We strongly disagree with the points of an op-ed in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” in which the writer argues against Early Decision policies. We find his points to be a bit out of touch with reality.
If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we encourage our students at The Ivy Coach to make an Early Decision commitment by applying to a college with an Early Decision policy, or to apply to a college that offers an Early Action policy. It’s one of the few cards that students have in their back pockets. To not use this Early Decision or Early Action card is wasteful and, at The Ivy Coach, we are not fans of waste. If you simply peruse Ivy League admissions statistics over the years, you’ll note the clear statistical advantage of applying Early as opposed to in the Regular Decision round. We’re not naive to believe that that are not critics out there of Early Decision and Early Action admissions policies. Of course there are critics. There are always critics. And, in fact, one critic of Early Decision admission at Penn wrote an op-ed a couple of days ago in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” that we figured we’d discuss.
In the op-ed written by Penn student David Britto entitled “Why pride isn’t an admissions criteria,” Britto argues that Early Decision essentially favors the more committed over the less able applicant. In fact, Mr. Britto writes, “Faced with the hypothetical choice, we would rather have the less able, but more committed student. This strikes me not just as undesirable, but also categorically unfair: Should I have less of a shot at a great education because I didn’t apply early or show commitment, even with equal qualifications? That seems contradictory to the principle of meritocracy that universities like Penn are supposed to stand for.”
And what do we have to say about this? Hogwash. Who says Ivy League admission is a meritocracy? Who says Penn is all about creating a meritocracy? If that’s the case, then why should donors get their names on Penn buildings? Why should legacy admission exist at Penn and other highly selective colleges? Why should Affirmative Action policies exist not only at Penn but at highly selective colleges across the United States? Highly selective college admissions is no meritocracy. There are elements of meritocracy to the process. Mr. Britto’s suggestion is in fact rather naive. And his argument that commitment shouldn’t matter is nonsense. Colleges are businesses. They care deeply about their yield rates. Why should a business not look to secure the students who are committed to attending just as a clothing store should try to get people to come to the store who will buy their jeans? Mr. Britto, Wharton is a phenomenal business school. You’ve received an outstanding education. But when you enter the real world next year, you might be in for a wakeup call.
“The Los Angeles Times” has a piece on the advantages of applying Early Decision or Early Action that we figured we’d share with our readers.
There was an article recently in “The Los Angeles Times” entitled “More high school seniors taking early admission to college” by Carla Rivera that we figured we’d discuss. The article, which focuses mostly on California students and universities located within California, articulates how more and more students these days are choosing to apply through Early Decision or Early Action programs. As you may know from reading our college admissions blog, we always encourage our students to apply Early. In fact, if a student is unwilling to apply Early, we’ll often choose not to work with this student. Because our students, overwhelmingly, tend to get in by heeding our sound advice. One of the few cards that students have in their back pockets is their Early card. To not use it is to waste it.
Just check out the statistics for the University of Pennsylvania as a case example. For the Class of 2018, Penn had a 9.9% overall acceptance rate. In the Early Decision round, 25.2% of students earned admission to the university and these students filled 53.7% of the university’s incoming class. In Regular Decision, 7.3% of students who applied to the University of Pennsylvania earned admission. So, to recap, it’s 25.2% in the Early Decision round and 7.3% in the Regular Decision round. One need not be a mathematics major to know that there is a significant advantage in applying Early Decision to Penn. While the statistics aren’t always this striking, the same trend is true at many highly selective colleges across America.
As the article on students applying Early in “The Los Angeles Times” points out, “More than 460 colleges nationwide, many of them top private institutions, offer early options as well as the chance to apply during the later, regular period. Most students still choose the latter. But the number of colleges offering earlier deadlines has increased by about 7% in the last five years, according to the College Board. And most of those colleges report that they are receiving more early applications, according to surveys conducted by the National Assn. for College Admission Counseling.”
Have a Comment on Early Decision or Early Action policies? Let us know your thoughts by posting below. We look forward to hearing from you.
Bev Taylor, Founder of The Ivy Coach, is featured today in “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” Penn’s newspaper.
Bev Taylor, Founder of The Ivy Coach, is featured today on the pages of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania. In a piece by Caroline Simon entitled “Early decision applicants fill more than half of the Class of 2019,” Bev raises her voice against the claim that colleges are need blind. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know well that we have asserted for years that need blind admissions is an absolute farce. Just think about it — if colleges were really need blind, then why can admissions officers view whether or not an applicant needs financial aid on his or her Common Application? This very fact alone indicates that colleges are not need blind. Blind is indicative of not being able to see. But they can see. And if colleges were to admit a class in which every student needed financial aid — which is entirely possible under such a system — they’d have to dip into their endowment. Colleges rely on tuition dollars.
