Over the years, folks have written in with comments to our posts about international applicants to U.S. universities in which they’ve argued that international applicants make it more difficult for American applicants to get into America’s most highly selective universities. Some of these folks articulate that it’s unfair these international applicants are taking away slots from deserving American applicants, that American universities should be designed — first and foremost — to educate Americans.
We at Ivy Coach wholeheartedly disagree with these assertions.
Are some of these commenters simply xenophobic? You bet. But we’re not going to challenge their arguments by appealing to their shared humanity, by expressing how universities are better off for having a diverse set of students from around the world on their campuses (they are!). We’re going to challenge their arguments by undercutting their reasoning. So let’s break this down. The underlying basis for their argument is that international students take away slots from American students. And it is true that the percentage of international students in the incoming classes at America’s most highly selective universities has increased over the last decade. So it stands to reason that if the percentage of international students increases, the percentage of American students decreases. That too is not untrue.
But what is true is that international applicants are a financial boon to America’s most highly selective universities. It is true that international applicants make it possible for low-income and middle-income American students to afford to attend our nation’s most elite universities. America’s most highly selective universities don’t often dip into their endowments to subsidize the cost of American students who need financial aid. They depend on full-paying students — as most international applicants are — to subsidize the cost of educating some of our finest American young people who, in many instances, simply can’t afford to attend a highly selective university if not for a tuition subsidy.
If our America is built on the middle class – and it is! — then international students at U.S. universities help pave the way for young people of our nation’s middle class to forge their American dreams. Ironic? Yes. True? You bet.
We’ve expressed — contrary to popular belief — that international applicants will still apply in droves to America’s most highly selective universities under President Trump. That’s right. In spite of anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposed immigration bans, Ivy Coach’s famous crystal ball predicts that our nation’s most selective universities will not experience a significant drop in international applicants. While many universities will experience drops (and some already have), these universities are simply not among our nation’s most elite institutions. Adelphi is not Harvard. Sorry, Adelphi. The young people of South Africa, China, Korea, Brazil, and everywhere in between will still wish to attend the very best universities in the world. And the very best universities in the world are right here in the United States of America.
So our counter-argument is this: International students at U.S. universities make it possible for so many American young people to attend America’s most highly selective universities. Without these international students, high-achieving American students simply wouldn’t be able to attend because of high tuition costs. As Katilin Mulhere reports for “Yahoo News” in an aptly titled piece “The Immigration Crackdown’s Surprising Victim: Your Tuition Bill,”: “If there is a noticeable drop in international enrollments, university revenue is likely to fall-and American students could face tuition increases to make up the difference.” We’d just add — to land this important point — that any tuition hike ultimately ends up precluding certain American students from matriculating to these very institutions, which is surely not in America’s interest.
Decisions are out for the MIT Class of 2021. College admissions enthusiasts know that decisions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology come out annually at the same exact time on the same exact date (Pi Day). After all, MIT is a fairly renowned institution when it comes to mathematics so it’s their way of playing up their distinctiveness. For the MIT Class of 2021, roughly 20,000 students applied for admission and 1,438 were offered a spot in the incoming class. These students are said to hail from over 60 nations. And our students at Ivy Coach who earned admission to MIT this year hail from 4 of these nations! We can start our own United Nations of MIT. We kid.
As reported by “MIT News” in a release about the MIT Class of 2021, “‘MIT is fortunate to attract applications from so many of the world’s most promising students, all of whom seem destined to change the world. It is a very difficult choice to select so few of these many qualified applicants,’ says Matt McGann, director of admissions. ‘I am excited to see in this group of admitted students such an excellent match to MIT’s mission and culture.’ Again this year, a third have won national or international academic distinctions and many are athletes, artists, or makers. Admitted students come from 50 states, 62 countries, and from diverse backgrounds: a quarter identify as members of underrepresented minority groups, and 18 percent will be the first generation in their family to attend college.”
