When are Michigan's decisions coming out? Does appealing your application work? Does RD come out mid-March or actually April 1st?
The texts keep coming. And who can blame these seniors? They started remote learning nearly two years ago, were never sure about their ability to take standardized tests and are now caught in the waiting game. Our role as parents and counselors is to provide support and reassurance, especially with a month to go in the application cycle.
Volumes are Soaring, But What About the Applicants?
What's the deal with these numbers? It's likely test-optional admissions. According to the Common App, application volume is up 20.8 percent over 2019-20. At the same time, only 5 percent of Common App colleges required test scores in 2021-22, down from 11 percent in 2020-21.
Early Decision II: Was There Really a Benefit?
Colleges having an Early Decision II option have released decisions. While It's hard to get EDII-specific statistics, results show us that ED II remains a very good option for students who were deferred or denied by their top choice and have a very close second choice. Over the last few years, my students have been admitted to Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, WashU, Tulane and NYU in the ED II round.
Public Research Universities Attract Scores of Applicants Not to be overshadowed by their smaller peers, popular public research universities, including Rutgers and Florida, continue to release results from the priority pool. The University of Florida received over 65,000 applications, according to Mary Parker, VP for Enrollment Management, and Assistant Provost. who gave this excellent explanation of how UF reviews candidates: ". . . we don't just look at test scores and GPA. We also look at what high school did that student go to? What opportunities did they have, did they have at their high school? Not all students have opportunities to take IB courses or AP courses, that needs to be part of our conversation. We want to look at students, how well did they do in the courses that they actually took? What are their grade trends? We look at what activities that they had to do. Students tell us they have to work. I haven't been able to do extracurricular because I'm working to help support the family. Those situations are important to know through our application process."
Mind the Gap
Gap years are alive and well, despite travel fears and restrictions. In honor of Gap Year Exploration Month (also known as February), last week's Gap Year Association webinar featured Christoph Guttentag, Dean of Admissions at Duke, along with Jane Sarouhan of J2 Guides and a student who had completed an inspirational gap year. The speakers' message: students taking gap years have a better feel for what they want to pursue and consequently contribute more to their campus communities. Guttentag pointed out that a gap year “should be for you - not to try and gain an edge in the college process.” Students who accept an offer of admission and take a gap year are expected to matriculate at that campus when their program concludes. Duke, by the way, funds up to $15,000 for some gap-year options.
It happens every year around this time. A parent reaches out, concerned about the math course their teen should take. Among the questions: Should my student take calculus?
The answer: It depends. If your student is nuts about STEM, they should absolutely do the traditional path, which tends to be something like Precalc, Calc (maybe with Honors), Calc AB or BC. Yet I often encourage my students to consider statistics either in addition to or in lieu of calculus; after all, data analysis falls in the life skills category.
To address this issue, NACAC released Just Equations: A New Calculus for College Admissions, explaining: “The goal is to stimulate new thinking on the part of college administrators, faculty, admissions officers, and K–12 leaders about the contours and content of college math preparation in the 21st century.”
The authors shift some of the burden for the emphasis on calculus to colleges, and rightly so. Transcripts of students applying to highly selective colleges are hyper-scrutinized, and that includes math courses in the junior and senior years. “Until these newer [non-calculus-centered] sequences are considered on par with the calculus path—which remains uncommon at selective universities—they will remain in the shadow of calculus, their growth held in check regardless of how much students learn . . .It’s time for those with authority over college admissions to reconsider policies, practices, and training that allow preferences for calculus in the admissions process to persist, preferences that can skew the composition of the student body and, as some math faculty argue, interfere with successful math learning.”
This college counselor agrees.
Communication Skills: A Lost Art?
Along with data analysis (see above), the ability to communicate is among the most important skills that students need to master no later than college. But as the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, "College Students Have to Learn to Make Small Talk Again." Research verified what we may have suspected; this era of Zoom learning, quarantines and gaming has left students at a loss for words. Among the solutions: an app called AskClass, created by a professor at San Jose State, which encourages student interaction through prompts. It sounds like good icebreaker material!
There's nowhere better to practice those communication skills than the college dining hall. Here's an icebreaker for you: Should there be less red meat on campus? In "More Bean Burgers, Less Beef," we're not surprised to see Brown featured for its sustainability initiatives in dining. Mighty Bruno is out to reduce red meat consumption by 25 percent come 2025, then over 50 percent by 2030. Supposedly, there are still meaty burgers in dining halls, but there are fewer, and burgers may include grains; student diners can enjoy turkey burgers. At Smith College, officials aim to reduce red meat consumption by 5 percent each year. An official claims that bean burgers are more popular with students than impossible burgers. Now that's food for thought!
In this time of global uncertainty, some students are reaching within themselves to really change the world. Recently, I put together a Best Colleges for Diplomats list for College Confidential. Among the stars: Georgetown (The Walsh School of Foreign Service), Princeton, UCLA and GW (Elliott School). International relations programs are thriving at Tufts, where students may sample grad-level courses at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy, and also at Pomona and Willam & Mary.
Check out my other curated lists:
Selective Liberal Arts Colleges with Engineering Partners
Liberal Arts Colleges with Forward-Thinking Business Programs
Colleges Encouraging Academic Freedom
Best Colleges for Producing U.S. Olympians
Parents of sophomores and juniors: If you've yet to book a winter meeting, now is a very good time! Parents of seniors: Hold on! Good things are on the way. After all, March goes out like a lamb.
What if your teen had a life plan before college? Nina is now administering the Strong Interest Inventory career assessment to help provide some direction - or confirm your hunch about what they'd be good at! Get in touch today!