

In other words, this college didn't deny you.

They denied your application.

Sometimes the college is denying your application because on page one they saw that you didn't fit a certain geographical demographic or ethnic demographic.

Or you checked off one gender box instead of the other. 

Or that you chose an academic major that is full.

Or that you have a smattering of B's and C's from your freshman year.

Or that you took a freshman level course like Chinese 1 in your senior academic program.

Or that you took Honors US History instead of AP US History. 

Or that your activities chart was too thin.  (They needed more generalist).

Or that your activities chart was too thick.  (They needed more specialist).

Or that you didn't check the "plan to participate in college" box.

Or that your parents didn't attend this particular college.

Or that your test score was "profile negative" by a single point.

There are a myriad of reasons that a student's application is admitted, deferred, or denied that is beyond one's control.

Beyond my control.

Beyond your parent's control.

Beyond some rich alumnus's control.

Just beyond.

And not being able to manipulate the results just plain sucks.


Life is moments.

And this will be for your student one of those moments.

It's not the ultimate moment.

It's just one moment among many moments that will shape them.

Looking back, I realize now that often the moment isn't about the news.

It's about the person's response.

I also realize that the moment isn't meant to be a solitary event.

It's meant to be a communal moment.

Some moments, in other words, are meant to be shared.  

Any disappointment can be absorbed and overcome in the presence of someone who cares, supports, encourages, and ultimately loves you.

I often remind parents in our first college meeting that a study has shown that a parent has roughly 3000 hours to influence a child.

That's 3000 dots.

No dots are more impacting than dots of love.

For in the end, love is always presence.

Every one of us needs to hear, regardless if we are hearing back from a college, that we are loved simply because.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

National 2013 College Admissions Trends

Every year at about this time, I submit my Board of Trustees report on college admissions.

My report includes a summary of major trends in the college admission world for this year.

Major College Admission Trends

Highly Selective Admissions  “Arms Race”…Continues

The arms race in highly selective college admission continued this year.  Seven of the eight Ivies reported increases in applications and decreases in admissions.  At least twenty-two universities reported 30,000+ application totals.  Factors contributing to the arms race include growing first generation applicant pools;  growing international applicant pools;  the popularity/accessibility of the Common Application;  “attract to reject” marketing;  financial aid anxiety. 

Here are a selected handful of admission statistics reported by institutions:

                                                        Apps     Admit%
Stanford University                        38,828   5.69%
Harvard University                         31,785   5.79%
Yale University                               31,117   6.72%
Columbia University                      33,531   6.89%
Princeton University                      26,498    7.29%
University of Chicago                    30,369    8.81%
Dartmouth College                         22,416    10.05%
Duke University                             31,785    11.58%
Vanderbilt University                     31,056    11.97%
University of Pennsylvania            31,280    12.10%
Northwestern University                32,772    13.90%
Washington University                  30,117     15.01%
(St. Louis)           
USC                                               47,285     19.68%

·      The Times Choice blog provides more exhaustive statistics.  Click here to peruse statistics.

“Resource Aware” Schools vs. “Discount Aware” Parents 

There is a growing tension between colleges becoming more “resource aware” (aka “full pay hunting”) versus parents becoming more  “discount aware” (aka “coupon hunter”).

·      This WSJarticle illustrates how price and value are losing momentum among consumers. 

Popularity of Early Decision = Dissolving Advantage

More students are getting savvy about the “game within the college admission game” and applying into early decision pools;  however, schools aren't necessarily admitting more in early decision.  As a result, the strategic advantage of applying early is waning.  In 2007, for example, a student applying early decision had a 12-15% advantage;  last year it was 6%. 

·      Here is one related article.  And another related article. 

ACT Trumps SAT in Popularity

For the first time in US history, the ACT was more popular among high school test takers than the SAT.  Notably, this year, 90% of our seniors scored higher on the ACT than the SAT.  Colleges will take either the ACT or SAT for admission review (there are also 800+ colleges/universities that are test optional.  To peruse this list click here. Moreover, the ACT recently announced that they will be offering their test online (iPads) in the spring of 2015. 

·      Here is one related article.  And another

Monday, May 6, 2013

Casady's Class of 2013 College Acceptances and Matriculations

Today is College Day for our seniors!

