We hear this refrain quite a bit from students and parents navigating the highly selective college admissions process: “But the college said so!” And the college sure did say so. We don’t doubt that colleges tell applicants and their parents, as but one example, that they’re need-blind in admissions. They advertise it on their websites. They tout it in their information sessions. Some admissions officers say it so frequently and with such authority that they even end up believing it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in that way. But it doesn’t make it any more true. So what are 4 things colleges tell applicants that simply aren’t the case?
Demonstrated Interest Matters
Many colleges will say that visiting campus doesn’t factor into the equation when an admissions officer is weighing your admission. And why should college say otherwise? It is in the interest of every college in America — even Harvard — to encourage as many students to apply as possible (even unqualified applicants). The more students who choose to apply, invariably the lower the school’s admission rate will be and the higher the school will be ranked in the all-important “US News & World Report” college ranking. Suggesting that visiting matters doesn’t serve the college because it only discourages students who haven’t visited from applying since they think their odds will be diminished.
Rankings Matter to Colleges
That of course leads us to college rankings and the kingpin of all those rankings, the “US News & World Report” ranking. No college will tell you that they care about their ranking. And yet every college cares about its annual “US News” ranking. There’s a reason that there is quite often turnover at the top of admissions offices when applications are down, when admission rates rise in a given cycle. Colleges care first and foremost about their ranking and any suggestion otherwise is simply laughable.
Most Highly Selective Colleges Are Need-Aware
Colleges love to suggest that they’re need-blind. It’s good press. They don’t factor in a student’s ability to pay when debating that student’s case for admission. It makes sense. But it’s not correct. If colleges were truly need-blind, then why on the vast majority of college supplements does it ask if a student needs financial aid? Why isn’t this question on a document that admissions officers debating the student’s case for admission aren’t privy to? Also, if a college admitted a class in which the vast majority of students needed financial aid (which is a risk they’d run if they were truly need-blind in admissions), the college would risk going broke. Colleges rely on tuition dollars, plain and simple.
Admissions Officers Discriminate Against Asian-Americans
Yes, it’s grabbing the headlines these days. And, no, the Justice Department is wrong to be zeroing in on Affirmative Action as the cause for the discrimination that Asian Americans face in highly selective college admissions. But there is no denying that colleges unjustly discriminate against Asian-Americans in admissions. When students choose to play into stereotype, when their activities are quite similar to the vast majority of Asian-American applicants, they play into the hands of admissions officers whose implicit biases impact their decision-making. There’s a reason the Asian-American students like all of our students with whom we work at Ivy Coach so often earn admission to their dream schools. We fight back against this discrimination in every component of the application by helping present our students wonderfully weird. That’s right. Wonderfully weird.
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