515 East 72nd Street, New York, NY 10021
E-mail: director@theivycoach.com
Tel: (212) 600-0312
Please complete the consultation form prior to calling.

Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Not Too Late for College Essay Review

October 29, 2014
College Essay Review, Reviewing College Essays, Personal Statement Review

There is still time for The Ivy Coach to review your Personal Statement and supplemental essays for the November 1st Early deadline (photo credit: Gavin Huang).

It is not too late for The Ivy Coach to review your (or your child’s) Personal Statement and supplemental essays for Early Decision or Early Action. Yes, we are fully aware that the deadline is looming. It’s October 29th…it’s nearly November 1st. The last day of the Major League Baseball season is today when the upstart Kansas City Royals look to win their first World Series in 29 years by upstaging the San Francisco Giants on their home field. But it’s not November 1st quite yet and year after year, students and parents come to us in these final days. While it’s not ideal, hearing our critiques of essays and listening to our proposed changes can greatly improve a student’s odds of admission. And, yes, we are available over these next couple of days to help you shape your revisions into outstanding essays.

If you’re interested in last-minute college admissions essay help, we recommend emailing us at director@theivycoach.com as soon as possible so that we can schedule a one-hour consultation to be conducted via Skype or phone — whichever you prefer. Submitting that essay about grandpa is a terrible idea, even if you already wrote it. It’s not the most difficult thing in the world to rework an essay in a couple of days. There’s no need to stress about it. We help students get it done all of the time. It is what it is. There is no coming back from an essay about grandpa, no matter how well you think it is executed. The same is true about that foreign travel essay. Or that sports, violin, or volunteering essay. Such essay topics are unredeemable and we at The Ivy Coach can help you come up with great topics and direction even in these final days before the deadline.

So email us today to help you pinpoint a fantastic essay topic for you. The best essays, as we’ve said on the pages of this college admissions blog for years now, are about absolutely nothing. Just like the show “Seinfeld.” The best essays are about small stories that shed insight into who you are and what you’re all about. When students try to tell big stories and boast of their accomplishments, they fail miserably and, in so doing, sway admissions officers to root against rather than for them. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: College Essays, Early Decision / Early Action Tags: , , , ,

Shame on College Board

October 28, 2014
College Board, Shame on The College Board, The College Board

Shame on College Board for not having their act together! It’s unfair to students and it makes the already stressful admissions process even more stressful.

Shame on College Board! For a multi-billion dollar company that nickels and dimes students for everything, you’d think that College Board would have their act together in terms of notifying students of their scores. Today, October 28th, was the day that the October 11th SAT / Subject Test scores were supposed to be available. But this was not the case for a few of our international students…

And why? College Board’s answer is that the tests are not all scored yet but they expect them to be scored by next week. But herein lies the predicament: with November 1st as the Early Decision / Early Action deadline, students who don’t get their October scores by Saturday won’t know if they should include the October test date on their applications. Obviously if they could see their scores, they could easily make this determination.

And let’s raise the issue of College Board nickel and diming students and parents. When we called College Board today to see if we could get these scores by phone, we first had to pay $15 for this privilege…only to be told that they were not yet available.

Want to see how College Board nickels and dimes students? Here are just a few of their fees…

SAT – $52.50 (that extra 50 cents must go a long way!)

Subject Test Registration – $26

Language with Listening Test – $26

All Other Subject Tests – $16 per test

International Process Fees – Anywhere from $33 to $42 depending on the country

Register by phone – $15

Test center change fee – $28

Late registration fee – $28

Waitlist fee – $46

Score reports – $11.25 each

Rush reporting – $31

Scores by phone – $15 per call

Archived scores – $31

SAT Q & A Service – $18

SAT Student Answer Service – $13.50

Multiple-choice score verification – $55

Essay score verification – $55

AP Exams – $91 per exam for students in the U.S.

AP Exams – $121 per exam for schools outside the U.S.

Enough is enough, College Board! Get your act together and the nickel and diming is a bad business practice.

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

Single Choice Early Action at Princeton

October 27, 2014
SCEA at Princeton, Princeton Early Action, Early Action at Princeton

Applying Single Choice Early Action at Princeton has its advantages. But that doesn’t mean Princeton admissions officers will tell you this…

We recently had a parent call us and she happened to mention that she is a loyal reader of our blog and has been for a couple of years. She told us that she appreciated our candor and our tell-it-like-it-is approach. And so because her daughter was applying to Princeton through its Single Choice Early Action policy, she decided to call Princeton to ask them whether applying Single Choice Early Action really gave students a benefit as compared to applying Regular Decision to the university. As a loyal reader of our blog, she knew well what we’ve been espousing for years and that is…of course there’s a benefit to applying Early! But when this mom called Princeton on two different occasions, she received a different answer to her question than what we’ve been saying for years. And that should absolutely be no surprise!

