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While UW-Madison 2020 graduates, BC and Georgia Tech share admissions insights

Readers come to this blog to understand the ins and outs of the college application process. Over last weekend, I had the opportunity to witness the other side of the experience: the college graduation. In this case, it was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where the sun shone brightly over the Class of


As I walked around the campus, I saw students and parents full of joy, all smiles as they posed for photos on Bascom Hill. Later, in football venue Camp Randall Stadium, there were speakers, caps and gowns – and, since it was Wisconsin, plenty of jumping around. It was a glorious day capped off by events around Madison.

Which Prospective Eagles Soar? Earlier this month, I shared the takeaways about applying to U Texas Austin, especally the fit-fo-major expectation. Last week, Grant Gosselin, Director of Admission at Boston College, joined an IECA webinar to share developments affecting the admissions cycle. He discussed BC’s future-focused programs in Human-Centered Engineering and Human Development, a psychology and education hybrid that looks at “how people think and work.”

At BC, Gosselin explained, applying ED is the “ultimate form of demonstrated interest.” The university took about 48 percent of last year’s class from its two rounds of ED, an acceptance rate of 39 percent. (That rate dropped to 17 percent for Regular Decision.) Gosselin pointed out that there are enrollment goals for each college, and students would only be accepted to the college they specified. (Other universities may take a different approach.) Regarding testing, 60 percent of last year’s admitted students submitted scores (1430-1510; 33-34 midranges).

Speaking of demonstrated interest, WashU, another popular university with New Jersey students, announced a policy change: “WashU will no longer consider demonstrated interest (such as visiting campus, attending an event, or emailing with a member of the admissions staff) as a factor in making admission decisions or in the admission decision process.” To find out more about demonstrating interest, get in touch.

BC accepted 39% ED in 2020-21

Did the Lions Roar? Remember Capital One College Bowl, the trivia revival pitting college against college? A few weeks ago, audiences were treated to the finale, in which Columbia topped USC. Winners each earned $125,000, though Capital One made sure no competitors left empty-handed. For host Peyton Manning, it’s on to Monday Night Football with brother Eli, a win for football fans desiring an escape from traditional commentators. Speaking of football, what’s going on at Indiana University? Apparently a new tradition consists of ripping a bleacher from the student section. Hopefully, they’re not teaching that at the Kelley School of Business, a popular target with prospective Hoosiers.

Teaming Up at Georgia Tech No admissions offices follow the same process. But for unCommon families, it’s always helpful to understand what goes on. In her admission blog, Georgia Tech’s Samantha Rose-Sinclair shares that:

  1. Applications are reviewed by a team, with one reader adding insight related to the applicant’s geography and another looking holistically at essays, activities and other honors.

  2. Sometimes extra reviews happen, for example, by a particular department.

  3. There are many small committees at work simultaneously.

  4. The administration may share information on its goals and priorities.

“It takes months of adjustments while reviewing the whole pool to come to our collective final decisions.” – Georgia Tech

Just Say No to U.S. News and Other Media!

It’s hard to find a college counselor who has much respect for college ratings. We know they’re all about marketing, when it should be about a breakaway institution for your student. Last week, college counselors slammed U.S. News for still factoring in SAT and ACT scores and raving about the very same colleges it had before test-optional became the new norm.

At the Wisconsin graduation, a speaker cited that Wisconsin was up there with Stanford, MIT, Duke and Harvard on Washington Monthly’s list of top national universities. Unlike U.S. News, the Monthly “rates institutions of higher learning on the degree to which they recruit and graduate students of modest means, produce the scholarship and scholars that drive economic growth and human flourishing, and encourage students to be active citizens and serve their country.” If you follow these things, remember that every student’s story is different.

Say No to SAT Writing, Too!

Applicants will not have to report SAT or ACT writing scores – even if they took the test and report their results for other sections. According to the Common App,

“If you don’t want to report your ACT or SAT writing scores when they are optional, please use the following steps. In the Testing section of your Common App tab, answer ‘No’ to the following questions:

Have you taken the ACT plus Writing test?

Have you taken the SAT essay?

This will ensure that you do not have to enter SAT or ACT writing scores.”

In “The Will to Test in a Test-Optional Era,” just published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, we again read that colleges put more emphasis on other components of the application process. “ACT and SAT scores have long carried more weight in admissions than plenty of critics thought they should, but, generally speaking, less weight than many people have long assumed,” writes Eric Hoover. He follows the journeys of students who decided not to test and the role testing had played previously on their mindset. Hoover also cited the iconic Dean J at University of Virginia. ““The test is a small piece of the puzzle compared with the other pieces,” she says. “We don’t use the testing piece to cover up a hole somewhere else.”

As we move through the process, it’s good to pull back and look at the bigger picture. That’s the message shared by Pat Connaughton, the Notre Dame grad on the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks’ championship team who was the U Wisconsin keynoter, “We all have the potential to be superheroes in different ways, but it’s the journey that makes it worth it. The superheroes I’ve witnessed over the last decade, they didn’t focus on the results. They focused on the process of getting better at their craft and being better people and enjoying the journey on a daily basis.”

If you have questions this academic year, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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