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Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Common App Shakeup

April 15, 2014
Shakeup at Common App, Common Application Shakeup, Change at Common App

There has been a shakeup at the top of the Common App.

If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we’ve been very tough on the Common Application this year, even questioning whether or not the company is restraining trade. We can’t think of a year in which the company has made more mistakes and experienced more public embarrassments than this past college admissions cycle. And so it should come as no surprise that the person at the helm of the Common App. for the last decade, Rob Killion, is out and a new interim CEO has been appointed. The new interim CEO is Paul B. Mott, a Dartmouth alumnus who is a former Williams College assistant director of admissions and, most recently, marketing and communications consultant to Stanford’s office of undergraduate admissions.

According to an article on the Common App. change in leadership in “The Examiner,” “In an email forwarded to Common App members, Thyra Briggs, president of the board of directors and vice president for admission and financial aid at Harvey Mudd College, quotes colleagues who describe Mr. Mott as ‘smart, thoughtful, analytical and a clear communicator.’ She goes on to characterize him as a ‘leader in organizations going through transition.’” Well, the Common App. is certainly an organization going through transition. That’s one way to put it!

This past year, thousands of high school students attempting to submit their applications to colleges experienced glitches with their applications. Thousands submitted help tickets to the Common App. only to get no responses. Thousands tried to click ‘save’ when the Common App. tried to shut down by itself only for these students to realize…there was no ‘save’ button! These are but a couple of the many, many mistakes the Common App. made this year that severely damaged their reputation and cost them some marketshare.

The appointment of a new CEO — even an interim one — is good news for high school applicants and for colleges across the country. The Common App. needs to make some major changes and it should start at the very top. This is a good indicator that they’re listening to our criticism. But, then again, we already knew they were!

Categories: College Admissions, The Application Tags: , , , ,

Brown Legacy Admissions

April 14, 2014
Brown Admission, Legacy Admission at Brown, Brown University Legacies

Many Brown students will not admit publicly that they support legacy admission. That doesn’t mean these same Brown don’t support the practice.

At Brown University, 17.6% of students strongly disagree with the consideration of legacy status in admissions decisions at the university. Additionally, 32.5% of students somewhat disagree with the consideration, 19.3% have no opinion, 24.5% somewhat agree, and 6% strongly agree. As stated in an article on Brown legacy admissions in “The Brown Daily Herald,” “Just over half of undergraduates disagree with the consideration of legacy status in the University’s admission decisions, according to the results of a Herald poll conducted March 3–­4. About 30 percent of students agree with the use of legacy status  — having a parent, grandparent or sibling who attended Brown — in admission, and 19 percent have no opinion. Legacy students and varsity athletes were more likely to support legacy status’ use in admission, while those receiving financial aid from the University were less likely to do so.”

Well that’s a real shocker — legacy students and varsity athletes were more likely to support the consideration of legacy status in admissions decisions at Brown while those who receive financial aid were less likely to support such consideration. Here’s a question we’d like to pose to those students strongly disagreeing with the use of legacy admission at Brown who receive financial aid: Where oh where do they think their financial aid is coming from? Much of it comes from donors. It does not come out of thin air. And, while we have argued in the past that legacy admission may actually be a violation of tax law since donors are in fact often receiving something for their tax-deductible donations (their children have higher odds of admission), it’s currently legal and to not give these students an advantage in the applicant pool risks a school’s financial security. That’s not a good thing!

We’d also like to point out that just as many students don’t want to acknowledge publicly that they had help from a private college counselor in getting into a highly selective college like Brown University, many students would not choose to acknowledge publicly that they support the notion of the children of rich people getting into college. In an age where college graduates often take jobs working for non-profits instead of high-paying jobs on Wall Street, it’s just not considered cool to express support for legacy admission. But that doesn’t mean they don’t really support it. Especially if they got into Brown with a little help from Mommy and Daddy’s donations to their alma mater.

Categories: College Admissions, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

College Admission Is Not Random

April 13, 2014
College Admissions Is Not Random, Admission Is Not Random, University Admissions Is Not Random

There are some who argue that college admissions is a “crap shoot.” They’re wrong.

College admission is not random.” There’s an article in “The Washington Post” by Valerie Strauss entitled, “Can we stop obsessing on the Ivy League?” that we figured we’d draw to the attention of our readers. In this piece, Ms. Strauss states, “College admissions have become something akin to a crap shoot. It used to be that college admissions counselors could predict which students would get in where. Now they can’t.” That is definitely, 100% not true. We aim to correct misconceptions on our college admissions blog and in this quote, we’ve got two misconceptions: 1.) College admissions is certainly not a “crap shoot” and 2.) College admissions counselors can certainly predict with good accuracy which students will get in where. We do it all the time at The Ivy Coach.

