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Ivy League Admission
The Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

There is Still Time to Fix Bad College Essays

October 22, 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

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: , , , ,

Awards in College Admissions

October 19, 2014
Siemens and Ivy League Admissions, Siemens Foundation, Siemens Competition

The Ivy Coach congratulates our students who were named Siemens Competition semi-finalists this week.

Not all awards in college admissions are created equal. There are lots and lots of lame awards that high school students like to share on their college applications. Not sure which awards we might be referring to? How about being named to the “Who’s Who Among American High School Students” list? That is so lame and should never, ever be on a student’s college application! If you’re ever at a doctor’s office and that award is framed in the waiting area, you might consider running. Anyhow, how about a high school student being named the school’s most popular student? Yuck. Or being a semi-finalist for Key Club’s dedication award? ZZZzzz. We made that one up. But you get the idea. Lame awards don’t help in highly selective college admissions. Rather, they elicit eye rolls from admissions officers

However, some awards are real. Some awards given to high school students are extremely impressive and really boost a student’s chances of admission to highly selective colleges. One of our former students was a Lincoln-Douglas Debate Champion. Now that’s impressive. Our student was ranked as America’s best debater. Pretty cool. Yesterday, the Siemens Foundation announced their semi-finalists for their scientific research. We have several students who were named semi-finalists and we’re mighty proud of them! Being named a Siemens Competition (formerly Siemens-Westinghouse) semi-finalist is a big deal. So is being named an Intel Science Talent Search Semi-Finalist. The Intel STS winner a couple of years back was our student as well.

Are you worried that your awards are lame? Do you want our opinion of them? If so, sign up today for a free consultation to discuss our service offerings. We look forward to hearing from you. And as for that best smile award in your high school yearbook, it should absolutely be left off your college application. But congrats on that! And be sure to congratulate your dentist and orthodontist too for a job well done.

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

College Admissions Consults

October 18, 2014
College Consults, Admission Consult, University Admission Consult

We offer free 20-minute college admissions consults at The Ivy Coach.

At The Ivy Coach, we offer a free 20-minute college admissions consult. The purpose of this free consultation is for potential clients to better understand our service offerings. Maybe they’re curious how we work with students all around the world via phone, Skype, and email. If you haven’t read our blog on how we will help your kid get into Harvard but we will not serve you biscuits, you should! Who needs a biscuit anyway? Go to Denny’s. You don’t need a biscuit from The Ivy Coach. Or maybe parents and students have questions about how we help students refine their college admissions essays. The free admissions consultation is a terrific opportunity to get clarity on how we help students write and rewrite their many essays required of all the highly selective schools to which they’re applying. Good writing is about rewriting. And rewriting some more. Most first drafts are terrible. Yours is likely not an exception. Sorry.

Another purpose of our free 20-minute college admissions consults is so that we can gain a better understanding of you. Our time is precious. We want to work with students and parents whom we enjoy working with. We take such pleasure when we receive beautiful thank you notes when students gain admission to the colleges of their dreams. Those phone calls on Decision Day in which students and parents call us and we can barely make out what they’re saying because they’re so unbelievably excited — that’s why we do what we do. Decision Day (and Decision Day thankfully comes a couple times each year — yay!) is our Christmas and Chanukah all in one. It’s even our Festivus, if you happen to be a fan of “Seinfeld.”

Sometimes during these free consults, we realize that we wouldn’t enjoy working with a certain parent or student. Maybe we find a parent’s line of questioning to be rude. Or maybe we just can’t take on any more students because it’s crunch time and all of our resources are devoted to our existing clients. Sometimes parents especially like to pick our brains during these calls. That’s fine. But there are certain things we won’t deal with. Our 20-minute free admissions consults are our time out of our days and we like to spend our days working with people who appreciate us and what we have to offer. We know. We’re crazy like that.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Thick College Envelopes

October 17, 2014
Thick Admissions Envelopes, Admission Envelopes, Admissions Decisions

Most students find out their admissions decisions via email or by logging into websites these days.

