Students and Families: Get the facts by preparing for and responding to some recent trends in college admissions.
The Class of 2019 college admissions process has come to a close. Admissions deposits have been made, summer orientation plans are being set and students may already be thinking about decorating their dorm room. Please stay in touch sharing your progress and contact us for help you with your college summer internship search, cover letter and resume preparation and graduate school applications during your undergraduate experience!
High school students interested in securing a spot in the classes of 2020, 21 and even 22 take note of some interesting trends on the horizon! These trends include alternative admissions options and common application questions that are of interest to the next cohort of undergraduate applicants. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) published this year’s State of college admissions report:
PREPARE AND RESPOND! As high school students approach their summer break, there are few ways to prepare and respond to some of the highlighted trends of the report.
TREND: YOUR HIGH SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT MATTERS MOST!
The NACAC report confirms that colleges and universities continue to indicate that the high school transcript (your curriculum and GPA) is the single most important factor in the college admissions application and decision process. The implication is that careful selection of challenging and manageable courses continues to be the most important determinant of your success in the college admissions process.
My focus as an educational consultant is to provide academic advising to best position each student to set and work towards personalized educational and career goals. As the high school transcript is the most important factor for admissions, care should be placed in designing a strategic curriculum for four years of study balanced by complementary extracurricular pursuits. A partnership between students and their teachers, parents, high school guidance counselors and an educational consultant is essential not only for selecting the most appropriate courses, but such a partnership makes it easier to problem solve throughout your high school years. The partnership will add value to your high school transcript by problem solving to address difficulties which may impact your academic success including time management, setting learning strategies to overcome challenges with course content, establishing effective study habits or even providing solutions to mild disputes that may arise within the classroom.
Tip: Jumpstart your fall reading list in humanities courses leaving added room for your time consuming homework in math and science classes.
TREND: RECORD BREAKING NUMBERS OF APPLICANTS!
The NAICC report also confirmed that students continue to apply to a record breaking numbers of colleges. This unfortunately has the unintended consequence of making schools appear more selective since greater numbers of applicants translates into lower acceptance rates given the fixed number of available spots– just do the math. More applicants means greater difficulty in earning a spot at any given institution if and only if the increased number of applicants are qualified applicants!
It’s truly important that students and their families do not misinterpret this data as suggesting or indicative of a need to apply to more schools. Your statistical odds of acceptance are not additive; meaning if you apply to 10 schools each with a 10% acceptance rate you do NOT have a 100% chance of admission to one school on your list of ten.
Tip: Keep perspective and instead keep your focus on formulating a healthy and appropriate list of reach, match and safety schools given your educational and extracurricular profile.
TREND: UNIVERSITIES and COLLEGES MAY ASK WHERE ELSE YOU’RE APPLYING!
The Common Application has provided colleges with the option to question applicants on where else they are applying. Answers to this question present a host of problems because the college uses the responses to estimate the likelihood that an applicant will enroll at the institution (or not). As colleges attempt to manage their yield ratios and provide need-blind financial aid packages, this information can influence the outcome of decisions in a potentially unpleasant manner. While some of this information can already be determined from FAFSA, this question has added yet another wrench into a system that for some families has created way too much stress and cost.
Tip: Speak to your guidance counselor and educational consultant to consider your response.
TREND: AN INCREASED FOCUS ON “INFORMED INTEREST”
As noted, universities are interested in yield ratios and that means making a determination of how likely an applicant might be to enroll if admitted. Traditional ways to assess your interest included institutional visits (there is no “penalty” when you reside on the opposite coast), essay responses and information shared during hometown alumni or campus interviews.
The report noted that colleges continue to focus on some indication of “demonstrated interest” in an applicant’s admission file. Also, data indicates that colleges are shifting to evaluating an applicant’s “informed interest”. This information refers to information indicating how well an applicant is able to demonstrate knowledge with the campus and degree programs of interest.
Tip: Conduct your school specific research!
The summer is a great time to conduct your school specific research to include in your supplemental essay and/or interview. I cannot overstate how valuable it can be to your applicant file to include information about courses, programs of study, faculty research or available undergraduate research opportunities that you feel are the reason behind why a college is a good fit for you as well as noting the value you bring to the campus community!
TREND: SPRING ADMISSIONS and GUARANTEED TRANSFERS
Another interesting trend is that more universities are offering spring admission or guaranteed transfers to applicants seeking fall admissions. For example, Cornell University recently developed a new spring admissions program. New York State SUNY bound students are familiar with their practice to offer spring admissions in some of the more competitive SUNY schools. This practice impacts a small number of students overall, but delaying your enrollment decision for a semester to gain a spot at a first choice school presents options that you may not have considered. Being aware of this option should you be placed on a waitlist is a valuable and potentially more informed way to approach an admission representative should you become a waitlisted applicant.
Tip: Keep an open mind and consider a gap semester if the situation of spring admissions presents itself!
TREND: INCREASING FOCUS ON TRANSFER STUDENTS
This is great news if you aren’t admitted to your first choice school or if you had a difficult time in high school and didn’t reach your academic potential. The admissions process for transfer students is different than the process facing high school seniors. Some very important differences are the application due date and expectations during the process. Use the summer to gather relevant materials and begin the application process.
Tip: Currently enrolled college students should be prepared for fall admissions. Secure professor recommendations before you leave for the summer.
Your Summer Plans?!
As you wind down your school year and head into the summer, no matter what your plans may include – travel, academic pursuits, or employment, please be certain to continue to allocate time to the college admissions process and refining your educational and career goals.
Rising seniors should be finalizing their lists of colleges and be focused on beginning college essays. Rising sophomores and juniors should be engaged in research to identify potential summer 2016 programs and to identify some opportunities for campus visits during the 2015-16 academic calendar. All students should be focused on continuing to define and refine your extracurricular portfolio.
We will continue to provide information on the latest trends and tips for success so that students and their families stay on target in realizing educational and career objectives. Stay informed this summer by following College Career Consulting on Facebook and reading our blog.