It's a Casady School tradition for our seniors to wear their college t-shirt on this day as a way to publically announce to the community where they will be matriculating in the fall.

Our college counseling office couldn't be prouder of the Class of 2013 and the colleges they have chosen.

Statistics can never fully reveal the myriad of reasons for why a student chose the college they did.

Story is a much more effective medium.

And I wish I had the time and space to tell each student's story.

But I'll share some statistics nevertheless.

It's been well documented that this has been the most brutal year in highly selective admissions (click here to see 100+ admission statistics.)

Take, as one salient example, Vanderbilt University.

Vandy received 31, 056 applications.

Vandy only admitted 11.97%.

Vandy is a microcosm of what we saw across the entire college landscape.

We saw historic highs in applications - 99,000 at UC- Berkeley.

We saw historic lows in admissions - 6.72% at Yale, 5.79% at Harvard.

And yet, in the midst of such historic highs and lows, our seniors had historic success in terms of overall college acceptances.

188 applications (out of 265 total applications from our 60 seniors) were deemed worthy of admission at 71 different colleges and universities.

From Ivies.  To "Public Ivies".

From Big 12.  To Big 10.

From Pac-12.  To SEC.

From single sex schools.  To military academies.

From small, liberal arts colleges.  To mid-size private, research universities.

This small, senior class really embraced in a big way the spirit of adventure.

54% of our seniors will be matriculating out of state to 31 different colleges and universities.

The other 46% will stay in state to attend  5 different universities.

58% will attend public institutions.

42% will attend private institutions.

8% will matriculate to liberal arts colleges.

92% will matriculate to universities.

To date our seniors have been offered almost $4 million in scholarship monies.

Now to my favorite statistic.


12 is the number of new stickers that we will be adding to our "Cyclone College Bound" map.

Each sticker represents colleges and universities that a Casady student has either not chosen in many years, or never chosen before.

12 is a number that says that our students are broadening the horizons of the possible in terms of great college fits for Casady students.

12 is a number that underscores the fact that more colleges are getting to know how exceptional students are that hale from Casady School.

Okay, with that said, it is time to roll out the Class of 2013 complete acceptance and matriculation list.

Acceptances are in blue.
Matriculation are in red.

University of Alabama (new sticker!)

American University
Arizona State University
University of Arkansas
Austin College
Barnard College (Columbia University)
Baylor University
Boston University
Bryn Mawr College
University of Central Oklahoma (3)
Centre College
University of Colorado - Boulder
Colorado School of Mines (new sticker!)
University of Denver
Duke University
Earlham College
Elon University
Emory University
Fort Lewis College
Furman University (new sticker!)
The George Washington University (new sticker!)
Georgetown University
Harding University
Hendrix College
High Point University (new sticker!)
Kansas State University
King's College
Lake Forest College
Langston University
Lindenwood University
Loyola Marymount University
Lyon College
University of Mississippi
Missouri Baptist University (new sticker!)
Missouri University of Science and Technology
University of Missouri-Columbia
New York University
Newman University
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Northeastern University
Northwestern University
Oklahoma Baptist University (new sticker!)
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma State University (3)
Oklahoma State University - Oklahoma City
University of Oklahoma (19)
Oxford College of Emory University
Pepperdine University
Randolph College
Randolph-Macon College (new sticker!)
Rhodes College
Saint Louis University
University of San Diego
University of Southern California (new sticker!)
Southern Methodist University (4)
Southwestern University
St. Edward's University (new sticker!)
University of Texas - Austin (2)
Texas Christian University
Trinity University
University of Tulsa
United States Air Force Academy
United States Coast Guard Academy 
United States Military Academy at West Point (2)
United States Naval Academy
University of Virginia
Washington University in St. Louis
Wellesley College
University of Wisconsin - Madison (new sticker!)
Vanderbilt University
Yale University (new sticker!)

On behalf of our entire office, we are SO PROUD of the Class of 2013!

And we wish each of you the best as you pursue your passions and interests in college.

Please come back and visit us and share your college experience.

We want to hear of all the ways the college you chose has been an excellent college fit!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wait Listed? Simple Strategies Going Forward

Most of our seniors this year got a clean cut in regular admissions.

