Yearly Archives: 2020

Luck Plays no Role in Elite College Admissions

Luck can be said to hold sway over everyone’s destiny in matters large and small. All the same, it’s a mistake to view admission to elite colleges such as Harvard as a throw of the dice. Admission to a top-tier college is the culmination of a multi-year effort on your part to qualify academically and as an individual. This is the only way to achieve your goal if you aspire to attend such a school. If you think that the selection of applicants for admission is arbitrary, you’ll slip up in ways that may Yale Universityprove fatal to your effort.

The bewildering aspects of this year’s admission cycle, heavily impacted by the pandemic, have convinced many that even if you have the best of credentials, you’ll be reduced to crossing your fingers if you apply to an elite college. The fact is that the admissions process at these institutions remains rational and predictable.

One Real Disadvantage That You Will Face

There is one negative aspect of the 2020-21 admissions cycle that affects you and your peers in the Class of 2025. There will be fewer freshmen seats available to you. This past spring, a larger than normal number of students who accepted offers of admission chose to take gap years due to the pandemic. Because they could not travel, international enrollees were also granted permission to put off matriculation until the fall of 2021.

These postponements forced administrators to admit more applicants than usual from their waitlists so that they could fill out the planned size of their freshman classes. Applicants accepted from waitlists this year will continue to matriculate in 2021. The resulting scenario means that the seats that were not filled by those who postponed enrollment for a year will be unavailable to new applicants. This will make admission somewhat more competitive for you and your cohort than it would otherwise have been.

Keep in mind that the long-term impact of the contingencies arising from the pandemic are unknowable. You shouldn’t assume that time-tested methods of improving your chances of admission are no longer useful.

What’s Luck Got to Do With It?

There’s nothing new about skeptics saying that admission to elite colleges is arbitrary and unpredictable. One such skeptic is Michael Kinsley, a graduate of Harvard College, Oxford Early decisions at Ivy league schoolsUniversity, and Harvard Law. He has been editor of The New Republic, the host of a several public issues TV shows, and the start-up editor of Slate. A smart guy — but wrong about college admissions.

Although he’s an alumnus of Harvard, Mr. Kinsley doesn’t appreciate the sophistication of the admissions process at elite institutions. He wrote the following a while ago in a column for Vanity Fair magazine:

“The number of slots at highly selective College X has stayed the same or increased only slightly. When you put it all together, it’s amazing that anyone bothers to apply to College X at all. This may be of doubtful consolation to an applicant and his legacy parent, but it all really boils down to luck. Nobody ‘deserves’ a place at College X. The luck may be… in the dubious meatloaf the dean of admissions had for dinner the night before your application was considered.”

The dubiousness of meatloaf notwithstanding, let’s infer that Mr. Kinsley thinks that a college’s decision to accept or reject you depends on the mood of the individual who, through luck of the draw, reviews your application. So, what is it about Kinsley’s take on the elite college admissions process that misses the mark? Let’s consider what are referred to as the factors of admission:

  • Academic Index (AI): Your academic data is processed by a computer program that assigns an objective, quantitative score known as an AI. This program uses a proprietary algorithm developed by the college to calculate an objective measure of your academic success. The scores are ranked and only applicants with an AI score above a predetermined threshold are considered to be eligible for admission.
  • Soft Factors: Elite institutions have many more applicants with AI scores above the thresholds than they can admit, so they must apply subjective, qualitative measures to narrow the pool of applicants down further.
  • Essays: Essays, unlike academic records, are unique. The quality of the essays that you submit is one of the key subjective means that colleges have to identify the best applicants. Based on each school’s approach to evaluating essays, admissions officers are able to recognize the ones that are strong enough to make a case for an applicant’s admission. Elite schools also consider Letters of Recommendation, and, in some cases, Interviews as factors in admissions, although they carry less weight than essays.
  • Extracurricular Activities: This is another important subjective variable in admissions. Activities highlight the talent that you have developed and proven during high school and which you have emphasized in your application. Kinsley dismisses this factor too when he says, regarding luck — “Still other factors—the college orchestra needing an oboe player—are complete wild cards.”  Kinsley assumes that your highly developed talent can help you only if a college is looking for exactly that talent when your application is reviewed. Although colleges do consider student body needs, there is a wide range of reasons why they might reward your talent by granting you a higher probability of admission. A college seeks not only demographic and geographic diversity, but also diversity in the talents, skills, and interests of the student body. College administrators consider student diversity to be beneficial to the education of all their students.

You can’t defy the power of the pandemic to change the process of admissions, at least not this year. But for the purposes of gaining admission to elite colleges, you should approach matters as if this year were no different from any other.

And as far as luck goes… “Never give up and luck will find you.”

