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Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Applicants from China to the Ivies

January 30, 2015
Chinese Applicants to Ivies, Ivy League Chinese Applicants, Ivy League and China

A wealthy couple in China has made a sizable donation to help less affluent students in China achieve their dreams of studying in America during their undergraduate years, as a piece in “The Daily Mail” points out.

Some applicants from China to the Ivies will be getting a boost, a financial one that is. When students from countries outside of the United States — such as China and India — apply to highly selective American universities (like the Ivies), these colleges are looking for these applicants to be “full pays.” “Full pays” is college admissions lingo for not needing any financial aid to subsidize their educations. Consequently, many students who apply to American universities from countries such as China and India — and end up matriculating after earning admission — come from affluent families, families who can afford the full cost of four years of tuition at a top American university. So it’s with great pleasure that we read about the gift by Chinese real estate billionaire couple Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin. This couple recognized the value in students seeking and receiving an education in America at schools such as the Ivies and they put their proverbial money where their mouths are.

According to an article on the endowment of the Chinese couple in “The Daily Mail” written by Sadie Whitelocks, “Ivy League schools have started recruiting more economically diverse students from China after receiving multi-million dollar grants from public and private donors. Chinese billionaire real estate couple, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, gifted $100 million to top U.S. universities last year- including $10 million to Yale and $15 million to Harvard – in a bid to help poor students from their home country.” The article goes on to state, “The admissions directors at Yale and Harvard say the investment they have received will help create the diversity sought by students and faculty. ‘We want to make sure that we get the most talented students from every corner of the world, and it’s just that simple,’ Harvard Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons said.”

The Ivy Coach salutes Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin for recognizing the value in an education from a highly selective university in America. We salute them for opening up opportunities to Chinese students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of tuition and, because of this, in many instances wouldn’t be granted admission. After all, as we’ve said many times on our college admissions blog and in the press, need blind admissions is a total and complete farce. Don’t believe us? Don’t want to? That’s fine. It doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Categories: China University Admission, International Students Tags: , , , ,

Vanderbilt University Admissions

January 29, 2015
Vanderbilt Admissions, Admission to Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University

Two former Vanderbilt football players have been convicted of rape.

Vanderbilt University made news in the admissions world when the university opted to extend its Regular Decision deadline recently. But there is more significant news coming out of the Nashville, Tennessee based university this week. As you may know, two former Vanderbilt University football players were found guilty on Tuesday of raping a female former Vanderbilt student. Two more former football players await trial. The duo convicted of rape on Tuesday essentially tried to cower under a defense that they were too intoxicated to know what they were doing, that a college culture of sexual promiscuity and binge drinking contributed to their heinous actions. It sure sounds similar to the absurd “Twinkie defense” used in the trial of the assassin of Harvey Milk. In this case, we’re not quite certain why it took the jury three hours to convict these two young men but we sure are glad that justice was served.

As we write on issues of college admissions, we figured we’d raise the following question: How will this crime committed by former Vanderbilt students impact the university in the years to come, particularly from the standpoint of admissions? Many students and parents unfortunately still associate Duke University with the rape case in which three Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape, an erroneous claim that caused harm to their reputations as well as to the Duke University brand (particularly in light of how Duke handled the case). While the Vanderbilt rape case — in which a rape was actually committed — has not received nearly the attention that the Duke case received several years ago, the national media has picked up on the story nonetheless.

And another highly selective university is in the news now as well because a student has been accused of rape. A (now former) Stanford University swimmer who competed in the United States Olympic Trials in 2012 is being charged with raping an unconscious woman on the Stanford University campus. In this particular instance, two Stanford students riding by on their bicycles saw the alleged assault taking place and intervened. The swimmer took off and was chased down and apprehended by the intervening students. We at The Ivy Coach salute those two Stanford University students for stepping up and taking action when they saw a grave injustice taking place.

How do you think the rape case at Vanderbilt and the pending one at Stanford will impact these two universities in the years to come? Do you think people will associate the two universities with these cases, as many still associate Duke with the rape case of several years ago? We’re curious to hear your thoughts on this certainly sensitive topic.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Musings of a Deferred Applicant

January 28, 2015
Deferred Applicant, Deferred Early Decision Applicant, Early Decision Deferred Applicant

A students at Crossroads School has published a fun op-ed on the pages of “The LA Times.”