Our 61 seniors, for example, submitted 265 applications.

Only 11 apps were wait listed.

And only 1 senior is pursuing a spot via the wait list.

So for that 1 student, I've given them simple advice.

First, let the college know you want a spot. 

Second, send the college rep only new information - new awards, new recognitions, new grades, etc. 

Third, consider sending the college rep a short, new essay on why that college.

Fourth, try to seek out an alumni of that college who knows you and can advocate for you in a letter.

Most college reps won't admit this, but they are tired.  So keep everything tight, terse, and brief.

Fifth, plan on depositing May 1st to an admitted college.

Many colleges will not go to their wait list until after May 1st when they get a clearer picture of what spots are open.

That's it.

Wait list, unfortunately, require waiting.

And sometimes good things come to those who wait.

And other times - they don't.

That proverbial wisdom often proves true for finding a spouse.  Or getting a great deal on a car.

But not necessarily a spot at a desired college.

A recent article enumerated on anticipated wait list trends this year.

Here are a handful of more statistics from that article.

About 55% of colleges will create and use a wait list.

Most of those 55% will put roughly 9% of their application pool on the wait list.

Cornell is a great example of this trend.  Cornell had 40,006 applications.  They put 3,146 on the wait list.

Some schools will put more.  Take Emory.  They had 17,698 applications.  They put 4,113 on the wait list.

Some will put less.  Take Princeton.  They had 26, 498.  They put 1,395 on the wait list. 

The Times recently posted admission statistics for many highly selective schools.  They also provided wait list numbers.  Click here to review statistics.  

Overall, colleges are taking on average 31% from the wait list.

Notably, highly selective schools are taking almost 17% from their wait list.

Usually, I tell my kids that the more selective the school is, the less likely they will be admitted off the waist list.  In that case, I tell my kids to see a wait list as a consolation prize, and that they need to move forward, deposit May 1st at a school that has admitted them, buy the t-shirt, and celebrate the exciting opportunities that await them in the next chapter of their life story.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013




now click.

36 of our seniors will hear back on 96 application decisions.

It's certain to be a mixed bag.

Or like my golf game - a combination of birdies, pars, and quadruple bogies.

My colleague at a prestigious independent school in the northeast recently texted me these macabresque four words:

"Regular admission is dead."

At highly selective schools, in particular, it seems that the sheer, absurd, colossal numbers are going to bury most applicants like an avalanche.

It seems that if a kid wants a school that admits 25% or less, their best shot, and in most cases, their only shot, in fact, is early admission.


Or nothing.

Recently, there was an article in Time entitled "College Admissions:  The Myth of High Selectivity."

The argument is that it is actually easier to get into a highly selective school.

Maybe not THE highly selective school of choice.

But A highly selective school of choice.

The argument revolves around the central idea that more unqualified students are applying just because they can thanks to the easy accessibility via the Common Application.

We call these applicants "profile negative" students.

GPA and test scores are below the 50% median.

I'm sure that cohort of applicants is growing.

But most deans of admission tell college counselors like myself just the opposite.

They are fomenting our anxiety with the growing cohort of qualified students.  

They are "profile positive."

Take this interview with Maria Laskaris, Dean of Admission at Dartmouth College.

At one point, Mrs. Laskaris said this about the overall quality of the admission pool:

"Probably 85 to 90 percent of the pool, if given the opportunity, would thrive, would excel, so we’re making very nuanced and difficult decisions, and it gets harder and harder, as you winnow the pool down, to figure out whom we’re going to admit."

85 to 90%.

So of the 8 out of 10 that are admissible, Dartmouth then will admit 1 out of those 8.

That's the same set of numbers I heard from Bill Fitzsimmons at Harvard.

Same number I just got on the phone from our rep at Vandy who told me that they got over 31,000 applications in this year's admission cycle.

Just today, in fact, The Times ran an article on tips for being accepted.

The thrust of the article is when you get your acceptance letter - be happy, relieved, jubilant...but don't go "Rod Tidwell" overboard and get flagged 15 yards by your peers.

My guess is that the Rod Tidwell touchdown dances will be far-and-in-between the crawl-into-the-fetal-position-and-spoon-down-ben-and-jerry's-ice-cream.

In other words, more of these cringing responses. 

