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Ivy League Admission
Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Low Income Ivy League Students

May 23, 2015
Low Income Ivy Students, Ivy League and Vineyard Vines, Lower Income Ivy Students

Not everyone at Ivy League colleges wears Vineyard Vines and it’s important to know that.

There’s a piece up on “CNN Money” by Emily Jane Fox entitled “Poor Kids, Rich Schools” that we figured we’d comment on. The piece focuses on how many students at highly selective colleges come from middle or low income families — many of whom are the first in their families to attend college — and it’s often a culture shock for these students when they enroll at universities such as Harvard and the University of Chicago, among many other highly selective institutions such as the other seven Ivy League institutions (in addition to Harvard). As one sophomore at Harvard, Ted White, puts it, as referenced in the piece: “One day, four men in a class of 12 students came in wearing Vineyard Vines button-ups and loafers,” [White] said. Vineyard Vines and Top-Siders are indeed rather ubiquitous on Ivy League college campuses. There’s no denying this. And a story such as the one that White recounts is by no means unusual.

But it’s nice to see that colleges are doing more to help put students from low and middle class backgrounds on more of a level playing field with their upper-crust classmates. As Fox writes, “In recent years, students have formed groups like UChicago’s Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance, Columbia’s First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) and Harvard’s First Generation Student Union (FGSU) to inform other students and work with administrators to ease some of the burdens. Harvard’s FGSU, for example, successfully campaigned to keep two of the school’s dining halls open during spring break. Before, students were left to ‘either go buy expensive food in Harvard Square or starve,” sai’ Ana Barros, the group’s president.”

It’s important for low and middle income students to know that they are not outsiders at highly selective colleges. Yes, of course there are lots of students who come from Greenwich, Connecticut and Bellevue, Washington. Yes, of course there are students at these schools whose last names are on the facades of buildings. But as this article correctly points out, at Harvard “20% of parents earn less than $65,000.” So these middle and low income students need to know that they’re not alone, that not everyone at Harvard owns Top-Siders and sports Vineyard Vines. Or Patagonia for that matter.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Asian Quotas in Ivy League Admission

May 22, 2015
Asian Quotas, Ivy League Asian Quotas, Ivy League and Asian Quotas

An editorial in “The Wall Street Journal” that refers to Asian Americans as “the new Jews” of college admissions might make for good copy. But it misses the mark.

There is an editorial in “The Wall Street Journal” by Jason L. Riley entitled “The New Jews of Harvard Admissions: Asian-Americans are rebelling over evidence that they are held to a much higher standard, but elite colleges deny using quotas” that we’ve got a strong opinion on and it’s one we wanted to share. Over the last quarter century, there have been few more vocal critics of discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans in the highly selective college admissions process. It is downright wrong that Asians and Asian Americans are held to different standards than are other applicants to these very universities. It is unjust. It is loathsome. And any defense by a university that they don’t discriminate against Asians and Asian Americans is transparently untrue. Because the data and our years of experience suggest otherwise.

But to label Asian Americans “the new Jews of Harvard admissions” is equally as loathsome. It is equally as unjust. It is equally as inappropriate. The reference is of course to the discrimination that Jewish students previously faced in the admissions process, including in the 1940’s when heinous crimes against humanity were being committed against the Jewish people across the European landscape. As Riley writes (and he’s referencing the complaint filed by numerous Asian American groups, so it’s not his poor choice of comparison but rather theirs), “The complaint announced on Friday, echoing a lawsuit filed by another group in November, accuses Harvard and other elite institutions of holding Asian-Americans to far higher standards than other applicants, a practice used to limit the number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools in the first half of the 20th century.” But while discrimination against any group is wrong and it should be ridded out at all cost, there actually were quotas back then for Jewish students. There are no quotas now for Asian applicants. That doesn’t mean there isn’t discrimination (there absolutely is!) but mark our words: There are no quotas for Asians and Asian Americans. Let’s repeat that. There are no Asian quotas in Ivy League admission or at any of America’s highly selective colleges.

