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No level playing field for college applicants?

Launch the Personal Essay and get a summer job!

Dear [Name of Student]: It's almost the end of the academic year - which means it's time to launch your Common App Personal Essay! Let me know when you're available. It's that time again! I'm enjoying the launch meetings with the rising seniors, hearing the stories that make them unique. At the same time, many other issues continue to affect students' candidacies, from digital testing snafus to extracurricular decisions. Will there ever be a level playing field?


The Latest College Sport: Investing! Watch out, Big 10: the academic kids are cashing in on their smarts. Recently, the Wall Street Journal profiled "college clubs where teenagers and 20-somethings are learning about investing by managing tens or hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars in assets." These range from the oldest team in the nation, that of charming Lafayette College, to the Blue Chips of UChicago, solicited by prospective applicants. Also competing: a team from NYC's Baruch, where a First Gen student is headed for a career with RBC Capital Markets. The Journal points out just how hard it is to make the cut; getting a spot can be as competitive as landing an investment job after graduation. Yale's team, for example, "accepts members at about the same rate as the school’s undergraduate admissions office: roughly 5%.”

Lafayette loves investing - in college and career!


Get Paid to Play? No Way! That's what lawyers in the case against the Ivy League had to say. You may recall that Brown basketball players spearheaded a recent suit against the league, claiming Ivy athletes were entitled to financial compensation akin to what they might receive at other high-end institutions. Yet there's a problem: paying its athletes is against Ivy rules. As explained in Sportico, "The Ivy League maintains its system of no athletic scholarships is consistent with member schools’ 'conviction' that athletes should be 'truly representative' of the student body." So the counsel filing a motion to dismiss argued that "some student-athletes considering a school in the Ivy League might choose instead a full athletic scholarship from UVA, Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Stanford, Georgetown, Rice, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt.” Yet how do student athletes really fare financially? A recent Forbes articlepoints out that many athletes run short of funds. According to NCSA College Recruiting, in fact, only one percent of college athletes get a full ride! Moreover, some deals are just for a year, while others don't cover food and incidentals.


Play Ball! Just Don't Pay to Play. Is there admissions value in high-priced extracurricular research that connects high school students with mentors, often graduate students, then helps get results published? The question comes up often in parent and counselor meetings. Fortunately, the Chronicle of Higher Education and ProPublica recently brought this issue to light in an article that characterizes the programs as "the newest admissions ploy." Authors Daniel Golden and Kunal Purohit explain, "College admissions staff, besieged by applicants proffering links to their studies, verify that a paper was published but are often at a loss to evaluate its quality.” They point out that students or parents may not realize that articles aren't peer reviewed by academics. Moreover, these programs fall into the hole with expensive pre-college programs, providing an unproven edge to the wealthy.

Villanova accepted fewer than 21 percent of applicants this year.

You know that this sports fan is not a fan of pay-to-play. Students should find other ways to research and support their causes. Even better: get a job! unCommon student favorite Villanova finally released its profile for the Class of 2027, which mentioned that 65 percent of students held paying jobs.


More Strikes Against College Board Some of us remember the horror stories of digital APs during the pandemic. This year, some students taking AP Lit were prevented from completing and submitting their exams, meaning they'd have to take them again! We learn from Inside Higher Ed that those same students were told, “Thank you for taking the exam.” Not what they needed to hear on game day. Poor College Board. With the adaptive, digital SAT coming your way in 2024, the wealthy not-for-profit will see a dip in the number of student names available to rent. According to a Forbes article, it's hit a 'search cliff," which means that there will be 32 percent fewer names available in 2026 than in 2023 as more students take digital tests during the school day. While we're watching for what a digital, adaptive test will mean, the ACT has some news as well. In a statement, the College Board's rival committed to more online tests and a July registration for a limited online ACT in December. "ACT’s online option allows us to provide additional accessibility features, including support for screen reader users, text-to-speech functionality, zoom, and answer masking . . . We want to give students greater autonomy over their testing experience, which is why our goal is to provide students with choice, flexibility, and accessibility, all while maintaining the high standards for which we are known."


As the days get longer, enjoy time outdoors with your family. And when it comes to your future applicant, don't sweat the details alone. Go unCommon; get in touch today.


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