If you check out our Ivy League Statistics Page — a page that we’ve been adding statistics to for the past 11 years — you can see for yourself the advantage of applying Early vs. Regular. These numbers are clearcut and straightforward! And by the way, in case you’re ever wondering about where we get our statistics from…we get them from our dear friends in admissions at these very schools. Including Princeton.

But getting back to this mom, two different people at the Princeton admissions office told her that it was no easier to get into Princeton in the Single Choice Early Action round vs. the Regular Decision round. Uh huh. Their responses are indeed the exact opposite of what the numbers tell you. But this is to be expected and it’s exactly what we’ve been telling folks on our college admissions blog for years — colleges lie. Yes, colleges lie. Even Princeton. And what’s Princeton’s rationale for the discrepancy in the figures between the Single Choice Early Action round and the Regular Decision round if the two rounds are supposed to be created equal? “The students who apply SCEA to Princeton are just more competitive, and that’s why they get admitted at a higher rate.” Our response to that?: Yeah right!

Do you actually believe that an admissions officer at Princeton would say something along these lines?: “The reason that those students who apply SCEA get accepted at a higher rate is because we know that if we admit them, they’re more likely to attend.” They would never say such a thing. It’s simply not in their interest to do so. And yet it’s the truth. Because Princeton — like all highly selective colleges — cares about their yield statistic. They just can’t tell you that when you call them up over the phone. It’s not a Princeton thing. It’s an every highly selective college thing. Accept it. It is what it is.

Categories: Early Decision / Early Action, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Top World University Rankings

October 26, 2014
Top World Universities, Ranking of Top Universities, Global University Ranking

“US News & World Report” has released a ranking on the best global universities.

Curious which universities have been ranked by “US News & World Report” to be the best not only in American but around the world? Wonder no more because we’ve got the results of this ranking for our loyal readers. Securing the top ranking by “US News” is Harvard University. Placing second is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed by: University of California – Berkeley (a nice, surprising ranking for Cal!), Stanford University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, California Institute of Technology, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Chicago, and Columbia University. That rounds out “US News'” top ten for best global universities. Interestingly, only two Ivy League institutions made the top ten of this ranking — Harvard and Columbia.

After the top ten, it’s Johns Hopkins University, Imperial College London, Princeton University, University of Michigan, University of Toronto, University of Washington (perhaps the only ranking that puts the University of Washington ahead of the school we’re about to name next), Yale University, University of California – San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University College London, University of California – San Francisco, Cornell University, University of Tokyo, and Northwestern University. That rounds out the top twenty-five. So the only Ivies not ranked in this particular ranking in the top twenty-five are: Brown University (#106) and Dartmouth College (we got tired of scrolling to find out where Dartmouth ranked after scanning the first 200 schools — maybe they weren’t eligible!).

If you’re curious about the methodology behind these rankings, according to “US News & World Report,” “To be included in the 750, an institution had to first be among the top 200 universities in the results of Thomson Reuters’ global reputation survey…​Next, an institution had to be among those that had published the most number of ​articles during the most recent five years, de-duplicated with the top 200 from the reputation survey. As a result of these criteria, many stand-alone graduate schools, including the Rockefeller Institute of New York and University of California—San Francisco, were eligible to be ranked and were included in the ranking universe. The second step was to calculate the rankings using the 10 indicators and weights that U.S. News chose to measure global research performance. Each school’s profile page on usnews.com lists numerical ranks, out of 750, for the 10 indicators, allowing students to compare each school’s standing in each indicator.”

What are your thoughts on this “US News & World Report” university ranking? Let us know by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.
Categories: The Rankings Tags: , , , ,

Profiles and College Admissions

October 25, 2014
Online Profiles in College Admission, Profiles in University Admission, College Admission Profiles

An editorial on the pages of “The Washington Post” proposes a major change to the college admissions process. We happen to think the proposed idea is half baked. Or maybe an eighth baked!

