Make Yourself Known

posted by: Lisa Cynamon Mayers, senior admissions consultant

former admission counselor: Washington University in St. Louis, Case Western Reserve University


I can still rattle off the names of my favorite applicants to Washington University where I worked as an admission counselor for three years. Even those students who ultimately decided to attend another college are still marked in my memory. I can recall how we first met-- on campus, at their high schools, in a group meeting-- and I remember with fondness these amazing young people standing at the brink of this great transition. In the midst of application madness, high schoolers and their parents often forget that admission counselors are human-- sensitive, extroverted, friendly, personable folks with feelings. At a deep level admission counselors are sensitive to the rollercoaster of emotions felt by applicants and their families. We are aware of the maelstrom of feelings that the process precipitates. At a large number of colleges, dare I say the majority, applications are individually read, i.e. by a human, not a computer, and decisions are made in a sensitive, sometimes gut-wrenching way. For this reason, particularly at the most selective schools in the country, it can be advantageous for prospective students to develop a relationship, a connection, with an admission point person.


Many colleges and universities divide their admission staff and the world into territories. An admission counselor is responsible for a given region which would include travel, application reading, and territory management. Imagine this, suddenly you’ve switched roles, you are no longer a high school student; you are an admission counselor. Your responsibility is to read thousands of applications from qualified students-- the majority of whom are prepared for your college-- and make admission decisions on these students. Given a group of students with comparable grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, who would you admit: the student who made a favorable impression on you and interacted with you during the process, or the student you’ve never met who you can’t gauge level of interest or other personal qualities? Ding ding ding. Obviously the right answer is the student who has made a personal connection.


So how do you make this personal connection? The greatest impressions that students made on me happened naturally during an information session, high school visit, college fair, or interview. Some of you might not have direct access to an admission counselor. There may not be visits scheduled in your area and you may not have been able to visit every campus. Not to worry. You can still demonstrate interest and establish a personal connection with an admission counselor through e-mail and the telephone.  It is key to demonstrate your interest in the college and also convey to the admission counselor your unique qualities and personality. At the end of the day you want every interaction you have with the colleges on your short list to be meaningful and to make a positive impression.


The Gap Year

By Sara Cronin, senior admissions consultant

Former admission officer at Providence College and the University of Connecticut


As juniors begin to think about their time after high school many will consider post-secondary college plans.  Students often begin to think about big or small schools, far from home or close by, city or suburban.  One opportunity that some juniors may begin to explore is a gap year.  The idea of a gap year has grown in popularity over the last several years, and now Tufts University and other similar programs are making it an easier possibility.

A gap year is generally defined as an extended break between high school and college.  Often seniors in high school apply to college, get accepted, and then defer their admission for six months to a year.  The gap year experience can take on a number of different possibilities.  The year off after high school can be utilized to volunteer locally or abroad, travel, intern or work in a variety of settings.  Students who take advantage of the gap year experience often find themselves in a very different setting than what they would discover on a college campus. 

According to the American Gap Association, an organization that is an “accreditation and standards-setting organization for gap years that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission,” interest and enrollment is growing steadily in gap programs.  There are no definitive numbers regarding who is choosing to pursue a gap experience, but the overall trends show a significant growth in students taking time off prior to college.

The reasons that students pursue gap year opportunities vary widely. Some students feel they are not ready for the rigors of a collegiate academic experience.  Other students look to expand their horizons beyond the US borders before embarking on their collegiate careers in the States. While other students are looking to earn both money and experience prior to college.  Although the reasons may vary as to why students choose a gap year, colleges report that those students who take six months to a year before enrolling have a greater maturity towards and appreciation for the university experience.  Studies show that 90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year (Source: Wall Street Journal).

