Night of the Living Deadlines

The Wall Street Journal: “The deadline to apply for admission to Oberlin College was Jan. 15. Until it wasn’t. The Ohio liberal-arts college sent an email blast last Tuesday alerting high-school seniors that the deadline had been extended to Feb. 1. Other elite colleges, including the University of Chicago, George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have also extended their application deadlines this winter.”

“Delayed deadlines are a sign of the growing pressure many schools face to fill their incoming classes. They are receiving more applications than ever in part because stressed high-school seniors see record-low admit rates from some top schools, fret about their own chances and expand their list of targets. The Common Application makes it easy to apply to more schools without much additional work.”

“That all makes it challenging for colleges to predict who wants to actually enroll. Thirty-five percent of seniors applied to at least seven schools in 2016, up from 18% a decade earlier. In that same time span, the yield, or share of admitted students who enrolled at a given four-year college, fell to 34% from 45%.”

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Boston College Adds ‘Early Decision’

BC News: “Boston College will introduce an Early Decision program for undergraduate admission this year, in an effort to meet the growing preference of today’s high school students and enroll more ‘best fit’ applicants for whom Boston College is a first choice, the University announced today. The decision will result in a shift from BC’s non-binding Early Action policy to a binding Early Decision program that will include two opportunities for students to apply early to Boston College.”

“For high-achieving high school students who view Boston College as their top choice, Early Decision I will offer a November 1 application deadline with a decision notification by December 15. Early Decision II will feature a January 1 application deadline with a decision notification by February 15. Students who prefer to apply Regular Decision will continue to have a January 1 deadline with a notification of April 1.”

“In moving to Early Decision, Boston College joins a growing number of peer institutions, including Wake Forest, Tufts, Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Emory universities, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others. Overall, 21 of the top 40-ranked national universities in U.S. News have Early Decision I and II programs.”

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Ivies Trim Early Acceptances

The Daily Pennsylvanian: “Every Ivy League school that has released its early admissions data saw declines in their early acceptances compared to the previous year. Columbia University is the only Ivy that has yet to release its ED numbers. Penn had the smallest decline in selectivity. The University’s ED admissions rate decreased by only 0.55 percentage points from 18.55 percent. The small change comes just one year after Penn had the most drastic decline among the Ivies, tapering early admissions by 3.5 percentage points.”

“Brown University had the largest decline in ED admission rate compared to last year, boasting an 18 percent rate of admission for the Class of 2023, which is 3.1 percentage points lower than last year’s class. Dartmouth College experienced the second largest decrease, a 1.69 percentage point drop from the previous year. Cornell University had a similar drop of 1.66 percentage points from the Class of 2022.”

“At 13.2 percent, Yale University reported the lowest rate of early admission among the Ivy League, beating out Harvard University, which has been the most competitive university for the past two years.”

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Community College Transfers Soar at Elite Schools

The Atlantic: A new study “finds that graduation rates of community-college transfers meet or exceed those of students who enroll at selective institutions as first-time freshman. Community-college transfers also graduate at higher rates than students who transfer from other four-year colleges … For the students who do ultimately transfer to selective colleges, it’s not that there are just a few shining stars skewing the data … The greatness is everywhere. ‘Fully 84 percent of the nation’s two-year institutions transferred at least one student to a selective four-year institution in fall 2016,’ the report says.”

“These days, the typical (community college) student is likely older, or lives off campus, or has a full-time job, or is going to school part-time, or has a child, or has some combination of any of those traits. And more often, students are starting their higher education at community colleges. In fact, more than 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates attend community colleges.”

“Foundations such as Jack Kent Cooke have been working with colleges to help them enroll and fund transfer students, and organizations such as the American Talent Initiative have been pushing to get more community-college students into these schools. Even still, the mighty few who have large endowments, a working business model, and few empty seats may not feel compelled to enroll more transfer students. Still, this report shows that if admissions officers will accept them, community-college students are prepared to succeed at any college—even the most selective.”

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Who’s The Most Selective Of Them All?

Chron: “College ranking site Niche just released its ranking of America’s most selective colleges. The study looks primarily — about 60 percent — at each school’s acceptance rate, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education. The other factors are SAT/ACT scores in the 75th and 25 percentile. Niche compiles this data based on the department of education as well as self-reported data from Niche readers. On the list are some familiar Ivy League campuses, as well as some lesser-known schools. Claremont, California reigns supreme as the town with the highest concentration of most selective universities.”

Not surprising, the top five are: Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, Yale and Princeton. You can review the complete list here.

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UMass: ‘ZooMass’ No More?

The Boston Globe: “In boosting its academic profile, UMass is following the path previously taken by several local private colleges, notably Boston College, Tufts University, Boston University, and, most recently, Northeastern University … Still, there are different implications when the state’s flagship public university becomes less accessible. For starters, there are lots of parents who are dumbfounded — and furious — when their kids get rejection letters from UMass. After all, they grew up when the place was known as ‘ZooMass,’ a safety school more associated with call-the-cops ragers than academic rigor.”

