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In April, Digital Testing and Waitlists Dominate

The other day, I received an email from a dejected mom. She questioned her son's results and wanted to know why peers had been admitted to certain colleges that had waitlisted or denied her son, a better student. Along with how to handle the waitlist, I shared information on the fine colleges to which he had gained acceptance and where I knew he could be successful.It's April. Students and parents are exhausted. They may still be anxious. (See below.) Yet in the media, all the emphasis seems to be on the fact that Harvard's applicant pool declined, but Yale's increased, and that both accepted fewer than four percent. April showers  . . . bring more information about Yale and Harvard. Enough already!Let's move on and look at the issues - and the innovators.

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And the Winner is . . . the Waitlist!

Many of my students who waited anxiously last week for highly selective colleges to announce their decisions received that dreaded waitlist notification. Who can tolerate the waitlist? It drags out the agony and gives students false hope. While students do sometimes get off those lists, I tell them to attend all accepted students' events and be prepared to accept their top choice on May 1.In his blog last spring, Rick Clark, Georgia Tech's Executive Director of Student Access, explained how waitlists work. Colleges "watch their deposits closely in the spring leading up to May 1 and compare those numbers with their goals. If they see that their geographic, gender, academic, or other demographic targets are 'soft' (i.e., not coming in at the level they are looking for), they may go to their waitlist early. Otherwise, they will wait until after their deposit deadline, assess the gap between their targets and their current number of deposits, and then begin making offers to 'shape' their class." The mom I mentioned wanted to know whether they should stop in at the college where her son was waitlisted. Here's Clark's take on that: "Admission offices regularly receive chocolates, cookies, and treats along with poems or notes. It is safe to say that a couple hundred grams of sugar and a few couplets are not going to outweigh institutional priorities."

Go figure: U-M may waitlist thousands but goes on to take only 0.5 percent.

If your student hasn't been in touch with me about how to respond to a waitlist, they should reach out.

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The Digital SAT: The Results are In (Literally)

On March 9, students took the first-ever administration of a digital, adaptive SAT. Mind you, this exam had been field-tested outside the United States, so it was a domestic roll-out. Students' comments? They liked that the exam was shorter but complained about difficult math questions.The digital SAT was a major discussion item during Getting Into College 2024-25, a webinar I co-hosted with test-prep guru Anna Gazumyan-Silverman. Anna commented that "most students reported feeling a low stress environment when they were in the test, and proctors seemed to be reasonably well-trained." Going forward, Anna reminds us, "Whatever test you choose to pursue, it's important to master the concepts that are going to be tested but also practice in the real format of the test. So my students suffer through many practice exams, some of them at proctor locations, some of them we choose to do with self-proctoring. But whatever it is, it's absolutely essential to practice in the same mode that the test is given." For prep, College Board has a Blue Book app, now with two additional tests. What a deal! As for our webinar, take a listen

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Going Test-Mandatory in Texas

UT Austin is among those hugely popular public research universities that severely restrict out-of-staters.  Along with Yale, Dartmouth and Brown, UT has announced that they are going back to mandatory testing. But unlike the elite colleges, UT also cited using test results as they determined fit-to-major, a process they and some European universities are known for. 

At the same time, UT Austin is adding an Early Action option for 2024-25.   

"Our experience during the test-optional period reinforced that standardized testing is a valuable tool for deciding who is admitted and making sure those students are placed in majors that are the best fit.” -UT Austin

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Student Success: Some Public Universities are Liking these Results!

Last week, the WSJ released its list of Top Colleges for High-Paying Careers in Finance, Tech and Consulting. While the expected private universities make the lists, let's point out how well SUNY's Binghamton University did, making both the finance and consulting lists. Meanwhile, grads of CUNY's Baruch College earned "higher pay than the median graduate in finance." In calling out the results, Matt Sigelman, president of the Burning Glass Institute, commented, "Their success shows that proximity to industry hubs and rigorous curricula are just as important as strong alumni networks and prestigious degrees."While tech is quite the career path, tech professors don't always see mesh well with other faculty. As an article in The Atlantic pointed out, CS along with engineering faculty are "despised” by their counterparts in the humanities and social sciences. “They’re seen as arrogant, narrowly focused on machines rather than people, and unwilling to meet other programs’ needs  . . .   a microcosm of the struggle underway in the computing sector at large.” 

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Paying the Price for Prestige

Readers of this blog know I've been picking on Vanderbilt since Town & Country positioned them as the new Brown (think kids of celebrities). Now, we hear that Vandy's cost of attendance in 2024-25 - get this - will be $98,426! According to CTAS Higher Ed Business, ". . . we can be reasonably confident that, in 2025/26, Vanderbilt will break that 6-figure barrier."

From my 2019 trip to Vandy

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At Michigan, All Systems are Go!

I am always admiring innovation at the University of Michigan - and so do my students. As reported in Inside Higher Ed, Wolverine students using My Learning Analytics (MyLA) can monitor their grades, see what resources they've taken advantage of and compare their performance to that of their peers. States a U-M professor, "MyLA was influential for studying and preparing them for exams and 89 percent said it was valuable for their course performance."Inside Higher Ed also tells us about U-MGPT, "a homebuilt generative AI tool that now boasts between 14,000 to 16,000 daily users.” Along with Harvard, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and WashU, Michigan believes AI should be free for all users (as opposed to ChatGPT). 

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CU Students Game the System!

Esports is a big deal where the Buffalo roam - and that's at CU Boulder's Alienware Buffalo Esports and Gaming Lounge. According to an article in AXIOS Denver, over 5,000 student-gamers wanted a stadium of their own, which opened in late January. The lounge manager tells AXIOS that the audience has "a sense of belonging when they're on campus, that yields to higher academic outcomes," while a spokesperson praises "the collaborative nature, the communication skills, the focus, the follow-through that companies are going to be looking for." 

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May warm days and hatched eggs greet us soon. And if any spring developments feel overwhelming, schedule an advisory meeting.


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