We came across an editorial in “The Washington Post” written by Dennis Eller, a school counselor in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that proposes a new solution to the cumbersome existing college admissions process in place. Essentially, Mr. Eller argues that the current college admissions process it too compacted. Students have to rely on teachers and school counselors submitting letters of recommendation. They have to rely on the College Board sending score reports. You get the idea. He also, rightfully, argues that the organizations that gain a pretty penny from this cumbersome process are The Common Application, The College Board, Naviance, and ACT to name a few. He’s certainly not wrong on this point. It’s something we’ve been saying on the pages of this college admissions blog for years.

But we’re not so sure of Mr. Eller’s proposed solution to the process. As he articulates, “There must be a better way. And there is. Online profiles are certainly nothing new. Aspiring high school athletes use sites like Prospectsites.com and beRecruited.com to get the attention of college coaches. Business men and women use LinkedIn and XING to network with other professionals, find employees as well as new jobs. What’s keeping the college application process from taking this next step?” He then proposes that teachers can submit their recommendation letters to the online profile and scores can be submitted there as well, etc.

We’re not so sure why this “online profile” is so different from the Common Application. While, if you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know well that we are no fans of the Common App., this doesn’t seem like much of a solution. In fact, it seems even worse. Students have to market themselves to colleges and the colleges have to peruse their online profiles? How will Yale know that this student actually would want to go to school in New Haven if the student didn’t apply? How will the student not be able to see the confidential teacher letters of recommendation? What if a teacher wanted to write that she suspects the student might be a potential terrorist? That would be an important nugget of information to know but she’d be less likely to share it if all could see it in the student’s online profile — including the student.

It seems like this idea isn’t fully baked! Wouldn’t you say? We haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the problems we see with it…

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Personality Quiz and College Admissions

October 24, 2014
Personality and College Admissions, Admissions and Personality, Personality Test and Ivy Admission

Do you think personality quizzes will become more popular in the college admissions process?

Bard College has eliminated the requirement that applicants submit their high school transcripts. Hampshire College has eliminated the SAT and ACT as requirements for admission — along with a host of other universities. Goucher College has made virtually the entire application a video that applicants submit. We personally think that one’s quite silly. And now the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is offering students a personality quiz in lieu of admissions essays. As an aside, if you’ve never heard of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, you’re not alone.

According to “Indy Star,” “Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology enrollment chief Jim Goecker does not care who your hero is. It does not matter to him which book most changed your life, or how you describe a place that’s meaningful to you in no more than 650 words. What he really wants to know is how confident you are in making yourself successful. ‘We’re beginning to see it tells us more about success in college,’ Goecker said, ‘which to me is more important than which book I’d take to a desert island and why.’ All you have to do is take a personality quiz — seriously! — and that, he says, could be the newest measure to determine whether you get into Rose-Hulman.”

One particular statement on this personality quiz asks students about whether or not they believe they are in control of what happens to them in life. According to the enrollment chief, Jim Goecker, the answer to this prompt is an accurate indicator of whether or not the applicant is likely to stay at the institution — and succeed there. So, this begs the question, should the Ivy League and other highly selective colleges follow in the footsteps of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and require personality tests? Our answer?: Don’t hold your breath.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

There is Still Time to Fix Bad College Essays

October 23, 2014
Bad College Essays, Submitting Bad College Essays, Bad Admissions Essays

It’s not too late to rework your college essays. Don’t submit bad essays. Submit outstanding ones! Contact The Ivy Coach today to help you do just that.

There is still time to fix bad college essays! It never ceases to amaze us that so many students (and their parents) are confident about their choice of essay topics…and their execution of these topics. We so often get calls and emails around now, mere days before Early Decision and Early Action deadlines, that go something like this: “My son has already written his Common Application Personal Statement and I think it’s in really good shape. I was wondering if you could just read through it and let me know what you think.” And we will of course read through a student’s Common Application Personal Statement and let the student and parent know what we think. For a fee of course. After all, we are an American business, and our expertise does not come for free…even though many parents seem to think it should! We’ll give a free 20-minute consolation to discuss our service offerings but if you want our opinion on essay topics and execution, you’ll need to become our client.

But anyway, enough venting about that. What parents and students are typically surprised by is how we can tell in mere seconds if an essay should be completely scrapped. That’s right. Mere seconds. If we hear that an essay is about a trip to India, we don’t care one bit how well that essay is executed. It’s not going to work. It’s going to put admissions officers to sleep. It’s going to hurt — and not help — the student’s chances for admission to a highly selective college. The same is true of that essay about Key Club or that essay about coming back from a major back injury to lead your soccer team to the state finals. We don’t need to read on. We know. These essays should sooner be burned than submitted to highly selective colleges. That’s right. Burned.

