A Call for Elite Universities to Reject More Applicants

We call on elite universities to reject more Early applicants — and defer fewer.

In spite of headlines in some of our nation’s most esteemed publications that college applications are down this fall, our loyal readers know that applications to our nation’s elite universities skyrocketed this fall. After all, there are only about 25 or so elite universities out of the 900+ universities across America. So that which is true at the 900+ universities often isn’t true at the 25 leading institutions. Applications to DeVry are down? Ok, well, they’re up big at Duke. And why are applications up so much at our nation’s elite universities this Early cycle? That’s easy. We call them the squeakers: students who applied to an impossible reach this Early cycle thinking they could squeak their way in without test scores because these schools went “test-optional” due to the pandemic. What these overshooting squeakers failed to realize is that “test-optional” policies aren’t worth the paper they are written on and they’re not going to squeak in with their average credentials and lack of scores — not when around 20% of seats at some of these institutions have already been filled with students admitted to the Class of 2024 who opted to take gap years.

Elite Universities Defer Too Many Early Applicants

So with skyrocketing applications and droves of squeakers who applied Early this year, what do we recommend? We recommend that elite universities reject more Early applicants this year. That’s right. Reject them. Don’t defer them. Don’t give them hope if they don’t have a genuine shot of getting in during the Regular Decision round. Don’t selfishly keep them alive just in case you don’t set more application records in the Regular Decision round. Don’t defer 40% of applicants — that’s way too many. If your applications are up 25%, do you really need to defer 25% of applicants? Elite universities, you are doing these students no favor to give them hope when there is none. Only the students who really do have a chance of earning admission in the Regular Decision round should you choose to defer. The rest? Reject them. Cut the cord. Dash their dreams. Tell it like it is.

These Selfish Universities Are Protecting Their Own Interests

We get why you do it. We get it makes no sense to, as an example, outright reject a legacy applicant. It’s better to let the parents — donors to your university — think their sons and daughters are still under consideration so parents don’t get sour grapes. Let them think you’re really mulling it over. We get that you want to maintain your relationships with certain high schools. Let these school counselors think their students still have a shot. But you’re wrong. People don’t want to be given false hope. When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, a good doctor tells that person they’ve got cancer at the top of the conversation. A good doctor does not discuss the weather with that patient for a half hour before informing him or her of the diagnosis. Elite universities, stop discussing the weather! We can’t go outside anyway right now…many of us are under stay-at-home orders! We don’t care that sunshine is expected at noon!

Deferred Students Should Approach Their Deferral the Right Way

All that being said, we have great success with students who were not previously our clients who approach us for the first time after news of their deferral. You’ll never know if you’ve got a chance after being deferred. You’ll never know if you were deferred because the universities wish to maintain a strong relationship with your high school. You’ll never know if you were deferred because you’re on the cusp of getting in or because the university didn’t want to jeopardize mom or dad’s annual donations. So all you can do is give it your best shot possible by approaching the deferral the right way when the vast majority of deferred applicants approach it the wrong way. At Ivy Coach, students who first come to us after being deferred can rest assured that they are giving themselves the best shot possible of earning admission to the school that left them in limbo. One never has a great shot after a deferral. All we can do is give these students the best shot possible — and, yes, it quite often works. At the end of the day, that’s all one can do. And if someone promises you more, well, run! And run fast.

 
 

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