One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process — misconceptions perpetuated by high school counselors, by admissions officers, by private college consultants, and more. On about a monthly basis, one such high school counselor, Brennan Barnard, presents a host of misconceptions about the admissions process in his pieces for Forbes. His latest piece, “The Debate Over Early Decision In College Admission: Who Is It Good For?,” is no exception. It is abounding in misconceptions about the college admissions process. And perpetuating misconceptions, of course, only serves to create confusion. This confusion ultimately makes the admissions process more stressful for all. Let’s address five of these misconceptions.
5 Corrections to 5 Misconceptions About College Admissions
1.) In reference to the University of Virginia announcing a new binding Early Decision policy with a due date of October 15th: “October 15th is simply too early for many seventeen-year-olds to decide where they want to go to college.” Oh? Most schools have Early Decision deadlines of November 1st. But October 15th is too early for high school students to decide which college they most wish to attend? Those two weeks make all the difference? Later in the piece, Barnard argues the Early deadline should be pushed back to January 1st. The fact is high school seniors need to ultimately commit to one college in the end. Why is it so much more difficult for students to commit in mid-October than on January 1st? It’s not!
2.) “Early deadlines for college admission really are designed to benefit colleges, not students.” He’s not wrong that Early Decision deadlines are designed to benefit colleges. Colleges care deeply about their yield. They want to admit students who are going to attend. When they admit students through Early Decision, these students are bound to attend. But Early Decision deadlines also benefit students. Our students at Ivy Coach have been benefiting from Early policies for over a quarter of a century. You see, many of our students would not earn admission to their top choice school if such Early policies didn’t exist, if they couldn’t show their commitment to the school(s) they most wish to attend in the fall. So, essentially, we have over a quarter century’s worth of students who have benefited from Early policies to counter this ridiculous assertion.
3.) “Despite the rise of community-based organizations and other supports, the reality is that many low-income or under-resourced populations do not have the advantage of being able to visit multiple colleges before applications are submitted. Therefore, their ability to settle so early on a first choice is limited.” We don’t disagree that it can be difficult for low-income students to visit colleges, though many colleges have fly-in programs designed for these very students. But this theory invariably suggests that it’s easier for these students to visit colleges after applications are submitted than before. Why is it less expensive and/or easier for them to visit in the spring as compared to the fall? We’re confused.
4.) “The inability to compare aid packages for low-income students—and increasingly middle-class students—prevents them from making informed choices and only contributes to the student debt crisis.” This, of course, is an a hackneyed argument we’ve cut holes in countless times over the years. A student need not apply to a host of colleges to compare financial aid packages. That student can have a great idea of the aid they’ll receive simply by plugging their numbers in advance into the Net Price Calculator online.
5.) “The truth is when push comes to shove, school counselors are always going to do what is best for the student.” Oh? Is that the case when the child of a student with no prior connections to a boarding school is competing against a student who is the third generation of his family to attend said boarding school? School counselors at such schools often do not advocate equally on behalf of all their students so the suggestion that all “school counselors are always going to do what is best for the student” is laughable indeed.