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Why Another Book on College Admissions?
This is not a recipe for the best students to get into the top colleges, as describes much of what is
written on the topic. First of all, most youngsters are not “top students.” A majority of those going
through the college process are just trying to find a good match, a college that best meets their needs
and goals. And most parents want what is best for their children. Yet there seems to be this
prevailing sentiment that parents need to get closely involved in this process, from hiring SAT
tutors and private counselors to pressuring teachers and coaches to give their children that added
advantage. Yet what parents need to do most is support and protect their children while allowing
them to grow.
I push my young son around the neighborhood on his tricycle equipped with a handle in the back.
In the beginning, I needed to help him steer the tricycle for he had no concept of how to do it. Very
quickly, though, I realized that the only way to help him learn how to steer was to allow him to start
going off the sidewalk on his own. He soon learned how to correct himself and head on a straight
course. I am still behind him, keeping him from hurting himself by hurtling off the curb or into
oncoming traffic, but I no longer steer or control his bike. He knows I am there and finds safety and
comfort in the fact that I will protect him from danger. But he equally knows he is the one steering
and controlling the bike. As time goes on, he will begin to ride the bike without my being there at
This is the same role parents should take in the college admissions process. At a minimum, they
should be there to make sure their children do not harm themselves, say, by missing deadlines that
would jeopardize their college acceptance. Moreover, they need to be there to support their children
who will be making some of the toughest decisions of their life to this point. Although there will be
many other more important lifetime decisions, from choosing a spouse to selecting a job, this will
be the first time in most children’s life when they have will have to make a lasting decision about
their future. This book is an attempt to describe a sensible approach to college admissions. It is a
tool to allow you to understand what is happening in the process and to help you to recognize when
you should intervene and, even more importantly, the security to know when you should not.
As I recently overheard one student say, “It’s tough raising parents these days”. One college
admissions director noted that “the increasingly bad ‘parental etiquette’ that college admissions
officers are currently seeing comes from a confluence of several characteristics of our “Boomer”
generation such as our sense of entitlement, our suspicion of authority and our bad habit of living
too vicariously through our children.” Dean William Fitzsimmons of Harvard similarly notes:
“Sports, music and other recreational activities used to provide a welcome break. No more. In high
school, SAT prep has become a way of life. The problem can often be well meaning but misguided
parents who try to mold their children into an image of success they value; and their children, being
moldable as they are, often get on board and go along with the programs before they have the
capacity to make such a choice for themselves.”
“The launching of a child stirs up everyone in the family,” notes high school counselor Michael G.
Thompson. “For the parents it is the culmination of their child rearing, the end of the parental
curriculum. From now if they act as parents for a college-age or older child, it will be by invitation
“What is the main testing ground of fears about incomplete or inadequate child rearing?: the
college admission process,” notes counselor Michael Thompson. “If you are afraid you haven’t
disciplined your children enough--too much Dr. Spock or allowed your children to watch too much
television and settle for low grades, and the child is neglecting to fill out her college application
forms, the incriminating evidence of parental failure is right there in front of everyone. It is during
the meeting with the college counselor at the end of the junior year, when the chickens all come
home to roost--painfully and publicly.
“The frantic involvement of many parents in the process is, from my perspective, a cover for this
profound parental anxiety: Did I do a good job with this child? Did I do everything I needed to do
for this child? Is this child prepared? Is this child going to have a good life? I have seen many
laissez-faire parents, not much in evidence in the tenth and eleventh grade years, swoop back into
their children's lives at college admission time, trying to stuff all of their wisdom and discipline into
helping their children at the last moment.
“Parents may need to be reassured as their fledglings leave the nest that they really have taught
them how to fly. Since it is impossible to assess the quality of what parents have done for their
children at this point, what is the next best thing? What comes closest to getting graded as parents?:
the status of the college to which the child is admitted”.1”
Does it really matter in life where one goes to college? Yes and no. Late adolescence is an
important time in one’s life, a time to try out new personalities and ways of thinking. Psychologist
Erik Erikson called it a psycho-social moratorium, a time when you try out for who you want to be
without the same consequence you might see later in life. As long as students follow my axiom:
“Don’t do anything that can kill you,” there is little one can do that would have permanent
consequences. College is a time when one should be surrounded by people with a variety of
backgrounds and opinions and with people with a similar degree of intellectual curiosity. That, for
almost all students, can occur at hundreds of colleges.
Many students feel that they can only succeed in life if they attend one of the 23 colleges that both
admit fewer than 50% of their students and have average SAT scores over 1900. I hear repeatedly
that this will have some magical impact on a student’s future career. My experience, as one who
has worked in the field, hired others and interned in the personnel offices of some of the world’s
largest corporations, is that this is simply not true. It may have an impact in some very limited
situations. However, in virtually every other case, employers want to see what you have done in
previous jobs, where you went to graduate school and what skills and talents you bring to the table.
A similar case regards the belief that the “contacts” one makes at these elite colleges will open
doors. You may have heard of or read that some political appointee was a college friend of the
governor or president, but this is a rare occurrence. I ask you to look into your personal experience
and think of examples where attending one college instead of another had a profound impact on
someone’s life or career. I doubt you will find instances where this was true.
Thompson, Michael G. Independent School, Winter 1990, v. 49, Issue 2, p. 13
College Admission by the Numbers2
Everything you read in newspapers and magazines or hear on TV or radio about college admission
would lead you to believe that it is almost impossible to get admitted to college unless you're super
strong academically, have high test scores, have wealthy and/or famous parents, or have more
"game" than anyone else around. This is not so. Let's take a look at some numbers:
3600 There are about 3600 two and four-year colleges in the US
1600 About 1600 of these are two-year colleges. Virtually all (with the exception of a literal hand
full) are Open Admission, which means that they admit anyone who holds a high school
2000 That leaves about 2000 four-year colleges. Roughly 300-400 of these are Open Admission,
meaning that when combined with two-year colleges, anyone who graduates from high
school has at least 2000 colleges willing to offer them admission. A few hundred more
admit more than 95% of those who apply.
The general public tends to regard "selective" admission to mean that a college admits fewer
than 50% of those who apply. Colleges don't look at it that way, and call themselves
selective as long as they don't admit EVERYONE who applies. Only about 135 colleges
actually admit fewer than 50% of their applicants.
The 135 figure doesn't take into account ACADEMIC expectations, just what percent of
total applicants are admitted. If we look at colleges that admit fewer than 50% of their
applicants AND who have freshman SAT averages of 1250 or higher (on a 1600 scale), the
number of colleges drops to 50.
The media tends to concentrate on looking at admission to the "best-elite-toughestchoosiest" colleges in the country, measured by acceptance rates and the academic profiles
of freshmen. This tends to narrow the scope of vision to colleges that admit fewer than 25%
of those who apply and that report freshman SAT averages of 1250 or above. This leaves
only about 24 colleges.
Given the large number of excellent colleges and universities that do not fall within these three
“elite” groups, selectivity alone is not an accurate measure of quality. The reality is that there are
more and better college options available to students now than at any other time in our history.
© “By the Numbers”, Edward T. Custard, College Masters
Though ever more costly from an admissions perspective, higher education is more accessible to a
wider range of people than ever before.
A Few Thoughts on Admissions:
When there are multiple sections of the same course with random distributions of students,
sometimes there are teachers who, year after year, have substantially higher student failure
rates than the other teachers. These teachers almost always reply that they are merely maintaining
higher standards. But you notice that there are other teachers that seem to keep up high standards
with a significantly lower number of failures. One cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is
not merely the students who are failing but that the teacher is failing the students, both in the literal
and figurative sense. And so it is with the outrageously low admit rates “achieved" by the most
selective colleges. Admitting less than 10% of the students who apply should not be a source of
pride but embarrassment. Selectivity measured by popularity rather than the quality of the
incoming class or the experience of the undergraduate education is clearly something that rewards
failure over success. The method used by rankings and the media to determine the top of the heap
exacerbates this trend.
A true success in college admissions would be a very high admit rate along with a high quality
class. How does one do that? University of Chicago has done that for years by putting
essay questions that discourage those who are not erudite or intellectual from applying.
There is an alternate philosophy, that of making the application relatively easy to complete in order
to find that "diamond in the rough", that kid in a rural Midwestern state, who is
relatively unsophisticated but truly brilliant; who could, but never would, answer the questions on
the Chicago application. But to find that one kid by encouraging 100 otherwise inadmissible
applicants to apply is simply abusive. Many in the media have decried the Common Application as
the cause of this trend of increasing 'ghost' applications. I have to admit that I was taken aback
originally when I heard that U. Chicago, the college that prided itself on having the
“uncommon application”, was jumping on the bandwagon. But then I realized that they were just
making the data entry simpler and keeping the complexity where it should be. Criticizing the
students or the Common Application for the increasing number of applications coming into colleges
is a red herring. If the colleges, the media and the rankers truly accepted the reality that
an increasingly lower admit rate is really a failure of the admissions process and took genuine steps
to address it, the trend would change.
But doing so would take integrity, concern for students and a genuine desire to move to a healthier
process. I do not believe that either the media or most of the colleges with these low admit
rates have the stomach for this. What could they do to achieve this? How about denying more
kids early decision or, as Northwestern does, only have two ED decisions, admit or deny? How
about requiring more thoughtful and complex essays? How about simply returning applications and
application fees of clearly unrealistic applicants? How about more insight into the process
of admissions, such as the rating sheets used? How about going to truly rolling admissions? The
time when many in the Ivy League were announcing their decisions, 5:59 pm on May 1, was more
like the announcement of the American Idol winners than the results of a thoughtful process.
Chapter 1: The State of Admissions
A Recent History of College Admissions
Up until the early 1980’s, the college admissions process was fairly straightforward. Almost all
colleges promoted themselves through their publications, primarily the “view book”, sent to
students who had expressed interest in the college and through direct mail. Colleges would buy
lists of names from the College Board of those students who took the PSAT or SAT (or from the
American College Testing program for students who took the PLAN or ACT) and met some
demographic or test score criteria. Admissions selection was usually based on academic factors
with preference often given to children of alumni, athletes or those with other special talents,
and, to a much more limited degree than today, to those from under-represented minority groups.
Financial aid was given to help families in need meet the cost of education. There was a single
form that almost all colleges and the federal government used to analyze financial need and
award financial aid, the FAF (Financial Aid Form). There was a standard formula that took into
account a number of factors (income, cost of living, age of the parents, savings, equity, etc.) and
that used a series of standard tables to determine what a family could afford to pay for college.
This formula, the Standard Methodology, produced a figure, the Family Contribution, which was
the same for every college to which a student applied. Financial Need was the cost of the college
minus the Family Contribution. Most colleges, and virtually all highly selective colleges, agreed
to meet 100% of financial need, meaning that they would, through a series of grants and loans,
meet the full Financial Need of all applicants.
Thus if the FAF determined that a family could pay $5,000 for college and the college cost
$15,000, almost all selective colleges would give students a financial aid package totaling
$10,000. Colleges would use preferential packaging, giving financial aid packages with higher
grants, which did not have to be repaid, and fewer loans to those students they most wanted.
The National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the organization
governing most of college admissions, prohibited colleges from using financial need to
determine whether a student would be admitted. This policy, accepted by virtually all colleges,
was called need-blind admissions. And the cost of college had risen less than the cost of living
for the previous two decades and was affordable to the average upper middle class family.
A demographic shift occurred in the early 80’s with a marketable drop in the number of students
graduating from high school. Even the most selective colleges began to scramble to maintain the
quality and quantity of applications they received. A new phenomenon emerged on the
admissions front, the Enrollment Manager. Prior to that, Admissions Directors controlled the
marketing of the colleges and the selection of students. Financial Aid Directors determined what
financial aid was given to students, generally based on the figures from the FAF. Both generally
reported to the college president or someone else not directly involved in admissions. In the
most common Enrollment Management model to emerge, the Admissions Director and Director
of Financial Aid reported to the Vice President of Enrollment Management.
At this point, you might be asking yourself how these demographic, financial and internal
managerial and admissions practices might have any meaning to you. The decisions made by the
colleges, the federal government, NACAC and the media over the last 25 years have increased
the hype, manipulation, uncertainty and, in the end, the mania surrounding college admissions
and costs.
Colleges made a number of decisions that had a significant impact on students and parents.
Several publications, most notably the US News and World Report, were starting to rank
colleges, leading Enrollment Managers to put pressures on to get high rankings. These rankings
usually were highly affected by the percentage of students accepted, the standardized test scores
of those admitted and the numbers of students who accepted offers of admissions.
Thus colleges began aggressively seeking as many applicants as they could, merely to seem
more selective by rejecting more and more students. The harder it became to get into college,
the more students wanted to apply. And as the number of applicants increased in the 90’s, the
strategy to maintain the status quo became a frenzy of scarcity. The most selective colleges were
beginning to have admissions rates in the teens, and the media jumped on the trend. The
Groucho Marx phenomenon became the rule of college admissions. It seemed that no one
wanted to apply to a college that would admit them. Students and parents began to hire their
version of the colleges’ Enrollment Managers. SAT preparation has become a rite of passage for
many communities and the growth of the use of private college counselors has grown
exponentially. One consultant now charges over $30,000 for her college counseling services.
Recently, Michelle Hernandez, a former admissions counselor at Dartmouth, has offered a threeday college admissions boot camp for $10,000.
It was on the financial front that even greater changes were taking place. As financial aid
budgets continued to increase, college presidents and boards were putting increasing pressure to
increase revenues and decrease costs. Beginning in the 80’s, college officials began to realize
that there was a much greater elasticity of demand for college than they had assumed, i.e. that
costs could continue to rise without causing parents to abandon having their children continue to
apply to prestigious, expensive colleges.
Thus years of increases below the cost of living were followed in the nearly thirty years that
followed by tuition increases well beyond inflation. Colleges needed more and more money to
be competitive: to build state-of- the- art science buildings, dorms, libraries and athletic
complexes, to stay on the cutting edge of technology, to stay in the market for the best
professors, to meet the needs of those on financial aid and to attract the best students with merit
scholarships not tied to financial need. College tuition at the most expensive colleges (almost all
college tuitions at these schools rose at nearly the same cost and rate) passed the $20,000 mark,
then the $30,000 mark, and the then the $40,000 mark, with seemingly no end in sight. The cost
of college every year was outpacing income year after year.
To increase revenue, every selective college began to market themselves aggressively both
nationally and internationally. Colleges began to travel and directly market in areas where they
had never previously sought students and started actively seeking international students, to
whom they rarely offered any financial aid.
Then a shock wave went through the admissions world. One of the most selective colleges
announced that though they were still need blind, they could not guarantee to continue to be so.
This was soon followed by a pronouncement by one of the most prestigious women’s colleges of
a specific policy to abandon need blind admissions: students who had very high need and were
marginal in the pool would be denied. NACAC backed off, after a huge internal fight, from
requiring colleges to be need blind in their admissions policies.
The colleges thought they had a fair solution to the problem of escalating financial aid budgets:
promulgate a policy that only affected a very small number of applicants. The problem for
parents was one of definition. What was a “marginal applicant?” Wasn’t admissions an inexact
process where, at the most selective colleges, almost no one had a high assurance of admission?
And what was “high need”? Parents began to become more and more anxious about not only
whether they could afford college but also whether simply applying for aid would jeopardize the
chance for admission for their child. Need Blind Admissions was replaced by the cynically
named Need Aware Admissions.
A decision by the federal government at around the same time had an equally negative effect on
the ability of parents to predict college costs. The government has given special consideration in
its tax code to those who own houses. Interest on mortgages and real estate taxes on one’s
residence are deductions from one’s income. The government decided to make the same
decision about housing equity in the awarding of federal financial aid: housing equity no longer
was in the formula for determining financial need. A new form, the FAFSA, the Free
Application for Federal Financial Aid, was developed to reflect this new policy.
Unfortunately, high cost and high tuition colleges wanted housing equity data. Thus the College
Board’s CSS Profile was born, where each college would have its own formula for determining
need. Fewer and fewer colleges were meeting, with financial aid, even their own computations of
what a family could afford to pay. The previous standard of meeting 100% of financial need was
replaced with a policy of “gapping” where 90%, 80% or even 70% of financial need was met.
In addition, more and more colleges were offering no-need merit scholarships to vie for the most
talented students, often at the expense of need-based aid.
Thus we went from a relatively predictable system of admissions and financial aid to one of
almost total unpredictability. At the most selective colleges, admission rates are in the single
digits. In 2007, Harvard admitted under nine percent of its applicants. Stanford admitted less
than 16% of students with straight A’s in high school or who were in the top 10% of their high
school class and admitted only 20% with a perfect 800 math SAT score and 28% of those with a
perfect 800 verbal score. Colleges have continued the aggressive marketing begun in a time of
decreasing enrollment when the children of baby boomers have been swelling the number of
students applying to college to record numbers.
Now one system with total uncertainty replaced a fully predictable one. Financial aid awards to
the same students applying to similarly priced and endowed colleges began to differ by tens of
thousands of dollars. More and more poor students were being denied simply because they were
poor. Enrollment Management firms began to advise colleges on how to use financial aid to get
students to enroll. “Financial aid leveraging” used complex demographic analysis to target
financial aid. If it were discovered, for instance, that Asian students would more likely enroll if
they were given automatic scholarships of $2000, that became policy.
Prior to the 90’s, a parent with a given income and assets could almost totally predict what level
of financial aid they would receive. There were publicly available tables that determined the
parental contribution from the FAF. Most high priced colleges agreed to use this figure to
determine financial aid and agreed to meet 100% of need. Thus a student applying to five
colleges could reasonably expect to get the same level of financial aid with only a small variation
among them in the ratio of grants to loans. With the introduction of the CSS Profile, the
abandoning of need blind admissions and meeting of 100% of financial need and the
proliferation of merit scholarships and financial aid leveraging, all predictability of financial aid
was lost.
At the same time, the cost increases at public colleges were far outstripping the increase in the
financial aid from the federal and state governments for poor students. Except for public
community colleges, even many public colleges have become no longer affordable for the poor
and middle class parents.
The Tail Wagging the Dog: One Perspective on the Process
The Tail Wagging the Dog
Overheard at a library in a wealthy New Jersey suburb:
Girl A: Did you hear Jake had cancer?
Girl B: Yeah. But I heard that he’s in remission now.
Girl A: He’s so lucky…he’ll have a great college essay to write.