Students aren’t flunked out of colleges because they’re Asian. Don’t think that happened with Jewish students at highly selective universities back in the day? Do your homework. We’ve written about what transpired at Emory University many years ago. And Emory was by no means alone. Including at institutions such as Harvard, there were fixed limits on the number of Jewish students allowed at these schools. In some cases, like at Emory’s dental school, Jewish students were asked to identify on their applications if they were Jewish and if they answered in the affirmative, Emory’s rogue dean barred them from getting in. These quotas were, in some cases, even statewide law. At some institutions, Jewish students weren’t allowed at all or their numbers were limited. Numerus clausus was indeed code for outright anti-Semitism. And highly selective colleges like Harvard and the other Ivies weren’t alone. Many of their feeder institutions, the famous preparatory schools of the Northeast, had the same such clauses. If these students weren’t allowed (or their numbers were limited) into the feeder institutions to the Ivies, Jewish applicants were going to face the same problem with the Ivies. It’s only logical.

We suport Asians and Asian Americans lifting their voices against the discrimination they face in the admissions process. We believe that the more students and parents and organizations that lift their voices, the better. We believe this is how change happens. But while “The New Jews” might make for good copy, we take exception to it and call on these Asian organizations that filed this complaint to reconsider their wording going forward.

Categories: China University Admission, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Jobs in College Essays

May 22, 2015
Employment in College Essays, Jobs in Admission Essays, Jobs in Ivy League Essays

Ron Lieber has a great piece in “The New York Times” on how few college applicants 1.) write about work experience or 2.) have any work experience to write about.

There was a piece in “The New York Times” yesterday by Ron Lieber entitled “Essays About Work and Class That Caught a College’s Eye” that we figured we’d draw to the attention of our readers. It is a very good piece that focuses on how so many applicants are either reluctant to write about their jobs and work experiences or they simply don’t have work experiences to write about. We’ve found that the latter case is especially true. Indeed we’ve been writing on the pages of this college admissions blog for years how having work experiences can indeed help one’s case for admission. And yet so few students have such real-world experience when applying to college.

As Lieber writes in his terrific piece, “Of the 1,200 or so undergraduate admission essays that Chris Lanser reads each year at Wesleyan University, maybe 10 are about work. This is not much of a surprise. Many applicants have never worked. Those with plenty of money may be afraid of calling attention to their good fortune. And writing about social class is difficult, given how mixed up adolescents often are about identity. Yet it is this very reluctance that makes tackling the topic a risk worth taking at schools where it is hard to stand out from the thousands of other applicants. Financial hardship and triumph, and wants and needs, are the stuff of great literature. Reflecting on them is one excellent way to differentiate yourself in a deeply personal way.”

There is a misconception out there that attending a fancy summer enrichment program at a highly selective university is how students should be spending their summer months. There is a misconception out there that the student who works at McDonald’s to help out her parents with their mortgage payments and finances is hurting her chances for admission to highly selective colleges. Indeed in a segment with “Huffington Post Live,” Ivy Coach Founder Bev Taylor properly corrects the moderator when he suggests that schools like Harvard and Yale aren’t looking for middle-class kids. They are looking for middle-class kids. They are looking for kids with real work experience. They are looking for kids who will be the first in their families to attend college. Schools like Harvard so very much want these students.

It’s time to put this misconception that work experience hurts one’s chances for admission to highly selective colleges to bed. Parents should save the $10,000 they would otherwise spend on sending their children to fancy summer enrichment programs. Instead, students can make a few thousand dollars. They can learn about hard work and the power of contributing to their family’s finances. It’s a valuable life lesson. And it’s a life lesson that admissions officers at highly selective colleges do indeed appreciate. Even though so many folks think they don’t. For students considering writing about jobs in college essays, you’ve got our green-light. Now, it’s all going to come down to execution.