Than the above.

So my final thought as the curtain lifts in the next 24 hours.

If you are one of the few who get in at highly selective schools  - count yourself lucky, because the truth is, that decision doesn't reflect as much your admissibility as it does the absurdity of the process.

And if you are one of the many who do not get in - know that the decision doesn't reflect as much your inadmissibility as it does the absurdity of the process.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Discovering Your Story, Part I

This month's theme for the College Seminar is story.

I invited a guest speaker to engage our 11th graders on the compelling power of story.

Our guest speaker has hired and fired many salesman in the corporate world of healthcare management.

He opened with our students by saying, "I've never hired a person with the best resume.  I've always hired the person with a good resume and an even better story."

Does a really good story make that much of a difference?

In a job interview?

On a college application?

In life - in general?

I would argue, Yes!

What is a story?

A story is what you do.

Think about what you do?

  • School
  • GPA
  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Clubs
  • Activities
  • Service Hours
  • Athletics (JV/V...start/don't start)
  • Work
  • Vocational Aspirations

We are in touch with these because this is where we spend all of our time.

This stuff makes up 90% of our conversations - doesn't it?

But your story is more than what you do.

Your story is also who you are.

Now think about who you are?

You are shaped by your experiences, family, life events, etc.

You are unique - like your thumbprint.

And this sets you apart.

Informs your character and passions.

Makes you "come alive" to those around you.

Comes from "the heart" more than "the head."

Your story then is what you do + who you are.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Top 10 Rejection Moments

This is always an unnerving stretch of the application cycle.

Three weeks and counting before all regular admission decisions are delivered.

I find myself staring at our Naviance pie chart almost every hour.

50% of our admission decisions are in the books.

50% aren't.

That's a lot of unknown results.

That's a lot of finger nail biting.

Inevitably there will be a mixed bag of decisions.

Some of our kids will get good news.

Others disappointing news.

And still others the news that it's not over.

Wait listed. 

But for me, I find it easier to weep with those who weep, instead of rejoice with those who rejoice.

Perhaps it is because we tend to feel the sting of rejection longer than we do the euphoric prick of acceptance.

Just yesterday I got an email from NACAC that my proposal for a workshop at the upcoming national conference got rejected.

The email, of course, was gracious, but in the end, the committee concluded that my topic was "too basic for inclusion at the national conference level."  

So there was that.

I was one of the 150 or so that got their proposal waste bucketed.  

It stung for a bit, but then the mosquito bite disappeared.

But it got me feeling in a fresh and new way what some of my students and parents will feel in the next few weeks.

And it got me thinking-feeling back to other times that I have experienced rejection.

It's not that hard to pinpoint moments of rejection because it always comes with a visceral wallop - doesn't it?

If we're honest, our lives are fraught with rejection. 

Most of which we repress.

Or medicate.

Or project onto our kids.

So I've decided I'd "open a vein" and share some of my highest low points.

Call this my Top 10 Rejection Moments.

A cathartic exercise.

I've left out elementary and middle school.

I can't seem to remember that far back.

I have a few memories of awkward, insecure moments, like the time I couldn't lift the bench bar in the weight room, and my fellow 7th grade football teammates laughed at my scrawny frame.

Or the time I got my gym shorts and underwear pulled down by Zac Graves during a game of dodge ball.

Talk about humiliating.

Especially when you were a late bloomer puberty wise.   

So I'll just pick it up around 16 years old.

These are in no particular order.

Just as they surfaced from the subconscious nether regions.
  1. I was rejected by Lisa Freeland when I went in for a post prom date kiss my junior year.  
  2. I was slighted by my classmates as an incumbent class officer.  Kurt Anglebeck was elected Senior Class President and got to give the graduation speech.
  3. I was later rejected as a Senior Captain on the "Royal Court" for Homecoming.
  4. I was rejected by the Air Force Academy - offered a spot at the prep school instead
  5. I received almost 47 rejections from the colleges I had hoped would recruit me for basketball.
  6. I was rejected countless times as a freshman basketball player, driving into the paint, only to see my tear drop floater get swatted away by University of Illinois transfer, Marc Davidson, a 6'7" power forward with a haircut and physique like Drago's in Rocky IV.
  7. I spent an entire summer getting rejected on the phone as a "nurse recruiter specialist" (pretty much got fired after going 0-500).
  8. I had my co-manuscript of the memoir my wife and I wrote rejected by many publishers.
  9. I was rejected twice as a finalist for recent job openings. 
  10. I was initially rejected by the State Boards for my teaching license because I failed one of the English grammar exams.  ("I'm a story and ideas guy!)    
Looking back now, I realize that No, the sky wasn't really falling.  It just felt apocalyptic at the time.

