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SAT or ACT Optional Schools

July 25, 2015
Test Optional Schools, Test Optional Colleges, SAT Optional Colleges

“FairTest” has been aggregating the SAT and ACT optional colleges for years.

Since we just posted the news of George Washington University joining the ranks of the colleges that have gone test-optinoal (which means that they’re schools that don’t require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores), we figured we’d update the list of colleges that are test-optional. To be clear, there are hundreds of colleges that are test-optional, but we know that our readers don’t care about the likes of Agnes Scott College (sorry, Agnes!). But some do care about American University, Bates College, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Dickinson College, Kalamazoo College, Middlebury College, New York University, Pitzer College, Smith College, Union College, Wake Forest University, and Wheaton College.

Note that for some schools, like New York University, the policy is considered “test-flexible” in that the SAT or ACT is not required for admission if other exams are submitted, such as SAT Subject Tests, AP Tests, etc. And it’s important that we note that there are hundreds of test optional colleges. We just happened to have cherry-picked some of the more prestigious ones. It’s also important to note that some of the most highly selective colleges in America — from the eight Ivy League colleges to Stanford, Duke, Caltech, MIT, Northwestern, Chicago, Wash U, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and several we haven’t listed here…they’re not test-optional. They still require either the SAT or the ACT.

So while the movement towards colleges being test-optional is indeed a growing one, it still hasn’t impacted many of the most selective colleges in America. Do you think it will impact these institutions soon? We’re curious to hear your thoughts on the matter so give a shout below by posting a Comment. And, while you’re here, check out the extensive list of test-optional schools, compiled by “FairTest.”

Categories: College Admissions, SAT / ACT Prep, Standardized Testing Tags: , , , ,

George Washington University Admissions

July 24, 2015
GW Admission, Admission to GW, GW Test Optional

George Washington University has gone test-optional, no longer requiring the SAT or ACT from applicants.

The office of admissions at George Washington University has announced that the university will join the growing list of colleges that have become test-optional. That means that, effective August 1, 2015, applicants to George Washington University will no longer be required to submit either an SAT or an ACT score. This is also the case at such colleges as Bowdoin College, Smith College, Bates College, Bryn Mawr College, Connecticut College, Union College, Wake Forest University, and a whole bunch of other schools (of course, we’ve cherry-picked some of the most selective of the bunch since we figured our readers aren’t coming to learn about the University of Mississippi). Sorry, Mississippi…even though you too are test-optional.

As the George Washington admissions office so states in their release, “In developing this policy, it is our goal to create an approach that aligns with our admissions philosophy of holistic review, supports the university strategic plan on access, reflects the most current data analysis regarding the use of testing in admission, and is clear and easy to communicate and understand by prospective students, families and school counselors. The policy is further designed to place the decision to submit test scores in the hands of the student. Students who feel their SAT or ACT scores are an accurate reflection of their academic abilities are welcome to submit them for consideration; however, students who do not submit test scores will not be viewed negatively.” GW has also simultaneously announced that the university will continue to superscore the SAT, though they will continue to not superscore the ACT.

What do you think about George Washington University’s decision to go test-optional? Do you think this will lead to more applications to the university this admissions cycle? We’re curious to hear your thoughts so write in by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: College Admissions, SAT / ACT Prep, Standardized Testing Tags: , , , ,

College Application Time for Rising Seniors

July 23, 2015
College Application Time, College Applications, Time for College Applications

Rising high school seniors, the time to work on your applications has come. The time is now.

“The time has come, the time is now. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?” No, we’re not quoting Dr. Seuss, a former Dartmouth student, because it was recently announced that the celebrate author will posthumously publish a book, one unearthed from a book found in a box. A book in a box. Very Dr. Seuss. We’re quoting Dr. Seuss because now is the time — not later — for rising high school seniors to be completing all of their many college applications. That time is not September. That time is not in the final days of October before the Early Decision and Early Action deadlines. That time is now, Marvin K. Mooney. Now.

