Asian and Asian American parents have a special affinity for the Ivy League. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we’re often very critical of statements and articles about the highly selective college admissions process in the press. We’re critical because there is an enormity of inaccurate information out there about this process and we aim to correct this. Today, we came across an article by lawyer and author Allison Singh (who also notes that she was a rejected college applicant in spite of the fact that she ended up attending one of the finest — if not the finest — university in the nation) that is not in the least inaccurate. While this may come as a surprise to many, we have only praise for this May 14th piece on “The Huffington Post” entitled “College Admissions and the Asian-American Parent.”
In the piece, Ms. Singh discusses how Asian American parents are all basically culprits of using “The List.” “The List” consists of “The Ivies, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley. Maybe Duke, if all else fails…maybe.” We would add a couple of other schools (have you ever walked around UCLA?) but Ms. Singh is spot on. Chinese American parents — and even more so parents in China whose children will be attending university in the United States, rarely stray from “The List.” They are obsessed with brand recognition and they consider the “US News & World Report” rankings “The Bible.” It’s all about status, as Ms. Singh writes.
Are there Asian and Asian American students at highly selective liberal arts colleges like Williams College, Amherst College, and Wesleyan University? Sure. But these universities aren’t on the same playing field for this group of parents, unfortunately. Amherst College — in spite of offering one of the greatest educations in the world — just doesn’t make “The List.” It’s not Harvard. It’s not MIT. The fact is that brand recognition matters. Universities invest millions to build their brands. They employ folks just to bolster their brands. The day that Asian and Asian American parents stray from “The List” is a day we don’t foresee happening anytime soon, though our Asian and Asian American clients always stray a little (though they quite often also apply to “The List” schools too).Categories: College Admissions, Ivy League, Parents Tags: Asian American Parents and Ivy League, Asian Americans and Ivy League, Asian Parents and Ivy League, Asians and Ivy League, Ivy League and Asian Parents
There is an article in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” by Jon Boeckenstedt, the associate vice president for enrollment management at De Paul University, entitled “Let’s Bring Clarity to Undergraduate Admissions” which discusses how the current college admissions system is broken and in need of a fix. What we found most interesting in Mr. Boeckenstedt’s article is the following comment on colleges recruiting unqualified college applicants: “Occasionally colleges knowingly send materials to students who have almost no chance of being admitted. In what can only be called a disgrace to higher education, the students serve an important role in catering to the sub-industry that creates rewards and incentives for rejecting the largest percentage of applicants.”
Well said, Mr. Boeckenstedt. It’s something we’ve been writing about for years and the more folks in the college admissions community that put this in writing, the better. The only thing we would correct in this statement is the usage of the word “occasionally.” Mr. Boeckenstedt is being too nice. Highly selective colleges don’t “occasionally” send recruiting materials to students who have zero shot of ever gaining admission (simply to boost their application numbers and thereby lower their admission rate). They do it every year in droves. Highly selective colleges send brochures to students whose SAT scores fall well below their mean SAT score, knowing full well that student has no shot of getting in. They do this only to boost their “US News & World Report” ranking. It’s ridiculous. A few colleges have taken a stand and said we’re not doing this anymore. We’ve highlighted a couple of these colleges in the past, but these colleges are the exception to the rule, not the rule.
Highly selective colleges need to show more empathy to seventeen year-old high school students going through a very stressful time in their lives. They shouldn’t be getting the hopes up of these students who, in reality, have no shot of ever getting in to their institution. It’s wrong. It’s unethical. Thank you to Mr. Boeckenstedt for drawing attention to this practice. And remember, just because you receive brochures from a college, that doesn’t mean that college actually thinks you can get in. It merely means they want you to apply. They want anyone to apply. Heck, they even get an application fee with each application. It’s a business with a bottom line.Categories: College Admissions Tags: College Admissions Brochures, College Admissions Recruiting, Recruiting Unqualified College Applicants, University Admissions Recruiting, Unqualified College Applicants
It’s college waitlist season so we thought we’d share with you a story about a student’s attempts at getting off a college waitlist. Are you trying to devise a creative way to stand out so that admissions officers will pluck you from dreaded college admissions limbo? We recommend that you simply write an extremely well crafted letter of enthusiasm and update colleges on any significant new achievement (with strong emphasis on the word significant). But some students do different things and, sometimes, they work. More often, they don’t. We do not recommend starting a Twitter campaign to engage the college that has waitlisted you but for one Massachusetts resident, it seems to have worked. While the school stated that the Twitter campaign did not influence Bernie Zak’s admissions decision to UCLA, Zak believes it did.
