Sibling Legacy in College Admissions: Does It Exist?

Is there such a thing as sibling legacy?

Broadly, watching your older sibling go through the college process can help you do the same; you’ve observed your sibling’s path through high school and college, tagged along on college visits, and maybe even picked up a few good work habits or new activities.

But what is the precise impact on your chances of being admitted to the same college?

Although much has been written about parent legacy, and colleges capture data on parent legacy, very little is published about sibling legacy. In 2010, Michael Hurwitz, at Harvard Graduate School of Education, conducted a landmark study on the impact of having undergraduate legacy on 30 selective colleges. Hurwitz defined “primary legacy” as having at least one parent attend the institution as an undergraduate, and “secondary legacy” as having a sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle attend the institution as an undergraduate or graduate, or parent attend as a graduate student.

Hurwitz’s study showed that legacy had a significant impact on admissions rates. For students with no legacy advantage, 41% were admitted ED, and 20% regular or EA. Students with primary legacy had the highest acceptance rate, of 57% of ED applicants and 41% of regular and EA applicants. Students with secondary legacy also exceeded those with no legacy, with 52% accepted ED and 29% accepted regular or EA.

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Legacy plays a much greater role in early admissions than regular admissions, and primary is far stronger than secondary. Hurwitz calculated the “legacy admissions advantage” and found that students with primary legacy have “odds of admission multiplied by 5.5 for regular decision applications,” and 15.5 for early action applications. For secondary legacy, the estimated advantage is comparable for early action applications (chances multiplied by 1.9) and regular decision applications (chances multiplied by 2.0).


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Why do colleges value sibling legacy?

Part of the motivation for institutions to accept students with parent or sibling legacy is tied to an expectation of greater donations. Parents are more likely to give money to their alma mater if one of their children attend, and are even more likely if two children attend and they do not need to split their charitable giving among several colleges.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 7.55.10 PMSome colleges are very direct about the value they place on sibling legacy. The three May sisters graduated from three different schools at Villanova University: Meaghan May Hildreth ’08 College of Engineering, Kaitlyn May Rolston ’10 College of Nursing, and Erinn May ’13 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They articulate how their desire to contribute to alumni giving is a direct consequence of the impact of their college experiences at Villanova:

“The knowledge, friendships, and cherished memories from our time at Villanova is something we cannot put into words. Therefore our donations to the University and membership in the Young Alumni Circle are ways we are able to stay involved with the community and remember, Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat.

But for most other colleges, the role of sibling legacy is more informal. Ben Kavanaugh, Associate Director of Admissions at Bucknell University, states, “We certainly pay attention to sibling status but I wouldn’t say it acts as any kind of thumb on the scale.”


The Special Case of Twins and Multiples

Twins and other multiples represent a special situation in that admissions decisions are rendered at the same time, and the nature of the decisions may impact whether two (or more) prospective students choose to attend. Typically, each applicant’s file is reviewed independently, but at the end of the process, the admissions team may conduct one more review of twins or other multiples to make sure the decisions are justifiable and consistent, and adjust if appropriate.

Colleges are sensitive to the unique impact of admissions decisions on twins.

Relationships between multiples, as they refer to themselves, are often exceedingly close. When the rejection or acceptance e-mail arrives, sometimes on a single computer, the glory, disappointment, envy and guilt play out under the same roof, threatening the single most important relationship in their lives, beyond the one with their parents.”

Parke Muth, who served in admissions for selective universities for nearly 30 years, said,

“When I worked in admission, we always ran a list of twins before decisions went out. If at all possible, we tried to be consistent if they presented applications that were quite similar. In talking with a number of highly selective schools they would do the same.”

Anecdotally, some colleges actively seek out twins, and will ask specifically on the Common App supplement form. Duke University has such a question, and has been known to contact the twin of an applicant who has not applied.

Applying to college is a complex process! For guidance on how to maximize your chances of admission, contact us. As always, we’re happy to help!

The Role of Your Counselor Recommendation

Most colleges request a letter of recommendation from your high school guidance counselor. This letter serves a unique function in the college admissions process. The counselor is expected to describe your high school environment, place you within the context of your peers, and discuss your unique attributes. “Many college and university admission officers use the counselor recommendation to learn more about the school and the community of the student applying for admission,” says Shawn Abbott, assistant vice president and dean of admissions at New York University.

While your teachers will focus on your academic strengths, your counselor can provide insights about your character, values, and goals. As stated by Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, recommendations “help us look past the numbers and learn more about who the student is.”

Hamilton College’s admissions office advises counselors to “take the time to tell us things we wouldn’t learn elsewhere in the student’s application… To be sure, the single most important factor in our decision-making process is the high school transcript. But your comments and insight provide us with perspective and help us assess fit with our community.”

What questions are asked of counselors?

