Should a high school student be allowed to submit 20 or more college applications? Our answer is absolutely yes, provided the student isn’t admitted through a binding Early Decision program. The Common Application allows students to submit a maximum of 20 applications and if the student also happens to apply to schools outside of the Common App. (e.g., if the school has its own application like at MIT or Georgetown), then a student has the right to apply to even more than 20 schools (with the Early Decision caveat). But as we discussed on a recent post about a student whose admissions to Harvard and Stanford, among other schools, were the subject of major press attention, if a student is admitted to Harvard or Stanford in the Early Action round, we believe it isn’t right for that student to apply to 19 other schools — or any schools for that matter that they wouldn’t choose to attend over Harvard or Stanford. If you’re admitted to Stanford in the Early Action round and you want to apply to Harvard in the Regular Decision round, we get it. But Cornell, Northwestern, Pomona? Sorry, we just don’t get it. While we may be wrong, it has the appearance that the student would only be applying to such schools so as to accrue feathers for their cap. We at Ivy Coach stand wholeheartedly against an ego-based admissions process.
Ivy Coach Challenges Micheal Brown, Student Whose Admissions Garnered Major Press Attention, to a Debate
In our post about the student whose admissions garnered major press attention, Micheal Brown, we wrote that he sounds like a truly impressive young man and we congratulated him on his admissions to schools like Harvard and Stanford. We stand by that. He seems to us like a very nice young man with a good heart and a great head on his shoulders. But unlike the profiles of Brown in “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “CNN,” “Texas Monthly,” “USA Today,” and a host of other major news publications, we did raise our hand to question why he would choose to apply to schools he would unlikely ever attend after achieving his dream of earning admission to Stanford in the Early Action round. His mother asserts in the press that Stanford has “been his top choice for so long.” So why did he apply to so many other schools? Well, Micheal has answered, by posting comments on our college admissions blog.
Micheal wrote the following comments below. We have not corrected any typos or grammatical errors.
I just have to beg to differ. Coincidentally– this is Micheal Brown– and I’m a long time reader of Ivy Coach, which I still think is the best blog online. I’d like to say, I really don’t need any congragulations from you all.
The decision to apply to 20 schools has many factors, including figuring out financial aid, big verus small schools, the type of environment that I wanted– and you likely didn’t know, which debate coach would give me a spot on the team because that’s one of my non-negotiables. And so that you may be informed on your analsis of my applying to schoolas after getting into Stanford, I had aleady submitted application to 14 schools (8 of which that school an early deadline like EA, honors programs, and scholarship deadlines) before I’d gotten my decision from Stanford, so I only had 6 schools (the Ivys plus Northwestern and Georgetown). I wasn’t going to withdraw apps because I’d put in the hard work for my apps, and I still applied for more reaches because I wasn’t totally sold on Stanford, (and I’m still not). And additionally, as a QB student seeking financial aid, it was important for me to be able to balance many offers to get the best price.
PS: On the point of Stanford over Pomona, a friend of mine actually chose Pomona over Stanford last year, and loves his choice.
PSS: The asseterion that I “took slots away from other deserving candidates” implies that students applying to top schools are entitled to recieve admissions; we both know that this assertion isn’t true. Like with the 16 school that I’ve told I won’t attend, they admitted more students than I intend to enrolll. we both know that schools have formulas to estimate yield– with students like me in mind. And if there is space left, students will still get in off the waitlist.
PSSS: Period, my volume of applications in no way harm another individual.
PSSSS: For many of your rich students, additonal acceptances may be adding feathers to their hat, but for me, its about seeking the most inviting environment for a first gen student at a price that my mom can afford.
Also– I’d like to note that any media appearance has only been to share my story to inspire other low-income, first-gen, students of color, etc. who also want to pursue their dreams and have options– despite living in a society that has chosen everything in life for them. Regardless of what any one has to say, my story cannot be unwritten and all of the kids who have reached out to me cannot be uninspired.
A Student Who Loves to Debate is Hereby Challenged to a Debate
Micheal, we disagree with so many of your assertions. For starters, even if you had submitted applications to 14 schools before you received your decision from Stanford, you absolutely could have withdrawn applications from schools that hadn’t yet rendered decisions after you received your acceptance from Stanford. Our students at Ivy Coach do this all the time — and we rarely have to tell them to do so. They do so on their own. But even if you did apply to 14 schools before receiving your decision from Stanford, why did you choose to apply to several other schools after receiving your admission? We just don’t buy it that you were truly considering all of these institutions. Writing that you “put in the hard work for [your] apps” is not justification for failing to withdraw your applications and it undercuts your argument that you applied to these schools only to stack one financial aid offer up against the next (which we can also debate). And, by the way, you were indeed allowed to apply to all of these schools. You broke no rules. We just don’t think it was the right thing to do because, contrary to your comments, you certainly did take away slots from other students.
We’re going to save most of our responses to your arguments for a debate we hope to have with you. You mentioned you’re a debater. In your comment, you wrote that your college decision would be based on “which debate coach would give me a spot on the team because that’s one of my non-negotiables.” Well, let’s debate. We can have the debate on a national morning show (we’re happy to set it up) or, if you’d prefer, we can host the debate, with video, right here on our college admissions blog. Just let us know. The choice is yours.
Finally, you mentioned that you didn’t take slots away from other deserving students at the schools you won’t be attending. That’s false. You sure did take away slots from other deserving candidates by applying to schools you didn’t seemingly have any intention of attending. Think about it like this. An oboist competes against an oboist for a slot. A 100 backstroker competes against a 100 backstroker for a swim coach’s slot. A gifted debater like yourself competes against a gifted debater for a slot.
You mentioned that you wanted your story to be told in the hope it would inspire other underrepresented minority young people from low-income families. We absolutely get that and that is commendable. Such stories are deserving of being told. But when you applied to so many schools that we don’t believe you had any intention of attending, you took away slots from other students, including other QuestBridge students, other low-income, underrepresented minority students. While that may very well not have been your intention (we’re sure it wasn’t!), it’s the impact of your decision-making. And that’s something we don’t find particularly inspiring. Indeed we hope other students going forward will not follow this particular example of yours. It doesn’t mean you’re not a great student. We’re sure you are. It doesn’t mean you’re not a person of great moral character. We’re sure you are. It just means we believe you made a bad decision. We all make bad decisions from time to time. Your bad decision just happened to be lauded by the world press.
But you have every right to defend yourself against our criticism. You have every right to criticize us too (e.g., your criticism that we help the wealthy earn admission to highly selective colleges — which we’re happy to address). We wish to give you that opportunity. Micheal, do you accept our challenge to a debate?