High school guidance counselors, college admissions counselors, private college counselors, parents, college applicants, and old people who just read this college admissions blog (that’s a reference to Conan O’Brien’s joke about old people who just go to graduation ceremonies, FYI), it’s time to have your voice heard to the Board of Directors of the Common Application. The Board of Directors of the Common App will be voting on changes to the Common App and it’s important that the proposed changes are not accepted. These proposed changes are antithetical to the mission of the Common App and they will not serve the best interests of students applying to colleges.
The proposed changes to the Common App will in fact stymie creativity and lead to cookie-cutter applications. Who wants that? College admissions counselors certainly don’t unless they want to fall asleep while reviewing applications. Students don’t want that unless they want to be like the rest of their peers. And who wants to be like everyone else. Nobody wants this and the time has come to have our voices heard across the country so that these changes do not go into effect.
So read our Founder’s article on “The Huffington Post” entitled “Unacceptable Changes to the Common Application for College Applicants.” Share the article on Facebook, post a comment underneath the article, email the article to a friend. We need to get the word out to the college admissions community that these proposed changes are wholly unacceptable. We need to let them know that we’re planning to challenge this change. Remember when we challenged The College Board for administering an SAT to students at an expensive summer program at Amherst College? That test didn’t get administered after all. We can enact change in college admissions and here is a genuine chance. Let’s do it.Categories: College Admissions, The Application Tags: Changes to the Common App, Changes to the Common Application, College Admissions Common App Changes, Common App Changes, Common Application Changes
The Common Application’s recent decision to do away with the college essay prompt offering students the chance to write on a topic of their choice is misguided. In highly selective college admissions, college admissions counselors value uniqueness. Restricting what students should write about stands against creativity. And The Common Application didn’t stop with doing away with the topic of your choice Common App. essay. They’ve also made it so that students must cut and paste their essay into the form rather than upload it. That too stymies creativity because uploads made it possible to submit such things as symbols, pictures, photographs, and drawings with essays.
Imposing a precise 500 word limit is absolutely fine, and we have no problem with that. All students are on the same level playing field. But to create obstacles that make it more difficult for a student to express his or her true self does not serve the college admissions process. So why’d they do it, you ask? Likely because big universities like Ohio State University have now joined The Common App. For the University of California schools, as an example, students are required to cut and paste their essay into a box and they are given two very specific essay prompts for two required essays. There is little room for creativity. And why’s that? Because the UC’s get approximately 150,000 applications each year, and so they want to standardize the responses to make the process run smoother. This latest move by The Common App. is in line with the University of California’s approach and the Common App. likely has the same rationale.
We urge The Common App. to reverse its unpopular decision. Let students be who they are. Let them express themselves in the way they know how within the 500 word limit. Just don’t tell them to start sentences with this word and end them with another word. Don’t tell them they need to cut and paste their essay into a box. Don’t tell them they need to write about a book that influenced them, or a significant experience in their life. Give them some credit to think for themselves. Let them shine creatively.Categories: College Essays, The Application Tags: Common App Essay, Common App Essay Prompt, Common App Essay Prompts, Common Application Essay, Common Application Essay Prompt
If you’ve submitted your college application(s) for Early Decision / Early Action and you’ve already completed your essays for the schools you may be applying to through the Regular Decision round (i.e., if you don’t get in Early), then take a big breath and enjoy it. Go out for a night. See a movie. Go for a swim. Go for a run. Get away from the computer. Heck, do this again the next day. You’ve accomplished something. You’ve finished your college applications. That’s a whole lot of work.
But that doesn’t mean you should start slacking off in school. Your grades must remain top notch. If you’re an A student, you should remain an A student. If you’re not admitted via Early Decision, for instance, your grades from senior year will matter as you seek to gain admission to colleges through Regular Decision. And just because you gain admission Early, that doesn’t mean your admission can’t be rescinded. Will it be rescinded if you’re an A student who happens to get a B senior year? No. That only means that you’re human. But if your grades drop dramatically, you are jeopardizing your admission. Why do that? Why risk all that you’ve worked for? Remember all of the stress that went into achieving what you achieved? Why make all that stress meaningless?
