Tag Archives: admissions

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

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

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

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

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

Visit far-away campuses.

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

Personalize your tour.

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

Seek out students who stayed behind.

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

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

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

Hit the town.

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

Take notes (and pictures, too).

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

Remember to register.

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

Enjoy yourself!

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

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

 

Waiting for Regular Decision Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

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

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

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

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

Visit far-away campuses.

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

Personalize your tour.

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

Seek out students who stayed behind.

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

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

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

Hit the town.

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

Take notes (and pictures, too).

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

Remember to register.

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

Enjoy yourself!

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

Regular Admissions Trends for the Class of 2020

Once again, it was a wild year in college admissions. Assessing the likelihood of acceptance to highly selective private and public universities was as unpredictable as ever, and while some applicants were lucky enough to receive early admission to their top choice, many students were dealt an uncertain hand of deferrals and spots on waitlists.

As a follow-up to our previous blog on Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2020, here’s an in-depth comparison of this year’s regular decision statistics to recent college admissions cycles. 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.

Acceptance Rates

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

Many schools had a record-breaking year of applications, including Bowdoin, Brown, Cornell, Princeton, NYU, Northwestern, Tufts, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Princeton’s applicant pool has doubled over the past decade.

Many of the country’s most selective institutions, with overall admit rates under 15%, became even more competitive over the past two years. For example, Johns Hopkins dropped from 15% to 11.5%, Northwestern fell from 12.9% to 10.7%, and Swarthmore declined from 16.8% to 12.5%. Stanford has the lowest admit rate at just 4.7%. This year, Barnard, Bowdoin, Duke, Harvard, Northwestern, Tufts, UC-Berkeley, and USC all reported record-low admit rates.

According to Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid at Stanford University, these ultra-low admit rates are the product of several factors: top students applying to many more schools, higher demand across many demographics (including international applicants), and college advising that encourages students to apply to their dream schools, as opposed to schools that are a good fit and offer a better chance of admission. According to U.S. News, higher applicant numbers are the result of the Common Application and other online admissions processes, which most schools have adopted. Universities also use innovative ways to market themselves to prospective applicants, especially through social media.

Notre Dame has seen a 34% increase in applications over the past six years, and their overall acceptance rate has dropped from 24.3% to 18.3% over the past five years. According to Don Bishop, Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment at Notre Dame, as competitive as the Class of 2020 is, these numbers would be even more selective if the University practiced admissions strategies used by other schools seeking to improve their rankings.

“There are colleges being criticized for going out there and getting a large number of applicants that they’re going to reject. A group of schools that seemingly are recruiting students they’re going to turn down. Notre Dame has not engaged in that practice.”

Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2018 through 2020

College

 

(Note Early Admissions Plan:

ED vs EA)

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 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2018
Amherst College (ED) 12.2% 39.6% 12.4% 35.6% 13.7% 13.7% 13%
Bowdoin College (ED I) 11.6% 33.7% n/a 31% 14.3% 14.9% 14.9%
Brown University (ED) 7.6% 22% 7.2% 20.3% 9% 8.5% 8.6%
California Institute of Technology (EA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 7.9% 9% 9%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) n/a n/a 9% 27% 9.4% 11% 10%
Columbia University (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 6% 6.1% 6.94%
Cornell University (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 14% 14.9% 14%
Dartmouth College (ED) 8.9% 26% 8.8% 26% 10.5% 10.3% 11.5%
Duke University (ED) 8.7% 23.5% 9.4% 26% 10.4% 11% 11%
Georgetown University (REA) n/a 13% n/a 13% 16.4% 16.4% 16.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 3.4% 14.8% 3.2% 16.5% 5.2% 5.3% 5.9%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 10.1% 30.3% 11% 28.9% 11.5% 12.4% 15%
Lehigh University (ED) n/a n/a n/a 44% n/a 30% 34%
MIT (EA) 7.4% 8.4% 7.1% 9.6% 7.8% 8% 7.7%
Middlebury College (ED I) 12.7% 53.1% 14.7% 45.3% 16% 17% 17.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 8.4% 35% 10.8% 36.2% 10.7% 13.1% 12.9%
Pomona College (ED) n/a n/a n/a 19% 9.1% 10.3% 12.2%
Princeton University (SCEA) 4.4% 18.5% 4.9% 19.9% 6.46% 6.99% 7.28%

