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Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Top Chinese Student

August 25, 2014
Top Chinese Students, Chinese Applicants to Ivies, Ivy Chinese Applicants

A top score on an exam in China doesn’t cement your admission to top U.S. universities. No way.

A top Chinese student gets rejected at all of the U.S. universities to which he applies..this is what makes headlines in China! We came across an article in “China Daily” entitled “Top Beijing student fails to get place in the US” that certainly caught our eye. A top student fails to gain admission to highly selective American universities? Color us shocked. If you didn’t already realize, we are being rather sarcastic. After all, thousands of students with perfect or near perfect grades and test scores fail to gain admission to their dream schools year after year. The highly selective college admissions process is a holistic one and being a “top student” certainly does not mean you’ll earn admission. The fact that this warrants a headline in a news article of a major publication makes us giggle. A lot.

The student’s name, according to “China Daily” is apparently Li Taibo and he was apparently denied admission at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and MIT, among others institutions. Even though he scored the top score on the national college entrance exam for science in Beijing. Sarcasm again. Because that matters why, we ask? According to the article on this top Chinese student, “Li, the child of a military researcher and a statistician, said the reasons for his rejection may include his inability to project the best image of himself, a too-well-rounded presentation of his personality without focus and a request for full financial aid.” This could all certainly be true.

Li is also quoted as saying that it’s better to get rejected by Princeton on his own rather than have gotten help from a college admissions consulting firm. Our response? If the alternative was working with a firm in China, he’s s right. Because he likely would have been rejected anyway as they hand him pre-written essays that don’t have anything to do with who he is or what he’s all about. But we happen to think he’d have preferred to gain admission to Princeton with our help than have been denied admission. Wouldn’t you say?

While you’re here, check out this post on the Chinese applying to the Ivy League.

Categories: China University Admission, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Princeton Grade Inflation

August 24, 2014
Grade Inflation at Princeton, Princeton University Grades, Grading at Princeton

Princeton had implemented a grade deflation policy some years ago but that policy looks like it may be on the way out (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

A report recently released by Princeton University on grade inflation indicates that grade inflation remains rampant at the university, despite a grade deflation policy implemented in the mid-2000′s. According to an article on Princeton grade inflation in “The Daily Princetonian,” “The report, which was prepared at the request of University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 after only a few months in office, suggests that the controversial grade deflation policy has had little direct effect on grading. Implementation began in the fall of 2005 at a time when A-grades and GPA averages had decreased significantly already, only to increase unabated soon after the policy was put in practice, the report noted.”

Among academic departments at Princeton, it was the engineering department that best abided by the grade deflation policy. But this grade deflation policy — which has remained in place for several years now — could well be on its way out. As the Princeton president, Christopher Eisgruber, stated to “The Daily Princetonian,” ““I think it’s really important that Princeton be known for the quality of its teaching rather than for the severity of its curve.” Well said indeed. The president is going to meet with Princeton’s faculty committee to discuss the findings of the grade inflation report in September. With grade inflation rampant at Harvard University — and it has been rampant there for years, it was fairly brave of Princeton to implement this policy. After all, a grade deflation policy could have had a negative impact on graduate school admissions, job placement, etc. — all important data for a top university.

Ultimately, Princeton felt they had a problem, they tried something new for some time, reexamined the data, and now they’re likely concluding that how they addressed the problem wasn’t effective. That seems like good leadership and good policy to us. We’re curious to see how they address grading from here at one of America’s most prestigious universities.

While you’re here, read about admission to Princeton.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Growth of ACT

August 23, 2014
Rise of ACT, ACT Rise, ACT Growth, Growth of the ACT Exam

More and more students are taking the ACT — the majority of graduating American high schoolers in fact.

The trend continues…more and more students are taking the ACT. According to a recently released national score report, 1.84 million high schoolers who graduated in 2014 took the ACT exam. And that’s a new record. In fact, 57% of 2014 graduates across the country took the ACT. That’s even three percent more than in 2013, when 54% of graduating students took the college entrance exam. And which states have been major contributors to the growth of the ACT, you ask? Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Tennessee…because these states require students to take the exam as part of assessment programs. That has to be a punch to the gut for the College Board. But Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Rhode Island still favor the SAT.

