Harold O. Levy is a former chancellor of the New York City public schools and we have long been fans of his work for students from underpriviledged backgrounds seeking to attend our nation’s most highly selective universities. His is a voice in higher education we greatly respect. After all, this was a man who, in the face of much opposition (including from the then-New York City mayor), wisely used his business acumen and reliance on data-driven analytics to reform one of America’s most notoriously broken school systems. Yesterday, Mr. Levy posted a piece on “Inside Higher Ed” about the discrimination that he believes is inherent in Early Decision and Early Action admissions policies. And while we respect his viewpoint, we can’t help but respectfully disagree.
Mr. Levy believes that Early Decision and Early Action policies at America’s universities unfairly discriminate against low-income and minority students. As he writes, “Many low-income students are unaware of the option of applying early…Guidance counselors at high schools with many low-income students are responsible for advising hundreds or as many as 1,000 students each, and so don’t have the time and, in many cases, the training to explain all the steps students can take to increase their odds of college admission…Most important, because low-income students can’t attend college without getting substantial financial aid, they can’t commit to enrolling in an institution by applying on an early-decision basis. They need to compare aid offers once they hear from all the colleges and universities that accept them. This fact alone essentially precludes those with financial need from applying early.”
We absolutely agree with Mr. Levy that school counselors at high schools with low-income students need to be better informed about the benefits of applying Early. They need to be better trained, to have a better understanding of the whole highly selective college admissions process. But we absolutely disagree with his argument that applying Early essentially ‘precludes’ students who need financial aid from applying. It’s an argument that Mr. Levy uses to essentially disqualify the practice of Early Decision and Early Action policies so let’s take a moment to analyze it.
There is absolutely no reason that a student who needs financial aid shouldn’t apply through a school’s Early Decision or Early Action policy. The whole theory presented by Mr. Levy has been outdated ever since the advent of the Net Price Calculator. We encourage our readers to Google any college name with the words “Net Price Calculator.” By doing so, a family can get a very good estimate of their net costs at that particular college. Colleges expect applicants to do their homework. They expect them to use the NPC.
We applaud the spirit of Mr. Levy’s remarks on Early Decision and Early action policies. But his central argument branding these policies as discriminatory against low-income students is, in a word, outdated.
So the whole notion of needing to “compare financial aid offers” may have held water back in the 1990’s when Mr. Levy was making very admirable reforms to our New York City public schools, but it’s an outmoded argument now. There is absolutely no reason that a student from a low-income family can’t apply Early Decision or Early Action armed with the knowledge of what they’ll be expected to pay for each year of college. Do we need to continue to get the word out to school counselors at low-income schools to tout the benefits of applying Early? You bet. But let’s leave arguments that made sense when Rudolph Giuliani was New York City’s mayor in the past. Like Rudy, it’s where they belong. Oh no we didn’t. We did.
Can universities do a better job of encouraging students from low-income families to apply Early? Yes. Can everyone do a better job of getting the word out that students don’t need to compare financial aid packages to have an idea of what they’ll be expected to pay at a given university? Yes. Is the current Early Decision and Early Action pool generally more affluent than the Regular Decision pool at most highly selective universities? Regrettably, yes. But there are enormous benefits to such policies — benefits Mr. Levy articulately points out in his piece — not only for the schools but also for the students. And there is absolutely no reason that students from low-income families can’t too capitalize on the benefits of these policies to receive an education at the college of their dreams, an education their family will be able to subsidize with financial aid.
Johns Hopkins University has released data on its Early Decision pool for the Class of 2021 and we’ve got it for our readers. In all, 591 students who applied Early Decision to the Baltimore-based school have been offered admission to be members of the Johns Hopkins Class of 2021. Congratulations to our students who are among the 591! These 591 students were selected out of a batch of 1,934 applicants to the university (5 more than for the last Early Decision cycle at JHU!), marking an admission rate of about 30.5%.
Johns Hopkins University loves its wind surfers, its science researchers, and its social activists.