As a counselor, I get to see first hand how preparation for college admission is profoundly, and
negatively affecting the way many of our children are growing up. At a recent event where I sat
on a panel on the college admissions process with the former Dean of Admissions at Princeton, a
girl stood up to ask a question. She started by telling the audience that her name was Ivy
because her parents wanted her to attend an Ivy League college and that she attended a preschool named Little Ivy Leaguers.
I have a pretty good idea of what a girl like Ivy’s day is like. She starts her school day at 7 am so
she can fit in AP Economics in addition to the five AP’s she has in her regular schedule. She
plays violin in her orchestra during the elective period. She goes to crew practice immediately
after school. Her evenings are spent doing homework, doing some SAT prep problems and
practicing the violin (when she is not attending Latin Club or Key Club events). She sends
Instant Messages to some friends from midnight to one before collapsing to begin the next day.
Weekends and summers are spent at sports camps, SAT prep courses and what is perceived as
mandatory volunteer work. She has been thinking about where she wanted to go to college as
long as she can remember and it consumes her thoughts every day. Her parents have lived
vicariously through her all her life and have been hyper-involved in every aspect of her life. She
feels the pressure to please her parents and meet their high expectations.
Marilee Jones, former Dean of Admissions at MIT, sees college admissions as a mental health
issue. She speaks of generational causes for this mania, describing baby boomer parents as overinvolved and busy parents who don’t trust authority but love experts, and their Millennium
children as “the most anxious, stressed out, sleep deprived, judged and tested generation in
history - a generation trained to please adults.”
This phenomenon cannot be laid entirely at the doorstep of neurotic, over-achieving baby
boomers - there are other factors at work. As mentioned previously, the 1980’s saw a drop in the
number of high school graduates, prompting colleges to employ sophisticated enrollment
management techniques to bolster popularity. Now that the children of the baby boom
generation have swelled the ranks of high school graduates, techniques appropriate to an era of
student scarcity could not be more damaging. Commercialization of the college admissions
process has resulted in education being viewed as a product rather than a process and students as
consumers rather than learners. As it has become more important to look impressive than to be
impressive, substance has taken a back seat to reputation and status.
Much of the media coverage has been a destructive force in this process. The US News and
World Report rankings - eagerly awaited by parents each year - have helped colleges to create an
aura of even greater elusiveness. Relying on input statistics such as average test scores and
acceptance rates as major components in their rankings, they have induced colleges to seek more
and more applicants in order to simply have more to deny. These publications encourage
practices bad for colleges and worse for students. High school for too many has become a time
to strategize rather than to experience. Many school and independent counselors who boast of
their ability to “package” students and achieve Ivy League results exacerbate this.
Recently, in a story reported by both the Washington Post and the Bergen Record, a private
college counselor advised his clients that their daughter would have a better chance of admission
into an Ivy League school if they moved to another town and entered her in a local beauty
pageant. They followed his advice. The result: their daughter was accepted at Yale. This kind of
coverage reinforces the idea that drastic measures are necessary and justified to attain admission
to highly selective institutions. One can only wonder what people will resort to next. Can we
expect to see “Extreme Makeover” High School Senior Edition?
Newsweek Magazine has come up with the “brilliant” idea of ranking high schools by the
number of Advanced Placement (AP) tests taken per student, stating in the publication: “It's one
of the best measures available to compare a wide range of students' readiness for higher-level
work”. Never mind that numerous studies have come to the opposite conclusion: while student
performance on AP examinations is strongly related to college performance, merely taking AP or
other honors-level courses in high school is not a valid indicator of the likelihood that students
will perform well in college. But to rank high schools by only the number of AP tests taken is a
gross and highly misleading statistic. It is also damaging, an inducement for schools to offer AP
courses no matter the quality of the students or the teaching. Like the college rankings have
done to the colleges, this is one more attempt by the media to have the tail wag the dog.
The repositioning of higher education in the public mind as the ultimate goal of status gained by
association is not merely observed by the press, but is actively promoted by it. More and more
unscientific “rating” systems are published and represented as valid means of judging success
and failure. As snake oil salesmen for higher education, many in the media have knowingly
engaged in sensationalism at the expense of our children. Pseudoscientific instant rankings and
eye-catching stories are the substitutes for well-reasoned and well-researched writings.
Many in the media have abrogated their responsibility to give clarity to this process. “Fear,
anxiety, myth, secrecy, false precision, hype and educational irrationality characterize the
admissions landscape,” notes Lloyd Thacker in College Unranked. “The way the media is
shaping our perspective about this critical life transition is simply wrong and misinformed and
very few voices have emerged to put the brakes on this runaway train.” Students and their
parents will continue to game the system for, in the view they get from the media, that is the only
choice they believe they have. Thacker concludes: “The stewardship of student needs has been
National Share of Applications to Four-Year Colleges by Selectivity3
National Share of Applications
# Applications
Fewer than 50 percent of applicants accepted
1.078 million
51-70 percent of applicants accepted
1.319 million
71-85% of applications accepted
1.446 million
More than 85 percent of applicants accepted
.417 million
National Share of First Year Students Enrolled at Four Year Colleges
National Share of Students
# of Institutions
Fewer than 50 percent of applicants accepted
51-70 percent of applicants accepted
71-85% of applications accepted
More than 85 percent of applicants accepted
Chapter 2: Are the Best Minds of our Generation Being Destroyed by
What’s going on here? I have more students than ever suffering from anxiety, depression,
anorexia and panic attacks, particularly among the highest achieving students. A student once
told me that she loved to read, but with the five AP courses, sports practices, SAT prep and
community service, she had little time to do it.
An article by James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly quoted one student saying: “Very few
students get enough sleep. They get either too much or not enough exercise. We don’t go for
moderation- you can’t because the hype is too high.” Are we damaging the best and the
brightest of our nation’s youth, perhaps permanently and unnecessarily?
The common thread among these students having difficulty at my school, and I suspect at many
high schools across the nation, is the obsessive desire to obtain admissions to the most elite
colleges. Denise Clark Pope has aptly noted that for students, “Future success is more important
than present happiness.” These students, our future leaders and thinkers of the United States,
are not happy and are not healthy. And things are only getting worse. Psychologist David
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, 2002
White, Scott Journal of College Admissions, Winter 2002; ©NACAC
Elkind agrees. “The truth is,” he says, “advantaged children are less well off today than they
were a couple of decades ago.”
What drives these students is the perceived need to do whatever it takes to get into a ‘good’ or
‘great’ college. Students and parents walk into my office wanting to know what secret that will
make the difference between acceptance and denial. If it’s a game, they want to know the rules.
Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College, claims “things have gotten worse and more
game-like, although the strategic approach seems particularly acute in upper and middle class
families and schools.”
Students perceive that there is a flow chart; an instruction sheet on what they need to do and all
will be okay. It is difficult to let them know, usually in some indirect way, that it is more a
function of who they are, rather than what they do, that matters most in this process. By the time
they meet with their counselor, usually late in their junior year, most of what matters in college
admissions has already occurred. Colleges want students who have shown long term, in-depth
interest and true talent in extracurricular activities. Spending next summer on an Indian
reservation will not do that for you. They want students who have shined academically
throughout high school. Those few B’s and, God forbid, C’s, do matter.
The sad truth is that the best most students can do is not foul up. They take that killer schedule
and get impressive grades in their senior year, but their application file will be read and rated
before those senior grades ever get in. Certainly, it is great if a student can write a “knock your
socks off” essay. When I asked a University of Chicago admissions counselor to read an essay
from a student who was applying to (and later admitted into) Harvard, he stated that it was
“serviceable.” A strong argument can be made that things such as the personal essay and the
interview are largely in place to give students some illusion that they have some control in the
“The way I stressed the importance of the essay while recruiting was frankly disingenuous,”
notes Rachel Toor in Admissions Confidential. “By the time they were hearing me talk, there
was little they could do to bolster their candidacies; and, in reality, the only part of the process in
which they had complete control was their essays. So I made them think it was an important
thing for them to work on if only to help them feel that they weren’t helpless.”
Surely, students are acting as if they feel they have no control. Much of the behavior I am seeing
in students is quite similar to that described by Martin Seligman in his book Helplessness: On
Depression, Development and Death. He describes studies he and others have done to determine
if a lack of perceived control results in hopelessness and helplessness. The kind of behavior I am
seeing in my ‘best’ students leads me to believe that the term, ‘learned helplessness’ coined by
Seligman, accurately describes the wrenching experience students, and in many cases, parents,
are going through. “It seems like a judgment of not just your child,” comments one parent, “but
of your parenting and all your hopes.”
The Admissions Process
Why did this happen? Who is responsible for it? What impact will it have on the future well
being of these students?
Certainly there has been a dramatic change in the last 25 years in the perception of college
admissions in our society. Where there were one or two books out on the how-to’s of college
admissions, now there are whole sections of bookstores on the process. Rarely would you see
articles in major publications on the college admissions process- now they regularly make the
front page of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Clearly there has been a societal
momentum in this direction for a number of years and it has clearly taken on a life of its own.
Much of what feeds this frenzy, though, is a lack of coherence in the college admissions process.
Few colleges accurately and effectively communicate how they choose their students and, more
importantly, why they have the policies and procedures that are in place.
“Colleges do not want any rules,” notes independent counselor Tedd Kelly, “except for those
that protect the elite institutions and work to keep it that way, since they keep control away from
the students and families.” Most colleges have rating systems for applicants, but few make them
public. Perhaps this is out of fear that there will be even a greater perception that there is a game
to be beat. But just as likely, they may not be proud of what these rating systems might show.
For one, the system is inherently unfair and not student centered.
“I am continually frustrated by the vague and misleading statistics that colleges report,” states
Bridget McHugh, counselor at Fairfield High School in Connecticut, “as if it were a mystery to
them as to which students might get in.”
There is a lot of talk about college admissions offices working to find the best match between
each student and each college and university. To be fair, to a great extent this is true. I do
believe that the brightest and most talented students do end up at the most selective universities
and that most students do go to colleges where they are challenged appropriately. It is little
secret, though, that the final outcome as to whether a student is admitted or denied has as much
to do with institutional priorities (the college’s ‘shopping list’) as it has to do with the academic
strengths of the students admitted.
We are provided with information on average SAT Reasoning and Subject Test (and ACT)
scores and class rank of admitted and enrolled students and we often believe that they have some
meaning, i.e. that about half of students who are admitted fall above and about half fall below
that number (median figures would actually show this, but are rarely provided). Yet we know
that there are a significant number of students who skew these statistics. Most highly selective
colleges give preference to students who are recruited athletes, under-represented minority
students (usually African American and Hispanic) and ‘legacies,’ students whose parents went to
the college. Michelle Hernandez in A is for Admissions notes that at Dartmouth, 17 per cent of
the freshman class is made up of recruited athletes and 12 per cent are underrepresented minority
students and, at Yale, legacies make up 15 per cent of the student body. At most selective
colleges, according to Hernandez, only 60 per cent of the space in the freshman class is left for
students with no admissions “hook.”
Some colleges treat students whose parents went to graduate school as legacies. Others give
preference to students whose grandparents or siblings attended the institution. Most colleges
seek to enroll the children of their professors. Almost every college seeks famous students or the
children of famous people. One highly selective university went so far as to use the term “non-
special interest” applicant in their admissions literature. Another has a huge number of “Dean’s
admits”; who are prospective applicants recommended by the development office as having a
connection to a potential or actual donor.
The truth is that these special cases are not mere exceptions but may make up about half of
enrolled students. It is also true that there is a benefit to having these students on campus.
Having a diverse student body makes the campus experience richer. Certainly one need only to
look at Boston College’s selectivity after Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass or Georgetown’s
admissions statistics following the Patrick Ewing era to see the connection between athletics and
prestige of an institution. Furthermore, taking steps to keep alumni and donors happy
contributes to the financial health of an institution, allowing it to keep down costs to students,
offer better financial aid, improve facilities and hire the best faculty.
It is equally true that many students who are in these groups have standardized test scores and
class ranks that are well below the mean of other accepted students. It is necessary for colleges
to give accurate statistical analyses of the admitted and enrolled students who are not part of
what they designate as special cases.
What’s Best for Students?
One of the most intractable problems in college admissions is that there is not a clear congruence
between what is best for students and what is most desirable in terms of college admissions.
Here there has to be some sharing of the blame between parents and students who obsessively do
what they perceive is necessary to gain admission to the most selective colleges as well as
admissions professionals who give in to this by raising the bar higher and higher.
Take the example of the rigor of the student’s senior year schedule. I was admitted (25 years
ago) to all the colleges to which I applied, three of which are generally considered among the
most selective, with a schedule consisting of AP Physics, AP BC Calculus, electives in English
and history and no foreign language. If a student comes to me suggesting a schedule like this, I
inform them that they will likely be out of the running for the most selective colleges. So
students are driving themselves into the ground to stay in the running. I’ll go out on a limb here,
but I believe it is unhealthy for students to be taking AP courses in five or six subjects in their
senior year
“One thing has become clear,” notes Poch, “at many colleges there is a growing concern about
students with significant problems that spill out into all kinds of destructive forms, from alcohol
and drug-related problems to eating disorders to clinical depression How much of this is a result
of crushing pressure and painfully high expectations, I don’t know.”
A frequent question I hear from parents and students at highly selective college admissions
presentations is “Should my child take tougher courses and get B’s or get A’s in a weaker
schedule.” The answer is almost universally the same: “To be admitted here, you should get A’s
in the toughest schedule.”
According to Caitlin Flanagan in her article Confessions of a Prep School Counselor, college
admissions books “explain that if kids are to have any chance at a top college, they must pursue
the most rigorous curriculum available to them.” Flanagan argues that it is true that students
should take the most difficult courses in preparation for applying to elite institutions but : “It is
also true that such a curriculum is going to crush a lot of kids. A regimen of brutal academic
hazing may be appropriate in some disciplines for medical student or Ph.D. candidates, but it is
not appropriate for fifteen-year-olds.”
There is also a conflict between what parents want (well-rounded students) and the goal of those
making college admissions decisions: well-rounded admitted classes. What many good parents
want for our children is that they be emotionally healthy, have a variety of interests and friends
and that they are happy. Sure, we’d like our children to be really good at something, especially
when we are talking with other parents at cocktail parties, but this isn’t our highest priority.
In the admissions world, it is truly valued that students have one talent and interest that truly
stands out. A few maxims in college admissions: “we want well-rounded classes, not wellrounded students” and “the students who get admitted here are not just talented, but
distinguished.” Both, I believe, are true at the most selective colleges. Fred Hargadon, Dean of
Admissions at Princeton, recently noted that plenty of students at Princeton displayed an unusual
degree of excellence in even more than one area. The bar was notched up for all students that
Author and former admissions officer at Duke University, Rachel Toor also acknowledges that
many students applying to college excel in a number of areas: “what’s hard is that there are so
many applicants and they all look so much alike.” Anne Roiphe, a reporter for the New York
Observer, has commented similarly on the uniformity of much college applicants: “children are
too young to be distinguishable.” As early as 1981, David Elkind critiques the trend to
overwhelm children with responsibility in his book The Hurried Child, Growing Up Too Fast,
Too Soon. He wrote:
“Hurrying children into adulthood violates the sanctity of life by giving one period
priority over another. But if we really value human life, we well value each period
equally and give unto each stage of life what is appropriate to that stage.”
College admissions personnel need to acknowledge consider and act upon the awesome degree
of control they have over the nation’s youth seeking to be admitted into college. A huge number
of students will do anything they think will help them to achieve that goal. If suddenly the main
criterion for admission was perceived to be large biceps, these students would spend every
waking hour doing arm curls. There are few students who are acting spontaneously and
naturally. At an earlier and earlier age, there is calculated behavior to beat the college
admissions game. This is not all bad. There is a perception out there that it is necessary to do
community service to get into college, so hospitals are flush with candy stripers and food banks
are full of volunteers seeking to pad their resumes. But is that what community service is about?
Isn’t the goal of having students give of themselves throughout their lifetimes reduced when it is
done with such a self-conscious aim? And doesn’t this minimize the impact of service students
had previously done selflessly?
A Few Modest Suggestions
Maybe we have gone too far and cannot go back. We cannot erase the national obsession with
college admissions. It is often impossible to regain the innocence of the past. Yet there are
things that the college admissions community can do to ameliorate the negative effects of the
process on our nation’s youth.
College lists, like those published by the US News and World Report, flourish because of the
lack of clear alternatives for accurate and reliable information. Many colleges seek to be all
things to all students and to encourage as many students, even clearly unrealistic candidates, to
apply. It is a laudable goal to find that ‘diamond in the rough,’ but not at the expense of the
scores of students whose hopes are dashed unnecessarily. Colleges need to provide a
breakdown of admitted and enrolled students by the measures they themselves use. Statistics
for admission of students who do not fit into a special category such as legacy or athlete, should
be provided.
There are a few college policies, which if enacted more widely, would improve the lot of the
nation’s students. For students, early decision, rather than helping improve the match between
students and colleges, has become a way of alleviating suffering and angst. Northwestern
University makes only two decisions on early decision: accept or deny. The most common
practice of deferring early decision applicants prevents students from realistically going about
the business of applying to appropriate colleges.
“I cannot for the life of me see why admission people don’t simply deny kids they don’t take
early decision,” notes counselor Dodge Johnson. He continues:
“No testicular fortitude, maybe. Hedge bets, avoid dealing with folks who don’t like the
decision. But I have a terrible time convincing kids to let go of an impossible dream and
focus on something more realistic. And frankly, I wish they would do what Syracuse
does- no wait list. Sales and marketing techniques applied to colleges have mostly served
to homogenize how colleges describe the students themselves and colleges increasingly
describe the students they want rather than those they work best with.
Though I appreciate the goals of things like on-line applications and the Common Application,
which reduce the difficulty of applying to college, I believe University of Chicago’s difficult and
erudite application questions discourage unrealistic and inappropriate students from applying.
There should be some standards for the rigors of a senior year schedule. Taking four courses in
the major subjects at the school’s highest level should be communicated as sufficient for
admissions and boosting a schedule to 5 AP or IB courses should not be given extra weight in
the admissions process.