Categories: College Essays Tags: , , , ,

Importance of Summer Plans in Ivy Admission

May 21, 2015
Summer Plans in Ivy Admission, Summer Plans and Ivy League, Summers and Ivy League Admissions

Sure, give $10,000 to Leland Stanford’s university (maybe it’ll help them commission a new portrait of the fellow). But if you think it’ll help your child’s case for admission to top colleges (including even Stanford), you are misinformed.

Summer plans matter big time in Ivy League admissions! To paraphrase Dr. Seuss (who, it should be noted, attended Dartmouth College), “the time has come, the time is now.” No, this reference in the context of this blog has nothing to do with Marvin K. Mooney and everything to do with what high school students should be doing right now. Not tomorrow. Not next Tuesday. Now. And that’s planning out how they’re going to be spending their summer months. Because how high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors spend their summer months proves to be very important in the highly selective college admissions process.

If your daughter is a rising high school senior, were you planning on sending her to a summer enrichment program at a prestigious university like Stanford? If so, you are not a regular reader of our college admissions blog because a regular reader of our blog would know better. And they’d have saved the $10,000 that these fancy summer enrichment programs — programs that not only don’t help students gain admission to top colleges but indeed can hurt their candidacies — cost. There are way better ways to spend the summer months and depending on a students’ interests, academic passions, and extracurriculars, we regularly help students shape their summers so that they can have a leg up in the admissions process to Ivy League colleges and other highly selective schools. It’s not a one size fits all. Like the Taylor family that heads Ivy Coach, it is all tailored to the individual student. You like what we did there? Ok, that was lame. We’ll own it.

But don’t waste another week. The time has come, the time is now. Some of the ideas that we’ll have for how your child should spend his or her summer will take a little bit of work and planning but it’s all still doable even as we approach June. So if you’re interested in planning out how your son or daughter will spend the summer months, set up a free consultation today by filling out this form (which you can also find by clicking on our orange button). We’ll go over our services with you offer more specifics on our one-hour evaluation in which you can hear our advice that is specific to your child. We look forward to hearing from you.

Curious to hear what Ivy Coach Founder Bev Taylor has to say about summer plans for high school students? Watch the segment below on “Huffington Post Live” and you’ll see where our tell-it-like-it-is approach all comes from. Note how the direction of the entire conversation changes once Bev offers her opinion. Everyone was all about these summer enrichment programs. It’s exactly the kind of direction change we’ll help implement for your child with his or her summer plans.

Categories: High School Summer Plans, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Ivy League Acceptance Story

May 20, 2015
Ivy League Story, Ivy Acceptance Story, Ivy League Admission Story

We have an Ivy League acceptance story to share with our readers, one that comes with a valuable lesson for prospective Ivy League applicants.

Gather round. We have an Ivy League acceptance story to share. We believe that by sharing stories of students who have gained admission to Ivy League colleges, our regular readers will learn some very valuable tips. Although, we should note, we never put our best secrets on the pages of our college admissions blog so when folks tell us they read our blog and they know it all so they don’t need our help, we can’t help but secretly roll our eyes. Oh nuts. We gave away that particular secret. Those secrets are part of our secret sauce and they’re reserved for our clients. But back to our Ivy League acceptance story. How we meander from our main point! Oy vey.

A couple of years ago, we had a student who gained admission to Harvard and Princeton, among some other universities. He gained admission to all of these universities in the Regular Decision round. He didn’t apply in the Early round because he was a procrastinator and first approached us as a client after the Early round was over. We always encourage all of our students to apply Early Decision or Early Action. You’ve got to commit to one college eventually so why not commit in the Early round when the odds are in your favor? “May the odds be ever in your favor. And happy Hunger Games!” We did it again. We meandered. Back to our former student. This student got a little shall we say self-confident after getting into Harvard and Princeton and he was convinced that he’d be hearing all good news from the other schools in the hours and days ahead. We told him not to count his chickens because he knowingly didn’t heed all of our advice. And one piece of advice we shared with him was to visit every school he wished to get into. Visit. Every. Last. One of them.

