All posts by collegiategateway

Regular Admissions Trends for the Class of 2023: A Look Back to Help You Plan Ahead!

If you are in the midst of planning for your early and regular applications, a look back on last year’s college admissions cycle could provide helpful insights to keep in mind as you delve into the college admissions process.

As a follow-up to our previous blog on Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2023, here’s an in-depth review of last year’s regular decision trends. To assist applicants who will be applying this fall, our analysis will conclude with a helpful list of tips for crafting your “best-fit” college list.

Rising Applicant Numbers, Lower Acceptance Rates

This year, regular decision acceptance rates continued to drop slightly for many schools. As in past years, highly sought-after private and public universities continue to receive more and more applications, offer lower admit rates, and fill more of their freshman class through early admissions.

Many schools received a record-breaking number of applications this year, including Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Middlebury, Notre Dame, UVA, Wesleyan, and Yale. Schools that saw a large increase in applications from the previous year, include Franklin & Marshall (33%), Hamilton (34%), and Rice University (30%). Some colleges had their acceptance rate drop into the single digits for the first time in school history, including Bowdoin (8.9%), Colby (9.5%), and Rice (8.7%). Conversely, Northwestern’s acceptance rate rose for the first time in 10 years. But don’t get too excited—it was still in the single digits (8.9%)!

Several factors contribute to rising applicant numbers and, as a result, lower acceptance rates. The highly-selective process of applying to elite schools can cause stressed-out high school students to apply to even more colleges year-over-year. The Common Application and other online admissions processes, which most schools have adopted, make it easier than ever to apply to even more schools. Additionally, schools have made it a priority to increase their marketing and use innovative ways to reach prospective applicants, especially through social media.

Early vs. Regular Acceptance Rates for a Sampling of Selective Colleges

College
(Note Early Admissions Plan: ED vs EA)
Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2023* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2023 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2022* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2022 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019
Amherst College (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 12.2% 39.6% 12.4% 35.6%
Bowdoin College (ED I) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 25% 11.6% 33.7% n/a 31%
Brown University (ED) 5.2% 18.2% 5.5% 21.1% 6.8% 21.9% 7.6% 22% 7.2% 20.3%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 8% 31% 7% n/a 9% 27%
Columbia University (ED)

 

Only releases overall acceptance rates, not early and regular admissions rate data; see chart below.

Cornell University (ED) 8.8% 22.6% 8.3% 24.3% 10.8% 25.6% 12.5% 27.4% 13.7% 26.2%
Dartmouth College (ED) 6.1% 23.2% 6.9% 24.9% 8.5% 27.8% 8.9% 26% 8.8% 26%
Duke University (ED) 5.7% 18% 6.4% 21.4% 7.3% 24.5% 8.7% 23.5% 9.4% 26%
Georgetown University (REA) 15% 11.8% 16% 12% 17.4% 11.9% n/a 13% n/a 13%
Harvard University (SCEA) 2.8% 13.4% 2.43% 14.5% 3.4% 14.7% 3.4% 14.8% 3.2% 16.5%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 7.7% 31% 8.4% 29.9% 10.3% 30.5% 10.1% 30.3% 11% 28.9%
MIT (EA) 6.1% 7.4% 6.6% 6.9% 6.6% 7.8% 7.4% 8.4% 7.1% 9.6%
Middlebury College  (ED I) 13% 45.4% 15.1% 50.1% 16.7% 51% 12.7% 53.1% 14.7% 45.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 6.9% 25% 6.4% 26% 7.2% 28% 8.4% 35% 10.8% 36.2%
Pomona College (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 6.8% 21% n/a 19.4% n/a 19%
Princeton University (SCEA) 4.2% 13.9% 3.8% 14.7% 4.3% 15.4% 4.4% 18.5% 4.9% 19.9%
Rice University (ED) 8% 15.5% 10.3% 18% 15% 21% 15% 23% 15.6% 20.4%
Stanford University (SCEA) n/a** n/a** n/a** n/a** n/a** n/a** 3.6% 9.5% 3.9% 10.2%
University of Chicago (EA) Only releases overall acceptance rates, not early and regular admissions rate data; see chart below.
University of Notre Dame (REA) 12.5% 21% 14.2% 24.8% 15.7% 24.4% 13.8% 30.3% 16.2% 29.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 5.7% 18% 6.5% 18.5% 6.8% 22% 7% 23.2% 7.5% 24%
University of Virginia (EA) 20.6% 26% 24.6% 27.8% 24.6% 29% 28.8% 28.9% 26.6% 30.2%
Vanderbilt University (ED) 6.3% 19.8% 7.3% 20.5% 8.6% 23.6% 8.8% 23.6% 9.5% 22.5%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) Only releases overall acceptance rate, not early and regular admissions rate data; see chart below.
Williams College (ED) n/a*** n/a*** n/a*** n/a*** 12.7% 35% 15% 42% 14.5% 41%
Yale University (SCEA) 4.5% 13.2% 4.7% 14.7% 5% 17.1% 4.4% 17% 4.7% 16%

*Regular admission acceptance rate calculations do not include early admission deferral numbers. 

** For the past 3 years Stanford has not released early admissions statistics.

***For the past 2 years, Williams did not release their early admissions and regular admissions statistics.

 

Overall Acceptance Rates

College
(Note Early Admissions Plan: ED vs EA)
Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2023 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2022 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2018
Amherst College (ED) 10.8% 12.8% 12.9% 13.7% 13.7% 13%
Bowdoin College (ED I) 8.9% 10.3% 13.6% 14.3% 14.9% 14.9%
Brown University (ED) 6.6% 7.2% 8.3% 9% 8.5% 8.6%
California Institute of Technology (EA) n/a 6.6% 8% 7.9% 9% 9%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) n/a 8.9% 10.4% 9.4% 11% 10%
Columbia University (ED) 5.3% 5.5% 5.8% 6% 6.1% 6.94%
Cornell University (ED) 10.6% 10.3% 12.5% 14% 14.9% 14%
Dartmouth College (ED) 7.9% 8.7% 10.4% 10.5% 10.3% 11.5%
Duke University (ED) 7.2% 8.3% 9% 10.4% 11% 11%
Georgetown University (REA) 14% 14.5% 15.4% 16.4% 16.4% 16.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 4.5% 4.59% 5.2% 5.2% 5.3% 5.9%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 9.2% 9.9% 11.8% 11.5% 12.4% 15%
Lehigh University (ED) 23.7% 22% 24.7% 26.3% 30% 34%
MIT (EA) 6.7% 6.7% 7.1% 7.8% 8% 7.7%
Middlebury College (ED I) 16% 18.4% 19.7% 16% 17% 17.3%
New York University (ED) 16% 19% 27% 30% 30% 35%
Northwestern University (ED) 8.9% 8.4% 9% 10.7% 13.1% 12.9%
Pomona College (ED) n/a 6.9% 8.2% 9.1% 10.3% 12.2%
Princeton University (SCEA) 5.8% 5.5% 6.1% 6.46% 6.99% 7.28%
Rice University
(ED)
8.7% 11% 16% 15% 16% 14.1%
Stanford University (SCEA) n/a 4.29% 4.6% 4.7% 5.05% 5.07%
Swarthmore College (ED) 9% 9% 10.2% 12.5% 12.2% 16.8%
UC – Berkeley
(EA)
16.8% 15.1% n/a 14.8% 17% 17%
University of Chicago (EA) 5.9% 7.2% 8.7% 7.6% 7.8% 8.4%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 15.4% 17.6% 18.4% 18.3% 19.7% 20.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 7.4% 8.4% 9.2% 9.4% 9.9% 9.9%
University of Virginia (EA) 23.8% 26.5% 27% 29.9% 28.5% 28.9%
USC (No early program) 11% 13% 16% 16.5% 17.5% 17.8%
Vanderbilt University (ED) n/a 9.6% 10.3% 10.5% n/a 12%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) 14% 15% 16% 16.2% 16.7% 17.1%
Williams College (ED) 12.4% 12.2% 14.6% 17.3% 16.8% 18.2%
Yale University (SCEA) 5.9% 6.3% 6.9% 6.3% 6.5% 6.3%

Larger Percentages of Freshman Classes Filled with Early Applicants

Some schools continue to admit large portions of the freshman class through early admissions, making the regular admissions cycle even more competitive. More students tend to apply through regular decision, so they are competing for fewer remaining positions in the class.

As a reminder, early decision is binding; universities are guaranteed applicants’ attendance, as compared with early action, which is non-binding and gives students until May 1st to decide. As a result, colleges with early decision programs tend to admit a higher percentage of early applicants, who have demonstrated such strong interest, and their binding commitment helps increase admissions yield for the incoming class.

This year, schools including Boston University, Dartmouth, DukeMiddlebury, Northwestern, Skidmore, and the University of Pennsylvania admitted 40% to 50% or more of their incoming class through their early decision program.

Interestingly, some schools have added early decision as an application option for the Class of 2024. UVA, for example, now has an ED application which is due October 15, in addition to Early Action, which is due November 1. This year, Boston College is switching from an Early Action program to Early Decision I & II. Last year, BC made a change in not restricting its early action program, which resulted in a 54% increase in early applications.

Smaller Accepted Classes and the Wait List

As schools attempt to determine yield (the number of accepted students who will attend), many institutions admitted smaller classes this year compared to last year. For some, this is a reaction to a larger than expected yield in years prior, or part of a plan to admit more students from the wait list once the initial admitted group has responded.