Things Can Go Very Wrong no Matter Where You Live!

There are students who, in normal times, see benefits to living on campus for all four undergraduate years. On campus, they feel like they’re at the center of all things important to them. On the other hand, there are many students, especially upperclassmen, who prefer the independence from administrative influence that comes with living off-campus.

This dichotomy has long existed on campuses across the country. At any college, the ratio of students in the two camps is determined by factors such as a college’s policies, the cost of room and board, the local cost of living, the availability of rentals, and the ease of finding part time jobs in the area.

We have seen recently that things can go very wrong no matter where you live at college. Consider the unpleasantness that both on-campus and off-campus residents experienced earlier this year due to the coronavirus — an unforeseen crisis. Colleges closed dormitories abruptly, with all residents, including international students unable to return home, ordered to leave ASAP. Many on-campus residents never received refunds for the fees they paid for the semester. Most off-campus students were locked into contracts for rentals even though their purpose for living in them ended when classes did.

Like so many other things, the pandemic has affected college housing choices. If you’re a high school senior planning to attend a residential college in the fall of 2021, you should keep apprised of what’s happening on campuses this fall.

To Open or Not To Open

There are two main factors working at cross-purposes in a college’s decision to open their residence and dining halls. The first is money. Both public and private institutions have invested heavily to upgrade on-campus residential life in order to remain competitive. To earn a return on these investments, colleges have increased their residential fees by 9% annually over the last ten years, which is much more than the rate of inflation and also exceeds the rate that tuition has risen.

In a recent year, colleges collectively realized $15.5 billion in revenue for room and board and spent $14.9 billion to provide it, generating a surplus of $600 million. But if they’re empty, residence facilities chew up overhead while generating no revenue, causing substantial losses. This scenario incentivizes college administrators to open dormitories and dining halls.

The second factor, health, pulls in the opposite direction. Colleges long ago shed the burden of acting in loco parentis for their students, but they’re still ethically obligated to protect their student’s health. This is their duty regardless of how severe the financial impact may be on the college.

The tension between these two forces is being played out in real time as administrators waffle between alternatives. The choices are clear. They may open their campuses to business as usual, keep their campuses closed and conduct virtual classes, or offer a hybrid approach.

Thus far, the plans of administrators have proven ephemeral and subject to sudden change. Examples include UNC – Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, where students returned in August for one week before the rate of infection caused the campuses to close again. Imagine how many lives were disrupted by just these two quick policy reversals.

Certain administrators feel compelled to fill their dormitories to capacity this fall. Some are under contract with private corporations that operate the college’s residential facilities. Any policy that limits revenue makes the college subject to a lawsuit. The University System of Georgia is one of the largest institutions in this predicament. Other colleges are opening but with long lists of safety precautions that they’re undertaking to curtail the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, the efficacy of these measures will only be knowable in retrospect. It’s a roll of the dice.

What’s shocking is that decisions of such major consequence are being left to you — the student. Administrators seem reluctant to make tough decisions and stick with them. That’s why the current operations of so many colleges are subject to the day-to-day vicissitudes of a viral disease. The quality of administrative leadership of America’s colleges has been spotty, to say the least. Perhaps we can take comfort that from this experience, improvements in preparedness for future crises are bound to evolve.

 

COVID-19 Makes Difficult College Admissions Even Worse

 

This blog is about college admissions and the concerns of students in the admissions process, primarily rising seniors.  You need to understand how the pandemic affects you as an aspiring member of the college Class of 2025 — the students who will be freshmen in the fall of 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened what was a slow-moving crisis. The 10% decline in college enrollment that Nathan Grawe, author of Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, predicted would happen between 2020 and 2030 is happening right now in 2020 as the pandemic continues to shock higher education in the U.S.

Lately, the media has focused on the plans of colleges for their re-opening in the fall. It appears that college operations will be variations of the following three basic options:

  1. All classes will be conducted online,
  2. Some classes will be conducted on campus and some online, and,
  3. All classes will be conducted on campus.

Option 1 is controversial because of the strong preference of students for campus life as a part of their college experience. Options 2 and 3 are controversial because they call for stringent policies to mitigate the spread of infection among students, faculty, employees, and their families. Criticisms center on the question, “Will even these policies be sufficient to prevent an outbreak?”

There’s wide variation in the policies of colleges concerning tuition, travel, PPE requirements, student access to the Internet, residential and dining hall operations, health facilities, Covid-19 testing protocols, quarantining, social distancing rules, and many other matters. This information is vital to a current student making the decision to re-enroll or not. Thus far, it appears that many will not, as evinced by the sharp rise in requests for gap years.

