Plus Factors: Yale Students Weigh In

Yale Daily News: “As the use of affirmative action as a factor in undergraduate admissions comes under fire, Yale students appear split on several other admissions criteria in a January survey administered by the News. Students were mixed on using a ‘recruited athlete’ status as a ‘plus factor,’ but the majority of students did not support using the metric of being the child of an alumnus or donor — either current or prospective — as ‘plus factors’.”

“According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan,’plus factors’ are ‘certain aspects of a student’s application’ that enable the admissions committee ‘to build a class that both individually and collectively benefit the most from and give the most back to Yale.’ The University uses a variety of such factors, including being a recruited intercollegiate athlete, identifying as a first-generation college student, coming from a low-income background, being a member of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group or having ‘extraordinary creative ability,’ as evaluated by Yale faculty members.”

“In November, the News revealed that the Office of Development gives special treatment in the admissions process to ‘VIP candidates,’ who Adam Cohen, program coordinator for Yale’s Office of Development, characterized as ‘donors,’ before correcting himself to say ‘guests’ in November. VIPs in the admissions process are given the opportunity to tour Yale’s campus and speak to FroCos — first-year counselors — before they apply to Yale. No such program exists for non-VIP applicants, until they have been accepted to the college.”

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Harvard & Berklee: Dual-Degree Harmony

Harvard Gazette: A “five-year program, launched in 2016, allows students to pursue a bachelor of arts (A.B.) degree at Harvard and a master of music (M.M.) or master of arts (M.A.) at Berklee at the same time. During their first three years, students pursue a degree in the concentration of their choice at Harvard and take private instruction at Berklee. At the end of their third year, students complete an audition and interview to confirm their readiness for the Berklee master’s program. The fourth year focuses on completing all Harvard requirements, and the fifth year on the requirements for the M.M. or M.A.”

“Avanti Nagral, a junior psychology and global health concentrator … is a singer-songwriter whose most recent single, ‘The Other Side,’ draws on her experience of living between two worlds: Boston and her hometown of Mumbai, and now Harvard Square and Back Bay. ‘I remember sitting and reading a neuroscience textbook while I waited for a private lesson at Berklee,’ she says with a laugh. ‘People didn’t know why I was looking at pictures of a brain. But I’m interested in all of it.'”

“Nagral also finds ways to make her Harvard coursework applicable to her music. In the negotiation and conflict-management course she took this fall, she tailored some assignments to deal with contractual and legal issues in the music industry. She also convinced her professor in a gender studies seminar to accept an original song for her final class project.”

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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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Hello, Iowa: The Original Cornell

Cornell Daily Sun: “When Martin Rosenfeld was still a high school senior, his college application list included an Ivy League school in Ithaca. A few months later, he got into Cornell and decided to go there. But when he left for school in August of his freshman year, he headed for Iowa, not New York. Rosenfeld intended to apply to Cornell University, as he did to schools like Vanderbilt and Brown. However, during the highly stressful process, he accidentally applied to Cornell College, which is in Mount Vernon, Iowa. He ended up going there and he has no regrets about it.”

“Cornell College is a small, liberal arts school in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The school has an enrollment of about 1,000 undergrads. Although not as well-known as Cornell University, they proclaim themselves the original Cornell since they were founded 12 years before the University … What greatly intrigued Rosenfeld about Cornell College, however, was its curriculum design — ‘the block plan.’ At Cornell College, students take one course at a time and intensively study it for 18 class days – about three and a half weeks – and repeat it four times per semester.”

“Foregoing his acceptance to Vanderbilt, Rosenfeld instead headed to Mount Vernon, a decision that has caused confusion amongst those around him. Martin says that he faced multiple ‘outbursts’ from his peers in high school about why he decided to go to “some small, liberal arts college that practically nobody has ever heard of. His family, despite being supportive, also had a hard time wrapping their heads around this move. But according to Rosenfeld, attending Cornell College was the best decision he ever made.”

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How Cornell Decides

Cornell Sun: “Unlike many other colleges, which review all applications from a central undergraduate admissions office, Cornell has a ‘somewhat unique system’ … Once an application is submitted, it will be given to the one — and only — college or school that the student is applying to, where his or her material will undergo a ‘first review’ … About 80 percent, or over 40,000 of the applicants, will be chosen to proceed to the next step. Only after the applicant has successfully passed the academic review, the admissions staff will consider other components of his or her application — such as recommendation letters and extracurricular activities.”

“In addition to the level of performance … Cornell also looks at how demanding those courses are. In colleges like CALS, where students must pick a major or at least specify a general subject in their applications, admission officers will also take into consideration whether the students have taken and performed well in classes relevant to their intended major … Another important and yet often overlooked factor is the college-specific essay, more commonly known as the ‘why’ essay, which is reviewed in both the first and the subsequent steps of admissions. The essay is the opportunity for students to demonstrate both their writing skills and that they have taken the time to research and learn about Cornell.”