Bowdoin accepted fewer students this year, due to an increased number of applications and the rising yield from last year (525 accepted for a planned class of 500). Georgetown admitted 130 fewer students this year, due to last year’s over-enrollment. Also, according to the 2017 University Campus Plan, Georgetown has a 20-year agreement with the local community that limits the total number of undergrad students to 6,675. Notre Dame admitted 200 fewer students this year due to last year’s higher enrollment rates.

Fordham received a record-breaking 47,800 applications, and experienced a yield of 10% of the 22,000+ accepted students committing to attending. Conversely, Harvard had a yield of 83% of accepted students attending. Princeton also saw an increase in yield this year to 73.2% and enrolled 90 more students than the target class size. This could have ramifications for the next class in terms of acceptance numbers.

Demonstrated Interest Matters More

As schools receive more and more applications, the difficulty in predicting yield (number of admitted student who will attend) has increased. According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon at Georgetown, receiving more qualified applications requires admissions officers to place greater importance on the student’s interest in Georgetown when determining admissions decisions.

Demonstrated interest refers to the ways that a student shows how engaged they are in the school and the extent to which they are committed to attending if admitted. Most often, interest is assessed through college visits and contact with the college. Inside Higher Ed points out that this is particularly important for students with high SAT scores. Colleges do not want to be considered a “safety school,” and may avoid high-scoring applicants who demonstrate little interest beyond applying.

For tips on how to demonstrate interest to your top school choices, see our blog.

Expanding Enrollment

Some schools are planning to accommodate increased applications by expanding enrollment. LehighPrincetonStanfordUVAWashington University in St. Louis, and Yale all have strategic plans to increase incoming class size over several years.

For the third year in a row, Yale has admitted its largest incoming freshman class in school history (15% larger than previous recent classes), after the new residential colleges of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin opened in the fall of 2017.

Lehigh implemented The Path to Prominence plan to expand and upgrade the campus, in order to accommodate an increase of the freshman class by 1,000 students over seven years. The new College of Health and construction of new dorms are part of this plan. This year, Lehigh expects to net 150 more students in the class the admit rate increased by about 2% compared to last year.

Stanford University plans to expand student enrollment “in recognition of the fact that applications to Stanford have increased while spaces available have not.” Accordingly, Stanford has filed for a permit to expand its physical campus in order to accommodate a growth of 100 more students per year, until the year 2035. In the fall of 2015, 6,994 undergraduates were enrolled at Stanford, and by 2035, this number is projected to increase to 8,785 undergraduates, which is a 25% growth over 20 years.

In April 2018, Dartmouth released an enrollment expansion report, detailing the resources required to increase enrollment 10-25%. This was an exploratory report, and Dartmouth has no current plans to increase class size. The report cited schools that have expanded enrollment or plan to expand in the near future including Princeton University, Rice University and Yale University, while noting that Brandeis University, Brown University and Harvard University have decided not to expand their enrollments.

Increasing Diversity

Increasing the diversity of incoming classes has become a top priority for the admissions departments at many schools. This includes international applicants, students from varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and first-generation college students. Schools are seeking top-quality students from diverse backgrounds through a variety of programs, including American Talent Initiative, QuestBridge, the KIPP Foundation, and A Better Chance.

Many schools are committed to increasing diversity and the makeup of their admitted applicant pool demonstrates this goal. Schools with high percentages of students of color in the admitted class include Amherst (56%), Brown (49%), Cornell (55%), Dartmouth (51%), Pomona (57.8%), Princeton (56%), UPenn (51%), and Williams (58%). NYU has admitted its most diverse class in school history.

Harvard increased Asian-American admits to 25.4% compared to last year’s 22.7%, marking the first time that this number has exceeded one-quarter of accepted students. This follows a lawsuit in which Harvard has been accused of discrimination against Asian-American applicants in its admissions process.

Delaying Admission

More and more schools are offering delayed admission to incoming freshmen, providing spring acceptances or asking the students to begin the following fall.

Tulane offers a Spring Scholars program, whereby students participate in study abroad, internships, or other academic activities in the fall and matriculate in the spring semester. For the fourth year, Cornell admitted 50 students to the First-Year Spring Admission (FYSA) program, which was established in 2015 to increase access to a Cornell education. Hamilton aims to enroll about 45 first-year students in their spring admission program each year. This allows Hamilton to offer admission to additional strong applicants, while also filling spots created by current students who are studying abroad during the spring semester. USC aims to enroll about 600 freshman spring admits each year. The Brandeis Midyear Program offers 100 freshmen students enrollment each year.

Tips for Future Applicants

Think carefully about your college list. When crafting your college list, reflect on your goals, interests, and values. Make sure that you would be happy to attend any school on your list. Do not apply to a university that is not a good fit, or about which you have reservations. Be very realistic about your chances and have grounded expectations. Your college list should have a healthy distribution of reach, target, and safe schools. Apply to 10-12 colleges so that you have enough time to prepare high-quality applications, and still manage the process alongside your academic responsibilities senior year.

Demonstrate interest. In a competitive admissions climate increasingly concerned with yield, demonstrating interest is more important than ever. Visit all of the schools in which you are interested. When you visit, register with the admissions reception desk. Many schools track visits, and see this as the strongest possible way to demonstrate interest.  If you are applying for early admission, visit the college by November 15. If you are applying for regular admission, visit in the fall of your senior year, or by February 15 at the latest.

Know your colleges. Many colleges go a step further, and emphasize “informed” interest.  It’s not enough to visit the college; you need to observe the features of each college that differentiate it from other schools, and that align with your own interests and goals.  Be prepared to inform colleges in your essays and interviews of specific reasons why you wish to attend.

Be strategic with early admissions. While early acceptance rates tend to be higher than regular acceptance rates, early admissions have become harder to predict. Think carefully and strategically about your early admissions choice.

Highlight your heritage. Many universities have made increasing the diversity of incoming classes a top admissions priority. If you identify with an under-represented minority, participate in diversity days hosted by the college, if appropriate.

Engage in school. In order to maximize your options in the college admissions process, try to reach your potential throughout high school. Engage in your academics: do your homework, participate in classes, choose interesting projects, speak with your teachers if you have questions, and manage your time well. Identify your interests, and choose extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you; participate with commitment and continuity; and seek leadership roles in the activities you enjoy the most.  Engaging in your coursework and activities in high school will also position you well for making the most of your college years.

The college admissions process can be overwhelming, and it may feel difficult to know where to start. At Collegiate Gateway, we are eager to share our expertise and guide you on the path to your “best fit” college. Please feel free to contact us! As always, we’re happy to help!

LIVE BLOG: The Universities of the UK and Amsterdam

TUESDAY, June 18 2019 – The Myers Briggs Company

 I was thrilled to visit the global office of the Myers Briggs Company, located in Oxford.

A bit of background… For many years, I have been extremely engaged with the personality and interest assessments of The Myers Briggs Company, learning as much as possible about these tools and administering them to my clients. These assessments include the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on Jungian psychology and used to determine innate personality; and the Strong Interest Inventory, which identifies interests in academics, activities, and career paths.

I have administered and interpreted these assessments with hundreds of individuals from 14 years of age through 50, and have conducted workshops with organizations on how to use the MBTI assessment to strengthen teamwork, communication, and collaboration at their company.

I regularly meet with the marketing and product directors of the Myers Briggs Company in the United States. On Tuesday, I had the great opportunity to meet with Liane Hawthorne, the Director of Marketing for the global division of the Myers Briggs Company.

As you may know, the MBTI looks at four dimensions of personality, with each having two preference options:

 

 

Each individual’s preferences for these four dimensions produces a 4-letter personality “type.” For example, my type is ENFJ, including a preference for Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. Identifying an individual’s 4-letter personality type is considered Step I.

 

There are 16 potential personality types. Each type has its own strengths and potential blind spots; as well as preferences for learning, communication, teamwork, and managing conflict and stress.

The front of the Myers Briggs Company headquarters displays the diagram below, summarizing a few salient features of each of the 16 types:

Liane presented a fascinating metaphor, that we can each imagine that we live in an enormous 16-room home. We have our favorite room (which corresponds to our particular personality type), but we need to go into the different rooms to perform different activities. For example, a research activity might require an ISTJ approach. It’s beneficial to learn how to function in the different rooms, but we always want to come back to our “home-room,” where we feel most comfortable, to recharge.

It’s possible to take a more advanced examination of an individual’s personality type, in which we look at “facets” within each personality preference to further differentiate the person; this requires a Step II analysis.

 

Here are the five facets within each of the eight preferences:

I always administer the Step II MBTI because these facets can reveal so much about a person, and can help individualize his or her personality. For example, I am an ENFJ, with “out-of-preference” Thinking facets of Logical and Questioning. For my other preferences of Extraversion, Intuition, and Judging, all my facets are within preference. My resulting personality type is: Logical, Questioning, ENFJ

 It was very gratifying to feel part of the MBTI community! At the Myers Briggs Company’s global headquarters, I felt surrounded by people dedicated to helping others increase their self-awareness and personal effectiveness! 

 

TUESDAY June 18, 2019 – Balliol College, Oxford University

As you may recall from my previous blogs, the University of Oxford is comprised of about 30 individual colleges, each run as a separate, distinct entity and each with its own culture.