And I also realize now that I had a lot of people around me - family, friends, coaches, teachers, colleagues - that helped absorb the sting, lick my wounds and move forward.

Life, indeed, is a communal effort.  The "I" needs the "we" to overcome those stretches on the journey that are fraught with disappointment.

And I also see now the silver lining in almost every one of those rejections.

Except maybe Lisa Freeland leaving me hanging on prom night.:)

Good, wonderful, didn't-see-coming things were just around the corner of the No's.

Yes's, in other words.

Big, surprising, beautiful, hopeful Yes's!

And it's those sunny Yes's on the other side of the dark, cloudy No's that give me comfort.

And a peace of mind as I move into this stormy spring season with my students.

All eventually will work out.

There will be a silver lining.

Just wait and see. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

200th Blog Post - Show Me the Money!

It's my 200th blog post!

To celebrate this bi-centennial post - I will blog about money in relationship to college scholarships.

My favorite topic.

Every year I just have to show this clip from Jerry Maguire.


Because every year I feel more-and-more like my job is that of a sports agent.

Not only am I to get kids into college (which again, I don't do - kids get themselves into college).

But I'm also to broker the best financial aid package.

The logic:  Show the colleges the A's on the transcript and the colleges will show my kid the $$$$! 

Of course, when it comes to the most highly selective schools, that money is reserved not for the meritocratic all-stars, because we should all know by now, everyone who is admitted at the top of the selectivity pyramid walks on water.

Money is given based on need only.


Not CUM GPA's.

Last week Forbes did an article on this growing trend among American families with college-bound seniors.

It's a sobering article.

Meant to be a "wake up call" to children and parents of entitlement.

High GPA's and test scores doesn't necessarily equate to scholarship dollars. 

It's becoming an art form really.

Of wishful thinking.

Like an imaginary game of Monopoly. 

Every A should equate to collecting $100 of scholarship money.

Reality is just now coming to roost.

For parents.  You means we actually have to pay for college?

For colleges.  You mean you (parent) actually thought you weren't going to have to pay for college?

For students.  You mean that A in AP Study Skills doesn't get me a full ride? 

In the end, I counsel my students and parents to choose a college that fits into their affordability parameters.

For some that will equate to a full pay, private college.

For others that will equate to a half pay, "lower-on-the-selectivity-food-chain" private college.

And for others that will equate to paying for a state public.

Of course the biggest fear factor going forward for many students and parents is the L word.


There are so many horror stories of kids who graduate with six figure loan debt.

In a recent The Atlantic article entitled, "The Myth of the Student-Loan Crisis," the writers seek to illustrate with excellent graphics and empirical evidence that the horror stories are in the minority, and the employment rate and the income earning potential for those who graduate with a college degree should give you some warm fuzzies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

@UVADean Top New Tweets

Who is in the mood for a few insightful dean @UVADean tweets?

I am.

Here are some of my recent favorites.

This last tweet is from the Common Application.  I was shocked when the CA announced that the short answer question (1000 characters) was removed from 2013-2014 application.

That means only one personal essay.

With an extended word length 650 words.

On another note, I thought you might enjoy a picture from my seat at last night's Thunder vs. Lakers game.

The last couple Thunder games I've attended have been L's.  It's sort of made me feel insecure.

Like I'm some sort of jinx or curse on the Thunder.

But last night, the Thunder were sharp all night and made big plays down the stretch (12-0 run) to close out Kobe and the Lakers.

Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Well-Rounded" + "Well-Angled"

There is a new hyphenated word being used in the world of highly selective schools.

It's the word "well-angled."


All of us have some idea of what well-rounded means.

It's always been the lingua franca of the independent school world.

And the foundation of Western pedagogy. 

A well-rounded student has many hyphens in their profile.