Rice University

(ED)

n/a n/a 15.6% 20.4% n/a 16% 14.1%
Stanford University (SCEA) 3.6% 9.5% 3.9% 10.2% 4.7% 5.05% 5.07%
Swarthmore College (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 12.5% 12.2% 16.8%

UC – Berkeley

(EA)

n/a n/a n/a n/a 14.8% 17% 17%
University of Chicago (EA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 7.6% 7.8% 8.4%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 13.8% 30.3% 16.2% 29.8% 18.3% 19.7% 20.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 7% 23.2% 7.5% 24% 9.4% 9.9% 9.9%
University of Virginia (EA) 28.8% 28.9% 26.6% 30.2% 28.8% 28.5% 28.9%

USC

(No early program)

16.5% n/a 17.5% n/a 16.5% 17.5% 17.8%
Vanderbilt University (ED) 8.8% 23.6% 9.5% 22.5% 10.5% n/a 12%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 16.2% 16.7% 17.1%
Williams College (ED) 15% 42% 14.5% 41% 17.3% 16.8% 18.2%
Yale University (SCEA) 4.4% 17% 4.7% 16% 6.3% 6.5% 6.3%

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

Large Percentage of Freshman Class Filled with Early Applicants

Some schools continue to admit large portions of the freshman class through early admissions, making regular admissions 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 so universities are guaranteed the applicants’ attendance, as compared with early action, which is non-binding and allows students until May 1 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 in determining admissions yield for the incoming class.

This year, schools that admitted 40% to 50% of their incoming class through their early decision program include Brown, Duke, Northwestern, Penn, Williams, and Vanderbilt.

Expanding Enrollment

Some schools are accommodating increased applications with plans to expand enrollment. Princeton, Stanford, UVA, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale all have strategic plans to increase incoming class size over several years. Princeton’s plan to expand the class size by 11% was motivated by the desire to “enhance the quality of the overall educational experience at Princeton and make more effective use of the University’s extraordinary resources.” At the same time, University President John L. Hennessy says that Stanford has plans to grow but wants to be careful that size does not diminish experience, and the school will make future growth decisions dependent upon feedback from students and professors.

Determining Yield

Many schools are struggling to predict yield, the number of admitted applicants who will decide to attend their institution, as universities increase in popularity and selectivity. This, in turn, can impact admissions rates. For example, Duke’s Dean of Admissions, Christoph Guttentag, said that one factor in this year’s low admissions rate was last year’s exceptionally high regular decision yield rate.

“Because the number of students we admitted last year resulted in over enrollment, we admitted fewer students this year on the assumption that the yield will be similar,” Guttentag said. “We have admitted 150 students fewer than last year.”

At Lehigh, the Class of 2018 hit overcapacity, and caused the university to accept fewer students in 2015. However, the Class of 2019 was still over capacity, forcing Lehigh to further recalculate yield predictions for the Class of 2020.

Similarly, MIT has also experienced increasing yield over the years, from 65% in 2011 to 73% in 2015. Stu Schmill, Dean of Admissions, only expects it to keep going up as students continue to recognize “the value and excitement of MIT.”

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. Pomona College, for example, partners with A Better Chance, Chicago Scholars, the KIPP Foundation and the Sutton Trust, as well as numerous local and regional programs, to connect with applicants from under-resourced schools. The University of Pennsylvania and Williams have similar programs.

This year, Duke began the Washington Duke Scholars, which nationally seeks to find first-generation college students who demonstrate financial need. Georgetown has a comparable program, called the Georgetown Scholarship Program.

Many schools are committed to increasing diversity and the makeup of their admitted applicant pool demonstrates this goal. At Cornell University, a record 27% of the admitted applicants self-identify as underrepresented minority students and 49% are students of color, which includes Asian-Americans and underrepresented minorities. UC-Berkeley has increased admission of Chicano/Latino students by 28.8% and African American admissions by 32% since last year.

Harvard also set records in admitting a freshman class comprised of 14% African Americans and 22.1% Asian-Americans. Nearly 37% of Johns Hopkins regular decision admits self-identify as members of underrepresented minorities, a school record. Northwestern admitted a record number of international and Chicago Public Schools students through early decision, and a record number of Pell-eligible students through regular decision.