And as for students who were placed in waitlist limbo by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are about 500 of you — according to “MIT News.” If you’re a student who has been waitlisted for the MIT Class of 2021, doing nothing is not the answer. Doing the wrong thing is not the answer either. If you’d like to give yourself the best possible shot of earning admission off the waitlist, fill out our free consult form and indicate MIT waitlist. We’ll then be in touch.
While Georgetown University hasn’t yet sent out notifications to its Regular Decision applicants, early word is out for the RD pool of the Georgetown Class of 2021. In all, 21,459 students applied to be Hoyas — not including Early Action applicants (there were 19,997 applicants if you combine the Georgetown Early Action and Regular Decision pools). The university’s admissions office is anticipating an admit rate of about 15%, which would be down from its 16.4% admit rate for the Georgetown Class of 2020. This follows an Early Action cycle in which Georgetown offered admission to 11.9% of applicants of the 7,822 students who applied to the Jesuit institution.
As reports Christian Paz in a piece entitled “Class of 2021 Application Rate Increases to All-Time High” in “The Hoya,” “According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon (CAS ’64, GRD ’69), the incoming freshman class is expected to increase slightly from 1,580 to 1,600 students. Deacon said based on the 1600 SAT score scale, the average critical reading score and math score for the applicant pool rose by about 16 points, translating to a more competitive applicant pool. The number of first-generation college students who submitted regular decision applications increased this year, making up 11 to 12 percent of total applications. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions plans to send out decisions for the regular decision cycle beginning the week of March 27 for applicants to receive their letters by April 1.”
Good luck to all students who applied for admission to the Georgetown Class of 2021, to the alma mater of the great basketball player and even greater humanitarian Dikembe Mutombo. We hope the admissions office won’t be wagging their finger at you anytime soon.
Johns Hopkins University notified applicants to the Class of 2021 of their decisions this past Friday. In all, 2,542 students applied for admission to the Baltimore, Maryland-based university. In the Early Decision round, Johns Hopkins admitted 591 students to be members of the Class of 2021, though only 575 of these 591 students will be enrolling, according to the university. So while Johns Hopkins didn’t include the total number of applications received in the Regular Decision round within their press release (or an admit rate), if our arithmetic holds up, we estimate the university received 24,644 applications in Regular Decision. And that means that Johns Hopkins’ Regular Decision admit rate for the Class of 2021 stands at 10.31%.
Of admitted students to Johns Hopkins’ Class of 2021, 46% are male while 54% are female. They hail from 48 states and 52 nations around the world. The most over-represented states include California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida. 99% of students fall in the top 10% of their high school classes, while the average GPA for these students is 3.93. As reported by Jill Rosen in a piece about the Johns Hopkins Class of 2021 on “Hub,” “‘This admitted class is notable not only for their academic achievements, but for the way they are pursuing issues that mean something to them personally,’ said Ellen Kim, dean of undergraduate admissions at Johns Hopkins. ‘Many of these students are looking beyond their academic interests to make an impact on scales both large and small.’ A student’s accomplishments are only one part of the admission’s story, Kim said. What really makes a student stand out at Johns Hopkins is a desire to unite their interests—academic, social, or personal—with opportunities they will find here as an undergraduate. ‘Through their essays, teacher recommendations, activities, and personal statements,’ Kim said, ‘it was clear that the students we admitted would capitalize on these connections at Johns Hopkins.'”
Congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who earned admission to Johns Hopkins University’s Class of 2021 this week. One of you in particular offered us the most memorable reaction of the year to getting into a top choice school. We’re so happy for you!
Regular readers of our college admissions blog know that we write about March Madness because how deep a team advances in the NCAA Tournament can have a major impact on the university’s application numbers the subsequent admissions cycle. So to all you Northwestern fans, you bet we anticipate a surge in applications to the Evanston, Illinois-based university next year. But regular readers of our blog also know that we have a March Madness favorite, a young man we’ve been rooting on — along with his USC Trojan teammates — for some time. And yesterday was his shining moment.
