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Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

A Remarkable Ivy Applicant

April 20, 2015
Great Ivy Applicant, Terrific Ivy League Applicant, Amazing Ivy Applicant

We at Ivy Coach wish to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Pooja (photo credit: J. Lawler Duggan, “The Washington Post”).

We at Ivy Coach would like to extend a special, heartfelt congratulations to Pooja Chandrashekar, the Virginia student who is ALL OVER the news these days for gaining admission not only to each of the eight Ivy League colleges but for having gone 14/14 with additional acceptances to Stanford, MIT, Duke, UVA, Michigan, and Georgia Tech. We’ve written in previous years about students who have gained admission to each of the eight Ivy League colleges, like last year when Kwasi Enan gained admission to each member institution of the Ancient Eight. But Pooja’s case for admission — especially as an Indian applicant when Indians and Indian Americans face such discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process — is a very special one and she is indeed a very special young woman.

A piece in “The Washington Post” on Pooja, among tons of other articles in newspapers around the world, focuses on her great GPA and test scores, the fact that she started a really impressive nonprofit, and how she wants to inspire other young women to go into science, technology, math, and engineering programs. And it focuses on an app she developed that can quite accurately predict if a person has Parkinson’s disease by measuring speech patterns. She also contributed to developing an app to rapidly diagnose concussions, like on the sidelines of football games. It’s rather remarkable.

What’s especially cool about Pooja’s sweep of the Ivies and other highly selective colleges like Stanford, MIT, and Duke is that Pooja gained admission to these schools with an Indian profile — that is an Indian profile taken to Herculean heights. She is a math, science, and computer whiz kid. And Indians do face discrimination for fitting a certain profile, which we’ve discussed on many occasions on the pages of our college admissions blog. But, in the case of Pooja, her profile was just the very best. And that, in a line, is what Pooja is…the very best. Congratulations, Pooja!!!!!!!!!!

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Dare to Pass

April 19, 2015
Dare to Deny Applicant, Dare to Reject Applicant, Dare to Defer Applicant

Dare to pass is a mantra we repeat over and over again to our students. And it’s a mantra inspired by the creator of the “CSI” franchise.

Anthony Zuiker is the creator of the “CSI” franchise. While “CSI” may seem like a tired franchise now aimed at older viewers on CBS, in the early part of this 21st century, it was considered truly revolutionary TV. When Zuiker pitched the show to network executives, he used vivid imagery to demonstrate the show’s now widely known and widely emulated device (e.g., watching a bullet pierce through the skin as we get a close-up of the bullet cutting through the body at the cellular level). And network executives passed, notably ABC, the network affiliated with the show’s then sister studio, Touchstone Television (now known as ABC Studios). So what’s the point of this story in the context of our college admissions blog? Well, network executives may have passed on Zuiker’s pitch, but that pitch ended up becoming a seminal television show of the 21st century. And Zuiker, ever the iconoclast, chose to name his production company “Dare To Pass.” We’re confident you understand his motivation.

Daring to pass is a theme we often talk about with our students at Ivy Coach. We always like to say to our students that the narratives they share, their stories — they need to be presented so wonderfully and in such a compelling manner that admissions officers (the equivalent of television network executives in this example) would have to…dare to pass. That’s right. Dare to pass on the student with this incredibly powerful Personal Statement. Dare to pass on the student with this remarkable, fascinating backstory. Dare to pass on the student who is going to, without question, change the world as we know it.

We say it over and over again to our students. It’s a mantra we repeat. Admissions officers must dare to pass on our students. They must dare to defer or deny them, to waitlist them. We must help our students compel admissions officers to want to root for them, to create such compelling narratives in their applications that no human being could possibly ever root against them. Not one. We know the craft of how to get admissions officers to root for applicants and it’s work we take tremendous pride in and have for many years.

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

Students on Waiting Lists

April 18, 2015
Waitlisted Students, Students on Waitlists, Students on College Waitlists

Students on waiting lists should not send pie to admissions offices. We like pie. But don’t send us pie either. That’s weird (photo credit: Dan Parsons).