We came across a super cute op-ed on the pages of “The LA Times” by a senior at Crossroads School, one of the most competitive high schools in Los Angeles, California. In the editorial by Haskell Flender (what a name, right?) entitled “What happens when your college crush won’t commit?,”  Haskell describes what he’s been going through since the school to which he applied Early Decision chose to defer his candidacy to the Regular Decision round. As we’ve done many times in the past, he compared the college admissions process to dating. Indeed there are so many parallels one can draw!

As Haskell (we just love this name!) writes, “This is my story. Not all the details — those stand in for every student’s over-amped college application resume. But a few months ago, I proposed to a college. Two weeks ago, the college deferred my application. We’re not breaking up, exactly; we’re just giving each other some space. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt. It wasn’t a mutual decision since I was 100% prepared to commit. But the university needed more time to decide if we were right for each other. I’m trying to respect that. I’m resisting the temptation to bombard the admissions office with arguments as to why this school would be lucky to have me. I’m trying not to parse too closely the logic behind its saying that while I didn’t rise to the top among 5,000 other early action candidates, perhaps I will when the applicant pool expands to 35,000. It may just be the school’s way of letting me down easy, instead of rejecting me outright. It’s hard to know. But here’s what happens when the university you’re smitten with puts you on ice: You start looking around. After all, you’re a pretty great guy, an excellent student with diverse accomplishments; you’re not going to be unattached forever. There are other fish in the sea.”

Good for you, Haskell! That’s right. Now that your Early Decision school has put you on ice, you are free and clear to fall in love with other schools. And, based on your outstanding writing and unique voice, it sure seems like their loss is another school’s gain. The beginning of your op-ed actually reminded us of The Most Famous College Essay ever written. We sometimes see variations of this kind of essay that students are seeking to submit to colleges. And we always discourage it. The essay is too famous and who wants admissions officers to think that you were inspired by it? Nobody. Or at least nobody should.

But we feel for ya, Haskell. And we have a feeling, based on your writing skills, that you’ll be successful no matter what college you end up at. The kid can write. And we’re pretty critical so for us to say that, it means something. There are many colleges in the sea, Haskell, but there is only one Haskell Flender. Literally. We’re quite certain there are no other Haskell Flenders in the phone book. Like nowhere.

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

Colleges Juicing Application Numbers

January 27, 2015
College Application Numbers, College Applications, University Application Numbers

Roger Clemens juiced his fastball. And colleges juice their application numbers (photo credit: Keith Allison).

Jose Canseco juiced. As did Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. And they all got caught. But these guys and Lance Armstrong aren’t the only juicers. Highly selective colleges are juicers too. That’s right. They’re juicers. We’ve been saying it for years, but we’ll say it again right now. There’s an article up on “Bloomberg” by Janet Lorin entitled “College Admissions Racket: They’re Not Going to Let You In Anyway” that we figured we’d discuss on our college admissions blog. The article focuses on how colleges want to increase their application numbers so much that they go to rather extreme means in order to do so.

We’ve been rather critical of colleges that have extended their deadlines this year being as they extended these deadlines for no plausible reason. We understand if a college extends its deadline because of a major storm or because the Common App. isn’t functioning properly (like in the Great Crash of 2013). But this year, the colleges that extended their deadlines clearly did so simply to encourage more students to submit applications. After students have finished up and submitted all of their other applications, these colleges figure they’d take a little breather and then have a burst of energy to submit one more application. It’s a good theory. There’s a reason they extend deadlines. It clearly works. Just as Barry Bonds was able to hit more home runs and Roger Clemens was able to throw more strikeouts, colleges secure more applications by extending deadlines. Juicing has its perks.

As Janet Lorin writes in her piece for “Bloomberg,” “This year, at least a dozen elite colleges, including Chicago, Duke, Dartmouth, and Columbia, have offered extensions of once-sacrosanct January admissions deadlines. The University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Bates are among schools whose admissions deans said they were doing so for the first time, aside from individual hardship cases or such emergencies as storms and major website failures.Colleges that extend deadlines say they are merely trying to give more students a chance to apply and receive scholarships. Yet students and even some colleges are asking whether the extra days are penalizing on-time applicants. The extensions—several of which lasted until last week—are bewildering teenagers and high school guidance counselors.”