Tufts University introduced an innovative program a few years ago to give students a gap year opportunity. Tufts offers a fully funded "1+4" program that provides students an opportunity to engage in civic experiences around the globe.  According to Tuft’s website, the University and its Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service offer a bridge-year program, called Tufts 1+4.  This program provides a structured year of full-time national or international service before students begin their four years of undergraduate study.

Another gap year example is at Elon University in North Carolina, which offers a gap semester program available only to enrolling freshman.  This program provides students the opportunity to spend the fall semester in three diverse settings and then return to Elon for the winter term and spring semester.              

There are numerous groups and organizations that provide gap year opportunities.  Costs can vary as widely as the program options, but the overall goal is often the same: to expand one’s horizons, increase self-awareness and challenge one’s comfort zone.  A great place to start is with the American Gap Association which offers an extensive amount of information and accredits gap programs.  http://www.americangap.org/


Summer is almost here ---- and I haven't figured out my plans yet!!

Summer is right around the corner. What do you do if you don’t have a summer plan yet?  

It’s always nice to organize your schedule around your family’s vacation or reunion plans.  Summer is of course an important time to relax and reconnect, and it is good to keep that as a priority.

 

In deciding what you do with the rest of your summer, you should just be sure you spend your time thoughtfully and purposefully.

 

Some high school students choose to do summer academic enrichment – and while it may be too late to sign up for some of the highly selective programs at colleges, there is likely still time to sign up for local summer academic programs if that is something you are looking for. It is a great opportunity to learn something that might not be offered at your high school or to get a jump on a class that you know will be challenging for you in the fall.

 

My own kids always have summer jobs in the coastal community where their grandparents live. They get plenty of time to spend with family, hang out and play with friends outside, and get all the benefits that come with having a job – including money!  They of course have to figure out how to balance all of this with whatever their pre-season sports schedule and academic fall requirements may be. Sometimes that includes spending time on SAT or ACT prep, or writing college essays.

 

Recently I saw a State Farm commercial on TV for a powerful new volunteering initiative called Neighborhood of Good. This site is a clearing house for volunteer activities in your area – they can be ongoing opportunities or one day events. I was particularly impressed by how people can search by interest and by location. Finding an opportunity in your area would be a great experience to add to your college resume, but even more importantly, it would be an excellent chance to use your free time to make a meaningful difference.   This is a real game changer.  Check it out! 

 

Neighborhood of Good

https://neighborhoodofgood.statefarm.com/


by:  Becky Georgenes 

former Princeton Admission Officer
Senior College Counselor 
Road to College

The Importance of Organization in the College Process

Posted by: Lisa Cynamon Mayers, Senior Admissions Consultant


For years I’ve told students and parents that the college admissions process is as much a test of organization than anything else. Dates and deadlines for standardized tests, applications, scholarships, financial assistance, college visits, etc. are enough to make your head spin! Add to that the mountains of printed glossy brochures, endless e-mails and other college communications.  A poorly organized student could be buried under the seemingly endless marketing materials. So what are parents and students to do? How do you effectively manage the deadlines and the piles? Behold some welcome suggestions:


  1. Create a Master Calendar- You can keep track of those dates and deadlines by creating a master document to organize it all. Whether it’s an old fashioned paper calendar, dry-erase calendar, Outlook calendar, Google calendar or another option, you need one central location to keep everything together. Determine your system and then spend an hour or two on the Internet researching exam dates and registration deadlines, application deadlines (noting rolling, priority, early decision, etc.), scholarship deadlines, local college visit dates, evening programs, campus visits and anything else that will help you to stay on top of things. Make sure this calendar is prominently displayed in a place where you and your parents will frequently look.
  2. E-mail Filing System- So you’re getting 30 new e-mails a day from colleges. Your inbox is totally clogged and you’re no longer even reading the e-mails. Here’s what you need to do. If you’ve yet to enter the process, create an e-mail account exclusively for college use. Oh, and don’t make it, mrstudmuffin@yahoo.com or superhotchick@gmail.com. Simple, straightforward and nothing questionable. Create folders for colleges you have no interest in attending, colleges you might want to attend and individual folders for the colleges on your list. As e-mails come in file them appropriately. This way you can stay on top of the e-mails that warrant your attention and eliminate the ones that don’t. Colleges are communicating more and more over e-mail so don’t carelessly miss out on important correspondence.
  3. Glossy Brochure Filing System- Back in my day (don’t I sound like an old gal), as soon as colleges had our addresses in hand, we were bombarded with brochures (featuring the only season in college admissions: fall), postcards, letters, flyers, etc. I think I received more mail in my junior and senior years of high school than any time since. Materials from schools that are off your radar completely should be recycled. Brochures and mailings worth keeping should be filed in an accordion file, file box, folders or your preferred method of files. A pile under your bed is not an effective filing system. Be sure to note important dates from the printed materials on your master calendar prior to filing.