Anyhow, the piece on the Penn Early Decision numbers in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” states that Early Decision applicants to Penn will fill 54.4% of the Class of 2019. This year marked the second year in a row that Penn admitted more than half of its students from the Early Decision pool. If you ever want to see a case example of the benefits of applying Early Decision vs. Regular Decision, Penn is the shining case example and it has been for some time. According to the article, “With over half of the Class of 2019 admitted early decision, Penn’s commitment to forming a socioeconomically diverse class is called into question. Early decision applicants tend to have more affluent backgrounds since they can afford to commit to Penn before discovering their financial aid packages.”
But Bev has something to say about that. As quoted in the piece, “‘A good percentage of applicants in the early round are not asking for aid,’ Bev Taylor, founder of The Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, said…Taylor suggested that schools like Penn might fill the socioeconomic gaps with regular decision applicants. She added that the large number of regular decision applications that Penn receives allows the admissions office to build the diversity of the incoming class, despite the segment that has already been filled in the early decision round. ‘There are enough applicants in the regular round to make that class a very diverse class, ethnically, socioeconomically, geographically,’ Taylor said. However, Taylor questioned Penn’s claim that it does not consider financial need. ‘As much as colleges say they’re need-blind, I’m not believing it,’ she said. She added that in order for students requesting aid to have a high chance of being accepted early decision, they must have a ‘compelling enough case.’ ‘Penn has the money to spend on students like that,’ Taylor said.” They sure do.
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.
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?
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.
This picture of Yale’s Woolsey Hall is from a long time ago. Don’t wait too long to write your Letter of Enthusiasm!
We sometimes get emails from parents who come to us not only after their child was deferred admission to their Early Decision or Early Action college but around now, after they’ve already sent out all of their Regular Decision applications. They’re inquiring about the Letter of Enthusiasm because they’ve read about the importance of the Letter of Enthusiasm on our college admissions blog. But in some instances, we receive emails from parents after their child has already submitted his or her Letter of Enthusiasm. They tell us that they already submitted the letter but they want us to review it to ensure them that it’s great.
Yes, you read that correctly. So they want us to read their awful letters and tell them they’re great. Well, if you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we hold nothing back. We are unapologetic. And we are honest. It’s a big part of why we’re good at what we do. But we feel badly when they email us after the patient is already dead on arrival to see if he’s in great shape. He’s not in great shape. He’s dead. But it does this parent no good to hear this. And so we write back something along the lines of, “No need to worry. It’s out of your hands.” We aren’t sure what to write in these cases. We don’t want them to lose sleep over the fact that they could have done more. They didn’t “put their best foot forward,” even though they sure think they did.
So if you ever get an email from us in which we say something along the lines of “No need to worry,” know that you’ve put yourself in a bit of a pickle. You came to us too late. Don’t come to us so late. Come to us when the patient is still alive and kicking. Kick, kick, kick. Just like a swim coach would tell you in a freestyle sprint.
Doing nothing is not the remedy to turning your deferral into an offer of admission (photo credit: Sach1tb).
We’ve got some deferred Early applicant advice. If you were deferred to your Early Decision or Early Action school(s) and you haven’t yet written or aren’t about to get started on your Letter of Enthusiasm to this school, we happen to think you’re positively nuts. Allow us to offer you up an analogy. You’ve trained to swim the 200 meter butterfly at the Olympic Games. You stared at a black line at the bottom of the pool every day throughout much of your childhood and young adulthood. If you add up the miles you’ve swam, you’ve essentially circumnavigated the earth. But right as your heat is being called at the Olympic Trials, you decide to go to the movies instead. After all, the latest installment of “The Hunger Games” is playing and you just can’t miss it. Ok, that’s an absurd analogy. But so is not writing a Letter of Enthusiasm to your Early Decision or Early Action school(s).
If you applied Early Decision to a school, you committed to that school. You showed that school you loved it. You showed that school that you loved it more than any other school in America. You were prepared to go there if you got in. But you didn’t get in. And yet you didn’t get denied admission either. You were put into limbo. You were deferred. So now that you’ve worked so hard to earn great grades and SAT or ACT scores, now that you’ve invested so many countless hours in your after-school pursuit, you’re going to hang up the towel? You’re not even wet. Remember, you went to the movies. You didn’t go to Olympic Trials. So you’re dry.
It’s time to get wet. If you don’t submit a Letter of Enthusiasm, you can bet you’re not going to get a slot at the Olympic Games. You’ve got to show that college that you still love them, that you don’t have sour grapes, that this school remains your first love. You’ve got to demonstrate to them what you can add to their university, how you can contribute. There is no better way to do this than by submitting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm.