Beginning with the 2015-16 application year, the Common Application developed a new form for counselors to complete. The Counselor Form consists of several prompts to help admissions officers learn more about who you are as a person and as a student:

  • The duration and context in which you’ve known the applicant (short response)
  • The first words that come to mind to describe the applicant (short response)
  • A broad-based assessment addressing topics like academic and personal characteristics, contextual comments for the applicant’s performance and involvement, and/or observed problematic behaviors that an admissions committee should explore further (long response)

Understanding the recommendation process

The ratio of students per guidance counselor varies widely around the country, but the average is a staggering 476 students per guidance counselor. At most public high schools, there is no dedicated college counselor; instead, guidance counselors incorporate college advising within all their other academic and disciplinary responsibilities.

Some high schools have put procedures in place to help counselors obtain personalized information on students. At Midwood High School, in Brooklyn, which has two counselors for 800 seniors, the guidance office prepares a folder for each senior that includes their contact information, test scores, teacher recommendations, a student profile and autobiographical essay, and a “parent brag sheet” with anecdotal information.

But not all high schools have such an organized and comprehensive system for collecting personalized information about seniors. As a result, the more you can do to help your counselor understand who you are personally, the more effective his or her recommendation letter will be.

How can you help your counselor describe you as effectively as possible?

The strongest recommendations paint a well-rounded portrait of who you are. With that in mind, here are some tips:

Develop and maintain a strong relationship with your guidance counselor. Make regular appointments throughout each school year. Keep your counselor informed of your achievements in academics and activities. In the fall of senior year, stop by to discuss how you spent your summer.

Create a detailed resume that describes your extracurricular activities, internships, employment, and volunteer work in detail. Try to be as descriptive and authentic as possible, and don’t use generic phrases.

Write a 1-2 page letter to your counselor describing your strengths, values, and goals—if your counselor does not ask you to complete a form or essays. Reflect on the following questions, and provide thoughtful responses. If possible, provide specific anecdotes to illustrate your points:

  • What are a few significant experiences that have influenced who you are today?
  • What obstacles or challenges have you been faced with, and how did you overcome these?
  • How do you approach your schoolwork?
  • What are your relationships like with peers, teachers, and advisors?
  • How have you improved your community?
  • What academic areas of study in college interest you? How do these areas relate to your academic accomplishments in high school?
  • Do you have specific career goals at this point?

In addition, provide your counselor with a list of colleges you are currently considering applying to, as well as specialized academic programs if applicable.

For guidance on recommendations and other aspects of the college admissions process, feel free to contact us at As always, we’re happy to help!

College Board Offers SAT in August, Eliminates January Test Day

The College Board will begin offering the SAT and Subject Tests this August for the first time, and the January test date will be eliminated going forward. Fewer test centers are available in August, and some are already filled, so register as soon as possible if this test date is appropriate for you!

Why is the College Board Adding an August Test Date?

The new College Board test date is likely a response to the increase in seniors applying through early admissions and the consequent growth in SAT testers in the fall (see chart below). Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift towards early applications, in which seniors apply in November, and receive notification in December.

In large part, students are taking advantage of the strategic boost of applying early. The admit rates are typically much higher, and colleges are filling an increasing percentage of their freshman class through early admissions, leaving fewer spots to fill during regular admissions. As a result, the entire standardized testing schedule has shifted to earlier test dates. For early admissions, students need to complete their testing (SAT, ACT and Subject Tests) by October.

The ACT, the alternative college entrance exam, offers a test in September, an ideal time for seniors because they can prepare over the summer, and are just starting to deal with the academic requirements of senior year; in addition, the ACT plans to introduce another test date in July 2018. The SAT has been steadily losing ground to the ACT over the past few years, and a strategic modification of the testing schedule may be an effort by the College Board to recover ground.

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Who Should Take the August Test?

The August test date is ideal for seniors who would like an additional chance to improve their SAT or Subject Test score after their junior year testing, or would like to take additional Subject Tests. The summer typically provides a less intense environment in which to prepare, without the pressures of schoolwork.

For rising juniors, we do not advise taking the SAT until November or December, because students typically experience meaningful growth and maturity over junior year, and continue to learn content that can boost their scores.

One exception, however, would be rising juniors who are pursuing athletic recruitment, and need early testing scores for coaches to make a determination about whether they are viable candidates.

For each student, deciding when and how often to take the SAT or ACT depends on a variety of factors, including whether you are applying to colleges through early or rolling admissions, the selectivity of your colleges, how much time you can devote to test preparation, and your competing time commitments. 

Test Centers for August SAT

Many test centers have chosen not to offer their sites for the August test date, creating a tight supply for what might be a large demand. For example, only 53 test centers will be available in New York, reflecting an 80% drop in the number of test centers from June to August. Brooklyn only has one test center, and it is already filled. As a result, if you are interested in the August test date, register as soon as possible so that you find a space, preferably at a test site that is convenient for you.

This interactive map by Compass Education Group shows the data for a selection of 12 states.

The college testing environment is constantly undergoing changes. To help you sort through testing options and plan for successful college admissions, contact us at As always, we’re happy to help!