Tips for Future Applicants

In a competitive admissions climate that’s increasingly concerned with yield, demonstrating interest is more important than ever. Therefore, apply to 10-12 colleges (a manageable number) so that you can visit all of the schools in which you are interested. When you visit, register with the admissions reception desk. Schools track visits, and see this as the strongest possible way to demonstrate interest.

If you are applying early admissions, visit the college by November 15. If you are applying regular admissions visit in the fall of your senior year, or by February 15 at the latest.

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.

Highly selective schools are experiencing higher applicant pools, acceptance rates are low and dropping, and many students are told to dream big. When crafting your college list, 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. While early acceptance rates tend to be higher than regular acceptance rates, applying early has become harder to predict. Think carefully and strategically about your early admissions choice.

The college admissions process can be overwhelming, and it may feel difficult to know where to start. At Collegiate Gateway, we are happy 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!

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is well underway, and for many high school students, senior year is right around the corner. In just a few months, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applicants. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

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

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

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

Visit far-away campuses.

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

Personalize your tour.

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

Seek out students who stayed behind.

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

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

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

Hit the town.

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

Take notes (and pictures, too).

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

Enjoy yourself!

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

Early Admissions Decisions: What To Do Next?

Early admissions decisions are in from most colleges, and if you’ve applied early, chances are you know whether you’ve been admitted, deferred, or denied.

But now what? Depending on your admissions outcome, there are a variety of actions you can – and should – take. If you’ve accepted a binding admissions decision, we’ll tell you how to start off your college career on the right foot. If not, we’ll help you maximize your admissions chances going forward.

Accepted, Early Decision

First of all, congratulations! If you were admitted Early Decision, your college search has come to an ideal conclusion. The steps for you to take now are to closely follow the instructions you’ll receive from the admissions office and make sure you meet all required deposit deadlines.  In addition, send thank-you notes to everyone who helped you through this process, including your guidance counselor, recommenders and tutors. They’ll certainly be happy to share in your excitement!

Withdraw All Other Applications. Finally, and most importantly, make sure you withdraw any other outstanding applications to other colleges. Failing to do so will violate the terms of your ED contract, and be unfair to many other hopeful applicants.

Accepted, Early Action 

Again, congratulations, especially if your Early Action (EA) admission was to your first-choice college. Unlike an ED admit, you are not obligated to communicate your decision to colleges until the May 1st, the “National Candidates Reply Date” for all non-ED applicants except NCAA-recruited athletes.

Withdraw Applications For Colleges In Which You Are No Longer Interested. However, if you have come to a definite decision about whether you will or won’t attend any of your EA colleges, inform the college(s).   As a result of a particular EA acceptance, you may no longer be interested in certain other colleges; if so withdraw those applications. While technically permissible, don’t keep applications open just to see whether you’d get in if you have no intention of attending; doing so potentially takes away opportunities from other students, including your friends and peers.

Denied

If you’ve been denied, you’re probably disappointed, but don’t let it get you down, and don’t second-guess yourself or your other applications. In other words, stay the course. You have already identified an appropriate range of colleges and given the application process your best shot. Have faith that you will have options that are a great fit for you!

Focus on Regular Decision Applications. In order to strengthen your chances, make sure to take the following steps:

  • Check all your college admissions portals to verify that all the application components have been received.
  • If you have not yet visited colleges that you are very interested in, do so, preferably by the end of February. Learn more about why the college is a good fit, and include that in a follow-up email to the regional admissions officers.
  • You can also send follow-up letters with any news of honors or awards, special academic achievements or extracurricular projects.

Deferred

While in some ways the most uncertain status, being deferred – and not denied – means that you are in line with the college’s admissions profile, and that you are still in the running.

Strengthen Your Chances for the Regular Decision Process. There are several steps you can take in order to strengthen your application to the college from which you were deferred:

  • If there is a 12th grade teacher who could add a different perspective to your application, submit an additional recommendation.
  • If it’s feasible to travel given the time and expense, visit the college again and meet with professors in your areas of interest.
  • Write a follow-up note re-affirming your interest. Be genuine. If you would attend if accepted, say so. If not, state that you remain strongly interested in the college. If you have re-visited, discuss the specifics of your visit in your note.  Summarize why the college is an excellent fit for you, and unique strengths and experiences you would contribute to campus.  If appropriate, include updates of awards, special academic achievements or extracurricular projects that have occurred since you submitted your original application.