Let’s be optimistic and assume that a vaccine will be available in early 2021 and that everyone will have been vaccinated by mid-year. Colleges can then safely resume normal operations in the fall of 2021. But by then the admissions process will have undergone radical changes. Some of these changes will be permanent. You’d be wise to anticipate and accommodate them in your admissions strategy.

Major areas where permanent change is expected:

1. College Closings – Colleges occasionally fail, usually for financial reasons. A large number of colleges have been financially unstable since the Great Recession, so they were struggling before Covid-19 struck.

Experts such as Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma,  have predicted that from 25% to 50% of colleges will close in the next decade due to a combination of factors that include the pandemic, changing demographics, state disinvestment, and an increasing expense burden. You should investigate the ongoing viability of the colleges to which you plan to apply. Are they likely to be among the 75% that may survive?

2. SAT and ACT Exams – The exam organizations have been cancelling test dates since March. They’re having difficulty scheduling and keeping replacement dates due to the persistence of the virus. Both organizations have considered but rejected plans to conduct exams online. As a result, many more colleges have joined the ranks of test-optional schools, at least temporarily. The majority of colleges now don’t require SAT/ACT test scores for admission.

Given the controversy over the potential of the exams to discriminate against socio-economically disadvantaged students, it’s probable that most colleges will remain test-optional after the pandemic. It’s also likely that more colleges will adopt test-free policies, which means they won’t consider your test scores even if you submit them voluntarily. Depending upon your circumstances, this trend may have a great effect on your selection of colleges.

3. Visiting Campuses – It seems likely that on-campus tours for prospective students will not resume until after the deadline for applications has passed next winter. This is significant for those building a list of “best-fit” colleges. A campus visit has always been the best way to determine if a college is right for you. Many colleges have made it easier for you to become familiar with their campuses online. They have invested in innovative methodologies that combine virtual technology with communication tools to provide state-of-the-art virtual tours.

Some colleges who have been unable to re-architect their online tours now offer a simple but effective improvement. It involves a student guide on campus using a smartphone to be visually connected with you. He or she makes the usual tour stops and then shows you whatever you want to see that is of specific interest to you. It’s not as good as actually being there, but it can help you to assess colleges.

4. College Major and Career Choices – The choice of your “best-fit” colleges depends to a great extent on your choice of a major, which is based on what you see as the best career field for you. Since the pandemic has caused mass disruption to entire industries, resulting in job losses in many fields, there are likely to be fewer job opportunities in these fields when you graduate.

However, no one is sure which fields will be most affected long-term. Complicating matters is the fact that the economy appears headed for a recession of unknown duration. In a poor economy, many graduates experience problems in landing a first job in their chosen field.

In short, even if your course selections in high school were oriented toward a particular major, your plans for that major should be re-examined.

5. Fewer Scholarships Available – In the past, many partial scholarships were awarded by colleges after they had accepted an applicant for admission. These “tuition discounts” were offered as a recruiting tool to try to prevent you from enrolling at another school that had accepted you. Now, funding for this type of scholarship is declining as colleges seek to increase revenue to offset the losses suffered thus far due to the pandemic.

Many colleges have taken a huge hit to their endowments funds, the source of many of the needs-based scholarships awarded to students who are socio-economically disadvantaged, members of minority groups, or from rural areas. In addition, many wealthy individuals and foundations that fund private scholarships directly have pulled back from their regular sponsorships.

Summary

Getting into the colleges that fit you best is about to become even more difficult than it has been in the past. If the 10% enrollment decline that’s been forecast holds true and the number of colleges declines by somewhere between 25% to 50%, as forecasted, the competition for the freshman seats that remain can only intensify.

If you would like some help and advice in making your decisions, contact me at [email protected]  I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success!

 

 

Is your target college in danger of going bust?

If you’re a rising senior, you’re probably looking forward to your upcoming college years with great anticipation. You’ve worked hard for the credentials that will qualify you for admission to College just aheadthe schools that fit you best. College is the prize!

But what happens to your aspirations if you enroll at a college that closes its doors when you’re a freshman? You’d be forced to transfer to another college –  one that might not suit you as well. It’s possible that the new one might fail too, forcing a second transfer in pursuit of your Bachelor’s degree. You’d end up spending most of your precious college years gaining and then losing friends, mentors, coaches, jobs, and some credits too. Not to mention the loss to your peace of mind.

Colleges fail

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Colleges fail. In fact, a surprisingly large number of them have failed or been struggling in recent years, even before Covid-19 struck. Experts predict that about 20% of colleges will close in the next few years due to a combination of the pandemic, changing demographics, state disinvestment, and unaffordable tuition. If you’re going to college in 2021, you should find out if your targeted colleges are likely to be among the 80% that will survive.