REFERENCE: 2017-18 SAT and Subject Tests Test Dates

Note that Subject Tests are not offered in March. Also, while Literature, US History, Math 1, Math 2, Biology, Chemistry and Physics are offered every testing date (but March), World History and Language tests vary by month. In addition, although you can choose to add more Subject Tests on the day of testing (with a maximum of three), the one test that you cannot add on the spot is Language with Listening, because that requires special equipment.

2017-18 SAT Subject Tests U.S. Administration Dates and Deadlines
SAT Date SAT Subject Tests Available Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline

August 26, 2017


July 28, 2017

August 8, 2017 (for mailed registrations)

August 15, 2017 (for registrations made online or by phone)

October 7, 2017


September 8, 2017

September 19, 2017 (for mailed registrations)

September 27, 2017 (for registrations made online or by phone)

November 4, 2017


October 5, 2017

October 17, 2017 (for mailed registrations)

October 25, 2017 (for registrations made online or by phone)

December 2, 2017


November 2, 2017

November 14, 2017 (for mailed registrations)

November 21, 2017 (for registrations made online or by phone)

May 5, 2018 April 6, 2018

April 17, 2018 (for mailed registrations)

April 25, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)

June 2, 2018 May 3, 2018

May 15, 2018 (for mailed registrations)

May 23, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)



The ABCs of Secondary School Curricula: Advanced Placement (AP)

 Why are so many students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) programs in the U.S.? In addition to enabling students to explore subject matter in greater depth, these courses and exams have become a gateway into prestigious and highly selective schools.

Due to the important role that this program now plays in the college admissions process, it is no wonder that there has been a tremendous surge in its popularity. In fact, during this week and next, almost 3 million high school students will be taking AP exams.

According to a recent study, from 1992 to 2012, the number of schools in the United States which offered AP courses nearly doubled, and the number of AP exams administered increased more than 500%. The AP program has international popularity as well; universities in over 60 countries outside the United States recognize AP in the admission process.

In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of the AP program, help navigate its complexities, and explore its potential benefits. AP courses are accepted at virtually all U.S. colleges and universities, but how the colleges use AP scores and credits varies. Some schools use AP scores to allow for advanced placement (skipping over entry-level courses), college credit, the satisfaction of distribution requirements, and/or early graduation.

AP Exam Scoring

To make sure that you understand how the AP exam scoring relates to college-readiness and college grades, here is a quick synopsis of how the exams are graded. The Advanced Placement Program offers more than 30 courses and exams. Each AP course concludes with a college-level assessment developed and scored by college and university faculty, as well as experienced AP teachers.

Research consistently shows that students who receive a score of 3 or higher on AP exams typically experience greater academic success in college and have higher graduation rates than their non-AP peers. Selective colleges treat strong scores on the APs as additional evidence of your ability to master course content. In order to be considered for credit or placement, you must send your official AP score report to the college you’re planning to attend.

Scores on the free-response questions are weighted and combined with the results of the multiple-choice questions, and this raw score is converted into a composite AP score of 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.

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For example, earning a 5 is the equivalent of receiving an A in the college course. Similarly, AP Exam scores of 4 are equivalent to college grades of A−, B+, and B. AP Exam scores of 3 are equivalent to college grades of B−, C+, and C (See AP’s college database for specific policies at each university).

Benefits of Taking AP Courses/Exams

AP courses are more challenging than standard high school level courses. However, there are many benefits to taking AP courses, which can make them worth the extra work required to succeed.

AP helps you develop college-level skills, thereby easing the transition from high school to college

AP classes require college-level critical thinking skills. As a result, taking these classes can help high school students improve in areas like high-level computation, essay writing, and problem-solving, thereby easing the transition into college.

Adjusting to life in college is often challenging, as students have to make sense of many changes happening at once. For many college freshmen, this is the first time they are living away from home. They must learn to be self-sufficient while also navigating a new social and academic world. Taking AP courses in high school can help ease the academic transition, giving students one less thing to worry about.

AP courses are valued by college admission counselors

Admission officers specifically look for students who have taken the most challenging courses available to them. Success in high-level courses, like APs or the International Baccalaureate program, is a strong indicator of preparedness for college. Often, high schools reflect the rigor of AP coursework by weighting these courses higher than other courses in the GPA calculation, which provides students with a higher weighted GPA, and potentially a higher class rank (for high schools that rank).

 AP classes can help you save money

Taking AP classes in high school (and scoring well on the exam) can yield college credit. Depending on your university’s requirements, you may not have to take these subjects again in college. So, instead of paying a substantial amount for the courses in college, you only have to pay a small portion in order to take the AP exam in high school (See AP’s college database for specific policies at each university). AP exams can also help you to graduate early, if you so desire.

AP course credit enables students to take higher-level courses and a broader array of courses

Earning college credit in high school will free up your schedule, giving you the opportunity to take more electives in college. Gaining course credit through AP exams allows you to skip introductory courses and enter directly into higher-level courses. This is helpful for students who have already chosen a major by allowing them to dive right into the material they find most interesting. It is also helpful for students who are undecided, as it allows them to take more electives by skipping some general education requirements.


How Many and Which AP courses Should You Take?

