Last Friday wasn't the most relaxing day for many applicants in the area. Students waited anxiously to hear from their Early Action choices - especially Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and Maryland. Parents tried not to show their emotions. By the end of the night, some were pleased, while others were shocked. As we greet the year of the Tiger, there are more questions than answers. Early Action: Was There Really a Benefit? In my senior cohort this year, no college was more popular than the University of Michigan. Many would argue that the Wolverines have got it all: deep curriculum, top sports and incredible spirit. According to the Michigan Daily, the university accepted about 23 percent of the EA pool, leaving deferred students with an "optional" 250-word essay to be dropped into their applicant portal. Wisconsin asked students to self-report and comment on midyear grades and send off a letter of continued interest. As for Maryland, applicant volume has skyrocketed, resulting in many shocked students who were outright denied admission. Did Maryland really use the 26 review factors and, if so, were some more important than others? Some students are appealing these supposedly holistic decisions.
Terrapins: From appealing to appeal?
A new month means new decisions. UVA reports an EA volume of 31,000 students, who will be notified sometime soon. Mighty marketer Tulane just released a second round of Early Decision notifications, while most colleges will notify Early Decision II applicants in mid-February.
Jefferson's Rotunda in Winter What will happen? We know that Tufts saw a 10 percent rise in ED apps and a 50 percent jump in application volume over the last two years. College counselors know why: test-optional admissions, which continues to provide incentive for students who might have not otherwise have applied. No More Pencil and Paper? Say It Isn't So! As if parents of teens didn't have enough on their minds, College Board greeted us last week with a special announcement: A digital version of the SAT will replace the current paper-and-pencil version. It will become reality for PSAT test-takers in fall 2023 and SAT test-takers in 2024. Here are the key takeaways:
Scoring will still be on a 1600 scale (two sections each for 800 points).
The test will be two rather than three hours.
Reading passages will be shorter.
The test will be somewhat adaptive, meaning questions will change depending on a student's answer.
Students can use a laptop or tablet.
The exams will still be given at centralized sites, not at home.
Scores will be available sooner.
Khan Academy will post practice materials.
Make no mistake about it. College Board is not launching the change to save the environment. They need some way to shake up business and drive market share. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, "In 2020 its fees from programs and services declined to $760 million from $1.05 billion the prior year, according to financial statements. Last January the company laid off about 14% of its employees and eliminated SAT subject tests."
With its digital APs last year and a recent successful test of the digital SAT, College Board is excited. Students quoted on its website praise the ease of use (countdown timer) and the feeling of less stress. No wonder! They don't have to read as much. (A student interviewed by the Journal commented, “What I would tell other students is that you don’t have to practice reading the same way.")
For a pro's take, I turned to test-prep expert Anna Gazumyan, who told me, "I think kids are so used to testing on the computer in school now that it's not really a tough transition for them." Guzumyan remains curious about the transparency of the scoring process for an adaptive test.
With all this change, you may be wondering about the ACT. According to Inspirica Pros, "In some ways, they now have an advantage: over the next couple of years, many students will likely choose to prepare for the ACT rather than offer themselves as test subjects for this new SAT. The ACT has repeatedly proven itself to be the more consistent of the two tests, making only a few notable structural changes over the past 20 years—adding a paired Reading passage, adding an optional essay, and then changing the format of said essay. The SAT, on the other hand, has wholly reinvented itself twice in that time."
SAT is to ACT as . . . Coalition App is to Common App?
Remember analogies? How about the Coalition App? Counselors blasted it. Candidates were frustrated with its lack of flexibility. Institutions like Maryland (again) had enough and turned to the Common App. To save its future - and maybe build some decent alternative - Coalition has joined forces with Scoir and Technolutions, popular application and enrollment software providers. The Coalition explained, "With this new partnership, Scoir students will be able to seamlessly apply to all participating Coalition member institutions without needing to create a separate Coalition account or enter their information on a separate website."
Meanwhile, the Common App announced: “The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2022-2023. Because as we enter the third year of a global pandemic, consistency is not a bad thing.”
Over the last two years, many college students were disappointed about losing their study abroad possibilities - and colleges weren't pleased, either. If your student is contemplating college, RIT has a suggestion: study in Croatia! An article in Inside Higher Ed tells us that RIT is offering students the chance to earn credits while touring precious cities like Rome in a special semester, all for the bargain price of $17,500. (RIT has a Dubrovnik campus.) Attendees can proceed directly to RIT in the spring.
Colleges of Olympians: Who Made the List?
Recently, I put together Best Colleges for Producing U.S. Olympians for College Confidential. If you tune into the winter games, look out for those figure skaters, including Nathan Chen (Yale), Vincent Zhou (Brown) and Karen Chen (Cornell).
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
The Year of the Tiger happens every 12 years. If there's something we're sure about, it's that the business of college has changed since 2010, and it will continue to do so. Don't count on bravery alone to get through this process with your chid; get in touch today to set up a meeting.