College admission isn’t random. Does the ‘A’ student with perfect SAT scores always get into Harvard and Princeton? Absolutely not! These students — quite often — are rejected from schools like Harvard and Princeton because their applications aren’t strong in other areas. Does that mean admission to Harvard and Princeton is random? No! A strong hook, great essays, terrific letters of recommendation — these are variables that too factor into a student’s application. To suggest that college admissions — or highly selective college admissions — is random is misleading and erroneous.

And, yes, we sure can predict if a student will get into a school like, say, Duke. With top grades and ACT scores and an essay about learning what it’s like to grow up poor through a service trip in Uganda, it is our prediction based on this evidence alone that this student will not gain admission to Duke. And, yes, since the grades and ACT scores are top notch, our prediction has everything to do with that terrible choice for an essay topic. Showing interest in a university is also a variable to account for. If a student never shows interest in Dartmouth and Dartmouth believes the student will get admitted to Harvard, there is a very good chance that student won’t get into Dartmouth, in spite of getting into Harvard. Dartmouth wants students who have intentions of matriculating as this positively impacts their yield statistic. This all contributes to our larger point — college admission isn’t random. It’s not a “crap shoot.” And it’s quite easy in fact to predict if a student will get into a certain highly selective college if you account properly for all variables. And, at The Ivy Coach, we take into account all variables.

While you’re here, read about how Ivy League Admission Isn’t Random.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Admission Stats at Dartmouth

April 12, 2014
Dartmouth Stats, Dartmouth Admission Stats, Dartmouth Admissions Statistics, Statistics for Dartmouth Admissions

Admission stats at Dartmouth are down this year. But why is the question.

There’s an article in “The New York Times” by Laura Pappano entitled, “Ivy League Ups and (Yes) Downs” that we wanted to share with our readers. In the piece on Ivy League admission rates, Pappano writes how applications to the University of Pennsylvania rose by about 14% this year and fell by about as much at Dartmouth College. Many folks have wondered why Dartmouth’s applications were down this year and this particular piece includes a quote from Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid that we thought interesting.

As quoted in the piece on Ivy League admissions stats in “The New York Times,” “‘We are doing some work to understand why,’ says Maria Laskaris, Dartmouth dean of admissions and financial aid. For one, there are fewer applicants from the Northeast and Midwest, mirroring declining pools of high school students in the regions. And with most attending college within 200 miles of home, she says, ‘there are fewer students in our own backyard.’ Dartmouth’s reputation has also taken a hit over charges that it has failed to combat sexual violence on campus, spurring the president last month to propose a new sexual assault disciplinary policy.”

The fact is, though, are fewer applicants from the Northeast applying to colleges shouldn’t just be reflected in Dartmouth’s admissions statistics. If that’s the case, the University of Pennsylvania is in the Northeast as well so why weren’t their admissions statistics reflective of this demographic shift? Their backyard should have fewer students to pull from too and yet their applications were up 14%. As to the other possible causes for the decline in applications to Dartmouth, it could be the issue of sexual violence on campus. It could be the piece in “Rolling Stone” in which a former Dartmouth student sharply criticized the institution through his story of being a member of a Dartmouth fraternity. It could be lots of things. Until data miners mine the admissions data at the school, it’s still all just speculation.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

NYT on College Admissions

April 11, 2014
New York Times and Admissions, Ivy League and NYT, Ivy League Admission and New York Times

“The New York Times” has a piece on highly selective college admissions, featuring an amusing quote by the Dean of Admissions at Stanford (photo credit: King of Hearts).

There was recently an article in “The New York Times” entitled “Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95%” that we figured we’d discuss for the readers of our college admissions blog. The article essentially details how competitive it is to get into highly selective colleges like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale. Gasp. Who knew? This is certainly breaking news, just like all of the latest happenings announced on “CNN’s” coverage of the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight. Yes, we’re being a bit sarcastic. There isn’t much interesting in this article. Admission rates are dropping at highly selective colleges and high school students are applying to more colleges than ever before.

But just because admission rates are dropping, it doesn’t mean it’s getting more selective. More students applying to a college, as we’ve said many times before, doesn’t make that school more competitive. Applicants with ‘D’ averages and subpar SAT scores don’t make it more difficult for the ‘A’ student with near-perfect SAT scores to get in. It’s that simple. The one line that we found interesting is at the bottom of the article, a quote by Stanford’s Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw. This is how it’s written in the piece: “Mr. Shaw, the Stanford dean, said he could not predict where the rates would bottom out — in fact, he never expected them to go as low as they have. ‘Honestly,’ he said, ‘I’m sort of in shock.’”

Our response to Mr. Shaw’s comment? That’s silly, Richard. Richard Shaw is a respected, seasoned highly selective college admissions officer. Before he ran admissions at Stanford, he ran admissions at Yale. Admission rates have been dropping for years, though this is not an indicator that admissions is getting more competitive year after year for the reasoned outlined above. He certainly wasn’t “shocked” that Stanford admitted so few students this year. It’s a trend a long time coming. And he’s one of the leaders selecting the applicants! He definitely wasn’t shocked.