Students and parents often ask how many AP courses is the “right” amount to be competitive in college admissions. The answer, as with so many other college-related questions, is “it depends!” Here are a few factors that should inform your planning of which and how many AP courses to take:

  • How strong are you academically? It’s important to consider this honestly and frankly; you want to challenge yourself to a reasonable degree, but not be overwhelmed by coursework beyond your capabilities.
  • To that end, what are your academic and career interests? Many students do not yet have a definite plan for their major or career, which is perfectly fine! But if you do have interests at this point, and discuss them in your college applications, they should be supported by your academics.For example, if you plan to apply to an engineering school within a University, it would be expected that you take AP Calculus, and you would strengthen your admissions chances if you also take AP levels of relevant sciences, such as AP Biology for Biomedical Engineering, or AP Physics for Mechanical Engineering.
  • What is your work ethic? Are you willing to do the extra work required by AP courses, and to participate more deeply in classroom discussion?
  • What are your other commitments? Family or work obligations, extracurricular activities, and other commitments are both important and time-consuming. Evaluate your time realistically, and choose an appropriate number of AP courses.
  • What AP courses are available at your high school?
    Colleges evaluate the rigor of your high school curriculum relative to what’s available at your high school. In addition to ensuring that your course-load is manageable for you, evaluate it in the context of what’s available to you.

 Important Tips & Takeaways 

AP classes will challenge you on an intellectual level, ease transition to college, and give you a chance to earn college credit while still in high school. Nevertheless, it’s important for students to show a balance between formal and informal studies to college admissions officers. Often, students feel pressured to add another AP course — sometimes a fifth, sixth, or seventh — and, consequently, drop something they really enjoy, like sports, music, or extracurricular activities.

But in actuality, most admissions officers want to see well-rounded individuals who are involved in extracurricular activities. Therefore, it is not necessarily the best course of action to drop extracurricular activities in order to fit more courses into your schedule. Challenge yourself in a way that is reasonable for you, while making sure that your course load provides you with material that keeps you interested and engaged.

Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed, which could lead to burnout. “There are people who arrive at college out of gas,” says William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “It’s crazy for students to think in lockstep they must take four or five or six advanced-placement courses because colleges demand it.”

Wondering what you should do? Collegiate Gateway has a wealth of experience in advising for future curriculum planning. Feel free to contact us—we’re always happy to help!

Who Benefits from Test-optional and Test-flexible Admissions Policies?

As the role of college entrance exams continues to shift, many students find it difficult to navigate evolving and variable testing requirements. The process is made even more complex by the growing number of “test-optional” schools that do not require students to submit the SAT or ACT.

Over 925 colleges and universities have decided that standardized test scores are not as predictive of academic success in college as the day-to-day academic performance reflected by a high school GPA. Current test-optional colleges include Wake Forest, Smith, and Bowdoin.

Several others, including NYU, Middlebury and Hamilton fall under the category of “test-flexible,” meaning that applicants have the option to submit alternative college entrance examinations, such as SAT Subject, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate examinations in place of SAT and ACT scores.

Many students question how to handle test-optional policies, and are unsure of whether or not they should submit their scores. In this blog, we will take a closer look at student choices in applying to test optional colleges and why more and more schools are offering test-optional admissions policies.

Which colleges offer test-optional policies? Are all policies the same? offers a comprehensive list of the colleges that currently offer test-optional and test-flexible admissions policies. While colleges offering these policies include a variety of institutions, it is notable that many are small liberal arts colleges, public universities, and small Catholic colleges. With few exceptions, the most highly selective colleges continue to require standardized testing; besides being a standard indicator of college readiness, test scores can create a benchmark of acceptance for schools that are becoming inundated with ever-increasing applicant pools.

It is interesting to note that of the 50 highest-ranked national universities, only four have test-optional or test-flexible policies, including Wake Forest, University of Rochester, Brandeis, and NYU, whereas 21 of the top-ranked liberal arts universities offer such testing options. One possible reason is that to attract applicants, the national universities rely more on US News & World Report’s rankings, which factor in test scores. In addition, small liberal arts universities are typically more holistic in their evaluations of candidates.

Test-optional and test-flexible policies vary widely, and the best way to make sure that you are submitting the correct testing requirements is to research the details on the specific college’s website.

For example, NYU (test-flexible) requires testing but students have a variety of options:

  • ACT (writing test not required)
  • SAT(essay test not required)
  • 3SAT Subject Test scores
  • 3AP exam scores
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
  • 3IB higher-level exam scores if not an IB Diploma candidate
  • Nationally accredited examthat shows you completed your secondary education

Many test-optional schools require students who are not submitting test scores to meet additional requirements, including interviews, writing samples, teacher recommendations, or completing a Test-Optional Form. For example, Franklin & Marshall College requires students who choose to opt out of testing to submit two graded writing samples (creative or analytical), preferably from a humanities or social science course. Loyola University Maryland asks applicants who take advantage of their test-optional policy to submit an additional teacher recommendation and/or personal essay. At Virginia Commonwealth University, high school applicants must have at least a 3.3 GPA to bypass testing requirements.