Additionally, follow the steps listed above to maximize your chances at the other colleges on your list. This will give you the best range of options down the road. By the time you need to decide which college to attend on May 1st, your preferences may well have shifted.

Navigating the admissions process is complicated, even long after you’ve submitted your applications. If you need any further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact Collegiate Gateway – as always, we’re happy to help!

Applying to Med School: Make Your Personal Statement Count

Because medical schools receive thousands of applications from applicants with strong GPAs and MCAT scores, these qualifications are not, on their own, enough to set you apart. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 10.5 percent of applicants with combined GPAs of 3.8-4.0 and MCAT scores of 36-38, (where 4.0 is the highest possible GPA and 38 represents the 99th percentile), were not accepted to a single medical school. And given that admissions committees are sifting through record-high numbers of applications each cycle, it’s doubly important for applicants to do everything they can to stand out through their personal characteristics.

One of the best ways to set yourself apart is with a well-written and interesting personal essay. This is, of course, easier said than done. Many students, especially premeds, find crafting effective personal statements particularly difficult. Many may lack significant writing experience as a result of science-heavy undergraduate curricula. They may not realize how different medical school personal statements are from college essays.  Or they simply may not be aware of how much reflection and introspection it requires to prepare, edit, and polish a strong personal statement.

To help you out, here are some tips to get started:

Set aside time to reflect. Strong writing requires strong thinking!

Often, the most difficult and time-consuming part of writing an essay (or anything else) has little to do with the actual writing. An effective personal essay is the product of many hours of self-reflection; it takes time and patience to find creative and meaningful themes, before you even craft your first sentence.

Remember, this is your moment to be creative! Think outside the box, review your experiences, consider your motivations and personal qualities. Though you probably won’t end up including all of your related experiences, organizing your thoughts will give you a better picture of your potential essay topics.

Choose interesting, unique themes and supporting experiences.

There are many themes that could make for a successful personal essay – the trick is finding one that will allow you to showcase both your reasons for wanting to pursue medicine, and your appeal as a candidate. As such, choose topics that genuinely reflect and connect your unique personal qualities and accomplishments.

For example, suppose you’ve done clinical research in other countries, studied public health, love foreign language and did a home stay in Spain one summer.  All of these experiences share a global perspective; your essay will be stronger by connecting these activities with a common thread, rather than treating them as separate components.

Tell a story.

As with any personal statement, a great rule of thumb is “show, don’t tell.” The personal essay is a great opportunity to introduce some narrative, or anecdotal content, that brings your experiences, accomplishments and ambitions to life. When you talk about experiences that have motivated and reinforced your desire to practice medicine, use detailed representative stories. Similarly, you might think about the individuals who have shaped your life and influenced your career choice, and tell a story about that person and your relationship to him or her. Doing so is not only more convincing, but more unique – no one else has had exactly the same experiences.

Avoid approaches that are over-used, ineffective or risky.

The cliché. “I want to become a physician because I like science and I want to help people.” “I want to make a difference.” Medical schools assume that you possess the desire to enhance patients’ quality of life.  They are seeking confirmation that you are familiar with what’s necessary to acquire medical education and to serve as a physician.

 The epiphany into medicine. “I knew right then that I was meant to be a doctor.” Choosing a medical career should be the result of many thoughtful, conscious, and reflective decisions, not an instantaneous realization.

 The narrative resume.  Choose several significant and distinguishing experiences to elaborate on; do not rehash all of your activities and achievements. Show another side of you not reflected in transcripts or recommendation letters.

The arrogant or grandiose. Describe your accomplishments with humility.  It’s expected that your greatest contributions to the field of medicine are yet to come.  When setting future goals, it’s good to be ambitious, but temper your dreams with a sense of realism.

Get a second opinion.

Every writer needs an editor. So make sure to get a professor, premed advisor, or other individual whose opinion you trust to read your essay, and give you feedback.

And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help.

Applying to B-School: Do You Have the Right Work Experience?

MBA applicants are evaluated according to a variety of factors, many of which are common to nearly all admissions processes – grades, test scores, personal statements. Unique to the process, however, is the significant role of work experience. But what particular kind of work experience are B-Schools looking for? And how much? Do my internships count? What about my time at graduate school? Or the year I spent in the Peace Corps? Why do I have so many questions?