Last year, we were in attendance in North Carolina when the USC Trojans fell to Providence at the buzzer in the opening round of March Madness. This year, USC again faced Providence — this time in one of the First Four play-in games. After falling behind by 17 points in the second half, USC charged back and revenged their 2016 NCAA Tournament defeat. Yesterday, in the round of 64 against the better-ranked Southern Methodist University, USC again found themselves behind by double digits in the second half, but Elijah Stewart and his USC teammates would not go gently into that good night. They would rally back — led by Elijah’s 22 points and game-winning 3-pointer that will go down as one of the most important shots in the history of the University of Southern California’s basketball program.
Of all of yesterday’s college basketball action, the pundits have dubbed USC’s win the biggest upset. But we’ll be rooting for the Trojans to stage another stunning upset tomorrow, against Baylor. Let’s go Trojans. Let’s go Elijah. Fight on!
There was a piece in “The New York Times” yesterday by Stephanie Saul that focused on the impact of the Trump presidency on the wave of international applicants coming to American universities. In the piece entitled “Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants,” Saul writes about how nearly 40% of U.S. universities — of the 250 schools reporting to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers — have indicated they’ve received fewer international applications this year, notably from the Middle East.
But as Mark Twain taught us: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.” It’s not that this figure isn’t true. We’re confident in this reporting, but the figure masks an important fact — many highly selective U.S. universities are actually reporting increases in undergraduate applicants this year rather than declines. Indeed many of these declines are the case for graduate school programs rather than for undergraduate admissions. And many of these declines are at universities that are not among the most highly selective in America.
As Saul reports, “Graduate schools appear to be feeling the worst pinch, with nearly half reporting drops. ‘Our deans describe it as a chilling effect,’ said Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools…Slumping graduate school applications can now be seen at universities ranging from giant Big Ten public universities like Ohio State and Indiana University to regional programs such as Portland State, with just over 27,000 students, including more than 1,900 international students. At Indiana University, international applications for undergraduate programs increased 6 percent, but graduate applications for some programs are posting big drops, said David Zaret, vice president for international affairs.”
Shortly after the election of President Trump, we forecasted — with the help of our famous crystal ball — that highly selective universities in the United States would not, contrary to the forecasts of many, see declines in undergraduate applications from international applicants. We forecasted that international applicant numbers would remain strong. As we await word from some of our nation’s most elite institutions on their Regular Decision admissions figures, we stand by our forecast. Yesterday’s piece in “The New York Times” focuses primarily on less selective American schools and on graduate programs. Let’s wait to see the data on international applicants coming out of America’s most highly selective universities in the weeks ahead.
Have a question about international applicant numbers? Post your question below and we’ll be sure to write back.
We know we’re a bit late to the party with our comments on Malcom Gladwell’s three-part series related to colleges and college admissions on his “Revisionist History” podcast but we figure better late than never, right? His July 2016 episode entitled “My Little Hundred Million” is wonderfully entertaining and we found ourselves nodding our heads in agreement on virtually ever point the man who invented the pop psychology section in bookstores raised. The piece focuses on a man by the name of Hank Rowan who donated $100 million not to Harvard or Stanford but rather to a small public institution in Glassboro, New Jersey (that university, these years later, is now named after him — Rowan University).
So why did Hank Rowan bequeath much of his fortune to a small, little-known school in his native New Jersey rather than to a school like MIT (his alma mater)? Because, as Malcolm articulates, he thought it would make a difference. As Rowan thought, donating to one of America’s most elite institutions wouldn’t make much of a difference. $100 million towards a $22 billion endowment? A proverbial drop in the bucket. But a $100 million donation to a school that has, say, a $1 million endowment? Now that’d make an impact. And that’s precisely what Hank Rowan did. Malcolm Gladwell admires Hank Rowan for this act and we do too.