Zak wrote a series of Tweets directed to the UCLA office of admissions, including a list of reasons why the university in Westwood Village should admit the high school senior. Such reasons included tidbits like UCLA could use a 5’8 center. Funny. Kind of. Or how they could use him as a practice pitcher on their baseball team since he played high school baseball. Or how they’d be admitting a future President of the United States. Uh huh. And how he looks like David Hasselhoff when he runs down the Santa Monica beach. Ok there. Anyhow, the Twitter campaign attracted enough attention that UCLA’s student newspaper wrote about the waitlisted student and, yes, it did come to the attention of UCLA admissions officers. According to an article in “The Boston Globe,” “[UCLA spokesman Richard] Vazquez said the university was aware of the Zak family’s campaign, but he added: ‘A Twitter campaign by any student would have absolutely no influence on our admittance decision.’”
Zak is very glad that he decided to market himself to UCLA over Twitter and even says he has a couple of friends who wish they’d thought of that idea. We can assure you that it’s not a great idea to start a Twitter campaign to try to get off a college waitlist. A really well crafted letter would have done the trick in all likelihood for Mr. Zak, since he was able to gain admission off the waitlist and earn admission to the UCLA Class of 2017.Categories: College Admissions Tags: Get Off College Waitlist, Getting Off A College Waitlist, Getting Off College Waitlists, Getting Off University Waitlists, Getting Off Waitlists
We wanted to discuss more things you should never do when on university waitlists as the piece by Ariel Kaminer in “The New York Times” entitled “On a College Waiting List? Sending Cookies Isn’t Going to Help” is filled with quite a few gems that are deserving of further exploration. As the piece states, trying to get off a college waitlist is kind of like dating (not long-term dating, just the first couple of dates kind of dating). You should express interest but not to an extreme level and there’s nothing wrong with expressing interest to a few different colleges (though colleges can try to gauge this, too). You should not do nothing. Doing nothing will not get you off that waitlist in all likelihood. You’ve got a much better shot if you play your cards the right way.
And playing your cards the right way should by no means involve parents calling the admissions office. According to “The New York Times” article, “‘There’s a mother who e-mails me every third day — they must have timers on these things,’ Ms. [Ann Fleming' Brown [, the director of admissions at Union College,] said. ‘There’s one parent who calls up and yells at me: ‘I can’t believe this happened! This is a horrible thing!’ And then he calls 10 minutes later and says, ‘I’m sorry.’ Then he calls and says, ‘I know you don’t like me. I’m being a complete pest.’” Talk about things not to do! Ever.
Writing notes like, “I love you, I love you, I love you” also doesn’t do the trick, as stated in the piece. A college is not your junior high girlfriend. Colleges are, as the article states, “academic institutions.” You don’t write childish love letters to academic institutions. You do, however, write a strongly worded and articulately crafted letter about why you still want to attend an institution and what you can add to that university’s student body that they don’t already have. Discuss classes, discuss research opportunities, extracurriculars, and what sets you apart in this world. That’s the key to trying to navigate getting off that dreaded university waitlist.Categories: College Admissions Tags: University Wait List, University Waiting List, University Waiting Lists, University Waitlists, Waiting Lists at Universities
Stuck on college waiting lists? There is an article in today’s “New York Times” by Ariel Kaminer entitled, “On a College Waiting List? Sending Cookies Isn’t Going to Help.” Well, that’s for sure! It never ceases to amaze us how many waitlisted college applicants think it wise to nonetheless send baked goods to offices of admission each and every year. Will the admissions officers eat the cookies? Often times — indeed. Will the cookies positively impact their candidacy and chances of getting off the waitlist? No way! Seriously, did you really think baked goods would do the trick?
In the article in “The New York Times,” sending “family photos, craft projects depicting campus landmarks and dossiers of testimonials from civic and religious leaders” are also a few noted ridiculous things to do in an attempt to get off the waitlist? Now, should you do anything if you’re on a college waiting list? Absolutely not! Should you do nothing while you’re on the waitlist? Absolutely not either. You must indeed be proactive but proactivity should by no means involved baked goods or family photos. Seriously, family photos? Oy vey.