We don’t know why these guidance counselors and teenagers are bewildered! We’ve been writing about it for years. Just as it shouldn’t bewilder you that a guy can win the Tour de France time after time after time by juicing, it shouldn’t bewilder you that colleges can secure more and more applications by delaying their deadlines.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Duke Early Decision Policy

January 26, 2015
Duke Early Decision, Early Decision at Duke, Duke University Early Policy

Bev Taylor, Founder of The Ivy Coach, is quoted extensively today on the pages of “The Duke Chronicle,” the newspaper of Duke University.

Bev Taylor, Founder of The Ivy Coach, has been featured in an article of “The Duke Chronicle” entitled “Duke stands by binding early decision policies” that we figured we’d share with our reader-base. Many argue that binding Early Decision policies preclude applicants who need to weigh one college’s financial aid offer against another from applying. And that’s because they won’t have a chance to compare the packages since they’re only applying to one school. It’s like going to a physician without having the option of getting a second opinion, we imagine they’d argue. So what does Bev have to say about Early Decision policies precluding students of low-socioeconomic means, you ask? Hogwash.

As quoted in this piece in “The Duke Chronicle,” “Bev Taylor, founder of the The Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, said that opposition to early decision is often due to ignorance of the resources available to applicants. Financial aid calculators exist at nearly every top university, and students can check their financial aid packages before they even apply, she said. Financial aid packages for students admitted through both early and regular decision are calculated the same way at Duke, [assistant vice provost and director of financial aid Alison] Rabil said. ‘We don’t change how we calculate the award just because you’ve made a commitment to us for ED,’ she wrote. Early decision offers additional benefits, Taylor added. The program provides closure to both colleges and students — a university knows that a part of its class is filled, and prospective students can stop stressing about the college search. ‘The beauty of early decision is that these colleges know that if the student is applying, they’re coming,’ Taylor said. Taylor noted that applicants may also benefit from higher early decision acceptance rates. At 25 percent, the early decision acceptance rate for the Duke Class of 2018 is higher than its regular decision acceptance rate of 9 percent in the same year. A similar trend is visible at peer universities, both those with early decision and those with early action.”

While Early Decision policies may regrettably preclude students of low socio-economic means from applying (and the data certainly supports this unfortunate fact), it’s likely only because these families haven’t been well informed that they can calculate their financial aid packages before they even apply to colleges, including their potential Early Decision school. They can indeed still do the comparison! Applying to only one school rather than fifteen schools sure saves money on applications too and it’s high time that this myth that Early Decision discriminates against those of low socio-economic means is busted. Maybe it’ll be on “MythBusters.” Don’t hold your breath. How cool was the one about the escape from Alcatraz?

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

Another SAT Scandal in Asia

January 25, 2015
SAT Scandal, SAT Cheating, China and SAT Cheating

“The Washington Post” has been leading the reporting of the cheating on the SAT that is taking place in China and South Korea.

More allegations of cheating on the SAT are surfacing, this time concerning the SAT administration in Asia this past Saturday. As you may recall, there was an SAT cheating scandal in Asia just a couple of months ago — one that required extraordinary planning and execution. According to an article on this latest SAT cheating scandal in “The Washington Post,” the newspaper that most thoroughly covered the previous SAT cheating scandal in Asia, “About half a dozen counselors and students in South Korea and elsewhere in Asia have said that some test prep companies have learned about test items that will be on exam and have provided them to their clients. At least one said he wrote to the College Board and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT for the College Board, warning them of the issue.”

“The Washington Post” very nicely delineates the three means by which cheating on the SAT has managed to take place in Asia: (1) Employees of SAT test prep companies have been taking the exams in the United States or copying ‘undisclosed exams’ and then bringing those questions back to China and South Korea; (2) these employees log ‘undisclosed’ SAT questions from previous administrations of the exam into a database to share with their clientele; (3) employees of these firms sit for the initial administration of the SAT (in the earliest time zone) and then report the questions and answers back to their companies during bathroom breaks so that those in later time zones will know the information.