Top-tier private colleges with multi-billion dollar endowments were given millions in Federal pandemic relief (with many, but not all, returning the money). However, the most at-risk colleges were excluded from the relief legislation. This neglect, added to the problems noted above, will take a heavy toll on the ones most likely to fold, which are small, private colleges with small endowments. Some of them have been operating at break-even or a small deficit for years. Even a slight decline in enrollment can be ruinous because they don’t have large endowments to cushion the blow. The pandemic will be their death knell.

A number of small private colleges have already closed or have announced a closing date in the near future. Here are a few examples:

• MacMurray College, IL
• Urbana University, OH
• Holy Family College, WI
• Pine Manor College, MA
• Nebraska Christian College, NE
• Robert Morris University, IL
• Concordia University, OR
• School of Architecture at Taliesin, WI
• Watkins College, TN
• Marlboro College, MA

Colleges tightening their belts

Many small colleges are adopting severe austerity measures in an effort to avoid closing. Even if they succeed in surviving, you’ll want to assess the likely impact of these measures on you as a student.

Public institutions, even some large ones like Rutgers and Michigan, are also feeling the pinch. States are compelled to cut their education budgets due to the statewide expenses and loss of tax revenue wrought by the pandemic. Public colleges have never fully recovered from heavy cuts to their budgets in the wake of the Great Recession. Add the current budget crisis on top of that and it’s inevitable that some state campuses will be closed.

Even large public and private universities that are expected to survive the pandemic will need to tighten their belts. You should stay informed because your target universities may discontinue the degree programs, majors, and courses in which you’re most interested. There’ll be reductions in faculty that will change the faculty-to-student ratio and impair mentorship programs that may be important to you.

How to research a college’s financial health

You’ll encounter two problems when you search for financial information upon which to base your decisions. First, a private non-profit college is not obligated to make financial statements available to the public. Second, the financial condition of all individual public colleges will be aggregated within the entire state university system, so you won’t be able to discern the financial outlook for a particular campus. Obviously, you won’t find even a hint of the possibility of a college closing on its website. Websites are marketing tools that try to recruit you, not discourage you.

The best way to obtain the information you need to assess a college is to enter the college’s name in a web search engine. If a college is experiencing difficulties, this will be reported in the local press because colleges are important to a community’s well-being.

The Common Data Set (CDS) is another a valuable resource. CDS is an intermediary used by colleges to provide institutional data to interested parties. It’s a collaborative effort between colleges and publishers who report on them, including Peterson’s, the Thomson Corporation, U.S. News & World Report, and the College Board. The purpose of CDS is to improve the accuracy of the information that’s released to interested parties, including you. To find the CDS data set for a particular college, enter “Common Data Set “Name-of-College” into a web search engine.

COVID-19 has come and it will go, but the uncertainty plaguing students at certain colleges across the country will remain. Try not to share their predicament. Use available resources to assess the financial stability of colleges before you apply.

Gap Year Programs for 2020 – 2021

If you’ve accepted a college’s offer of admission, you may find yourself in a dilemma. You may not know if the campus will be open in the fall or if classes will be online, so you’re hesitant to pay a substantial sum for what may be only a facsimile of college life. Or you may simply be reluctant to join campus life while the coronavirus is still extant.  Instead, you may want to consider a gap year program.

Colleges that plan to re-open their campuses in the fall are introducing so many restrictions to cope with Covid-19 that it can hardly be considered college life. You may prefer to save money by attending a local community college and then transferring to a four-year college or enrolling at a state college for all four years.

Another alternative is to attend the college whose offer you’ve accepted but wait until all contingencies caused by the pandemic are resolved and normal campus life has resumed. You can choose this path if the college allows you to take a gap year during the 2020-21 academic year. Under present conditions, many institutions have revised their policies so that you can be granted a gap year after you’ve accepted their offer of admission.

Before a college approves your request, they want to know that your plans for the year are worthy of the privilege. The most popular gap activities have been packaged programs involving overseas travel. However, due to the pandemic, traveling abroad isn’t a good idea now, so international gap programs have been shut down.

The idea that you need to travel to a developing country, learn about its language, people, and culture, and improve people’s lives, simply isn’t practical in 2020. But you don’t need to go abroad to improve people’s lives. By revealing harsh inequities in our society, the pandemic has made it clearly evident that there’s plenty of help needed in our own country.

Gap Year Programs for 2020-21

An online search will enable you to review gap programs that conform to this year’s constraints. These programs allow you to assist those people most in need in your area as a result of the pandemic. A few of the programs are described below:

1. Global Citizen Year – When Covid-19 struck, Global Citizen Year converted its international travel-based gap program into a virtual leadership course. Among the features of the program is that students will be matched with mentors in their planned profession who will coach them on a one-on-one basis toward their goals.

