Asian American Life

Asian Life, Asian American, Asian American and College Admission

Ivy Coach was featured in a TV segment last night on the discrimination that Asian Americans face in highly selective college admissions.

Ivy Coach appeared on CUNY TV last night in the series “Asian American Life.” The segment, one in which we’re featured quite a bit, focused on how Asian American applicants face discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process. We know — shocker. It’s not as though we’ve never discussed the discrimination that Asian American applicants face before on our blog or in the press. Bev published a piece last year in “The Huffington Post” entitled “Asian Americans Deserve Better.” And they sure do.

Asian American applicants face discrimination in college admissions, whether admissions officers admit it or not.

Within this segment, Brian of our firm speaks of how it’s difficult for admissions officer to gauge one great violinist from the next, how it’s not like comparing a 100 backstroker. A :55 100 backstroker is faster than a :58 100 backstroker. There are no such times for violinists, first chair or second. He also speaks about how so many Asian American applicants choose to apply to the same schools and how it would be to their competitive advantage to consider spreading out a bit more — to apply to schools that so many Asian American applicants aren’t applying to. It’s not as though there are a dearth of Asian American applicants at any highly selective college in America but there are indeed schools that don’t secure as many Asian American students. We know our readers would like to know these schools but that is part of our paid service. After all, Ivy Coach is a business.

Have a question about this segment in “Asian American Life” in which Ivy Coach is featured? Have a question about the discrimination that Asian American applicants face in college admissions? Disagree with us big time? We’re curious to hear from you so do post a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Early Decision Pool Diversity

Early Decision Pool, Diversity in Early Decision, Early Decision at UPenn

Ivy Coach was referenced in a piece in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” recently on the diversity of the Early Decision pool.

Ivy Coach was featured a few days back on the pages of the University of Pennsylvania’s newspaper, “The Daily Pennsylvanian.” The piece, written by Sophia Leporte, is entitled “Early Decision pool becoming more diverse” and, naturally, it focuses on how the group of students who applied Early to UPenn is more diverse than ever before. Regular readers of our college admissions blog know that we encourage all of our students to apply Early Decision or Early Action. In fact, if a student should come to us before the Early round and not wish to apply Early, we won’t work with this student. And why? Because that student isn’t willing to play his or her cards right to get in. An Early Decision or Early Action card is one of the few cards that a college applicant to a school like the University of Pennsylvania has in the back pocket. To not use it is, in a word, nuts.

One reason some folks choose not to apply Early Decision or Early Action is because they don’t think they’ll get the best financial aid offer if they only apply to, say, one school. Here’s our answer, as quoted in “The Daily Pennsylvanian”: “Brian Taylor, the director of college counseling practice Ivy Coach, acknowledges that more underprivileged students may not be applying early because of this but notes that it is a misconception, since many universities, including Penn, have now made financial aid calculators easily accessible on their websites. ‘Yes, fewer underprivileged applicants apply in the early round,’ Taylor said. ‘And often for the wrong reasons — because they want to compare higher financial aid packages when, in fact, you can find that information out without even applying to colleges.'” And while this remains an issue not just at UPenn but at every highly selective college in America, as the piece points out, “Taylor agrees that the diversity of Penn’s early decision round is getting better. ‘It’s still somewhat of an issue, but it is not as drastic as some people may think,’ Taylor said.”

So many students choose not to apply Early Decision and so many of them make this decision for the wrong reason.

Have a question about applying Early Decision or Early Action? Think that the Early Decision or Early Action pool at various highly selective colleges is less diverse than the Regular Decision pools? Don’t like this? We’re curious to hear from our readers so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back.

Ivies Not Going Test Optional

Ivies Test Optional, Ivies Not Test Optional, SAT and the Ivies

Ivy Coach is quoted today on the pages of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” UPenn’s newspaper.

Ivy Coach is featured today on the pages of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania. In an article by Sophia Leporte entitled “Penn endorses campaign to prioritize kindness in college applicants,” we are quoting as raising a skeptical eyebrow at the suggestion of the Harvard Graduate School of Education “Turning the Tide” report that testing be deemphasized in highly selective college admissions. One big argument made in the report against testing is that it is inherently unequal. And there is surely some truth to that. Students whose parents can afford fantastic ACT or SAT tutoring have a significant leg up on students whose parents cannot afford such services.