If you’re planning on applying through an Early Decision or Early Action policy (as you should), then you also need to be working on your Regular Decision applications now. And why’s that? Because you won’t hear back from your Early school until mid December and Regular Decision applications are due at the top of January. You simply won’t have ample time to uniquely tailor all of your essays to each school to which you’re applying. And if you’re not planning on writing exceptional, unique essays for each school and you’re planning on just sending the same cut and pasted versions of essays to all schools, well then you might want to reconsider. And by might want to reconsider, what we really mean is oy vey…definitely don’t do that. Yikes.

If you’re planning on procrastinating until the Regular Decision deadline (and not applying Early Decision or Early Action), then you’re making another big mistake, Marvin K. Mooney. We have no idea why we keep bringing Marvin back into this. Writing about college admissions every day can get tiresome. Marvin helps us spice things up. To not apply Early Decision or Early Actin is to waste one of the few cards that applicants have in their back pockets. At many highly selective colleges, the odds of getting into a school in the Early round can be quadruple — yes quadruple — the odds of getting in during the Regular Decision round. You only get one shot at applying in the Early Round (except at a couple of schools like NYU and Emory where they have two Early Decision rounds). Don’t waste it. And stop procrastinating. The time to be working on your applications is now and not at the eleventh hour.

And if you’d like Ivy Coach’s assistance with the applications and everything that goes into improving your odds of admission, contact us now rather than at the eleventh hour. Ok, Marvin?

Categories: The Application Tags: , , , ,

Demonstrated Interest

July 22, 2015
Interest Quotient, Demonstrating Interest to Colleges, College Demonstrated Interest

Colleges care about an applicant’s Demonstrated Interest. Emory included. Heck, Emory is the kingpin of the Interest Quotient.

One of our readers recently posted a Comment on a blog we wrote about the importance of showing interest in colleges that we figured we’d discuss. The reader wrote, “It’s funny that you mention Emory. We were recently on a visit there and they made it a point to tell everyone that they no longer track ‘interest’ nor consider it when deciding upon an applicant. [sic] Is this not true? And if it’s not, why would they lie?” We’re not sure precisely what this reader was told on her visit to Emory as we have no idea who spoke with her, but may we assure her — and all of our readers — that Emory and every highly selective college still care about Demonstrated Interest. Any suggestion otherwise is patently incorrect.

If Emory didn’t care about interest, then why do they allow student to apply Early Decision, when student show extreme interest by committing to attend the institution if admitted? Why would the admission rate for Early Decision candidates at Emory be so much stronger than for the Regular Decision round? And why, if Emory didn’t care about interest, would Emory not have one round of Early Decision but be one of the few schools in America to offer two distinct Early Decision rounds (ED1 and ED2)? Why would Emory have forms such as these if they didn’t care about tracking an applicant’s interest? Quite simply, they wouldn’t.

Colleges want students who want them. It’s like the opposite of dating, when people are so often interested only in the people who aren’t interested in them. They care about Demonstrated Interest because a college’s yield indirectly impacts the school’s “US News & World Report” ranking. And if you think that a college doesn’t care about its “US News & World Report” ranking, well then, this must be the first of our blogs you’ve ever read. In that case, welcome! If you’re interested in a free consultation to learn about our service offerings, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch within the day via email.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Federal University Ranking System

July 21, 2015
Federal College Ranking, Federal University Ranking, Ranking Colleges Across America

“The Los Angeles Times” reports that the Obama administration has scrapped its ill-conceived proposal for a federal university ranking system. Amen to that.

The proposed federal university ranking system is kaput. A while back, we wrote a bit about the federal university ranking system that the Obama administration had intentions of implementing. On the pages of “The Yale Daily News,” our Founder, Bev Taylor, was asked about these very rankings and had this to say: “Even if the Department of Education were to produce accurate ratings, it is unlikely that they would have a significant effect on the college choices of certain groups of students. ‘There’s always going to be students and parents who look at the prestige of a university, and not the cost,’ Taylor said. ‘And so if a school is going to be more highly rated because it has a lower sticker price, it’s not going to matter to this group of applicants.’ Taylor added that applicants not focused on cost effectiveness will probably default to using the U.S. News and World Report college rankings as a resource, since the U.S. News rankings are currently the most widely read.”