Similarly, if you applied Early and haven’t yet done your Regular Decision applications, do not save those for the last minute. When you learn you’ve been deferred or denied admission, then is not the time to start on your Regular Decision applications. You’ll be in a lousy mood and you’ll be in an utter, stressful time crunch. So you should be finishing up your applications to all schools now. Get that stress out of the way. Put in the work now and stop procrastinating as procrastinating will do you no good.Categories: College Admissions, The Application Tags: College Applications Submitted, Submitted College Application, Submitted College Apps, Submitted University Applications, Submitted University Apps
There will be some Common Application changes next year, it was announced by representatives of The Common Application at the NACAC conference in Denver, Colorado. NACAC is the National Association for College Admission Counseling, an organization to which The Ivy Coach is a member. The changes to The Common App will not impact the current batch of high school seniors but will instead impact next year’s class of high school seniors.
So what are the changes? Well, The Common Application is doing away with the essay prompt that is on “a topic of your choice.” Many college admissions counselors, high school guidance counselors, and private college counselors were surprised by this announcement. In place of the “topic of your choice” prompt, students will be offered four to five essay options from which to choose. These essay options will change from year to year.
And in addition to a change in essay prompts, word limits in the now strictly online Common Application will be enforced with error messages. If you write 501 words on the essay with a 500 word limit, you will be met with an error message. You’ll have to delete a word if you hope to successfully submit your college application. It’s that simple.
What do you think of these Common Application changes? Do you think they’re drastic? Do you think they’re inconsequential? Will this impact what you write in your college essays? Maybe just a little? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting below!Categories: College Admissions, The Application Tags: Changes to the Common App, Changes to the Common Application, Common App Changes, Common App Differences, Common Application Changes
There’s a post on “The New York Times’” “The Choice” blog by Jordanna Suriani, an admissions counselor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, that we sincerely disagree with. Alright, we don’t disagree with everything she writes, but we do disagree with a whole lot of it. Ms. Suriani asserts that students should apply to five or six universities (“max”). And why’s that? Ms. Suriani believes that it’s unfair to applicants and colleges alike to apply to so many schools. Really — we should sympathize for colleges (who are making money off of applications and encouraging even unqualified students to apply in an effort to boost their admission rate — a key factor in their “US News & World Report” ranking)? Really?
And how does Ms. Suriani point out that applying to, say, ten universities hurts colleges? Writes Ms. Suriani, “As an admissions counselor at a mid-sized, public liberal arts college, I cannot tell you how many times I speak with admitted students in April — just days before the national May 1st acceptance deadline — and hear them say they are torn between my institution and a 50,000 student research university located across the country.” Oh, please! Sorry to hear that students can’t make up their mind between going to Ramapo College or a major research university. Perhaps if you had done a better job of convincing students about the merits of your college, they wouldn’t be on the fence. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh but, come on, is the fact that students are applying to ten universities (including big and small schools) really “unfair” for colleges? Absolutely, not. And if it were, why should a student care?
But that’s not all. We’re not going to go into everything we disagree with in Ms. Suriani’s article (the word “crapshoot” should not be associated with college admissions as it’s anything but random), but she states that students who are interested in getting into film or fashion might want to think of universities within ten miles of cities as their best bets. Really? Sure, it’s always beneficial as far as internships are concerned to be near a city as that’s where the majority of internships are, but there are tons of liberal arts colleges more than ten miles away from the nearest city that enroll students interested in film and fashion. And these students can be quite happy at these schools. A film major can attend Amherst College and still land a great internship in Los Angeles, believe it or not! A student who wants to break into fashion can major in anthropology, believe it or not, and still successfully break into the fashion industry! They can even attend college in Hanover, New Hampshire — many more than ten miles away from a major metropolis — and land an internship in fashion. It’s called an off-term and Dartmouth students can take a fall, winter, or spring off since they spend their sophomore summer in Hanover.