What also amazes us is that parents (more so than students usually) aren’t willing to encourage their children to change their essays at this late date. They figure it is what it is at this point. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You’ve still got several days to entirely change a Personal Statement. Will it require a little bit of work? You bet. But this is work we take on with parents and students at the last minute all of the time. Would you rather not put in the work now and live to regret not getting into Yale or would you rather take a chance and put in the work. Writing a 650-word essay is not like building a skyscraper. It can be done with the time that remains. And there is absolutely no need to get super stressed about it either. That’s one thing we do. We take away the stress. We help you realize that crafting a powerful Personal Statement is entirely achievable with just a little bit of time and energy.

Just because you’ve written 650 words doesn’t mean those 650 words are any good. Want an evaluation? Contact us today to get started since those deadlines are indeed approaching.

Categories: College Admissions, College Essays, Early Decision / Early Action Tags: , , , ,

Privilege and College Admissions

October 22, 2014
Privilege in Admissions, Ivy League Privilege, Ivy Privilege

Privilege has no place in college essays, as a satirical piece in “The New Yorker” points out. Even if you don’t realize that you’re coming across as privileged in an admissions essay, that doesn’t mean you aren’t…

We came across quite an entertaining little story on the pages of “The New Yorker.” The story, entitled “College-Application Essay,” is written by Paul Rudnick and it’s presumably tongue-in-cheek. At least we hope that it’s tongue-in-cheek. We hope a college applicant like this doesn’t actually exist, though we know from our many years of experience that indeed there are many applicants like this. The character portrayed in the story, Adam Harper Steinem Mandela Kellowitch- Frane (ok, it’s definitely tongue and cheek!), is quite the Gatsby-type figure. He lives in a fancy high-rise in Manhattan, attends a privileged academy (the academy mentioned is fake…much like the rest of the piece), and develops alternative fuels in his spare time. Because who doesn’t?

Here’s an interesting excerpt from the silly piece: “When I was twelve, I first became aware of the world’s suffering, and I used the dividends from my trust fund to fly to Berlin to help the victims of the recent tsunami. Upon my arrival, I discovered that, while the tsunami hadn’t affected Berlin, I could still express my empathy for the victims by joining an activist performance troupe and mounting a piece entitled ‘Younami: The Superstorm Inside Us All.’ Upon my return to the States, I was accepted as a legacy to the prestigious St. Callowmere Academy, where I pursued my passionate yet quirky interests in designing chairs without legs for people who’d rather sit on the floor; developing alternative fuels, including my rage at my stepmother; and writing, directing, and starring in a Web series about my dorm room (inspired by my unpublished graphic novel about the mouse who lived in my desert boots). I have also volunteered as a tutor, helping public-school children learn to lie about it, and to stop already with the colorful backpacks, because it’s a dead-ass giveaway. I have also excelled at lacrosse, wakeboarding, and riding the subway while thinking, Look at me, I’m riding the subway!” Very funny.

And while this essay may be tongue-in-cheek — ok, it’s definitely tongue-in-cheek — there really are students who come off this way in their college applications to highly selective colleges. Those service trips to countries of the Third World — this is how it reads. That hour a year you spend volunteering at a soup kitchen? This is how it reads. That privilege that is ingrained in every fiber of your being…this is how it reads. So don’t come across this way. Even if Paul Rudnick is portraying an extreme example of a college applicant, the less extreme versions of this type of student are really bad too. Portraying yourself in any way like this in your college applications to highly selective colleges will most certainly lead to rejection. And deservedly so.

While you’re here, check out this piece on What Makes A Bad College Essay.

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

Height and Ivy League Admission

October 21, 2014
Height and Ivy Admission, Ivy League and Height, Height and Admission to Ivies

One editorialist in “The Seattle Times” believes height matters quite a bit in Ivy League admission. Our response?: Oy vey.

We came across an editorial in “The Seattle Times” written by a co-founder of a company that “focuses on college counseling” that we figured we’d bring to the attention of our loyal reader-base. The piece is entitled “For elite college admission, become an athlete.” The title in and of itself is already a red flag for us as a student certainly doesn’t need to be an elite athlete to gain admission to highly selective colleges — like the Ivy League colleges. The fact that someone who professes to be a college counselor would even suggest such a notion is preposterous and his reasoning is even more cockamamie. That’s right. Cockamamie.

