Around this time every year, the tables turn in highly selective college admissions. The seesaw tips the other way. After colleges release their decisions in the Regular Decision round of admissions, suddenly high school students are no longer waiting on colleges to render their long-awaited verdicts on where they’ll spend the next four years of their lives. Suddenly the power rests squarely in the hands of students (and their parents) — and not the colleges. At this time every year, colleges wait anxiously to learn what percentage of admitted students will choose to matriculate. After all, a school’s yield indirectly impacts a school’s all-important “US News & World Report” ranking. And if a college should tell you that it doesn’t care about its “US News & World Report” ranking, smile, nod, but know you’ve just been told a falsehood. Every college cares about its “US News & World Report” ranking. Every. Single. One.
As colleges wait to hear from students, they switch to full on sales mode. And why? Because they’re competing against one another for students. In the Regular Decision round, at risk of stating the obvious, students can be admitted to a number of universities and so each school needs to try to sway admitted students to choose them, to love them (to paraphrase the timeless words of “Grey’s Anatomy”). Many schools will try to leave a very personal impression. Some of our students receive handwritten notes on their offers of admission. We love to see those notes — they’re our favorite! Some schools — many in fact — will host admitted students on their campuses where they’ll roll out the red carpet and pray that it won’t rain. You’d be amazed how a rainy admitted students weekend can impact a school’s yield!
These schools will compete against one another in good faith for the grand prize of landing their admitted students. But what happens when one school doesn’t play fair? What happens when one school tries to secure an unfair competitive advantage over other schools? Will that school be held accountable? We’ve come across a highly selective U.S. university that we don’t believe is playing fair this year. We won’t be naming this school just yet, though we’re considering doing so in the next few weeks in the hope they change their ways in future years. Indeed we have a feeling this school is reading this post and they know they’re guilty of not playing fair.
At the university to which we’re referring, all of our students at Ivy Coach earned admission this Regular Decision cycle. And, we suspect, none will choose to matriculate. Perhaps it’s the universe intervening to address a school that isn’t playing fair.
So let’s issue them a reminder. In the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (Ivy Coach also is a member of NACAC), there is a stanza that reads as follows: “All postsecondary members agree they will permit first-year candidates for fall admission to choose among offers of admission and institutionally-affiliated financial aid and scholarships until May 1, and state this deadline explicitly in their offers of admission, and not establish policies nor engage in practices whose effect is to manipulate commitments prior to May 1.” We believe this school is manipulating Regular Decision commitments, through its communications to students, in the hope of boosting its yield.