2022 has seen college admissions in the news with changing test policies, affirmative action, and shifting trends in how recruitment is done. The Wall Street Journal's report in January of sixteen major US universities involved in antitrust violations was followed by the Supreme Court announcement that it will revisit the affirmative action lawsuit.
We have been busy keeping current with trends and also visiting colleges, and attending webinars and professional training. We visited UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, and Chapman. Our focus towards pre-med and med school admissions has gained momentum with more webinars, interview prep for aspiring students and application help. We are exploring different medical schools and understanding how their unique missions aligns with their admissions. This month, Anu attended webinar hosted by the UW Medical School that showcased their goal of selecting an inclusive student body with regional representation.
We are so happy to start this new year by finishing up a big project we've been working on, our College Planning Handbook. We have worked hard on this handbook for our clients who sign up for our package and hope you all find it helpful. It includes concise content, several presentations we've done, timelines, and so much more!
This month we focused in a bit more on medicine starting with Rice University's student newspaper article regarding the pre-med journey and why students may change course. We recommend that any student interested in pursuing medicine read this article to understand what often happens. Our intention is not to dissuade students, but instead to open up their minds to more options. We also attended a webinar on how medical school applications are evaluated and the four critical factors for standing out.
Another session we did was with MIT regarding what they look for and the culture of their school--it was a greatly informative session! We took plenty of notes which our clients can view in our software.
The breaking news of 2022 is the announcement from College Board to recast the SAT into a shorter, adaptive and digital exam. The new two-hour format makes its debut in 2023 with PSAT and international SAT, and in 2024 with domestic SAT. In other words, current 9th graders, the class of 2025 will be the first to test this format. Click here to learn more.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, is that many of the seniors we've worked with have received some amazing offers of admission and we are just so darn proud of them! Juniors are starting to put together college lists and go deeper with their research, and we're working on course planning and summer planning with all our freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
Earlier in the month we were busy motivating our seniors to find their energy and enthusiasm to complete their supplemental essays and submit their apps; all this while many students received decisions from the first round of applications. Some of our students have received some absolutely amazing offers, some have been deferred, and we heard of a few denials, all of which is very normal. We have also been attending webinars, information sessions, and scanning reports and trends in the admission cycle.
A momentous announcement came from Smith College about the elimination of loans from their financial aid packages. Money continues to be a consideration for colleges and universities, and they are starting to act on this more with increased transparency, but there is still a long way for them to go to improve.
Interesting updates with the Common App releasing data on early applications from this fall cycle also came out this month. In the changing landscape of testing, students who reported test scores sent them to the “more selective" colleges, indicative of the pressure on students to share test scores even in a test-optional environment.
For your reading pleasure, here are some articles we read this month which we found helpful:
And lastly, we hope you all had a restful break and wish you the best for 2022.
Oh November! We love you, but we love to see the back of you!
Offers have started arriving, and many have scholarships! Several have also been admitted directly into their majors by schools that offer that. We hope that decisions received in December from the early applications are equally rewarding!
November is an excessively busy month in admissions with deadlines starting on the first and spread out throughout the remainder of the month. Early Action/Early Decision applications are generally due on Nov. 1, a local favorite University of Washington (Seattle) is due on Nov. 15, and the University of California app is due on Nov. 30th. The exciting deadline this cycle was UW's being extended a day due to technical difficulties--yikes! We're happy and thankful that all our students had submitted their apps and didn't panic like all the posts we saw on social media!
We work on countless essays and appreciate all the thoughtful efforts from our students. Applying to college is like adding on a full-time job to already full plates!
One important article that came out this month is "Humanities Graduates Are Happy With Their Lives" and we hope you take a few minutes to read it (parents...we're nudging you specifically!). Big news of the month was: UC's decide to stay test-free indefinitely!
Lastly, we hope you and your families enjoyed some of the Diwali and/or Thanksgiving festivities this month, along with Veteran's Day and Native American Heritage Day. While November is a full month, especially for seniors, it provides great opportunities to be thankful for our roots and for the opportunities we all have in front of us. Every year we recognize our gratitude to all our amazing students and to be able to do the work we do.
The best article we've read in a long, long time came out on Oct. 21st, written by Princeton University's President, Christopher L. Eisgruber. We strongly recommend you take a few minutes to read it to learn more about rankings.
Among several parts of the application, we have been working hard to help students understand the significance of the Letters of Recommendation, particularly in the context of admissions this year. The past year was unique and challenging for both students, their teachers and mentors, as most of us learned to connect virtually. The conduct & engagements of students in virtual classrooms unlocked a new way of interaction, providing teachers' insights on how students' adapted, and learned in challenging times. These insights, we feel will demonstrate whether students were checked in, engaged and curious or were they checked out, disinterested and non-communicative. We have also devoted several hours of research into preparing interview questions and helping students with mock interviews.
We continue to push ourselves to continually learn and stretch professionally by attending webinars and engaging with college campuses. This month we attended Johns Hopkins application workshops, and information sessions hosted by Brown, Cornell, Rice, U Chicago and Swarthmore. Anu visited UT Austin as this college town and university is always an attractive option for many of our students. Sabrina visited two campuses in Palm Desert, Calif. andalso spent a morning volunteering at Interlake High School helping seniors with last minute essay and application questions.
The most significant piece of this month's entry is to *C*O*N*G*R*A*T*U*L*A*T*E* all the seniors who submitted apps so far!!! Many have submitted regular apps and early apps...yay!