“The acceptance rate for UMass Amherst hasn’t changed much — it’s 60 percent, down just a couple of points from when he arrived. But the pool has grown stronger. UMass is now attracting many more students who have the credentials to get into selective private colleges but go public because their families make too much money to qualify for significant financial aid, yet not enough to cover private tuition without signing on for lots of loans. UMass isn’t cheap — about $30,000 per year for in-state tuition, fees, and room and board — but that is less than half of the going rate at most privates.”

Meanwhile: “UMass Amherst bought a campus in Newton after Mount Ida, a small college drowning in debt, suddenly shuttered last spring … having a presence in the humming east will allow UMass students to spend a semester or two in the Mount Ida dorms, pursuing the internships they need to graduate with work experience.” The Mount Ida campus may also serve as “a tool to recruit rising-star faculty who have the potential to leave their mark in the life sciences and technology fields — and can bring in large grants — but who are too attracted to the vibrant scene radiating from MIT in Cambridge to consider moving to Western Massachusetts.”

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Round 1: Early Applications Jump Again

The Washington Post: “At the University of Virginia, most applications arrive by Nov. 1 for the first round of freshman admissions. There were about 25,000 early hopefuls for the public flagship university’s Class of 2023, up 17 percent from the previous year. They will learn this month whether they got in. Those who applied in the second round, ahead of the regular Jan. 1 deadline, will receive decisions by the end of March. Everyone admitted has until May 1 to decide whether to enroll.”

“U-Va. is hardly alone. Many schools, public and private, report significant increases in early applications.” For example, compared to a year ago, the percentage increase in early applications jumped 19% at Duke, 21% at Brown, 39% at Rice, and 42% at New York University. “At the University of Rochester, about 1,200 applied for fall early decision. That was up 35 percent from the year before.” Jonathan Burdick, Rochester’s dean of admissions and financial aid comments: “The numbers keep growing rapidly. We’ve had double-digit increases each year for as long as I can remember.”

“Occasionally, Burdick said, students admitted through early decision will try to break the rules and keep shopping. Such students run ‘a genuine risk’ of having their offers revoked, he said, if schools learn a contract has been broken. Burdick said he tells prospective students: ‘Please don’t apply early unless you love Rochester and it’s definitely where you want to be’.”

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How Many APs Is AP-propriate?

US News: “Advanced Placement classes can set applicants apart in a competitive college admissions environment, demonstrating the ability to perform well on more challenging coursework. Experts say performing well in AP courses often signals readiness for college. But for students looking to land at a top college, the question of how many AP courses to take persists … for those academically unprepared for the challenge, struggling in AP courses can backfire, with low grades and exam scores reflecting negatively on college applications.”

“A 2013 study conducted by admissions officials at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill found almost no difference in the first year GPA for students who took five college-level classes during high school compared with those who took six or more. Based on these findings, UNC officials remarked in the study they will encourage students ‘to pursue at least five college-level courses’ during high school.”

“Jack Whelan, director of college guidance at Providence Day School in North Carolina, says he generally sees students taking too many AP classes in high school rather than too few … While experts say AP courses are viewed favorably by admissions officers, Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling and outreach at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire, notes colleges will consider a student’s application in the context of the curriculum offered at his or her high school, meaning the applicant won’t be penalized if few or no AP classes are available.”

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Admissions Tip: Making the Grade with GPA

Jeffrey J. Selingo: “A recent survey of college admissions officers found that nothing carries more weight in deciding which applicants to accept than high school grades. Why? Research shows that a student’s high school grade-point average is consistently a better predictor than test scores of a student’s likely performance in college. It’s not just about whether those students will get good grades in college.”

“Grades matter in college admissions because they are a signal of a student’s effort, grit and determination … But it’s not only applications with all A’s that rise to the top of a pile in an admissions office. Officers look for students who challenge themselves by taking courses outside academic areas where they are strongest. They want applicants who are interested in studying engineering to also have taken a full slate of English courses in high school, even if they struggled at times.”

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Tell The Truth: They Know When You are Lying

The New York Times: “The Common Application asks students to certify that they are telling the truth, but does not try to independently confirm that they are. It is up to colleges to take that extra step … Some universities require students to sign a sworn statement that they are telling the truth, under pain of prosecution. But officials admit they are not seeking to be law enforcement. Mainly, officials and counselors said, they look for inconsistencies. Do standardized test scores and grades match? Do certain words and phrases in an essay jump out as being in the vocabulary of an adult rather than a teenager? Are a student’s extracurricular activities too good to be true?”

“And they depend on high school counselors to give them honest appraisals of students who are applying. ‘If each component is not all pulling in the same direction, it becomes a kind of red flag,’ said Katharine Harrington, vice president of admissions and planning at the University of Southern California.”

“Scott Burke, the undergraduate admissions director at Georgia State University, knew something was amiss when the birth date on an application was far too old to belong to the high school student who supposedly filled it out. With a little sleuthing, his office discovered that it was a parent’s birth date … ‘All of us sitting here looking at those applications came to that thinking that the parent likely filled out the whole application,’ Mr. Burke said. But they could not say for sure whether that was the case, and after contacting the student, they gave the family the benefit of the doubt.”

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