The Ivy Coach Daily

November 4, 2021

Dings in Elite College Admissions

It just takes one strike and you’re out in elite college admissions. But most don’t even know what counts as a strike.

At Ivy Coach, one of our sayings is that highly selective college admissions does not function like America’s criminal justice system. But, Ivy Coach, what ever do you mean? Care to elaborate? Ok, we will. So do you know how in America’s criminal justice system, people are supposed to be presumed innocent until they’re proven guilty? Well, that’s simply not the case in elite college admissions. In elite college admissions, a strike against an applicant may be all it takes to lead to a college rejection.

You see, when a student tells us they didn’t take the SAT or ACT because of a college’s test-optional policy, we count the strike in our heads. After all, when a test-optional college tells you that you don’t have to submit test scores, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit test scores. All else being equal, a student with a great SAT or ACT score will always have an advantage over a student with no score. Similarly, when a student tells us they were in the first year of foreign language in ninth grade or they did a fancy summer enrichment program at an elite university, we count the strikes.

Unlike in the criminal justice system where people are supposed to be presumed innocent, there’s no presumption of excellence in elite college admissions. Any one of these strikes — not taking an SAT or ACT, being a year behind in foreign language (since students are expected to take the first level of foreign language in eighth grade), or attending a fancy schmancy summer program — is a ding against a candidate’s chances of admission. And, yes, the fewer the dings, the better! Ding, ding, ding.

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started