It seems quite apparent that the College Board and ETS need to make wholesale changes to their security measures. It’s becoming scandal after scandal and it’s not even as though the ways by which these people are cheating are drastically changing. What measures can these organizations take to ensure that such cheating ceases? Retinal scans are too expensive to have at each testing site. So what are some plausible options? We’re curious to hear what you think so let us know by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Thick Application Files

January 24, 2015
Thick College Applications, Thick College Application Files, University Application Files

Don’t send Godiva chocolate to admissions offices. They’ll eat it if unopened. After all, Godiva chocolate is delicious. But don’t send it nonetheless.

There’s an old saying in highly selective college admissions, dating back to the days when not everything was electronic. That expression went as follows: “The thicker the file, the thicker the student.” Just because applications and such aren’t snail mailed into admissions offices anymore, that doesn’t mean the crux of the expression doesn’t still hold true. Because it sure does! Allow us to share with you a story. We received a delivery the other day. Deliveries are always fun. Who knows what’s inside the box? There’s such fun in the mystery.  But in this particular box that we received, there were photo albums, a childhood diorama (yes, you read that correctly — a diorama), pages and pages worth of awards on lined looseleaf paper, and a box of Godiva chocolate.

The chocolate was absolutely delicious. Some of the fruity ones were a little too sweet but, in general, we totally enjoyed the treat. Oh, and if you’re wondering, we had absolutely no clue who this box came from. It’s from the parent of a high schooler who is not a client but the parent apparently wanted us to get to know her daughter. And so, naturally, she sent us her childhood diorama. To be clear, we did not request said diorama nor did we request chocolate or childhood photos. We had no idea such a package would show up at our doorstep. And yet it did. And we ate the chocolate. But we haven’t got a clue as to why someone would send such a package. We were surprised not to find a lock of hair from the child’s first haircut. Perhaps that will come next. We can’t wait.

Would it surprise you to learn that there are actually people who send such things to admissions offices? There are actually people who inundate them with superfluous materials — with ridiculous things like childhood photos — in the hope that it will sway admissions officers to want to admit their child? There are folks who send chocolate, too, which can be considered a bribe! But, if unopened, that doesn’t mean admissions officers won’t eat the chocolate. We’re not sure as to why this parent sent us this package. But it’s quite unnecessary. Don’t send superfluous materials into admissions offices because “the thicker the file, the thicker the student.” Keep that file thin. If you can’t say something concisely, don’t say it with a childhood diorama. Oy vey.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Pro Bono College Admissions Assistance

January 23, 2015
Pro Bono Admissions Assistance, Pro Bono College Admissions Help, College Admissions Help

The Ivy Coach offers pro bono college admissions assistance to select members of our military as well as to former members of our military.

The Ivy Coach offers pro bono college admissions assistance to certain students who otherwise would not be able to afford our services. Often times, students and parents email or call us asking if we can take them (or their child) on as clients and we have to tell them that we can’t at this time because we’re at capacity with our pro bono admissions cases. And sometimes we decline because we’re just not interested in working with someone. Just because we offer pro bono college admissions assistance doesn’t mean that we have to give up our valuable time to you if you’re not nice. We frankly don’t care what kind of compelling story you might have if you’re not nice to us. We have limited capacity. We only work with nice people. It’s the most important rule in our business. It is our guiding principle. When we offer free consults, parents and students sometimes don’t realize that we’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing us. If we find that a parent is a know-it-all, then we politely tell them that they seem to know so many of the answers already that we feel we couldn’t be of service. Even though just about everything they think they know is wrong. We keep that last tidbit to ourselves.

Anyhow, we currently are not at capacity with our pro bono cases and write this blog today in the hope that we’ll hear specifically from current or former members of our military who are seeking to attend a highly selective college. Maybe they’ve never attended college. Maybe they’ve attended some college but it was interrupted by military service. Maybe they attended a college that isn’t particularly selective and now aspire to attend one of our nation’s most prestigious schools. If any of this is the case, we are interested in hearing from you. So fill out our free consult form and indicate at the bottom that you’re a veteran interested in our pro bono college admissions assistance.

