The Ivy Coach Daily

March 6, 2020

Appealing Admissions Decisions

A piece out today in US News & World Report on college admissions appeals does a disservice to students and parents navigating the stressful highly selective college admissions process.

A core objective of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the admissions process — misconceptions perpetuated by high school counselors, by private college counselors, by parents, students, the press, and the local sheriff. Today we will debunk a misconception perpetuated by a journalist for US News & World Report, the publisher of the most important college ranking. In a piece entitled “A Guide to the College Admissions Appeal Process,” reporter Josh Moody articulates how students whose admission has been denied by colleges can go about appealing their decision with these schools.

Most Highly Selective Colleges Don’t Have Appeals Processes

The only problem? There is no Supreme Court in highly selective college admissions. There are no appeals or circuit courts. That’s right. The vast majority of our nation’s highly selective colleges don’t have an appeals process at all. The appeals process is neither published or puAnd yet if you read Mr. Moody’s piece, you’ll indeed be convinced that such a process exists at many of these institutions.

As he writes, “You didn’t get into your dream school. Now what? One option is to appeal the decision and ask the committee to reconsider. While this effort is akin to hitting the half-court shot at the buzzer to win the basketball game, it’s possible, even if unlikely. Admissions appeals, like half-court shots, occasionally hit the mark. Before launching an admissions appeal, students should know the policy and process in place at their preferred college, experts say. ’Every university has a different policy when it comes to appeals,’ says Brooke Hanson, CEO and founder of California-based SupertutorTV, a college consulting organization. ’The first thing you do is determine what the policy is and if it’s published or not.’ If the appeals policy is not published, Hanson suggests contacting the admissions office for more information.”

The US News & World Report Piece on Admissions Appeals is Thus Entirely Misleading

And if you read all that nonsense that we just quoted from the piece in US News & World Report, you are now, well, stupider. Contrary to the words of Mr. Moody and the founder of a California-based college consulting organization whom he quotes, it would be an utter waste of time to contact the admissions offices at Ivy League schools or the vast majority of other highly selective institutions to inquire about their appeals process — because no such process exists. A denial is final. On many of these schools’ admissions websites, they’ll even stipulate that you can always apply next year — that’s next year. They’re not offering an opportunity to appeal their verdict. Their verdict is final. And final really does mean final.

We See You, Californians But USC, UC Schools Are Exceptions, Not the Rule Among Highly Selective Colleges

We know we’re about to hear from some folks, notably some folks in California, who chime in about how the University of Southern California and the University of California schools have appeals processes in place. They most certainly do. But most highly selective institutions do not. It’s why we’ve written — throughout this post — that the vast majority of highly selective colleges do not have appeals processes. It’s a point Mr. Moody surely should have made in his misleading piece. We hereby urge US News & World Report to update this piece with this essential, clarifying point.

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