There’s an article up on “Quartz” that students on waiting lists might find interesting. In the piece by Sonali Kohli entitled “The craziest ways applicants have won over admissions officers at elite American universities,” Kohli writes about some untraditional approaches students on waiting lists have taken over the years. As a word of caution, while indeed a music video has worked in the past, we ordinarily do not encourage students to submit music videos. And that’s because most students just aren’t very musically talented, in spite of what mommy and daddy might think. And just because one can play the violin doesn’t make watching a video of you playing the violin while discussing how much you want to get off the waitlist compelling. Our approach at Ivy Coach has always been helping students submit compelling Letters of Enthusiasm. It’s an approach that has a strong track record of working.

The piece in “Quartz” features quotes from Parke Muth, a longtime admissions officer at the University of Virginia. As the piece so describes, “Pestering with discretion is a lot more persuasive than the nagging desperation shown by some applicants and their parents, says Muth. Some parents have called him pretending to be their children, while one mother came to the UVA admissions department, followed Muth into his office, and got on her knees, begging for her son’s admission. Says Muth: ‘Schools want demonstrated interest but they don’t want unending pleas.'” They sure don’t!

Don’t pitch a tent outside of the admissions office. Don’t fry bacon in the morning. Yes, that is a shout out to a video that Richard Moll, the former dean of admissions at Bowdoin and Vassar as well as a former admissions officer at Harvard and Yale, made over two decades ago. Back in the days of VHS. We remember that video, Richard Moll! Don’t go crazy. Don’t submit the pajamas you wore as a toddler. Don’t submit family heirlooms. Don’t send them pies. Although, as a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we have a lot to say about pie. Just submit one heck of a compelling Letter of Enthusiasm. And for those of you who think you know what a compelling Letter of Enthusiasm is, you likely don’t. Unless of course you’re a client of ours. In that case, you sure do! For everyone else, it is in all likelihood the precise opposite of what you think. It usually is.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

The Peanut Gallery in College Admissions

April 17, 2015
Peanut Gallery in Admissions, Admissions Peanut Gallery, University Admission Peanut Gallery

The peanut gallery has no place in the stressful college admissions process. No way, no how. No peanut gallery! Oy vey.

For many students, the peanut gallery plays a big role in the shaping of their college applications — and particularly their college admissions essays. That’s right. The peanut gallery. The peanut gallery can but is not limited to including: English teachers, school counselors, parents, the mailman, the local town sheriff, the art dealer across the street, and let’s not forget the woman who “used to help students with their essays.” Uh huh. You think we’re kidding about the mailman. We’re not.

We are quite often approached with a message such as this, “My daughter’s essays are in tip top shape. Her English teacher reviewed them and I had a friend down the block who used to work in admissions go over them as well. They both think the essays are exceptionally well written and that they will help my daughter stand out in a crowded applicant pool.” Uh huh. This is a clear red flag to us. We’ve written before on the pages of our college admissions blog about how the advice of high school English teachers, as a rule of thumb, should be avoided entirely when crafting and editing admissions essays. No offense to English teachers. Many of them do fabulous work and help shape the lives of young people everywhere. But sentences in college essays that begin with “however,” “nevertheless,” “on the contrary,” and more have no place. No way. College essays should be colloquial in nature. Using such phrasing is a mark of bad writing. Never use a fancy word when a simple word will do. Instead of however, go with “but.” It’s ok to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” But yes! No buts about this.

If you hire an expert on college admissions, whether it’s Ivy Coach or another firm, trust the expert. Well, actually, we can’t and won’t vouch for any other private college counseling firms. So many don’t trust that expertise. But you can trust our expertise. You’re paying good money for it. Everyone is going to have a different opinion. The completed essays of our students speak for themselves. As does our track record of our students gaining admission to their dream colleges. So ignore the advice of the mailman and all the other folks in the peanut gallery of life. We made that peanut gallery of life bit up. But it kind of flows. No?

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Admission Consults

April 16, 2015
Admissions Consults, College Consults, College Admissions Consults

The color of our orange button is closest to the orange in the middle. We are all about our orange button at Ivy Coach, if you’ve never before noticed.

When most people pick up the phone, their instinct is to say, “Hello?” When we pick up the phone, our natural instinct is to think, “Orange button. Please click on the orange button. Have you clicked on the orange button? Click. On. The. Orange. Button.” The other day, the pizza delivery man called and we asked him if he clicked on the orange button. He, of course, had not the slightest clue what we were talking about and rightly so. Admittedly, the pizza delivery man need not click on the orange button on our website. Did we mention it was orange?  Because it is bright orange.

