The Ivy Coach Daily
December 31, 2017
The Power of a Great Letter of Enthusiasm
At this time every year, students and their parents whom we haven’t previously worked with come to us after being deferred in the Early Decision / Early Action round. They come to us in the hope of improving their chances of admission to the school that deferred their admission to the Regular Decision round. And you bet we can improve their chances of admission to the school that deferred their admission. We can offer them the best chance possible of admission. After all, it was Ivy Coach that coined the term Letter of Enthusiasm many years ago and our letters, well, they’re effective. But if anyone — and we mean anyone — should tell you that you have a great shot of admission after being deferred, run, run fast, and run for the hills. Because you don’t have a great shot of admission after being deferred. Let’s pull that bandaid off.
As a rule of thumb, at most highly selective colleges, about 10% of deferred applicants in the Early round end up earning admission in the Regular round. Over the last three years, 41% of students who first came to us after being deferred at Harvard University in the Early Action round ended up getting in. It’s a statistic we’re mighty proud of.
Ordinary Letters Will Not Do
When folks who were not our clients write us that they already submitted material to Harvard after being deferred, we tell them that our fingers are crossed and we wish them all the best. It’s our not so subtle way of saying there’s nothing we can do for them. Think of it as though you’re approaching a physician but you’ve already begun your course of treatment for an illness. Our treatment will not be as effective and it would diminish our own statistics on treating this illness if you’ve already pursued a course of action. The inclination of many students — and particularly their parents — is to deluge Harvard with tons of updates and information after a deferral. This is the wrong approach.
Maybe a student will send an updated resume or a list of her latest accomplishments. Congratulations on being named president of your school’s National Honor Society this week but, sorry, Harvard doesn’t care. Membership in National Honor Society confirms you have a pulse. Mazel tov on living! And sending in such accomplishments will only render an applicant unlikable, which is the precise opposite of what an applicant’s objective should be after being deferred. We optimize students’ cases for Regular Decision admission to Harvard by rendering them likable and we do so by helping them submit one powerful, compelling Letter of Enthusiasm. To inundate them with tons of superfluous information would not allow the letter to speak. The letter must speak. It must resonate.
Our task is to inspire Harvard admissions officers to root for them, to want to go to bat for them! Harvard admissions officers are not going to champion a student who brags about his latest research prize. Harvard admissions officers are going to champion the student who demonstrates in the most creative way possible his passion for this research. If he happened to win a major prize of late, Harvard can learn this information too but certainly not from the student and certainly not in the Letter of Enthusiasm. Nobody likes a braggart — and especially not Harvard.
Our Letters of Enthusiasm Are Weird
What most students and parents think should be included in a Letter of Enthusiasm is often the opposite of what our students include in such letters. In a word, the letters of the students who first come to Ivy Coach after being deferred at Harvard are weird. That’s right. Weird. It’s actually the key reason so many of our students over the last quarter of a century have earned admission to their dream schools: we make students weird. Heck, it would be our tagline but folks wouldn’t get it without an explanation. Do we know the tricks of admission? Of course. Do we know how to help students convince each college to which they’re applying that the school is their first choice? Of course. Do we know how to help students maximize the rigor of their coursework? Of course. But above all, to put it super simply, our students at Ivy Coach so often get in because we help make them weird. We bring it out of them. Weird wins.
Our rubber-band ball making, football concussion diagnosing students are weird. And they’re not just weird for weird’s sake. That rubber-band ball has meaning. Their weirdness contributes to their singular, incredible talent. Highly selective colleges seek singularly talented students — not well-rounded students — and, together, these singularly talented students comprise a well-rounded class. Once again, highly selective colleges, including Harvard, are not looking for well-rounded students who excel in sports, music, and community service. If you were deferred in the Early Action round at Harvard, there’s a good chance you presented yourself as well-rounded even if you didn’t intend to do so. We’ll let you know how you did this and how you can avoid it not only in your Letter of Enthusiasm but in the Regular Decision round at the other schools to which you apply.
Part of our task in this Letter of Enthusiasm is to demonstrate this singular talent in a clear and absolutely fun way in the hope of daring Harvard admissions officers not to admit the student in the Regular Decision round. Because that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to dare them. Dare them not to admit a student who is going to revolutionize the field of anthropology. Dare them not to admit a student who is going to change how we supply clean drinking water to destitute villages in her homeland. Dare them not to admit the next great ballerina.
Ivy Coach’s Process with Deferred Students
If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance with a Letter of Enthusiasm, fill out our free consultation form and we’ll be in touch within the day to set up a consult in which we’ll answer questions about the service. Just one more thing. For those students and parents who are sad today about a deferral from Harvard, wipe away those tears. Chin up, it’s Harvard.
And as important as submitting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm is, we would argue it’s even more important to understand what went wrong with the Early application so these mistakes can be corrected in the next two weeks before Regular Decision applications are due. It never ceases to amaze us how many students and parents remain squarely focused on Harvard. Of course deferred students should submit the most powerful and compelling letter possible to Harvard. But their focus should also be on the schools they’ll be applying to in just two weeks!
A key part of the service of Ivy Coach’s assistance with a Letter of Enthusiasm is our Postmortem Evaluation in which we dissect what went wrong with the Harvard application. We do an autopsy. It’s how we begin the service — before we start working on the letter with the student. After all, we’ve got to know what went wrong and what a student needs to focus on in that letter — information that will not contradict the application but instead bring out the applicant’s most interesting strength. You don’t want to be making the same mistakes again in the Regular Decision round. If you had spinach stuck in your teeth during a date that didn’t go as you’d hoped, you need to floss your teeth before going on your next date. Nobody wants to date someone with spinach between their teeth. But do lift that chin up. Dental floss is helpful. And, again, remember, it’s Harvard.
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