Because colleges want to be loved. They’re insecure like that. They want to know that you’ll matriculate if admitted. There is no advantage to them of admitting a student they think will get into Harvard. That’ll hurt their yield rate and indirectly hurt their “US News & World Report” ranking. No college wants that. It’s the holy grail! So we told this student not to count his chickens because he didn’t visit these other schools and his application we knew was good enough to get into schools like Harvard and Princeton. A less selective university is going to realize that. There are smart folks who work at these universities. They weren’t born last Tuesday.

So to all prospective applicants to Ivy League schools, be sure to visit any school you hope to gain admission to. But visiting, of course, is not the only way of showing interest. It’s one of many ways, ways we’re happy to share with our students. So fill out our free consultation form today to get started. A few years from now, we can then make vague, unidentifiable references to your own Ivy League acceptance story and if you still read our college admissions blog by then, you’ll likely giggle.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

A Little Engine That Could Bests The Ivies

May 20, 2015
Grinnell College Admissions, Grinnell College, Grinnell College Endowment

Well done, Grinnell College. It seems they’ve got the best college chief investment officer around.

At Ivy Coach, we love underdog stories. We love it when one of our students with pretty good grades and OK test scores gets into an Ivy League college when others at his school with significantly better grades and better test scores didn’t get in. This student was an underdog. But he was our underdog. Kind of like Rudy Ruettiger (Ruuudy, Ruuuuudy!), he defied the odds that were stacked against him and earned admission to the college of his dreams. In Rudy Ruettiger’s case, his dream school was Notre Dame. Rudy Ruettiger, it should be noted, was not a former client of ours. But back to the little engine that could that bested the Ivies. So who was this little engine that could?

It was Grinnell College. That’s right. Grinnell College. A piece in “MarketWatch” by Silvia Ascarelli entitled “How tiny Grinnell College’s endowment outperformed the Ivy League” absolutely riveted us. As Ms. Ascarelli writes, “Grinnell College, a small liberal-arts school in the middle of Iowa, is giving much larger colleges a run for their money, literally. In 2014, the school’s $1.8 billion endowment posted a 20.4% return — tying it with the University of Minnesota for the best one-year performance among the largest 100 U.S. colleges, according to Bloomberg calculations. That put tiny, but well-regarded, Grinnell ahead of Ivy League powerhouses like Harvard and Yale.” And when it comes to the endowments of schools like Harvard and Yale, the word ‘powerhouse’ is indeed fitting. And even an understatement.

So what mastermind is behind this remarkable investing at Grinnell College? It would be 38 year-old Scott Wilson, the chief investment officer for Grinnell. As the article points out, “On the whole, about 45% of Grinnell’s endowment is invested in stocks, 45% in alternative investments and 10% in cash and fixed-income instruments, Wilson explained.” We’ll be following along in the coming years to see if Grinnell College continues to outperform some of the powerhouses in the endowment space. But we can’t help but think this article isn’t so great for Grinnell. Now they risk other colleges poaching Scott Wilson! Heck, who wouldn’t want to invest some money with his guidance after reading this piece? Remember how the Red Sox made a play for Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s after he found lots of success with Moneyball in Oakland? It’s for these very reasons we don’t list the former admissions officers who work for Ivy Coach on our website. We don’t want to risk them being poached! Who needs that.

But today is a great day for Grinnell College. It’s a wonderful liberal arts school in the midwest and we’re rooting on this underdog story. Because we believe in miracles. Get it? If not, it’s cool.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Celebrate Ivy League Acceptances

May 19, 2015
Celebrate Ivy Acceptances, Ivy Acceptances, Appreciate Ivy Acceptances

The movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” taught many folks how to know when someone is interested in you romantically. When a college is interested in you, they offer you admission. Appreciate this offer of admission. Celebrate it!

It is vitally important to celebrate Ivy League acceptances. We’ve said it before. We shall say it again. When students call and write us to let us know of their acceptances to Ivy League schools (and other highly selective universities), one of the first questions we typically ask is, “How did you react?” And then we ask, “And how did your parents react?” We like to know these things! We’re with our students and parents throughout the whole stressful college admissions process so we want to know! Once the Ivy League acceptances come in, we always tell our students to go out and celebrate (safely and legally of course). And we encourage our parents to go out to a four-course dinner. We firmly believe in celebration. The highly selective college admissions process is full of so much stress that when great news comes in, it must be celebrated. It must!