So many folks call us to talk about their children. We hear about Eli’s prowess at baseball and Irtiqa’s abilities at the violin. She’s even making first chair! ZZZzzz. We’ve never been quite certain why parents like to go on and on about their children but we are certain about one thing. We simply don’t have time to listen to such tales. As any regular reader of our college admissions blog knows, there are too many apple pies in this world to bake. We realize that is a ridiculous statement, but it’s become our mantra. Like the biscuits. If you don’t get that reference, it’s because you’re only a casual reader of our blog. Pick up the pace!

The fact is that we do reserve time for free 20-minute admission consults and you can set one up by…wait for it…clicking on the bright orange button. But we don’t have time to answer questions and listen to stories of violin playing at all hours of the day on the phone. We hope you understand. We hope you don’t hang up on us when we say we simply don’t have time to chat (some of you do and it’s something we’ve chosen to accept over the years!). We value our clients over our potential clients. And in order to become a client, we ask that you…wait for it…follow our instructions and click on the orange button. As the great Nelson Mandela so famously once said, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.” Same goes for us, Madiba. Same goes for us.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Admission Is Not Random

April 15, 2015
Random College Admission, College Admission Is Not Random, Random University Admission

Getting into a highly selective college is by no means “random,” as Steve Cohen seems to suggest at the end of his editorial.

There is a college admissions article up on “The New York Observer” by Steve Cohen, author of some book from way back in 1983 on college admissions (who hasn’t written a book?), that we figured we’d share some thoughts on. And, yes, we’re familiar with the book but there are tons of books on college admissions and we don’t believe this book to have been all that influential! First of all, in this editorial, Mr. Cohen refers to that book he wrote about college admissions in this way: “I have never worked in an admission office, but that didn’t keep me from co-authoring the most successful book ever written on the subject.” By what metric is Mr. Cohen defining success? Book sales? Because we’ve checked the BookScan data. Yes, we’re familiar with BookScan, Mr. Cohen. There are lots of successful books on college admissions. What makes his the “most successful”? We’re just curious. Crunching the numbers and all.

But enough about this line we’re poking fun at. We’d like to address a few other points articulated in Mr. Cohen’s latest editorial. We have neither time nor energy to correct all of his incorrect statements, but we’ll touch upon a few of this attorney’s comments. He writes in his opening line, “The going rate in New York for a private admissions counselor is $25,000, with some, who boast staffs comprised exclusively of Ivy League admission office alumni, commanding upward of $40,000 for a year of admission guidance.” Mr. Cohen, while we do indeed boast a staff of former Ivy League admissions officers as well as other admissions officers of highly selective colleges, let us assure you that the fees you cite are not within ballpark of our Unlimited Package. You have not fully done your homework. The fee for our Unlimited Package is readily available for you to learn about on “CNBC” as an example.

You also suggest the following: “I’ll propose one change that could put the whole system into perspective: every selective college should allocate 1 percent of its entering class admission slots to a lottery: 39 kids at Vanderbilt, 27 at Brown, and so on. A random selection process for a tiny percentage of the class. The personality of the place probably wouldn’t change. But it would underscore the randomness of the whole process and give kids one little, extra bit of hope. And hope is a good thing.” The highly selective college admissions process — and the Ivy League admissions process, Mr. Cohen, is by no means “random” as you suggest and this point undercuts so many statements that you made in your editorial that are indeed both entirely accurate and rather insightful to readers. If the admissions process were random, students with terrible Academic Index scores would gain admission to Ivy League colleges. Students with terrible essays would get in, too, as would — potentially — convicted felons. Get the idea? We hope so. Random. Ridiculous.

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

Jewish Students at Stanford

April 14, 2015
Jewish at Stanford, Stanford Jewish Community, Stanford and Jewish Students

Anti-Semitism has no place at Stanford or any other university on this planet (photo credit: King of Hearts).

We don’t believe that every college campus is welcoming towards Jewish students and that, of course, we believe is unacceptable in 2015. It would have been unacceptable to us fifty years ago, too. But we didn’t have a college admissions blog fifty years ago. Nobody had any sort of blog. We’ve written before about universities that are despicably unwelcoming towards Jewish students. Hello, the University of California, Irvine. While we don’t write much about UC, Irvine on the pages of our college admissions blog because, frankly, UCI isn’t a highly selective college and is thus undeserving of our attention, we will call them out for doing very little to address the hotbed of anti-Semitism that is the UCI campus. It is despicable. We would love to see the university removed from the UC system entirely. But that likely won’t happen anytime soon.