But admissions statistics are only so interesting. We love it when colleges tout the students in their incoming classes with more specifics. As Johns Hopkins writes of its incoming class, “This group of early decision applicants includes nationally recognized researchers, innovators in various fields, artists, published authors, and social activists. Among them are the author of a bilingual cookbook, the founder of a non-profit that raises money for girls from low-income families who are interested in STEM fields, a nationally-ranked fencer, a children’s book writer, an advocate for food allergy laws, and an internationally competitive windsurfer.” At Ivy Coach, we have a long history of our students being personally referenced in these very kinds of admissions releases. It’s a great point of pride for us!
Congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who have been admitted to be members of the Johns Hopkins Class of 2021. Go Blue Jays!
Ivy Coach is featured today in America’s oldest college newspaper, “The Dartmouth.” In the piece in Dartmouth College’s newspaper written by Joyce Lee entitled “Early decision students to comprise 47 percent of class,” the Founder of Ivy Coach, Bev Taylor, praises Dartmouth for its outreach in the last couple of years in particular to international applicants. While Dartmouth, like just about all highly selective colleges, have been trying to woo international applicants for many years, Dartmouth in particular has made strides in this department over the last few years and we’ve taken notice.
As Lee writes, “Bev Taylor, founder of college admissions consulting firm Ivy Coach, said that Dartmouth has been working to have more international applicants and has seen an increase in its application numbers over the past two years. She said that the increase in applications and their quality, as well as the diversity in the pool, was cause for praise.”
As the piece points out, more and more students are (wisely) applying Early these days too. Just think about it — 47% of Dartmouth’s incoming first-year class is already filled before the Regular Decision round. That means almost half the slots are taken. To not apply Early, to not use one’s Early card wisely is to make a costly mistake in highly selective college admissions.
As Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin states, “Over the last ten years, more students are being counseled to apply early somewhere, and college counselors say half or two-thirds of their senior class file an early decision or early action application…That’s a growing trend that’s showing up in our pool too. There’s a consciousness about early decision, as a strategy.” You bet there is.
Congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who earned admission to Dartmouth via Early Decision this year…to be members of the Dartmouth College Class of 2021!
Curious to know which American college presidents are the most well compensated? We know you couldn’t sleep last night because you were itching to know. Ok, maybe you didn’t lose sleep over not knowing the answer to this pressing question. But we’ll satiate your curiosity anyway. So here goes, all thanks to “Forbes,” a publication that loves to rank just about everyone and everything.
Cornell University’s president, David J. Skorton, is the tenth highest paid college president. He takes in $1,618,328, according to “Forbes.” James F. Jones, Jr. of Trinity College takes in $1,661,794. Those extra four dollars might be able to buy him a Big Mac! Robert J. Zimmer of the University of Chicago — his annual take is $2,051,089. Robert Fisher of Belmont University makes $2,120,091 a year. Perhaps some of that money would be better spent on branding since few have ever heard of Belmont University? Sorry Belmont. We went there. We did.
Morton O. Schapiro of Northwestern University makes $2,352,578 a year. He’s like the NBA-equivalent of a mid-level exception player. Kind of. We’re not so sure his bball skills are so good though. Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University ranks as the fifth highest paid college president in America. He makes $2,447,032 annually. Amy Gutmann (nice to see a woman’s name alas!) of the University of Pennsylvania makes $2,962, 708 a year. Way to go Amy! Gerald Turner of Southern Methodist University makes $3,354,128 a year. Mark S. Wrighton of Washington University in St. Louis takes in $4,185,866 annually.
But it’s…wait for it…Jack P. Varsalona of Wilmington University (that’s in Delaware) who ranks as the highest paid college president in America, as reported by “Forbes.” His annual take? $5,449,405. Whoever negotiated his salary…we’d like to place you on immediate retainer so do reach out to us and we’ll be sure to get in touch. We kid. Or do we?
While you’re here, read about colleges that will make you rich. Maybe?
Tufts University has released its figures for the first of two rounds of Early Decision — for the Class of 2021. In all, 574 students have already been turned into elephants. We mean Jumbos. And in a refreshing change of pace, the new dean of admissions — unlike the dean at just about every other highly selective university — didn’t reference the number of applicants or even the admission rate in her post about the first round of Early Decision at Tufts.