We know Ms. Suriani didn’t mean anything by her post. She was just trying to be helpful. Unfortunately, there is some inaccurate information in her post nonetheless.
Want some more college application advice? Check out our college application videos!Categories: College Admissions, The Application, The Rankings Tags: Applications to College Advice, College App Advice, College Application Advice, University App Advice, University Application Advice
As summer approaches, you’ve hopefully by now let the teachers who you hope will be writing your college letters of rec know that you would like them to write recommendations on your behalf. As we’ve told you before on our blog, letting them know in the fall is not a good idea. That’s when so many students ask their teachers for recommendation letters. They’re bombarded with writing lesson plans for their classes, with faculty meetings, and tons of other students asking for the very same thing. That’s why asking them before the summer is a great idea. This way, teachers can write your college letter of rec on their own terms during their own time, when their life isn’t so hectic. But is asking them to write a letter in which they recommend you all that you should do? No. Absolutely not. In fact, that’s the easy way to get a generic letter of recommendation.
What you should be doing is helping your teachers write their letters of recommendation. Does that sound a little weird? Maybe, but get over it. Some teachers will openly thank you for your help. In fact, the majority will in our experience. Occasionally, teachers might think it’s a bit presumptuous but our students at The Ivy Coach are taught to walk this line very well. And even the teachers who say they don’t need any help from you, when they’re behind closed doors and time is getting away from them — they’ll use what you gave them.
So what can you give them? Our students at The Ivy Coach prepare answers to selected questions and these answers shine a lantern on what sets our students apart in the classroom. These answers show college admissions counselors our students’ love for learning and specific things our students did throughout the year in the classroom — whether it’s an exceptional presentation on John Adams or reciting memorized passages from “Hamlet.” Teachers just don’t remember what you did and how you stood out in their class as well as you do. After all, there are about twenty-five other students in the class and possibly another one hundred students in their four other classes. You’ve only got yourself to focus on so you’ll remember what you accomplished and how you engaged in classroom debate better than anyone (including your teacher). Reminding your teacher of all of this will only help your college letters of rec appear less template and more memorable to college admissions counselors.Categories: College Admissions, The Application Tags: College Letter of Rec, College Letters of Rec, College Recommendation Letters, University Letter of Rec, University Letters of Rec
Your college application activities should be truthful ones. Take a lesson from Richard Vos, the former VP of admission and financial aid at Claremont McKenna College who fudged admissions statistics to boost the school’s “US News & World Report” ranking. Don’t fudge information on your college application! That means don’t lie in your college essays. That means don’t lie on your activity sheet. That means don’t lie in your college interviews.
On your activity sheet, there’s plenty of room to fudge the number of hours you spend in a given activity. Don’t do it. If you spend three hours building houses for the homeless, don’t write that you spend four hours. It’s not like the additional hour is going to get you into college and lying isn’t right. Not to mention — it can very easily backfire on you! What if the teacher who is writing one of your letters of recommendation is also your club supervisor? What if they write that you spend three hours a week doing an activity when you wrote a number quite different on your activity sheet.
It’s never worth it to lie on your college application. There’s a good chance you’ll get caught. And even if you do get in and get away with it for now, there’s always the chance that your admission decision can be rescinded at a later time. Do you really want to have to worry about this? We don’t think so. Be honest in every component of your college application.
Check out this video focusing on mistakes on the Common App activity sheet.Categories: Extracurricular Activities, The Application Tags: College App Activities, College Application Activities, Common App Activities, Common Application Activities, University Application Activities
Including college application extra material is always a risk. From time to time, parents send us these big books filled with accomplishments of their child. Sometimes, these books even have glitter on the covers. Sometimes they’re filled with news clippings, photocopies of awards, photographs of trophies and ribbons, and other accomplishments. Once, we even got a book that included a copy of every award and report card the kid earned since kindergarten.