Take a deep breath. Collegiate Gateway is here to help you make sense of it all.

What is the desired length of work experience MBA programs like to see in candidates?

Though seemingly a basic question, there really is no straightforward answer – how much work experience you’ll need will depend a great deal on who you are, and how your experiences contribute to the total picture of you as an applicant. For the purpose of the MBA application, you’ll want to evaluate your work experience qualitatively, rather than quantitatively. The question is not so much “ how many years have you worked?” but “what have you accomplished?” and “how has your work experience helped you define your future career path?” There is no universal “right time” to apply. In the words of Wharton’s admissions office:

“[W]e evaluate work experience not in terms of years, but the depth and breadth of an individual’s position, his or her contributions to the work environment, and level of responsibility and progression.”

That said, students at top business schools typically matriculate with at least one or two years of professional experience in the form of full-time, paid positions, though different programs will have different norms and standards. While there are some schools that have hard-and-fast requirements, like Fordham, which requires at least two years of work experience, most impose little or no formal requirements. The Class of 2015 at Stanford Business School ranged from 0-12 years of work experience, with an average of four years. The average student admitted to Wharton has worked for five or six years, but the program does accept exceptional early career candidates with limited or no experience (provided they exhibit strong managerial and professional potential).

Harvard’s MBA program, on the other hand, encourages college seniors to apply, but with the expectation that they will be offered deferred admission, conditional upon acquiring full-time work experience. In fact, Harvard has recently developed a special “2+2 Program” for a group of 100-125 students who are graduating college or graduate school without having had full-time work experience. The program especially targets students who have majored in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, holding about half of the 2+2 spots for such students, with the remainder open to a broad range of undergraduate majors.

In an interview with US News, Graham Richmond, a graduate and former admissions official at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and co-founder of MBA admissions consulting firm Clear Admit, encourages students to think less about the number of years they’ve worked, and more about the quality of their “professional profiles” as a whole:

“In all cases, candidates should ask themselves several key questions: Have I made a significant impact on my company, clients, or co-workers? Have I been recognized in some way for my efforts on the job? Have I learned all that I can in my current role? Are other areas of my candidacy (academic profile, community service, etc.) strong enough such that I may be relatively less reliant on my work experience in the admissions process?”

What qualifies as work experience? Are there specific kinds of experience that MBA programs prefer?

In almost all cases, work experience is fairly broadly defined. Harvard states that work experience consists simply of “opportunities in which students have been able to develop their professional and leadership skills.”

The truth is, top business schools seek a well-rounded student body, and regularly accept students from a wide variety of both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds, from Peace Corps workers, to venture capitalists, to brand managers.

Rather than focus on specific categories of work experiences, programs are more interested in applicants’ roles, responsibilities and achievements. According to Richmond, “…work experience—whether full time, part time, interning, etc—doesn’t have to be paid work experience in order to be valuable in the admissions process per se. It’s more about what you have accomplished, how you have led, who you have collaborated with and how you have grown.” And leadership can certainly be demonstrated by a variety of extracurricular and community service activities in areas you are truly passionate about.

Generally, however, full-time work is valued more highly than internships. But exceptions may be made for younger applicants with zero to one year of full-time work experience. For these students, summer internships can be helpful, and reflect a student’s accomplishments and dedication to a certain career path.  It’s also important to note that graduate school is universally not regarded as a substitute for professional work experience.

For more guidance or information regarding MBA admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help.

More B-Schools Accept the GRE

An increasing number of MBA programs are allowing applicants to submit scores from the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), rather than the GMAT. Today, over 800 MBA programs around the world permit applicants accept the test, including Harvard, Wharton, and Stern.

This trend comes in the wake of changes in the GRE to align more with the rigor of the GMAT.  In August of 2011, the ETS (Educational Testing Service) revamped the GRE, expanding the test from three to four hours and incorporating new types of questions in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. In the verbal reasoning section, antonyms and analogies were entirely removed, and text completion and sentence equivalent questions were included. In addition, more reading comprehension questions were added, with multiple-choice questions in which several answers are correct. The quantitative reasoning section was also changed to place greater emphasis on data interpretation and real-life scenarios.