Cornell looks “for students who can make the most out of the ‘any person … any study’ environment, who can learn from and collaborate with students from all kinds of backgrounds and majors. Sometimes, this quality … even outweighs academic performances in the evaluation process … Admission officers also look for other qualities that would contribute to the Cornell community, such as persistence and community ties. While Cornell doesn’t expect ‘a long list of activities,’ admissions staff hope to discover these values from the essay and extracurricular activities … A passion for contributing to and becoming part of the community is also extremely important.”

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Harvard: ‘Bubbly’ Candidates Rise to Surface

The New York Times: “Days before the opening of a trial accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, the college issued new guidance to its admissions officers earlier this month on what personalities it is seeking in its incoming freshmen, a question at the heart of the case. The new guidelines for the Class of 2023 caution officers that character traits ‘not always synonymous with extroversion’ should be valued, and that applicants who seem to be ‘particularly reflective, insightful and/or dedicated’ should receive high personal ratings as well.”

“One of the odder quirks of the trial testimony has been how often the word ‘effervescence’ has come up. It has been hammered home that Harvard values applicants who are bubbly, not ‘flat,’ to use another word in the Harvard admissions lexicon. Admissions documents filed in court awarded advantages to applicants for ‘unusually appealing personal qualities,’ which could include ‘effervescence, charity, maturity and strength of character.’ Now ‘reflective’ could be a plus as well.”

“The guidelines on assessing personal qualities also say that a top-rated student might have ‘enormous courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life,’ or perhaps ‘a singular ability to lead or inspire those around them,’ or even ‘extraordinary concern or compassion for others.’ One thing has not changed. The lowest rating, once defined as ‘questionable or worrisome personal qualities,’ is still the same.”

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College Selectivity Doesn’t Equal Satisfaction

Quartz: “Many of us think the college or university we attend matters a lot. If we go to Harvard, or Oxford, we will be happier, smarter, richer and land a killer job. A new report from Challenge Success, a nonprofit that is part of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, suggests this thinking is almost entirely wrong. The white paper, A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity, finds that college selectivity … does not determine how much a student learns, how happy they become or how satisfied they are with their jobs.”

“Better learning, it seems, is associated with better studying, not brand-name colleges. What about happiness and general life satisfaction? Since 2014, Gallup-Purdue has conducted a survey of job satisfaction and general well-being among college graduates … found no relationship between college selectivity and either broad measure of life satisfaction, arguing that what seems to matter is ‘what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it’.”

“OK, maybe selective colleges don’t make you happier. Do they make you richer? … Some research shows graduates of ‘high quality’ institutions earn 6% to 8% more out of college than graduates of ‘low-quality’ institutions (those which accept everyone). That percentage rises to 16% to 19% a decade after college. The authors argue that it is hard to disentangle how much of this comes from the student and how much comes from the institution.”

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Harvard Acceptance Rate Hits New Low

The Wall Street Journal: “Harvard hit a new low this year—in terms of its acceptance rate. The university admitted 4.6% of applicants, or 1,962 students for the class set to begin this fall. Last year, it admitted 5.2% of applicants … Many of the applicants looked perfect on paper. At Princeton, more than 14,200 of the 35,370 applicants had a 4.0 grade point average. Brown boasted that 96% of its admitted students are in the top 10% of their high school classes, while at Dartmouth that rate hit 97%.”

“The elite schools are also eager to note that they are becoming less elitist, with generous financial-aid packages to lure diverse candidates: Cornell accepted more than 700 first-generation college students, and more than 20% of Harvard’s admitted students and 23% of Princeton’s are eligible for federal Pell grants, which are aimed at low-income students.”

The acceptance rates released Wednesday combine figures from the early-admission rounds, in which applicants generally learn their fates in December, and the regular-decision round. Broken down, those rates are often quite lopsided. At Harvard, 14.5% of early-action applicants were accepted for the coming class, compared with about 2.8% of regular-round candidates … Despite the fervor around Ivy League admissions, the vast majority of college students actually go to a college where nearly everyone gets in, and many less prestigious institutions are struggling to fill their classes.”

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Early Ivy Admission Rates Decline

class-of-2022-early-admission-rates

Business Insider: “Another year of early acceptance notifications, another year where the acceptance rates declined. Almost all eight schools in the competitive Ivy League reported declines in acceptance rates, meaning it’s the hardest year on record to get into the colleges. Columbia and Cornell Universities did not publicly release early-admission figures.”

“Despite getting more difficult, the rates are actually higher than acceptance rates during regular admission in the spring. For comparison, Harvard’s acceptance rate released for regular decision last spring, the lowest in the Ivy League, was 5.2% for the class of 2021. Cornell, which has the highest in the Ivy League, was 12.5%.”

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Ivy League: What Are The Most Popular Majors?

Business Insider: “So what do undergraduates at the eight Ivy League schools like to study? Turns out, it’s surprisingly similar no matter which school they attend. At six of the eight schools, economics is the most popular major among students who graduated in 2016. The most popular major at the two outliers, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, were engineering and finance, respectively.”

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