Would you be surprised to learn that some applicants send such weird things along with their applications? Why would anyone think that sending such accomplishments and weird “extra material” would help one’s case for college admission? Why would a parent think that an article about winning a scavenger hunt as a ten year-old would push a student over the edge? Or a cute photo of the applicant at nine in a pirate outfit? Oy vey. These materials would definitely not help! In fact, it would only hurt one’s chances! The student would be regarded as weird in a bad way! A very bad way.
Don’t ever send such superfluous material that has utterly zero relevance to your chances for college admission! If you otherwise have an outstanding application and you include a book like this, we promise your chances for admission will be severely hurt. No question about it. So don’t submit weird extra material with your college application. “Legally Blonde” was a movie, as we’ve previously stated in our newsletter on college essays. Don’t submit your activity sheet on pink paper (even though it’s submitted electronically so this would be rather rough!). Don’t include glitter. This is not the way to stand out. Well, you might stand out…but not in a good way! Just take our advice on this one. We promise we’re right. And seriously — no glitter!Categories: Admissions Process, The Application Tags: College App Extra Material, College Application Extra Material, Extra Materials with College Application, Supplemental Info for College Apps, Supplemental Material and College Admissions
Ivy League applications have bucked the college admissions trend of the last several years by falling this admissions cycle. Among Ivy League colleges this year, only Dartmouth, Yale, and Cornell actually experienced a growth in their respective applicant pools. That means that Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, and Penn didn’t have quite the numbers that they had last year. This is one of those years when the PR spinsters can’t even claim it’s the “most competitive class ever.” If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that line isn’t true anyway.
According to “The Dartmouth” article on Ivy League applications, “The decline in application growth has a variety of causes, including the shrinking population of college-age students and continued economic uncertainty, as well as the reintroduction of early action programs at Harvard and Princeton that reduce the need for students to apply to a large number of schools, according to Parish.”
We happen to agree that Harvard and Princeton’s reinstatement of their Early policies did impact applications to other Ivy League schools this admissions cycle. But is the bad economy really to blame for the fall in applicants to Ivy League colleges this year? We doubt it. For students who are going to be paying for college (or paying off loans for college), the application fee to Ivy League colleges isn’t exactly consequential in comparison. As for the “shrinking population of college-aged students,” we have checked out census data and can confirm that this population is indeed shrinking. And it will continue to do so over the next few years.
While you’re here, check out our comprehensive Ivy League Admissions Statistics.Categories: Ivy League, The Application Tags: Applications to Ivy League, Applications to the Ivy League, Apps to Ivy League, Ivy League Applications, Ivy League Apps
“The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, ran an article today in which we’re quoted that discusses the frustration students have with the Common Application word limit. In recent years, on the Common App’s personal statement, for instance, there hasn’t been a word limit. But last spring, the Common Application implemented a change by declaring a 250-500-word limit on the personal statement. Many students, parents, and guidance counselors were upset by this. We weren’t. Word limits are a good thing.
When you don’t have a word limit in place, students tend to be all over the place. They think more is better when in fact, the truth of it is, less is often better. As the University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Eric Furda stated to “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “There are a number of risks if the essay is too long. We might not read the whole essay…That doesn’t mean that you’re not admitted, but you’re running a risk that’s probably not necessary.” While the Common Application doesn’t have the mechanism to reject personal statements that are submitted that exceed the word limit, we strongly urge applicants to abide by the Common Application word limit. It’s there, after all, for a reason.
No matter how gripping your college essay is, it can be said in 500 words. Would you say Aaron Sorkin, the creator of “The West Wing” and the writer of “The Social Network” is a pretty good writer? Each episode of “The West Wing” had a hard out. Same with David Chase in “The Sopranos.” They, too, abide by word limits (although, admittedly, Sorkin’s “Studio 60″ did often run about a minute long which put NBC brass in a predicament). But you’re not Aaron Sorkin. You’re a high school senior.Categories: College Admissions, College Essays, The Application Tags: Common App Word Limit, Common App Word Limits, Common Application Word Limit, Personal Statement Word Limit, Word Limits on College Essays