Students used to find out their admissions decisions in the mail. They’d look outside the window every three minutes to see if the flag was up on the mailbox. Or they’d run to the post office to see if they could intercept the letter from Princeton. Or maybe they’d flag down the mailman on his route. During these instances, students would be rooting for thick college envelopes, because thick envelopes usually went hand in hand with a letter of admission. And it makes sense. If a student is admitted, colleges would want to supply them with information and such to get them excited about the school. In Regular Decision, that information would be marketing material to sway them to want to attend their institution over other institutions. But now most of these letters come electronically. Colleges do indeed still send out mailings, especially after a student is notified of his or her admission via email or by logging into the school’s internal browser. But the thick envelope craze has subsided a little since the process isn’t as envelope-driven these days.

So if you’re a parent who once got a thick envelope and are expecting thick (or thin) envelopes for your child, know that it’s mostly all electronic these days. Your child logs into a website and he or she is greeted with “Congratulations!” Or your child gets an email from the dean of admissions at the school to which he or she applied, welcoming them to the university. The thick envelopes will come if your child is admitted but by the time they do come, you won’t be all nervous because you’ll already know your child’s fate.

Would you rather learn of an admissions decision by snail mail By email, through a website, or over the phone? Let us know where you stand on the extinction of thick college envelopes on decision day. We’re curious to hear your thoughts on the matter! And, while you’re here, read our blog on thick college applications. In this case, thick is totally not a good thing. As the saying in highly selective college admissions goes, “The thicker the file, the thicker the student.”

Categories: College Decisions Tags: , , , ,

Applying Early to Penn

October 16, 2014
Applying to Penn, Early Decision at Penn, Penn Applications

Penn values its Early Decision applicants quite a bit!

Thinking about applying Early to Penn or another highly selective college? If you’re not sure whether you want to apply Early Decision to a school with an Early Decision policy, ask yourself if this is the school you most want to attend. If the answer is yes — and you have a reasonable or somewhat reasonable shot of gaining admission — you should absolutely apply Early Decision. Your Early Decision card is one of your most valuable cards you have. And it’s one of the few cards you have as an applicant to highly selective colleges. The fact is that Early Decision applicants have much stronger odds of gaining admission in the Early round than if they apply as Regular Decision candidates. Just look at the admissions statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. The numbers say it all. Now does Penn favor Early Decision applicants more than most? You bet. But no matter the highly selective college with an Early Decision policy in place, you will have better odds of getting in during the Early Decision round than during the Regular Decision round. That is irrefutable.

One of our favorite deans of admission, Penn’s always colorful Eric Furda, has written a great blog on things students should consider before they apply Early Decision to a school. Applying Early Decision, after all, is signing a contract that if admitted, you will attend. So read through what Dean Furda has written and be sure to read these words at least twice: “Applying Early Decision can be exciting. It is a way for you to show your commitment to a school that means a lot to you. Continue asking questions, editing, writing, and looking inward as you move forward with your Early Decision application process.” By showing a commitment to a school like Penn, they’ll be more likely to show their commitment back. Funny how life works like that. If only such was always the case with love!

Anyhow, if you’re at all curious why Penn’s admissions blog, on which Dean Furda writes, is called P.217, it’s because for nearly twenty years, Penn had a supplemental essay that read, “Please write p. 217 of your 300 page autobiography.” It was a really easy essay since you could write about essentially anything. But too many Penn applicants stressed about it and, four years ago, Penn did away with it. The assumption is that it caused too many students to not apply to Penn. And highly selective colleges like Penn always want to encourage potential students to apply. The more students who apply, the lower the admission rate will be, and the higher Penn will be ranked in “US News & World Report.” Funny how things work out so logically sometimes, right?

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

In Support of the Universal College Application

October 15, 2014
UCA, Universal College App, Universal College Application

The Ivy Coach was recently featured in an article of Brown University’s “Brown Daily Herald.”

Bev Taylor, Founder of The Ivy Coach, was recently featured in an article of Brown University’s “Brown Daily Herald” on the topic of the Universal College Application. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that The Ivy Coach has been quite critical of the Common Application over the past year. And rightly so. Curious to learn a bit about our stance if you haven’t read our blogs previously on the subject? Then check out this article Bev wrote for “The Huffington Post” about whether or not the Common Application is restraining trade.