2.  Americorp – This national service initiative is recruiting for programs like VISTA, whose            volunteers work on poverty-related projects all over the United States. AmeriCorps covers living expenses and includes an education award to help pay college costs. See additional options on this site.

3. Service Year Alliance – This nonprofit lists even more gap year activities than Americorp. It focuses on areas such as the environment, health and nutrition. aging, disability, homelessness and housing, disaster, animals, and public safety. Taking a Service Year provides you with an opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service to those in need. A stipend is paid to participants.

4. The 2020 Election Gap Year Program – This organization’s mission is to: “Empower our nation’s youth to take an intentional gap year in 2020 to work on an election campaign or for an issues-based organization that resonates with their values.”  ​The program lets you engage in our democracy. You’ll defer college by taking a gap semester in fall 2020 so that you can dedicate yourself to campaign work, getting out the vote, or organizing around an issue that’s important to you. The organization provides assistance in obtaining permission from your college.

The Benefits of a Gap Year

A gap year is more than a way to cope with the present moment. In recent years, there has been increasing awareness of the benefits of gap years to students and colleges. This accounts for the growth in the number of students requesting permission to take a gap year and the willingness of colleges to grant them.

Conceptually, the purpose of a freshman gap year is to allow a student who has been driven to excel throughout high school some time to relax and reassess while engaging in a purposeful pursuit. For example, Harvard’s rationale for their gap program is: “Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college.”

 Some colleges provide a structured, pre-approved approach to gap year activity. The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill offers incoming students the opportunity to participate in their Global Gap Year Fellowship, which is described as  “…the only college-sponsored gap year program that allows students to design their own gap-year experience. Fellows are encouraged to create their service-based gap years with the full support and guidance of our staff and faculty.”

In addition to college-sponsored gap programs, there’s a growing mini-industry of gap program providers. Many of these organizations, such as Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School, are members of the American Gap Association, a professional group that sets standards and accredits participants.

Gap Year Pros and Cons:

Like all important decisions, you should consider the pros and cons of taking a gap year between high school and college. Below are those associated with an academic year that doesn’t have the added pressures of 2020.

Pros:

1. After the intensive grind of college admissions… you’re fried! You’ll benefit from being in a non-competitive environment for a while to assure that you’ll be at your best when you begin college. You’ll return from your gap year with your vitality restored and your focus sharpened,

2. Research (see Middlebury College website) indicates that students who have taken a gap year perform better in college than those who have not,

3. It allows you to learn about an unfamiliar culture and region,

4. You’ll have an opportunity to become fluent in another language by immersing yourself with native speakers,

5. It enables you to develop leadership and self-reliance skills, and to grow in maturity, independence, and self-confidence.

6. Participating in a gap year program displays the qualities that post-college employers will be looking for in professional hires, and,

7. During your gap year, you’ll be part of a community of peers with aspirations and goals like yours. You’ll form lifelong friendships.

Cons:

1. A major reason why most students choose not to take a gap year is that they don’t want to fall out of step with their class. Their friends will be going away to college in August and they want to share that experience,

2. Certain financial aid programs require students to attend college without a break in order to remain eligible for funding each year, and,

3. Packaged gap programs can be expensive. If your family is stretching its budget to pay for college, the added cost of a gap program may be too much. However, low cost options such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are likely to be approved by your college.

For more thoughts on gap years, visit this earlier post.  And, as always, contact me with any questions – [email protected]

The earth has shifted for most American colleges

The admissions results for the Class of 2024 may be the final snapshot of a passing era. The deadline for applications was the end of January. Decisions were announced in late March. By April 1, most colleges had ceased operation due to the pandemic. Therefore, admissions to the Class of 2024 were not affected by the pandemic, but next year’s certainly will be.

Since decisions were released, the pandemic has frustrated those admittees who must choose from multiple acceptance offers. For those who have made their choice, the pandemic is interfering with all that normally precedes the fall semester.

Exactly what the fall semester will entail is unclear. Most college administrations are undecided, Columbia Universibut some have announced that students will be on campus in the fall with social distancing rules in place. Others have determined that they’ll only offer online classes in the fall. Many students will need to weigh the health risk of the full campus experience against the safety of virtual classrooms. Understandably, a higher than usual percentage of students are considering taking a gap year.

The earth has shifted for most American colleges

They will be severely tested by the decline in revenue that the pandemic is causing. Many will be forced to reduce their budgets, which may mean cuts to faculty, curricula, majors, residential and campus amenities, sports, recreational and cultural programs, and other features of a college’s value to students. This portends significant changes to the historical patterns of college admissions.

One positive result of this unpredictability is that waitlisted students are much more likely to be admitted. Concern over potentially low yield rates has motivated even the most elite colleges to go deeper into their waitlists than in the past. If you’re waitlisted, don’t hesitate to call an admissions office for an update on your status.

