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Season’s Greetings, College Applicants.

Now that we didn’t take you, should you apply somewhere else ED II?

During these very short days leading up to the new year, we have long to-do lists. For many college applicants, recent Early Decision notificatiions have sent them back to the laptop. Was the list right? Are there more supplementals that are worth doing to increase options in the spring? Should they apply ED II? Let’s take a look at the dynamics surrounding these questions.

Elite Results Leave Applicants Shaken The numbers are in, and they tell us that application volumes are at pandemic levels or higher at many elite institutions, keeping Early Decision acceptance rates low. Take alma mater Brown, for example. With applications up 11 percent, Brown accepted a mere 14.5 percent of the ED pool, which may lead applicants to avoid applying at all in the Regular Decision round. (See Princeton’s comment below.) UVA, whose popularity is at an all-time high with students I counsel, took 25 percent of its out-of-state applicant pool. (The rate for VA residents was 38 percent.)

“‘We know this [acceptance] information raises the anxiety level of prospective students and their families and, unfortunately, may discourage some prospective students from applying.” –Princeton Admissions

ED II: Pitfalls and Opportunities What’s an applicant to do? About six years ago, I wrote a piece for Unigo called “The early bird gets the worm. But should it apply ED II? All the issues scoped out then hold true today:

  1. Students deferred in the ED I round are often denied admission, so ED II may be a smart choice.

  2. Colleges will scrutinize midyear grades as they make ED II and Regular decisions.

  3. A student may apply to only one ED II and must withdraw other applications if admitted. That means no waiting around to see where else they get in.

  4. So there’s no taking the decision lightly. Students should speak to their counselor and parents – and love their ED II choice!

Don’t be fooled by a recent New York Times headline: “Early Decision Isn’t Binding. Let Us Explain.” There’s a reason Ron Lieber’s article appeared in the Your Money section: The only way for a student can get out of an ED acceptance is if the financial package isn’t sufficient.

According to Lieber, NYU just took down a post that said “if you break an early decision agreement, you can’t apply to a different school.” Moreover, he shared, NYU implied that Common App shared decision information! Common App replied, “We do NOT know college or student decisions, let alone share them with anyone.”

Meanwhile, NYU was just slammed in a Wall Street Journal article. The main idea: NYU is too expensive, and too many families have accumulated massive levels of debt for its undergraduate and graduate degrees. NYU, the authors report, has among the largest endowments of U.S. colleges, while “more than half of undergraduates pay full sticker price.” A proposed solution (from NYU): graduate early!

Tap Into Connections? There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for our children, right? That could mean tapping into our networks to see who can help our applicants. Does it work? Based on what I observe with my students, absolutely not. Take note of the following comments from Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment at Cornell:

“In almost four decades of reading applications at three highly selective universities, I have never once recommended or decided to admit a student because one of the recommendation writers was famous or well-connected. So that’s zero out of eleventy-million. I specifically recall we denied students who had letters from billionaires, movie stars, at least one King, and dozens of Congresspeople. There’s in comparison an enormous number of students whose admission I can recall being boosted by heartfelt, thoughtful letters from no-name people in their life who knew the student well and (importantly) ‘liked’ them.”

Big Red has stopped releasing admissions statistics.

The Artsy Side of BC Area students are wild about Boston College, which reinstated its Early Decision program a few years ago. Recently, investor Peter Lynch donated some $20 million of his art collection to his alma mater. The paintings, mainly by American artists, will become part of the McMullen Museum of Art.

BC Eagles: 27 percent of the ED I flock soared.

Over the next few weeks, enjoy some peaceful time away from things you can’t control. Instead, appreciate time with those closest to you. From unCommon Apps to you, all the best in 2022!


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