Interestingly, many test-optional schools, including Marist College, require students to submit standardized test scores once they have been accepted and enroll. The schools use these test scores for the purposes of academic advisement and course placement.

Why do schools offer test-optional policies?

Increasing ethnic diversity

Many schools, including Wake Forest, claim that test-optional policies have led to a more diverse student body with no notable difference in academic achievement between students who opted out of testing and those who submitted scores. Wake Forest also states that ethnic diversity increased by 54% in the first seven years that their test-optional policy went into effect. A 2014 report from two former Bates College admissions officials, William Hiss and Valerie Franks, also found an increase in racial and socio-economic diversity at test-optional schools.

Focusing on holistic admissions

In determining whether an applicant is a good fit, test-optional schools stress the importance of examining the student’s complete academic profile. The College of the Holy Cross states, “We are test optional because we have found that a student’s academic history in high school is a better indicator of their scholastic ability than an exam taken on a singular Saturday morning.”


Many institutions are disillusioned with current standardized testing, and feel that the test preparation available to the wealthy creates an unfair advantage. For example, Marist College states, “Many studies indicate performance on standardized tests is closely linked to family income and education level, while others suggest a possible bias against certain minority students. Our experience shows that the rigor of a student’s program and overall academic performance can best illustrate commitment, motivation, work ethic, and a willingness to take on challenges.”

Improved US News Rankings

Intentional or not, the schools offering test-optional policies also tend to see improved U.S. News rankings. A 2014 study by researchers at the University of Georgia examined data from 32 selective liberal arts colleges, and found that, after going test-optional, these schools received an average increase of 220 applications and their mean SAT scores rose by an average of 26 points.

Selectivity and test scores are important factors in the U.S. News rankings. US News is transparent about the components that comprise its ranking methodology. 8.125% of rankings derive from the SAT critical reading and math portions; and the composite ACT score; and 1.25% from selectivity.

Test-optional policies tend to increase applicant numbers, creating higher selectivity for the schools, and since students who did better on standardized tests report their scores, while students with low scores often do not, the school can report artificially inflated test scores of accepted applicants. Test scores make up 65% of the US News selectivity rating, which becomes 12.5% of the larger weighting used to rank each college.

Notably, the only “test-blind” school, Hampshire College, is unranked by US News. Hampshire College does not consider any ACT or SAT scores as part of its admissions policy, and therefore has no scores to report. Sarah Lawrence was once “test-blind” as well, from 2003 to 2012. In 2012, Sarah Lawrence switched to a “test-optional” policy, presumably to rejoin the ranks of US News, among other reasons.

Bottom-line: Should I send my scores?

At the end of the day, you might be deliberating over whether or not to send your scores. Here are some considerations to assist in your decision:

Research the range of standardized test scores for accepted students

According to U.S. News, “If you do some research and find that your results fall below those of the top third of accepted students at more selective schools or below the median at more inclusive institutions, you may want to hold them back.”

Decide if your test scores accurately represent your potential as a student

At the College of the Holy Cross, Director of Admissions Ann McDermott writes, “If you feel your testing says something about you and your abilities, feel free to send them along. We will look at them in conjunction with your transcript, your recommendations, essay, and interview (if you have had one) and make our assessment.  If, on the other hand, you feel that your test scores do not represent you well, then do not hesitate to withhold them. We will not make any assumptions about your testing, and will focus our attention on your transcript and the other accompanying credentials that are contained in your application.”

Take a hard look at your academic performance and activity list

Jane H. Dane, associate vice president for enrollment management at Old Dominion University in Virginia, notes that applicants who withhold scores are “particularly scrutinized for other evidence of potential for success, like challenging course work and leadership skills. The more well-rounded you are, the better your chances of impressing without scores.”

Remember that regardless of testing policies, all schools look at more than your scores

Try to remember that test scores are just one part of your college application, and not even the most significant one. As the College Board reminds us, “College admission officers give the most weight and importance to your high school grades and whether you’re challenging yourself.”

Determining the best testing options for each student requires consideration of a variety of factors and personal preferences. For more information on standardized testing, or any other aspect of the college admissions process, feel free to contact Collegiate Gateway. We’re always happy to help!

Keeping Your College Acceptance

For students who have been accepted early decision or who have already put a deposit down on their regular acceptance choice, it can be tempting to enjoy senior year and slack off. Colleges do not often revoke admissions acceptances, but there are occasions when they do. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of finishing your high school education on a strong note, and in which instances schools renege on their admissions decisions.

Reasons to Revoke a College Acceptance

According to Money Magazine, colleges only reverse about one to two percent of their admissions acceptances each year, so it is the exception and not the norm. Through 2009, NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counselors) tracked data on the percentage of acceptances that were rescinded by colleges, but has not released similar information since then.

However, it is important to note that it does happen every year, and in the fine print of almost every student’s acceptance letter, there is some language reserving the college’s the right to revoke your acceptance.