We’re not even sure we completely follow the editorialist’s logic that height matters a whole lot more than you’d think in highly selective college admissions but here it is in his own words: “The admissions rates at some of these highly selective schools are as low as the single digits, with Harvard and Stanford leading the way in accepting only 6 percent of their applicants. The credentials of the incoming freshman classes are remarkable, but perhaps even more astonishing are the kids who don’t get in, such as valedictorians and candidates with perfect SAT scores. Why then is physical stature relevant? The answer is hiding in plain sight, as a careful analysis will show.”

“The U.S. Census Bureau surveys the distribution of the population by height, and does not report information beyond 6 feet 6 inches tall. According to the census, 100 percent of the population, rounded to the nearest full percentage point, is shorter than an NBA small forward. Yet the Ivy League schools routinely field basketball teams with toweringly tall players. Harvard had nine members last year on their men’s basketball team above 6 feet 6 inches tall. Yale had seven, as did Columbia. Assuming that brainpower is evenly distributed by height, then the odds someone would be both uncommonly tall and in the top 1 percent as measured by traditional scholastic criteria are astronomical, about as unlikely as Mick Jagger retiring.”

We think we may have become temporarily stupider for having read such a ridiculous argument grounded in nonsensical logic. Are there a select set of talented basketball players who are 6’6 who gain admission to Ivy League colleges because of their height and basketball prowess (or promise of prowess)? Indeed. But it’s a small set. Basketball recruits make up a very small portion of an incoming class at Ivy League colleges — and at just about every college for that matter. Perhaps the editorialist isn’t very good at what he professes to do and so he’s come up with the excuse that the answer to getting into the Ivies is to be tall? It’s all we can come up with to try to understand his logic. Or lack of logic rather.

It’s possible we just don’t have a clue what the editorialist is writing about because his argument is meandering. If we’re off base, please clarify the point this gentleman is trying to convey. We’re big basketball fans at The Ivy Coach and, nonetheless, we’re at a total loss.

Categories: College Athletes, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Drivel in College Essays

October 20, 2014
Trite College Essays, Cliche College Essays, Cliche Admissions Essays

Don’t write trite drivel in your college admissions essays.

There is an article on “The Huffington Post” entitled “7 Cliché Application Essays You Should Avoid” written by Gianna Sen-Gupta that is spot on. Are there other cliché essay topics to avoid? Absolutely. But Ms. Sen-Gupta has certainly pointed out seven topics that college applicants should 100% avoid at all cost. No essay — no matter how good the student or his or her parents think it is — should ever be written on one of these seven topics. Because it will be cliché drivel. And the last thing that you ever want to submit to highly selective colleges is cliché drivel.

So what are the seven topics Ms. Sen-Gupta points out to avoid? “A service project shows your passion for helping others.” Uh huh. Let’s crown you for sainthood now. You’re amazing. And your essay is awful. “Your family’s history in a specific profession.” True. While this isn’t one of the most common trite topics chosen by applicants, Ms. Sen-Gupta is right in that it’s not a good one. Write about you and show who you are, not what your family has done. Nobody cares about that except maybe your Mommy and Daddy. “Overcoming an athletic injury.” Correct. Avoid sports essays entirely. Highly selective colleges receive way too many sports essays. It’s impossible to write an original and powerful sports essay so don’t even try. Because: You. Will. Fail.

“A rundown of a national disaster.” After Katrina, so many students submitted Katrina essays. After 9/11, the essays were about terrorism. Don’t write about Ebola right now. Colleges are going to get way too many Ebola essays. We promise. “The sports game highlight reel.” Again, avoid sports at all cost! No sports injury essay. No came from behind to win it all essay. No, no, no. “Talking about your role model.” Colleges want to learn about you. They don’t want to learn about Justin Bieber, even if Biebs is your role model.

Wondering if your Personal Statement essay topic is trite? Well, schedule a paid consult with us today to find out. And, even more importantly, let us brainstorm with you changes and possibly a new topic. There is indeed still plenty of time before that November 1st deadline. So don’t stress. We can help you turn around that essay very quickly, even if it will be on an entirely new topic. Because we won’t work with a student if he wants to submit cliché drivel. That’s not how our students get in. No cliché drivel in college essays!

Categories: College Essays Tags: , , , ,