But let us not forget one thing, which Brian of our firm points out in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” piece: “The report also recommends a lower emphasis on testing. But Brian Taylor, director of the college counseling practice Ivy Coach, is skeptical of this idea. ‘They emphasize that they want to deemphasize tests,’ Taylor said. ‘That sounds nice, but actually the ACTs and SATs were created so that you can create equity between students from underprivileged and privileged backgrounds. They’re all taking the same test, no matter what school they come from, so that they can have a baseline measurement.’ [Dean of Admissions Eric] Furda also acknowledges that the testing recommendation is not likely to be put into practice, especially at Penn.” Dean Furda is right. Penn — or any of the Ivies — are not going test-optional anytime soon. Or ever.

The SAT and ACT, while surely far from perfect, were in fact created as a means to create equity among college applicants.

Are there significant flaws with the ACT and SAT? Yes. But how else can a student from Mississippi be gauged against a student from South Korea? How else can a student from a prep school that feeds tons of students into Ivy League colleges annually be gauged against a student whose school rarely places students into Ivy League schools? Like it or not, in some ways, the SAT and ACT — and all testing for that matter — creates a baseline for measurement. And without baselines for measurement, the highly selective college admissions process would be no fairer than now. Indeed we’d argue that it’d be even less fair.

Oh and, by the way, we do recognize the irony that Ivy Coach has given more press to the “Turning the Tide” report since its publication than has any news publication.

Colleges Shifting to Test Optional

Test Optional Colleges, Test Optional Schools, SAT Optional Universities

“Bloomberg” has a piece today on how more schools are becoming test-optional.

There is a piece up on “Bloomberg” today (oh Michael Bloomberg, won’t you please enter this presidential race?) by Sarah Grant entitled “Will the College Admissions Test Disappear?” that we figured we’d share with the readers of our college admissions blog. The answer, of course, is that the college admissions test — the SAT or ACT — will not disappear, even as more and more schools become test-optional. The most selective schools in America, including each of the eight Ivy League institutions, are of course not by any means test-optional.

As Grant points out, “Since 2004, 145 colleges have joined the ranks of schools that deem tests like the SAT, or its competitor, the ACT, optional for admission, including Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.; Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and George Washington University in D.C.” And these are certainly some very good schools indeed. But remember folks, just because a school is test-optional doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t love to see a great SAT or ACT score. Brown University, as an example, doesn’t require the SAT Subject Tests if you submit an ACT score. Does that mean submitting 3 800 SAT Subject Tests won’t help you in any way? Of course it’ll help you!

The piece by Grant goes on to say, “Just because some schools are making standardized testing optional doesn’t mean students won’t take the SAT or ACT. ‘Students are applying to upwards of 15 schools, and one of them is bound to require a test,’ said Bob Schaeffer, a director at FairTest, an advocacy organization dedicated to preventing the misuse of standardized tests. And some schools, including Colorado College and Bryn Mawr College, are test-flexible, meaning that only students who earn a certain grade-point average can decide whether to submit a standardized test. Since students usually take college entrance exams in their junior year and apply to colleges during senior year, those looking to keep their options open will likely sign up for at least one exam.”

In other words, unless you intend to pigeonhole yourself into applying to a select subset of colleges, take the SAT or ACT. And we don’t envision this changing anytime soon — no matter what the Harvard Graduate School of Education may say in their lengthy but largely unread reports. Sorry, Harvard GSE, but you’re an easy target.

While you’re here, read the truth behind test-optional colleges.

Harvard Report on Admissions

Harvard Admissions Report, Harvard College Admissions Report, Report from Harvard on Admissions

The report coming out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education on highly selective college admissions deals in the theoretical, not the actual.

There’s a piece up on “Forbes” by Dan Edmonds entitled “Why Harvard-Recommended ‘Compassionate Admissions’ Won’t Change Anything” that we figured we’d opine about. Because that’s what we do. From the title alone, we have to say — it seems Mr. Edmonds is one the same page as us. After all, we have been vocal about how we believe the “Turning the Tide” report that generated a whole lot of ink in the press isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The whole objective of the paper coming out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education was to propose ways to make the college admissions process more equitable, to encourage underprivileged students to apply to highly selective colleges like Harvard. But, ultimately, the report was a “duh,” pages and pages worth of super obvious criticisms about the admissions process with little in the way of solutions.

As Dan Edmonds writes in his editorial, “These suggested changes in emphasis are welcome. But it would be naive to suppose that they will lead to a radical change in admissions at highly selective schools unless there are deeper changes to other factors that affect those schools’ admissions decisions, namely the preferential treatment given to legacy applicants and recruited athletes, the outsized influence U.S. News rankings have on college behavior (and public perception of top schools), and the growing focus that school presidents and boards of trustees have on school endowments, which are largely driven by donations from monied alumni.”