We had a parent of a student a few years ago whose child got into Yale, Princeton, and Columbia, but the student was waitlisted at Harvard. The mother was deeply stressed out about how her child could get off the waitlist at Harvard. We would have none of this. None of it! We told her that now was not the time to stress out about trying to get off the Harvard waitlist and that getting into Yale, Princeton, and Columbia, among other highly selective universities must be celebrated and it must be celebrated right there and then! Yes, we can help them with trying to get off the Harvard waitlist, but that can wait until the next day.

There are a finite number of joyous moments on this kind of scale in life. We make sure our parents appreciate these moments. We consider it our duty, our moral obligation. Celebration is important. Yale, Princeton, and Columbia wanted this student to attend their respective universities. Harvard was a “maybe.” Appreciate those who say “yes” in life. It’s ok to want the “maybes” but when those who say “yes” are the likes of Yale, Princeton, and Columbia, appreciate them. Love them. Because they’re special. If you see the analogy in dating, we do too. Appreciate those who like you and enjoy it. Don’t always hold out hope for the one with tepid interest. And, by the way, this student we’ve been referring to got off the Harvard waitlist in the end. And the student went to Harvard. If that undercuts part of our argument, so be it! But the larger point is to appreciate each wonderful moment in the admissions process…because these moments are deserving of celebration! And even though that student got into Harvard and the whole family celebrated this moment later on, they still remembered the celebration the day the student got into Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. We’re all for lots of celebration. It’s important.

Categories: College Admissions, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Ivy League Acceptance Rates

May 19, 2015
Ivy League Acceptances, Ivy League Admission Rates, Ivy Acceptance Rate

“Business Insider” ran a story today on Ivy League acceptance rates.

Curious to read about trends in Ivy League acceptance rates? There’s an article that cites our Ivy League Statistics up on “Business Insider” today by Abby Jackson entitled “The drop in Ivy League acceptance rates in the past decade is shocking” that we thought we’d share with our readers. We’d like to start off by mentioning that many would not find these drops to be shocking as there is a common mantra out there that goes something like this: “It gets harder and harder to get into the Ivies every year.” And if you just look at the Ivy League acceptance rates, the data would seemingly confirm this position. But as Mark Twain once said, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The man had a way with words.

Just because Ivy League acceptance rates drop just about every year across the board (with a couple of exceptions, depending on the year for each school), that does not mean it is getting more and more difficult to get into these highly selective universities. Think about it like this: when a ‘C’ student applies with a 24 ACT score, does that make the applicant pool more competitive? The answer, in short, is no. Not one bit. Just because more students are applying, just because Ivy League colleges — and other highly selective colleges — are getting better and better at successfully getting students to apply to these schools does not mean it’s getting more difficult to get in. Inflated applications does not equate with competitiveness.

So, yes, as the article by Abby Jackson in “Business Insider” correctly points out, “The steepest decline has occurred at Cornell, where the acceptance rate has fallen 17 percentage points, from the class of 2007 that accepted nearly 31% of students, to the class of 2018 that accepted a comparatively meager 14% of students. The University of Pennsylvania had about an 11 percentage point decline in admission, and Brown University and Dartmouth University both had 6 percentage point declines. Although Harvard only had a 4 percentage point decline in acceptance, that drop brought the admission rate to an incredibly low 5.9%. This declining acceptance rate is largely a function of rapidly increasing applications received by each school. For example, Cornell University received 20,442 applications for the class of 2007 while it received 43,041 applications for the class of 2018.” This is all true. But when you read about these Ivy League acceptance rates through the lens of our inflated applications argument, it all looks a whole lot different. Wouldn’t you say? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

College Ranking by Economic Prospects

May 18, 2015
College Ranking, University Ranking, Ivy League Ranking

Caltech has topped the “US News & World Report” ranking of national universities on more than one occasion in years past.