But nobody reads our college admissions blog to read about the University of California, Irvine. Let’s get real. You’re here to read what we have to say about Stanford as it relates to students of the Jewish faith. Well, there is an article in “The New York Times” that focuses on a Stanford student who was running for student council…only to encounter what she believes to be anti-Semitism. According to the piece on Stanford in “The New York Times” by Jennifer Medina, “The debate over what constitutes anti-Semitism has spilled into Stanford University’s student government election, with a Jewish student claiming that she was asked how her Judaism affects her view of divestment from Israel, morphing what was a contest about campus issues into a fierce discussion on identity and loyalties. Like other candidates, Molly Horwitz, a junior from Milwaukee, was eager to receive an endorsement from the Students of Color Coalition, an umbrella group that has helped dozens win seats in the student senate. Ms. Horwitz, who was adopted from Paraguay, wrote extensively in her application about navigating both Jewish and Latino circles. Like many other students, she had paid close attention to the campus debate over divestment earlier this year.”

We have no idea why issues such as divestment from Israel comes up in a student council debate. We would think the student council would be focused on candy machines, student activities, and matters related directly to Stanford. It is beyond us how the issue of Israel would even come up in such a debate, even though we did read that the student council addressed issues related to Israel the previous year. Do we think this is anti-Semitism? We’re not sure. We’d like to think not. But we’re not sure. The fact is that it’s inappropriate to ask an African American student a question such as, “As an African American, where do you stand on the issue of reparations from slavery times?” As such, it should be inappropriate to ask a Jewish student a question like the one she allegedly was asked at Stanford. Anti-Semitism has no place at Stanford and it has no place at any other university around the world.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Kindness in College Admissions

April 13, 2015
Kind in College Admissions, Being Kind in College Admissions, Nice in College Admission

At Ivy Coach, we’d prefer to bake apple pies than work with unkind people as they navigate the highly selective college admissions process. We like sweet people and sweet pies. Yes, we said this. Deal with it.

One fellow wrote us recently demanding to know our fees. It’s not like our fees are a secret. The fee for our Unlimited Package is all over the pages of “Barron’s” and it’s been talked about on “CNBC.” What do you want from us? Do most students work with us under our Unlimited Package? No. But some sure do! Anyhow, this gentleman mentioned that he was comparing our fees to that of another private college counseling firm. So, if you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you likely have a feeling what we replied with: “We wish you good luck with the [Insert Unnamed College Consulting Firm Here]!” This is not “Target.” There are no price checks in Aisle 4. This fellow seemed to be under the misimpression that we really wanted to earn his business. Rather than try to earn his business, we would prefer to make an apple pie. Or two. We love apple pies. That’s right.

And we’d rather focus on our existing clientele, who demand quite a bit of our attention. It’s quite difficult to juggle apple pie baking with our clients’ needs. We don’t actually bake apple pies. We were being silly. Although apple pies are delicious — notably the crust and right when they’re fresh out of the oven. But enough, enough, enough about apple pies. You are not here to read about apple pies. You are here to read about college admissions! So, here’s a valuable lesson of the day. Don’t be unkind to people. Don’t tell people you’re comparing their fees (at least have the courtesy to keep that to yourself). And, by the way, we will lose that battle every time. Because our fees are quite expensive. We have never nor will we ever claim to be competitive in our fees with any other private college counseling firm. And we are also not competitive with these firms in terms of our success. Our students overwhelmingly get into their dream colleges. It’s been happening for years. A quarter century in fact!

So be nice to people. We can tell a price-checker from a mile away. Maybe you’ll find out our fees. Maybe you won’t. But even if you do, that doesn’t mean we’ll work with you. Life is short. There are lots and lots of apple pies to bake. Even cherry pies. And maybe even rhubarb pies. We don’t have time to work with not nice people. We like sweet people…and sweet pies. It’s our company policy. And it has been for a quarter century. Deal with it.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Getting Off College Waiting Lists

April 12, 2015
College Waiting List Advice, Getting Off Waitlists, University Waiting List Advice

At Ivy Coach, we help students every year gain admission off college waiting lists.