According to an article in “The Examiner” on the growth of the ACT, “And why has the ACT suddenly become so popular even where it’s not used for statewide assessment? Perhaps it’s because the test is considered by many to be more ‘consumer friendly’ than competing College Board products. And at a number of colleges, the ACT with Writing may be substituted for both the SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests—saving the test-taker time, money, and aggravation. But more important to college applicants is the fact that virtually every college and university in the country will accept either the ACT or the SAT. Because the tests are interchangeable, students may elect to submit scores from whichever test they choose—usually the one on which they scored best.”

What do you think of the rise of the ACT? Why do you think more and more students are choosing to take the ACT as opposed to the SAT? Do you think the changes to the SAT will lead more students to take this exam? We’re curious to hear your thoughts. So let us know what you think by posting a Comment below!

Categories: SAT / ACT Prep, Standardized Testing Tags: , , , ,

Color Blind Admissions

August 22, 2014
Color Blind Admission, Admission Color Blind, University Color Blind Admission

An applicant’s economic circumstances are absolutely taken into account in college admissions.

There is an editorial on the pages of “The Duke Chronicle” entitled “Color Blind Admissions” written by Pallavi Shankar that we found to be an interesting read. Shankar believes it’s unjust that a underrepresented minority applicant with the same background and from the same privilege as a Caucasian applicant has an edge. As he writes, “Equating minority races with disadvantaged backgrounds is problematic. Consider two applicants with similar upbringings—one white, one an underrepresented minority—who are from the same middle-class neighborhood, attended the same high school, earned similar grades and test scores and participated in similar activities. The URM is favored because he will increase the university’s diversity index. But is he truly contributing to the diversity of the student body? His experiences are similar to those of his peers at home, not those of struggling, low-income members of his race. Yet he would also be considered a better applicant on paper than they. He has an advantage over both groups.”

Mr. Shankar is right. The URM does indeed have an advantage over a similar Caucasian applicant from the same high school. Is that unfair? Yes. Is it the way it is? Yes. So we recommend just accepting this and playing within the system to achieve your dream of gaining admission to a highly selective college. Do admissions officers care about one’s advantages in life? They sure do. An African American student who grew up without much opportunity because of her economic circumstances will have an advantage in the admissions process to highly selective colleges as well not in spite of her disadvantages — but rather because of them. So while a URM from privilege does have an advantage over a Caucasian applicant from privilege, that doesn’t mean a URM from poor economic circumstances doesn’t have an advantage over both applicants.

We suspect Mr. Shankar understand this and was trying to articulate this in his editorial. We just wanted to make the point clearer for our audience. And we hope to hear our readers’ thoughts on this subject. So post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write you back!

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Duke Admissions Yield

August 21, 2014
Duke Yield, Yield at Duke, Duke University Yield

This year, the Duke admissions yield is the highest in 35 years.

The Duke yield statistic for 2014 is the highest it has been since 1979. With 47.7% of students admitted to Duke University choosing to matriculate, this marks an increase in the yield rate of over 2% from the same time last year. And the yield rate is up 5% from just two years ago. That’s a significant bump. As we’ve written about on our blog for years, the number of applicants to Duke University is often invariably — and however unfairly as Duke is a renowned academic institution — tied to how far the Duke men’s basketball team advances in March Madness. But yield doesn’t necessarily follow suit as well. As you may recall, Mercer beat Duke in this year’s March Madness, marking one of the biggest upsets in sports in 2014. But the yield rate for 2014 is the highest in 35 years.

According to an article on the Duke admissions yield in “The Duke Chronicle,” “The uptick is due to more students admitted via early decision—a record 47 percent of the class—as well as a slight increase in regular decision yield, [Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph] Guttentag said. The incoming freshmen are also responsible for another milestone—more than half of them are students of color, a first for Duke. ‘It goes without saying that we’re pleased,’ Guttentag said. ‘I think it’s a reflection of how the institution presents itself to prospective students and their families, I think it’s a reflection of the quality of the education, I think it’s a reflection of the commitment to diversity.’ The class includes record numbers of Asian students, Latino/a students and international students—with 495, 159 and 183 students, respectively. There are also 75 students admitted from a waitlist of more than 1,000. The University aims to admit a few students from the waitlist each year, Guttentag noted. There was a slight shift in the class’s geographic make-up. North Carolina, California, New York and Florida retained their spots as the four most popular states, and Texas took fifth place for the first time, replacing New Jersey.”