As Tufts’ Dean of Admissions Karen Richardson writes on the Tufts admissions blog, “The first 574 Jumbos in the Class of 2021 have been revealed! They hail from 30 countries and 39 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, want to major in everything from Peace and Justice Studies to Earth and Ocean Sciences to Mechanical Engineering, and do everything from caring for younger siblings to excelling in a variety of sports to doing carpentry in their spare time. Connections are already being made through Facebook and other social media platforms. My colleagues are gearing up to begin reading even MORE applications for ED II and Regular Decision. And I’m heaving a GIANT sigh of relief.”
We love it when deans of admission call out specific applicants — not by name but through their stories. Like the student who enjoys carpentry. We’re all about the carpentry kids! That is wonderfully weird and as regular readers of our college admissions blog know well, we’re all about wonderful weirdness. In fact, our students are so often so weird that we have a long history of our students getting called out in these very kinds of press releases.
The numbers are in for the Early Decision pool at UPenn for the Class of 2021! The University of Pennsylvania has a history of filling a sizable chunk of its incoming classes through its Early Decision program. This year, for the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2021, has proven to be no exception. Of the record-breaking 6,147 students who applied Early Decision to the University of Pennsylvania this Early Decision admissions cycle, 1,354 earned admission — marking an admission rate for the Early Decision round of 22%. This bests last year’s Early Decision admission rate, which stood at 23.2%.
As Julia Bell reports in “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “So far, Penn’s incoming class includes students from 46 states and 44 foreign countries. Penn also partnered with over 40 community-based organizations that represent underserved students, like the national nonprofit program QuestBridge and Philadelphia’s Steppingstone Scholars program. Penn typically admits around half of its total class in the Early Decision round. Last year, 55 percent of the total 2,445 spots available were filled by Early Decision applicants.”
And, marking a first in the university’s storied history, half of all students admitted to Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences were female this year. Of course, the trendsetter in this department remains Dartmouth College but how cool it is that other highly selective colleges are following in Dartmouth’s wake!
At Ivy Coach, we pride ourselves on being a leading voice in highly selective college admissions. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, a blog that attracts tens of thousands of readers, you know we write a whole lot about highly selective college admissions and we offer a unique perspective into the process. But every now and then, some folks like to copy our uniqueness and claim it as their own. They’re like parrots, only not nearly as fun or as colorful.
This past February, a private college counselor in California, Jeannie Borin, copied verbatim an entire article that our Founder, Bev Taylor, had written years before (that link offers detail into the extent of Ms. Borin’s plagiarism). Ms. Borin then published this piece on “The Huffington Post,” crediting herself with Bev’s original words. “The Huffington Post” of course immediately removed the piece when we alerted the publication to Ms. Borin’s obvious plagiarism. What chutzpah Ms. Borin had to publish Bev’s words and claim them as her own! Did she think she’d get away with it? Did she think we wouldn’t notice? Did she think we’d forget?
To all folks who plagiarize our copyrighted content, may this post serve as notice that we won’t stand for it. Not now. Not ever. Our words are our words and our words alone. They are our intellectual property. They are protected by Section 17 of the United States Code. And we will go to great length to protect our intellectual property. The right to intellectual property isn’t a right afforded to so many throughout our world. But it is a right, one that protects our freedoms, here in the United States. It is a right we value.
The Harvard Early Action decisions are out! Run for the hills, for higher ground! The floodgates usually open the day that Harvard releases its Early Action decisions. The main office phone rings off the hook (we don’t answer it, as our voice message and the permanent Nelson Mandela banner on our homepage instructs — “Don’t call us. [We’ll email] you.”). The emails come in. The free consult forms are completed. We’re not sure why it all typically starts with Harvard but we’ve been doing this long enough to know to close our electronic devices immediately upon the release of Harvard decisions — except of course to check in with our students who’ve applied Early to Harvard. It’s like boarding a plane. “Please turn off all electronic devices.” We adhere to the instructions of flight attendants on Harvard’s decision day even if we’re not up in the air.
It never ceases to amaze us how confident so many parents are that their children will earn admission. Maybe they think their children are simply the greatest (it’s very common). Or maybe they didn’t think they needed the assistance of a private college counselor (now they know otherwise). Or maybe they just thought they had it in the bag because they were legacy applicants and Grandpa Harry had donated a building in 1964. Either which way, when the children of these parents receive word they’ve been deferred or denied, they have this awakening. And while that’s all well and good, there are literally only two weeks left before most Regular Decision applications are due after this great awakening.