Prospective students apply to a particular academic “faculty,” or degree program, within a specific college. Each college chooses which academic fields to offer based on the faculty members, or tutors, affiliated with the college. Not all academic fields are offered by all colleges. For example, the very popular PPE program (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) is offered by 32 colleges; more Prime Ministers have a PPE degree than any other. In contrast, Earth Sciences is only offered by six of the Oxford colleges, and History of Art by eight.

Students’ academics are a combination of lectures offered by their department to all students pursuing a degree in their “faculty,” and tutorials offered by their college by the faculty affiliated with their college. For the first year, students participate mostly in tutorials in their own college; and in years 2 and 3, may take courses in other colleges.

This blog will focus on Balliol College, “arguably the oldest college in Oxford, founded in 1263. It has stood on a single site longer than any other college in the English-speaking world,” according to the current Master, Dame Helen Ghosh.

When I visited, I chatted with three students. One student was from a small town in northern England, and was studying Maths (the British term for Mathematics), and did his thesis work in theoretical number theory (such as imaginary numbers). After graduation, he was going to pursue a PhD. from the University of Durham, where I visited several years ago. Two other students were friends from Germany. One was studying PPE; he visited Balliol and chose it based on its central location and the warmth of the student body. The other was studying history; he never visited but learned about Balliol from virtual tours.

With about 400 undergrads and 400 grad students, Balliol is a relatively medium-sized college within Oxford. It consists of several beautiful quads, including Front Quad below, bordered by two libraries and the chapel.

 

The Old Library was built in the 15th century, originally for Fellows’ use only.

The “New” Library was also built in the 15th century, originally as a dining hall, and converted to the humanities part of the library in 1877. Both libraries are very popular for residents of Balliol, but they are free to use other libraries around campus as well.

Below is a photo of the Chapel, which is the third one on the site.

Students and faculty eat in the Hall, reminiscent of Harry Potter’s school facilities! Surrounding the tables are portraits of Masters and alumni. Balliol alums have included nine Nobel Prize winners and three Primer Ministers.

At the far end of Hall is the Faculty table, where the faculty dine every meal. The elevation of the faculty table is intended to convey the higher stature of the faculty and the respect they deserve.

Master Ghosh described why she chose to join Balliol: “The reputation that Balliol has – of academic excellence, a sense of social responsibility, and intellectual independence – perhaps especially suited me most of all.”

 

Monday, June 17th – Bioengineering at Imperial College

 

WHY STUDY BIOENGINEERING AT IMPERIAL?

Since Imperial is devoted to the study of STEM, and bioengineering is an interdisciplinary STEM field, the combination of bioengineering and Imperial is powerful!

While many undergraduate fields of study at Imperial (and in fact throughout England) are 3-year programs, the Bioengineering degree is available only as a 4-year MEng degree or 5-year MEng degree, including a Year in Industry. As such, you graduate with much stronger credentials.

Imperial’s bioengineering program houses state-of-the-art facilities. The first two years include required core courses, with a deep coverage of the life sciences.

 

 

Imperial’s state-of-the-art life sciences lab.

The tissue regeneration lab.

 

The bioengineering program includes a significant research component. In the third year, students work on a group project to solve real-world problems. As described by Lorna Stevenson, the Admissions and Outreach Manager for Bioengineering, “engineering is a team sport!” In fact, the interview plays a large role and students are encouraged to interview in person on the Imperial campus; in addition to an individual interview, applicants are given a group task to see how well they deal with solving engineering problems within a group. The photo below shows a backstroke device developed by a bioengineering team for Andrew Mullen, a Paralympian swimmer.

 

 

In the fourth year, students conduct an individual research project and take electives in their specialized field of interest. The seven fields of research illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of the program:

  • Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
  • Biomedical Sensing, Diagnostics, and Imaging
  • Computational and Theoretical Modeling
  • Medical Devices
  • Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
  • Regenerative Medicine and Biomaterials
  • Neurotechnology and Robotics

A tour through the Bioengineering labs illustrates the exciting scope of research projects designed to improve the lives of human beings.

 

 

Finally, Imperial College is committed to supporting women in STEM, and participates in the UK Athena Swan program. 54% of students in the bioengineering program are women, and Imperial received a silver Athena award this year in recognition of its support of women in its student and faculty population.

 

 

Stay tuned for more updates from my trip, including information on Oxford University, Kings College, University College London, and the Myers Briggs Company.

Monday June 17th – Imperial College

I was very excited to re-visit Imperial College, one of the top STEM universities in the world! Imperial can credit its existence to the vision of Prince Albert, a big believer in the power of STEM; he helped establish the Royal College of Chemistry in 1845, the earliest school of Imperial. Over the years, the university has grown steadily and incorporated other educational institutions, and at present includes three streams of study: Medicine, Engineering, and Natural Sciences.

Imperial’s main campus is in South Kensington. As part of its continual expansion, it recently opened the Francis Frick Institute, a partnership with Kings College, University College London, and several governmental science institutes, to form the largest biomedical research center in Europe.

MEDICINE DEGREE AT IMPERIAL: OVERVIEW

Unlike in the US, medicine can be studied on the undergraduate level at UK universities. As such, learning about the UK Bachelors degree in medicine provides an interesting glimpse into an alternative approach to medical education. In America, medical education on the graduate level is required, preceded by pre-medical education in the undergraduate year in the form of 8 required science and math courses.

Typically undergraduate education in England consists of a 3-year Bachelor’s program, but Medicine at Imperial totals 6 years; this includes a 4-year course of study for the BSc degree (Bachelors of Science) followed by a 2-year program for the MBBS degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) with a complete cycle through all medical and surgical specialties.

A unique feature of studying medicine at Imperial is that the program is steeped in basic science and research-based, so you are fully qualified to become a scientific researcher and/or clinician when you graduate. In addition, the hospitals affiliated with Imperial serve a wide variety of patient populations, from St. Mary’s, where the royal babies are born, to the the Surrey Hospital, which serves rural populations.


MEDICINE CURRICULUM AT IMPERIAL

The medicine curriculum at Imperial has recently undergone a complete review, and a new curriculum will be implemented shortly, consisting of 3 “phases” of study:

Phase 1 (Years 1-3)

The first 3 years of study will be non-clinical science based, but students will be exposed to relevant clinic work; for example, when studying the cardiology system, students will observe a cardiology ward. In the 3rd year, students will have longer clinical “attachments” (rotations) in various hospitals and clinics, during which they will take histories, go into wards, and shadow doctors. They will be exposed to a variety of environments, including primary care in communities, in-hospital clinics, and out-patient clinics.

Phase 2 (Year 4)

In the 4th year, students complete a research project to obtain the BSc degree. There are 11 different pathways from which to choose. Management and bioengineering are among the more popular pathways. New options this year include surgical innovations and cancer frontiers. For example, a student team in bioengineering developed a rowing sleeve for Pam Relph, diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at a young age, in order to assist her training on the ergometer; this enabled her to achieve her dream to become a World Rowing Champion.

Phase 3  (Years 5-6)

Years 5 and 6 are the senior clinical years, and include “preparing for practice” longer rotations. During this period, students can pursue clinical attachments in elective areas in which they wish to specialize during their careers. At each point of the attachments, students are required to do practical assessments such as medical procedures or reflective pieces.

After graduation, students do two Foundation years, in which they practice medicine, and are paid; in the second Foundation year, they can begin to specialize.

INTERVIEWS

Imperial is moving from the traditional structured interview to the MMI (Multiple Mini-Interview). There will be seven stations; at each station, students receive a question, have 2 minutes to prepare, and 5 minutes to speak with an interviewer in response to the prompt. The stations will cover the following topics. A current medical school would lead the last station:

  • Work experience – 2 stations
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Empathy and ethics
  • Value-based scenarios – 2 stations
  • Contribution to Imperial Medical School community
PARTICIPATION OF US STUDENTS

Increasing numbers of US students are applying and attending medical school at Imperial, due to the ability to study medicine on the undergraduate level. US applicants can subsequently practice medicine if they pass the Step 1 and Step 2 USMLE medical boards (US Medical Licensing Examination). While it’s possible to return to the US after the 1st Foundation year, it’s recommended to complete both Foundation years in order to have the flexibility to practice medicine in the UK in the future.

UP NEXT…

Stay tuned for future blogs about Imperial’s Bioengineering degree, Oxford University, Kings College London, University College London, the Royal Central School of Drama, and the Myers Briggs Company! For more information on applying to the Medicine program at UK universities, see our previous blog.

Saturday, June 15th – Departure!

Starting today, I’m off on my fourth trip to the UK to visit universities—and I’ll be sharing my knowledge and insights here, in this blog, from start to finish.

On this trip, I will return to top universities including Oxford, Imperial, King’s, and University College London. But this time, I’ll be focusing on unusual degree programs unavailable in US undergraduate institutions like medicine and law. While in Oxford, I will also meet with global directors of The Myers Briggs Company, to discuss worldwide applications of personality and interest assessments. I’ll then continue on to visit a variety of unique and prestigious schools, including the Royal Central School of Drama.

Finally, I’ll also be traveling to the Netherlands to visit the University of Amsterdam for the first time.

Stay tuned for daily updates, and check out our previous UK live blog, as well as our blog on how to apply to UK universities.

Grammar and Writing Style Tips

Even the most talented writers make grammatical mistakes! Whether writing is a favorite pastime or a dreaded task, if you are a college applicant then you will have to compose essays. As such, we’ve compiled a list of grammar and writing style tips to keep in mind when you are creating your personal essay or supplemental essays.