But how does Duke’s yield rate stack up against the eight Ivy League institutions? Not so well. The Ivies all regularly have yield rates of 50% or higher. This is also true at other highly selective colleges not in the Ivy League such as Stanford and the University of Chicago. Why do you think that is? Let us know your thoughts on the Duke admissions yield by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

And, while you’re here, read about March Madness and College Admissions.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Sharing Your True Self in College Essays

August 20, 2014
True Self in College Essays, College Essays and True Self Concept, Self and College Admissions Essays

Don’t write about watching every episode of “Vampire Diaries” in your college essays. Even if it’s what you watch every week on TV. Even if it’s sharing your true self.

On occasion, students and their parents will very matter of factly tell us that they want to share their true selves in their Common Application Personal Statement. That’s great! Sharing who you are and what you’re all about is so very important in this college essay. But only to a point. If sharing your true self means writing about how you watch “Vampire Diaries” and “Orange Is The New Black” when you come home from school, consider not sharing your true self. If sharing your true self means writing about how you delight in breaking the law, don’t share your true self. If sharing your true self means writing about your crush on the prettiest girl at school, don’t share your true self.

Just as in dating, what you present to admissions officers — and how you present it — matters a great deal. Don’t give them information that will be used against you! Give them information that will inspire them to want to go to bat for you, to push for you should your application go to committee. Don’t share details about yourself — however true — that paint you negatively, that portray you as arrogant, disrespectful, unlikable, or dishonest. It’s the precise opposite of what you should be doing in all of your many college admissions essays.

So by all means offer college admissions officers a window into your world. Take a chance. Don’t write about something boring. Don’t write about grandpa or about that soccer game in which your team came back from being down big. Write about something interesting. Demonstrate your intellectual curiosity in your college essays. Demonstrate your passions — so long as such passions will help your case in admissions. A passion for violence will not help your case! But just be mindful that this window into your world helps rather than hurts your chances for admission.

Categories: College Essays Tags: , , , ,

Procrastinating and College Essays

August 19, 2014
Procrastination and College Essays, Procrastination and Ivy League Essays, Admissions Essays

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to writing your college admissions essays. Start working with The Ivy Coach today.

It’s August 19th. It’s almost time to go back to school. In certain parts of the country, the new school year has already begun. If you are now a high school senior and you haven’t begun working on your many college admissions essays, there is no time like the present. As the school year begins and you get inundated with homework assignments, papers to write, tests to take, SATs to retake, etc., you just won’t want to be working on all of these admissions essays. If you think you can knock them out overnight, you can’t. The best writing is about rewriting and that takes time. It also can take time to brainstorm essay topics as that first idea that pops into your head quite often isn’t very good at all.

If you’re the parent of a high school senior, we urge you to not let your child procrastinate. They can procrastinate about eating their broccoli. They can procrastinate about leaving for swim practice. But don’t procrastinate about crafting powerful college admissions essays that can sway admissions officers at highly selective colleges to not only want to admit them but to want to fight for them should their application go to committee. Admissions officers can’t fight for every applicant. A student has to supply them with the material necessary to inspire them to want to root for you, to champion you.

And that kind of material doesn’t come about overnight. That kind of material doesn’t come about sandwiched in between studying for a chemistry test and preparing to retake SAT Subject Tests. So reach out to us today for a free consultation so we can get started helping you craft college admissions essays that will set you apart from the thousands of other applicants to the colleges to which you seek to gain admission. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: College Essays Tags: , , , ,

Bad Counselor Letter of Recommendation

August 18, 2014
Counselor Letter of Rec, Counselor Letters of Recommendation, School Counselor Letter of Rec

A parent on the San Diego Unified School District school board is suing the district for a school counselor’s letter of recommendation on behalf of her child. The parent believes the letter willfully damaged her child’s admissions chances. Oy vey.

At The Ivy Coach, we help our students help their teachers and their school counselors write their letters of recommendation. How exactly do we do that? The vast majority of teachers and school counselors don’t want to devote a good portion of their summer months to writing letters of recommendation for their students. It’s tiresome. It’s boring. It’s unpaid work and, often times, the students aren’t even appreciative (we always encourage our students to be so appreciative!). So we help our students help their teachers and school counselors save valuable time. We work with our students on crafting bullet points (in full sentences of course) that our students email to their teachers and school counselors with a note along the lines of: “Just in case it might be helpful, I’ve put together…” You get the idea.