Although there were a few anomalies in the 2020 results, most colleges, especially the most highly selective ones, continued their pre-pandemic trend towards more applications and lower admissions rates. Table A shows the rates for a sampling of highly selective and popular regional institutions compared to their rates in 2019. Following Table A are comments about a few of the colleges.

 Table A: Admission Rates for the Class of 2024 (Fall 2020)

 

Institution

Class of 2024

Admission Rate (%)

    Class of 2023

Admission Rate (%)

American University 38              35
Amherst College 12              11
Barnard College 11              11
Boston College 24              27
Boston University 19              18
Bowdoin College 8                9
Brown University 7                7
CalTech 6                6
Carleton College 20             19
Clemson University 47             47
Colby College 9             10
Columbia Int’l University 34             33
Columbia University 6               5
Cornell University 11             11
Dartmouth College 9               8
Duke University 8               7
Emory University 20            27
Emory (Oxford) 23            20
Fordham 46            44
Furman College 61            61
Georgia Tech 20            19
Georgetown University 15            14
George Washington 39            41
Harvard University 5              5
Johns Hopkins University 9              9
Lander University 43           43
Limestone College 14           14
Macalester College 37           31
Middlebury College 24           16
MIT 7             7
New York University 15          16
Northeastern 19          18
Northwestern University 9            9
Princeton University 6            6
Rice University 10            9
Swarthmore College 9            9
Tufts University 15         15
University of Chicago 6           6
University of Georgia 46         45
University of Florida 29         34
University of Notre Dame 17         16
University of Pennsylvania 8           7
Univ. Southern California 16         11
Univ. of South Carolina 63         63
University of Virginia 21         24
Vanderbilt University 9           8
Washington University 13          14
Wellesley College 19          20
Wesleyan University 20          16
Wofford College 64          66
Yale University 6.5            5

Middlebury College: The admissions rate at Middlebury retreated sharply from 16% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. No explanation has been provided by the school’s press office.

Emory University: Emory’s admissions rate tightened from 27% in 2019 to 21% this year.

Brown University: Brown’s results for the Early Decision cycle saw applications up to an all-time high of 4,562. Its ED admissions rate was the lowest in the school’s history at 18%. However, the Regular Decision rate rose from 2019, bringing the overall admissions rate more in line with past results at 7%.

University of Southern California: USC’s acceptance rate increased to 16% for the Class of 2024, up from 11% in 2019. The University received 6,000 fewer applications in 2020 than in 2019. This is the first year that prospective students applied to the University after the Varsity Blues scandal, and the results are considered a reflection of that fact.

Wesleyan University: Wesleyan accepted 2,351 students to the Class of 2024 out of 12,752 applicants. While the University has experienced an upward trend in applications in the past, the applicant pool was smaller than usual this year. As a result, the admissions rate eased from 16% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.

Williams College: Williams admitted more students than usual this year in anticipation of a less predictable yield. Over the last five years, the College has accepted an average of 1,197 students for a target class size of 550. This year, Williams admitted 1,250, making it one of the few colleges that anticipated the potential ramifications of the pandemic in its early stages.

I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success, let me be your guide as well! Email me at [email protected]

Learn How to Conquer College in the Coronavirus Era

The college admissions process has become increasingly more complex in the past decade.  But the quarantine orders caused by the COVID-19 have added a whole new level of stress and uncertainty.

But the situation may also offer some opportunities if you know how to take advantage of them!

Join me for my “Conquer College” Zoom Summer Camps to learn what you need to:

  • Get into competitive SAT/ACT testing slots
  • How you may be able to renegotiate your financial aid, or for the class of 2021, how to get the best possible financing.
  • How to tackle the dreaded college essay. We’ll discuss how to find the right topic and how to structure it so it reflects who you are and why you would be a great addition to the campus community. Dr. Klaar will edit and send comments post-seminar.
  • You’ll also complete the Common Application and your resume!
  • Klaar will also give you tips on virtual college visits, how to research potential colleges and how to maintain your activity resume during lockdown.

Dates:  June 16 – 18, 1 – 4:30 p.m. each day, with a break from 2:30 – 3 p.m.

Cost: $300

Dr. Klaar has lowered the price by nearly 50% to help families who may be struggling during this difficult time.

The camp is limited to 10 students so that Dr. Klaar can provide individual attention to each student.

 

To reserve your spot, visit Eventbrite  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conquer-college-in-the-coronavirus-era-tickets-105134263412

[email protected], www.cklaar.com   803-487-9777

Charlotte Klaar, PhD is a Certified Educational Planner with 25-plus years of experience.  She is recognized as one of the nation’s top college consultants and has led hundreds of students to college success!  Dr. Klaar works with students nationwide and in St. Thomas through Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype.