But Gladwell wonders why others haven’t followed Rowan’s lead, why he was the exception and not the rule? How come so many of the largest donors in recent years have essentially all donated to the same schools with already robust endowments? Why are they helping the rich get richer? Gladwell even interviews the then-president of Stanford University, John Hennessy, a man who was charged with soliciting the donations of billionaires like alumnus Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike. And the author is astounded that the president of Stanford believes the university could always use more money, that no amount of money is ever enough.
Here’s where we both agree and disagree with Malcolm. We agree that a $150 million donation to Stanford to start some elite graduate school program that caters to a select set of students seems a bit like money not well spent — that this money would be better served at a university that really could benefit from that major donation. Like Rowan University — where so many students, aspiring engineers, are from the New Jersey area, the children of blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to send their children out of state. Such a donation could help bring up the middle class, to give them more and better opportunities in engineering. But when Malcolm kept pressing the Stanford president, essentially asking him how much is too much, Hennessy had a good response — that he could always find good use for more money, like in the biomedical sciences. He’s right. No amount of money is too much to fight, say, cancer. And we stand with our former Vice President Joe Biden — the cure for cancer should be a key American focus in this young century. Our guess is that the next major advances in cancer research, advances that happen every day, will be coming from schools like Stanford rather than Rowan University. So while we appreciate Malcolm’s argument, we also appreciate Hennessy’s counterargument. Neither is incorrect.
But the podcast really gets good when Malcolm — in trademark Malcolm fashion — ties in something seemingly incongruous to make his argument: sports. Soccer and basketball, specifically. Malcolm articulates that soccer is what he calls a “weak-link” sport, while basketball is a “strong-link” sport. In soccer, Malcolm argues (based on the analyses of sabermetricians) that winning a game often comes down to one team making a mistake or two. After all, soccer games are usually won by a goal or two. And those mistakes are quite often made, as the data suggests, by the weakest players on the field, not by the stars. So if soccer teams were truly interested only in winning (and not in selling jerseys, attracting fans, etc.), they’d invest in improving their weakest players rather than in courting superstars like David Beckham. Basketball, however, is a “strong-link” sport, meaning that it’s superstar driven. Winning comes down to having a LeBron, a KLove, and a Kyrie on the team. It’s why NBA teams chase the big names in free agency. As the data suggests, they’re right to do so.
And how does any of this seemingly incongruous information relate? Because, as Malcolm argues, by donating to a small public school in New Jersey, Hank Rowan demonstrated his support for the “weak-link” argument, that our country will be better off if we help those who need our help rather than help those who are already well-off. Hank Rowan essentially preferred soccer to basketball — in a nation that clearly has a penchant for supporting basketball over soccer. The donors to Stanford and other such elite institutions, as Malcolm argues, they’re believers in the “strong-link” argument. They’re all about basketball.
At Ivy Coach, we see the merits in both the “strong-link” and the “weak-link” arguments. We understand why folks like Phil Knight make donations to schools like Stanford. But we also appreciate why Hank Rowan made his donation to a small public school in New Jersey. And, yes, our nation benefits from the Phil Knights and the Hank Rowans.
We at Ivy Coach appreciate the value of both the “strong-link” and the “weak-link” arguments. We understand why folks like Phil Knight make such sizable donations to institutions like Stanford that already have such robust endowments. An end to cancer, which can be within our grasp, and other advances of the sort — it’s likely coming from an institution like Stanford University rather than Rowan University. And we want more than anything to end cancer. So why wouldn’t we wish to donate to a school like Stanford, an institution that stands on the battlefield in the fight against cancer? Do we wish donors would demand their donations be earmarked for such causes as biomedical sciences rather than, say, a political science graduate research program? Sure, no offense to political science, which we chose here at random. But we also understand the importance of offering an outstanding education to young men and women who pursue their college educations at local public schools like Rowan. We appreciate the importance of teaching these young men and women important principles of engineering so they can become vibrant members of our American economy.
