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A Penny Saved?

What to know before your student hits Submit this fall

Apples, pumpkins and . . . applications? In under two weeks, many students will hit Submit, making this process very real. Over the weekend, I sat with a student, going through her Common App, explaining what to watch for and how to sequence the submissions, hopefully alleviating the stress. At the same time, I'm thrilled that parents of underclassmen realize that they need to dispel myths - and anxiety - by having meetings early in this process.

Naviance: Any Predictive Value?

Ah, those Naviance scatterplots. Yesterday, I came across a blog post called "12 Reasons Scattergrams Lull Students Into a False Sense of Security." Yet I find just the opposite is true; students view Naviance as telling them that they don't have a chance of gaining acceptance. (As in "Last year, only two students from my school got into Michigan, and they both had high SAT scores.")

Here's the thing. Naviance is just charting data - past data. It uses test scores (now mostly optional) and GPA (often recalculated). It doesn't know the story of an applicant. It doesn't know how admissions readers will view that applicant holistically. And as the post points out, most schools don't show Early options on the diagrams.

The purpose of Naviance is to transmit your student's data electronically to the colleges they designate. That means transcripts and recommendations. It doesn't predict their success in the application process.

Fall Into New Curriculum

Just when you thought it was all about liberal arts and the great outdoors, charming Bowdoin is going tech. To boost its attractiveness - not to mention competitiveness - the Maine college is teaming with the Roux Institute, part of Northeastern but based in Portland, to offer students the chance to not only learn about entrepreneurship but also take a 4 + 1 program and earn a master's in computer science.

What does this say about liberal arts? As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the Art & Science group has found that "Students are not likely to have negative views of a liberal arts college, but nor are they embracing the liberal arts colleges.” As explained, "Many colleges have added some non–liberal arts programs, such as data analytics or business . . . Colleges need to talk about themselves in a way that goes beyond 'small classes' and 'professors who care,' no matter how proud they are of those qualities.”

Division Over Course Selection: Do the Math!

Not surprisingly, the debate about taking calculus or statistics continues. It really shouldn't. Calculus is not a life skill, and as far as academic disciplines go, it serves mostly aspiring STEM students well. Recently, a group called Just Equations (clever!) shows a widening gap in the beliefs of school counselors and colleges, with the counselors more likely to believe that calculus is needed for admissions: "73% of high school counselors said not taking calculus will hinder students’ college options, but only 34% of admissions officers said the same." The report also advised that college and career counseling begin as early as middle school. For sure, if it's all about finding and nurturing a student's talents and interests.

The Cost of Doing Business, Penn Style Had enough with the cost of college? Don't mention it to the very popular University of Pennsylvania. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal,UPenn is up 10 percent in the last two years for a sticker price of . . $81,430!!! But there's often a deal, especially if a stellar student has demonstrated need. Some 45 percent of students receive financial awards, which average over $61,000. Penn also appeared on a NACAC conference panel on a least-favorite topic, test-optional admissions. Penn's Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions Whitney Soule told the audience that in its first year as a test-optional institution, application volume increased 34 percent.

Will the Lions Roar Again? Remember College Bowl, sponsored by Capitol One and hosted by Manning brothers Peyton and Cooper? It's back, and while the bulk of the teams are new this season, last year's champ Columbia gets to defend its title. The Columbia team includes a computer science major and two astrophysics scholars.

GPA a Different Way

unCommon families often hear about the importance of rigor in the transcript and junior-year performance. They also understand that colleges look holistically at applicants, knowing that different high schools have different curricular choices. To underscore how elite colleges view GPAs, here's a recent Tuesday Tweet by UVA's Dean J:

"GPAs don't provide the amount of detail needed in a highly selective review process. We look at individual courses and grades with an emphasis on the core subjects to understand each applicant's academic preparation. While some decisions mav correlate with GPA, they were not caused by the GPA."

Away to UCLA? Think Again! Just as most colleges are test-optional, those UC schools are test-blind, meaning they can't look at SAT or ACT results. Accordingly, UCLA app volume jumped 38 percent. At the same time, the odds are against out-of-state candidates, with the acceptance rate for those students now below 9 percent. What's UCLA to do? Acquire! The Bruins will be taking over two campuses of Marymount California University, which fell victim to tough times (and the changing business model of higher ed). The campuses are in Rancho Palos Verdes and San Pedro. Countdown to Launch As mentioned earlier, applicants liking Southern colleges, particularly two increasingly popular public research universities, are getting ready to submit. Both UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Georgia are due on October 15. Ironically, a question that's causing some angst this year is Georgia's prompt:

"The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application." Interesting? Amusing? Just how we'd describe another supplemental essay! (For more, check out Supplementing the College Supplement, available on Apple Books!)

Early due dates are coming fast, but your applicant can reduce the stress by setting up a meeting, It's also the best time of year to set up a discussion about your sophomore or junior.


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