Grammar Tips

Check for run-on sentences.

A run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses (or complete sentences) are improperly joined. For example:

 “Sheila wants to go to college she is working hard to attain her goal.”

You can correct a run-on sentence with a period or a semicolon:

“Sheila wants to go to college. She is working hard to attain her goal.”

“Sheila wants to go to college; she is working hard to attain her goal.”

You can also correct a run-on sentence with a comma and coordinating conjunction:

“Sheila wants to go to college, and she is working hard to attain her goal.”

On that note, avoid comma splices.

Put simply, a comma splice is essentially a run-on sentence that uses a comma as an accomplice (in its crime against grammar). Building on the example above, one might write:

“Sheila wants to go to college, she’s working hard to attain her goal.”

Or, to add a subtler example:

“Tomatoes aren’t actually a vegetable, they’re a fruit.”

Both can be fixed using the methods above.

Make sure it’s a sentence!

Sentence fragments occur when a piece of a sentence is missing (noun or verb) or if a complete idea is not expressed. Let’s use the following example:

 “Writing is hard work. Which is why you have to keep practicing it.”

The second sentence is a fragment and can be easily fixed by joining it to the main clause:

 “Writing is hard work, which is why you have to keep practicing it.”

Use serial commas consistently.

When listing items in a serial sequence, a comma before “and” is optional in the English language. However, omitting it can cause confusion. As a result, one may choose to include a comma after the penultimate item in a series, known as the Oxford comma, which we recommend. For example, the following sentence is grammatically correct:

 “During the speech, she thanked her friends, the president and God.”

However, without the last comma, this sentence reads that the speaker’s friends are the president and God. The Oxford comma does not allow for this misperception:

“During the speech, she thanked her friends, the president, and God.”

Whichever approach you use, make sure to be consistent.

Get rid of dangling participles!

A participle is a word or phrase that looks like a verb, but acts as an adjective and modifies a noun.

A dangling participle occurs when the participle is not tied to a subject. First, let’s take a look at correct usage:

“A speeding train entered the tunnel.”

In this sentence, “speeding” is the participle and “train” is the subject. Another example:

“Speeding faster than a locomotive, the train entered the tunnel.”

Here, the phrase, “Speeding faster than a locomotive,” is a participle describing the noun, “train.”

Here’s an example of incorrect usage:

“Walking along the road, a tree blocked our way to school.”

The participle “walking along the road” is meant to describe the narrator. But instead, this dangling participle modifies the “tree” instead. To fix a dangling participle, make sure that the participle comes right before or after the noun that it is describing:

“Walking along the road, we noticed the huge tree had fallen and blocked our way to school.”

Watch for consistency of verb tenses.

Do not switch between verbs in the past, present, or future within a clause. For example:

“On Monday, the children walk to school, but rode the trolley home.”

The fix:

“On Monday, the children walked to school, but rode the trolley home.”

Writing Style Tips:

Your writing should have a cohesive flow.

Each essay should have a main theme that you should build on throughout the essay. Try not to jump from idea to idea in an unrelated way, or you will lose your audience. A good exercise to do after you have written an essay draft is to see if you can summarize your main theme in one sentence.

Each paragraph should have its own idea.

There should be a main idea with supporting points in each paragraph.

Vary your word choice.

Make sure that you are not using the same word more than twice in a grouping of sentences. Varying your word choice is more interesting and allows you to choose words that convey more clearly what you want to express. Don’t be vague or choose large words out of the dictionary. Simple is better.

Vary your sentence length 

There’s no firm rule governing the length of a sentence and in theory a great sentence could go on forever. However, take a pass through your writing and make sure that all your sentences are crisp, clear, and easy for your reader to digest. Going on too long often results in confusion.

Similarly, keep your reader engaged by varying the length of your sentences. Too many short sentences in a row make your writing feel choppy. It gets repetitive. It feels unsophisticated. People start to get annoyed. Do you see what I mean yet? On the other hand, too many long sentences can become soporific and difficult to follow, so for the sake of keeping you awake, I’ll spare you a demonstration and just ask you to imagine four sentences in row as long as this one. So, switch things up. And, while you’re at it, use sentence length to your advantage. Longer, flowing sentences like the one that I’m writing right now allows you to add details, probe your ideas thoroughly, and create interesting descriptions. Short ones make a point.

Always read what you have written aloud.

When you are editing, reading aloud often helps you to hear your syntax errors and grammatical mistakes in addition to seeing them. Most importantly, make sure that your writing sounds like you! It should be in your own voice.

Each college applicant has his or her own voice and ideas to convey in the personal statement and supplemental essays. Writing your truth and expressing a piece of who you are as a person and student may seem like a complicated and intimidating process. Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help!

Understanding National Merit Scholarships

The (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, with the goal of “honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.”  The National Merit Scholarship program recognizes top students based on their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT, and the test is administered across the country in October every year. Out of the 1.6 million students who sit for the exam, honors are awarded to about 50,000 with the highest combined score on the two sections of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math.

These recognized students are classified into several categories: commended, semifinalists, finalists, and scholarship winners. Of the 50,000 students initially selected, one-third are “semi-finalists,” based on state cut-offs; and two-thirds are deemed “commended,” based on national cut-offs. For the Class of 2019, the highest semi-finalist qualifying score of 223 was for the states of California, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey; and 222 served as the semi-finalist qualifying score for Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington. North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming had the lowest qualifying score, 212. Out of the 16,000 national semifinalists, 15,000 become finalists after meeting additional requirements, including high academic grades and an application essay.

Only about .5% of the original pool of test-takers become scholarship winners. National Merit Scholarships are awarded to 2,500 students and consist of a single payment of $2,500. In addition, about 230 corporations and 180 colleges provide National Merit scholarships.

College-Sponsored Scholarships

Colleges in the Ivy League do not participate in NMS, as they do not offer any merit-based financial aid. However, the following institutions offer generous scholarships through the National Merit program:

  • Boston University: Finalists receive 4-year $20,000 tuition BU Presidential Scholarship
  • Fordham University: Scholarship for Semifinalists is awarded to finalists and semifinalists in NMS who have an A or A- average and are in the top 2-3% of all admitted students
  • Northeastern University: Admitted students who are recognized as National Merit Finalists will receive a competitive merit-based award
  • Texas A&M University: Scholarship package of $42,000 for residents, approximately $100,000 for non-residents due to out-of-state tuition waver
  • USC: Finalists receive 4-year half-tuition (about $27,000) Presidential Scholarship
  • University of Oklahoma: Finalists receive $63,000 cumulative total over 4 years; semi-finalists receive $16,000 total.

The University of Oklahoma is an example of an institution that sees enormous value in attracting National Merit scholars, enrolling about 200 per year. David Ray, Dean of the Honors College, states “Having these kinds of classmates motivates other students, it elevates class discussions, it’s a recruiting tool when we go after new students or faculty.”

Corporate-Sponsored Scholarships

CBS, the Dow Jones Foundation, FedEx, Macy’s Inc., and Pfizer Inc. are a few of the corporations that sponsor scholarships. According to NMSC, “Most corporate-sponsored awards are designated for children of a sponsor’s employees or members. However, some are offered for residents of a community where a company has operations or for students with college major or career plans the sponsor wishes to encourage.”

These awards may be given on a one-time basis or for all four years of college. Currently, there are 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In addition, every year about 1,100 National Merit participants who are not Finalists receive Special Scholarships provided by businesses.

Navigating merit scholarships and taking advantage of any and all merit aid opportunities can seem daunting! Here at Collegiate Gateway, we are happy to help!

Merit Scholarships from Colleges

As college admissions have become more competitive and the cost of a college education continues to skyrocket, schools are offering more and more merit scholarships to entice top-tier students to attend and increase affordability. Applicants now have access to a wider range of non need-based scholarships, based on talent in academics and other areas.  Each college has its own method of awarding funds, so it is important to research the merit aid process at each school on your college list.

Some colleges, such as Tulane, automatically consider all applicants for merit scholarships. However, other schools, including Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University,  require applicants to complete a separate merit scholarship application and/or essay. Some institutions have an early cut-off date—such as November 15th in the case of Emory—by which students in contention for merit aid must apply. Finally, there are also colleges like the University of Rochester that offer further merit scholarships to returning students, in addition to any money they were promised as incoming freshmen.

Factors that Determine Merit Aid

Schools determine which candidates will receive merit awards by weighing a variety of factors including grade point average, standardized test scores, and the strength of the student’s high school curriculum. Generally, the better you do in high school, the better your chances of being offered merit aid by colleges. For many students, this is can be the largest source of scholarship funding. In fact, some colleges, including Boston College and Duke award full-tuition merit scholarships to small groups of exceptionally qualified students.

Keep in mind that additional factors related to your character play a role as well, as demonstrated by your extracurricular activities, community service and leadership roles.  Furthermore, the unique institutional priorities of each college influence the nature of their merit scholarships. Colleges often offer special scholarships for students of diverse backgrounds, or with particular academic, athletic, service or career interests.

Automatic Consideration

Some colleges, such as TulaneOberlin, and NYU automatically consider all applicants for merit scholarships. Schools such as Lehigh and USC also offer a wide array of merit scholarship opportunities. Most colleges will consider students for merit aid just based on the application for admission, but some require that students complete the FAFSA or to click “yes” on the Common Application to being considered for merit scholarships at that particular school.