 Co-sponsored by Loom Coworking, Gallery and Event Space http://loomcoworking.com/.

 

FREE Zoom session: College admissions in the coronavirus era

Join Charlotte Klaar, PhD, for a free Zoom session on college admissions during the pandemic lockdown on Thursday, May 28 at 12 noon.  Dr. Klaar will discuss:

1. SAT/ACT Testing changes due to Covid-19
2. Possible college scenarios for the Fall 0f 2020.
3. How this affects the class of 2020 in terms of financial aid renegotiation, waitlist movement, and deferrals.
4. How it affects the class of 2021: visits that can’t happen, testing that was cancelled, maintaining the activity resume during lockdown.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-webinar-on-college-admissions-changes-with-the-coronavirus-tickets-105799773972

For questions, please contact Charlotte Klaar, PhD,  at [email protected], 803-487-9777.

 

SAT and ACT Testing Upended!

COVID-19 has disrupted many college admissions processes, including SAT and ACT testing, for students who will be seeking admission in 2021 — high school juniors.  Almost all colleges are now closed and the ad hoc methods adopted to provide admissions-related services are still focused on the needs of current seniors who were admitted this year, but they’ll soon be able to devote more attention to your needs. Events are unfolding at a rapid pace and you need to stay current on changes that affect you. Please follow my Twitter feed (@charlotteklaar) for up-to-the -minute information.

 The SAT and ACT Exams

Perhaps the most annoying issue facing juniors is standardized tests. Scores from the SAT or ACT exams remain a requirement for admission at the majority of colleges.

On April 16, the College Board announced that it had canceled the June 6th testing date for the SAT. The Board also announced that there will be a test in August and an additional test in September, pandemic or no pandemic.

Since all of the spring SAT dates have been cancelled, one additional test in September won’t satisfy demand. If you want a test seat, try to register early. Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The SAT test schedule for the fall won’t be released until May, but it’s safe to assume that there will be a test offered every month after July for the rest of 2020.

The same holds true for the ACT;  when new seats open up in August or in the fall, you should promptly book a seat for any date that you can get.

Due to the spring cancellations of the SAT and ACT, and even with an added test, it’s expected that the shortage of test seats will be in the hundreds of thousands. Even if you prefer the SAT to the ACT or vice versa, take any test for which you’re able to register. Studying for one is almost the same as studying for the other. Just make sure you familiarize yourself with the different formats, timeframes, and essay requirements.

It has been announced by both the SAT and ACT organizations that, if closures prevent the resumption of tests at central locations, it’s highly likely that there will not be enough seats for all of the students seeking one. As a result, they’re developing digital versions of the tests for students to take at home if needed. Since the College Board will be offering AP exams online, it’s already building an online testing capability that could also be used for the SAT, although the SAT will be harder to reproduce online due to its length, complexity, security requirements, and volume.

Test Optional Policies

 Juniors are forced into a corner due to the spring test cancellations. In normal times, it’s recommended that you take the SAT or ACT at least twice and, in some cases, three times in order to obtain your best possible scores before applying to colleges. Under current conditions, you should assume that you’ll only be able to take the test once. This means that, if you’re only going to get one shot, you’d better prepare diligently for it.

Many colleges were test-optional before the pandemic. For those that were not, the Coronavirus has encouraged many more to adopt test optional policies. But this doesn’t really present an opportunity for you to avoid the tests. The SAT and ACT are tools that applicants use to differentiate themselves from their peers in order to be accepted by competitive colleges. The tests will continue to be essential for that purpose even if the colleges that you apply to have test optional policies.

Ways for Juniors to Remain Engaged in the Admissions Process

 It would be a mistake to NOT pursue admissions-related activities during the coming weeks. Here are some ways that you can stay on track to meet your educational goals:

Virtual Classes – If your high school is teaching courses online, give the classes and homework
Online learning
your full attention. Schools were compelled to throw together modified lesson plans and use unsuitable online tools. There are excellent online classroom systems on the market, and, given time, high schools will upgrade. Meanwhile, put in the work.

College List – Here’s how it usually goes. Your College List consists of the approximately  nine schools to which you’ll apply in senior year because they fit your selection criteria best. They’re divided into three tiers; the colleges you’re almost certain to be admitted to, the colleges you’ll probably be admitted to, and the colleges you aspire to attend but which are less likely to admit you. The characteristic that all colleges on the list have in common is that you’d be happy to attend any of them. It’s best to have this list finalized early in senior year, so by now you should have a handle on it.