We also on the pages of this blog essentially suggested that a federal college ranking system would be worthless, since it would not be widely embraced by a sizable portion of the population, such as those for whom the differences in cost for various colleges is not the issue but rather it’s about fit or selectivity, etc. Anyhow, “The Los Angeles Times” now reports that this Obama administration proposal has been scrapped. As reported by Larry Gordon for “The Los Angeles Times” in a piece entitled “College ratings system proposed by Obama is scrapped,” “Nearly two years ago, President Obama proposed a federal system to rate the nation’s colleges and universities, one that would provide families with an objective and unified tool to compare schools and for taxpayers to determine whether the massive investments in scholarships and other government spending on higher education are worthwhile. The idea, however, was met with protests and concerns from college leaders who contended that it was misconceived and could unfairly pit schools against each other. After repeated delays and many consultations with skeptical college leaders, the ratings system was recently scrapped.”

Amen to that. Apparently, the Obama administration received resistance from colleges across America. It wasn’t because Republicans resisted that the administration opted to scrap the proposal entirely. It’s largely believed that the Obama administration simply had higher priorities — including in education — then to wage this particular uphill battle. Congratulations to squashing yet another potential competitor, “US News & World Report,” the federal government!

Categories: The Rankings Tags: , , , ,

California Residents and UC Schools

July 20, 2015
UC Schools and California Residents, UC Schools, University of California and California Residents

University of California schools should give first priority to California residents.

At most public universities across America, it’s easier to gain admission to a university if you happen to live within the school’s state. It makes logical sense. That’s where your taxes are going. These schools were founded to offer educations to residents of the state. Thomas Jefferson, as an example, wanted to educate the young people of the State of Virginia. But, as we’ve pointed out on our college admissions blog, times have changed for the University of California schools. We’re not quite sure who the Thomas Jefferson-equivalent is for the University of California schools, but we’re quite certain he or she would be mighty disappointed with these latest developments.

As a “Huffington Post” opinion piece entitled “Here’s Why The College Admissions Process Is Bonkers” by Ann Lewis Hamilton very well articulates (with the exception of her statement about ‘more’ extracurricular activities — it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality), “A recent Los Angeles Times article stated the latest in-state UC acceptance rate was 60 percent, down from 63 percent last year and 79 percent in 1999. Interesting. Perhaps out-of-state (and out-of-country) applicants just happened to have higher test scores and more extracurricular activities. Or maybe the University of California system weighed the annual out-of-state tuition fees ($36,900) versus the in-state fees ($12,200). Gee whiz, I wasn’t a math major, but I can guess which students you’d rather admit. Except the University of California system was created to provide California students with access to a quality and an affordable college education. Here’s an idea — perhaps you should consider a name change — University of Some California Students. USCS. Has a nice ring.”

Ann, we agree with you. And University of Some California Students does indeed have a nice ring to it. Your point is valid, your argument sound. We stand with you in urging the University of California system to go back to admitting more in-state students. We understand that the UC schools need the tuition dollars, but there are plenty of private colleges that students from other states — and countries — can apply to. Not that they shouldn’t be able to gain admission to the University of California schools. They certainly should! But California residents should be the first priority. The University of Michigan needs out-of-state and international tuition dollars, too, and yet their first priority remains residents of Michigan. It’s quite simple when you think about it. Keep admitting out-of-state and international students who will pay the full cost of tuition, but give those California applicants a second look. Thomas Jefferson would want you to. Or whoever California’s Thomas Jefferson is.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Wealthy English Majors

July 19, 2015
English Majors, Wealthy English Major, Major and Money

The children of wealthier parents are more inclined than are the children of less wealthy parents to major in English, as an article in “The Atlantic” articulates.