A well-rounded student is not necessarily excellent and passionately involved in one "hyphenated sphere."

A well-rounded student is very good and modestly involved in many "hyphenated spheres."

The student is not just into one thing.

But many.

Not singular.

But plural.

I've reported before that the Dean of Admission at Harvard shared with us at the Harvard Summer Institute last year that almost two-thirds of admitted students were "well-rounded."

My guess is that Bill Fitzsimmons could have said that about any applicant.

But dig a bit deeper, and the student admitted, most likely had a "hook."

A hook is a "+1 credential" that helps elevate the applicant from the pack.

Recruited athlete.  +1.

Legacy.  +1.

URM (Under Represented Minority).  +1.

URD (Under Represented Demographic).  +1.

URG (Under Represented Gender).  +1.

Now it is beginning to seem that if a student is "well-rounded" but not "hooked," then the student's only chance at admission is if he or she is "well-angled."

*And let me clarify - this is at the most highly selective schools, specifically universities. 

What then does this mean?

The way I interpret this new term is two-fold:  1)  "well-angled" means that a student bends their academic curriculum toward a particular academic major or discipline.  An example then would be the student who plans on applying to the engineering college within a highly selective university.  He or she then "angles" her curriculum in such a way that he or she drops humanities and languages, and loads up on math and sciences.

2)  "Well-angled"means that a student starts majoring in a major before they major in a major.

 In other words, the student starts taking college-level course work in a specific academic discipline before they are freshman in college.

I've been amazed at how many kids today are looking for or signing up for college-level course/experiences as a way to "angle" themselves.  Highly selective colleges, it seems, are really jumping at the opportunity to create a new revenue stream.  Of course, these kinds of programs advantage the advantaged.  The cost alone is normally too steep for the personis mediocribus.

The concern I have is that 1) this "well-angled" terminology will create a wide spread panic among students and parents, and that as a result, they will start protesting the fact that their student has to take World History, or that they have any general core requirements.  The liberal arts education, over time, as a result, will go kaput.  2)  This "well-angled" terminology will force students to prematurely decide what academic route to take for a career. 

These trends are already starting to creep into our ethos.

We have, for example, students at our school who will graduate and not know what the Renaissance is any real depth.  Why?  They only have to take two years of history.

And at the same time, we are seeing such a heavy attrition of kids NOT matriculating to liberal arts colleges.

Two years ago - only 13% of our class matriculated to lib arts colleges (87% to universities).

Last year - 9%.

To compete then at the university level at highly selective schools, it seems that our kids are being manipulated into curriculum and career decisions that at 15, 16, 17, 18 years old, they should not have to decide.

When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to be a sportscaster on ESPN.

How about you?

It does make me wonder how much longer liberal arts colleges, and in fact, liberal arts curriculum in the independent school world, will be able to survive.

And how much longer it will be until the British/European model of education replaces our model, which then will create a much more specialized student and work force.

Time will indeed tell.

In the meantime, I strive to do the best I can to discern the right academic curriculum each student should take within our graduation requirements and course offerings to give them the best competitive credential possible to gain admission at whatever level of admission selectivity.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Demise of Guys

I saw this graph in an article this week.

It reinforces the chasm growing between men and women who are college educated.

At our local flagship university, for example, the gap between men and women enrolling each year is almost 250 with each class.

There is now almost 1000 more females in school than males.

Which of course is now proliferating out into major urban sprawls.

Which then is making it harder for young women to find young men who are a "good match" in terms of education and career levels and ambitions.

Perhaps you have heard, read, or seen some of the stuff by Philip Zimbardo on this topic.

One of his more popular TEDS Talks is on the "demise of guys."

Zimbardo begins with sobering statistics about the growing gap between males and females matriculating and graduating from college.

And then he delves more deeply into the problems that young men are facing today in relationship to the opposite sex.

Preferring objects to people.

Gamers.  Cave Dwellers.

Socially awkward.

Addicted to pornography.

Paralyzed by intimacy.
The Ted Talk is worth the six minutes, especially if like me, you are raising a boy.

Or have in your English class of 14 students - 10 boys and 4 girls.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Surviving the Perfect Storm - Debunk Myths

The last four posts have explored ways that students applying to college can survive the "perfect storm" in college admissions.