According to the ETS website, institutions benefit from accepting the GRE in addition to the GMAT because it provides an “even bigger, more diversified pool of highly qualified applicants.” Furthermore, GRE test takers come from a variety of backgrounds in terms of nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, and undergraduate major. In a 2012 interview with US News, Nikhil Varaiya, director of graduate programs at San Diego State University, states that  “[Universities] are seeking MBAs who have science and engineering backgrounds, disciplines in which students have traditionally taken the GRE for admission to graduate programs.”

Some test takers find the GRE more practical because it is offered at more locations than any other graduate admissions test and is more affordable, according to ETS. The GRE is also generally considered to be an easier test. Business Because, an online community for those interested in business school, recommends taking the GRE instead of the GMAT, as it places less emphasis on grammar and logical arguments and the math is easier. In addition, it does not have the newly added GMAT section of Integrated Reasoning, which combines all the difficult parts of the Verbal section with quantitative analysis and data interpretation. There is also the added bonus of having more options for graduate school in case an applicant should decide to apply or attend a non-MBA graduate program, either in addition or in place of business school.

However, the drawback for some test takers is that the GRE places a heavy emphasis on vocabulary and requires two essays instead of one.

Regardless of which test applicants take, it is important to remember that the GRE or GMAT is just one data point in the portfolio of an applicant. When looking for the next group of MBAs, applicants are considered based on a wide variety of criteria, including their leadership and work experience.

For more information on MBA admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help.

 

Part II: Leverage Your Social Media for College Admissions Success

Cleaning House: How to Tidy Up Your Social Media Footprint

In our last blog, we discussed why you should tidy up your social media activity in preparation for college admissions. Now, we’ll tell you how.

As The Telegraph suggests, googling yourself is a good place to start, as it will give you a good idea of what’s out there about you; any material you’ve published on Facebook using the public setting can be found by search engines. Likewise, if your Twitter account is public, your tweets and profile will also be visible to search engines.

Once you’ve seen how you are represented, it’s time to clean up your act . Here are a few useful tips to keep in mind when reviewing your various Facebook, Twitter and any other social media accounts. It’s important to treat these accounts as if they were virtual interviews – in some ways, they are. Ask yourself: “if my Facebook account were the only view the admissions office got of my personality, would I feel confident about my admissions chances?”

Facebook:

  • Set your privacy settings. Pay close attention to who’s allowed to see your wall, your photos, and your likes, as well as who can tag you in photos.
  • Clean up your pictures. For some long-time users, this will mean going back a few years in order to remove everything embarrassing and/or inappropriate. This true of both photos you’ve posted, and photos in which you’re tagged.
  • Start Un-Liking. Make sure you’ve only put your stamp of approval on appropriate content only.

Twitter:

  • Make sure your handle is clean and professional.
  • Delete old, inappropriate tweets. If you find that you’re deleting a lot, you may want to consider shutting down the profile altogether and starting fresh.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what is and isn’t appropriate, this article contains a few good examples of photos best left untagged. And if you’re in need of industrial-grade cleaning material to find and delete everything, the article also contains information about programs like FacebookScrubber (which deletes all your Wall activity) and AllMyTweets (which helps you locate past tweets by making them all available on one page).

 

Using Social Media to Your Advantage

When used effectively, social media can actually work to your advantage. Follow a college through its Facebook, twitter and blogs, to learn more about what the college offers and to interact with admissions officers. 95% of all colleges reported a presence on Facebook in 2012, ranging from 98% for private research universities to 92% for public research universities, according to the just-released 2013-14 Almanac of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  85% reported a presence on Twitter and 83% on YouTube. In an effort to capitalize on college admissions buzz, LinkedIn recently announced that it’s launching “university pages,” where schools can create profiles allowing current and prospective students to interact with each other.

In addition, use your own social media to communicate to colleges what’s important to you. For example, you might consider posting that album of photos from last summer’s community service trip to FaceBook. Or you could create your own website for the local business you’ve started, and then use twitter to promote it.

Remember – it’s often good to have a presence online, as long as that presence reflects the right things about you. Facebook and Twitter can provide an extra lens into your life and personality that don’t necessarily come through on a college application (that’s why admissions officers are interested in the first place); you can make a bad impression, or a good one. At any rate, it’s good practice for the future, as you’ll soon need to use LinkedIn to find internships and jobs.

For more tips on how to use social media to help bolster your chances of admission, have a look our previous blog, You Are What You Tweet: The Role of Social Media in College Admissions. And contact www.collegiategateway.com.