Getting off college waiting lists is more of a science than many believe. So many parents call and write us and say something along these lines: “It’s a shot in the dark to try to get our kid off the waitlist.” Actually, no it’s not. Many students become our clients for the first time after they’ve been notified that they’re on a college waiting list. It’s our task to try to help them gain admission off this list. And indeed, over the many years in which we’ve been in business at Ivy Coach, we have had great success with helping students gain admission off waiting lists — at every highly selective college. Yes, even Stanford has gone to their waitlist in the past and we’ve helped students gain admission off of it (one parent wrote us that Stanford has never gone to their waitlist). Not so, not so!

Does every student who we help with their Letter of Enthusiasm gain admission off the waiting list? No. Waiting lists are indeed tough to get off of. And yet we enjoy great successes every year with our creative, unique approaches to the task. Many parents ask for the percentage chance their son will get off of a certain college waiting list. We don’t answer that question. Just like a parent doesn’t answer the question of the child in the back seat on a long car ride, “Are we there yet?” Sometimes a parent will ask twice. We don’t answer the second time answer. All we can say is that by working with Ivy Coach on trying to get a son or daughter off a college waiting, you will be giving your son or daughter the best possible chance of gaining admission off that list? Does that mean he or she will definitely get off that waiting list? No. And anyone who says they can definitely get your child off a waiting list should be avoided like Athlete’s foot. We’re not sure why we just referenced Athlete’s foot. Gross. But you get the idea.

If you’d like our assistance with helping your son or daughter try to get off a college waiting list, fill out our Free Consultation form today, indicate that you need help with a waiting list, and we’ll get back to you within the day.

And, while you’re here, remember the xtranormal fad? Well, we made a video about getting off college waiting lists a while back. Check it out.

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

SAT and ACT Composite Scores

April 11, 2015
SAT Composite Scores, ACT Composite Scores, ACT and SAT Composites

And you’re wondering how Billy Beane relates to a blog about SAT and ACT composite scores? Read on. Interestingly, rumor has it Beane no longer uses Moneyball. When just about every team adapted the practice, he no longer had a competitive edge (photo credit: Brett Farmiloe).

Billy Beane, the longtime GM of the Oakland A’s, was a pioneer of Moneyball, the practice by which decision-makers in baseball rely on data-driven analytics in lieu of traditional scouting. Beane, like Theo Epstein, Sandy Alderson, and many baseball executives of our time, realized that certain aspects of the game of baseball are overvalued by traditional scouting (e.g., athletic ability), whereas other characteristics are undervalued (e.g., getting on base by any means necessary — like walks). Well, here’s a dose of Moneyball for highly selective college admissions. SAT and ACT composite scores are overvalued…by many parents and college applicants to highly selective colleges, that is. Do composite scores count? Just like home runs, they do. But they don’t count to the extent that you might think (if you’re confused by the baseball analogy, data-driven analytics proved that seeking home run hitters wasn’t an ideal course of action — they should instead seek players who, quite simply, get on base).

Composite scores just don’t matter a ton at highly selective colleges. Do they matter at lower tier universities or public universities? Yes. But at the highly selective colleges, composite scores are overvalued…much like athletic ability. Most of baseball uses Moneyball nowadays. Moneyball challenged the status quo until it became the status quo. Well, today’s status quo in highly selective college admissions is that SAT and ACT composite scores are entirely overvalued by parents and college applicants.

Sometimes, when one of our students gets a really low score on one section of the SAT, an aberration from a previous SAT score, we will tell them not to submit this score to colleges even if the test, on the whole, increased his or her SAT composite score. So, to put it in specifics, if a student received a 730 reading, 720 math, and 800 writing on his or her first administration of the SAT and then received a 770 reading, 650 math, and 740 writing on the second administration, we’d prefer that student not report that second administration. And we’d prefer he or she take it a third time. Because the student can clearly get the reading up, but we don’t want it to be to the significant detriment of the other two sections. We don’t want to call into question the other scores.

Have a question about SAT and ACT composite scores? Let us know your questions by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you. And if you’re interested in tutoring for the SAT or ACT, we offer one-on-one instruction to students around the world via Skype, regularly boosting their test scores significantly. Indeed we’ve got data-driven analytics to back this up.

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