Category Archives: Blog

Webinar on Writing that Crucial College Essay

On October 6 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. I’m hosting a free webinar that will walk through the elements of writing your college essay, including how to find the topic that reflects who you are and why you would be a great addition to the campus community.

I know what admissions counselors are looking for in essays, and I help students ensure that their essay message will resonate with the rest of the application, and shows the student as a growing person.

Register here

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!

 

 

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]

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.

 

College Admissions and the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has caused a great many temporary changes to college admission processes in general and to the specific admissions practices of colleges. This has caused such confusion that it has become difficult to track all of the changes that may affect you at this critical juncture in your education.

The ACT’s, SAT’s, and SAT Subject Tests have been cancelled through June. New York State Regents exams have been cancelled. It’s been announced by the College Board that AP courses and exams will be modified so that they can be conducted online. Tours of colleges have ceased just as we near the peak visiting months. These are just a few of the developments that may impact you in a time that can be confusing under the best of circumstances.

There are ways to help you cope with the ever-changing events. 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 these unprecedented conditions.

Klaar College Consulting is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), which recently announced two new online tools to facilitate tracking changes that may affect you.

The first tool, the College Admission Status Update, includes changes to college deadlines, events, and policies caused by the pandemic. The second tool, the Secondary Schools College Admission Services Update, provides updated information about high schools to students whose schools are closed.

The NACAC College Admission Status Update 

This is an online database updated by more than 900 colleges, with more contributing to it every day. The tool has six filters for use in searching for updated information about a specific college, as follows:

  1. Name of Institution
  2. Country (pull down list)
  3. State/Territory (pull down list)
  4. Open to Admissions Visitors (Yes/No)
  5. Currently Hosting Admissions Events (Yes/No)
  6. Changed Deposit Deadline (Yes/No)

When you find a specific college, a range of information is provided to you, if available. Using Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, as an example, the information provided is as follows:

  1. Date of Last Update:  March 16, 2020
  2. Open to Admission Visitors:  No
  3. Allow Overnight Visits:  No
  4. Currently Hosting Admission Events:  No
  5. Date(s) of Events: n/a
  6. Intended Audience:  n/a
  7. Adjusted Candidate Reply Date Deadline Beyond May 1:  Yes
  8. New Reply Deadline:  June 1, 2020
  9. Changed Deposit Deadline:  Yes
  10. New Deposit Deadline:  June 1, 2020
  11. Links to More Information:

Link to NACAC college admission website page:

The NACAC Secondary Schools College Admission Services Update

Most high schools are closed and classes, if held at all, are online only. It’s difficult for guidance counselors to meet students’ needs for transcripts, advice, letters of recommendation, and other admissions requirements. This is a crowd-sourced tool that enables high school guidance counselors and administrators to report to the general public the status of services at their schools and revised dates.

The tool has five filters for use in searching for updated information about a high school, as follows:

  1. Institution Name
  2. Country (pull down list)
  3. State/Territory (pull down list)
  4. School Building Closed (Yes/No)
  5. Have Online Access to Students and Families (Yes/No)

Upon locating a specific high school, you’ll find the following information, if reported. Using Tempe Union High School in Tempe, Arizona, as an example, the information available includes:

  1. Date of Last Update: March 30, 2020
  2. School Type: Public
  3. School Building Closed: Yes
  4. Administration Announced Reopen Date: Yes
  5. Reopen Date for Online Teaching: March 30, 2020
  6. Reopen Date of Physical Campus: n/a
  7. Reopen Date Comments: Buildings are closed for the spring semester
  8. Administration or Staff Working Remotely? Yes
  9. Have Online Access to Students and Families? Yes
  10. Coronavirus-Related Link: tempeunion.org/health-safety
  11. Plan for Issuing Final Course Grade: Grade as usual based on full semester (teaching online)
  12. Can Provide Upon Request: College counseling services, updated transcripts, communication with admission offices on behalf of students, and other admission-related requirements.
  13. Contact for Counseling Office: [email protected]; (480) 706-7900 ext. 70135.