But an ordinary letter won’t do. Chances are there’s a good reason you got deferred. Maybe your admissions essays weren’t very good. Don’t make the same mistake again with your Letter of Enthusiasm. This letter has got to be exceptional if you hope to stand out from all of the other Regular Decision and deferred applicants. Because you’re competing with all of them! If interested in our assistance with a Letter of Enthusiasm, fill out our free consultation form and indicate on the bottom that you’d like our help with a Letter of Enthusiasm. We look forward to hearing from you.
Many applicants who need financial aid choose not to apply in the Early Decision and Early Action round, as an article in “Business Week” correctly points out.
There’s an article in “Business Week” entitled “Here’s One Way to Get Early Admission Into College: Be Rich” that we figured we’d discuss. The piece, authored by Janet Lorin, focuses on how many students are unable to apply during the Early Decision and Early Action rounds because they need to be able to compare financial aid packages. And this can really only be done during the Regular Decision round, when multiple offers are coming in (although it’s possible to apply to a couple of schools Early…depending on the restrictiveness of the Early Action program at play). Consequently, the article points out, these students don’t get to benefit from easier chances for admission in the Early round and now have to compete with so many other students for the remaining slots. After all, at many highly selective colleges, 50% of their incoming classes are already filled after the Early round.
The article focuses on one high school student in particular, Jackson Le. Jackson is a high school senior in Quincy, Massachusetts. His mother works as a manicurist at a nail salon after emigrating from Vietnam. Jackson himself works twenty hours a week at a local Starbucks. As Lorin writes, “Le has his sights on Boston University. Since he needs to shop around for the best financial aid possible, he didn’t apply there for early decision in the fall. The percentage of places filled early at Boston University has doubled to 20 percent over the past seven years. He envies wealthier classmates who are already broadcasting their acceptance letters on Twitter.”
But we have good news for Jackson. Highly selective college admissions officers will be rooting for him in the Regular Decision round, assuming he told his story correctly. Which is probably an inaccurate assumption given as we rarely see strong applications that our fingerprints aren’t on. So we’ll correct that. Had we worked with Jackson, these admissions officers would have been rooting for him. They’d eat up that his mom works as a manicurist, that he himself works 20 hours at Starbucks in the hope of paying for college. How can someone not root for that kid? Highly selective colleges love students who understand the values that come with working, with helping out their families. We often wonder why more students don’t work in fact. Instead, they go on service trips and travel to foreign countries. Which only conveys that mommy and daddy have a lot of money. And who roots for those kids?
We never thought we’d put a photo of a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon on our college admissions blog. But now we have.
If a Cuisinart blender that costs $300 is mislabeled as costing $30 at Bed Bath & Beyond, there are consumer protection laws on the books here in the United States that dictate the customer is entitled to purchase that blender for $30. And that customer can indeed still use a 20%-off coupon and walk away with a blender for $24 plus tax. After all, to shop at Bed Bath & Beyond without coupons is like applying to college by marketing yourself as a three-sport athlete who has a passion for Key Club. Yikes! The items are marked up at Bed Bath & Beyond in anticipation of customers using coupons so it’s quite foolish if you ask us to walk in without those blue, ubiquitous blue marketing material.
But enough about Bed Bath & Beyond. What’s the point of our little anecdote, you ask? Well, the Johns Hopkins admissions office made an egregious error this admissions cycle. And by egregious error we really mean nearly 300 egregious errors. Johns Hopkins sent offers of admission to nearly 300 Early candidates only to later rescind their acceptances, stating that they were sent in error. Their message to these impacted students read as follows: “Earlier today, you may have received an email from us with the subject line: Embrace the YES! Please note that this email was sent in error. The decision posted on the decision site reflects the accurate result of your Early Decision application. We regret this technical mistake and any confusion it may have caused.” Please note that this email was sent in error. Noted, thanks Johns Hopkins.
It caused more than confusion, Johns Hopkins. While none of our students were impacted by this error and we congratulate our students who earned admission in the Early round to Hopkins, perhaps the admissions office should have been more careful when sending out their decisions. Unless they’re prepared to blame this error on North Korea (and private, salacious emails from the dean of admissions are about to get posted on “The Guardian”), someone in that admissions office has some explaining to do. And perhaps Johns Hopkins would be better served by proceeding as Bed Bath & Beyond would. Let these students in. Build another dorm if you have to. It was your mistake. So deal with it. Shame on the Johns Hopkins admissions office for the unnecessary roller coaster ride they put these nearly 300 students on, students who were already on the roller coaster ride of highly selective college admissions.