It’s one thing to generate a report and try to get some press. It’s quite another to effect real-world change. The Harvard Graduate School of Education report ironically generated more press before its publication, thanks to Frank Bruni of “The New York Times” than did the report itself. In fact, the response to the report across the college admissions community was one largely of silence. And that’s because it didn’t tell the community much of anything we didn’t already now. In fact, it didn’t tell us anything at all. Such is a drawback of academia — they deal in the theoretical, not the actual.

2016-2017 Common App Essays

2016-2017 College Essays, Common App Essays, Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common Application has announced the 2016-2017 essay prompts.

If you’re a high school junior looking to get a head start on your Common Application Personal Statement, we suppose you now can. The Common Application has announced the essay prompts for the 2016-2017 admissions cycle and bum bum bum bum…they are the precise same questions as this last cycle’s questions (the essay prompts do change from time to time!). This junior class sure is facing a lot of change in the admissions process, notably with the new SAT, so we believe it a wise move on the part of The Common Application to keep their essays the same. The juniors deserved some stability.

As reported on The Common App.’s website, “By conducting a review process every other year, rather than annually, we can hear from admissions officers, as well as students, parents, and counselors, about the effectiveness of the essay prompts. These prompts are designed to elicit information that will strengthen the other components of the application. “We want to make sure that every applicant can find a home within the essay prompts, and that they can use the prompts as a starting point to write an essay that is authentic and distinguishing,” said Scott Anderson, former school counselor and current Senior Director for Programs and Partnerships for The Common Application.”

Juniors are facing quite a few changes this admissions cycle. But the Common Application essay prompts will remain the same.

And during the 2015-2016 admissions cycle, which prompt did most students end up choosing? The first one of course! Indeed 47% of students chose to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent. And why? Because the question is framed in such a way that it essentially allows students to write whatever it is they want. It offers them the most flexibility, the most room for creativity. It is the prompt we recommend students choose. The others are too confining. And why on earth would you ever want to write about an accomplishment? You don’t want to brag in college admissions and that prompt essentially leaves you no choice but to do so. Applicants will complete that prompt at their own peril.

As reported by The Common App., “Among the more than 800,000 unique applicants who have submitted a Common App so far during the 2015-2016 application cycle, 47 percent have chosen to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent – making it the most frequently selected prompt; 22 percent have chosen to write about an accomplishment, 17 percent about a lesson or failure, 10 percent about a problem solved, and four percent about an idea challenged.” What a silly 22%! Yikes is right.


Stanford Tuition

Tuition at Stanford, Stanford Fee, Stanford Cost

Stanford has changed its financial aid policy, effective this year.

There has been a change at The Farm. Not at just any farm — at Stanford University. For those not familiar, the nickname for Stanford University is The Farm. Hey, the more you know. Anyhow, beginning this year, more students at Stanford will have the chance to attend for not cost at all. That’s right. More students than ever before will get to go to The Farm for free. Pretty cool, right? Indeed, for families whose incomes are below $125,000, they’ll no longer be required to pay any tuition.

But of course, there’s tuition, room and board, as well as fees. If a family earns less than $65,000, dorm fees will be on the house as well. As reported by “The Bakersfield Californian,” “Before the financial aid program expansion, students with family incomes of less than $100,000 received free tuition, and students with families earning less than $60,000 were waived dorm fees. ‘Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances,’ Provost John Etchemendy said in a statement. Annual costs for a typical Stanford student total roughly $65,000 before financial aid. Nearly 77 percent of Stanford undergraduates currently graduate with no student debt.”

What do you think of this change in policy at Stanford with respect to financial aid? Do you believe that more highly selective colleges will follow in Stanford’s lead? We’re curious to hear from our readers so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write you back.


Harvard Endowment

Endowment at Harvard, Harvard University Endowment, Harvard College Endowment

While Harvard may have the largest endowment, it doesn’t mean the school is willing to pay the full cost of tuition for all undergraduate students.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how a slate of candidates running for Harvard’s Board of Overseers (a group that includes multiple-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader) was running on a platform of free tuition for undergraduates. They’re also quite vocal about the discrimination that Asian American applicants face in the admissions process to their alma mater. In our response piece, we wrote about how the notion of free tuition for undergraduate students at Harvard was preposterous, that any notion of relying on the gigantic Harvard endowment to finance this proposal demonstrated a lack of understanding of investments. After all, one cannot just pull money from an endowment at will — much of it is vested.