When you’re on college waiting lists, you should send letters of enthusiasm and you should update admissions officers at those colleges on any subsequent significant achievement of yours. With the keyword being significant. They don’t care what you ate for breakfast this morning. They don’t care if you just got a new dog. Significant. Significant. Significant. We can’t emphasize this enough. Want to know some other things not to do. As stated in the “New York Times” piece, students put themselves in the doghouse when they “[insult] the college’s judgment or taste. They have disparaged classmates who already got in. They have threatened to go over the admissions officer’s head. Showing up and demanding an interview is inadvisable. Showing up with a camping tent, even more so.” The camping tent is a famous case from many years ago in college admissions. Don’t do these things! Don’t even think about it!Categories: College Admissions Tags: College Waiting List, College Waiting Lists, College Waitlist, College Waitlists, University Waitlists
Grades after college acceptances matter. What your grades are like before you’re admitted to the college you’ll be matriculating to should be what your grades are like after you’re admitted. If you’re an ‘A’ student before, you should be an ‘A’ student after, too. But we do recognize that you’re not a robot. You’ve spent years working so hard to get into the college of your dreams. You’ve aced exam after exam, completed paper after paper. It’s ok for you to relax a little bit and enjoy the rest of high school. Seriously — you should. Does that mean your grades should drop significantly? Absolutely not. Your letter of admission can certainly be rescinded. It happens all of the time.
But what happens if you slack off a little and get a ‘B+’ instead of your usual ‘A’ in a class? Nothing will happen. It’ll be ok. Your offer of admission likely isn’t going to be rescinded over a ‘B+’. If you start getting straight ‘D’s,’ then, yes, there is an excellent shot that your offer of admission will be rescinded. But most people fall into the first category of students, not the second. If you’re super worried that your ‘B+’ will jeopardize your offer of admission, stop worrying. Seriously. That’s silly. Relax.
But while getting a ‘B+’ is ok, a change in behavior isn’t. If you start getting into trouble at school or with the law, there is an excellent chance that your offer of admission will be rescinded. So if you feel that your relaxing and taking it a little bit easier than you did prior to your offer of admission is in your future, know that changing your behavior is a really bad idea that can jeopardize everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Be the same person you were before your offer of admission and be the same student you were before this offer, too. But, yes, a ‘B+’ is totally ok.
While you’re here, check out this post on Senior Year Courses.Categories: College Admissions Tags: Grades After Admissions Decisions, Grades After College Acceptances, Grades Post Acceptance Letters, High School Grades, Senior Year Grades
Students on college waitlists should not remain on these lists if they have no intention of attending these universities. As an example, if a student is admitted to Yale and has every intention of attending Yale (and would never consider attending Columbia over Yale), then he should not remain on the Columbia University waitlist. By remaining on the Columbia University waitlist just to “see if he can get in” (an expression we hear and read so often from high school students), that student is effectively hurting other applicants on the Columbia waitlist. It’s narcissistic. It’s not right. Too many high school students do it — and even brag about it — every year.
If a student needs the ego boost that badly — if they need that feather in their cap so they can say for the rest of their lives that they were also admitted to Columbia but chose to attend Yale — he or she needs to read a book on empathy. It never ceases to amaze us when we hear students boast about how they’re going to stay on four waitlists even though they already got into their dream school just to see how many acceptance letters they can get. It’s so dumb. And it’s so dumb that they would choose to brag about this. What are they thinking?
So if you’re a student on a college waitlist with no intention of attending that university, remove your name from that waitlist today. It’s very easy to remove yourself from a waitlist. Think about all of the other people on that waitlist who actually would attend if they gained admission. Do it for them. Seriously. Like right now.Categories: College Admissions Tags: Students on College Waiting Lists, Students on College Waitlists, Students on University Waiting Lists, Students on University Waitlists, Waiting Lists for Colleges
In Hollywood, there are a ton of people who think they’ve written the next great movie or television script. They think the script about the greatest love story never told or about a monkey in space or the story of a high school basketball team that learned to play together will be the next big box office sensation. We suspect you’re smart enough to realize that the vast majority of these folks are utterly delusional. They’d be lucky if their parents read their script about the monkey in space, much less a major movie studio. So how do these delusions of grandeur relate to highly selective college admissions? That’s easy. High school students and their parents have delusions of grandeur when it comes to the college admissions process, too.