William Fitzsimmons offers this possible solution: “Colleges can help themselves as well as
their prospective students by declaring (and demonstrating) that they are not judged simply by
the number of AP and other advanced credits amassed at the end of the senior year.” Students
should be discouraged from taking too many standardized tests by providing alternative
measures of aptitude as many colleges have done (see for a list of colleges that have
alternative measures for judging applicants and who make testing optional). 5
The College Board’s decision to allow students to send only those scores they choose to colleges (“Score Select”)
for the graduating class of 2010 is a big step in the wrong direction. Go to for
a discussion of this.
There also has to be a dramatic change in the way advantaged parents are raising their children.
They must let children be children.
Flanagan describes a kind of “fetishistic sense of power being able to associate your child with
one of these elite schools’. Parents”, she continues “who had always been lovely and
appreciative would become irritable and demanding once I was helping them all select a
college.” In his article, “The Early Decision Racket,” James Fallows, national correspondent for
the Atlantic Monthly, points out: “The wonder is that getting through the admissions gate at a
name brand college should have come to seem the fundamental point of middle-class child
It is difficult to avoid the frenzy, particularly considering the media attention on the subject.
Flanagan describes what she calls “admissions porn” in the form of how-to college guides that
“add to the impression that kids are not merely applying to college but are in fact involved in a
drama of almost life-and-death consequences. The teenagers described in such books have
transferred the most profound and elemental of adolescent emotions- romantic attraction- into
the most unromantic of pursuits- college selection.”
College counselors want what is best for the individual student. Unfortunately, there is no quick
remedy for the intense anxiety facing students in the college admissions process. Marc James of
Charles Wright Academy suggests a first step in solving the problem: “My short answer,” he
says, “is to stand in favor of urging students and parents to do what is healthy and what is true to
the core values and inspirations of the individual.” Nancy Scarci of the Roosevelt School
proposes another apt recommendation: “We need to educate families that no college is a silver
bullet that will ensure fame, fortune or happiness.”
Clearly, something needs to be done to abate the highly competitive nature of college
admissions, or at least make students and parents aware that which college a student attends does
not guarantee a happy or prosperous future. High schools need to stop measuring their success
only by the number of admissions into the most selective colleges. Parents need to stop living
vicariously through their children by pushing them too early and too hard to focus on the college
process. College admissions officers, as they expect of their applicants, need to define and
distinguish themselves and their admissions processes. And students need to look for colleges
that are the best match for them rather than merely the most selective college to which they can
gain admissions
Chapter 3 Moving Forward
Some Advice for Parents:
1) Be honest with your kids about restrictions and needs. If there is only so much money to go
around, if there are geographic restrictions, if there is anything that may restrict college choices,
communicate them to your child and the counselor.
2) Listen, listen, and listen! Hear what your kids are saying. What is important to them? Don't
tell your kids what you think until you've heard what they think
3) Keep an open mind. Colleges have changed dramatically since we went to school. Don't rely
on impressions based on old stereotypes. Realize that there are some great schools you may
never have heard of.
4) Move away from a pecking order mentality. The best college for your child may not be the
most competitive to get into or the highest on some college list.
5) Sometime in the spring of junior year, sit down with your child and set up a calendar of when
each part of the process will be done. Set up a schedule of college visits, a testing schedule,
deadlines for when essays drafts will be completed and when final essays are completed, when
all applications are to be completed, etc. Have your child recommend the deadlines instead of
your imposing them. They will almost always make them more rigorous than you would.
6) Read over your child's essay to see if it communicates who they are, how well they think and
how well they write.
7) Make sure your child has a college that is both a financial safety school as well as an
admissions safety school.
Some Don’ts for Parents to Consider:
1) Don’t micromanage the process. Occasionally make sure that your kids are on track to meet
deadlines, but don't nag, nag, nag. If you are concerned that your kid is not on track, call your
child's counselor and let him/her help get your kid moving.
2) Don’t talk to other parents about where your kid is applying.
3) Don’t let any deadlines lapse, especially with regard to financial aid.
4) Don’t add your voice to your child's essay. Content and style suggestions should not include
re-writing what your child has written.
5) Don’t get caught up in the college frenzy. Just because your child's peers are getting SAT
prep and private counseling, it isn't necessary for you to get this as well.
6) Don’t try to create an 'image' for your child. Don't try to 'package' your child. Don't try to do
something special between junior and senior year to try to make your child an attractive college
candidate. Colleges want students to have depth and breadth of experiences. Foster what your
child wants to do and has a talent for. Don't try to create something that sounds good.
The bottom line is that the goal of college admissions is to find a match between what the
student needs and what the college offers.
The Myths of College Admissions
Myth One: An Ivy League College will absolutely guarantee the rich, full, and successful life.
Myth Two: If you can't make an Ivy, a "prestige college" is next best, because the name on your
diploma will determine whether you do something worthwhile in life.
Myth Three: Eastern institutions are the best and most desirable.
Myth Four: The big university offers a broader, richer undergraduate experience.
Myth Five: A college you've heard about is better than one you haven't.
Myth Six: What your friends say about a college is a good indicator.
Myth Seven: The college catalog can help you decide if this is the school for you.
Myth Eight: You should make your college selection early in your senior year, before New Years
if at all possible.
Myth Nine: Your college should be bigger than your high school.
Myth Ten: Going more than 200 miles away from home will cost more and may result in
Myth Eleven: If you're in the top 10 percent of your class with SATs of 2000 or better, you
belong in an Ivy or prestige college.
Myth Twelve: Ivy League schools are looking for students who don't have excellent grades.
Myth Thirteen: SAT scores are the most important thing; good ones will get you in and poor ones
will keep you out.
Myth Fourteen: A coaching course will improve your SAT scores.
Myth Fifteen: A bad recommendation from a teacher or counselor will ruin your chances.
Myth Sixteen: Your choice of major will decide your career path, so the quality of the department
should govern your choice of college.
Myth Seventeen: A high school diploma is needed to get into college.
Myth Eighteen: Going to a private prep school will enhance your chances of getting into a good
Myth Nineteen: Millions of dollars in unused scholarships are going begging every year.
Myth Twenty: A good college is hard to get into.
And some other myth with commentary:
Myth Twenty-one: Colleges are looking for the well-rounded applicant (more on this later)
As mentioned earlier, what colleges are actually looking for are well-rounded classes. They
expect all applicants to be relatively well rounded, i.e. who participate in a variety of activities
both in and out of school. What they most desire is a student who is not only well-rounded but
who also has one particular outstanding talent, whether it be writing, athletics, the arts or some
more esoteric area like chess or horse breeding. They are frequently unable to verify information
on resumes, so they will seek talents that can be corroborated and verified. At more selective
colleges, this can mean recognition on the state or national level.
Myth Twenty-Two: SAT’s or ACT’s are not the major factor in admissions decisions at highly
selective colleges.
It is true that SAT’s or ACT’s are rarely a determining factor between students whose scores fall
around the mean of accepted students previously accepted to that institution. A student who
scores 1800 on the SAT’s , has an A average and is President of his class will be more likely to
be admitted to a selective college before a student who scores 1900, has a B average and has no
other qualities which would favor admission. But as a student’s scores fall further from the
mean for that college, they are more likely to affect a student’s chances for admission. A student
who scores less than 1800 who is not a ‘special case’ is not likely to be admitted to a Most
Selective college, and a student with a 2400 who applies to a less selective college will likely be
forgiven for a few C’s.
Myth Twenty-Three: Students can be packaged in such a way that weak grades and/or test scores
will be subordinated to more personal factors.
In the final analysis, subjective criteria (the counselor and teacher recommendation, essay and
sometimes the interview) will be the determining factors in deciding among applicants in a pool
of acceptable applicants. Each of these elements can be presented to put the student in the best
possible light by highlighting each individual’s strengths and accomplishments. But a student
with weak grades and/or a non-demanding program will have difficulty gaining admission into a
highly selective college even with exceptional charisma, superior writing skills or demonstrated
leadership ability.
Myth Twenty-four: If I work hard enough, I will get admitted to a highly or most selective
Admission to highly selective colleges is based on superior effort, achievement and attitude.
What hard work will do is make it more likely that you will be admitted in to a college
commensurate with your ability and ensure your success there. In a study described in Beyond
College for All (Rosenbaum, 2001), Forty four percent of high school seniors do less than three
hours of homework per week; only 14 percent do more than 10 hours. Over half the students
who do more than 10 hours of homework a week will get a four-year college degree; only 16
percent of those doing less than three hours of homework a week will earn a bachelor’s degree.
Of high school students planning to attend college, 52% of college students who left high school
with a “C” average or lower did not earn one college credit. Only 13% of students with grades
of “C” or below earned an Associate’s degree.
Myth Twenty-five: Since my interview went well, I am almost assured of admission.
Interviews are snapshots that provide information on one hour of your life. Colleges:
a) Are more likely to place more value on objective criteria;
b) Do not want to place students who cannot interview at a disadvantage; and
c) Cannot have any reliable measure for rating an interview, especially an alumni interview.
Many colleges look for ‘perceived interest’ in students who apply and having an interview is
sometimes one way to demonstrate this. But in the end, this is usually one of the last items taken
into consideration when assessing candidates.
Myth Twenty-six: The college coach told me…
The only reliable source of information about admission is the admissions office. It is wise to be
wary of information from any outside source in regards to admission (except this book, of
Myth Twenty-seven: Higher SAT’s or ACT’s mean a person is more intelligent.
SAT’s and ACT’s measure the capacity to do tasks requiring verbal and mathematical ability.
They do not measure many other commonly accepted components of intelligence, from
judgment to mechanical or special reasoning. Nor do they measure other components necessary
for academic success, including motivation and creativity. They are a fairly valid and reliable
measure of a person’s ability to perform school-related tasks. They are not a particularly good
measure of eventual college success or certainly success in life.
Myth Twenty-eight: The cost of a college is a good or even the best indicator of the quality of an
Many of the best colleges in the country are in the public sector. The University of California
system has more Nobel Prize winners per student than any of its competitors. Faculty salaries
are frequently higher at public colleges and, particularly due to their lower cost and high quality,
many of the nation’s best students opt to attend public colleges. Many Midwestern colleges are
less expensive than colleges on the coasts due to lower costs yet have no lower educational
Myth Twenty-nine: A smaller college will provide more personal attention.
While this is generally so, it is not always so. Don’t make assumptions. Research each college
individually. If personal attention is a priority, find out the ratio of students to teaching faculty
and the different class sizes, particularly in introductory courses. Your child should discuss with
present students or recent graduates’ non-quantifiable aspects of personal attention such as
student-faculty interaction outside the classroom.
Myth Thirty: The best vacation spots make the most desirable college locations.
A frequent reason for students changing colleges is that they choose colleges without considering
that climates change with seasons. As obvious as this seems, many do not think that that colorful
fall foliage and clear 70 degree weather that they see to that visit to a rural Maine college will
soon turn into a long cold winter and muddy spring (or likewise that New Orleans can get very
hot and humid in the late spring and early fall).
Myth Thirty-one: a woman is more likely to be able to get a better education in traditionally male
fields (such as engineering, physics or economics) at a co-ed school.
At a co-ed school, a woman is more likely to be overshadowed by the predominance of males in
certain fields. Despite the strengths of many women’s colleges in areas such as English and the
fine arts, a woman is likely to find a more welcoming environment at a women’s college if she
chooses fields such as economics or the natural sciences. One-third of Bryn Mawr’s students are
science majors, for example; and Mount Holyoke was cited by the Council on Undergraduate
Research for having the largest and best equipped chemistry building among four-year
undergraduate institutions. The Women’s College Coalition ( notes that
studies show that women in all-women’s colleges:
Participate more fully in and out of class.
Are more successful in a career; that is they tend to hold higher positions, are happier,
and earn more money.
Constitute more than 20% of women in Congress, and 30% of a Business Week list of
rising women stars in Corporate America, yet only represent 2% of all female college
Have a higher percentage of majors in economics, math and life science today than men
do at coeducational colleges.
Have more opportunities to hold leadership positions and are able to observe women
functioning in top jobs (90% of the presidents and 55% of the faculty are women).
Report greater satisfaction than their coed counterparts with their college experience in
almost all measures - academically, developmentally, and personally.
Continue to award doctorates in math, science and engineering in disproportionately
large numbers.
Are three times more likely to earn a baccalaureate degree in economics and one and onehalf times more likely to earn baccalaureates degrees in life sciences, physical sciences
and mathematics than at a coeducational institution.
Develop measurably higher levels of self-esteem than other achieving women in
coeducational institutions. After two years in coeducational institutions, women have
been shown to have lower levels of self-esteem than when they entered college.
Score higher on standardized achievement tests.
Tend to choose traditionally male disciplines, like the sciences, as their academic majors,
in greater numbers.
Are more likely to graduate.
Tend to be more involved in philanthropic activities after college.
Women’s colleges, in a recent poll, make up:
40% of the top 10 nicest dorms in the country, including the #1 ranking.
30% of the top10 most beautiful campuses.
15% of the top 20 colleges with the greatest food.
Myth Thirty-two: Being a valedictorian or salutatorian will guarantee admission at a most
selective college.
There are 28,000 high schools in America yet fewer than 30,000 openings in Barron Profiles of
American Colleges’s listing of the Most Selective colleges. Thus many students with superior
credentials, even ranking first or second in their class, will not gain admission to the most
selective colleges.
Myth Thirty-Three: The more selective the college, the better.
The selectivity of a college is not necessarily related to faculty quality. Hunter College in New
York only requires a B average or 1350 on the SAT to gain admission, yet has one the of the
highest paid and highest quality faculty in the country. Also, selectivity in many cases merely
indicates popularity rather than quality.
Many extremely selective institutions offer inferior undergraduate educations. Other colleges’
popularity may be associated with factors unrelated to education, such as athletic success.
Lastly, many measures of selectivity used by college rankings and college guides may be among
the weakest measures of the quality of an institution.6
High average SAT scores and a low acceptance percentage frequently tell you that a college puts
more emphasis on SAT’s, a relatively poor measure of college success, than such factors as
creativity, motivation, intellect, writing skills or other talents. These colleges often encourage
weak applicants to apply so they can be denied, making that college appear more selective.
Neither speaks highly of an institution. Better measures of quality are the attrition rate, the
percentage of students who graduate, the percentage of students who go onto post-graduate
study, the accomplishments of the graduates and the resources devoted to undergraduate
Myth Thirty-Four: If I haven’t heard of it, it can’t be good.
College reputations may be based on what was true years ago. Dickinson, Muhlenberg and
Skidmore Colleges were once not very selective, regional schools. Now they are highly
selective colleges and draw students from across the country and world.
The National Survey of Student Engagement ( lists many other factors that measure
“added value”. See Appendix XIII.
The Ranking Game
A particularly pernicious trend in college admissions is the huge number of rankings, US News
and World Reports’ being the best known. There is a belief that admission to the most
prestigious college will be the ticket to future success. Most adults change jobs over their
lifetimes eight or more times and many change careers two or three times. In most fields, a more
prestigious college will have a positive impact on obtaining one’s first job, which on average
lasts for two years. And in professions that require an advanced degree, it is the graduate
institution that will have greater impact on gaining future employment.
A recent article in the Washington Post gave some interesting statistics:
“Here are the alma maters of the chief executive officers of the Top 10 Fortune 500 companies in
2001: Duke, Pittsburgh Kansas State, Wisconsin, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Cornell, Miami of Ohio, Institute of Chartered
Accountants (Australia), and UC-Berkeley.
The vast majority of U.S. presidents did not attend the Ivies, and when I looked at the first five
governors listed in the Almanac of American Politics, I found only one Yale, one Dartmouth and
one Stanford graduate. The rest had degrees from these schools: Alabama, Kansas, Ouachita
Baptist, Austin State, Villanova, Texas, Georgia, Berkeley, Idaho, Ferris State, Indiana,
Hamilton, Kansas Wesleyan, Kentucky, LSU, Florida State, Trinity, Michigan State, Mississippi,
Southwest Missouri State, North Hennepin Community College (that wrestler you may have
heard of) and one governor, Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware, who not only did not go to college,
but dropped out of high school and got her General Education Diploma.
Don't forget our big TV anchormen, Tom Brokaw of South Dakota, Dan Rather of Sam Houston
State and Peter Jennings, another high school dropout. And as final proof, ask the person at your
office who has the power to fire you where she went to college. In my case, it is the State
University of New York-Buffalo.7 Hewlett-Packard replaced Carly Fiorina with Mark Hurd, who
got a business degree at Baylor University ('79) on a tennis scholarship. Taking over at Walt
Disney in October is Robert Iger, an Ithaca College graduate ('73), who replaces Michael Eisner
of Denison University ('64) in Granville, Ohio.
A study by executive search firm Spencer Stuart found that the percentage of CEOs at Fortune
500 companies who were educated at Ivy League schools declined from 16% in 1998 to 11% in
2004. Even the Harvard MBA shows signs of erosion. Among large-company CEOs who have
MBAs, 28% received their degrees at Harvard, according to the 1998 study. By 2004, that had
slipped to 23%.
A survey by the Wharton School at the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania indicates the
trend extends back 25 years. In 1980, 14% of CEOs at Fortune 100 companies received their
undergraduate degrees from an Ivy League school. By 2001, 10% of CEOs received
undergraduate degrees at one of the eight Ivies: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard,
Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Yale. The percentage of CEOs with undergraduate
degrees from public colleges and universities shot up from 32% in 1980 to 48% in 2001.”8
Washington Post, March 30, 2004
USA Today, April ?, 2005
The Myth of Selectivity
What is the Ivy League? What do the colleges in the Ivy League have in common? It is an
athletic conference, plain and simple. Rutgers University in New Jersey was an original member
of the Ivy League, but withdrew because the athletic competition level was not high enough.
Does attending an Ivy League school guarantee success? Not according to the Krueger and Dale
study in 1995 (“Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College,") that compared
students who attended Ivy League colleges and those who were admitted who did not attend.
Interestingly, the two groups were virtually identical in terms of every commonly accepted
measure of success. Thus it was the quality of the students, not the education that mattered to
the success of these students.
What is the following a list of:
1. (None)
2. West Point
3. Harvard
4. Southwest Texas State
5. Whittier College
6. University of Michigan
7. Naval Academy
8. Eureka College
9. Yale
10. Georgetown
11. Yale
This is a list of where the post-WWII presidents attended college.
