February 2009 Newsletter
This was to be the year that our fragile economy coupled with the high cost of tuition would drive down the volume of applications submitted to our most selective colleges. The effects of rising unemployment, the depreciating housing market and declining stock values should have produced that result but surprisingly, ‘the usual suspects’ (the colleges that are listed as the top 50 in US News and World Report) to which our highest achieving students are drawn, have experienced a record number of applications. The echo of the baby boom that created the largest high school class in history, just can’t seem to catch a break.
In a recent article in Bloomberg News entitled “Harvard Applications Soar Along With Anxiety in High Schools,” reported that many of the highly selective colleges have experienced an increase in applications. Harvard saw a 5.6 percent increase, Duke and MIT both 17%, Stanford 20%, and Brown also recorded a double-digit growth in regular decision applications.
In last year’s regular admissions cycle, for the college class of 2012 (high school Class of 2008) Brown admitted 12% of their applicants, Harvard 7.1%, Duke 16.4 %, and Stanford 6.6 %. The high school Class of 2008 has been the most competitive up until now. With 3.3 million students graduating high school in 2009, and with each student applying to more colleges than ever before, it is expected that the admissions rate at the Ivies, as well as other highly selective colleges will be even lower than last year’s class.
Influenced by the economic downturn, many guidance counselors expected a large increase in state university applications and a decline in the number of applications to private colleges. Consequently, they advised their high achieving students that if they could afford the cost, that they may have less competition and a better chance at gaining admission than in previous years. Their expectation was logical and applications to state universities did rise substantially. However, they were incorrect in their expectations regarding highly selective private colleges. Changes in economic circumstances were offset by an increase in applicants requesting financial aid.
This phenomena was commented on by Duke’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Christoph Guttentag when he said, “Given the state of the economy and the cost of private colleges, which can run $50,000 annually, the increase in applications is surprising. If anybody had said in August that they were going to experience one of the most significant downturns in 100 years and at the same time see double-digit increases in applications, nobody would have believed it. “I don’t think anybody expected a change or increase of this magnitude.”
Lorin, Janet. “Harvard Applications Soar Along With Anxiety in High Schools” Bloomberg News. January 22, 2009: Retrieved January 22, 2009 from Bloomberg News Website: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aqaX89Rg1pnc&refer=us
Score Choice or No Choice?
In our fourth blog on the topic, we’re finally hearing from colleges on their policy regarding students submitting all of their scores or only their best ones. As of now, the reporting of scores, or rather, the non-reporting of scores will be on an “honor system.” On an individual basis colleges are making their policy on Score Choice public.
In light of this, Ivy Coach’s advice is to treat score choice as if it doesn’t exist, and take the SAT’s and Subject Tests only when thoroughly prepared. Students can take as many practice tests as they like in the comfort of their home or at a testing prep center that offers them. Ideally, an actual SAT should only be taken twice and a Subject Test should be taken only once. If a college allows the submission of only the highest scores, then there’s still a choice. If, on the other hand, a college requires all scores, then students must comply, but at least they can find comfort knowing that their applications are going to be more favorably reviewed because they did not take the SAT’s multiple times.