Categories: College Admissions, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Dartmouth Admission Statistics

April 10, 2014
Dartmouth Stats, Dartmouth Statistics, Statistics for Dartmouth Admission

Dartmouth admission statistics were a bit down this year, but the college shouldn’t be worried too much.

As you may know from reading our college admissions blog, Dartmouth College, which just received its biggest gift in its history with an anonymous $100 million donation, didn’t have its finest year in admissions in that the College on the Hill received fewer applications, leading the admission rate to rise rather than lower. Our Founder, Bev Taylor, was quoted extensively in an article of “The Dartmouth” on the topic of the drop in applications to the university. Yes, Dartmouth admission statistics were down this year. There have been some that have speculated that the drop in applications to Dartmouth is a result of negative publicity the school has received in the last couple of years, including most notably a “Rolling Stone” article that centered on a former student with an axe to grind against the very school that mistakenly offered him admission. The admissions office didn’t get that one right. But, hey, neither did Harvard with Ted Kaczynski. That’s right. Harvard may have admitted many Nobel Laureates over the years, but they also admitted The Unibomber.

Anyhow, there was recently an article in “The Wall Street Journal” that focused on a few students at Dartmouth who feel they’re being oppressed. According to the article entitled “Oppressed by the Ivy League,” “On Tuesday Dartmouth’s finest seized the main administration building and disrupted college business. The squatters were allowed to remain until Thursday night, when the dean of the college negotiated and signed an exit settlement assuring them the non-dialogue would continue. The demonstrators had a 72-point manifesto instructing the college to establish pre-set racial admission quotas and a mandatory ethnic studies curriculum for all students. Their other inspirations are for more ‘womyn or people of color’ faculty; covering sex change operations on the college health plan (‘we demand body and gender self-determination’); censoring the library catalog for offensive terms; and installing ‘gender-neutral bathrooms’ in every campus facility, specifically including sports locker rooms.”

First off, what are “womyn”? We’ve never heard that one before! If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we have been highlighting LGBT-friendly college campuses for years and saluting colleges that make these universities more welcoming towards LGBT students. We also point out colleges that do just the opposite and are not good places for LGBT students, to keep these colleges honest as conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly might say. But this ridiculous demonstration is a reflection on the naiveté and disrespect of the student demonstrators, not of Dartmouth. Any school is going to have some crazy students they admit who will pretend they’re outraged because the dessert line in the dining hall takes too long. Don’t blame Dartmouth for a few bad apples. Every college has them and Dartmouth is among the finest schools in the land.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Race in College Admissions Enforcer

April 9, 2014
Race in Admissions, Admissions and Race, Race in University Admission

One lawyer has become a crusader against race in college admissions. He was profiled recently in “The New York Times.”

There was an article in “The New York Times” a couple of days ago entitled “Unofficial Enforcer of Ruling on Race in College Admissions” written by Adam Liptak that we wanted to bring to the attention of our readers. Essentially, the lawyer who argued the case for Abigail Fisher against the University of Texas before the United States Supreme Court has threatened colleges that they will be embroiled in litigation should they choose to continue race-based college admissions practices. As he is quoted in the piece on race in college admissions in “The New York Times,” “Those universities that continue using race-based affirmative action will likely find themselves embroiled in costly and polarizing litigation.” Guess his prediction from June hasn’t held true yet!

This lawyer by the name of Edward Blum is trying to get former high school students to sue the colleges that denied them admission — in spite of their great grades and SAT scores — because of their race. As we can see it, a major issue that Mr. Blum will face is that countless students are denied admission to highly selective colleges each and every year in spite of perfect or near-perfect scores and grades. The highly selective college admissions process is a holistic one. A student with great grades who can’t write a powerful, moving statement isn’t going to have a chance against the student with great grades who submits excellent college essays. And that’s only for starters. Who in their right mind would volunteer to be a part of Mr. Blum’s crusade? We see what’s in it for him. It makes him a legal crusader with profiles in “The New York Times” but what’s in it for the student? Years after the case is over, when one Googles the young man who chose to sue, this will pop up. Does a student really want a future employer to know he tried to sue the college that denied him admission? Likely not.

Do highly selective colleges discriminate against applicants based on race? Absolutely! Asian and Asian American applicants, for instance, are discriminated against year after year at many highly selective universities. But are the lawsuits of Edward Blum going to do anything about that? Likely not. Will it give him publicity? Oh yes. He’s already secured that…

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Who You Know in College Admissions

April 8, 2014
Who You Know in Ivy Admission, Ivy Admission About Who You Know, Contact in Ivy League

Only an unscrupulous private college counselor will say that they’ll use their contacts to help your child gain admission.