Duke University, for example, just announced this week that they filled up 44% of their freshman class in Early Decision (admitting 753).  There are now only 950 places left to fill...from 29,000 Regular Decision applicants.

Do the math.  Tsunami alert.

It's important then with college admission realities like this to keep perspective, take a student-centered approach, foster an open mind, and choose wisely.

Finally, it's important that you (the student) debunk myths.

The most pervasive myth in our culture is that only certain schools will prepare people for success.   
Tell that to over half of our U.S. Senators.  They graduated from public universities.   
Tell that to 43 of the top 50 CEO’s in the world.  They graduated from schools other than Ivies.    
 Tell that to Condoleezza Rice – a graduate of Denver University.   
Or Stephen Spielberg.  He was rejected from USC three times.  He graduated from Cal State Long Beach.    
Tom Hanks.  He attended Colby Community college.    
Or Sam Presti, the Thunder’s GM - an Emerson College graduate.  
Or our beloved Dr. Powell, head of the Casady English department - a University of Redlands (CA) graduate.
Part of the genius of America is that genius can come from anywhere.  
In fact most of the greatest success stories in the West are about people who came out of nowhere as "nobodies" and through grit, hard work, perseverance, sheer determination and luck became the "somebodies" that they are.
Undoubtedly, white squalls will form.   
There will be scary moments in the college process.  
But stay the course.   
You just wait and see.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Surviving the Perfect Storm - Keep an Open Mind

In the face of the perfect college admission storm, we've talked about the importance of keeping perspective, taking a student-centered approach, and choosing wisely.
Now we come to the fourth tip.
Keeping an Open Mind.
Try not to let the fact that you may or may not have heard of a school close your mind off from exploring it.   
Many Casady students have discovered “hidden gems” all across the US...and beyond.  
One book that helped provide a new compass and needle point for finding excellent colleges was Loren Pope's book Colleges That Change Lives. 
Pope's thesis:  these 40 schools are better than the Ivies! 
One the salient points that Pope makes involves the idea that there are programs within the colleges that phenomenal.   
Take Rhodes College, for example.  
They have a Summer Plus Program that allows students to intern with research doctors at St. Jude’s Hospital during the summer and school year.   
One student I met at Rhodes turned down three Ivies to attend Rhodes because of the Plus program.  
That student would have made Pope proud.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Surviving the Perfect Storm - Choose Wisely

In this series of posts on surviving the college admission storm, we have focused thus far on the importance of keeping perspective and taking a student-centered approach.  

Now to the third tip.

Choosing wisely. 

You get to choose where you apply, not where you get accepted. 

Let me say that again.

You get to choose where you apply, not where you get accepted.

The former is in your control;  the latter is in the sole hands of the admission committee.

The goal then is to craft a college list that reflects the college reality.  

Think of an Egyptian pyramid.  

That’s the college admissions reality.  

There are only about 100 schools that admit fewer than apply (these also tend to be "need" schools that give money to students based on W-2's).  

The lion’s share of schools are still looking for a reason to admit you (and possibly give you a merit scholarship based on your GPA, test scores, and leadership credentials).  

It’s wise then to build a final college list where your academic credentials (GPA, test scores) are in the mid-50% to top 25% range of admitted students at half of your schools.

The impulse, of course, is to flip the pyramid over and apply to a majority of schools in which your credentials are "profile negative."

This is the "7-1" strategy.  

The student applies to 7 "reach" schools with a single digit admit rate.

And then applies to 1 "likely" school with close to a triple digit admit rate.

My advice.  Take a more balanced approach.

1-2 "reach" (25% chance or less) schools.

2-4 "target" (50-50% chance) schools.

And 1-2 "likely" (75% chance) schools.

Sometimes we like to use the term "financial likely" term, but as we're all discovering, it is becoming harder and harder to find these kinds of schools.

For our kids, we encourage them to use Naviance, in particular, which can help the student balance their application list.

Other ways is to look at the 75% to 25% ranges for test scores.  

One of the reasons I do keep a copy of the US News and World Report College Edition is because it provides test ranges that can help the student get an idea of the "competitive playing field," and therefore, what scores they need to aspire toward to get on the field for at least a tryout.