1. Harry S Truman
2. Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. John F. Kennedy
4. Lyndon B. Johnson
5. Richard M. Nixon
6. Gerald R. Ford
7. Jimmy Carter
8. Ronald Reagan
9. George H.W. Bush
10. William J. Clinton
11. George W. Bush
Or how about this list from Gary Ripple: Depauw, Grinnell, Hope, Gustavus Adolphus, Union
(KY), Manchester, Wooster and Gettysburg? All colleges attended by Noble Prize winners.
Among the top 100 richest Americans, of the 79 who did not inherit their wealth, over 20 did not
complete college (11 dropped out and 10 never went) and only 21 went to colleges rated in the
top 20 of the US News and World Report ranking.
Do Ivy League colleges provide the best education even if only a small minority of the richest or
most successful CEO’s attended these schools? By most accepted measures, the answer is no.
The National Survey of Student Engagement asks students about the quality of their educational
experience, from their interaction with professors to the amount of reading and writing expected
of them. Not a single Ivy League college is in the 20 highest rated colleges (see appendix XIII).
Surely Ivy League students send a higher percentage of their students to get their PhD’s than
other colleges? Not even close. In the list of the top colleges to send their students to get their
PhD’s, the only Ivies represented are Princeton once and Yale four times. Reed College is on the
list 17 times, University of Chicago nine times, and Swarthmore nine times (see Appendix I)
Well, you say, Harvard, Princeton and Yale have been among the highest rated colleges in the
US News and World Report for national universities, so they must be the best. Again we have to
look at the numbers. What statistic correlates the highest with the highest rankings on the US
News national universities list? If you guessed average SAT scores or lowest percentage
accepted, you’d be close because the list does give high priority to these input measures. No, the
figure that correlates highest is founding year. Why? Because the highest item in figuring the
list is “Peer Assessment”, 25% of the total ranking. In interview after interview of those asked to
give these “assessments”, the presidents and deans stated they knew little to none about the other
colleges they were asked to rate, using reputation as the major source for their ratings.
And lets look at the other parts of the ratings. Fifteen percent of the rating is based on
selectivity, not the greatest measure of quality. Selectivity is more often a function of popularity
than anything else. Selectivity can also be affected by the quality of the graduate program or the
research accomplishments of the faculty, two things which not only do not contribute to the
quality of the undergraduate experience but more often distract from it. The second highest
statistic is graduation rate, 20 percent. If you can’t graduate a high percentage of students who
are mostly valedictorians of their class who have had nearly perfect SAT scores, you are clearly
doing something drastically wrong. Add to that the fact that you can generously fund every
student who needs financial aid and a high graduation rate is not that impressive. The final parts
of the rankings are simple measures of the wealth of the college (alumni giving, faculty pay,
financial resources), again highly favoring the established and well known.
And, an article in USA Today backed this up:9
A study by executive search firm Spencer Stuart found that the percentage of CEOs at Fortune
500 companies who were educated at Ivy League schools declined from 16% in 1998 to 11% in
2004. A survey by the Wharton School at the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania indicates
the trend extends back 25 years. In 1980, 14% of CEOs at Fortune 100 companies received their
undergraduate degrees from an Ivy League school. By 2001, 10% of CEOs received
undergraduate degrees at one of the eight Ivies. The percentage of CEOs with undergraduate
degrees from public colleges and universities shot up from 32% in 1980 to 48% in 2001.
Wanted: CEO, no Ivy required, Del Jones, USA TODAY, 4/6/2005
Chapter 4: Options in Higher Education10
It is impossible to be familiar with every one of the thousands of colleges, universities and
technical schools in the United States and abroad. It is essential that you are aware, though, of
the various options available, the differences between them and the advantages and
disadvantages of each.
Your job as a parent is not to make decisions for your child but to help your child decide for
him/herself what is the best and most appropriate educational option and how to best achieve the
goal of getting admitted to, paying for and successfully completing this option. Life at postsecondary institutions should be viewed as both an experience unto itself and as a tool for your
child to develop the social, technical and academic skills to succeed in a future career. You
should consider the goals, strengths and learning styles your child and the characteristics of the
post-secondary options that would best match these characteristics of the students. One way of
doing this is by becoming aware of the different categories of post-secondary education and by
gaining some familiarity with at least some of the institutions in each category.
Among the four-year colleges and universities, there are a number of criteria for sorting them:
college/university; public/independent; national/regional; single sex/co-educational; profit/nonprofit, religious/sectarian; residential/ non-residential, etc. There are a number that are quite
specialized in nature. Included among these are technical colleges, historically Black colleges,
military academies, distance learning or weekend colleges, co-op colleges, etc. There are also a
large number of two-year colleges and technical schools (which may offer certification rather
than a degree). These differ by whether they are public or independent, residential or community
based, profit (proprietary) or non-profit and specialized or general.
Universities vs. Colleges
Universities are generally larger than colleges and usually offer both undergraduate and graduate
(master’s and doctoral) degrees. Universities frequently use graduate assistants, students at that
institution seeking a masters or doctoral degree, to teach a number of undergraduate courses.
There is also a higher focus at universities on faculty research. At one time, universities were
generally distinguished by having separate “colleges,” with each focusing on a different
academic area (arts and sciences, engineering, nursing, education, fine arts and/or music,
architecture, business, etc.) and frequently having different admissions standards and
requirements. Though this is still true at most large universities, more and more institutions are
now re-naming themselves as universities that do not have this structure.
Colleges are usually smaller (5,000 or fewer students), either do not offer graduate education or
offer it on a very limited basis, and frequently offer only limited career training. The majority of
students do not pursue career training on the undergraduate level at most colleges, instead opting
for a liberal arts curriculum. Most students, in my experience, do not know the difference
between pursuing a liberal arts curriculum and a professional curriculum. Students generally
take a core of liberal arts courses at most colleges and universities, but those pursuing a
professional program will take more courses that give them specific skills in the workplace and
frequently lead to the opportunity to become licensed or certified in their respective fields. A
majority of students who pursue a liberal arts degree receive this professional training in
graduate school.
©NACAC, Fundamentals of College Counseling, 2007.
A university has some advantages over a college. Some academic fields such as engineering
benefit from the more extensive physical facilities of a university. More obscure college majors,
from forestry to industrial design, are frequently offered at larger institutions. Some students
may want to pursue a specific career field, like culinary arts, engineering or nursing, yet have an
opportunity to interact with students of a broad variety of backgrounds and interests. Other
students may want to have the aura that universities with major college athletic programs offer.
For students who want the widest variety of possible college majors, larger schools frequently
offer this.
Colleges also have a number of advantages. Colleges, in general, have fewer classes taught by
graduate students or adjunct professors (who are not full-time employees) and have smaller
classes, particularly at the introductory level. A greater percentage of students from colleges go
on to obtain graduate degrees. Professors at colleges are expected to do research and publish,
but they generally are not expected to do so as extensively as professors at universities.
Many colleges have more opportunity for student interaction with faculty and expect professors
to put a higher emphasis on undergraduate teaching. In general, students with strong career
training on the undergraduate level start out with higher salaries at the beginning of their careers
than those entering the work force after undergraduate schools without this training. But those
students who earn advanced degrees and/or who have the greatest strengths in critical reading
and writing, general and specific field knowledge, problem solving, public speaking,
interpersonal skills and leadership are those who earn the highest salaries as their careers
progress. 11
Public vs. Independent (Private)
Expenses at independent, also known as private, colleges are usually covered by mostly private
sources, including tuition charges, donations and interest on the schools’ endowments. Public
colleges generally have their expenses subsidized by tax revenues. For this reason, public
institutions are generally less expensive than independent ones and sometimes dramatically so.
Because their state governments generally subsidize them, many public colleges charge higher
tuition for out-of-state students.
While some public colleges are specialized to serve the needs of the local community, such as
agriculture and/or technical colleges, most offer a comprehensive curriculum. Independent
colleges, on the other hand, vary more widely in their focus, size and mission. Interestingly,
though, there is little difference in the aggregate diversity or economic backgrounds of students
attending independent and public four-year colleges.12 Also, though published tuition may be
higher at independent colleges, most offer financial aid beyond that offered by the federal and
state government. The average debt of students graduating from state and independent four-year
colleges and universities is similar. Nationally, three quarters of students attend public colleges.
National vs. Regional
This distinction has gained particular prominence with the initial publication of the U.S World
and News Report’s annual college ratings which separate national from regional colleges,
defining the former as ones where the majority of students attending come from outside the state
or region of the college.
Higher Education Research Institute, College Student Longitudinal Survey (94-98).
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2002.
Most public colleges are, by their very nature, regional schools. Most have missions to provide
an education to that region’s students. Dick Moll’s book The Public Ivies lists a number of
public colleges that attract such a strong contingent of out-of-state applicants that they have all
the advantages of their independent counterparts.
In general, national colleges and universities have greater geographical diversity (though many
regional schools may have greater ethnic diversity) and are more selective in their admission
practices. Also, many regional colleges have fewer housing options for students whereas most
national colleges guarantee housing for at least their first year students. Some regional colleges
have no housing available and provide an education for students who commute. There may not
be as strong a weekend life at more regional colleges because of the opportunity for students to
go home on weekends. There may also be regional norms that may take some getting used to for
students attending regional colleges in another part of the country. Students from the Northeast
may not be used to dorm parietals or formal-wear weekend events common in schools in the
South, for instance.
Specialized Options
There are a number of schools, which have options that restrict or limit their student populations
in some way. Single sex schools are one such criterion. Only a handful of all-male colleges
remain yet a large demand and opportunity for all-women’s colleges continue. Many allwomen’s colleges have an adjacent co-educational or all-male college where the two colleges
share resources, course offerings and even, sometimes, administrations. These are frequently
referred to as coordinate campuses and can take the form of different colleges within the same
university (Barnard and Columbia), different sections of the same college (Hobart/William
Smith) or separate institutions that have a historical bond (Bryn Mawr and Haverford).
Of BUSINESS WEEK'S list of the 50 women who are rising stars in corporate America,
15, or 30%, received their baccalaureate degree from a women's college. Since women's
college graduates account for less than 4% of college-educated women, they are overrepresented on this list by a factor of 6 to 1.
One-third (33%) of the women board members of the 1992 Fortune 1000 companies are
women's college graduates.
Of the 4,012 highest paid officers and directors of 1990 Fortune 1000 companies, 19, or
less than one-half of 1%, were women. Of these women, 36% are women's college
Of 60 women members of Congress, 12, or 20%, attended women's colleges.
One of every seven cabinet members in state government attended a women's college.
Graduates of women's colleges are more than twice as likely as graduates of
coeducational colleges to receive doctorate degrees, and to enter medical school and
receive doctorates in the natural sciences.
20% of women identified by Black Enterprise Magazine, as the 20 most powerful
African-American women in corporate America, graduated from women's colleges. Of
those, three came from Simmons College.
Nearly three-quarters of the women's college graduates are in the work force.
Almost half of the graduates in the work force hold traditionally male-dominated jobs at
the higher end of the pay scale such as lawyer, physician or manager.
Nearly half of the graduates have earned advanced degrees, while 81% have continued
their education beyond college.
9 out of 10 women's college alumnae have participated in at least one civic or
professional organization since college.
More than three-quarters of the alumnae surveyed are, or have been, married, and half
have children.
14% of Good Housekeeping's list of "100 Outstanding Women Graduates," are graduates
from women's colleges.
In a 2004 study on the difference in the experience of women in all-women’s’ colleges from
coeducational schools13, the author found that both first-year and senior women attending
women’s colleges reported higher levels of academic challenge, scored higher on active and
collaborative learning and student-faculty interaction and reported that their campus environment
encouraged and supported diverse interactions and an understanding of diversity. They also
reported greater gains in understanding themselves and others, general education, ability to
analyze quantitative problems, and desire to contribute to the welfare of their community.
Contrary to national findings that show transfer students are generally less engaged overall,
transfer students at women’s colleges were as engaged as those who started at and were about to
graduate from the same women’s college. However, seniors at women’s colleges perceived a
lower level of interpersonal support compared with their counterparts at coeducational schools,
while first-year students at women’s colleges perceived greater support for success.
Historically Black Colleges are another option with a select student body. Though virtually all
share the common connection that a majority of their students are African American, there is
otherwise a wide variety among them. They range from a couple of hundred students to tens of
thousands and from the inner city to very rural. There are both public and private, and
Historically Black Colleges and the United Negro College Fund only support a percentage.
Some have extremely selective admissions while others have open admissions. At one college,
Alcorn State, Russian émigrés make up over 25 per cent of its student body.
There are many reasons why students choose to attend a Historically Black College or University
(HBCU). While only 18 percent of African American students attend HBCU’s, more than one
third of African American college graduates come from HBCU’s. HBCU’s offer more African
American role models among their faculty, upperclassmen and graduates. Some students state
that while overt racism has declined on college campuses (indeed, most HBCU’s were founded
as the only colleges available to African Americans at the time), a more subtle form of racism
remains. For example, Rachel Toor, in her book Admissions Confidential noted that at one wellknown college, black fraternities were required to have security at their parties when others were
Paul D. Umbach, et. al., Women Students at Coeducational and Women’s Colleges:
How Do Their Experiences Compare? National Survey of Student Engagement, 2004.
Some students may also choose to attend religiously affiliated colleges because of the desire to
share similar life experiences with others. As with HBCU’s, these vary widely in their size,
scope and focus. Some colleges were originally founded by a religious denomination yet are
fully independent; some retain that religious connection in only certain aspects of school life; at
some religion pervades all aspects of school life and some, usually called seminaries, prepare
students for a life in the clergy.
There are a number of ways to ascertain which applies to a given college. Is chapel attendance
required or expected? Are students required to take religion courses? How prevalent are other
religions in the student body? Are religious services or activities available for other religions on
campus? Read at the mission statement of the school (usually listed on the web site or at the
beginning of the view book or catalogue), look for religious icons or symbols on campus and ask
about student life policies, such at the availability of condoms in the health center or dorms,
which may be affected by religious beliefs.
Another major group of distinctive colleges is those with a military focus. Though there are a
small number of private military colleges (e.g. The Citadel), the majority of students who get a
military education do so at a U.S. Service Academy. Selection into these schools is extremely
rigorous and graduates agree to spend a minimum of five years as a military officer upon
The purpose of attending one of the U.S. military academies (the US Military Academy, also
know as West Point, Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and Coast Guard
Academy) is to train to be an officer in the military. The Merchant Marine Academy differs
from the others by commissioning officers as ensigns in the U.S. Naval Reserve (an eight-year
commitment) with the requirement that they obtain military employment. There is no cost for
room or board at these schools and students are paid an annual salary. All, except the Coast
Guard, require a nomination from a U.S. senator or representative in congress. Students
interested in these options should begin seeking nominations during their junior year. There may
be distinctive physical requirements for admission to the service academies. Most of those
admitted to the Air Force Academy have perfect vision, for example. Students interested in
military service after graduating from college may also want to consider participating in ROTC.
An increasingly common option, particularly popular among adult learners, is the external
degree or on-line college option. These colleges require little or no attendance on the college
campus (indeed some have no campus at all). Though these options may be quite convenient, it
is often more difficult to get a sense of the quality of education they offer. There is no campus to
visit or present students to speak to.
Perhaps what is most important is to establish what the certifications of their programs are
offered. There are two different types of certification: institutional and program. You should
check to make sure the institution is certified by a state and/or regional accreditation agency.
Each individual major where a student may seek certification (nursing, accounting, etc.) usually
has a certification agency that accredits each college or university to train students for that
career. Information on accreditation can be found at the Council for Higher Education
Accreditation at
Two-Year Colleges
Whereas most four-year colleges prepare students to receive a Baccalaureate of Arts or Sciences
degree, many students begin their post-graduate careers at a two-year college and seek an
Associate of Arts or Science degree. There are a number of different two-year options. Most
areas of the country are served by non-residential, publicly supported community colleges. In
some areas of the country, there are many large residential and non-residential privately
supported junior colleges. A number of universities have a two-year college option within the
university. There are large geographical variations in the availability and use of these options.
In the Northeast there are few residential junior colleges. In the South and Midwest they are
quite common. In California, the majority of students entering higher education do so first
through a two-year college.
There are several advantages to beginning at a two-year college. In most communities there are
nearby, low-cost community colleges. This convenience and low cost makes college a feasible
option for those of limited means. The schedules are usually flexible so that those who are
employed can be enrolled full- or part-time. Most two-year colleges have open admissions,
where any student who graduates from high school is admitted.
Students who have some weaknesses in their high school transcript essentially get a second
chance at a two-year college. Most four-year colleges considering students who are completing
an associate’s degree do not ask for test scores or a high school transcript. In most states, the
state university has articulation agreements with the community colleges in that state, agreeing to
admit any graduates who attain a certain grade point average. Most four-year colleges accept the
credits from an associate degree in full. Students who transfer from one four-year college to
another frequently lose credits in the process and need to spend extra time in college.
Athletes intent on playing on the NCAA Division I or II level in college need to meet the
requirements of the NCAA. Those who do not meet those requirements can attend and play
sports for a two-year college and not lose any playing time upon transfer. Two-year colleges are
more likely to offer remedial courses for students who need to build skills in college, including
English as a Second Language programs for students with limited English proficiency. Students
who do not feel psychologically prepared to live away from home may find commuting to a
community college a good option. Though two-year colleges are often thought of mainly as
options for students who are less academically prepared for college, their convenience and cost
make them a viable for many academically talented students.
Some academic programs are strongest at particular two-year colleges. There are a number of
technical two-year colleges which offer course work to enable students to act as support for
engineers, scientists, architects, etc. or offer training in the agricultural sciences. Students
graduating from these colleges may also be able to transfer to four-year technical programs.
There are also a number of academic majors that are quite strong at particular two-year colleges.
In my state, New Jersey, students who want to pursue a degree in the culinary arts, automotive
technology or scientific glass blowing can only find these programs in-state at two-year
community colleges.
Combined Degrees
There are several different options for enrolling in programs that offer more than one degree.
Students who want a major which might be offered only at specialized colleges or large
universities (such as agriculture, forestry or engineering) yet want the advantages of smaller, less
specialized college, may want to consider 3-2 programs. Under this option, the student
generally spends three years at a liberal arts or smaller college and the next two years at a larger
or more specialized school. The student frequently earns two degrees: a BA and a BS.
Similarly, students who definitely want to earn an advanced degree such a Masters of Business
Administration may enter a combined Bachelors/Masters degree program.
