Category Archives: College admissions

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.”

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.

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.

 

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!

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

Waitlisted? Here’s how to handle that

COVID-19 Update alert

This post was written in February, before COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, and schools and businesses across the country were shuttered.  Please read to the end of this post for updated advice regarding waitlists.

Waiting for something that you intensely want and then being disappointed, is an experience that people would prefer to avoid. So why would a student set himself or herself up for disappointment by accepting a college’s offer to be waitlisted knowing that the odds of being admitted are often slim? The reason is that they’ll recover faster from disappointment than from regret. You’ll never know if you would have been admitted at your dream school unless you wait.

The Rationale for Waitlists

Colleges wouldn’t maintain waitlists if they never had the occasion to use them. They use them because well-qualified students apply to multiple schools and are often admitted to several of them. If fewer students accept a college’s offer of admission than have in prior years, the college will need to rely on their waitlist. Since waitlisted students nearly made the initial cut for admission, a college can confidently admit a sufficient number of them to bring their freshman class up to the desired size.

Application Outcomes

Students aspiring to attend top colleges are advised to submit about 10 applications. This spreads the risk of rejection by one or more schools, especially those in the “reach” category. There are three possible outcomes for an application submitted in the Regular Admission cycle: rejection, acceptance, or an invitation to join the waitlist. The first outcome may hurt, but, in terms of follow-up action, it’s simple… do nothing. You’ll be aware of the second outcome when a thick envelope arrives in the mail, bringing cheer and jubilation with it.

The third outcome is the one that can cause anxiety… you’ve been offered a position on the waitlist. If this outcome is from one of several desirable colleges and one or more of the others have accepted you, it’s no big deal. But if this college was your first choice and you would still prefer to attend it above all others, you should follow your heart and join the waitlist even though getting admitted may be a long shot.

Odds of Admission

Last year, more than 600 institutions used a waitlist, including many selective and highly selective institutions. Nationally, about 150,000 students accepted a spot on one of the lists. Over a recent four-year period, colleges admitted about 33 percent of waitlisted students, according to the National Association of College Admissions Counselors.

They noted, however, that among those institutions with admission rates of less than 50 percent, the waitlist admission rate was only 17 percent. The 30 most highly selective institutions admitted an even lower percentage — an average of less than 10 percent of waitlisted students. Every year, a few colleges admit none of their waitlisted students, depending upon how strong their yield was that year (yield is the percentage of applicants who accept offers of admission and go on to attend that college).

Below is a list of well-known institutions that admit a low average percentage of students from their waitlists:

  • Michigan – 2%
  • Baylor – 3%
  • UC Davis – 1%
  • Vanderbilt – 5%
  • University of Virginia – 1%
  • UMass-Amherst – 2%college waitlists
  • Rensselaer – 3%
  • Carnegie-Mellon – 5%
  • UC San Diego – 2%
  • Cornell – 4%
  • Georgetown – 12%
  • MIT – 9%
  • Northwestern – 3%
  • Princeton – 5%

Among the institutions with the highest rates of waitlisted students admitted are:

  • Ohio State – 100%
  • Clemson – 99%
  • Penn State – 93%
  • Arkansas – 85%
  • UC Davis – 74%
  • UC Riverside – 74%
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County – 69%
  • Saint Louis University – 65%
  • University of San Diego – 64%

Waitlist Action Plan

If you elect to join a college’s waitlist, we advise you to be proactive. Below are steps that we recommend you take to boost your chances of admission from a waitlist.

1. Probability: Get a sense of your chances of admission. Contact the admissions office to find out if the college ranks waitlisted students. If so, most of them will let you know your rank. Next, research the yield rate for the college over the past few years. If they have been experiencing a lower than average yield rate this year and you have a high rank on the waitlist, your chances of admission improve. You can research the yearly waitlist outcomes of a college on the College Board website and the Common Data Set.

2.  Email: Write a brief email to the admission office soon after accepting waitlist status. The email shouldn’t reiterate the main points that you made in your application. You should briefly update the admissions office on recent significant academic and nonacademic achievements that occurred too late to be included on your application. Emphasize your continued strong desire to attend the college and make the case for why you’re a good fit. Tell them that you’ll enroll if they admit you.

3.  Grades: Don’t slack off academically. If you’re waitlisted, you may be re-assessed based on your third and fourth quarter senior year grades.

4.  Letter of Recommendation: Check to see if the college will accept another letter of recommendation. If so, consider asking a senior year teacher who can provide new positive information about you.

5.  Contact: Stay in touch with the admissions office. Don’t overdo it! They want to see that you’re genuinely interested in their institution, but they don’t want to be pestered. Occasional, well-chosen contacts are acceptable.

After you’ve accepted a spot on a waitlist, the best thing you can do is to carefully consider the colleges that have admitted you. If you would be happy attending one of them, send in your deposit by the deadline and plan to attend that college in the fall. If you’re later admitted to your dream college from their waitlist, confer with your guidance counselor or independent educational consultant to consider your options.

UPDATE ALERT

Waitlists in the time of Covid-19:

In these uncertain times, it’s vital to make decisions based on what is in hand rather than hoping for what may never happen. Therefore, if you have been accepted to some of the colleges to whom you applied and would be happy at any of them, decline the waitlist and go with one of these colleges.

Pick the one that is most attractive to you socially, emotionally, and financially.  Send in your deposit and then tell the other colleges who have accepted you that you decline their invitation. This will release these spots for students who may not have been as fortunate as you to have received an acceptance from anyone.