There are lots of college rankings. The one with the most weight, of course, is the “US News & World Report” college ranking. But that doesn’t stop us from reporting on other college rankings. After all, we blog on the topic of college admissions every single day of the week (even on Christmas day!) and we need stuff to talk about. A report released by the Brookings Institute examines the economic success of graduates of universities across America and ranks these universities accordingly. So if we didn’t have enough college rankings, now we’ve got a college ranking by economic prospects.

Indeed as reported by “MarketWatch” in a piece about this college ranking, the Brookings Institute report “looks at factors like alumni salaries, federal student loan repayment rates and student characteristics, to determine the schools that most affect their graduates’ level of economic success.” We happened to think that was an interesting analysis. But while this report has garnered headlines because schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton aren’t at the top, we’d like to point out why this is the case. As reported by “MarketWatch,” “Many of the usual suspects such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale don’t make the top of Brookings’ rankings. The Brookings model compares graduates’ actual outcomes after college versus their predicted outcomes when they came in as undergraduates. That means it doesn’t reward extremely selective schools or those that admit students with the highest likelihood of success.” It sure seems like a handicap to us! These schools are being penalized in this ranking for being selective. Oy.

So which universities do rank highly in this latest college ranking? The colleges with “the highest value added with respect to mid-career earnings” are as follows: Caltech (which, by the way, is absolutely one of the most prestigious schools in the nation and for a couple of years even topped the “US News & World Report” college ranking), Colgate University, MIT, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Carleton College to round out the top five. Of the other schools near the top of the ranking, these are the selective or highly selective ones: Stanford University, Harvey Mudd College, and Rice University.

What do you think of this ranking? Here’s our thought: Even though selective and highly selective colleges had to overcome a major handicap, many of them did very well in this ranking (Caltech is one of America’s most selective universities and they topped this list…not to mention MIT, Stanford, and Rice made the cut, too). So we’d be curious to see this ranking without any handicap. Level the playing field, Brookings Institute…and let’s see what happens!

Categories: The Rankings Tags: , , , ,

A Racist Duke Professor

May 17, 2015
Duke Professor, A Duke Professor, Duke Teacher

Duke University has placed this political science professor, Jerry Hough, on leave for his racist remarks. Good riddance.

Duke University is one of America’s most elite educational institutions. It is a world class research institution. It is part of the illustrious Research Triangle, home to some of the great scientific advancements of our time. And, yes, they’ve got the best college basketball team in the nation. After all, they’re the reigning champion. And yet the university is not known for having the best race relations of all universities across the land. In fact, we’ll come out and say it: Duke University has a race relations problem and they’ve had this problem for years, predating the infamous Duke lacrosse case in which three Caucasian former Duke lacrosse players were erroneously accused of raping an African American woman. That case didn’t begin a fire in Durham, North Carolina. It simply ignited flames that had been on a low heat for some time.

Well, today, those flames are getting bigger again. As reported in an article on a Duke professor up on “Raw Story,” “According to WTVD, Duke University Professor Jerry Hough responded to a New York Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” by suggesting that the author’s attitude was what was “wrong” with the black community. ‘[T]he blacks get symbolic recognition in an utterly incompetent mayor who handled this so badly from beginning to end that her resignation would be demanded if she were white,’ he wrote. ‘The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.'”

He really said all that. In fact, the Duke political science professor took it even a step further. Who knew there was a step further? He argued that the Asian students whom he teaches are hard workers and that’s why Asians have overcome discrimination in America. That and, according to Hough, Asians have American-sounding names, unlike many in the African American community. Again, these are Hough’s absurd points.

We’re not sure if Professor Hough has early onset dementia. Perhaps, quite simply, he’s just a bigot. But this man has no place at Duke University and we’re sure glad that the university has placed the political science professor on leave. He has no business educating Duke students. The man needs an education of his own. He seems to be without one. So long, Professor Hough.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,