We love back-to-school time! This year is especially notable with students being back to in-person.
We have been BUSY! Not only are we often deluged with essays to review, but we have also spent this month doing hours of webinars. We've met with Tulane University, Penn State University, and the UC schools. We also attended a presentation on The Sisters colleges, which had exceptional content, especially about the benefits of women's colleges. It was interesting to learn that only 2% of the applicant pool are interested in the women's colleges, despite being great liberal art institutions! Additionally, we attended sessions for RIT, Syracuse University, UMass with its four undergraduate campuses, 14 Liberal Arts Colleges, and another one that combined Purdue/Georgia Tech/Harvey Mudd College/Olin College of Engineering.
As always, we take lots of great notes about admit rates, what they look for in applications, and much more, and we make all these notes available in our software for our clients. We also spent time in webinars from our software provider.
The NACAC Annual Conference for admissions professionals was in Seattle this year. This translates to more college and university professionals visiting the Seattle area and visiting many high schools, as well as an opportunity for us to meet with them.
We have heard from our class of 2020 grads about their college beginnings, and all of them have landed well at their new homes-away-from-home and are enjoying the excitement of this new, transformative chapter in their lives!
And don't forget that October 1st is when FAFSA opens! This is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine if students qualify for any of the different financial aid options: federal and state grants, scholarships, Work-Study, and loans.
The Common App is open! So is the UC app! The Coalition app has updates, too! Just when you are in summer mode thinking that you have a month left to relax, hello application portals!
August is always busy with essays! However hard it is to write them in the glory days of summer, we expect seniors to get the bulk of work done before school starts so that when school does resume, their focus can be on their courses and grades.
We have also started seeing college/university fall recruitment sessions and fairs. NACAC fairs have started and we like for students in grades 10, 11, and 12 to attend.
We hope everyone had a great summer and that the new school year is successful for everyone!
July brought a great update with a new software feature to manage essays better. It has been a wonderful addition to help brainstorm content, manage activity lists, and assist with the essay revision process. The deadline feature has been so helpful to keep students on track, too. We're happy to now offer this feature!
This month, we also saw several colleges restoring their outdoor campus tours, and despite the travel challenges, we combined our virtual visits with a few in-person visits. Anu visited Reed College, University of New Mexico, and St. John's College. These experiences connect us with campuses and their physical uniqueness; it expands our learning about their 'niche', and most importantly, reflect on the fit factor for our students. The campuses differed significantly from one another - from small, quiet meditative environment to the hustle and pace of large public flagship school of the state. A conversation with the admissions office is another highlight of such visits, where we learn about their distinguishing features, impact creation, and how it translates to the vision of a prospective student. We follow up these visits with notes that articulate what's important to the school, how they differentiate themselves and the types of students who will resonate well with the campus culture.
Seniors are heavy into essay writing and solidifying their college lists so they have a solid idea of the essays they have to write. Hats of to those who have really buckled down on the essays and knocked out many! All students are busy with amazing summers that include classes, camps, projects, travel, family time, community service, volunteer work, and internships.
In June we excitedly welcomed Alyssa to our team as our Intern. Alyssa was a Running Start student and now attends WSU and is pursuing a Business degree in Marketing with a minor in Digital Technology & Culture. We have several back-end projects for her and know her contributions will be helpful and valuable.
Our seniors graduated and are heading off to so many fantastic schools! We are so proud of them! Our juniors, who are now seniors, are busy working on college lists and essays, along with so many creative and meaningful summer activities. Freshmen and sophomores also have amazing summers planned--everyone is busy and we're feeling COVID less and less.
Some of the webinars we attended this month included the Sisters Colleges; Macalester; Brandeis, Case Western, George Washington, and Rochester; Conversations with admission deans of Barnard and Stanford; and What's New With the Common App.
Common App changes include many about the data entry such as name preference, gender identity, citizenship, parent info., military info., and school discipline (removing). The problem solving essay question is being replaced with a prompt about gratitude, and there are some small updates in the testing, and courses and grades. For the Recommenders, school discipline is being removed, the ability to add an additional report will be available, preview will be available, and they can submit to multiple schools. While these changes may seem small, they reflect positive changes to keep up with current trends, but more importantly, they create more equity in the process.
Our software provider has made several updates and we participated in a webinar to review those, and also spent time digging in and becoming more familiar with the upgrades.
Lastly, many families of students in all grades continue to meet with us as they seek counseling in the college admissions process.
May is always a bittersweet time for us. The May 1st confirmation deadline starts out the month with seniors confirming the school they'll attend and we know they're headed off to great adventures. Our seniors navigated amazing offers, waitlists, and petitions with grace and they will all attend excellent schools this fall. Many will attend their first-choice schools. To say we are proud of them is an understatement! This year was more difficult than ever with admissions being more obscure with COVID. Navigating the new test-optional/test-blind landscape in addition to all the cancelled testing was uncertain, and the lack of in-person visits made confirming even more challenging. Learning about school culture and feel is difficult to do online, but thankfully our seniors feel solid in their decisions. We wish them the very best and are so thankful we got the privilege of working with them and their families.
This May Anu went to California and visited several schools as they slowly start to re-open their campuses. University of Redlands was a hidden gem with strong programs in Spatial Studies, and Communication Sciences & Disorders. We both also participated in several webinars, including Johns Hopkins, Duke, Harvard, U Penn, Georgetown and Harvard.