There’s a terrific piece in “The Atlantic” by Joe Pinsker entitled “Rich Kids Study English” that we absolutely wanted to share with the readers of our college admissions blog. The piece focuses on how college students whose mean household income is $100,000 are more likely than are their counterparts whose mean household income is less — or significantly less — than this figure to major in English. It makes sense if you think about it. Studying English doesn’t have direct application to a trade, as engineering or computer science does. The children of higher earning parents can, in many ways, afford to major in a discipline that doesn’t have direct practical application. In our experience, these students — and their parents — are also more in touch with the values of a great liberal arts education.

The article starts off by telling the story of how John Adams delineated in a letter to his wife, Abigail, the future trades of their children. Adams valued the practical. He saw the value in math. And in navigation and commerce. That may have been a long time ago and Adams may have been among the wealthier colonists, but the value in these practical disciplines has not changed. It’s just that children of wealthier parents tend to be more inclined to study a liberal arts subject like English or history, anthropology or dare we say even Latin. As this piece in “The Atlantic” points out, the children of less wealthy parents are more inclined to study such disciplines as law enforcement and firefighting (which are not offered at most highly selective colleges) and education. The children of wealthier parents tend to be more inclined to study visual and performing arts, anthropology, and political science, to name a few.

As expressed in the very well reasoned piece, “The explanation is fairly intuitive. ‘It’s … consistent with the claim that kids from higher-earning families can afford to choose less vocational or instrumental majors, because they have more of a buffer against the risk of un- or under-employment,’ [Kim] Weeden says. With average earnings for different types of degrees as well-publicized as they are—the difference in lifetime earnings among majors can be more than $3 million, one widely covered study found—it’s not hard to imagine a student deciding his or her academic path based on its expected payout. And it’s especially not hard to imagine poorer kids making this calculation out of necessity, while richer kids forgo that means-to-an-end thinking.”

What do you think about this interesting finding? While it doesn’t surprise us, it’s always interesting for us to see our intuition backed up by hard data, as this story in “The Atlantic” and the research behind it seems to confirm. Oh, and it should be noted that visual arts majors have the lowest median mid-career annual salaries among the majors discussed in the study cited by “The Atlantic.” And which majors have the highest median mid-career annual salary? Architecture and engineering. Makes sense that the children of less wealthy parents would thus choose architecture and engineering, right? It sure does to us.

While you’re here, read our blog entitled College Ranking by Economic Prospects.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

UC Berkeley Letters of Recommendation

July 18, 2015
UC Letters of Rec, Cal Letters of Recommendation, Admission to UC Berkeley

Ivy Coach salutes Cal for challenging the status quo of UC admissions by encouraging students to submit two letters of recommendation.

In April of 2015, the University of California Berkeley adopted a new policy for first-year applicants, one that encourages students to submit two letters of recommendation to be considered as part of the university’s holistic review process. This is a change of course for Berkeley as the university didn’t previously accept letters of recommendation. In fact, no other University of California school accepts letters of recommendation. UC Berkeley is the lone wolf. And why? University of California schools have often talked of parity when asked why they don’t accept letters of recommendation. They want each student to have an equal shot. In the past, UC admissions officers have told us about a concern that letters of recommendation would unfairly help boost students whose high schools have stronger relationships with the universities.

But we suspect the true reason is that admissions officers, quite simply, don’t have the time to read all of these letters of recommendation. Our suspicion is confirmed by the fact that UC Berkeley is hiring a bunch of additional admissions officers for this upcoming admissions cycle. That would make sense! And how is this going over with the other UC schools? Our sources tell us that UC Berkeley’s policy change is causing a bit of uproar among UC schools. Other schools are not too pleased that they’re encouraging (though not requiring) students to submit two letters of recommendation.

