The Common App Opens in Less Than Two Weeks!

Parents and educators have heard the term summer slide. Will students forget what they’ve learned? Will virtual learning make the phenomenon worse? But rising seniors applying to college know better. They’re moving their way up the learning curve, and with each edit of their Personal Essay and each attempt at a supplemental essay, they’ll get better. But there are stress-inducing issues they just can’t control. Testing: A Downward Slope Tests a No-Go? Over the last few weeks, many unCommon parents shared with me that the July ACT had been cancelled. They were understandably upset; their students were left frustrated and demotivated. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Ed, a majority of rising seniors have yet to take their tests (about two-thirds of seniors for SAT; three-quarters for the ACT). On its website, ACT says that registration for September and October exams will open in late July; it’s scrapped plans for section retesting. College Board is hoping for a successful August 29, 2020, SAT. Let’s see what happens – and be prepared for a whole new level of holistic admissions.  What’s an applicant to do? My advice: Focus on the essays instead! Get in touch if your student needs a refresh or a jumpstart! More Public Research Universities Join Their Test-Optional Peers The last few weeks saw some big names go test-optional.  University of Maryland and CU Boulder, two university systems very popular with my students, made the list. Now If only UMD would get rid of the Coalition App!

“The Admission Committee uses a holistic, full-file review. This means the Committee will consider all factors of your application including grades earned in academic coursework, trends in your grades, your performance in honors, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement . . . your letters of recommendation, your essay, extracurricular activities and other achievements.”     –UMD Admissions Meanwhile, Michigan issued a confusing test-flexible policy. While U-M statesthat “students will be considered regardless of their ability to test or provide test scores,” it adds that “if by the deadline a student is unable to sit for and submit an SAT I or ACT test score, they may choose to submit any standardized testing result (PSAT, Pre-ACT, AP’s, etc.).”  What’s up, Wolverines? We all know that many students don’t take those preliminary tests seriously, and their critical reading skills aren’t as developed. And APs? They were reduced to quick online versions this year. (Results are available this week, by the way.)

At the same time, NCAA basketball coaches have had it with testing. (NCAA DI and DII recruits up until now have needed to meet thresholds for testing.) A WSJ article cites coaches’ rage at the inherent unfairness of testing, though College Board reacted by stating that “any objective measure of student achievement would shine a light on inequalities in the education system.” ACT asserted that “research on the test shows that scores are a valid predictor of future college success, overall and in particular for underserved students.'” Applying: An Upward Trajectory Personal Essay Questions unCommon students know that I push them hard to get the Personal Essay done by August 1. That way, they can launch their array of supplemental essays. (See below.) I challenge applicants to raise the level of their essays. They will matter! Supplemental Questions Even through the Common App and Coalition App don’t open for business until August 1, colleges are already releasing supplemental essay questions, a favorite of this college counselor. A few weeks ago, I shared the new Human Centered engineering major at the ever-popular Boston College. Those applicants will have to address: 

“One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College strives to develop people who will integrate technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. How would a Boston College engineering education enable you to contribute towards these goals?”

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