These usually operate the same as the 3-2 programs; except that the students frequently do not
have to change institutions- they simply enter the master’s program after thee years of
undergraduate school and earn both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. Extremely talented
students may also consider accelerated medical (MD), law (JD) or pharmacy (PharmD)
programs. Students who are accepted into these programs are guaranteed admission to doctoral
programs upon completion of three years of undergraduate school, assuming they maintain
strong grades. There are also combined degree programs where a student is admitted to both
undergraduate and doctoral programs out of high school, but still must complete all four years of
undergraduate school.
Finding Information on Colleges and Universities
There are a number of ways to become familiar with the variety of colleges and. Try to visit
different kinds of colleges: large and small; urban, suburban and rural; public and private; liberal
arts and comprehensive; conservative and liberal, etc. You may also, if your child has an
interest, visit colleges and universities with a specific mission, including military academies,
historically black colleges, community colleges, two- and four-year technical colleges, junior
colleges, single sex colleges or colleges with a strong religious mission.
There are two different kinds of college visits. Prior to the spring of your child’s junior year,
visits may be made simply to familiarize your child with the different types of college options.
You do not need to set up a tour or interview in advance and weekend visits are fine if that is
most convenient
As the spring of the junior year approaches, it is time for your child to begin looking at specific
colleges to which he/she may want to apply and to arrange a visit. It is useful to call in advance
and schedule an interview or attendance in a group information session (details on the interview
will appear later).
Your child should use these visits to learn about the individual institutions as well as more
general information about this kind of school. Your child may want to ask the admissions staff
member or tour guide:
To describe what is distinctive about their school and what distinguishes it from other
similar schools.
Who they most recently “cross-apply” (have applications in common) with.
What is most important to them in making admissions decisions, what process they use to
make decisions.
How many students who enter as first year students graduate in five years
How large are introductory classes
What percentage of students are taught by full professors
What percentage of students are taught by graduate assistants or part-time adjuncts
What is the rate of serious crime on campus: rapes, assaults, burglaries, etc.?
How do faculty salaries compare with peer institutions?
What is the rate of faculty turnover?
What is the distribution of majors of the students?
What is the financial health of the institution (by, for instance, asking them what recent
cost saving measures where undertaken by the school)
What are the health services available to students,
What is the availability of services for learning disabled students (if applicable)
How diverse is the student body.
You may want to also ask about the graduates of the college:
How many pursued graduate school,
How many who sought employment found work in their field, etc.
You may want to practice selective probing rather than seeking stock statistics. For instance,
instead of asking what percentage of students who applied were accepted into medical school,
you may want to ask what percentage of students who initially sought to apply to medical school
as a first year students eventually attended medical school.
Next, you and your child should take a tour of the campus with a student tour guide. Your child
should try to get a feel for the school. She might think about whether she might feel most
comfortable there. You child should look over the students in the student center or dining hall.
Are there any defining characteristics of the students you see? How many of the males are
wearing baseball caps on backward? Do the students seems status conscious in the way they
dress or behave? Do the students seem creative, conventional? Your child should take notes on
her observations. Remember that your tour guide is paid by the admissions office to give you a
good impression of the school. You or your child may want to stop and ask random students
questions about the school: How is the academic and social life?; what are the best and worst
parts of the school?; would they go there again if they had to do it all over again?; what is the
weekend life like (if the school is residential)?
If you take a tour of the dormitories, look to see what students put on their doors. This is a
fascinating window into the kind of student who attends a college! You may even want to read
the graffiti in the student bathrooms.
What becomes quickly apparent on these tours is that your child will pretty quickly make a
judgment about whether this is a college she might want to attend. I frequently hear from
parents on occasions when the child gets out of the car, spends no more than a few moments
looking around, and gets back into the car and wants to leave. Parents soon begin to respect the
wisdom of this decision and don’t push the issue. It may seem like a waste of time to spend
hours driving to a campus only to have the visit end after five or ten minutes, but learning that
your child is not interested in a particular college is quite valuable information.
There are numerous sources of information, both electronic and printed, which can help you and
your child gain further information. Perhaps most useful is the college newspaper. It will give a
strong insight into the tenor of the campus and will frequently illuminate some of the political
issues on campus. Your child should ask if this is available and read it over.
Many colleges have their professors rated on a web site: It is useful to
look over the ratings of the professors in likely majors. Almost every post-secondary institution
has a web site. Most have the listing and description of courses and majors offered and all
extracurricular activities and sports. Most also have the college’s full course catalogue on-line,
information about incoming students as well as graduates and any special programs offered.
You can generally use standard Internet search engines to obtain information about particular
majors or programs. For professional programs (nursing, education, auto repair, accounting,
etc.) it is useful to look up the certification credentials of the colleges offering that program.
There are a number of Internet sites (such as or, which
allow you to sort and select colleges by a variety of criteria.
There is a large and growing source of printed materials with information on colleges. College
guidebooks, which provide data and information on colleges, fall into two major categories:
factual and subjective. The factual guidebooks are useful for gaining information but do not
provide much of a feel for the schools described.
The more subjective guidebooks give much more personal and qualitative judgments, but may
include inaccurate or wrong information. There are a large number of publications, both in
magazine and book format, which purport to rate colleges. While these lists have some
usefulness, as your child becomes more familiar with what to look for, she will learn to rely
more on her judgment and experience than on measures such as these.
There are also written materials and on-line information which list and describe virtually any
sub-group of post-secondary option you can think of including ones describing Catholic colleges,
Jewish life on campus, Historically Black Colleges, technical and trade schools, programs for
learning disabled students or colleges purported to have some special quality (e.g. “Colleges that
Change Lives” by Lauren Pope or “Colleges that Make a Difference” by Miriam Weinstein).
Developing a College List
Choosing a college is a reverse pyramid: your child starts with a large number of potential
colleges then narrows the list down. To begin the process, it is necessary to become familiar
with the wide variety of options in higher education. The following chapter outlines many of
It is important to realize that what is vital to one student may be irrelevant to another. A student
may only be looking at schools that have architecture or chemical engineering and that may
severely limit the possible options. But most students who enter college do so with an undecided
major and the majority of students who have a chosen major change it by the time they graduate.
It is also important for students to be just as knowledgeable of the colleges they may not be
initially considering as the ones they are. Students who think they are only interested in small
schools, for instance, should make sure they visit some larger schools.
Students should also be flexible with their criteria. A lot of kids who see me about college want
the “baby bear” list of colleges: not too big (>8000) and too small (<3000), not too urban, but not
too rural, not too selective but still highly selective, not too near (at least an hour from home) but
not too far (driving distance), etc. After I give them the total of the five colleges that meet these
criteria, I tell them that they need to compromise on some of these criteria. They might want to
look at some smaller schools or consider a school in the Midwest. From where we live in New
Jersey, they can get to a campus in Minneapolis or St. Louis before they would reach a college in
southern Maine, Syracuse, or central Virginia. It is also important that students use more than
one source of information.
As mentioned earlier, many students mistakenly follow the Groucho Marx philosophy of college
admissions: they never want to apply to colleges that will accept them. There are some realities
of the college admissions process. There are 28,0000 high schools in America, thus there are
56,000 salutatorians and valedictorians each year. There are about 30,000 total openings in all
the Most Selective Colleges listed in Barron’s Profile of American Colleges, many of them in
specialized schools such as the Military Academies or Technical Institutes.
On the other hand, of the 3,000 colleges in the US, less than 100 admit fewer than 50% of the
students who apply and the far majority admit over 90% of the students who apply. The reality
is that most of the colleges in the country, despite what one might believe from the media, are
looking for reasons to admit a student not for reasons to deny him/her. In fact, over 60 percent
of students attending four-year colleges attend colleges that admit over three-quarters of the
students who apply.
Getting admitted to college is much easier than completing college. Research by James
Rosenbaum in Beyond College for All is fascinating. Some of his findings:
Less than 40% of those students who plan to attend college earn a 2- or 4-year degree ten years
Less than 14 per cent of students with C averages or lower in high school earned a 2- or 4-year
degree. 52% of college students who had a C average or lower didn't earn a single college credit.
44% of high school seniors do less than 3 hours of homework a week. Over half of those who do
more than 10 hours of homework a week will get a 4-year degree; only about 16% of those doing
less than 3 hours of homework a week in high school will earn a bachelor's degree.
80% of students who completed high school calculus go on to earn a bachelor's degree; 75% of
those completing precalculus do and 62% of those completing trig. But the numbers are 40% for
Algebra II, 23% for geometry and 8% for algebra I
95% of high school seniors planned to attend college, but only about half of college entrants ever
get a degree.
Choosing a Major and Developing a College List
Beginning the college process can be difficult. Parents need to be ready to acknowledge that
their children are ready to make decisions about their future, something a bit foreign and even
disquieting. And students need to be ready to make decisions that they sometimes believe are of
monumental importance and will effect the rest of their lives. In reality, there are important
questions, what major to pursue, what colleges to look at, etc., but not vital ones. The college
years do help one define who they are and what they want to do for the future, but are probably
no more or less vital than the four years of high school or the first four years after college. But
this almost mystical nature of the college search can lead to a degree of paralysis and conflict.
Kids procrastinate and parents hire independent counselors to get their kids going.
Parents, particularly those sending their first child off to college, need to be the ones to keep the
process in perspective. Your child has never been through this process before, you have. You
know that the decisions made during this process are almost always reversible and frequently
changed. Most students who go into college do so with a major of “undecided” and most of
those who go into college with a major change it during college. Most adults are not working at
a career for which they trained in college. Most people change jobs five or more times and
change careers as well.
Yet there has to be some place to start. Students need to access their values, interests and
abilities and make tentative decisions based on their conclusions.
Values Assessment14
Students: Read the following items and rate them in importance to you:
____Altruism: Your life satisfaction comes not from what you do for yourself but from the act
of helping others
____Creativity: You would like to have a career in which you can use your imagination and be
____Earnings: In your life, money may be placed ahead of other considerations such as job
satisfaction and personal interests
____Economic Security: You’re are not an adventurous person and prefer a career that offers
steady income with little risk
____Independence: You are a self-starter and like being in control of your daily activities.
____Interaction: You have a friendly and outgoing personality and enjoy working with other
people rather than by yourself.
____Power: You enjoy having a direct impact on other people’s lives and actions.
____Recognition: You would enjoy being famous and respected for what you do.
____Variety: You do not like to do the same thing all the time
At the beginning of the process, it is not necessary to look at specific majors or careers but more
global characteristics: Do you prefer doing things with other people or you happiest when you
are doing things alone? Do you like to make decisions for yourself or do you prefer it when
others make decisions for you? Are you more comfortable thinking about abstract ideas and
concepts or are you more interested in practical solutions? Can you stick with a project for hours
From The ABC’s of College Planning, NJACAC, 2007
at a time or do you get bored easily? Use the inventory below to see what careers may match
your particular style and personality.
Interests/Abilities Inventory15
Mark each category that best describes your interests and abilities. This will help guide your in
selecting careers where you have a high potential for success:
____Artistic: Do you enjoy music art or literature? Is self-expression important to you? Would
you describe yourself as independent, original, unconventional? Artistic careers might include
performing in drama, dance of music,; using your hands to create or decorate; working in
writing, advertising, media, communications or computer graphics.
____Conventional: Are you accurate and organized? Do you prefer structured environments?
Would you describe yourself as dependable, stable, well controlled and responsible? Careers
that match your profile include working in banks, libraries, insurance agencies or business
careers such as computer operations, record keeping, financial analysis, statistics or accounting
____Enterprising: Would you describe yourself as energetic, enthusiastic, adventurous and selfconfident? Are you good at persuading people and prefer social tasks where you can assume
leadership? Careers in this field might include business executive, buyer, hotel manager, realtor,
sports promoter, political consultant or working in any fact of sales.
____Environmental: Do you like working outdoors? Do you enjoy caring for animals or doing
physical work? Careers in this field include forest ranger, veterinarian, agricultural researcher,
landscaper or working in fishing, farming or ranching.
____Investigative: Do you enjoy your science and math courses in school? Would you describe
yourself as task-oriented? Would you want a career that involves research and discovery? Do
you enjoy abstract problem solving and have a need to understand the physical world? Career
options include computer systems engineer, biologist, social scientist, research laboratory
worker, physicist, technical writer or meteorologist.
____Social: Do you get satisfaction from helping others? Would you describe yourself as
responsible, humanistic and concerned about the welfare of society? Careers matching this
profile include teaching, therapy (vocational, physical, psychological) health care, human
welfare (social worker, parole officer, police officer, fire fighter), legal services, the clergy or
customer service.
____Technical: Do you enjoy applying technical principals to solve practical problems? Do you
like “tinkering” with machines, tools or vehicles? Do you enjoy creating things with your hands
or find that you are good at fixing things that are broken? Careers in this field include certain
kinds of engineering (civil, electrical, industrial), vehicle operation and repair, equipment repair,
architectural design and web design.
Choosing a Major:
It is a useful exercise for students to look through books or web sites listing all available college
majors and highlight all those that might be of interest. Some sources include the College Board
Index of Majors and college guide books such as Barron’s Profile of American Colleges that
From The ABC’s of College Planning, NJACAC, 2007
have included major indexes. This data is also publicly available from the Department of
Education web site and is part of a large source of educational data called IPEDS. It is also
useful to see which college programs are certified by the agency that approves such programs.
With the Internet, this information is usually fairly easy to find. If you use a standard search
engine like Google, you can look for the certification agency for a particular career and search
the web site for colleges which have received a particular certification.
In some majors, from marine biology to chemical engineering, it is often better to attend colleges
with substantial number of students with that major because of the demands of staff and
facilities. Colleges often state in publications that they ‘offer’ a major yet have no students
actually graduating with that major or any staff dedicated to teaching in just that discipline. I
learned when working in college admissions that many entry-level staff are assigned the task of
preparing information for college guides, leading to many inaccuracies. Look, for instance, at
“creative writing” in a number of college guides and you will see some lists with no overlap
whatsoever. Many colleges use something called the Common Data Set to send information to
college guides to improve consistency, but not necessarily accuracy.
If you have a very specific major in mind, it is often important that you have a number of other
students in the college you attend with similar interests and values. It is also important that you
assess whether you want to get career training on the undergraduate level, the graduate level or
once you get into a career. For students who plan to attend graduate training or who are prepared
to work in a career such as publishing that they learn on the job, many choose majors in the
liberal arts. For students who have a very specific major in mind, it may be difficult to find it in
a small college.
One irony is that students may be best served at colleges where they are not the typical student.
A student may notice that a huge number of students from one college well known for pre-med
ended up going to medical school and that a very large percentage of those applying are
admitted. But this student may not look deeper into the statistics. There is equally large a
number of students at the college who entered as potential pre-med students who ended up not
applying to medical school at all. In order for many extremely selective colleges like this to
have high admission rates into medical school, it is necessary to cull out the pool of students
early on, usually during the two years of inorganic and organic chemistry. When I read through
a booklet produced by students at this college on the teachers at the school, going through most
science classes seemed to be some sort of intellectual boot camp, not something you enjoyed but
survived. When I worked in admissions at Bard College (in the early 80’s), we rarely received
students showing an interest in entering medical school. I would be pretty confident that a
student who had an interest in going to medical school who had a strong aptitude in math and
science would find and easier road and greater support at Bard than colleges with much higher
numbers of students applying to medical school. The science professors at Bard would make
sure that if they only had one applicant to medical school every two years (that is no longer true
there), that they would do everything they could to make sure that student would be successful.
Some advice about a “safety school”
This is perhaps the one area, matched only by the writing of the college essay, that gives students
and parents the most angst. Off the top of their heads, most students who come to me can reel
off the list of their dream schools. When I meet with many parents and students to go over the
final college list, they frequently feel that they have their list set, except for “finding a safety
school”, like they were describing the preparations for a trip and having done everything except
check the tire pressure. It would be much more akin to checking whether there was gas in the
tank. Finding a safety school (sometimes euphemistically referred to as a “foundation” school)
is a relatively straightforward, though not always easy, process.
I hesitate to use the term, “finding a safety school”, for the process of selecting a safety school
should not be separate and apart from the rest of the college selection process. It should be a
college that the student would be happy attending if admitted. One of the saddest parts of my job
is having a student tell me that they do not want to attend the only college to which they were
Sometimes to make sure that a student has a college on their list where admission is assured, the
student must make compromises about the criteria they are using to select a college. Could they
be happy at a college of a slightly different size or location than their original selection criteria?
Perhaps they would consider a school slightly more rural or one which is a little less familiar.
This is not the place for magical thinking. It comes in many forms. “If I apply to 10, 15 even 20
colleges, I’m assured to get into at least one.” “Though most of the students who were admitted
had stronger credentials than me, Eric got in and he’s not as strong as me, so it must be a safety
school for me” (never mind that Eric can throw a football through a moving tire at 50 yards
away). “I’ll just take off a year if I don’t get into a college that is right for me.” “I’ll be the
Applying to a safety school should be viewed with the same degree of reality testing as when
choosing insurance. The abiding maxim is “hope for the best but plan for the worst.” Surely
you would not drive a car or own a car without enough insurance to cover an unexpected crash
or storm. The wise student is one who uses this same degree of caution in creating a college list.
There are three things one should consider when choosing a safety school. One, as mentioned
earlier, it should be a college where the student would be happy attending if it was the only
college the student to which the student was admitted. Two, the student should have a higher
class rank and GPA and higher standardized test scores than most other students who were
previously admitted to this college from their high school. Three, the college should be
affordable if the college did not offer any financial aid. Students who have financial need may
want to have two safety schools: one to which a student is clearly admissible but possibly not
affordable and one which is both a financial and admissions safety school.
What criteria one chooses for deciding if a college is a safety school is a lot like the criteria one
might use for choosing what level of insurance is “best”. Much of the decision is dependent on
what level of security the student and parent desire. There are a number of ways for determining
whether a college is statistically a safety school. The student should be aware of a number of
things: what their grade point average and class rank are, what their SAT Reasoning (and
Subject Tests, if appropriate) and/or ACT test results are and what the academic credentials are
of those who were previously admitted to the colleges being considered.
