Sunday, November 30, 2014

Truthiness Behind College Admit Rates~Don't Panic!

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My last four posts have been about the mad rush to apply to too many schools. Today's New York Times tracks the trend with some actual numbers in "For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn't as Hard as it Seems." Kevin Carey's piece tries to assure applicants - and their parents! - that the dire figures lodged in our brains do not tell the whole story. 

Here's an excerpt, but it's worth reading the entire article:

"Earlier this year, Harvard announced that it had accepted 5.9 percent of the nearly 35,000 students who applied for admission to the class of 2018. The next day, Stanford announced an even more exacting 5.07 percent admission rate, the lowest in the university’s history.

"Statistics like these have come to dominate the national narrative of elite college admissions, with each new batch of ever-more-minuscule success rates fueling a collective sense that getting into a good college has become a brutal, “Hunger Games"-style tournament that only the fittest survive.

"That story is wrong. For well-qualified students, getting into a good college isn’t difficult. It probably isn’t that much harder than it was generations ago. The fact that everyone believes otherwise shows how reliance on a single set of data — in this case, institutional admission rates — can create a false sense of what’s really going on.

"To start, it’s worth noting that the headline-inducing single-digit rates reported by Harvard and Stanford are unusual even for elite institutions. Washington University in St. Louis, ranked 14th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, admitted 17 percent of applicants this year. Notre Dame admitted 21 percent, Wellesley 28 percent, and the University of Michigan 32 percent. Still, those numbers are low and have been declining in each case." READ MORE 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Shrinking Your List of College App Essays & Supplements

Got the college app essay blues? The best way to shrink the list of essays you need to write between now and January 1st is to shrink your list of colleges. There's no magic solution as to how to do it. Without question - sorry, guys - It involves some work. In the end, though, it could save you time, money, and stress. 

As I said in my recent Huffington Post piece, "How Many College Apps (and College App Essays) are Too Many?" the first rule is to apply to schools that you actually want to attend, or that you have some reason for wanting to attend. 

Have you visited the school? Does it have an atmosphere or programs that interest you and suit your needs? Is there something about the curriculum - the courses required of you to graduate - that is either hugely appealing - or might be a real turn-off? Do you even know what's offered and required at these many schools to which you're applying?

How will you know any of these things? Each school's website is a place to start, but websites are sources of information as well as advertisements. They will not give you the low-down on what it's really like to be a student in these places. These three resources will give you another perspective: 1. College Prowler - tons of statistics and up-to-date student comments about every aspect of the institution. 2. The Insider's Guide to the Collegesedited by the Yale Daily News - a sassy, student's-eye view of some 350 colleges and universities, arranged by state. 3. The Best 378 Colleges, full of great stats and quotes from students and administrations about what each school offers.

There is a reason for the idea that you should choose schools in three categories: reach, target, safety. If you choose well, you do not need 10 in each category. If you have done your homework and are choosing schools that are suitable for you - and your family's budget - the list should be much smaller than that. 

If you need help with the process or the essays, please visit my website, Don't Sweat the Essay, or drop me a line: Or pick up the phone: 1-855-99-ESSAY.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

College App Essays--Trimming Your College List

If you haven't finished your college application essays and you have a long list of colleges, this weekend might be a good time to finish the essays for the schools you are most interested in - and trim your list down to the colleges you actually want to go to.

As Frank Bruni explains, in his recent Times op-ed, "Promiscuous College Come-ons," colleges are marketing to entice students to apply, merely to increase their applicant pool so they appear to be more selective. Bruni's piece expands on the piece I penned for Huffington Post last week, "How Many College Apps Are Too Many?" which includes one website and two great books you can use to learn more about colleges and limit your list to the schools that are appropriate and of real interest to you. The website is College Prowler.

Take a read. If you have questions about the process, and the essays in particular, drop me a line:

"BETWEEN the last application season and the current one, Swarthmore College, a school nationally renowned for its academic rigor, changed the requirements for students vying to be admitted into its next freshman class

"It made filling out the proper forms easier.

"A year ago, applicants were asked to write two 500-word essays as supplements to the standard one that’s part of the Common Application, an electronic form that Swarthmore and hundreds of small colleges and big universities accept. This was slightly more material than Swarthmore had previously requested, and it was more than many other highly selective schools demanded.

"Not coincidentally, the number of applicants to the college dropped, and its acceptance rate in turn climbed, to 17 from 14 percent, making Swarthmore seem less selective." READ MORE

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How Many College Apps Are Too Many!?!?

There is no magic number, but I'd say that 20 and 30 are too darn many. Consider the costs, the time, the stress, and all those essays that need to be written. Here are my latest thoughts on this trend from Huffington Post:
"A recent piece in The New York Times"What is the Perfect Number of College Applications to Send?" has tapped into a disturbing trend in college applications that I've seen in my business: students applying to dozens - and dozens - of colleges. Last year, I worked with two families whose children applied to 18 colleges each, despite my encouraging them to narrow the list and conserve their resources. Resources include time, money, and emotional health.
"Each application costs money, and so does sending SAT/ACT results to each college. And many schools these days require supplementary essays. It's not just a matter of pressing SEND along with your credit card information.
"One issue that the article does not address is the application essays that accompany these dozens of applications. Because schools now receive such a flood of applications, they need more ways to distinguish between students - and ways to read between the lines to see how serious students are about attending their school. Enter the supplementary essays. Some schools ask for just one; other schools, including Tufts, Brown, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and Wake Forest, ask for upwards of three, four and sometimes six additional pieces of writing." READ MORE
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