The secondary school tool also collects information regarding the questions to which students have been seeking answers on college websites. The sample questions below are from Tempe Union High School students:

  • Are you willing to change test requirements for juniors or seniors given that SAT/ACT test dates have been cancelled?
  • Will you require final high school transcripts for accepted or waitlisted seniors?
  • Has your college announced if early course registrations and summer programs will be offered?
  • How do you plan to handle AP course completion and testing for admissions and placement purposes?

Link to NACAC secondary schools website page

How the Pandemic Affects High School Seniors

For the most part, admission decision notifications have been sent out as scheduled. Many colleges have announced that they’re pushing back the Common Reply Date to give seniors more time to review their options and make their final decisions.

Physical meetings for admitted students have been cancelled. Plans for virtual events have been or soon will be announced by most colleges. For the duration of campus closures, colleges will use mail, email, social media, and updates to their websites to communicate with admitted applicants.

H.S. juniors & seniors – use enforced downtime wisely!

This is a scary time for all of us, but for your high school juniors and seniors, it holds many uncertainties that add to this already angst-ridden time in their lives. I offer some reassurances and suggestions for each class below.

High School Juniors:

I encourage you to recognize that you will not be penalized by the colleges for not being able to participate in activities or for not getting your testing done as scheduled. Many colleges are considering relaxing their testing requirements for the class of 2021. Even if this does not college boundhappen, there are more than 1,000 U. S. colleges that are already test optional or test flexible. Many of these are highly prestigious institutions.

You will not be able to visit colleges this Spring, but you can do virtual tours of the colleges you are considering (CampusReel, YouVisit, eCampusTours). When the crisis ends, and it will, you can go on your grand tour and walk the colleges that are on your short list.

This is a good time to take a hard look at your list and to make it solid. If you had planned on working with a college consultant but are now concerned about the cost, I am taking clients for 2021 now with deferred payment until this crisis is over and we can assess the financial damage. Meetings will be virtual, but the work can begin. If you planned to do this on your own, you may want to consider the College Simplified series of videos to walk you through the college search and application process.

This is a good time for parents and their student to discuss the financial parameters of the college choice. Have a frank discussion with your student about what you can contribute to college and what limits to student debt you are putting on the student. This will enable a more targeted search. Remember that private colleges who really want your students (high GPA/Test Scores/Special Activities) may pay (merit aid = free money) to get him/her. This enforced home time is also a great time to use the Net Price Calculators on every college website. If financial aid is a critical component of your college choices, parents can take the online classes offered by The College Solution for solid information about college costs.

High School Seniors:

I feel for you! You are missing Prom and a graduation ceremony and other senior activities, but you are alive and healthy and have a long life ahead of you! You may not be able to make the final visit to your top two or three colleges, but you have already done a good job of researching the colleges on your list.

Try to speak with students who are at the colleges you are considering and ask about their experience there. If you can find someone from your high school or neighborhood, that’s great. Definitely speak to someone in the major which you are considering. Talk about professors they like and those to avoid. Ask about advising and career planning. Discuss social life on campus and support availability.

These colleges have changed the decision date to June 1 and the list is growing. Keep track of your colleges, but if you are sure about your choice, don’t delay sending in your deposit.

FOR All:
Breathe! It will all work out as it should, and you will be fine. As someone who has lived through many national and international crises, I can assure you that the sun will come out and life will go on. It may be altered, but the new normal may be better than the old. Time will tell!

Dr. Charlotte Klaar is Director of Klaar College Consulting LLC and a trained facilitator for the Parenting with Love and Logic program. She has successfully counseled college-bound students for more than 26 years both in-person and virtually. For more information: Call 803-487-9777 or visit www.cklaar.com

Why you should stick to an early decision agreement

If you’ve been accepted by a college through its Early Decision (ED) plan you may consider yourself fortunate, as you should.  You’ve applied to a school that’s at or near the top of your target list because the likelihood of acceptance for ED applicants is higher than the overall rate Early decisionfor the college. You’ve been admitted before most of your fellow students have even submitted applications. You can rest easier than your classmates and enjoy the rest of your senior year without the stress of admissions hanging over your head!

And yet, some students who have been accepted through an ED plan want to renege on their agreement later because events have transpired that cause them to regret their commitment. At that point they want to know if their ED agreement is binding and if they can disregard it without consequences.