So, we’re clearly torn. And to those folks thinking: “But Ivy Coach, don’t you, like Stanford, help the rich get richer? Are you really torn?” Yes, we are. We understand that our fees preclude many middle and low-income families from working with us. We make no apologies for our fees. These are the fees we command for our expertise, for our track record of helping students earn admission to the colleges of their dreams. We are an American business. America is a nation built on capitalism and Ivy Coach is a great entrepreneurial success story — a company begun by a high school counselor on Long Island who saw that high school students weren’t getting enough — or the right kind — of guidance in the highly selective college admissions process. But, like many businesses, we compensate. Remember that Tom’s Shoes, a company made famous for their shoe donations across Africa, is also, at the end of the day, a business. For many years, we helped low-income and middle-income students on a pro bono basis and some time ago, we decided to offer our pro bono services exclusively to some of our veterans of America’s armed forces. We’re proud to serve the members of the military we have the chance to work with each year on a pro bono basis. We guess it’s our way to show our support for both soccer and basketball. Indeed our feeling of being torn after listening to Malcolm’s podcast is reflected in the very fabric of our business.
Do check out Malcolm’s always entertaining podcast, including his controversial episode on Vassar College and Bowdoin College (we’ve included Bowdoin’s response to the episode too). And do let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.
After all of these months of waiting, it can be frustrating when students find out that they’ve been neither accepted nor denied admission. We feel for waitlisted applicants, students placed in limbo until the colleges to which they’ve applied are ready to render a verdict. But while the jury is still out, it’s not like the members of said jury are sequestered. You can still get them more information. And that information you get them can prove pivotal to turning that spot on the waitlist into an offer of admission.
Many years ago, we at Ivy Coach coined the term Letter of Enthusiasm. We had no idea it would become such a well known term in highly selective college admissions back then. But we did know that Letters of Enthusiasm worked. We did know that most waitlisted applicants choose to do nothing once placed on a waitlist. And we did know that the vast majority of the students who choose not to do nothing but instead do something do, well, the wrong thing. The first inclination of the student who wishes to do something is to inundate colleges with all of the things they’ve achieved in the couple of months since they applied. But what has a student truly achieved that is earth shattering in the couple of months since applications were submitted? Are there exceptions?Certainly. Being named a finalist in a major science competition (e.g., Regeneron) — that’s absolutely worthy of an update to colleges (preferably from the school counselor!). But in most cases, achievements are not the way to go.
Think about it. Your task as a waitlisted applicant for admission is to sway human beings to root for you, to go to bat for you, to move you to the top of the waitlist pile. Boasting about your achievements is a surefire way not to move to the top of that pile and yet it remains the most common approach for the student who chooses to do something rather than do nothing. Students who first come to us after being waitlisted quickly learn the correct approach to trying to get off that dreaded waitlist. And they quickly learn what constitutes a powerful and compelling Letter of Enthusiasm — because that’s precisely the kind of letter we’ll help them submit. And it’s often quite the opposite of what they thought they should include in such a letter.
We recently came across a podcast on college admissions that aired last year — and we just have to share it with our readers because it is, in a word, phenomenal. And do excuse us for being late to the dinner party on this one occasion. It’s the “Food Fight” episode of Malcolm Gladwell‘s “Revisionist History” podcast. The episode focuses on Bowdoin College and Vassar College — and the disparate roads these two small liberal arts colleges have taken in recent years.
So what are these two roads that diverged in a wood? Well, in short and all as according to Gladwell, while Bowdoin College has devoted much of its resources to offering current students the very best in dining options — from artisanal cheeses to eggplant parmesan pancakes (yes, you read that correctly), Vassar College proudly serves a lackluster salad bar with iceberg lettuce and some not so fresh fruit, to put it mildly. And why is Vassar proud that its food doesn’t stack up to the gourmet delicacies of its Maine counterpart, Bowdoin? Because it is Vassar’s mission to educate students who need full financial aid, to educate the very brightest among us be they rich or poor. The more dollars they spend on food, the fewer dollars they can spend on admitting students on Pell Grants, on admitting students who need full financial aid.