There are a number of ways for finding information on the latter. Many high schools now use
college database programs such as Naviance or Connect that makes the high school’s historical
information available to students. This is the most reliable and accurate information. Look at a
scattergram or database and see the credentials of the typical admitted students. Statistically this
is the “median” or middle student in the range. Average (aka “mean”) scores can be misleading
for one or two atypical outliers can skew the results one way or another. The student should not
compare himself to the student with the lowest credentials admitted for that student frequently is
a “special case” such as a legacy, a recruited athlete or from an under represented minority group
In the absence of specific high school data, individual colleges and many other sources of
college information such as computer search programs (,,
etc.), and college guide books and other publications provide the data on accepted students. This
data usually takes two forms, either means or ranges. Ranges are frequently in the form of the
middle 50 per cent of the class. This means they are giving the means of accepted students in the
25th percentile and the 75th percentile of the admitted class. Most colleges and others agree to
use the same information provided by the college in the same form, referred to as the Common
Data Set.16 This is generally the same information provided to the federal government and
available from the US Department of Education (look for “IPEDS” data).
Once this information is obtained, there are number of techniques one can use to determine if a
college is safe. In each, there is one assumption that must be consistent: that the college uses
nothing but statistical information in choosing students. A student may be on the coach’s “short
list” or the parent may be an active alumnus, but you cannot control how a college uses this
information. If high school data is available, the typical admitted student should have at least
100 higher points on the SAT reasoning test and total subject tests (if required) or 2 points on the
composite ACT score. In addition, the student should have at least 5 percentage points higher in
class rank than the average admitted student. If one only has range information from a college, it
is probably best to have statistics at or above students in the top 25% of admitted students.
Narrowing the college list:
So your child has 20 colleges and she cannot get down to a manageable number of colleges to
apply to. There is one technique that seems to be helpful: the matching game. Your child
should compare each college on the list to another college on the list and ask herself which one
she would go to if admitted to both. The ‘winner’ in each pairing receives a point. In the end,
each college should have a number. Now divide the list into three parts, reach, realistic and
safety schools. From each list, she should choose the top two or three colleges. If finances are a
major issue, than at least one of the safety schools should be one that would be affordable if only
a minimal financial aid package were offered.
The Admissions Process
Early Plans for College
The growth of different types of early college admissions plans is a source of continuing
confusion for students and parents. There are new plans developing every new admissions cycle
and it is virtually impossible for families to keep up with knowledge about them. Basically there
are two major types: those that are binding, meaning the student agrees to go to that college if
admitted, and non-binding, which just gives a student an early indication of admissions without a
binding commitment. A relatively new variation of the binding plan is round II early decision,
which is still binding but has a later deadline. Variations on non-binding plans include early
action, single choice early action, early notification and the likely letter. Below I will describe
There are many colleges that admit that they do not include all students in their profiles, excluding students
known as “NIPS” (“not in profile students”). Some colleges exclude ESL students, adult learners, or other “special”
admits. This practice can make data about ones own high school students more accurate
each of these options and the disadvantages and advantages of each for both students and
Binding early decision is quite clear cut: a student chooses one college that she most wants to
attend and agrees to attend if admitted. There are quite a number of advantages to colleges to
offer this plan. For one, one of the most difficult parts in admissions involves guessing how
many students who are admitted will actually attend (referred to as “yield”). Guess too low and
you will have to start going extensively to your wait list, a process that could last well into the
summer. It might even result in unfilled seats in the fall, a loss of income that can cost any
admissions director his job. Perhaps even worse is having too many students accept and not
being able to accommodate these students in the dorms or classrooms. Early decision gives a
much more reliable way to predict and control yield. The more students admitted early in the
fall, the less uncertainty in the spring.
Early decision has other huge advantages for colleges. A major one is financial. Throughout the
70’s and into the 80’s, college costs passed on to parents each year rose less than the rate of
inflation. In the mid-80’s, colleges began to try to re-coup these losses by increasing costs well
beyond the rate of inflation. In the last five or ten years, though, costs increases have started to
level off while more and more students began to apply for financial aid. Financial aid budgets,
essentially tuition reductions, began taking a greater and greater share in relation to revenue.
Colleges basically operate like airlines, with consumers paying sometimes drastically different
prices for the same service. One admissions director at a highly selective college told me how
his President had told him he had to reduce his financial aid budget without any guidance on how
to achieve this. He had a number of things he could do to achieve this: deny students with very
high need (“need aware admissions”), “gapping” students by offering only a percentage of aid to
which they might otherwise qualify for, recruiting international students, who are generally not
offered financial aid, admitting students off the wait list and not offering them financial aid or
increasing the percentage of the entering class through early decision.
Why does early decision decrease the financial aid budget of a college? Because most students
who need substantial financial aid want to have the opportunity to compare offers of financial aid
so choose not to apply early decision. Is it my experience that colleges low ball students in terms
of financial aid who apply early decision since they have already committed to attend? No, but
with the huge variation in the way colleges compute financial aid, the same student applying to
two colleges of similar cost may get vastly different aid offers. Thus early decision is a very
effective tool that colleges use to attract and enroll wealthier students and reduce their financial
aid expenditures.
Early decision is also an effective tool in satisfying different constituencies. If there are
particular goals set by the college administration, Board of Directors or faculty, ED is an
effective tool to make sure those goals are being met. It is rarely possible for students and
parents to be aware of these institutional priorities, for they are rarely made public, but they are
made quite clear to the Admissions Director. One college may be seeking more women in the
sciences, another seeking students from other parts of the country, or another seeking to
strengthen an established identity. University of Maryland- Baltimore County, has had the
country’s top chess team year after year. A Grand Master chess player may not have much pull
in many admissions offices, but he is gold to UMBC.
There is also a huge coterie of people letting admissions know that they want their due. The
development office sends down their lists of children of potentially huge donors, the alumni
office wants the children of active alumni admitted and faculty of every stripe come to
admissions with their prospects: scientists, artists, actors, etc. Famous people obviously move to
the top of the list as well. Chelsea Clinton, Brook Shields and George W. Bush probably didn’t
need the same credentials as their peers to be admitted to Stanford, Princeton and Yale.
Some colleges are quite up front that if they are going to give certain groups in the admissions
process an advantage, they must apply ED. University of Pennsylvania, for instance, states that
children of alumni must apply ED in order for their legacy status to “count”. No where is this
more true than in athletics. College coaches can only go to admissions with so many prospects.
If a coach only has a one in seven chance of landing a student who applies regular admission, the
coach can only push so hard for that student. Coaches at colleges that have binding ED
programs let students know in no uncertain terms that if they want to be admitted, they have to
apply ED. Athletes have a huge advantage in the admissions process and having to go ED is the
price many athletes have to pay to gain this advantage (more on this in the athletic recruiting
Colleges also frequently use ED to appear more selective and sometimes actually become more
selective. One frequent measure of selectivity is yield, the number of admitted students who
enroll. Since ED students enroll at virtually a 100% rate, every student admitted ED increases
the overall yield rate for that college. Also, the more students admitted ED the fewer openings in
the regular decision pool. One small college in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania has taken this
to an art form. They admit over 50% of their class ED. This has enabled them to vastly reduce
their financial aid costs and to increase their overall statistics (average SAT’s, class rank, yield,
etc) for they admit so few students regular decision.
There are also significant advantages for students in the ED process. A sophisticated analysis in
The Early Admissions Game by Avery, Fairbanks and Zeckhauser (Harvard Press, 2003) found
that applying Ed was “worth” 100 points on the SAT. Students who are borderline in terms of
grades or SAT’s are frequently advised to apply ED. Quite a number of times when I have
discussed a student with admissions deans or counselors, the response has been the same: if this
student has any chance of admissions, it would be in the ED pool. Reducing uncertainty is a
powerful motivator for admissions deans. Also, colleges want students who truly want to attend
that school. College admissions has many parallels to dating: they are more likely to lower their
sights to admit someone who they know will not turn them down. Many colleges see ED as a
way of improving the match between what the student wants and what the college has to offer.
If ED is mutually advantageous to both students and colleges, why is there so much criticism of
it? Though one would like to think of ED as merely a way to make sure that students who are
most interested in a college end up attending there, there are quite a number of colleges who do
not use it in this way. Many use it as a marketing tool to, as it were, close the deal. Students are
pressured to apply ED before they are ready and before they have adequately considered their
options. I cannot count the number of students who have walked into my office in the spring
stating: “I know I want to apply ED, but I don’t know where yet.” Early decision is spoken
about at college admissions conferences as a marketing tool to nail down the class. Both the
students and the colleges are using it as a strategy not as tool.
ED also is a huge disadvantage for students who are not as sophisticated or as wealthy. If
colleges are using up a great percentage of their spaces ED, there is little room left over for
students who start the college process later or who want to have the opportunity to compare
offers of financial aid.
Early Variations
There are colleges that have more than one early decision date, usually referred to as Round One
(generally in November or December) and Round Two (usually in January or February). These
are frequently second tier colleges to want to give the opportunity for the students to apply ED
who have been denied or deferred from a more selective college. There are some colleges which
have “rolling ED” where as student can apply ED anywhere say between mid-November and
mid-February. There are also colleges that allow students who applied regular decision by the
deadline of January 1 or January 15 to change that application to ED anytime up until say
February 15.
There are also a large number of varieties of non-binding early plans, referred to as rolling
admissions, early action, single choice early action, early notification, priority deadline and. The
far majority of colleges in the country employ rolling admissions. Beginning at a certain date,
frequently shortly after the beginning of the senior year, they will accept applications from
students and inform them of the admissions decision four to six weeks after the application is
complete. Literally thousands of colleges employ rolling admissions, even such highly selective
colleges as the University of Michigan, Penn State and the University of Wisconsin. Many
students apply to a couple of colleges rolling admissions in the fall to make sure they have an
early acceptance with no commitment (all colleges who are members of NACAC agree that,
except in the case of early decision, students have until May first to decide where to enroll).
Cigus Vanni describes rolling admissions and how to distinguish it this way:
Schools receive applications starting in the fall and make acceptance decisions as materials are
processed and read. Some colleges actually review application materials as they are received on
a case-by-case basis. Other schools render admissions decisions at the end of each month,
reading those folders that have been submitted by that time. Under a rolling admissions plan,
then, it is most certainly better to complete and submit one’s application as early as possible.
One’s application will encounter less “competition” the earlier it is received—and if you choose
to accept the offer of admission right after it is tendered, you will have first crack at housing
preferences and a larger pool of financial aid which may be yours. Students are not, however,
bound to accept an offer of admission post haste. Virtually all schools with a rolling admissions
plan also subscribe to the Common Reply Date Agreement, so one can wait to see what other
offers arrive and wait until May 1 for a final decision
How to compare regular with rolling admissions: Let’s use an analogy from athletics.
Suppose you are a swim coach and you have been asked to assemble a swim team from scratch.
There are two ways you could accomplish this: establish a baseline time that individual
swimmers must meet to join the squad or test each swimmer individually so that you can take the
best from the group. The first approach is rolling admissions—the baseline is set and any
swimmer (applicant) who meets the criterion makes the team (gets accepted). The second is
regular admissions—each swimmer (applicant) receives an individual time trial and the ones
with the fastest times make the team (get accepted). Of course under neither scenario would our
coach (admissions director) have an unlimited number of spaces available on the team (in the
college). There will always be some darned good swimmers (students) who may have met the
time criterion but could not be offered a place on the team (in the college) because of space
considerations. This is yet another reinforcement for an expedient rolling admissions application
(the earlier, the better) as well as a reflection on how competitive the best swim teams (selective
colleges) can be.
Early Action (EA) is different from rolling admissions for there, like early decision, is a single
deadline by which students must apply and a single notification date. Yet like rolling
admissions, the student has until May 1 to make a decision. There are two major reasons for
colleges to opt for EA over ED. Some colleges are not popular enough to generate large
numbers of ED applications but do not mind having students apply EA to their college as a
security measure, assuming that a good percentage of those students may likely attend. It is well
documented that students are more likely to attend the colleges they hear from earliest.
Other colleges choose EA because they have an objection to the advantage given to wealthy
students in the ED process, yet still want to give students who are most interested an early
indication of admissibility. Some of the most selective colleges, including Harvard, Stanford
and Yale, do not allow students to apply anywhere else early (except rolling admissions) who
apply there EA. This option is called Single Choice Early Action. These colleges employ
SCEA, for though they have objections to the elitism that can be attached to ED, they feel they
cannot adequately act on the number of applications they would receive through unfettered EA.
Knowing that students are more likely to attend a college they hear from earlier, some colleges
send out Early Notification letters to students they most want to admit though the students did
not apply through any early plan. Others send out “likely letters”, essentially acceptance letters
sent with a wink. Why not just send out an accept letter? Because a number of more selective
colleges agree to have somewhat similar “common reply dates”, generally around the last two
weeks of March. Likely letters are a way to minimally stick to this common reply window.
Students are generally given three possible decisions to an early application: accept, defer to the
regular pool or a later date (such as ED Round II) or deny. Anyone who follows admissions
knows that few students are denied ED (except at Northwestern University, where all students
not admitted ED are denied). For years I could not understand this for so many students who
were clearly inadmissible were being deferred rather than denied. It finally became clear to me
when I spoke to the Dean of Admissions at on Ivy League college. She said they could easily
deny over half the students who were not admitted ED and, in fact, did so for a short time. I told
her that I thought this was better for students for it didn’t string along students who had no
chance of eventual admission. She agreed but said that they simply could not handle the
onslaught of those with “connections” who inundated the admissions office once those denial
letters went out. Every person who knew a Board member, every faculty relative, and every
alumni child would have their advocates expressing outrage, no matter how unlikely admission
was. These same advocates seemed much less toxic when the student, in the regular pool, got
denied to this school but had simultaneously obtained admissions elsewhere.
So who should apply ED? For one, athletes who are being recruited. Also, students who have
researched colleges well and who, by early fall, have one college that they prefer among all
possible choices. This is especially true if the student in acceptable but a bit low in the
admissions pool (say slightly below the 50% in terms of GPA, rank and test scores). Who
should not apply early decision? Students who have not adequately researched the college they
are interested in AND the possible alternatives, students who have no clear first choice, students
who are not admissible (below the 25th percentile in either tests scores or grades) or students who
want the opportunity to compare offers of financial aid.
Parts of the Application: The Transcript
There are many things you will read or hear about the application process that should be treated
with some degree of skepticism, but one piece of information is consistently presented which is
accurate: the transcript is the most important part of the application. Parents and students are
sometimes under the illusion that other parts of the application, from a good interview or essay to
unusual activities, will “make up” for weaknesses in the transcript. It is sometimes true that
apparently strong grades and courses are treated by skepticism by some colleges. If only a small
percentage of students from a particular high school go to college, if the reader is unfamiliar with
the school and the school profile does not give an adequate view of the academic rigors of the
school or grades are not matched with corresponding corroboration (such as recommendations,
essays or test scores), a college may not rate a transcript as highly.
This is not true for most students applying to college. When I worked in college admissions, I
was either familiar with most schools we got applications from or it was pretty clear from the
school profile the nature of the student body where the applicant attended. There were things I
always looked for in a transcript:
Did the student take advantage of the educational opportunities at the high school? Did they take
a well-rounded curriculum with advanced study in mathematics, sciences, history, world
languages and English? If they expressed a strong interest in some academic area, did their
transcript reflect this?
Some advice on choosing courses:
One should take as demanding a schedule as one can be successful. I define this as the ability to
get B’s or better. If a student feels that she can get no better than a C in an Honors or Advanced
Placement course, than it is wise to choose a lower level.
A “four by five” schedule is most desirable, with four years of study in each of the five major
subjects. In an extremely demanding schedule, it is sometimes okay to take four majors.
It is especially important to keep up as much study of consecutive courses such as mathematics
and foreign language. In some courses, one easy teacher is tough to ascertain. But in areas were
previous knowledge is necessary to proceed, it gives a better picture of the student’s
Colleges perceive high schools as a place to get a general well-rounded education and college as
the place where more specialization should occur. Except where a student is looking to pursue a
professional degree, such as art, drama, architecture or engineering, colleges expect a student to
take a pretty standard curriculum.
There are a few “red flags” that students should avoid:
-Taking three years of a foreign language then taking a new, first year language in the senior
year (or taking two years each of different languages). College admissions personnel are well
aware the first two years of a language are the easiest.
-Dropping math and or science in the senior year. Students often think that since they are
pursuing the humanities or social sciences, colleges will not care if they have not challenged
themselves in math or science. Colleges want to see that students are able to succeed in areas
that they may not have a great interest, a may be part of any college curriculum.
-Taking courses which are unfamiliar to the college. Colleges prefer courses which have a
recognizable curriculum and name. Biology, Physics and Chemistry are preferable to Bioethics,
Astronomy or Marine Biology, for two reasons. For one, there is a pretty standard curriculum in
most chemistry or biology courses, whereas a high school marine biology can be anything from a
weak survey course to an extremely rigorous course. Secondly, colleges prefer students to take
college course in college. Even the most progressive of colleges is pretty conservative about the
kind of curriculum they expect of their students.
-Substituting an apparently more rigorous college-like course for a high school basic. It is better
to take Honors Modern European History or World History than AP Art History or to take
Honors Calculus for AP Statistics. For students looking at highly selective colleges, it is not
harmful to pursue coursework in art history of statistics, as long as it is in addition to other
rigorous courses, not in place of them.
There is beginning to be some backlash at the Advanced Placement curriculum. Many high
schools are dropping or curtailing AP courses in their curriculum, in the belief that too much
content is being taught at the expense of more in-depth understanding. There is certainly some
validity to this point in certain AP courses, but there is one advantage to AP courses for colleges
reading transcripts: there is a standard, highly rigorous curriculum culminating in a highly
demanding exam requiring the ability to absorb a large quantity of information, to analyze novel
problems using this information and to communicate this understanding effectively.
Many students believe that since the AP tests for senior year courses occur after students are
accepted into college, they can take AP courses that they know have the easiest teachers. Most
high school profiles give a distribution of the AP scores of previous graduating classes. Most
college admissions personnel can easily recognize that at a certain high school, AP World
History is a gut course whereas AP Modern European History might be the most demanding
course in the school.
Students looking at less selective colleges need not take as demanding a schedule as those
looking at highly selective colleges. But all students looking at four-year colleges are advised to
take the five major subjects in the first two years of high school and at least four of the five
major subjects in the last two years.
There is also a wide variety of ways that different colleges view transcripts. Some public
colleges do not “weight” courses, counting regular, honors or AP courses the same way. Others
do not even look at the courses a student took, only viewing the student’s Grade Point Average
computed by the high school, their own computed GPA or the student’s class rank as the only
measure of the student’s academic strength. Despite this, one should take a schedule which
would be viewed positively by any of the colleges to which a student might apply.