By Application

Some schools require that prospective students take the initiative to apply for merit aid and require the submission of additional essays.  The Premier Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis requires a separate application and participation in an all-expenses-paid weekend program for scholarship finalists during March.

At Vanderbilt University, once a student applies for admission, they are emailed within two days to set up their MyAppVU account, which has a scholarship section to be completed by December 1st in order to be considered for all merit scholarships at Vanderbilt.

Schools that Award High Percentages of Merit Aid

The following chart lists a selection of schools that awarded the most merit aid to students who “had no financial need and who were awarded institutional non-need-based scholarship or grant aid” for the 2017-2018 academic year, according to U.S. News & World Report.

School % of Students Receiving Non-Need Based Aid
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering 53%
Cooper Union 46%
Denison University 41%
Oberlin College 41%
Fairfield University 40%
University of Denver 40%
Tulane University 39%
University of Portland 39%
The New School 38%
Case Western Reserve University 33%
Clark University 33%
St. Michael’s College 33%
Hobart and William Smith Colleges 32%
Muhlenberg College 32%
Drexel University 31%
University of Vermont 31%

 

Benefits Associated with Merit Scholarships

When evaluating different options, keep in mind that merit scholarships can offer more than just monetary rewards. Many, such as UVA’s Jefferson Scholars offer significant enrichment opportunities, such as access to leadership and study abroad programs, and internships with program alumni.

Another example is the Bonner Scholars Program at the University of Richmond, which is tied to a deep commitment to community service. Scholarship recipients intern for 10 hours a week for four years at an organization that aligns with their service goals. Bonner Scholars also participate in on-campus reflective exercises and educational programming.

The Emory Scholars Program offers unique programming, a strong community, early class registration, as well as other benefits.

College is expensive, and there are many paths to finding your “best-fit” as well as maximizing the best deal. For more guidance and information on college-sponsored merit scholarships, contact Collegiate Gateway—we’re always happy to help.

Seeking Out Local Scholarships

Faced with the rising price of a college education, students and parents often look for ways to lower costs. As a result, scholarships for need, merit, athletics, community service, hobbies, and other interests are often highly sought after—especially large scholarships offered on a national level.

However, students should also consider scholarship sources closer to home. Local businesses, religious or ethnic organizations, and other venues often acknowledge hometown students by helping with college costs through scholarships that are awarded on a yearly basis. And while a $1,000 local scholarship may seem small in comparison to the large sticker price of college, winning several of these scholarships could help to offset the cost of room and board, books, and some tuition.

According to the CollegeBoard, local scholarships have an advantage over national scholarships: they are only available to a smaller pool of applicants from a specific geographic region. Because there is less competition, the chances of winning are higher. Students should still apply to national scholarships that are meaningful to them, but it is also important to research the scholarships offered to your specific high school, town, county, and state.

Now, local scholarships may seem like a great idea, but how to begin? We hope to guide you on a path to finding your best-fit local scholarships in this blog.


When should I start looking for local scholarships?

It is best to start researching scholarships by the spring and summer of junior year, as most deadlines for these awards are in the fall of senior year.


How do I find local scholarships?

High school
The way to begin is to ask the guidance office at your high school for a list of local scholarships. For example, Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY, has an extensive list of local scholarships available to its high school students. Another group to ask within your high school is the PTA. Scarsdale High School in New York offers a PTA scholarship that awards college-bound seniors a one-time grant ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.

Local businesses
Next, look into scholarships from the companies or organizations where your parents are employed. Many companies offer scholarships to the children of employees, and the Human Resources department or your supervisor will most likely have this information. Many employee scholarships are also merit-based, rather than solely need-based.

Religious and ethnic organizations
Additionally, explore the groups that you and your family belong to. Religious and ethnic organizations often have scholarships that are awarded to the children of members. For example, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Knights of Columbus, Elks, and Lions Club all offer national as well as local scholarship opportunities. If applicable, your place of worship may be aware of local scholarship opportunities that hope to assist members of your faith.

Additional sources
Other places to check include your town or community website and local media websites (TV, newspapers, and radio stations). Additionally, your library’s reference section may have a list of scholarships offered by town businesses or civic groups.

To cast a wider net, you can research the offerings of your state grant agency. Each state has scholarship opportunities for its residents. In taking a closer look at New York, for example, The Scholarship For Academic Excellence is intended for students who will attend a New York college, and is based on the results of the Regents exam.

Additionally, many scholarships in New York and elsewhere pay particular attention to applicants pursuing certain high demand fields. The NYS STEM Incentive Program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship for the top 10 percent of students in each New York State high school. Note though, that this scholarship (like many others of its kind) comes with conditions: awarded students must often either remain in the state or work in their particular field for a certain period of time. In the above example, students must pursue a STEM major and agree to work in a STEM field in New York State for five years after graduation.

What are the requirements?

Local scholarship competitions often ask for a completed FAFSA form, and may ask for tax returns/W2 forms (from student and parents), a copy of your transcript, letters of recommendation, and student-written essays. Many local scholarships also require you to take the PSAT/NMSQT by the fall of your junior year.

Finally, it is important to meet all scholarship deadlines, follow scholarship application directions, and gather your application materials early.

Here at Collegiate Gateway, we are happy to help you throughout your college search. Feel free to contact us!

Crafting Your Ideal College List

With over 3500 colleges in the United States to choose from, it’s no surprise that many students struggle to decide which of them to apply to. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to making this process effective and even fun! We recommend that you explore and visit colleges throughout junior year and finalize your college list in the summer before senior year.

Finding Your “Best-Fit” College Features

The most important aspect of the college admissions process is FIT. Which colleges will be the best fit for you as a unique individual? At which colleges will you be most able to grow academically, socially, and personally?

Start by thinking about your preferences. Here are some features to consider as you build your list of “best-fit” features:

  • Size. A small college (with fewer than 4000 students) tends to offer a more close-knit sense of community, with smaller, discussion-based classes, and closer relationships with professors. On the other hand, a large college (with more than 10,000 students) tends to offer more options of courses, specialized programs, clubs and organizations, and even friends. And a medium-sized college (with about 3,000 – 10,000 students) provides a blend of qualities of a small and large school.
  • Liberal Arts vs Specialized Programs. Smaller colleges tend to offer a “liberal arts” curriculum, with courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, such as psychology, history, and biology. On the other hand, larger universities often include specialized, pre-professional colleges within the school, and focus on areas such as business, engineering, communication, and architecture. Your academic interests and preferences for a certain size of college will help you decide which type of school is best for you.
  • Academics: Majors and Minors. What subjects interest you the most? Which classes have you most enjoyed? Research academic programs on colleges’ websites. See how many faculty members are in your areas of interest and review the departments’ courses and research opportunities. If you have a few different academic areas of interest, you will likely be able to pursue multiple subjects at college through a double-major or a major and minor. In colleges in the US, typically you can choose any combination of fields for a double-major or major/minor. For example, I have worked with students with a major in engineering and minor in studio art, a major in physics and minor in dance, and a major in Spanish and minor in biology!In addition, colleges are increasingly offering degrees in interdisciplinary areas, such as Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at University of Pennsylvania, biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis.  An academic area that has been growing at many universities is STEAM, the combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
  • Distribution Requirements. In addition to the courses in your academic major, think about whether you have a strong preference for being exposed to a broad-based curriculum, or having the freedom to construct your entire course of study. Most colleges require that you take 8-10 courses (about a third of your total coursework) in a variety of academic areas in order to receive a broad-based education. Colleges range from having no distribution requirements (such as Brown University) to having a prescribed core curriculum (Columbia University). Most colleges fall in between, offering choices of courses in a variety of categories. For example, Princeton University has distribution requirements in the areas of Epistemology and Cognition, Ethical thought and Moral Values, Historical Analysis, Literature and the Arts, Social Analysis, Quantitative Reasoning, and Science and Technology.
  • Study Abroad. Most colleges offer the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or year and provide credit for coursework at other universities. Some colleges, such as New York University, have developed their own programs abroad, staffed by their own faculty. How important is it to you to study abroad? If so, research colleges’ study abroad policies to see how feasible it would be given your intended major, and find out the percent of students who typically do study abroad to determine if it is part of the school’s culture.
  • Internships. Would you like to work for an organization for a semester or more during your college years? This opportunity can be an excellent supplement to your academic coursework and expose you to potential careers. Some colleges build internships into the curriculum by requiring that you participate in one or more “co-op” semesters. Additionally, internships are more available in cities than in remote areas.
  • Extracurricular Activities. Are there clubs and organizations that are very important to you in college? These might include a cappella groups, theater, athletic clubs and intramural teams, religious organizations, or community service opportunities.
  • Location. Do you prefer a certain location in the US or beyond? Do you want to be in or near a city, or do you prefer proximity to nature? Is it important for you to be close to home?
  • Social Life. What is your preference for the social life on campus? How important is it to have strong athletic spirit or the presence of Greek life?

What is your personality like? As you reflect on these features, take into consideration your personality! Are you more extraverted or introverted? Would you prefer meeting a lot of people or spending time with a small group of close friends? Do you prefer a more structured or laid-back environment? Do you like to learn from classroom instruction or do you prefer a more hand-on approach? The more you understand yourself, the better equipped you will be to find a college that is a good fit for you.

Making the Most of Your College Visits

Now that you have identified features that are important to you, what’s next?