If you take some time, little by little, to keep everything organized and in its place, you will find the college application process much more manageable.

Junior year- college presentations in your hometown

Although most colleges are holding open houses and special visit days for admitted seniors, many schools are beginning to reach out to juniors as these students begin their college search journey.  One such opportunity for junior year students to take a closer look is a group information session in your hometown.  Notre Dame, Emory, Wash U, UVA and Johns Hopkins have teamed up to offer group presentations in various cities around the country.

You can learn more here: http://thenuwhetour.org/



Admitted, now what?


The waiting game is now over, and to those of you accepted to your first-choice school, congratulations!  Given the rise in the number of applications that students submit, many students may have multiple options without a clear first choice school.  So, how does one decide??

1.      Take advantage of accepted student days.  Many schools offer admitted students the opportunity to spend a day on campus and meet with various university groups- faculty, athletics, residence life, career services, etc.  Colleges will roll out the red carpet on this day, and it is a great occasion to ask lots of questions.

2.      Attend class.  Some colleges may offer admitted students the opportunity to sit-in on a class.  This is a perfect time to take a closer look at academic fit.  You might not fully understand what is taking place within the class, but you can certainly get a sense if the professor knows his/her students, you can observe to see if students are truly engaged in the topic, and you can explore the overall classroom environment.

3.      Reach out to a faculty member in your chosen field.  If you have a clear major in mind call the admissions office and ask to connect to a professor within that field.  This is a great opportunity to ask specific and direct questions about coursework, research opportunities, internships and what alumni are doing once they graduate.

4.      Spend a night.  Some schools may offer students the opportunity to stay in a dorm room and get the full residential experience.  This is a great way to try the food, explore the various rooming options and learn about the social environment on campus.


May 1st is the national reply date, and all students who plan to enroll in the fall of 2017 must submit a deposit to one school by this date.  The next few weeks can be very busy for seniors as they try to make that final decision.

Waitlisted. Now What?

posted by: Lisa Cynamon Mayers, Senior Admissions Consultant


The waitlist is like purgatory. Waiting, wondering, not knowing if you’ll ultimately get the call from the bullpen or if you’ll simply be stuck waiting around, never getting the nod. The problem with the waitlist is that the college admission officers really can’t let you know your true chances of being taken off of the waitlist. At this point in the game their guess is as good as yours as to whether or not they’ll need to go to the waitlist come May. The waitlist is like an insurance policy for colleges. Ideally the magic number of admitted students will say yes, the class will be filled and all will be thrilled. Well, all except those on the waitlist. With a month to go until admitted students need to notify colleges of their decision, the waitlist is anyone’s guess. 


If you find yourself waitlisted by your first choice school there are some things that you can do to help maximize your odds of coming off of the waitlist. Even if you do everything I suggest understand that you still may not get the nod. Remember it’s a game of statistics and numbers at this point and even though you are amazing and wonderful and have so much to offer Dream U., there just may not be a space for you right now.


