Like the temperatures, will college acceptances hit record lows?

Will college acceptance rates hit record-breaking lows?  Let’s take a look what you need to know as the parent of an aspiring applicant.

Class of 2023: More Results are In Most colleges with Early Action and Priority admissions, including the University of Maryland, the University of Richmond, UVA and UNC Chapel Hill, have informed candidates of their decisions. Maryland, which claims it examines 26 review factors when assessing candidates, offered some students spring admission, a way of managing student volume. Those admitted under this plan cannot appeal, nor can they wait until the following fall to enroll.


Meanwhile, the University of Virginia reported a 17 percent increase in application volume, with 71 percent of those apps from out-of-state students. Of that amount, UVA took just 19 percent.

Common Application: Some Things Remain the Same Much to my delight, the Common App Personal Essay prompts remain the same for the third straight year. In an announcement to the college community, the Common App stated, “Based on extensive counselor feedback, the existing essay prompts provide great flexibility for applicants to tell their unique stories in their own voice. Retaining the essay prompts provides the added benefit of consistency for students, counselors, parents, and members during the admissions process.”

Just when you thought the applications were over, colleges are changing their deadlines. As reported in the WSJ, “Delayed deadlines are a sign of the growing pressure many schools face to fill their incoming classes.” As a result, popular colleges including UChicago, GW, Oberlin, Fordham and WashU have extended their deadlines.

Early Programs Many students hoped to secure a spot at Boston College in December but were deferred to the Regular round. In an interesting turn of events, BC last week announced that effective with the next application cycle, it will scrap Early Action in favor of two rounds of Early Decision. That will help stop the guessing on both sides.


Social Media: Who’s Looking and Why? While I’m a longtime follower of the WSJ, I’m concerned about the lack of clarity in last week’s article, “Colleges Mine Data on Their Applicants.” First of all, data mining is nothing new; readers of this blog have long been aware of the sophistication of some colleges’ marketers. Higher education is a competitive business, and outside of elite colleges and top public research universities, many colleges may not survive without innovative business models and recruiting. Yet in the article, a spokesperson from Common Sense Media calls the data mining “creepy.”

The Journal tells readers: “Schools use this [marketing] information to help determine what they call ‘demonstrated interest,’ or how much consideration an applicant is giving their school. Demonstrated interest is becoming increasingly important as colleges face a rising number of applications and want to protect or improve their yields—the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll.” They mention that colleges including Dickinson, Quinnipiac and American acknowledge tracking activities such as clicks and visits.

There are many ways to demonstrate interest outside of what is discussed in the article. The reality? Some colleges care a whole lot more than others, depending on how much they need to compete for students.

Here’s an important lesson for applicants mentioned in from the article: responding to a request for an interview. According to Quinnipiac University, “If we ask someone for an interview, we look at how they respond, how quickly they respond or if they don’t respond at all. It helps us make a decision.” During admissions season, students should check their portals and look out for requests for interviews.

Merit Aid: In Your Student’s Future? In my meetings with parents, the topic of merit aid often comes up. So let’s just clarify the two main types of aid a student can receive:

  1. Need-based aid is awarded by a college’s financial aid office after review of required documents: the FAFSA and often the CSS/Profile, administered by your friends at College Board.

  2. Merit aid is awarded without consideration of financial need.

Many elite colleges meet full financial aid but do not award merit aid, but that’s not always the case. Duke University, for example, considers applicants for a variety of special scholarships. A WSJ article last year, “Prizes for Everyone: How Colleges Use Scholarships to Lure Students,” mentioned that 39 percent of students accepted to Tulane received offers of merit aid, with the university spending $71.5 million on merit awards.

According to Chelsea Watkins, founder of College Application Training, “I would say that most private schools, outside of the Ivies, are offering merit scholarships. It’s also called ‘tuition-discounting,’ and this year so far we’ve seen some large scholarships ($20k-$35k per YEAR).”

If your student is so inclined, he may research smaller scholarships by using other sources, from the very reliable Fastweb and Cappex to the newer upstarts Raise.Me and Go Merry.

Who’s the GOAT? It’s Super Bowl weekend. Pats fans boast that Tom Brady is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). Brady came to the Patriots from the University of Michigan, which has about the most active alumni network around. Michigan has an Early Action program that allows students applying by November 1st to receive a decision in December.

Meanwhile, Jared Goff, the young QB of the Rams, attended UC Berkeley, better known as Cal. Along with UCLA, Cal is the high end of the UC system, with admissions for an out-of-state student extraordinarily difficult.

By the way, whose mascot is a goat? That would be the U.S. Naval Academy, cheered on by Bill the Goat.


On these cold days, I continue to enjoy winter meetings with parents of sophomores and juniors. Schedule something soon if you have questions.

Does your student have a college interview coming up? Be sure to download Mastering the College Interview, available on Apple Books or through my website! ($3.99)


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