Research colleges to decide where to visit:

  • Research colleges online. Look up their websites, and read about their academic programs, extracurricular activities, and college culture.
  • Read college guidebooks, such as The Princeton Review and The Fiske Guide.
  • Speak with college students.
  • Attend local information sessions of colleges.

Plan to visit colleges. Now that you have identified schools that could be a good fit for you, visit their admissions websites to see if you need to register in advance for a tour and information session. Plan to eat in the dining hall so that you can speak with students and get a feel for the culture of the school. Try to arrange meetings with professors in your fields of interest; you can ask them why they chose to teach at the college and how they would describe the student body. You can also meet with staff in specialized offices, such as honors programs or learning centers.

In gathering all this information during your visits, you will begin to discover your college preferences.

Creating Your College List

Now that you have visited colleges and evaluated whether they are a good fit for you, you can develop your college list. Keep evaluating their features to make sure that your colleges suit your needs. The goal is not only to be accepted, but to succeed and thrive at your colleges!

Decide on 10-12 colleges to apply to. We recommend that you end up with 10-12 colleges on your list, with a combination of reach, target, and safe colleges.  Generally speaking, here are your admissions chances at these categories of schools:

  • Safe: more than a 75% chance of acceptance
  • Target: about a 50% chance of being admitted (your profile matches the profile of admitted students)
  • Reach: less than a 25% chance of acceptance

Assess your candidacy!  The most important factors in college admission remain the numbers:

  • Grades, especially in the core curriculum courses of English, history, foreign language, math, and science;
  • Rigor of curriculum, evaluated within the context of what’s offered at your high school;
  • Standardized testing, including the ACT or SAT, Subject Tests, AP exams, and IB grades.

Learn about your high school’s admissions history. Most schools use Naviance, a web-based software program that presents the admissions outcomes of students from your school, based on their GPA and test scores. Compare your academic profile with students from your school who have been accepted to colleges in which you are interested.

Below is a scattergram of students who applied to Emory University from Schreiber High School in Port Washington.  If your GPA and test scores place you in the top right of the scattergram, near all the green squares of accepted students, you have a strong chance of being accepted, if you meet Emory’s other criteria.  If your GPA and test scores place you in the lower left below the icons of accepted students, Emory may be a reach for you, unless you have a strong admissions “hook,” such as being a recruited athlete, legacy, under-represented minority, or first-generation student.

Boost your candidacy through your personal qualities. Although colleges place significant emphasis on your grades and test scores in their evaluation of your candidacy, qualitative factors have increased in importance over the last decade.  Colleges are interested in all the ways that you will contribute to campus life outside the classroom. To that end,  engage in extracurricular activities that genuinely interest you.  These activities can play a positive role in the following aspects of your application:

  • Essays and Interviews: you can discuss your involvement in activities in your Personal Essay, colleges’ supplemental essays, and interviews;
  • Recommendations: you can ask for letters of recommendation from people outside the academic courses, such as research mentors, coaches, clergy, supervisors of employment or internships

Balancing “Reach” With “Realistic”

Keep in mind overall admissions trends. The numbers of students attending college has been increasing and is projected to continue to increase over the next decade. More students are applying to college, and each student is applying to an increasing number of colleges. As a result, admissions rates have declined, and selectivity has increased. It has become increasingly more important to have a realistic list.

Make sure your college list is balanced. In a typical college list of 12 colleges, about 5 should be “target” schools (you have about a 50% chance of being admitted), with about 3-4 each of “safe” schools (more than a 75% chance of acceptance), and “reach” schools (less than a 25% chance of acceptance).

Tailor your list. Each individual’s college list should be suited to their academic and personal needs. If you would like a very challenging academic environment and have a strong academic profile, you could have more reach schools. If you would like a more manageable course load, or are trying to manage learning, emotional, or psychological challenges, you may want to increase the number of safe schools.

The process of deciding which colleges to visit, which to apply to, and which college to attend is complex! If you would like individualized guidance, feel free to contact us at www.collegiategateway.com. As always, we’re happy to help!

A Summer Timeline for Starting Your College Applications

You’re about to finish a hectic junior year of working hard at school and participating in extracurricular activities—not to mention going on college visits, taking standardized tests, and possibly learning to drive! As your summer stretches before you, here are some ways to consider getting a jump start on your college applications so that you are in great shape for early and regular admission deadlines in the fall and winter.

June, July, and August

  • Continue to visit colleges. For an in-depth look at how to make the most out of your summer college visits, read our blog. Take copious notes and research your programs of interest. These noted details will come in handy when writing an academic “match” essay, which will be your persuasive argument about why you are a great “fit” for this school and academic program.
  • Prepare for standardized tests. If you plan on taking the ACT or SAT in the summer or fall to raise your scores, continue your test prep.
  • Research national and local scholarships. Create a list of deadlines and required materials, such as essays or recommendations. See our blog about the benefits of seeking local scholarships.
June 
  • Set up a Common Application account. Even though colleges do not release their supplemental questions until August 1, it is a good idea to set up your account in advance and familiarize yourself with the Common App platform. You can fill out your personal information and begin to create a college list. This information will be saved when account rollover occurs on August 1. Do not begin to answer any supplemental questions specific to a college, as this information will not be saved during account rollover.
  • Draft a College Resume. Not all colleges accept a resume on the Common Application, but it is still a great tool to have for college interviews and for applying to jobs and internships. Additionally, having a resume will also make it easier to complete the Common App Activity Sheet. In your resume, be sure to include high school honors and awards, as well as any summer courses that you have taken for credit or enrichment.
July 
  • Begin to brainstorm your Personal Essay topic and create an outline. Look at the personal essay prompts from the 2018-19 application cycle. These prompts tend to remain the same from year-to-year, with minor changes. You will use your personal essay for every application that you submit, so spend some time thinking about topics that really speak to how you would like to best present yourself.
  • Look at the supplemental essays previously required for your top schools. Check the Common App or a college’s website to see which supplemental essays were required by your top schools for early and regular admission during the previous application cycle. This will give you an idea of how to prepare for the types of essays that you will be asked to write. For example, the University of Michigan has previously required a supplemental match essay, activity essay, and community essay. Occasionally, colleges do change their essay requirements from year to year. Washington University in St. Louis has not required any supplemental essays in the past. However, beginning in the fall of 2019, WashU will now require a supplemental essay about an academic area of your choice. This essay will be used in considering all applicants for merit scholarships.
  • Begin to brainstorm your Activity Essay for use in a supplement. Narrow down which of your activities is most meaningful to you and create an outline with specific accomplishments and leadership moments. Describe why you love the activity and how it has impacted you.
  • Begin to brainstorm your College Match Essay for use in a supplement. One of the most common supplemental essays is the “match” essay, which asks why you want to attend the particular college; in other words, why is the college a good match, or fit, for you? Check the Common App to see if your top schools for early or regular admission had an academic “match” essay for the previous application cycle. If the college has had this type of essay in the past, outline a “match” essay for this school. Think about what you will bring to this institution and what this college will offer you in terms of academics, culture, and activities. Identify the specific features of this school (for example, urban setting, Greek life, strong athletic program/school spirit, or religious affiliation) and discuss why these factors appeal to you.

Research your field of academic interest at the school and mention specifics like courses offered, professors, research, and relate this to your plan for a major/minor and future career goals. Mention activities that you are involved in now, which you would like to continue, as well as new activities offered by the school that you would like to try. The more specific details that you use, the better! You are demonstrating your high level of interest by showing how much you have researched a particular school.

August 
  • Begin to fill out the Common Application. On August 1, the Common App “goes live,” which means that all information, including essays, is ready to be input. If you have not already done so, fill out your personal information and activity list. Complete the Common Application form by September 1.
  • Finalize your College Resume. Ask at least one person to look over your resume.
  • Complete your “core” essays. Draft, create multiple edits, and finalize your Personal Essay, Activity Essay, Community Essay, and College Match Essay (for a favorite college). Many of these core supplemental essays can be tweaked for various colleges.

Enjoy your summer! Completing your college applications in a timely manner can alleviate much of the stress caused by the college application process. Here at Collegiate Gateway, we are always happy to help!

Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2023

As the pool of applicants increases and schools continue to expand admissions options, applying early has become a game of strategic calculations and daunting choices for students. This year alone, many schools saw sharp increases in early applications and most schools experienced a drop in admit rates.

By now, students have received their early admissions decisions and are either overjoyed by acceptance, disappointed with rejection, or stuck waiting with a deferral. Whatever your early admissions outcomes, it is important to have an open mind and to maintain faith in the process of finding your best-fit school. In this blog, we have put together an in-depth analysis of this year’s trends and statistics.

Overall Early Application Trends

It was another record-breaking year, as many schools, including Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, MITPennUVA, and Yale, received their highest number of early applications yet. This trend points to the pressure placed on students to demonstrate interest by applying early and hopefully benefit from slightly higher early admit rates (compared to regular admit rates).

Schools that saw a double-digit bump in early apps this year include Barnard (24%), Washington University in St. Louis (70%) Boston College (54%), Brown (21%), Connecticut College (25%-EDI), Duke (19%), Notre Dame (17%), NYU (41%-EDI) and UVA (17%). Rising applications have also led to dipping acceptance rates. Many schools accepted record-low rates of early applicants, including Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.

WashingtonU’s dramatic 70% increase in early apps this year includes applications from both both ED1 and ED2 and the school filled 60% of the incoming class through early admissions. This was likely due to the fact that this was the first year that they offered an ED2 option.