We will require that you provide evidence of your military service. You wouldn’t believe how many folks contact us claiming to be members of our military or veterans and then when we ask them to provide documentation, the trail goes cold. Don’t waste our time and don’t waste yours because if you can’t provide the documentation, we will not be offering you our pro bono college admissions assistance. And we won’t if you’re not nice either. But if you are nice and you have served our country and are looking for assistance in gaining admission to a highly selective college, ignore all of these caveats because we’d very much like to hear from you.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Submitting Letters of Enthusiasm

January 22, 2015
Letters of Enthusiasm, College Letter of Interest, College Letter of Continued Interest

Deferred applicants should absolutely submit powerful Letters of Enthusiasm irrespective of what a college admissions office may say.

Some students and parents have been writing to us of late stating that the schools to which they applied Early specifically said — more or less — that they didn’t want to hear from deferred applicants. They’re a bit confused because we suggest submitting Letters of Enthusiasm to universities that deferred a student’s candidacy until the Regular Decision round. Well, let’s clear that up right here and now. Not everything that colleges tell you is correct. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know well that we’ll call just about anyone out for not being accurate or honest. We are unapologetic. Our honesty can be brutal and difficult to hear at times. But it’s honesty nonetheless and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Ignore these colleges when they say don’t submit Letters of Enthusiasm. They of course don’t refer to these letters as Letters of Enthusiasm — that’s just a term we like to call them. And it’s a term that has really taken off!

If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that colleges send brochures to students in the hope of encouraging them to apply even though these students don’t stand a chance of gaining admission. These colleges simply want to boost their application numbers so that they’ll have lower admission rates and rank higher in the annual, all-important “US News & World Report” rankings. That’s not exactly honest. Neither is touting need blind admissions policies. No college is need blind. Rather, they are need aware. While we can go on for quite a while on this subject, in short, if they’re need blind, then why can admissions officers see whether or not an applicant checked that he/she needs financial aid on the Common App.? Ask yourself this question as well: If a college were truly need blind, then couldn’t they — theoretically — admit an entire class of students that needed financial aid? In such a case, they’d have to significantly dip into their endowment. Colleges rely on tuition…they can’t truly be need blind! It’s a myth. Like Santa Claus.

Anyhow, if you’re a deferred applicant, it’s imperative that you submit a compelling Letter of Enthusiasm. An ordinary letter won’t do. Submitting a letter in which you list all of your remarkable achievements since being deferred won’t do (oy vey!). This letter has got to be extraordinary. It has got to be powerful and moving. If you’re interested in The Ivy Coach’s assistance with your Letter of Enthusiasm, fill out our consult form and we’ll write you back. It’s also important that you get moving on submitting this letter if you haven’t done so already as you want the school reviewing your application now, with the Regular Decision pool.

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

Students at Stanford University

January 21, 2015
Stanford Students, Students at Stanford, Admission to Stanford

What do you think about this new development at Stanford University? We’re curious to hear from you.

We’ve got some news for students at Stanford University. Have you been curious for a while what admissions officers had to say about your candidacy to The Farm? If that’s the case, you’re curiosity can indeed be satiated…at least a little. As a “Forbes” piece entitled “Wow, College Applicants Can Now Find Out What Admissions Committees Wrote About Them” written by Troy Onink points out, “Students at Stanford University were able to follow a ‘tried and tested’ five-step process published by Fountain Hopper, an anonymous student-run website at Stanford, to legally obtain their college admissions records. Fountain Hopper’s simple five-step process (they even have a a pre-populated template to submit your request) is based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which mandates that schools must provide students access to their educational records. This means that students can now find out what admissions committees wrote about them and their applications for admission, including numerical values placed on applicant personality rankings, evaluation of student academic records and more.”

We’d be curious to see if this spreads to other schools outside of Palo Alto, but it’s not really all that useful to students…unless they’re considering transferring and using the same kinds of essays that they used when they first applied for undergraduate admission. When it’s useful is right after students are either deferred or denied admission in the Early Decision or Early Action round. It’s when we do post-mortem evaluations, when we evaluate students’ applications for admission and let them know why they were deferred or denied in the hope that they can avoid such mistakes in the Regular Decision round. Finding out once a student is already enrolled in college is kind of useless, we’d argue. But it’s pretty cool nonetheless.

What do you think about new development at Stanford? Do you think it will soon be available at other highly selective colleges? Do you think students and parents have a right to this information through FERPA? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,