Some sample senior course schedules:
For a student applying to the Most Competitive Colleges
(with average SAT scores over 2100 and class rank in the top 5% of the class):
AP BC Calculus
AP Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
AP English Literature or Language
AP Modern European or World History
AP Modern Language (6th or 7th year)
a rigorous elective
For a student applying to a Highly Selective College
(with average SAT scores over 1900 and class rank in the 15-20% range):
AP AB or Honors Calculus or AP Statistics
AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Environmental Science or Honors Physics
AP English (Literature or Language)
AP or Honors full year history course
AP or Honors World Language (4th year or higher)
Elective matching student’s area of interest
For a student applying to a Very Selective College
(with average SAT scores over 1600 and Class rank in the 35-50% range)
Honors Calculus or Precalculus
Honors full year science course or Honors level electives
Honors level full year English course or Honors electives
Honors full year history or social studies course or Honors level electives.
Honors level World Language (3rd year of higher)
*Students applying to these colleges may take four rigorous major courses rather than five)
For a student applying to a selective college
(Colleges accepting students with SAT’s above 1200 and a class rank above the 75%)
A full year of college preparatory English or electives
A full year of college preparatory science or electives
College preparatory Algebra II or higher
A full year of college preparatory social studies or electives
At least a second year of foreign language if not already completed
For a student applying to a Most Selective Art Program
AP English Literature
AP Modern European History
AP World Language
AP Art History
Honors Senior Studio Art
For a student applying to a Most Selective Engineering Program
AP English Literature
AP BC Calculus or college mathematics
AP Physics II
AP World or Modern European History
Honors or AP World Language
High Honors Digital Electronics
The Application
Filling out a college application is a fairly straightforward process, not unlike filling out a job
application. Yet, admissions officers are constantly shocked by the number of errors that
students make in filling out applications. Below are a few listed on the NACAC List Serve
about students who use The Common Application, accepted by over 100 colleges:
Remind students that proofreading does not equal spellchecking.
A thing that some students forget a lot is SIGNING AND DATING the back page of the
You'd be amazed at how many students mis-spell their intended major:
pyschology, psichology, psycology (just to name some) and buisness (to name another)
are the biggest offenders.
I wonder about the applications that are clearly penned in the parent’s scrawl with
portions also filled out by the student, so that you clearly see that two different people
worked on it.
Illegibility/poor penmanship creates the obvious issues, especially handwritten essays
that look really bad.
Applications folded 16 times to fit in a small envelope make it look bad; not to mention
those that come in with soda/coffee stains, are sticky from placing a lollipop on them, or
are torn/ripped.
Some applications ask for County or Country, and students get these mixed up.
Many students who have jobs do not mention them on applications. Often, these jobs
impact the time they have available for activities, and so they should include this info to
paint a fuller picture of their out-of-school activities.
And, my favorite, the essay all about how badly he/she wants to attend
College X that gets sent to University Y by mistake.
For online applications, sometimes students slip the mouse and click on the wrong item
in a drop down. (Amazing how many students say they're from Afghanistan -- which is
usually listed right after United States on drop-downs for countries)
They substitute thesaurus words for the more natural ones. Parents don't realize that very
bright 17 year olds do not and should not write like 45 year olds. Applications that stand
out do not have the above problems. They "tell" rather than "show."
There are a couple things off the top of my head that make a poor impression on
applications. The first one is:
When students list "Hanging out with friends" or "talking on the phone" as an
extra curricular activity.
Then, another no-no is to blame the teacher in the personal statement for bad
grades. I look for information not so much as why did you get the bad grade, but what
did you do about it, i.e. seek extra help? Repeat the course? Etc... I could go on and on
with this question! But I'll end with one more thing that infuriates me....
Reading a college essay with numerous misspellings and grammatical errors. I'll
even forgive a student if they list another university rather than overlook a poor attempt
at writing the essay.
One common mistake is not informing their high school counselor that they are applying
to colleges x, y, and z and submitting the necessary forms by the necessary deadlines to
be sure that their transcript, profile, etc. will be sent to their colleges by their high
Also - they need to remember to have their SAT or ACT scores sent to their
colleges directly from ETS.
Also - each student should be sure to review his or her transcript before it is sent
out. Check all of these: name spelling, Social Security #, home address, phone numbers
AND course names and grades and credits received. You'd be surprised how many
transcripts contain errors that students are often never aware of because they didn't
review their transcripts.
They don't read the instructions including the suggested length and topic prompt.
They don't realize that many colleges that use the Common Application also have
They don't relate whatever they are writing about to themselves. They write generic
essays. They should write details that are unique to them and that only they could have
One major thing I include these days is that students have to be aware of the impression
their e-mail address makes. I encourage them to create a "professional" email address for
college and job applications. Offensive email addresses make a bad impression. I
recommend all students use a hotmail address for college apps [email protected]).
There is at least one case I can cite where we did not admit a student in part because his
email address suggested sexist, violent behavior toward women. Most of them are not
that bad but most are silly at best.
Here are the NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseing) E-list responses
regarding the do's and don'ts of applying to college on the internet:
Do's and Don'ts for Online Applicants!
Do... take the online tour. Before you start your application, walk through each step of the
application on "a virtual tour".
Do... create a user name and password that you'll remember easily. Record it and keep it in a safe
place. If you lose your password, some colleges allow you to create a new one, but if you forget
your user name, you may have to start a new application.
Do... disable pop-up blockers in order to view the part of the application that displays in pop-up
Do... use the correct browser. Most online applications functions only with Internet Explorer 5.0
or higher or Netscape 5.0 or higher (which you can usually download from the application site
itself). The online applications are highly secure; so older browsers are not usually equipped to
handle the necessary level of encryption.
Do... follow directions and complete all steps. On each page be sure to scroll to the bottom of the
page and the bottom of each pop-up to avoid missing any information.
Don't... forget to save your work. You usually have no more than 40 minutes per Web page
before you'll be timed out. Whenever you save an entry or move to a new page, your work is
usually automatically stored, but if you plan to leave your application for any length of time - to
go grab a snack or answer the phone - use the save/logout feature to store your application.
Don't... compose your personal statement online. Take time to compose it in a word-processing
application, such as Microsoft Word, save it as a text file, and then copy and paste it into the
appropriate boxes online.
Do... print out copies of your personal statement to cross-check your work with your
counselor/advisor or an instructor.
Do... carefully review the summary page. Look for any instance where it says, "no information
added," and if you didn't intend to leave that area blank, click "modify" to return to the step
where you can fill it in.
Don't... be afraid to ask for help. If you have technical difficulties, don't be afraid to ask the
"Help Desk," "Technical Support," or use the "Contact" links.
Do... click "Submit Application" when you've finished. Your application won't be sent to the
University until you do.
Do... print out your receipt and keep it! You will have a record of your application id number and
a complete summary of your application.
Set-up an e-mail account to be used for college correspondence only.
Consider using the Common Application ( which is accepted by
many private, and some public, colleges and universities.
Print out the full application directions so you can "check-off" tasks as you complete
them. Be sure to check if a supplement is required; if the form says Part 1 and there is no
part two visible, you will usually receive part 2 after you complete part 1 and/or pay the
Print out your completed application, or application summary and proofread it before
clicking the "submit" button. Make sure none of your information was cut-off. Save the
printed copy for your college files.
Submit your application a week or more before the deadline. Application web sites slow
down to a crawl the closer you get to deadlines, and sometimes crash!
Pay the admission fee by credit card if this option is available. Checks can take weeks to
reach the school and that may delay the processing of your application.
Look for e-mail confirmation that your application has been received. Print out and file
the application acknowledgement. Call the college's Office of Admission if you do not
receive confirmation within forty-eight hours after submission.
Finally, make sure you have arranged for all supporting documents to be mailed by the
application deadline. See you counselor the day after you click "submit" so that the
transcript and other materials will also arrive on time. Colleges do NOT notify schools
that students have applied; you must do so.
Common mistakes that students make on the Common Application Online:
Students Don't Read the Instructions. It's the single most important thing that keeps them
from doing this flawlessly. Anytime you don't read the instructions something's probably going
to come back to haunt you. Students should print the directions out and read them before they
start typing.
Waiting until the Last Minute. Literally, they're doing this the day before it's due at 11 at
night. If there's an early decision deadline on Dec. 1, they're on the computer Nov. 30. They
may run into a snag that has nothing to do with us - their Internet access might be down. While
it's instantaneously submitted, they shouldn't wait for the last minute to do it.
Not Entering a Valid E-mail Address. Later on they wonder why they haven't heard from
the college or got a confirmation message.
Not Checking Each Individual College's Requirements and Deadlines. There again we
have a profile for each college, which gives all the deadlines, fees, and supplementary
information. It's all there, yet they'll submit late and wonder why they can't select a college from
the list.
Students are not accurately selecting and saving the colleges they want to apply to. They
often select the right school, but forget to save.
Students Forget to Save Their Data and Log Out.
Not Thoroughly Reviewing Application for Errors and Truncated Text. We have print
preview, instructions all over the place, and even though you can type forever in the HTML
input screen, this doesn't mean it's all going to fit into the PDF output. Look at the print preview
before sending. What they see on the print preview is exactly what will be transmitted to
Not Using the Checklist to Ensure They Have Completed All the Requirements for their
Selected Colleges. There is another tab in there which will tell them which colleges accept credit
cards, which colleges only accept hard copy."
Not Verifying They Have Completed the Submission Process Before Logging Out. There
are a series of screens they go through which ensure that the data is saved in our system on our
server. They close down before doing that and the application is not complete and not submitted
into our system.
Not Following Up With Fees and Supplemental Documents.
Not Sending Hardcopy to Member Colleges That Don't Accept the Electronic Version of
The Common Application.
Now that you know the common pitfalls visit the Common Application's website at and see how many of your picks are there.
The admissions staff is usually consisted of a large number of younger, entry level staff who are
frequently recent graduates of the college and a small number of more experienced staff. The
entry-level staffs are generally called “admissions counselors” or “assistant directors of
admissions”. More experienced staff are known as “associate directors” and the head of the
admissions staff may be known as “dean” or “director of admissions.”
These are the people who make visits to high schools, man the tables at college fairs (though this
is sometimes done by volunteer alumni) and are responsible for the recruitment of students.
They also are responsible for the selection of students. They read and rate the files of applicants
and meet as a committee to decide on the composition of the entering freshman and transfer
class. Each admissions office is generally organized geographically, with each admissions officer
responsible for a certain group of states or regions. If this is how the staff of the office you visit
is organized, ask if you can meet with the person who has the “territory” where you live.
There are many ways that colleges assess student’s applications. Some colleges that are not very
selective often look to see that students meet some minimum standards, often particular SAT’s or
ACT’s and completion of a college prepatory curriculum with grades of mostly C or better.
Many public colleges do admissions by some formula, usually referred to as an Academic Index.
Frequently, public colleges require higher standards for admissions for in-state students than for
out-of-state students. Twice, once in Florida and once in California, I called an admissions
office to inform a college that a student of mine who was denied had a non-custodial parent
living in that state. In both cases, the admissions officer who spoke to me immediately
responded, “then they are admitted.” It was not one of those snap judgments described in the
best-seller Blink but a quick glance at the formula for in and out-of-state admissions.
As colleges that use subjective criteria in admissions get more selective, they need more and
more information to make finer and finer distinctions. Yet almost all have a similar process.
They usually have a first reader, usually the person who has that area in their territory, who rates
each part of the application. First readers are sometimes also assigned alphabetically, randomly,
by college (liberal arts, engineering, nursing, education, business, etc.). Sometimes first readers
are those with some specialty. There may a special liaison to the athletic office who reads
athlete’s applications. Some colleges have applications from students with learning disabilities
read by specialists in this area who are able to interpret more complex testing data. Some
colleges have students who are special cases, such as cases where the development office has
flagged an application as a potential development case (the parent is likely to contribute a lot of
money to the college) or as a very active alumnus, read first by the Dean of Admissions.
The first reader usually rates a recomputed grade point average based on only major courses, the
class rank as reported by the high school, the strength of the student’s schedule (particularly the
senior year schedule), the counselor and/or teacher recommendations, the essay, the interview,
and the extracurricular contributions of the student. Most colleges come up with two ratings in
the end: one academic and one non-academic. The academic rating is based mostly on the
transcript and corroborated by the recommendations and essay. The non-academic rating is
based on the extracurricular aspects of the application, and might be corroborated by things like
the recommendations, sometimes the essay and the interview. Basically, the two ratings give the
colleges best estimation of the what kind of student is applying and what kind of person is
Rab Thornton and Ed Custard, then Director and Associate Director of New College in Florida,
used to give a talk around the country on reading and rating of college applications. They used
the rating sheet that Rab had used at Vassar College when he worked there and that they also
used at New College: (© Ed Custard, 2003)
NAME: Joe College
123 Any Way
Somewhere in NY 12345-6789
DOB: 10/13/84 SEX: M
H.S. Terrific High School
RIC: 1/5000
DATES: 9/98 – 6/02
GPA/UNITS _______
V 600 M 700
BY 59
EN 59
_____ ______
ESSAY – STYLE AND CONTENT__________________________________________________
ESSAY _______
GRADED PAPER- STYLE AND CONTENT_________________________________________
COUNSELOR- HR R NR NA______________________________________________________
TEACHER/CLASS – HR R NR NA _________________________________________________
Y WITH/DATE_____________________________________________________
READER______________________________ DATE_________________ RATING/DECISION_____________________
Course Selection
Full International Baccalaureate or Honors Program
Many AP/Honors or Best Available
3-4 AP/Honors
1-2 AP/Honors
Five Solids per Quarter
Light Load
Not College Prep
Grade Point Average
3.8 – 4.0 out of 4.0
3.5 –3.7
Below 2.0
Below 75
Class Rank
Top 1%
Top 5%
Top 10%
Top 15%
Top 20%
Top 30%
Top 50%
Below Top 50%
Standardized Test Scores
SAT: 1500 and Above ACT: 33 and Above
Below 1000
Below 20
Essay Writing/Style
Truly Inspired. Powerful
Fluid and dynamic
Solidly written. Insightful
Sound but uninspired
Needs some work
Lots of problems mechanically
Scattered, incoherent
Not at all in the ballpark
Counselor Recommendation/Teacher Recommendation
Enthusiastic support. “A super match”.
Very Supportive, Knows College
Supportive and detailed
Supportive but generic
Positive with weaknesses
Unsure about the match
Non-supportive, backs away
A very bad match
Extracurricular/ Personal
Truly one of a kind, talented and driven
A successful leader, dedicated and focused
An ambitious self-starter
Involved, active. A contributor
A joiner, but not very active
Inwardly drawn to individual pursuits
An uninvolved loner
No constructive interests at all
A Dynamo! What are we waiting for?!
A stand out with real promise
Very bright and eager to learn
Good and Solid- A likely admit
Likable, but some minuses
A truly risky candidate
Not likely to be admitted
A definite deny
Match for the College
Top priority. Recruit at all costs
A great addition. Scholarship!
Our true top end. Enroll them now
The Heart of our student body
Uninspiring candidate
A poor match. Difficult to admit
Not ready for challenge
A quick exit from the pool
At the end, each student came up with a rating of 1-8 on an academic scale and A-I on the nonacademic scale. The number and letters vary from college to college but almost all have some
common measure that they can use when comparing applicants from different readers. It is
impossible for every application to be read by every admissions officer, so this allows for a way
to measure applicants against one another. From there, a variety of things might happen. At
some colleges, all applications automatically go to a second reader. The second reader does not
read the application quite as carefully as the first reader. She usually just tries to see if there are
any inconsistencies or omissions in the first reader’s ratings. Other colleges have the Dean or
Director read over all applications before any decisions are rendered. Others allow the first
reader to make the decision to accept or deny applicants at the extremes of the applicant pool.
Using the New College Rating system, a college may, for instance, automatically admit all 1-A,
1-B, and 2-A applicants and deny all applicants with a 7 or 8 academic rating or a 5 with
anything less than a C non-academic rating.
Most schools that are very selective generally then separate the applicant pool into clear admits,
clear denies and those in the middle. The more selective the college, the smaller the percentage
of the pool is clear admits and the larger the percentage of clear denies. Except at the Most
Selective colleges, it is relatively clear who is a clear deny or admit. Students who are rated well
above the previous year’s accepted students are generally admitted, as are those who are clearly
admissible and are under-represented minority students, recruited athletes or legacies.
Of course, there are two important factors to fit into this picture. For one, with colleges that have
an early plan, this process goes on two or more times, and the composition of the early pool may
have an impact on those admitted regular decision. Second, selecting students is always a
guessing game. The admissions staff has to judge whether the incoming class is markedly
different from the previous year’s admitted class. Generally, admissions standards do not change
dramatically from year to year, but in rare cases they do and admissions staff has to make
judgments as whether indications at any instance in time illustrate whether the pool as a whole is
stronger or weaker than the previous year. They also have to guess how many students who are
admitted will eventually enroll. If they guess too low, they will have to go to the wait list or
admit transfer students to round out the class, keeping them from closing the class to a later and
later date or worse, have empty dorm rooms and under-enrolled classrooms in the fall. If they
guess too high, they end up with an equally distressing dilemma, having too many students
enroll, overcrowding dorms, the classrooms and the cafeteria.
Thus many colleges take steps to reduce this uncertainty. One is by admitting greater and greater
numbers of students binding early decision. Unless the financial aid package is not adequate or
the student breaks the early decision commitment (both relatively rare), all the students who are
admitted enroll at the college, a nearly 100% “yield”. Secondly, many colleges are putting an
increased emphasis on “perceived interest”. They want to find a way to judge which students
who are admitted are most likely to come. They do studies of what correlates with a student
deciding to attend and keep records of these things. They mark on the application whether the
student filled out a card at a college fair, came to a high school visit by the admissions staff
member, attended an open house, visited the campus or had an interview.
Thus the eventual decision to deny or admit may be based on factors other than the academic and
extracurricular. Students who are most likely to attend either those who apply early or who the
college feels has high “perceived interest” often have a leg up in admissions. Some colleges may
deny highly qualified students who rate very low on perceived interest as a way to give a
message to the school, student or community that they don’t want to be used as a safety school.
