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The Ivy Coach Daily

January 28, 2021

Praise for Georgetown’s Admissions Czar

In the world of highly selective college admissions, Charles Deacon, the longtime leader of Georgetown’s admissions office, is deserving of a profile in courage.

Georgetown University’s admissions office deserves a special shout-out. You see, Georgetown’s longtime admissions czar, Charles Deacon, marches to the beat of his own drum. When admissions offices, decades ago, began notifying applicants of their decisions through online portals and email, Georgetown’s Deacon insisted on snail-mailing decisions. When other universities dropped their own unique applications and joined The Common Application (and later The Coalition Application as well), Georgetown — to this day — offers its own unique application, one that has the appearance it was designed when the Internet first came out. Love him or hate him (and we love him — he is a hero of this college admissions blog!), one can’t argue that Charles Deacon does things his way. Today, we thought we’d highlight how admissions leaders at highly selective universities across America could learn something important from the Georgetown admissions czar: candor.

We’ve Long Argued Admissions Leaders Aren’t Telling It Like Is Is Regarding “Test-Optional” Policies

Remember earlier on in the pandemic when highly selective universities were first announcing their “test-optional” policies — policies that are now being extended by highly selective universities into this next admissions cycle for the Class of 2026 — and we got up on our soapbox to tell you how these admissions leaders weren’t all being candid? Remember when we said that, all else being equal, a student with a great test score has an advantage over a student who doesn’t submit a test score? And remember when some blowhards in the organization to which we belong — the National Association for College Admission Counseling — basically said how dare we question the honesty of admissions officers? (Note: Admissions officers have a well-documented history of not telling it like it is — from instituting quotas to limit the number of Jewish students on campuses, to discriminating against Asian American applicants to this day, to claiming they’re “need-blind” when they’re truly need-aware, to arguing they don’t care about Demonstrated Interest when they literally quantify it, the list is long).

We Were Right to Question These Admissions Leaders Because They Weren’t Being Candid

Well, it turns out we were right to question them because at the vast majority of highly selective universities, admissions officers weren’t telling it like it is with respect to “test-optional” policies. Were some more truthful than others? Sure. We believe Dartmouth College’s Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid Lee Coffin as well as Tufts University’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions JT Duck were more honest than others. But even Dartmouth and Tufts didn’t release the percentage of students admitted to their incoming classes who did not submit test scores. Short of releasing this key data point, how can any dean of admissions claim to be telling the truth about their “test-optional” policy? How can they expect students and parents will believe that, all else being equal, a student with a great test score doesn’t have an advantage over a student with no score? They can’t.

Georgetown’s Admissions Leader Releases the Percentage of Students Admitted in EA Without Test Scores

Enter Georgetown’s Charles Deacon. As Kelly Anderson reports for The Georgetown Hoya in a piece entitled “Class of 2025 Early Action Admission Rate Falls to Record Low for Third Straight Year,” “For the first time, the admissions office offered a flexible standardized testing requirement in which students were asked to submit ACT or SAT scores but were still considered for admission if they were unable to submit scores because of complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the early action pool, only 7.34% of applicants who did not submit standardized test scores were admitted.” Shall we put that last sentence in bold? Shall we make it bright green? Perhaps highlight it in yellow? 7.34% of EA applicants who did not submit test scores earned admission. The overall EA admit rate for Georgetown’s Class of 2025 stood at 10.8%. So imagine the admit rate for students who did submit scores. By our arithmetic, it’s higher than 7.34%. In fact, it’s higher than 10.8%!

In World of College Admissions, Georgetown’s Charles Deacon Deserves a Profile in Courage

Ivy Coach salutes Georgetown University’s longtime Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon for marching to the beat of his own drum, for speaking truth to power, for releasing this data point when so many others in his profession cravenly abdicated this moral responsibility. These admissions leaders so vocally and vehemently insisted from atop their soapboxes that “test-optional” meant test-optional. Yet without releasing the data point that Charles Deacon released, it doesn’t matter how loudly or how vehemently they insisted they were being truthful. They clearly are not being truthful. Yet there was one man, one lion of college admissions, who boldly released the figure. This man never claimed applicants to Georgetown would have just as good of a chance without scores as with scores. He told it like it was from the start. He’s a mensch. We are proud to salute him. We are proud to distinguish his work at Georgetown as a profile in courage. He is among our cult heroes of college admissions.

UPenn’s Eric Furda Released the Data Point As Well on His Way Out

And guess what? Another longtime hero of this college admissions blog, former University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Eric Furda left us a present before exiting his post. He likely encouraged the admissions office to release the data point, too. As Conor Murray and Leanna Tilitei report for The Daily Pennsylvanian in a piece entitled “Penn accepts 15% of early decision applicants to Class of 2025, a record low,” “About 38% of total early decision applicants chose not to include standardized testing as part of their application, Vice Dean and Director of Admissions John McLaughlin told The Daily Pennsylvanian. Of those admitted, 24% did not include test scores.” So, by our arithmetic, 76% of Early Decision admits to the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2025 submitted test scores. Yet how dare we question the veracity of admissions officers when they say students who don’t submit test scores are at no disadvantage. Well, the numbers tell the story. And the numbers suggest we were right to question their honesty.

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