Boston College’s exceptional increase of 54% early applications was likely due to a change in admissions policy whereby students could apply early action to BC, as well as early decision elsewhere. In the past, applicants applying early decision, could not apply early action to BC. Interestingly, Boston College recently announced that it is switching its early admissions program for the Class of 2024 from early action to early decision.

John Mahoney, BC’s vice provost for enrollment management, explained that the ease of applying to many colleges through the Common Application creates issues for admissions offices at highly-selective colleges where it becomes more difficult to evaluate the growing number of applications. According to Grant Gosselin, director of undergraduate admissions, “While the change will likely suppress overall application volume, it will help to improve selectivity and yield by enabling students to commit to BC through the two rounds of binding Early Decision.” Early Decision 1 will have an application deadline of November 1, with decision notification by December 15. Early Decision 2 will have a January 1 application deadline and February 15 notification date. These dates are consistent with most Early Decision and Early Action rounds.

On the other hand, Georgetown experienced a 7% decrease in early applications. The Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon says, “Fewer students applied to Georgetown this cycle due in part to pressures from peer schools to apply through binding early admission programs. These binding early admission programs, which stipulate that students must attend if admitted, benefit universities more than students.”

Georgetown will continue to stand by its nonbinding early action program. “It is reasonable for students with outstanding records to be able to get an early answer, but we also believe that a lot happens during the course of their senior year of high school, so our motto has been we want you to be as sure in May as you were in November,” Deacon said.

Many schools with Early Decision programs also continue to fill almost half or more of their incoming class from the early applicant pool, including Boston University (40%), Bowdoin (nearly 50%) Dartmouth (47.8%), Duke (51%), Middlebury (41%), Northwestern (53%), and Penn (53%). The binding Early Decisions admissions plan benefits accepted students, who know where they will attend by December; and benefits the colleges in terms of controlling their yield (number of admitted students who choose to enroll).

Public universities do not typically release their early application data, but US News notes that in general applications at top public universities are on the rise and, therefore, their acceptance rates are dropping. Affordability and quality may be attracting more and more students, and public institutions are marketing to high-performing applicants.

Overall Early Application Numbers

The following chart compares early admissions application numbers and acceptance rates for the class of 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018. As a refresher, early decision (ED) is binding and mandates enrollment, single choice early action (SCEA) is restrictive but allows the student to wait until May 1st to decide, and early action (EA) is unrestrictive and non-binding. Early decision is typically associated with higher acceptance rates because the school is guaranteed enrollment, which increases the yield factor, and results in a class comprised of students who have demonstrated a high degree of interest.

 

Early Admissions Statistics for a Sampling of Selective Colleges

 

School

Early Apps

Class of 2023

Early Apps

Class of 2022

Early Apps

Class of 2021

Early Apps

Class of 2020

Early Apps

Class of 2019

Early Apps

Class of 2018

% Increase in EA/ED Apps 2018-2023
Brown University (ED) 4,230 3,502 3,186 3,030 3,043 3,088 37%
Cornell University (ED) 6,159 6,319 5,384 4,882 4,560 4,775 29%
Dartmouth College (ED) 2,474 2,270 1,999 1,927 1,859 1,678 47.4%
Duke University (ED) 4,852 4,090 3,516 3,455 3,180 3,180 52.6%
Georgetown University (REA) 7,802 8,387 7,822 7,027 6,840 6,749 15.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 6,958 6,630 6,473 6,173 5,919 4,692 48.3%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 2,068 2,037 1,934 1,929 1,865 1,595 29.6%
Middlebury College (ED) 654 650 673 636 667 686 -4.6%
MIT (EA) 9,600 9,557 8,394 7,767 6,519 6,820 40.8%
Northwestern University (ED) 4,399 4,058 3,736 3,022 2,793 2,863 53.6%
Princeton University (SCEA) 5,335 5,402 5,003 4,229 3,850 3,854 38.4%
Stanford University (REA) n/a n/a n/a 7,822 7,297 6,948 12.5% since 2016
University of Notre Dame (REA) 7,334 6,598 6,020 5,321 4,700* 6,551 56% since REA began in 2015
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 7,110 7,074 6,147 5,762 5,489 5,149 38.1%
Williams College (ED) n/a n/a 728 585 593 554 31.4% since 2017
Yale University (SCEA) 6,016 5,733 5,086 4,662 4,693 4,750 26.6%

*Notre Dame changed its early admissions program from Early Action to Restrictive Early Action in 2015.

*Stanford last released early admissions stats in 2016. As of the fall 2018, Stanford will no longer publish any admissions data.

*As of 2017, Williams ceased releasing their early decision stats.

 

School Acceptance Rate, Class of 2023 Acceptance Rate, Class of 2022 Acceptance Rate, Class of 2021 Acceptance Rate, Class of 2020 Acceptance Rate, Class of 2019 Acceptance Rate, Class of 2018

Percent Point (PP) Difference in EA/ED Acceptance Rate

2018-2023

Brown University (ED) 18.2% 21.1% 21.9% 22% 20.3% 18.8% -0.6 pp
Cornell University (ED) 22.6% 24.4% 25.8% 27.4% 26.1% 27.7% -5.1 pp
Dartmouth College (ED) 23.2% 24.9% 27.8% 26% 26% 27.9% -4.7 pp
Duke University (ED) 18% 21.4% 24.5% 23.5% 26% 25% -7 pp
Georgetown University (REA) 11.8% 11.9% 11.9% 13% 13% 14% -2.2 pp
Harvard University (SCEA) 13.4% 14.5% 14.5% 14.8% 16.5% 21.1% -7.7 pp
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 31% 29.9% 30.5% 30.3% 28.9% 33% -2 pp
Middlebury College (ED) 45.4% 50.1% 51% 53.1% 42% 41.8% 3.6 pp
MIT (EA) 7.4% 6.9% 7.8% 8.4% 9.6% 9% -1.6 pp
Northwestern University (ED) 25% 26.5% 26% 35% 36.2% 32.3% -7.3 pp
Princeton University (SCEA) 13.9% 14.7% 15.4% 18.5% 19.9% 18.5% -4.6 pp
Stanford University (REA) n/a n/a n/a 9.5% 10.2% 10.8%

-1.3 pp

since 2016

University of Notre Dame (REA) 20.1% 24.8% 24.4% 30.2% 29.8%* 29.9% -9.7 pp since REA began in 2015
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 18% 18.5% 22% 23.2% 24% 25.2% -7.2 pp
Williams College (ED) n/a n/a 35% 42% 41% 42.8% -7.8 pp since 2017
Yale University (SCEA) 13.2% 14.7% 17.1% 17% 16% 15.5% -2.3 pp

*Notre Dame changed its early admissions program from Early Action to Restrictive Early Action in 2015.

*Stanford last released early admissions stats in 2016. As of the fall 2018, Stanford will no longer publish any admissions data.

*As of 2017, Williams ceased releasing their early decision stats.

Deferral Stats

Deferral rates are not as widely published as acceptance rates. However, available information shows that many schools defer more than half of their early applicant pool to the regular admissions round.

Notable exceptions include Duke, Middlebury, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Stanford, who deny most applicants who are not accepted in the early round. For these schools, deferral is used to indicate that your application is competitive and will be given serious consideration in the regular admissions process.

Some schools, like the University of Michigan, use large numbers of deferrals to control class size as they have continued to receive increasingly large early applicant pools. Some colleges defer especially strong candidates who may view the college as a “safe” school, wait to see if the student withdraws the application based on acceptance by more selective colleges, and then may accept the student late-January through March.

For deferred students, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of admission in Regular Decision, including re-visiting, arranging for an additional letter of recommendation from a 12th grade teacher, and sending a follow-up letter with updates. Above all, stay positive, and continue to do your best academically.

Percent of Early Apps Deferred for Recent Classes

School Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2023 Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2022 Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2021 Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2020 Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2019 Early Apps Deferred for Class of 2018
Brown University (ED) n/a n/a 60% 63% 65% n/a
Cornell University (ED) 24.3% n/a 20.9% 23.6% 20% n/a
Duke University (ED) 18.6% 21.5% 20% 19% 19% 22%
Georgetown University (REA) 88.2%* 88.1%* 88.1%* 87% 87% 86%
Harvard University (SCEA) n/a 72.7% n/a 75.7% 72.5% 68%
Middlebury College (ED) 12.4% 6% 9% 11.6% 12% 14%
MIT (EA) 64.4% 65% 69.7% 61.5% 68.4% 66.5%
Princeton University (SCEA) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 78.9%
Stanford University (REA) n/a n/a n/a 9% 7.7% 8.5%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 19% n/a 14.8% 15.4% 17% 13.7%
Yale University (SCEA) 56% 55% 53% 53% 57% 58%

*Georgetown defers all students who are not accepted early action.

*Stanford last released early admissions stats in 2016. As of the fall 2018, Stanford will no longer publish any admissions data.

Testing

There is a trend towards more standardized testing flexibility in college admissions. More small liberal arts colleges have become test-optional, and more schools, such as Penn, now super-score the ACT/SAT. Additionally, fewer colleges are requiring Subject Tests. Over 1,000 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 ForestSmith, and Bowdoin.

Several others, including NYUMiddlebury, 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.