Some suggestions:

  1. Write a letter. Take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write an honest, heartfelt letter about your interest in the college. Explain in detail why you are interested and what you would bring to campus. Don’t be whiny or defensive. Just be candid and forthcoming about your interest in the school.
  2. Send updates. The admission committee received your application back in December or January. Maybe you’ve received additional honors or your grades have improved or you finally made varsity. Share this information. In your heartfelt letter include any updates or additional accolades or accomplishments.
  3. Counselor call. Ask your high school counselor to call the admission office. Maybe your counselor can glean some additional information that could be useful. Perhaps your counselor will learn that it’s just not going to happen and you can start the process of moving on.
  4. Write another letter. In early May. After May 1st the admission offices will have a better sense of their numbers. Remind the admission counselors of your interest in another friendly letter. If anyone is going to come off of the waitlist, it’s going to be the students who have demonstrated consistent interest.
  5. Move on. In all likelihood you’ve been admitted to other great schools. Though it may not have worked out with Dream U. you still have a bright future and other fantastic schools hoping you will select their campus. By October you probably won’t even look back and wish you were at another school. But if during your first or second semester you are still yearning to attend Dream U., transferring is always an option.

Standardized Tests

Some juniors have recently had the 'joy' of taking the March SAT exam and feel relief to have one standardized test out of the way.  Unfortunately, testing is a part of the admission process and it is not going away any time soon.  SAT, ACT, SAT Subject tests, PSAT- how does one sort all this out given that there are different tests and every school seems to have a different requirement?  I have many junior students ask me whether colleges prefer the SAT or the ACT in the admission process.  Fortunately for students, in this current admission climate, college admission officers do not have a preference, and students should focus their testing preparation on just one standardized test- the SAT or the ACT. 

The SAT was redesigned by the College Board in 2015 and this 'new' SAT was introduced about a year ago.  With these changes the SAT and ACT look more similar in content, but differences do remain, and I often encourage sophomores to take a diagnostic test prior to junior year in order to find where their testing strengths lie in order to focus preparation on just one of the tests.

There are certainly a growing number of colleges that are test optional, and students can learn more about that list at fairtest.org, a great website that breaks down the various testing policies at test optional schools.  However, even if a student will likely only apply to test optional schools, I always encourage students to take the SAT or ACT which might be required for placement once a student enrolls at a particular college.

Some of the more competitive universities also require additional testing in the form of SAT Subject Tests.  These tests are designed to allow students to demonstrate achievement in a particular academic subject.  It seems that every college or university has a different policy regarding which Subject Tests are required and how many.  Although many schools do not require any Subject Test, the Ivies and other competitive colleges do.  Therefore, it is important that students do their homework so that they meet all of the testing requirements of each school.

Finally, it is also important that students (and parents) keep track of deadlines.  The SAT is offered six times throughout the school year, and for the first time this year, the College Board (the group that puts out the SAT) will provide an SAT sitting to students in August.  To counter that, the ACT will begin to offer an ACT exam in the summer of 2018.  Below you will find test dates, registration deadlines and score availability dates.

2017 SAT Test Dates

Test Dates                   Registration Dates      Score Delivery Dates

March 11, 2017           February 10, 2017       April 13, 2017

May 6, 2017                April 7, 2017               June 8, 2017

June 3, 2017                May 9, 2017                July 12, 2017

 

2017-2018 Anticipated SAT Test Dates

Test Dates                   Registration Dates      Score Delivery Dates

August 26, 2017          TBD                            TBD                                     

October 7, 2017          TBD                            TBD

November 4, 2017      TBD                             TBD

December 2, 2017       TBD                            TBD

March 10, 2018           TBD                            TBD

May 5, 2018                TBD                            TBD

June 2, 2018                TBD                            TBD

 

2017-2018 ACT Test Dates

Test Dates                   Registration Dates      Scores Posted Online

April 8, 2017               March 3, 2017             April 18, 2017–June 2, 2017

