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How many schools should I apply to?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on August 17, 2022

 

8, 10,12,15, 15+ ?

I get this question more this year than ever before. Unfortunately, there is no answer that applies to all students. There is a wholesale change happening in college admissions that needs to be considered. There are so many different categories of admissions–Regular, Rolling, Early Action, Priority, Restricted Early Action, Early Decision, Early Decision 2–it is no wonder that parents and students are confused. But, more importantly is the fact that this confusion can impact a student’s admission’s chances. 

College Admissions is in a truly outrageous situation at the present time. The various admission categories have been morphing for years and when combined with the Covid/Test Optional catalyst, application growth has been explosive. This has resulted in what some may view as irrational behavior. 

For example, when parents learn that Mary didn’t get into any of the 12 schools she applied to, one conclusion that has been floated is that Mary didn’t apply to enough colleges. So, the logical next step is to apply to even more schools, maybe up to 15+. We can all understand how that will increase the volume of applications and lower admit rates. 

But what is even more disturbing is the perfect storm that has also developed for some savvy colleges. With more applications floating into the system, schools are looking for better ways to ensure that their yield is reduced–even as applications increase.  It appears that they have succeeded and nearly perfected their ability to gauge a student's true interest. Even while ignoring the increase in applications, and noting that the number of seats remains the same, some top colleges have lowered the absolute number of students that they admit.

So, what is the answer?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, regular decision, college planning, admitted students

Summer College Visits

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 24, 2022

Summer is at its peak with the latest heat wave! A time to soak up some sunshine, enjoy dinners from the grill, and…plan college visits? Although untraditional, a summer visit to a college can be a beneficial way to see a school in its quieter off-season. If you or your student are too busy to travel during a school’s academic year, visiting a school during the summer or during a break in that school’s calendar is still a great opportunity.

Who is on campus during the summer?

There will be less students on campus, but that can also be an ideal time to get to know the people that are present: students taking summer courses or living on campus while working at an internship. Be aware that you might also find high school students on campus taking academic or sports programs and this can give you an unusual picture of campus life that may make it appear significantly younger than it will look in September. Schools may also offer summer housing opportunities to international students or those who travel a far distance to attend their chosen school (something to keep in mind in your own college decision journey). Visiting during the summer may also give you a chance to chat with professors or department heads.

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Topics: college preparation, life on campus, college tours, college open house, college visits, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, high school sophomore, holistic college admissions review, college location, college plans, college planning, summer college visits, Drexel University

The Silver Lining of the Waitlist

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 08, 2021

We could say that the word “wait” is the word of the year: waiting for the end of the lockdown, waiting for vaccines, waiting for the world to open again. It’s been a very long wait. 

And for some, there’s still more waiting to be had. 

This year, college planning has been completely taken over by the pandemic. Those who thought they had their plans figured out often had to change them very quickly in response to the rapidly changing restrictions. With stressed finances, the monotony of distance learning and a developing desire to stay close to home, many anxious high school students and parents have had to return to square one.

However, we’ve learned that in the context of the pandemic, those who are the most adaptable will end up succeeding. For students, that means that the waitlist will take on a whole new meaning.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college counseling, college freshman, high school senior, college search, college application, college admit rates, high school graduation, high school grades, summer before college, college partying, GPA, waitlist

How Incoming First-Years Can Manage Their College Expectations

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 29, 2021

Getting into college is a major achievement. Especially in the aftermath of pandemic drama, this years’ seniors may feel even more relief than former generations. After braving the frantic testing-drop by many colleges and being evaluated in greater depth by admissions officers, the 2021 incoming class of First-Years will prove to be resilient and diverse.

Admitted students might start getting flooded with expectations. College can be an experience quite different from high school because of the freedom in academic schedule, activities, and the fact that parents are often far away. Many students get caught up in the dilemma of “wanting to fit in.” And sometimes that equates to drinking and partying, to relieve the pressure of adjusting to a new environment with hundreds or thousands of strangers around. However, there are some common misconceptions about how many college students actually drink.

Now that a student has been admitted, it’s important to remind them that being smart always wins out over having (too much) fun. Being admitted doesn’t justify senioritis or making risky decisions; students will still have to prove that they belong in the incoming class, and will therefore need to pay attention to their behavior between now and September. Overall, the currency of the student who has just made their deposit by May 1st also has a parent who is counting the days until the student starts school. Which leads to the question of whether or not the student will test the limits of their summer independence. Students that have been building up to this moment for thirteen years often act out differently than expected.

The truth is, though, even admitted students are still vulnerable until they step foot on campus. This period can be critical for both parents and students. Students may feel that they need to celebrate, but this should be taken in moderation, because any false steps can be noticed by admissions officers and compromise admission.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, senioritis, college counseling, college freshman, high school senior, college search, college application, college admit rates, high school graduation, high school grades, party schools, summer before college, college partying, GPA, college drinking, summer after HS Graduation

The Most Common College Misconceptions That Need to Be Busted

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 08, 2021

When it comes to applying for college, students are often primed for a period of intense stress. They know that they’ll have to keep up their 4.0 GPAs, take 15 AP classes, and join the crew team, or maybe start taking harp lessons. The overwhelming questions that come to mind might be, “Am I smart enough?” Or, “Am I interesting enough?” Or, “Am I unique?” The college process demands that students turn inward and evaluate what they do, how successful they’ve been, and where they’re headed. But having clear and mature answers to all of these questions is far from what most teenagers (or college admissions officers) can imagine.

Even more, now that our world has been hit by a pandemic which has wiped out testing opportunities and put more pressure on students to stand out, the existential questions are pouring in faster. What about a gap year or community college? Now in competition with students that had deferred and international students, how are these kids supposed to manage?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, high school sophomore, college application, volunteering, student resume, college myths, college admit rates

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