Here are some of the reasons for rescinding a college acceptance:

Grades Drop Dramatically

It is one thing for a straight “A” student to receive one “B” in the second semester of senior year. But a significant decrease in grades from the transcript presented for admission could be cause for concern. For each student, the situation is unique, depending on the grades you had presented at the time of admission and the selectivity of the college. For any student, receiving “C’s” or “D’s” requires explanation of any extenuating factors that impacted academic performance.

Stephen Lee, associate vice president for enrollment management at West Virginia University states, “Because of the way the offer of admission often occurs halfway through the senior year, (admission) is contingent upon successfully completion of the senior year in a manner that’s consistent with how a student applied.” Colleges accepted you as a certain type of student, and they want you to remain this student throughout your high school education.

Disciplinary Trouble

This can include academic cheating, legal issues (such as underage drinking), or any other serious lapse in judgment. In 2003, Blair Hornstein infamously lost her acceptance to Harvard after it was discovered that she had plagiarized several articles that she’d written for her local newspaper. The Harvard Crimson cited that “Harvard admission is contingent on five conditions enumerated for students upon their acceptance—including one which stipulates admission will be revoked ‘if you engage in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity, or moral character.’”

Keep this in mind before making any lax decisions about plagiarism, cheating on tests, drinking or using drugs, or engaging in activities that could result in disciplinary action. In addition, note that colleges often examine your social media presence. Guard your social media and digital footprint against anything that could reflect poorly on your character.

What to Do if You Find Yourself in Trouble

Most colleges send a warning letter and give students the chance to explain themselves before a college acceptance is revoked. Heed this warning seriously and follow-up with your college. If your grades take a steep drop, you will have to explain the extenuating circumstances for this change, beyond mere “senioritis.”

Colleges receive your final transcript at the end of senior year, and they do read them. If you see that your grades are slipping dramatically, speak with your guidance counselor. It may be best to contact the college in advance to explain why and how you are taking action to improve these grades, such as maintaining a work schedule and working more closely with your teachers.

If you get into disciplinary trouble, be honest with your college and report it before they hear about it through other channels. Get ahead of the problem by explaining your actions, how you have tried to remedy the situation, and how the incident will not be repeated.

Receiving your desired college acceptance is a thrilling experience, and senior year can be a wonderful time for celebration and independence. However, keep in mind that your future depends on completing your high school education with integrity and diligence. You need to prove to your college that you can handle the path of academics and freedom that lies ahead. Equally as important, continuing to engage in your academics will best prepare you for success in college.

As you embark on this new life journey—Collegiate Gateway wishes you all the best!

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and with it comes many opportunities to visit potential colleges. In the fall, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applications. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

The fact that fewer students are on campus can sometimes make it harder to get a good feel for a school, but that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t worth it. In fact, if you plan effectively, there are even a few advantages. The summer is an excellent time to explore a wide variety of different colleges, and discover what’s most important to you. If a school ends up at the top of your list, you can always plan a return trip for the fall.

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

Visiting campuses is an important step in the college admissions process. Since you’ll be visiting in the summer, your visits can last longer. You’ll have fewer responsibilities and will be able to extend trips for an extra day or two. This gives you time not only to see more colleges, but to tour each one in a more in-depth way. You’ll have time to stay overnight, which in turn provides opportunities to meet with professors and explore the surrounding town (more on that below).

Visit far-away campuses.

In order to figure out which schools will fit you best, it’s important to visit as many as you reasonably can – from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, located in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between. Since you don’t have to worry about missing school, you can explore campuses that are otherwise too far from home; the summer is a great time to drive or fly cross-country – even abroad! Not to mention that, if you’re already planning a vacation, you may be able to visit nearby campuses.

Personalize your tour.

There will be fewer students on campus, but fewer visitors as well. Over the summer, both tour groups and information sessions will be smaller. Take advantage of this, and ask more questions about the specific features that matter to you.

Seek out students who stayed behind.

Even though it’s summer, there will still be students on campus – you just have to try a little harder to find them.  Some will be taking classes, while others will be conducting research, interning, or working. And, luckily for you, admissions offices are generally more than happy to put you in contact with students to talk to you about life on campus. In some cases, they can even pair you with students who share your interest in particular majors, sports, or other organizations. All you have to do is ask!

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

Visit the home pages of departments you are interested in and find one or two faculty members who teach or conduct research there. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes, especially if you’re visiting during the less busy summer months. Meeting directly with faculty is a great way to find useful information about academic programs that are important to you, and to learn about the school from a unique perspective. Find out why faculty choose to teach at this particular college, and ask about the kinds of students who thrive there. In doing so, you’ll gain a deeper and more nuanced view of academic life on campus.

Hit the town.

The summer also gives you time to explore the surrounding town. In addition to checking out restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues, make sure to do your homework on more practical places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and bookstores. You may also want to take some time to check out potential off-campus housing, especially if a significant percentage of students choose not to live on campus.

Take notes (and pictures, too).

Once you’ve visited a large number of colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each. Take notes and pictures throughout your visit in order to keep track of the features you like (as well as those you don’t). Capture the architecture, paying particular attention to buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, and gym.