Consider the Early Decision agreement you’ve signed

The answer isn’t simple. You, your guidance counselor, and your parents signed an agreement that stipulates that you understand that you’re committing to attend the institution if admitted. So, yes, it’s binding. But an ED agreement isn’t a contract that, if breached, can subject you to civil liability.

Consider the agreement that you’re asked to sign. A majority of the colleges that offer ED options do so under the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), which guides the institutional treatment of students. Section II of the NACAC document, titled “The Responsible Practice of College Admission”, includes this definition:

Restrictive early application plansEarly Decision (ED): Students commit to a first choice college and, if admitted, agree to enroll and withdraw their other college applications. This is the only application plan where students are required to accept a college’s offer of admission and submit a deposit prior to May 1.”

When you submit an ED application, what you’re agreeing to do is clear. While pursuing admission under an ED plan, students may apply to other institutions under an Early Action (EA) plan, but they may submit only one ED application. If an ED applicant is not admitted but is deferred to the Regular Decisions (RD) cycle, they’re immediately released from the ED agreement and are free to accept any other colleges’ offer of admission.

There are changes in a student’s circumstances that will induce a college to release him or her from their ED commitment. Before we review these circumstances, you should understand what may happen if you  simply ignore an ED agreement after having been admitted.

What can happen if you ignore an Early Decision agreement

You may wonder why a college administration even cares if you break your ED agreement, given that many of them admit only a small percentage of applicants. They can readily fill your slot with another well-qualified applicant. Administrators care because they use ED as a tool to improve the quality of their freshmen classes and raise their yield rate. Yield rate is the percentage of applicants who are offered admission, accept it, and go on to attend the college. It is an important variable in a college’s planning, and colleges strive to keep it high. If applicants admitted under an ED plan can renege with impunity, the purpose of an ED plan is defeated and its value to the institution is nullified.

At the same time, colleges are reluctant to compel students to attend their school if they don’t want to be there. So the college whose ED acceptance you turn down isn’t going to come after you with bloodhounds and a posse. “In some ways, early decision is a gentleman’s agreement”, according to Dave Tobias, vice president of enrollment for Ursinus College in Pennsylvania.

Backing out of an Early Decision raises questions about the student’s ethics

Most importantly, when a student backs out of ED agreement without cause, it raises questions about the student’s ethics that could impact decisions elsewhere. Some guidance counselors and colleges take steps to discourage reneging on ED agreements. For example:

  • If an admissions office finds out that a student has applied to their institution and another via ED, they’ll contact the other school. The student risks being denied consideration by both schools.
  • A cooperative ED plan is operated by five Ivy League schools: Brown, Penn, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth. If an ED applicant is admitted to one of them, they must honor Early decisions at Ivy league schoolstheir agreement or be ineligible for admission to any of the others. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton share a similar plan.
  • Many guidance counselors place a hold on sending transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other admissions materials on behalf of students who have applied via ED until the decision is known. This step is taken because a guidance counselor’s credibility with admissions officials is at stake.
  • A group of 30 liberal arts colleges share lists of students admitted to each of them via ED so that the others don’t unwittingly admit them. They also share the names of students who were admitted via ED but were released from their commitments.
  • Admissions officials sometimes discover from a guidance counselor that a student has submitted two or more ED applications. Counselors will warn students ahead of time of the impropriety of submitting multiple ED applications and, if the student persists, will contact the affected colleges, both of which will terminate consideration of the applicant.

Legitimate reasons for backing out of an Early Decision

As noted above, there are a number of legitimate reasons why a college will release an applicant from an ED commitment without any negative repercussions. Below are a few common examples:

  • Necessary financial aid from the college didn’t develop as originally planned,
  • A parent or other family member has died or fallen ill and enrollment at a college is no longer feasible or desirable,
  • A family business or a parent’s career has suffered a setback, and,
  • The student has suffered a serious health issue.

An ED agreement is a serious undertaking, often among the first formal commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. You should make a good faith effort to stick to it.  Klaar College Consulting can help you understand the commitment you’re making. More importantly, i your decision will be part of a sound admissions strategy that we co-develop with you to help ensure  the success of your college admissions campaign.