Indeed Bowdoin and Vassar are rivals. You see, every college — and Bowdoin and Vassar are no exceptions — needs full-paying students to subsidize the tuition of students whose families simply can’t afford the high price of annual tuition. As an administrator at Vassar puts it (or rather how Gladwell simplifies it for folks to digest), in describing how the school seeks both smart full-paying students as well as smart students who need financial aid, it’s “a barbell.” And to attract the full-pays, as college admissions officers like to call them, it sure does help to have great food, to have newly renovated dorms with private baths…you name it. A kid from Beverly Hills wants to be able to eat vegan if she so desires.
Malcolm Gladwell, in a compelling podcast, makes Vassar a hero and Bowdoin a villain based on a thought-provoking analysis certainly worth a listen.
So therein lies the rub. Vassar and Bowdoin both seek to attract students whose families can pay the full cost of tuition. In no uncertain terms, they’re competing for these same students. They’re rivals. But while the wealthier Bowdoin is devoting significant dollars to amenities like delicious food, which helps attract those full-paying students, Vassar is devoting more significant dollars to financial aid for students who need that money to be able to attend such a great liberal arts college. Or, as Gladwell puts it, “Atrocious fresh fruit is a small price to pay for a little social justice.” And of course, it’s important to note that after the podcast’s release, Bowdoin has disputed the dollars earmarked for its food along with many other claims asserted in Gladwell’s compelling piece.
Like with so many Malcolm Gladwell pieces (we are among his biggest fans), there’s indeed a counterargument refuting many of his claims. But his argument, like so many of his arguments, is surely a compelling one and so based on these arguments, we salute Vassar College for their self-acknowledged atrocious fresh fruit and for doing what they can to bend the long arc of the moral universe towards justice. We encourage our readers to listen to Gladwell’s podcast as well as read the counterargument — to be fair to Bowdoin, which of course issued a statement in response to Gladwell’s piece. Our readers can then decided for themselves if they’re team Vassar or team Bowdoin.
Ivy Coach salutes Vassar College for being a national leader in helping low-income students attend their elite institution. Way to go, Vassar!
Each and every March, we write about college basketball. And why? Because a university’s success in March Madness can have a major impact on the school’s admissions statistics the subsequent admissions cycle. Should a powerhouse basketball program go out in the first round, applications are unlikely to spike the next year as they would if the team advanced to the Final Four. A good, historic case study for this trend is of course Duke University, one of our nation’s most highly selective universities.
So which highly selective schools made it into the March Madness field this year? Well, there is reigning National Champion Villanova University, the #1 seed in the bracket. There’s the University of Virginia, University of Southern California, Duke University, Northwestern University (the university’s first bid — congratulations to the Wildcats and, of course, Julia Louis Dreyfus whose son is on the team!), Vanderbilt University, University of Notre Dame, Princeton University (the 2017 Ivy League champion after remaining undefeated in conference play!), Wake Forest University, University of California – Los Angeles, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Michigan. And, yes, we’re cherrypicking the most competitive of the batch for those folks that wish to make the cast that East Tennessee State University deserves a mention (it doesn’t as it’s not highly selective and we help students earn admission to highly selective schools).
Let’s go Eli and the USC Trojans! Fight on.
And regular readers of our college admissions blog know who we’ll be rooting for. While of course we’ll be pulling for all of the highly selective schools, it’s the University of Southern California that moves our hearts — and junior starting guard Elijah Stewart in particular. We were in attendance in North Carolina last year when the Trojans fell at the buzzer to Providence in the opening round. And which school should USC draw for the play-in game to the 2017 tourney? Providence. Let’s go Trojans! Let’s go Eli! Fight on.