Even more interesting, most parents of students who are deferred are solely focused on turning this deferral into an offer of admission when they contact us after their awakening. We always want to reawaken them like Kate Chopin. Hello parents! Your focus during the next two weeks before most Regular Decision applications are due should be on not making the same mistakes your children made with their Early Decision or Early Action schools. Duh. Of course your child wants to make the best case possible to their Early school — but that’s not nearly as time sensitive as correcting mistakes on Regular Decision applications. Because if your child didn’t get in Early, there likely were mistakes — sometimes big ones — that could very well have cost your child admission.
But alas these parents are horses led to water who do not wish to drink. They usually remain focused on that deferral — and turning it into an offer of admission (which we at Ivy Coach help students do better than anyone but it still should not be their focus in mid-December!). Sigh.
One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to correct misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process. These misconceptions are put out there in the press, by high school counselors (not all high school counselors are experts in college admissions…in fact, most aren’t), by the neighbor’s third cousin once removed, and by just about everyone in between. But it’s the high school counselors that often frustrate us the most. What’s the expression? A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing? This certainly applies to many high school counselors giving advice on highly selective college admissions.
The Founder on Ivy Coach was a high school counselor on Long Island for many years and she was always so frustrated that so many of the counselors advising students were simply giving incorrect advice. But allow us to show, not tell — as we tell our students in their college admissions essays. Half Hollow Hills is a prestigious school district on Long Island. Online, they’ve published advice on the pros and cons of applying Early Decision or Early Action. In it, they write, “Some colleges will say that students have a better chance of admission if they apply early using early decision, but it really depends upon the applicant pool and how selective the college is overall. A student shouldn’t count on early decision to increase his chances of admission greatly, but if he is sure that this college is the one, it won’t hurt his chances if he lets them know that he cares enough to make this early commitment.”
Too many high school college counseling offices perpetuate falsehoods about highly selective college admissions — like completely understating the advantage of applying through Early Decision and Early Action policies.
This is false. Applying Early always helps a student’s case for admission. Just look at the clear and unequivocal data on the statistical advantage of applying through an Early policy as compared to through a Regular Decision policy. It doesn’t depend upon the applicant pool. And not only will it not “hurt” one’s chances to apply Early — it’ll vastly help one’s chances! How on earth could it hurt a student’s chances of getting in to make a binding commitment to a school, to show that school they’re loved above all other schools? Come on, Half Hollow Hills. Get it together and stop perpetuating college admissions myths. It only makes the admissions process more confusing and more stressful for students and parents alike.
What college admissions myths is your high school’s college counseling office perpetuating? We’re curious to hear from you so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.
There was an excellent piece recently in “The Washington Post” by Nick Anderson entitled “Surge in foreign students may be crowding Americans out of elite colleges” that we figured we’d share. As the title implies, with the exception of right after the 9/11 attacks, the number of students from countries outside the United States applying to American colleges has been steadily climbing or, well, surging. This is particularly the case within the Ivy League.
At Yale University, international students accounted for 11% of the incoming class in 2014. And, as Anderson writes, “As Yale’s undergraduate enrollment has edged upward since 2004, foreigners have accounted for almost all of the growth, reflecting a deliberate strategy to deepen Yale’s engagement with the world.” Within the ten years between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of international students at Brown University just about doubled to 12%. And at Columbia, it surged to 15% of the incoming class. As Anderson writes, “The only Ivy League schools with single-digit international shares in 2014 were Dartmouth College (8 percent) and Cornell University (9 percent).” Interesting indeed.
Some folks have written in with Comments to our posts on the surge of international applicants to highly selective American universities over the years. These Comments have often been critical of our universities for admitting so many international applicants, students who will take up slots that American students would have otherwise filled. And we hear the concerns of these folks. But here’s what we have to say back: our American young people are better off to attend universities with fellow students who hail from around the world. That global perspective, that diversity is integral to their education. Oh, and for all of those American students seeking financial aid at America’s highly selective universities…who do you think is paying for your college education? International applicants contribute in a major way to the revenue stream of these very institutions. As Marie Antoinette once so famously said…”You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Oh wait, she just said, “Let them eat cake.” Whatever. Close enough.