June 10, 2017             May 5, 2017                June 20, 2017–August 4, 2017

September 9, 2017      TBD                            TBD

October 28, 2017        TBD                            TBD

December 9, 2017       TBD                            TBD

February 10, 2018       TBD                            TBD

April 14, 2018             TBD                            TBD

June 9, 2018                TBD                            TBD

July 14, 2018               TBD                            TBD


Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

By Chuck Hughes

Former Senior Harvard Admissions Officer


Schools are beginning to release regular admissions decisions. Boston College, Northeastern, Washington University, some of the UC schools and other colleges have sent their regular admissions responses, and another wave of schools will release results today. We have compiled a list of schools that we have contacted with their release dates and another group that lists when they released decisions last year. Hopefully this will help you keep track of the next two weeks of decisions that will be coming to your students.

Institution

Official Notification Date (2017)

Updated Notification Date (2017)

Actual Notification Date (2016)

American University

by 4/1

week of 3/20

mailed 3/21

Amherst College

1-Apr

 

25-Mar

Babson College

mid-March

3/17 4pm ET NEW

3/18 3pm ET

Bard College

end of March

 

18-Mar

Barnard College

late March

 

3/24 7pm ET

Bates College

by 4/1

 

3/26 12pm ET

Bentley University

late March

 

15-Mar

Boston University

late March - early April

18-Mar

19-Mar

Bowdoin College

early April

 

18-Mar

Brandeis University

1-Apr

 

3/17 evening ET

Brown University

end of March

30-Mar

3/31 after 5pm ET

Bryn Mawr College

1-Apr

1-Apr

23-Mar

Bucknell University

29-Mar

 

3/28 after 9pm ET

California State Polytechnic University - San Luis Obispo

1-Apr

1-Apr

rolling beginning 2/17

California Institute of Technology

mid-March

3/11 12pm PT

12-Mar

Carleton College

1-Apr

3/22 8pm CT

21-Mar

Carnegie Mellon University

by 4/15

 

mailed 3/22, online 3/26 midnight ET

Case Western Reserve University

20-Mar

3/17 8pm ET NEW

12-Mar

Chapman University

mid-March

9-Mar

5-Mar

Claremont McKenna College

1-Apr

3/24 5pm PT

3/22 5pm PT

Colby College

by 4/1

3/17 3pm ET NEW

25-Mar

Colgate University

1-Apr

mailed 3/20

mailed 3/18

College of the Holy Cross

by 4/1

3/18 NEW

18-Mar

College of William and Mary

mailed by 4/1

 

23-Mar

Colorado College

late March

3/10 4pm MT

15-Mar

Columbia University

late March

30-Mar

3/31 5pm ET

Connecticut College

late March

 

3/19 10am ET

Cornell University

7-Apr

30-Mar

3/31 5pm ET

Dartmouth College

7-Apr

30-Mar

31-Mar

Davidson College

1-Apr

3/22 9pm ET NEW

3/19 10am ET

Denison University

1-Apr

3/17 NEW

9-Mar

Dickinson College

late March

16-Mar

17-Mar

Drexel University

by 4/1

 

23-Mar

Duke University

1-Apr

30-Mar

3/24 7pm ET

Emory University (Emory)

by 4/1

3/23 6pm ET NEW

3/30 6pm ET

Emory University (Oxford)

by 4/1

3/23 6pm ET NEW

3/30 6pm ET

Franklin and Marshall

1-Apr

3/17 NEW

18-Mar

George Washington University

late March/early April

 

29-Mar

Georgetown University

1-Apr

 

mailed 3/24

Georgia Institute of Technology

11-Mar

3/11 12pm ET

3/12 12pm ET

Gettysburg College

late March

 

mailed 3/18

Gonzaga University

mailed by 4/1

 

14-Mar

Grinnell College

late March

 

3/18 5pm CT

Hamilton College

1-Apr

 