Many high schoolers (and particularly their parents) think that they should easily be able to get into Stanford. In spite of their B+ average and mediocre SAT scores. Why? Because they are somewhat decent at volleyball. Good enough to be recruited? No. But decent. And they volunteer in a host of activities from Key Club to serving soup at a homeless shelter. That’s nice of course — if they’re doing this out of the goodness of their heart rather than with an eye towards college admissions (it wouldn’t much help anyway and could even hurt) — but this student has very low odds of ever getting into Stanford because, frankly, this kid just isn’t special enough in the highly competitive world of college admissions.
Parents need to recognize that their students are those Hollywood scripts. They’re not all as special as you think they are. The sooner that you realize this, the better experience you’ll have as your child applies to highly selective colleges. So many parents think that their kid is really special. And some are. But most aren’t. And most won’t be getting into the top colleges. Just like most aspiring screenwriters will never write a script that sells, much less gets made. Delusions of grandeur have no place in college admissions.Categories: College Admissions Tags: College Admissions and Delusional Applicants, College Admissions Delusions, Delusions of Grandeur and College Admission, Delusions of Ivy League, Ivy League Delusions
As The Ivy Coach approaches its 1,000th blog, we thought we’d ask our loyal readers what topic related to highly selective college admissions you’d like us to address. Over the years, we’ve addressed all sorts of topics from how to write the best possible personal statement to what not to do on your activity sheet to how to secure great teacher letters of recommendation to the admissions scandal at Claremont McKenna College. We’ve written about Ivy League admissions statistics and how runners and swimmers have an advantage in the college admissions process that even football and basketball players don’t have (they surely have their major advantages, too). We’ve written about the advantages of applying Early Decision or Early Action and on what not to do in your college alumni interview.
If there’s a topic relating to Ivy League admissions or highly selective college admissions, our bet is we’ve covered it. After all, every single day of the week — including weekdays, weekends, Christmas, Passover, Independence Day, and Yom Kippur (we write that one the day in advance as we sometimes do), we’ve got a new college admissions blog post. Our posts are intended for high schoolers and their parents, for guidance counselors and teachers, for folks in the college admissions community, and for anyone who just likes reading a college admissions blog (we can’t imagine who else!).
Sometimes, our blogs are the subject of controversy. Like when we argued that it’s pointless for students to take AP tests after they’ve earned admission if they have no shot of placing out of a college course with that test. We stand proudly behind that post. We also stand proudly behind the post in which we corrected erroneous information on Early Decision admissions put forward in an article in a college newspaper. And we stand proudly behind a post in which we were critical of a high school student who chose to bitterly make a fuss about her college rejections in “The Wall Street Journal.”
Anyhow, have a topic for us to discuss on our college admissions blog? Let us know what it is!Categories: College Admissions
Which highly selective colleges in the United States had admit rates at under 15% this year, you ask? We’ve got all of the overall college admit rates for you, from “The New York Times.” Clocking in at under 15% are the following universities (in alphabetical order): Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Brown University, Caltech, Columbia University, Cooper Union, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Juilliard School, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Princeton University, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University. Washington University in St. Louis just missed this cut with an overall admission rate of 15.01%.
Making the cut for the 15-20% admission rate are the following colleges (also in alphabetical order rather than in order of admit rate): Bucknell University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Middlebury College, Olin College of Engineering, Rice University, Tufts University, University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, Wesleyan University, and Williams College.
Is there a university that you thought had a higher acceptance rate than they do? Do any of the colleges on these lists surprise you? Is there a university that you thought would be on one of these two lists but isn’t? If so, let us know your thoughts on the matter and tell us who you thought would have surely been on one of these two lists. We look forward to hearing from you. And, keep in mind, that these are only the colleges that “The New York Times” has listed statistics for. As an example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology isn’t on either of these lists but MIT had an overall acceptance rate this year of 8.2%. So they’d surely be on the first list.
And, while you’re here, check out the most comprehensive Ivy League admission statistics on the web.Categories: College Admissions Tags: College Admission Rates, College Admit Rates, Ivy League Admit Rates, Rates for College Admissions, University Admit Rates