That’s how it works in a normal year. The pandemic has changed things. There are now a number of reasons to re-examine your College List because your selection criteria may have changed. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Can I still afford these colleges?
  • Do I want to borrow extensively to attend this college, considering possible changes in future employment opportunities?
  • Is this college experiencing such a reduction in revenue that they’ll need to cut faculty, majors, programs, student activities, or campus amenities next year?
  • Should I stay closer to home due to family responsibilities?
  • Would I be better off attending community college for the first two years?
  • Should I postpone college for a year?

College Visits – Actual visits are the best way to learn about what you like and dislike about a college on your preliminary College List. But college visits have been cancelled. When they’ll resume is unknown. Many colleges are now offering virtual information sessions and directing students to virtual tours of the campus. While a virtual tour isn’t as good as the real thing, it can be beneficial. You can also learn much about a college from a one-on-one conversation with an admissions officer.

Extracurricular Activities – The activities that you were planning to use to enhance your case for admission may have been cancelled. Admissions officers will take this into consideration Playing sportsbecause this has happened to all applicants. However, you may wish to show your creativity by figuring out how to pursue your interests and passions virtually or by finding a way to help your community during quarantine.

Preparing for Applications – Normally, initial preparations for your applications begin in the summer before senior year. But, since you may have time on your hands, feel free to get a head start. Open a Common App account and become familiar with the platform. Brainstorm essay topics and develop an outline of your personal statement. Take a look at the activity section, which may be expanded by the Common App, and consider how to present your extracurricular activities.

 There are ways for students and families to cope with the rapid flow of admissions-related changes during the pandemic. Relying on an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) such as Klaar College Consulting is foremost among them. We’re professionals who track changes in the admissions field on an ongoing basis, and never more diligently than under current unprecedented conditions.

COVID-19 Induced Options for the Classes of 2020 and 2021

This is a very difficult time for our country and the world. Among the most significantly affected are those students about to graduate from high school or those beginning their college search while being unable to visit colleges or speak to other students. Hang in there with me as a wade into why a gap yer may be a great idea for some high school students.

I am concerned about these students for a number of reasons. These are the kids whose stress level has always been very high. They are bombarded by the perceived need to take the most difficult courses, to get almost perfect test scores, and to simultaneously be intricately involved in a series of activities within which they are all expected to achieve leadership roles. Now in their junior or senior year of high school, the uncontrollable monster arrives, and no one has the answer to how to make the world safe.

Can you see how this added stress and inability to control their lives would affect a population that is already stretched to the max? There is no way to convince these young adults that the world will ever be safe for them again, because we don’t believe that ourselves.

Those of us who lived through prior national and international crises see this one differently. Unlike after the 1960s riots, an election will not change the history of race relations. Unlike after 9/11, there is not a visible enemy to fight against. This virus came out of the blue and is taking down the world. Governments do not have the answer. Religious leaders don’t have the answer. Scientists are working diligently to unravel the mystery themselves.

A Class Missing Out

The graduating class of 2020, will not have graduation ceremonies, proms and the normal celebratory trappings of their senior year.   Plus, they must decide which admission offers to take without another visit to confirm their choices. They don’t know if they will be taking classes in lecture halls or on their computers. They don’t know if they will be safe on the campus they choose.

The conditions they used to decide which colleges to apply to may have changed significant. In some cases, the family’s finances may have become shaky. In others, going far away from home is no longer as attractive as it may once have been. For others, the family may have endured illness or even death at the hand of Covid-19.

The Class of 2021 is in its Own Quandary

How to they make decisions when the world is upside down? What records will colleges look at more stringently next year than they would have in past years? Will their academic record be valued now that its delivery method has changed? How do activities continue to be meaningful in the era of social distancing? With standardized tests being repeatedly cancelled, will they play any part in the process? For kids who do better with in-person rather than virtual tutoring, how do they get that when they can’t leave their homes?

For both classes, what happens to the students who were hanging on to their mental stability by a thread and now have something to be really anxious about?  How do we help them maintain their mental health when they cannot socialize as normal teenagers do?

I suggest that we remove the stress from these kids and offer some alternatives to what they view as life-or-death decisions. Consider a gap year! I am not talking about putting off college forever or backpacking through Europe.

But how about letting these kids take a year where they can get a job and attend college at night or online? Perhaps a different kind of learning in which they intern or volunteer in the type of setting they have chosen as a possible career, to see if that’s the right road for them when they finally do begin college.

In addition to the mental health benefits of a gap year, there’s the added benefit having  another year to mature and to make some money to help fund their college educations or to help the family. If they volunteer in the gap year, they are helping others who are less fortunate than they are. There is always someone who is worse off than you are. Make the offer to your kids and let them think about it for a bit before making a decision. You may be surprised at the relief you and they will feel when leaving home is put off for a bit.

If you need help putting together a meaningful plan, call me!