3/25 8pm ET

Harvard University

late March

30-Mar

31-Mar

Harvey Mudd College

mailed 4/1

3/17 evening PT NEW

3/18 6:30pm PT

Haverford College

early April

 

mailed 3/23

Johns Hopkins University

by 4/1

3/17 3pm ET NEW

3/18 3pm ET

Kenyon College

mid-March

3/17 6pm ET

20-Mar

Lafayette College

by 4/1

 

mailed 3/22

Lehigh University

late March

 

24-Mar

Lewis and Clark College

1-Apr

 

18-Mar

Middlebury College

late March/early April

3/18 after 8am ET

3/19 after 8pm ET

New York University

1-Apr

1-Apr

1-Apr

North Carolina State

30-Mar

 

18-Mar

Northwestern University

late March

 

17-Mar

Oberlin College

1-Apr

 

25-Mar

Occidental College

1-Apr

 

22-Mar

Pepperdine University

1-Apr

by 4/1

18-Mar

Pitzer College

1-Apr

 

mailed 3/22

Pomona College

by 4/1

3/17 5pm PT NEW

3/18 after 5pm PT

Princeton University

30-Mar

30-Mar

31-Mar

Providence College

by 4/1

 

17-Mar

Rhodes College

by 4/1

 

11-Mar

Rice University

by 4/1

 

25-Mar

St. Lawrence University

late March

3/17 NEW

22-Mar

Sarah Lawrence College

late March-early April

 

17-Mar

Scripps College

by 4/1

 

 

Smith College

late March

24-Mar

3/25 6pm ET

Spelman College

mailed 4/1

 

24-Mar

Stanford University

1-Apr

3/31 3pm PT

3/25 3pm PT

Swarthmore College

by 4/1

3/17 7pm ET

by 3/24 6pm ET

Trinity College

late March

 

23-Mar

Tufts University

by 4/1

 

3/31 late afternoon ET

Tulane University

by 4/1

 

18-Mar

University of California - Berkeley

31-Mar

30-Mar

24-Mar

University of California - Davis

mid-March

10-Mar

11-Mar

University of California - Irvine

by 3/31

beginning 3/16 through next week

beginning early March

University of California - Los Angeles

by late March

3/17 evening PT

18-Mar

University of California - Santa Barbara

31-Mar

by 3/21 3pm PT

3/22 3pm PT

University of California - Santa Cruz

3/15-3/31

15-Mar

15-Mar

University of Chicago

late March

3/17 late afternoon CT NEW

3/16 late afternoon CT

University of Georgia

mid-March

3/17 NEW

3/18 late afternoon ET

University of Maryland - College Park

by 4/1

 

18-Mar

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

beginning early March

 

mailed 3/1

University of Miami

early April

 

21-Mar

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

early April

 

rolling

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

end of March

 

30-Mar

University of Notre Dame

end of March

 

18-Mar

University of Pennsylvania

1-Apr

30-Mar

31-Mar

University of Richmond

1-Apr

 

mailed 3/18

University of Rochester

1-Apr

beginning 3/9

18-Mar

University of Southern California

by 4/1

 

mailed 3/23, online 3/26

University of Texas - Austin

1-Mar

by 3/1

1-Mar

University of Virginia

end of March

 

25-Mar

Vanderbilt University

1-Apr

 

3/23 5:30pm CT

Vassar College

late March

 

28-Mar

Villanova University

31-Mar

 

22-Mar

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

1-Apr

by 3/17

18-Mar

Wake Forest University

by 4/1

 

mailed 3/23

Washington and Lee College

24-Mar

3/24 8pm ET

3/25 8pm ET

Wellesley College

late March

 

23-Mar

Wesleyan University

late March

 

25-Mar

Whitman College

late March

 

mailed 3/24

Williams College

by 4/1

 

3/23 evening ET

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

1-Apr

3/24 NEW

18-Mar

Yale University

1-Apr

30-Mar

31-Mar