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EA and ED Deferrals Heighten Student and Parent Anxiety

In my email over the past week:

I’m going to spend some time this week researching gap years. This is very depressing.

I don’t know how much more we can take . . . Their students were deferred and declined Early Action, reflecting the shared anxieties of this 2022-23 admissions season. My role: to provide some explanation (when available), instruction on next steps (see below), reassurance and the message that it always works out. EA Results: Not Lovely 💔 The Year of the Rabbit is also the Year of the Deferral. More than ever, deferrals, which are decisions to reconsider students in the Regular Decision round, have left parents devastated and students in tears. I remind them that deferrals are not personal; rather, they are business decisions. With swarming volumes heightened by test-optional admissions, it's a wonder these colleges can even get through their applications! Take USC, which admitted a mere 6 percent of applicants. The university created a blog post to deal with deferral-related questions, noting that they anticipated making some 70 percent of offers through RD. (That's considerably higher than most highly selective institutions that have an Early Decision option.) To applicants who wanted to do more to support their candidacy, USC states, "In the interest of equity, we are not considering new application materials, nor will we accept revisions of previously submitted materials. The only additional piece we need is your mid-year transcript." This was USC's first year of EA. Was the volume too much too handle? Whatever the college, deferred applicants should comply with the college's policy. On its website, for example, UVA tells applicants:


"Using your portal is the fastest and most efficient way to get information added to your application. When you mail or email documents, it will take longer for them to be filed."

What does it all mean? Applicants must sit tight and wait until late March. In February, Should Students Show Their Love? 💕 What is meant by demonstrated interest? A few years ago, I authored a forbes.com article, and most of the message still holds true. The article featured a university that always loved demonstrated interest: Tulane. For my article, they noted: “Tulane does consider demonstrated interest as a part of the application process; however, it is only one factor among many in our holistic review process. As Tulane has seen an increase in the size of our applicant pool, we use demonstrated interest as one tool in the application review to get a better sense of a student’s likelihood of enrolling at Tulane, their ability to graduate from Tulane and to get a sense if they ultimately will be happy here.” "What Tulane is looking for is authentic engagement in the process. Has the student taken the time to research if they will be a good fit here? Have they interacted with Tulane at some point in the process, either when our counselors visited their high school or at a regional event we attended? Did the student interview a Tulane alumnus? Have they done their research when writing the ‘Why Tulane’ essay?” Since writing the article, we experienced pandemic-induced innovations, led by colleges like Tulane that encouraged students to interact virtually. It's another way a student can show their love.

The Latest on ChatGPT 💔 In last month's post, I shared the current thinking about the AI-enabled ChatGPT, which some counselors believe will destroy the college essay. In a recent Inside Higher Ed, article, six admissions experts shared their predictions. Georgia Tech's Rick Clark wonders whether colleges will move to proctored essay writing and more uploads of graded papers, which Princeton Admissions has done for a while. But is that realistic? In that same article, Penn's Whitney Soule adds, “ . . . it will be more important than ever for colleges to explain the 'why' behind the materials we require, as well as to be as explicit as possible about each of our financial aid policies and what we value most in the selection process.” Is that why Penn no longer discloses admission rates?


Penn wants transparency - but won't release admit rates.

In "Worried About ChatGPT? Don't Be," Hetal Thaker of the University of Michigan reveals her findings after inserting the so-called gratitude prompt from the Common App:


" . . . if I were a student who had heard my whole life that I am not a proficient writer, this would be a game-changer. But what was it like to read? Did you make it to the end, or just skim? Or did you follow my initial gut reaction, which was to read the first paragraph and say, 'I see where this is going,' and then not even bother to skim because you didn’t need to? . . . What is missing from the Common App response is humanity, emotion. The essay evokes nothing in the reader–no response, no connection to self, to the world. It certainly wouldn’t make it through an admissions review."


Jim Jump, a prolific writer and independent school dean of college counseling, gave ChatGPT the "Why Wisconsin?" essay. As he explained in Inside Higher Ed,



" . . . like many student first drafts of the 'Why [college]?' essay, there is nothing that shows any real familiarity with the university or that would prevent one from inserting any other university’s name into the essay."

We know that this is still early in the AI lifecycle. AI will continue to displace humans and alter our approach to work. I will keep watching - and encouraging unCommon students to show their uncommon approaches.

Downeasters: Loving their College Town! 💗 “The world needs colleges and universities to be deeply engaged in their communities, to be solving problems for society.” That's what David Green, president of Colby College, shared recently as he discussed investment in Waterville, Maine. According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, since Green became president in 2014, he's been proactive in bringing together business and government and has results to show, including a new art center, hotel and housing complex. As a result, there are more Colby alums remaining in the Waterville area, spurring economic growth. Another liberal arts Downeaster, Bates College, which is located in Lewiston, announced that it is keeping a careful eye on costs. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, about half of its students pay the full $78,000 tuition, and Bates has a healthy endowment. A university official stated, " . . . the economic environment is changing, and we need to prepare ourselves to adapt to new circumstances." YouTube for University? What's Not to Love? 💖 Recently, Arizona State University announced a partnership that will provide "online, transferable, credit-bearing courses that begin on YouTube." Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of the Learning Enterprise at ASU, stated, “We’re meeting learners where they are. Ultimately, they are on YouTube, and we’re excited to democratize the access to information and opportunity.” Scary, not lovely. With every email, I'm reminded of the importance of keeping in touch with all my families. If you have questions, be sure to reach out and set up a meeting. Have a lovely February!

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