 

Choose Your Career Before You Choose Your College?

College is a way to prepare for the rest of your life. As a high school student beginning to consider colleges, you’ll be asked, “What do you want to major in? What career are you interested in?” These questions put the cart before the horse. It’s best to know what career you wish to pursue before you start applying to colleges. So, a better question is the one you were asked in kindergarten; “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?”

There’s one problem — choosing a career is a daunting exercise when you’re in high school. It’s difficult for you to know what type of work would satisfy you and suit your talents. Your knowledge of careers is limited. So we don’t advise that you march off on a career path unless you’re reasonably sure you’re headed in the right direction. However, since your education and career will benefit from it, we advise that you take certain steps now to help determine which career is right for you.

Personality and Aptitude Assessments

One way to begin to answer this question is through career assessments. Introduced in 1944, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the original personality test with career guidance ramifications. The MBTI is a subjective, introspective self-assessment that’s based on differences in the cognitive responses of individuals to the world. As a respondent, you’re classed into  one of 16 personality types. Your results indicate which career fields generate the most satisfaction for your type. The MBTI’s main problem is that it doesn’t consider your aptitude for a given career.

Using an aptitudes assessment tool will supplement the findings of the MBTI. There are valid, reliable assessments for teens online that focus on your skills and talents rather than your personality. They’re useful in your search and take no more than 30 minutes to complete. The results indicate which careers best suit your aptitudes. There are two caveats; the assessments are self-reporting and therefore subjective, and many questions relate to preferences in the work environment for which you have a limited frame of reference.

We advise that you avoid taking a list of careers generated by an assessment too literally. Consider it a starting point for insight and self-reflection. Remember, a career assessment isn’t a shortcut; it’s a tool. It’s up to you to use it wisely.

Steps in Your Process of Self-Discovery

To build on what you learned through assessments, we recommend that you work through the questions below to help clarify the careers for which you’re best suited.

1. What interests me?

The activities that you enjoy can give you insight into the careers that would be most satisfying and fulfilling to you. Take the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) to assist in identifying and prioritizing your interests.

2.  What are my aptitudes and talents?

You possess skills that may be undeveloped as yet but that can lead to success in a particular career. Identify them through self-assessment exercises and conversations with the people who know you best.

3. What type of personality do I have?

Your personality is the way you think, feel, and act. Take the MBTI and other assessments to clarify your understanding of your personality.

4. What do I value most?

You have values that are important to you. Listing your high-priority values can help you to decide what type of career fits you best.

5. What education or training will I need?

Certain careers require advanced degrees and higher investments. For example, you need 12 years of education and training to be a doctor, but you could earn a degree and enter the accounting field after two or four years. Weigh the time and expense required to pursue a career.

6. Will there be plenty of jobs in this career when I graduate?

There are websites that predict demand for jobs. You should review them. However, don’t expect them to hold up too well over time. By the time you graduate, the job market will be considerably different than it is now. Some of the hottest jobs today didn’t exist ten years ago. Ten years from now demand for even these jobs may be waning.

7.  What level of compensation am I seeking?

Different careers provide different monetary rewards. Even though compensation shouldn’t be your primary concern, a high pay scale offers more options to a person than a low one. Evaluate the earnings potential of each possible career.

8. Is this career my idea?

Don’t let the expectations of others affect your choice of a career. You should make this decision for yourself.

If you feel an affinity for a certain career, seek out an internship or job-shadowing opportunity in that field. Being in the thick of it is the best way to assess if a type of work is right for you. If you decide to pursue that career, an internship will assist in admission to colleges because it demonstrates related work experience and enthusiasm for your intended field of study.

Remember that the purpose of your career selection process is to determine the field that’s best for you. If you can make this determination, you can select the college major that best suits your career plan. Then you can apply to colleges at which this major is emphasized.

Charlotte Klaar, PhD, is a Certified Educational Planner who has led hundreds of students to college and career success in the past 25 years. Charlotte understands the Holland Self-Directed Search and is certified to administer and interpret the MBTI and SII assessments. These tools have guided countless high school students in their search for the right career paths.