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Exhausted from Early Decision?

Just wait until next month!

They all squeaked by, but the stress was real. Ask the applicants, their parents or their counselors. Yes there's a reason this blog is getting out three days into the month: Early Decision. For ED I applicants, the six-week waiting period starts now. To others with Early Action or Regular Decision apps (and their parents): stay busy, maintain your focus and keep a sense of perspective. It always works out. And for those who are just beginning this journey, it will be quite the learning experience. I'm here to help.


It Pays to be Athletic . . . We really shouldn't stereotype. But when Business Insider tells us that "Ivy league jocks earn as much as $220,000 more than their less sporty peers over their career," who can resist? Supposedly, the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at 400,000 grads (actually from 44 colleges, but Business Insider likes a good headline) and claims that the jocks make it bigger than nerds, getting big-ticket jobs in finance, going higher in their organizations and even getting MBAs from high-flying colleges. . . . But Let's Just Say You're Not Which colleges are fostering successful careers for their graduates regardless of athletic prowesss? This unCommon counselor is really liking the list of colleges for career opportunities from the Wall Street Journal because it's not necessarily what you'd expect. Rose Human Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN) came out on top. Then there's Washington and Lee, which "successfully pairs its liberal-arts education with preprofessional programs in areas such as business and engineering to best prepare students for their careers." They get the importance of writing, too, as I learned a few years back when putting together this Forbes article. The WSJ list doesn't include any from that elite group of eight yet names Notre Dame, which has launched a new "program that introduces liberal-arts students to business practices and courses that can advance their careers in fields such as financial services or consulting." It's known as the Sheedy Family Program in Economy, Enterprise and Societyand sounds like what some of us did with organizational studies. 🍗🍗🍗🍗

CMU: Lifting the Local Economy We always appreciate the favorable influence that a college has on its town. Recently, the Wall Street Journal focused on Pittsburgh as a new tech hub, stating that it has joined the likes of Austin, Seattle and Silicon Valley. The reason, we know, is that seriously talented student body at Carnegie Mellon University, which continues to churn out computer scientists and robotics specialists, thus attracting employers.

Speaking of college towns, Brown and Cornell are taking the heat for not giving enough to Providence and Ithaca, respectively. Inside Higher Ed reports that "while some community members see the payments as generous and beneficial, students are among their harshest critics, arguing that the wealthy universities are capable of paying their host cities much more."


Tell Me About Yourself . . . Now that the apps are in, interviews may follow, especially if your student is applying to a college with an extensive alumni network. Recently, niche college counselor Christopher Rim authored a Forbes article telling students about the Types of College Interview Questions Students Should Prepare For, explaining that students should expect questions like:

  • “Tell us about your family and where you come from.” or

  • “How has your cultural or socioeconomic background influenced your perspective?”

I want any student who's faced these sorts of questions to come forward. When unCommon students prep with me for an interview, we always check to see whether it's evaluative, that is, used in the admissions decision, or just informational. (Colleges are usually fairly clear about that on their websites.) Then we work on what it takes to nail fundamental interview questions with style - and get ready to ask the interviewer questions in return. For more, see my ebook: Mastering the College Interview, Some colleges now use videos in their holistic review. For years, I've pushed students to make no more than a two-minute casual video that focuses on something colleges wouldn't know from their application. (Caution: Some colleges use prompted videos, so students should check their applicant portals for instructions.) The list of colleges liking optional videos includes Brown, UChicago, Duke, Claremont McKenna, WashU and Bowdoin.

Applicants to Bruno should opt in for the "optional" video.


No Fluffy Words or Phrases! Authentic voice has been an issue for me long before ChatGPT became a household product name. Recently, I explained to frantic parents on College Confidential why essays must be uniquely their student's. Forbes' contributor Emma Whitford did, too. While I'm not sure that her message of crushing the essay leads to a ticket to a top college, I certainly agree with an essay coach she spoke with who states, "Overbearing parents, particularly those who have been through the process with their older children and think they understand what admissions officers want, also sometimes help to write an essay for a child . . . They sound like braggy grownups instead of these curious, courageous, creative kids … and ChatGPT tends to also have a grownup, stale voice.”

Prompt founder Brad Schiller also wrote for CC about ChatGPT in college essays. “ChatGPT can only write essays based on what’s available online. Do you think most essays online tend to be excellent? Or would you guess that most aren’t that good? The correct answer is: most are terrible. Yet that’s what ChatGPT will reproduce.”


Low ACT? Ask Gen P! You readers have heard me go on and on about test-optional admissions. The STEM kids are driving up the mean, while the non-STEM kids - or those who aren't comfortable with testing - are not submitting test scores. Recently, Inside Higher Ed took a look at what admissions professionals have to say about what's driving Gen P, noting the concern of Emory's dean of admission John Latting. Citing inflated grades and maybe no testing, Latting explains that Emory will look more at "nontraditional measures such as creative output and educational opportunity for the first time this year" along with 'external assessment' with a particular focus on AP scores." Emory may be contacting students who don’t submit scores, asking then to consider submitting "some piece of classwork they feel is representative of their academic interest and competency.”


Bucking the Trend on Revenue Models In a recent post, I mentioned a WSJ study about how spending at collegeshas gone wild. Yet Purdue University hasn't raised tuition in 10 years! In a Forbes article, Mung Chiang, Purdue's new president, stated that the institution is investing but “no lazy rivers in student dorms, nor glassy atrium at the university airport terminal.”

How many engineers does it take to construct a lazy river?


Getting Around Campus We hear about sustainability, but which colleges are actually practicing it? A Forbes piece on bike-friendly campuses pointed out which colleges have been honored by the League of American Bicyclists. While most were in California, the University of Wisconsin-Madison “has more bicycle parking on campus than car parking" along with miles of bike paths and bike lanes."

Badgers jump around and bike, too!


In this month of Thanksgiving, I'm always thankful for my phenomenal students and families. If you need guidance during this busy time, be sure to set up a meeting.


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