Anyhow, in the article on the rise of the Universal College Application in “The Brown Daily Herald,” Bev is quoted as follows: “Though the Common App and UCA have similar online formats, applicants can choose the topic on their long essay for the UCA but not on the Common App, said Bev Taylor, founder and president of The Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm. The Common App no longer lets applicants select their essay topic, she added. ‘A lot of creativity was lost’ when the Common App decided to eliminate the topic-of-choice on its application, Taylor said. The Common App also does not allow students to upload their essays, which means they cannot use special characters or visual illustrations in their essays.”

The Ivy Coach firmly takes the stance that more colleges should use the Universal College Application and we are very proud and happy for the surge in colleges that now support the UCA. The Common Application was an utter disaster last year and, for this reason and so many more, this organization should not be the only supplier of the college application. The Ivy Coach supports competition. In America, competition brings out the best. We urge highly selective colleges throughout the country to offer the Universal College Application as well or instead of the Common App. It’s the right thing to do.

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

2014 Ivy League Football Standings

October 14, 2014
Ivy Football Standings, 2014 Ivy Football Standings, 2014 Ivy League Football Rankings

Welcome back, Dartmouth football. It’s been a while.

It’s time for an update on the 2014 Ivy League football standings. The Ivy League, after all, all began as a football league. So which Ivy League university tops the standings? Harvard and Dartmouth both have 2-0 records. Princeton has played one fewer Ivy League game and sits at 1-0. Yale sits in fourth place at 1-1. Brown is 0-1. Cornell is 0-2. Penn is 0-1. And Columbia is 0-1. Overall (including non-Ivy League games), Harvard sits at 4-0, while Dartmouth sits at 3-1. Princeton is 2-2, Yale 3-1, Brown 2-2, and Cornell, Penn, and Columbia all sit at 0-4. Goose eggs for those three universities.

We’ve been following Ivy League football on this blog for years and we would like to congratulate the winningest Ivy League football program in history for alas making it back to the top. It’s been a long time since Dartmouth College fielded an Ivy League title contender, but with their victory over Yale this weekend, they showed us that they are back. Congratulations to Dartmouth’s Big Green football program and head coach Buddy Teevens. It turns out you don’t need Jay Fiedler to win Ivy League football titles at the College on the Hill, after all. That’a a joke. They have won titles without Fiedler. The Long Island product just happened to have been their best quarterback.

If you’re an Ivy League football fan, which university do you project to win the Ivy League title? Do you think the title will be won outright this year or will multiple schools share the trophy? Let us know your thought and let us know which school you’re rooting for by posting a comment on Ivy League football below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Bragging and Admissions

October 13, 2014
Bragging in Admissions, Bragging and Ivy Admissions, Colleges and Bragging

Stanford doesn’t like braggarts. And neither do we (photo credit: Jawed Karim).

Around this time every year, parents call us to tell us how amazing their children are and how they’re applying for admission to Harvard or Stanford in the Early round. We used to wonder to ourselves why parents like to call us simply to brag about their children, but we’ve long since come to the conclusion that it’s grounded in insecurity. They’re not sure if their kid is going to get into Harvard or Stanford, even though they let on just the opposite over the phone. And now that it’s October 13th, just a couple of weeks before the Early deadline at most highly selective colleges, they’re panicking. But they still can’t bring themselves to ask if maybe their kid shouldn’t write an essay about traveling across Europe in his Personal Statement. All they want to do is brag. Brag, brag, brag.

In fact, many parents use up a good portion of their free 20-minute consultation with us simply bragging about their children. Do they think we actually care? Do they think we’re actually impressed? We are not. But you already knew that. Instead of bragging, they could be asking our advice on whether submitting a Personal Statement on foreign travel is a good idea (it’s a terrible idea!) or if that essay on basketball makes for a good Personal Statement (we can tell you write now that it doesn’t because sports are an all-too-common, trite college essay topic).

So, parents, if you want to brag about your kids, brag about them to your spouses. Brag about them to your dogs. When you call The Ivy Coach and you seek out our advice, you might want to listen and let us lead the conversation. If you do that, your kid might actually get into Harvard or Stanford. Because your kid is definitely getting rejected by those two universities with a Personal Statement about foreign travel or sports. No matter how good it is. Let’s repeat that for effect — no matter how good it is! Oh, and by the way, it isn’t good.

While you’re here, read about the importance of being likable in your college essays.

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