Why is this important? Well, it’s a student’s best shot of getting great information in these letters of recommendation as — quite often — teachers and counselors will just click copy and then click paste. In our years of experience, we find this happens the vast majority of the time. Humans like shortcuts. It’s not unethical. It’s just helpful. And it’s smart. So, today, when we came across a news story in which a family (the mother, interestingly, is a school board vice president) is suing a San Diego school district because a school counselor’s letter of recommendation “willfully damaged” the student’s admissions chances, all we could think about was how the parents clearly don’t read our college admissions blog. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve offered advice on teacher and counselor letters of recommendation!

According to an article on the bad counselor letter of recommendation in “UT San Diego,” “The complaint accuses the head counselor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts of submitting the Universal College Application, known as the Common App, an an evaluation of the student that was ‘inaccurate, willfully damaging, unprofessional and ultimately violated (the student’s) civil rights and (San Diego Unified) standards.’…[Marne] Foster, [the parent and school board vice president], reportedly requested a copy of the confidential evaluation after learning that her son’s longtime counselor was excluded from writing the assessment.”

This problem could have been easily avoided! Oy vey.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Best Colleges for Food

August 17, 2014
Best Food at Colleges, Best College Food, College Food

Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Penn, Harvard, Yale, and Cornell were ranked among the 75 best food schools in the country.

“The Daily Meal” has a college ranking that details the best colleges for food. Just what we need…another college ranking, right? Well, we figured we’d know how accurate the ranking is by seeing where Cornell University lands on the list as Cornell is known to have excellent campus food options. After all, they’ve got the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

We’re not going to list the top 75 best colleges for food as ranked by “The Daily Meal” but we will point out some of the highly selective colleges that made the list. Boston College, College of William & Mary, Colby College, Stanford University, Tufts University, Middlebury College, Princeton University, Brown University, Wesleyan University, Bates College, University of Chicago, Connecticut College, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Pennsylvania, University of California – Berkeley, Pitzer College, MIT, Harvard University, Yale University, Vanderbilt University, UCLA, Cornell University (ranking #12), Emory University, Duke University, New York University, Northwestern University, and to round out the top three…

Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and Bowdoin College. According to “The Daily Meal,” “We have used much of the same criteria as last year’s list, but this time around we considered the food scene of the surrounding area in our ranking. Students like to get off campus every once in a while, and if the food offered around the schools was easily accessible and highly rated, that was a contributing factor in the overall rating of colleges. We also didn’t consider student feedback this year because we didn’t want school pride to interfere with the ranking. We wanted our ranking to be based on quantifiable criteria that would really determine the best colleges for food without passionate students and alumni skewing the list.”

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Dartmouth Employee Salaries

August 16, 2014
Dartmouth Salaries, Employee Salaries at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College Salaries

Which Dartmouth employee took in the highest salary in 2013 you ask? It was Dartmouth’s chief investment officer, as reported by “The Dartmouth.”

“The Dartmouth” has a very interesting video up on “YouTube” that lists the ten highest paid Dartmouth employees. The list — and the order of the list in particular — may surprise you. The data hails from Dartmouth’s IRS Form 990 for fiscal year 2013. Anyhow, the tenth highest paid Dartmouth employee is the university’s general counsel, Robert Donin. Donin took in $470,080 for the 2013 fiscal year. Next comes former Dartmouth College president James Wright. Wright took in $574,342 in 2013. This salary, it should be noted, was after his presidency had concluded as he was not Dartmouth’s president in 2013. Placing eighth is Pino Audia, a professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business. Audia took in $627,647 in 2013.

Placing seventh is Sydney Finkelstein, associate dean for executive education at the Tuck School of Business. Finkelstein raked in $666,901 in 2013. Placing sixth is Carol Folt, who served as interim president in 2013 (she’s now chancellor at UNC). Folt took in $699,742 in fiscal year 2013. In fifth is Richard Freeman, Jr. Freeman took in $734,112 in 2013 while serving as chair of the department of surgery at the Geisel School (Dartmouth’s medical school named after Dr. Seuss and his wife). In fourth is Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communication at Tuck. He took in $776,158 in 2013. In third is Paul Danos, dean of the Tuck School of Business. He took in $794,155 in 2013. Placing second is Chip Souba, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine. He took in $899,766 in 2013. And in first place, the highest paid Dartmouth College employee for 2013 is…Pamela Freedin, chief investment officer. That seems to make logical sense! She raked in $1,060,844 as the only College on the Hill employee to top a million in salary for the year.

Does it surprise you that the president of Dartmouth would make less than professors at Tuck? Does the overrepresentation of Tuck School of Business employees on this list jump out at you? Why do you think that is? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,