Remember to register.

Finally, remember to register at the admissions office when you visit. This will ensure that each college has a permanent record of your visit, an important part of demonstrating interest.

Enjoy yourself!

The college process is already fraught with enough anxiety, so make this part as enjoyable as possible. Enjoy travelling, and have fun imagining yourself as a student at different colleges – pretty soon, you will be!

Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help! Feel free to contact us with any questions about the college process.


Waiting for Regular Decision Results

There are many challenging aspects of the admissions process—from agonizing over college lists to writing and revising countless essays to preparing for interviews. But in many ways, awaiting your regular decision results is the most difficult. Know that if you are among the thousands of seniors and parents in this position, you are not alone in finding this time of uncertainty to be stressful.

Take heart. Though it may not seem so now, the college admissions process is just one part of a much larger educational and career path. Your life’s journey will be full of both successes and setbacks, and you will come through each of them stronger, wiser, and more capable. As you await your final college decisions, remember to trust in the process, and remind yourself that you have done all you can to maximize your chances of success. Enjoy your senior year of high school and continue to engage in your academics. Have faith that you will have an exciting range of college options for this fall.

To further ease your mind, consider reading Frank Bruni’s New York Times article, “How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.” In this article, Bruni discusses the paths of two students who faced rejection from their top choices and went on to colleges and career paths that both worked out for the best. In doing so, he explores the importance of handling rejection, as well as offers advice as to how parents can support their children through these experiences.

Additionally, the Wall Street Journal article, “What’s Worse Than Waiting to Hear From Colleges? Getting Interrogated About It,” discusses ways to be sensitive to seniors who are handling the anxiety of college admissions and productive ways to support them.

Finally, many people find that achieving a more detailed understanding of the regular decision admissions process can help relieve some anxiety. For those who would like to learn more, look out for our upcoming blog on analysis of Regular Decision Admissions Trends for the Class of 2021, and see the chart below for a comprehensive list of current notification dates.

School Regular Notification Class of 2021 Regular Notification Class of 2020
American University week of 3/20/17 mailed 3/21/16
Amherst College on or around 4/1/17 3/25/2016
Babson College mid March 3/18/2016
Barnard College late March 3/24/2016
Bates College 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Boston College week of 3/12/17 week of 3/14/16
Boston University 3/18/2017 3/19/2016
Bowdoin College early April 3/18/2016
Brandeis University 4/1/2017 3/17/2016
Brown University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Bucknell University 3/29/2017 3/25/2016
Carnegie Mellon University by 4/15/17 3/26/2016
Case Western Reserve University 3/20/2017 3/12/2016
Chapman University 3/9/2017 3/5/2016
Claremont McKenna College 3/24/2017 3/22/2016
Colby College 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
College of William & Mary mailed by 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Colgate University mailed 3/20/17 mailed 3/18/16
Columbia University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Connecticut College late March 3/31/2016
Cornell University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Dartmouth College 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Denison University 3/11/2017 3/9/2016
Drexel University by 4/1/2017 3/23/2016
Duke University 4/1/2017 3/24/2016
Elon University 3/20/2017 3/15/2016
Emory University by 4/1/2017 3/30/2016
Fordham University 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Franklin and Marshall College 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
George Washington University late March/early April 3/24/2016
Georgetown University 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Georgia Institute of Technology 3/11/2017 3/12/2016
Gettysburg College late March mailed 3/18/16
Hamilton College 3/25/2017 3/25/2016
Harvard University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Ithaca College 4/15/2017 4/15/2016
Johns Hopkins University 3/17/2017 3/18/2016
Lafayette College 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Lehigh University late March 3/30/2016
MIT 3/14/17 or 3/15/17 3/14/2016
Middlebury College 3/18/2017 3/19/2016
Muhlenberg College 3/15/2017 mid-March
New York University 4/1/2017 3/31/2016
Northeastern University by 4/1/2017 3/15/2016
Northwestern University late March week of 3/14/16
Occidental College 4/1/2017 3/22/2016
Pitzer College 4/1/2017 mailed 3/22/16
Pomona College 4/1/2017 3/18/2016
Princeton University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
Purdue University rolling rolling, beg. Dec.
Quinnipiac University rolling rolling
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 3/11/2017 3/12/2016
Rice University by 4/1/17 3/25/2016
Rochester Institute of Technology mid March 3/15/2016
Scripps College by 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Stanford University 4/1/2017 3/25/2016
SUNY at New Paltz rolling rolling, beg. Jan. 15
SUNY at Albany rolling rolling
SUNY at Binghamton rolling rolling, beg. Feb. 1
SUNY at Geneseo 3/1/2017 3/1/2016
Syracuse University late March 3/15/2016
The College of New Jersey 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Trinity College late March 3/23/2016
Tufts University by 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Tulane University by 4/1/2017 3/18/2016
Union College 4/15/2017 3/23/2016
UC-Berkeley 3/30/2017 3/24/2016
UC-Los Angeles 3/17/2017 3/18/2016
UC-Santa Barbara by 3/21/17 3/22/2016
University of Chicago 3/17/2017 3/16/2016
University of Connecticut begins 3/1/17 begins 3/1/16
University of Delaware 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
Univ. of Maryland-College Park by 4/1/2017 4/1/2016
University of Miami early April 3/21/2016
University of Michigan early April 4/15/2016
UNC – Chapel Hill late March 3/30/2016
University of Notre Dame late March 3/18/2016
University of Pennsylvania 3/30/2017 3/31/2016
University of Richmond 4/1/2017 mailed 3/18/2016
University of Rochester begins 3/9/17 3/18/2016
University of San Diego rolling rolling
USC by 4/1/2017 mailed 3/23,         online 3/26
University of Texas at Austin by 3/1/2017 3/1/2016
University of Vermont 2/9/17 and 3/10/17 n/a
University of Virginia late March 3/25/2016
Vanderbilt University 4/1/2017 3/23/2016
Villanova University 3/31/2017 3/22/2016
Washington Univ. in St. Louis mailed 4/1/17 3/10/2016
Wesleyan University late March 3/25/2016
Williams College by 4/1/17 3/23/2016
Yale University 3/30/2017 3/31/2016