On June 14, 2018, the University of Chicago launched its UChicago Empower Initiative, which included a test-optional policy in the hopes of increasing accessibility for first-generation and low-income applicants. The University of Chicago joins a small group of highly-selective national universities, with test-optional or test-flexible policies, which includes Wake Forest, University of Rochester, Brandeis, and NYU.

Finally, more colleges are allowing students to self-report testing, only requiring them to send their testing to the school they commit to. For more information about current trends in test-optional and test-flexible policies, read our blog.

Increased Diversity Continues to be a Priority

Many of the most selective colleges continue to use early admissions for the big “hooks”:  underrepresented minorities, lower socioeconomic, first-generation, and international students, as well as recruited athletes, and legacies. Schools with a high percentage of students who self-identify as students of color include Brown (44%), Cornell (39.8%), Dartmouth (33%), Duke (46%), Harvard (50%), Princeton (50%), and Penn (48%). 54% of Northwestern’s early admits are underrepresented minorities or international students.

Legacy is another major factor, and schools accepting large numbers of early applicants with a family history of attending the school include Cornell (21.1%), Dartmouth (20%), Princeton (15%), and Penn (23%). In the Ivy League, Penn has the highest rate of legacy acceptances, and recently the Daily Pennsylvanian wrote an article exploring the benefits and drawbacks of this policy.

International early admits continues to grow, despite the political climate in the United States. Universities with high international early acceptances include Cornell (12.3%), Dartmouth (11%), Harvard (11%), Princeton (10%), and Penn (13%).

Harvard admitted more women this year through early admissions (51.3%) versus last year (47.2%). Of these female admits, high percentages indicated interest in majoring in computer science or physical sciences.

If you applied early to a highly selective college and do not fall into one of these categories, consider the even higher odds that you are up against in seeking early admission.

Notable Moments in Early Admissions for the Class of 2023

  • Harvard has been in the news for a lawsuit which alleges that it unfairly discriminates against Asian-American applications and sets racial caps.
  • Alumnus Michael Bloomberg donated $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University, which is the largest gift ever given to a U.S. college or university. This fall, Johns Hopkins announced that it will use the gift to provide more comprehensive financial aid packages for undergraduates, including eliminating loans for domestic students.
  • In the fall of 2018, Stanford announced that itwill no longer publish any admissions data, in an effort to de-emphasize admissions rates at U.S. colleges and universities. In the fall of 2016, Stanford filled 35% of the class of 2021 from the early applicant pool.

Deciding whether and where to apply early can be daunting, but here at Collegiate Gateway we are happy to help you decipher your options and understand the changing landscape of early admissions. Please feel free to contact us!

 

Who Benefits From Early Decision?

Early Decision is a relatively new phenomenon in the college admissions landscape. But in the few decades since its inception, it’s become such a prominent feature of college admissions that many colleges fill up to half their freshman class through Early Decision applications. There is much controversy surrounding its impact on students and families because it tends to advantage affluent students who attend top secondary schools. This blog explores who stands to benefit from Early Decision, and how it affects the constituent groups of students, families, high schools, and colleges.

Historical Background

In the early centuries of college admissions, say from 1636 through the 1950s, all students applied through a Regular Admissions process, in which the deadline typically was January 1, and students received notification decisions by mid-April. But that all changed in the 1950s when a group of five smaller colleges that dubbed themselves the “Pentagonals” – Amherst, Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, and Williams – decided to offer a binding Early Decision option in order to grab top students before they applied to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

As Early Decision became an increasingly popular option—and admissions became increasingly competitive—students felt increasing pressure to apply early, in order to maximize their chances of admission. In 2004, Yale and Stanford switched from ED to SCEA in order to decrease the stress on students. The non-binding option, they argued, would alleviate the additional pressure students face in having to commit before they’re fully ready.

Objections to Early Admissions, however, soon took on an additional dimension. In 2006, Harvard, Princeton, and UVA made the bold move to no longer offer any kind of early admissions program because of research suggesting that such programs disadvantage students from lower socioeconomic groups for a variety of reasons. These families needed to compare financial aid offers from more than one college, and often students in under-resourced high schools were not made aware of early admissions options, often missing out altogether.

Harvard, Princeton, and UVA hoped to serve as role models, and expected that other colleges would follow suit. While other colleges, such as Stanford, publicly supported their new policy, no colleges followed. This strategically disadvantaged Harvard, Princeton, and UVA, since other colleges could now grab top students through binding early programs, and within several years, all three resumed an early admissions program, with Harvard and Princeton offering SCEA, and UVA offering EA.

In fact, more and more colleges are now offering binding ED plans. In 2016, University of Chicago, Haverford, Wake Forest, and Wellesley added ED plans; and Tulane replaced its SCEA with ED. Very few of the most selective private colleges in the country now offer a non-restrictive early admissions option; these include Georgetown and MIT.

Impact of Early Decisions on Regular Decisions

37 colleges are now filling at least 40% of their incoming freshman class through Early Decision, as we discuss in our blog on trends in the Early Admissions process. This leaves significantly fewer spots for the vastly greater numbers of students who apply through Regular Decision. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, 7,110 ED applications were submitted for the Class of 2023, and 18% were accepted, filling about 53% of Penn’s incoming freshman class. That means that the significantly larger regular pool must compete for the remaining spots. For the Class of 2022, 44,482 students applied in Regular Decision, and only 8.4% were admitted.

These numbers can affect the quality of review of an applicant’s file. On the one hand, admissions officers have about twice as much time to review applications in the Regular Round, as they typically have three months for RD applications, from January 1 through April 1, and 1 ½ months for ED applications, from November 1 – December 15. But if the admissions staff receive a whopping 5x as many RD applications, as in Penn’s case, the review process will be much more compressed, and students who have a unique story to tell may not receive the same quality of consideration.

Who Benefits from Early Decision?

Students

  • Students from families who do not need to compare financial aid packages
  • Strong academic students who have sufficiently compelling GPAs by the end of junior year and test scores by October of senior year, and who do not need further testing or 1stsemester grades to bolster their candidacy
  • Students from top high schools with sufficient resources to provide individualized guidance in educating students about the benefits of early decision
  • Students from educated parents who are familiar with early decision options
  • Students who have private test prep tutors who advise them to take standardized tests in junior year so that they will have scores in time to submit for early deadlines

High Schools

  • Top high schools whose students take advantage of early decision to selective colleges; and who consequently are admitted at higher rates. High schools publicize their college acceptance and matriculation outcomes, and successful outcomes makes the school district more desirable for families who value education, increases property values, and draws new residents.

Colleges

  • Colleges who value students’ demonstrated interest. ED is often used by small to medium sized colleges who want to build a tight-knit community of students who are especially loyal to the school.

How Do Students Benefit?

  • Great acceptance rate. Simply put, students are more likely to be accepted. Typically the acceptance rate is higher for students who apply through a restrictive early program, such as ED or SCEA, because the applicants are demonstrating a strong degree of interest in attending the college. A landmark study conducted in 2001 by Christopher Avery, of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, along with colleagues, found that applying ED provided the advantage of an additional 100 points on the SAT.
  • A more relaxed senior year. Students know where they will be attending by December 15. This eliminates the stress of waiting to find out where they have been accepted, enables the seniors to have a relaxed second semester, and provides them with a longer time in which to plan for the start of college.
  • Access to scholarships. Many merit scholarships are open only to students who apply by fall deadlines.
  • Access to interviews. Some colleges, such as MIT, only offer interviews to students who apply by fall deadlines.

How Do Colleges Benefit?

Early Decision plans benefit the college in numerous ways:

  • The accepted students are more devoted and loyal to the college; they will be stronger spokespeople for the college, and their positive feelings will affect other students
  • As alums, the graduates will likely donate more money because the college was a top choice, and that college accepted them in the early round
  • The colleges’ “yield” (the percentage of accepted students who choose to attend) will increase, which increases predictability in calculating the freshman year
  • With increased yield, US News & World Report’s rankings increase

Who is Disadvantaged by Early Decision?

Students

  • Students from families who need to compare financial aid packages
  • Students from large public high schools with over-burdened guidance counselors who do not have the resources to educate students about the benefits of early decision
  • First-generation students whose parents may not speak English, may not be as actively involved in the high school, and may not be as aware of all the options of admissions plans
  • Students who do not have the financial resources for private test preparation, and are not knowledgeable about the timeline required to obtain scores in time for early deadlines

High Schools

  • Under-resourced high schools whose students do not take advantage of ED options, and have a lower chance of acceptance through RD

Colleges

  • Colleges who philosophically oppose ED, such as Catholic colleges, and may lose out on top students who would rather have the certainty of an ED acceptance.

Solutions

White House Report in 2014 cited that “While half of all people from high-income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25, just 1 in 10 people from low-income families do,” concluding that “college access and attainment remains unequal.” It is widely acknowledged that early admissions policies reward the affluent and penalize the poor. Yet it is strategically challenging to address this issue at the level of college institutions, due to the zero- sum-game element in which a small number of colleges with a steady number of slots compete for an ever-growing number of talented applicants.

The issue may be most effectively addressed by individuals and organizations that provide outreach to lower-income students. Former NYC Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy is now Executive Director of the Cooke Foundation, whose mission is to award scholarships to high-potential students with financial need. He is an ardent advocate for the end of early admissions, and argues that not only do such policies disadvantage low-income students, but that “our nation is being deprived of the talents of young people who could go on to become doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers and government leaders — and who could fill many other vital jobs if only they had the chance to get a college education.”

For guidance on the college admissions process, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help!