It seems that Harvard’s president Drew Faust agrees with us. In a piece by Andrew M. Duehren and Daphne C. Thompson in “The Harvard Crimson” entitled “Faust Condemns Free Tuition Proposal from Outsider Overseers Ticket,” Faust says, “The kind of program that is being proposed here funds a lot of students who we don’t think have need, from families who could and should afford to pay for their student’s education. We would be using an enormous amount of institutional resources to subsidize families who could easily afford to support their children in college.” She couldn’t be more right.

The fact is that highly selective colleges rely on their endowments. No university in America has a larger endowment than does Harvard but that doesn’t mean the school doesn’t also rely on tuition dollars. If Harvard offered free tuition to all undergraduates, they likely would no longer have the largest endowment and it’s simply not sustainable. And as Faust argues, if families can pay the full cost of tuition comfortably, why shouldn’t they? Why should a Harvard education be free to such families?

We have a feeling this slate of candidates to Harvard’s Board of Overseers will be about as successful as Ralph Nader’s presidential campaigns.

Arrests and College Application

Arrests in College Admission, College Admissions and Arrests, Arrest Record in College Admissions

There is a piece in today’s “New York Times” on colleges that inquire about arrest records.

There is a piece in today’s “New York Times” by Stephanie Saul entitled “Colleges That Ask Applicants About Brushes With the Law Draw Scrutiny” that we figured we’d opine about. After all, that’s what we do on our college admissions blog. The piece focuses on how various universities — both highly selective ones and otherwise — ask students not only if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime but also if they’ve ever been arrested. Many argue (and we’d agree) that this unfairly discriminates against underprivileged and minority applicants, some of whom may have been arrested but were never charged with — or convicted of — a crime. Maybe they were completely and utterly innocent and the police realized as much…that’s why they released them. These applicants should not have to face such scrutiny in the admissions process, simply for being unjustly arrested.

As reported by Stephanie Saul in her piece, “Auburn, in Auburn, Ala., is one of 17 universities in the South that include broad questions on their admissions applications about any contact with the legal system or the police that applicants might have had — even an arrest, with no conviction — according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group. The universities are now the focus of an inquiry by the organization, which says such questions unfairly penalize minorities, who tend to face arrest more frequently and, as a result, could face higher admissions hurdles. ‘The disparities and underrepresentation we see at schools is a concern, and this may indeed be one of the contributing factors,’ said Kristen Clarke, the group’s executive director, citing statistics showing low black enrollment at some of the colleges. At Auburn, for example, African-Americans make up 7 percent of the student body in a state where blacks total about 25 percent of the population.”

The Common Application doesn’t ask if an applicant has ever been arrested but it does ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. And if records were expunged, applicants do not need to answer “yes” that they’ve been convicted of a crime. We firmly believe this question should be the only criminal question that colleges should be able to ask. They should not be able to ask if a student has been arrested. In a time in which highly selective colleges are trying to encourage disadvantaged students to apply, why not ensure that the application doesn’t discourage just that? Hello!

Hello? Can you hear us? Yes, we’re citing Adele. Deal with it.

College Admissions and the Presidency

Admissions and the Presidency, College Admissions and Presidency, Admission and President, President and University Admissions

Donald Trump is, without question, anti-establishment.

We have absolutely nothing to write about today. After all, we write about college admissions every single day of the week including on weekends and holidays (even on Christmas and Yom Kippur!) so sometimes, we simply run out of things to say. But wait, we thought of something. Someone recently asked us: “If our firm were a presidential candidate, who would we be and why?” Well, we should first start off by stating that we wholeheartedly endorse Hillary Clinton for the presidency. We hope that she shatters that glass ceiling and makes us all forget there ever was a ceiling to begin with. Ceiling what?

But regular readers of our blog know that we have a firm anti-establishment streak in us. We don’t like establishment — nor folks who paint themselves as establishment (have you read what we’ve had to say about the IECA — if not, feel free!). The IECA told us, when we were begrudging members, that we couldn’t charge what we charge. We told them they were anti-American, that they had no right to tell us what we could or could not charge and that what is expensive in their view and what is not is sheer and utter opinion. They seemed to be disturbed that we had the audacity to call them anti-American, but that is precisely, in our opinion, what they are.

And so, to answer the question, if we were a presidential candidate, we would most certainly be…Well, wait, we first need to include some caveats. We firmly and vehemently stand against almost all of his positions and especially his positions against immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community, and just about everyone else. But we do like the notion of challenging the establishment and few could argue that Donald Trump has challenged the establishment and done so in a very big way. So we’re Donald Trump…with major caveats. Don’t like us? Don’t care. We tell it like it is. Always have, always will. Mic drop.

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