We wish you all the best, and as always at Collegiate Gateway, we are happy to help!



Why do Students Decide to Transfer Colleges?

There are many factors that motivate students to transfer from their initial college. Perhaps the college is different from what you expected, or possibly you have grown from the independent experience of living on campus, or maybe you’ve simply gained a deeper understanding of the kind of college experience you want.

You might have realized you prefer smaller classes or a larger school. Perhaps you would rather live near an urban setting, or enjoy a sprawling campus with large green open spaces. The college major that you intended to pursue may no longer interest you, and your new major of choice may not be offered at your current university. The Greek life you thought you would love might not meet your expectations, or you might be at a Division III school, missing the spectator sports you enjoyed in high school. Or maybe, after a strong academic performance in your freshman year of college, you feel that you have proven yourself a worthy candidate for a more academically challenging school than the one you are currently attending.

In this blog, we’ll look at some of the trends that are driving transfer admissions and whether considering a transfer is right for you.

What Motivates Students to Transfer?

In a 2015 report, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center concluded that more than one third of college students transfer and almost half of those transfer more than once. That number is staggering when you consider the amount of effort, time, and money devoted to first-year applications.

According to Fastweb, there are several important factors that cause students to consider transferring, which include:

  • Affordability
  • Prestige of the institution
  • College location
  • Social scene
  • Academic programs not offered by your current university
  • A rough start to freshman year

Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at the Derryfield School, wrote an article for the Washington Post describing what he sees as several generational factors that are driving transfer admissions.

Perseverance is lacking, and overprotective parenting does not allow children to experience failure and adversity in adolescence. As a result many students begin to face challenges for the first time in college and then give up.

Early Decision, a rising trend, forces students to choose their college before they’re fully ready.

Social media can leave students feeling inferior compared to their peers attending other colleges; students who spend too much time on social media can become disconnected from their social environment.

Student athletes who are recruited and choose their college by sophomore year lose out on two additional years of maturity in making their college choice.

Large class sizes, which most likely occur during freshman year, can leave students feeling detached from their teachers, especially compared to their experience of high school class sizes.

Colleges often market to students through campus amenities, but when the reality of the workload hits students, they can feel disillusioned and unsure of their experience.

Before You Decide to Transfer, Weigh Your Options

According to U.S. News, there are many factors that a student should take time to consider before deciding to transfer.

  • Did you give yourself enough time to settle into your new college environment?
  • If you do not like your classes, consider switching courses, rather than schools.
  • Making friends can take time; if this is your issue, try to become more involved socially through clubs, activities, intramural sports, or an on-campus job, before giving up on your school. Also, keep in mind that homesickness is a normal part of adjusting to this new stage of your life.
  • Finally, do not base your entire worldview of college on one negative experience. Be sure you are looking at the whole picture, and not just focusing on one incident that caused you distress.

I Still Want to Transfer, Now What?

If you decide that transferring is the right option for you, begin by reflecting deeply about the features of your current college: which aspects match your interests and preferences, and which do not? Make lists of features that you now seek in a transfer college. If possible, speak with other students who have transferred to find out more about their experience and seek the guidance of advisers and your parents in making your decision. For more information about the process of submitting transfer applications, see our blog When to Transfer (and How to Go About It).

Finally, be sure to stay fully engaged in your current college, even though you’re planning to transfer.  You want to perform as well as possible academically in order to be a strong candidate for transfer admissions. You also want to show your transfer college that you are capable of participating fully in the life of a college. Transfer colleges want to admit students who can round out the undergraduates already on campus — the more information you provide about how you will contribute positively to campus life, the better your chances of admission!

Whether you’re considering regular or transfer admission, the application process is ultimately about finding the right fit for YOU, so that you can get the most out of your college experience possible.  For more information and guidance, contact We’re always happy to help!