Is it about who you know in college admissions? We get a lot of callers at The Ivy Coach. We much prefer that parents and students fill out our consultation form and then we will schedule a time for a free 20-minute consultation. When you call directly without first filling out the consult form, we’re basically just going to repeat this. With a lot of callers, it goes without saying that we get some crazy callers. And we get others that simply don’t have a clue about the highly selective college admissions process…but think they know it all. Those are the absolute worst.

Just the other day, a parent called to see if we could help his son get off a highly selective college waitlist. Why of course we can. We do it all the time. But this particular parent didn’t want to use our services. He wasn’t interested in our helping his son craft a powerful letter of enthusiasm. He wasn’t interested in our advice in what to do after the letter of enthusiasm is submitted. All he wanted us to do was use our connections at the Ivy League college that waitlisted his son to get him off the list.

That is utterly ridiculous! We will never, ever do this. Do we have contacts in highly selective college admissions offices? Of course we do! Everyone in college admissions knows The Ivy Coach. But as the leading private college counseling firm in the world, our job is to go unnoticed by admissions officers. If we do our job right — and we always do — admissions officers at the highly selective colleges will never know that you sought our help. Any private college counselor who says that he or she will use contacts in admissions offices to help your child gain admission, that counselor is unscrupulous and should be avoided at all cost!

Have a question for us on the topic of who you know in college admissions? Post a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

College Waiting List

April 7, 2014
College Waiting Lists, University Waiting Lists, Ivy League Waiting Lists

Doing nothing is as unlikely a strategy as any to get you off a college waiting list.

If you are a student on a college waiting list, know that it is still not too late to try to fight your way off that waiting list and earn a spot in the incoming class. Were you planning on doing nothing and waiting to see if luck would be on your side as you hope to get off the Harvard waiting list? Guess what — if you do nothing, we are quite certain that luck will not be on your side. Getting off a highly selective college waiting list is absolutely not about luck. It is about being proactive and it’s about being proactive the right way. That means it’s not about going into an admissions office and begging an admissions officer to let you in. It’s not about giving her cookies either. And yet people do foolish things like this all of the time. Yikes!

Our students at The Ivy Coach would never make such mistakes. Our students — who often come to us as clients after they’ve been waitlisted and we work with them exclusively on trying to get off these waiting lists — show their interest in the colleges that have waitlisted them in powerful, moving ways. Our students stand out from the pack of waitlisted applicants. One way to stand out is by writing a powerful, well-written letter of enthusiasm to the college that has waitlisted you. We help our students craft amazing letters of enthusiasm so that they are the exceptions to the rule of the waiting list. The rule is that most students won’t get in. And yet ours so often do. It’s no coincidence.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of waitlisted students and their parents. Most parents who call us just like to brag about their children (like we care!) and aren’t wise enough to listen to what we have to say. The wise parents, of course, sign up for our services and their children very often earn their way off that waiting list and into the incoming class. If you are such a wise parent, contact us today to get started as time is of the essence. If you are an unwise parent and are simply calling us to brag about your child, consider calling a therapist instead. Or 411. We’re sure you can find an operator to chat with.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Waitlists and Admission Rates

April 6, 2014
Waiting List and Admission Rates, Waitlists and University Admission Rates

Waitlisted students don’t count towards a university’s admission rate, as “The Washington Post” points out. We’ve been saying it for years.

As we’ve been saying for years, students admitted off of a college’s waitlist do not count towards that college’s admission rate. That means that students with SAT or ACT scores well below the mean of that university don’t count toward’s that university’s percentage of students admitted to the incoming class. And yet they still earn admission. Are you getting the idea? So that daughter of a major donor whose SAT scores are subpar and whose grades aren’t so hot is a top contender to earn admission off the waitlist. Unless her SAT scores and grades were so subpar that the college “courtesy waitlisted” the student so as not to upset the alumni donor any more than they had to. After all, what does waitlisting a student cost a university? It’s nothing to them.

As stated in an article entitled “College admission rates for Class of 2018: an imperfect but closely watched metric” published by “The Washington Post,” “At the end of the recruiting cycle, a waiting list might be wholly converted to admission offers. Those don’t get included in the calculations in the initial flurry of news releases as colleges issue decisions. Various colleges define applications in various ways. Some are quite strict about only counting apps that have all required elements in a file — essays, test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Others essentially count anyone who starts the process and pays a fee.”

Notice the sentence: “Those don’t get included in the calculations in the initial flurry of news releases as colleges issue decisions.” But, as they say on “QVC,” that’s not all! The figures are also not included in the all-important “US News & World Report” rankings! So colleges can manipulate the “US News & World Report” rankings by admitting less qualified students off their waitlists. Does this surprise you? If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, likely not!

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,