UC Berkeley has also outlined what should be expressed in these letters of recommendation: “Academic performance and potential (both overall and in the context of the class). Love of learning. Leadership (in school, family, or community). Persistence in the face of challenges. Cross-cultural engagement. Originality/Creativity. Demonstrated concern for others.” And they’ve put out a little video that we figured we’d share with our readers. Oh, and by the way, that which is “encouraged” in college admissions is, in our view, “required.” We salute Cal for changing things up in the UC system, for challenging the status quo, by asking to hear the opinions of teachers and those who can offer insight into the intellectual curiosity, love of learning, and character of applicants. We find that’s important.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Admissions Brochures

July 17, 2015
College Brochures, Admission Brochures, University Admission Brochures

If you receive an admission brochure from Duke, it’s no indication that Duke has any intention of admitting you. It’s no indication they don’t have intention of admitting you either (photo credit: Luke6040).

We burst a lot of bubbles at Ivy Coach. It’s not like we’re frequent bubble gum chewers. It’s that there are a number of folks who reach out to us who have unreasonable expectations about their chances — or their child’s chances — for admission. When the parent of a student with ‘C’ grades and a 21 ACT score reaches out to us to see what we can do to help her daughter gain admission to Harvard, we let her know that there is absolutely nothing we can do. We can’t help her and neither can anyone else. Her daughter is not getting into Harvard. It might be tough for her to hear, but we long ago accepted that some parents and students are going to be upset by what we have to say. It’s part of the nature of college admissions.

Some months ago, we heard from a student who had been receiving brochures from a highly selective college. We’ll henceforth say that it was Yale even though it wasn’t Yale. This student was convinced that Yale so very much wanted her, that she was going to earn admission. We corrected her that Yale did indeed very much want her. They wanted her to apply. But with her SAT score and grades, she did not have any reasonable shot of gaining admission to Yale. We discussed with her how many highly selective colleges send out brochures — those glossy booklets you get in the mailbox — to all sorts of students, even unqualified students. And why? Simply because they want to boost their application numbers and improve their ranking in “US News & World Report.”

It’s sometimes very difficult to hear that a school that you thought loved you is just, well, using you. It’s kind of like dating a bad person in a way, if you think about it in this respect. These schools can be bad dates. So don’t be fooled if a highly selective college sends you brochures. Maybe you can get in. Or maybe you can’t. What we’re saying is that receiving a college brochure is no indication of either.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Secret College Admissions Sauce

July 16, 2015
Secret Admissions Sauce, Secrets of College Admissions, University Admissions Secrets

Our college admissions secret sauce is delicious. Try some (photo credit: Dan-Martin Hellgren).

We often hear from folks that they’re regular readers of our college admissions blog. And that’s fantastic. We love that you read our blog. It’s why we update it every day. Literally. Every. Single. Day. Sundays too. And Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Yom Kippur, too. But sometimes, deep down, we wonder how anyone can possibly read about college admissions every day of the week? We try to keep things interesting, but at the end of the day, it is college admissions. It’s not like we’re writing about Taylor Swift. That woman could be the subject of a blog. She singlehandedly changed Apple iTunes policy. Pretty impressive stuff. We’d be able to write about Taylor Swift every day. We’re certain of it.

You can learn lots of great information about college admissions by reading our blog regularly. You’ll learn lots of tips, tips that can help your own case for admission (or your child’s case). But know that we repeat ourselves quite a bit on this blog so we might bore you sometimes. It’s because we like to hammer home points. But it’s also because…did we mention that we blog every single day of the week? Dating back years? Years. There’s only so much to write about. And a good number of our topics that we’d love to write about — juicy stuff — are off-limits because our very best secrets, our very best tips are reserved for our students and their parents. We love that people come to us for free information, but our secret sauce and much of our expertise never appears on the pages of this college admissions blog. And we make no apologies for this. After all, we are an American business, not Wikipedia.

So, if you’re interested in our secret sauce, we recommend that you fill out our free consultation form. You won’t be able to taste any of our delicious secret sauce during the free consultation either. It’s just an opportunity to learn about our service offerings. For those who’d like to proceed and do a paid one-hour evaluation (you can also skip the free consult entirely), that’s where you should take out your spoons and start tasting our cooking. It’s a family recipe dating back to 1992.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,