College representatives often speak of seeking a “good match” between the student and the
college, but many students perceive this wrongly. Most believe they are more likely to be
admitted if they are similar to the average student in the school. They believe that Bennington
wants artsy kids, MIT technocrats and Johns Hopkins pre-med students. In reality, Bennington
would prefer scientists, MIT creative writing majors and Johns Hopkins anthropology majors.
Being a “good match” can mean students who bring some intellectual, cultural, racial or social
diversity to the campus while still matching the core academic principles of the school.
At more selective colleges that use subjective criteria in their admissions process, once a file is
read and rated, one of three things generally happen. Some students are so strong (or are “good
enough” and have a strong push from a coach, the development office, the college president, et.
al.) that they are admitted without further review. Others are weak enough in the pool to not
warrant further consideration. Often the decision is based solely or mostly on the academic and
non-academic ratings a student gets. A third group, which can frequently be the majority of the
applicant pool, goes to the committee for further consideration. This committee can take a wide
variety of forms. It can be the whole admissions staff or only some smaller group of staff. It can
include faculty or may be made up entirely of faculty. The one commonality is that students’
records are brought up for further review and discussed.
Probably the most common committee structure has the first reader present the file of the
applicant. Most colleges have admissions representatives who each has a geographical territory.
These representatives are the ones who visit the high schools in that area, are the first readers of
applications of students from that area and present students from that area to the admissions
committee. Whether by circumstance or design, most staff act as advocates for the students who
they present with the other staff members playing more of a devil’s advocate role.17 In the
committee, everything is laid bare about the student and the committee makes an initial
determination on the student’s fate: admit, deny, waitlist. Some colleges make even finer
distinctions. Skidmore College, for instance, places students in this phase into six categories:
high admit, low admit, high waitlist, low waitlist, high deny and low deny. Colleges might also
table a student to allow the admissions staff to call the school counselor to gain insight on some
unanswered questions.
Once all the initial decisions are made, a whole series of checks and balances occur. Looking at
the recent yield rate, are there the proper number of admits to get enough students but not too
many, and are their enough waitlisted students to make up for any potential shortfall? Is there an
adequate number of under-represented minority students, science majors, band members or
football players? Many colleges look through the tentative decision lists by high school and
make sure that they have treated each fairly18.
After the admissions decisions are mailed, the power shifts from the college to the student. It is
now the student who is the one to make the decision and the college goes on a full court press to
enroll as many admitted students as possible. They put on programs at the colleges for accepted
students with all the bells and whistles. Present college students man the phones to urge
accepted students to attend. College “blogs” light up with postings about the inside scoop at
The Gatekeeper by Jacques Steinberg gives a detailed picture into the workings of an admissions committee.
Many students believe that if more than one strong student applies to a highly selective college, it will hurt both of
those students’ chances of admission. My experience is that this is not true. I have had 4 students admitted early in
one year to Swarthmore and 5 another year to Kenyon. What is more accurate is that colleges will true to admit at
least one applicant from a school that has a strong slate of applicants.
each college. Deposits, along with signed commitments, are due by May 1, a Common Reply
Date accepted by most accredited colleges. Most colleges hope to enroll just a few fewer
students than the full number of spaces. It is especially problematic if too many students accept
offers of admission, for there is not enough space to house them. Any shortfall is made up by
going to the list of students who have decided to remain on the wait list (generally by returning a
post card). Some colleges, like Bucknell, number their wait list and offer places in numerical
order. Others might go back to committee or choose to admit students by their rating.
Rules for the wait list can differ from those of the regular process. Whereas financial need is not
usually a major factor in admissions for well-endowed colleges, few colleges will take students
off the wait list who have very high financial need. Also, where perceived interest may be
somewhat important in the initial admissions process, it is vital in the wait list process. The
worse thing a college wants is to keep going again and again (and later and later) to the wait list
in order to “nail down” the class. If there is a certain college where a student is waitlisted where
the student will definitely attend, it is not a bad idea for the student to ask his counselor to
communicate this to the college.
NACAC: Factors in Admissions19 (Percent of Institutions Assigning “Considerable
Importance” to Factor)
Grades, College Prep
Class Rank
Admissions Tests
Grades, All Courses
Counselor Recommendation 18
Teacher Recommendation
Work/ Activities
Ability to Pay
State Exams
Subject Exams
Race/ Ethnicity
Demonstrated Interest
Alumni Relations
College Board Annual Survey 2003: Percent of Institutions Rating Factors “Important” or
“Very Important”
School Achievement
Test Scores
Standardized Testing
Starting with the class of 2006, there are now three sections of the SAT Reasoning Test: the
reading section (previously the verbal section), the math section and the writing section. The
jury is still out on how colleges will treat the results of the writing section and, now that they can
download the actual essays written by students, how they will use this ability. Some colleges
have already stated that they will ignore the writing score while others are adjusting the old 1600
scale to 2400, treating each of the three sub-scores equally. The ACT has a new optional essay
that is similarly going to be treated differently by different colleges.
There are a wide variety of ways colleges use standardized tests. Many public colleges have an
academic index with charts for class rank and/or GPA and SAT’s. Generally, students above a
certain academic index are admitted and those below are denied. Colleges requiring a 1800 on
the SAT’s and an unweighted GPA of 3.0 might accept students who have a 2.5 if their SAT’s
are above 2000 or with SAT’s of 1600 as long as their GPA is above 3.5.
Most colleges use the SAT’s or ACT in conjunction with other parts of the application. It is not
a single measure that matters but the picture that emerges from a collection of things in the
application file. The main use of the standardized tests is to have a common measure to judge
students by. The less familiar a college is with a certain high school, the more importance
standardized tests take. If a college admissions office is unable to get a good sense of the rigors
NACAC, State of College Admissions, 2004-2005
of a student’s schedule or the meaning of extracurricular participation, they rely more on
information which they feel is reliable. A student with high grades in English but weak reading
and writing scores and a weak essay will have her grades become suspect.
Colleges which receive many more applications than they can admit often use both grades and
SAT’s as an initial sorting mechanism. Students with low scores or grades who have nothing
compelling to speak for their admission are the first not to make the admissions cut. In my
experience, students who are not special cases, primarily legacies, under-represented minority
students and athletes (but also any student with any unusually strong talent or distinction), rarely
are admitted if their class rank or standardized scores are significantly below the average of
admitted students. Many college admissions personnel in their discussion with students say that
standardized test scores are the last thing they take into consideration when looking at students.
This disingenuous and misleading statement is nonetheless technically true: as long as an
applicant falls near the mean of accepted students, small variations in test scores are unlikely to
have a significant impact on a students chances of admission. Yet as test scores move further
from the mean, either higher or lower, they are more and more likely to affect admission. At
colleges that deny over half of applicants, test scores within an acceptable range are an necessary
but not sufficient condition for admission.
Assuming that a student attends a high school where most of the students go on to four year
colleges, the student does not have any distinguishable (and usually measurable) talent or
strength and the student takes an appropriately demanding schedule, admission to all but the
most selective colleges (where admission is so unpredictable it is bordering on capricious) is
relatively predictable. We do a scatter gram of SAT scores and class rank for each student in our
senior class and there are few exceptions for who is admitted. Students significantly above a
certain range are generally admitted, those below are generally denied and those within an
acceptable range usually have other factors which affect admissions.
Many college guides and individual college viewbooks list standardized test scores in a 25th-75th
percentile range, meaning that the middle 50% of the admitted class are within this range. Only
25% of the class have scores below the bottom of the range and another 25% have scores above
the top of the range. This is a good measure as to where a student’s scores stand in relation to
other students being considered for that college. All other things being equal (particularly
grades, high school rigor and strength of the student’s schedule), students within this range are
generally acceptable candidates. Students with scores below the 25% with no other major
factors in place are usually unrealistic candidates for that college.
There are a variety of factors which can alter this range for a given student. Since, nationally,
the scores of under-represented minority students (Hispanic, African American and Native
American) generally are 225-300 on the SAT (with a similar differential on the ACT) points
below the average score for Caucasian students, the range of scores for these students reflect this.
If a college has a middle 50% range of 1500 to 1950, the range for under-represented minority
students would be closer to 1350-1700. Some studies have suggested that applying early
decision is “worth” 150 points on the SAT and legacy students probably have a similar
advantage. Recruited athletes generally need to have a minimum score to get through admission,
and, depending on how strong an athlete the student is, this can be significantly below the
average for the college. An All American Field Hockey player I counseled who applied to one
of the nation’s most selective colleges (where admitted students had an average SAT score of
over 1500 on a 1600 scale) was told that she needed to keep up all B’s or better and get over
1200 on the SAT’s to be admitted.
There are many views on the efficacy of preparing for the SAT’s. Organizations like Princeton
Review and Kaplan boast of high score increases with short courses while the College Board
asserts that these increases are only likely with long term work and preparation. But a few things
are clear. One is that, distressingly, SAT prep has become part of the fabric of the college
application process for many groups of students. Students who do not do any preparation for the
SAT’s or ACT’s are at a disadvantage compared to students who do this preparation. Does this
mean that every student applying to college should spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of
hours preparing for college admissions tests? Absolutely not.
Princeton Review, Kaplan and the College Board sell inexpensive software that give
sophisticated analyses of what areas that need attention. Students who are self-motivated can do
everything on their own that is offered in a course. This usually involves taking practice tests to
familiarize oneself with the kinds of questions that are on the test (such as sentence completion,
reading comprehension, or sentence correction) and making sure you time yourself
appropriately. You should also make sure you are familiar with the arithmetic, algebra and
geometry skills required on the math section. Simple strategies, like reading the questions
following a passage before reading the passage, are useful test-taking skills.
There are significant differences in the effects of preparation on various parts of the SAT and
ACT. Perhaps the most difficult part to increase is the Reading (Verbal) test. I have rarely seen
an exception to an observation I have had about this test: I can guess a student’s verbal score
within 50 points with one question: “how much do you like to read”. Voracious readers, those
who every spare moment are reading difficult material, score in the 700’s. Regular pleasure
readers score in the 600’s. Students who read sparingly or only what they are assigned score
lower. My nephew, who was an average student but always was reading authors like Joyce and
Dostoevsky for pleasure, scored a perfect 800 without ever doing any preparation.
One uses verbal skills all day, every day, from the day they begin talking and gain the ability to
be facile with written language through years of reading. Increasing this ability in a short course
is extremely difficult. One uses math skills, on the other hand, on a very limited basis. Even
advanced math students spend less than an hour a day learning math and even less time actually
using computational skills. Concepts or skills that were not adequately learned or forgotten can
be refreshed in a short amount of practice, often resulting in significant score gains. Students
should take practice tests, see what problems they got wrong and then see if they can work
backwards from the answer to discover the answer. Most software and written test prep
materials have detailed explanations how each answer is derived. Students should seek help
from their parents, teachers or tutors for questions that they still don’t understand.
Not every student will have the skills or background to be able to handle the most difficult
questions. Most tests questions proceed from easy to hardest and test prep materials identify
questions as easy, medium and hard. The results of the PSAT and PACT are organized by
question type and difficulty. If an initial practice test or the PSAT/PACT results in a student
getting less than half of the medium questions right and almost none of the hardest questions
right, a student is best advised to work on making sure they get all the easy questions right and a
higher percentage of the medium questions right. It is unlikely that this student would see a
great benefit to spending a lot of time trying to solve the hardest questions. The Science
Reasoning section of the ACT is similar to the math section, where practice can result in a
significant score increase.
The multiple choice section of the writing test is somewhere in the middle. Some of the skills
needed to do well on this section are similar to the ones developed through reading, such as
comprehending passages, knowing the nuances of language and vocabulary and being able to
mentally manipulate language. But many of the grammar and usage skills being tested are very
similar to math skills, for they are finite and specific. Thus preparation for this section is likely
to have an impact, though not quite as great as in the math section. There has not quite been
enough research on the essay section of the Writing test and the results of preparation on it.
Certainly there is some degree of formulation to the five paragraph essay which practicing will
aid this section. There has been shown to be a high correlation between longer essays and a
higher score and there are some conventions that aid in producing a successful essay for the
Writing test. John Katzman, President of the Princeton Review, used the College Board scoring
rubric to score the works of authors like Shakespeare and Hemmingway (they did not score well)
to make a point that fast and clear writing is not the same as good writing.
The other major tests that may be required are the SAT Subject Tests (previously known as the
Achievement Tests and the SAT II’s). There are about 100 colleges that require the Subject
Tests (see appendix). With the introduction of the Writing Test for the SAT and ACT, most
colleges that require this test require two Subject Tests, though a few still require three. Most of
these colleges that require this test will allow a student to take the ACT in lieu of the SAT
Reasoning and Subject tests.
The Subject Tests are different from the Reasoning Test in that they are specifically tied to
course material and are designed to be studied for. There are a number of things which may
determine which Subject Tests one decides to take. First it is important to look at the specific
requirements of the colleges being considered. If one or more requires a particular test, say math
I or IIC, than one should prepare for and take this test. Some tests, such as Math or World
Languages which should be taken as late as possible, for increase course work is likely to result
in higher scores. In subjects where the material is finite rather than cumulative, such as the
sciences or history, tests should be taken as near the end of the course as possible. Students who
are strong in Biology or Chemistry who take these courses in 9th or 10th grade who think they
may be looking at colleges that require the Subject Tests and are strong in the sciences, should
take these tests in June of the year they take the course. Similarly for World or United States
I do not advise students to take SAT Reasoning tests or ACT prior to spring of the junior year.
Even for students applying early can take SAT’s or ACT’s in May and/or June as well as
October (in many states) and/or November. Your school’s guidance counselor can help work out
a test schedule that is best.
Students should take the SAT’s or ACT’s at least twice yet no more than three times. Look at
these tests as analogous to running a race. If you were asked what your fastest time, say, was for
a 100 yard dash, you would not just run it once and say that is your fastest time. You may have
gotten a bad start, not timed yourself well or been so anxious that your performance was lower
than it should be. After two sprints, you have a pretty good idea of how fast you are and you are
unlikely to run it any faster than you achieved in three attempts.
Anxiety is both a friend and foe in testing performance. A moderate amount increases
performance, too high an amount is disastrous. There was this sick study where rats had to
navigate an underwater maze in order to not drown. In what resulted in something called the
Yerkes Dodson Law, the study showed that stress resulted in increased performance only up to a
certain point. After that point, there was not a gradual but a precipitous decline in performance.
The point here is that one should become familiar enough with standardized tests to not become
overwhelmed on test day.
The SAT is the most important criterion for college admission…
…well, it’s not unimportant, but the primary criterion for admission to virtually every
college and university around the world is academic performance—strength of courses taken and
grades within these. The SAT may gain in relative importance for scholarship competitions; for
schools within the Ivy League and the California university system (because of the indices which
they utilize to “compare” students”); and for certain schools with highly technical requirements,
but it is not the most critical part of one's application
SAT scores from different test dates are independent and do not accumulate on a student’s
testing record…
…actually, each and every SAT I test that a student takes goes on record from grade nine
forward. You can’t pick and choose which ones get sent and which ones are omitted—they are
all transmitted cumulatively once you designate a college or university to receive them. This is
also the case with SAT II tests now because the “Score Choice” option by which individual
subject tests can be withheld or released at the student’s discretion has been eliminated (as of
June, 2002)
If one takes the SAT more than one time, the colleges and universities average out a student’s
scores from among the times the test is taken…
… no colleges and universities known to college admissions counselors engage in such a
practice. At virtually every admissions office you will receive credit for the highest verbal score
and the highest math score, independent of when these were taken (there are a scant few colleges
that are sticklers and will not split the scores among diverse dates—such schools still do not
average, however). For instance, let’s say you take the SAT in May of junior year and score 700
verbal, 550 math. Then in senior year you take it again and you get 650 verbal, 650 math. Your
reported score for the purpose of college admissions is then 1350—the 700 verbal from your first
date and the 650 math from your second date
Students should avoid signing up for the May SAT test date because that’s when all the smart
juniors/National Merits (choose one) take it…
… Although SAT profiles can vary among test dates, the differences are negligible—and
the SAT folk adjust the scoring band so that even the slightest variations are addressed. It does
not matter when you take the SAT as regards its scoring impact
If you don’t take the SAT you cannot be admitted to a college…
… there are more than a hundred four-year colleges and universities—some of them quite
selective and of high quality—for which SAT submission is optional. Additionally, virtually
every college and university in the country will accept the ACT (the SAT’s younger cousin) in
lieu of the SAT
If enough people petition the College Board with legitimate reasons, they will move a test date to
Sunday to accommodate athletic events or special school trips…
… don’t know how this rumor and its variants got started, but please do not believe this.
Orthodox Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists and members of other religious groups with appropriate
letters of credentials from their clerics are the only individuals in the country who can take an
SAT I or II on a Sunday because special administrations have been arranged for them. No other
party may join a Sunday administration for any other reason
It is possible and even desirable to take only one section of the SAT I (either the verbal or the
math part) on a given test date…
… well, technically it’s possible that a student could answer only the verbal items and
leave blank all math questions—but that would not be wise. One’s math score of 200—the
lowest possible total—will still be reported, and how embarrassing would that be? It is not
permitted to arrange for an SAT I administration in which just one section of the test is given
The same vocabulary words are “recycled” on diverse SAT tests so it is wise to memorize lists of
these particular items…
… a few studies that have been conducted on the SAT indicate that there are a few items
which do seem to appear a bit more frequently, but the effect on the test and consequent results is
Studies indicate that the response “C” is utilized most often on the SAT and it would thus benefit
a student to guess “C” when s/he is not sure of a particular item…
… actually, legitimate studies indicate no such trend for any response letter. It is not
wise to guess on SAT items because there is a penalty imposed for wrong answers such that for
every four items answered incorrectly, an extra sum (equivalent to what would come off for one
wrong item) is deducted. If a student discovers an item on the SAT unfamiliar to her/him, it is
most appropriate to leave this blank rather than guess. On the other hand, if it is possible to
narrow down question options so that only two choices remain, then it may be in one’s best
interest to guess.
Here is an example: let us say each verbal item counts ten points and you leave ten blank. That
would mean a deduction of 100 points. However, if those same ten items were answered
incorrectly, the deduction would be 125 points (rounded up to 130 points). Twenty items blank
versus twenty items wrong spawns a difference of fifty points. If you get sixty items right and
leave twenty blank—your score is then a 600. Get sixty right and twenty wrong, though, and
your score is 550 (these numbers are for comparison only—the actual amount deducted for blank
or incorrect responses may not be ten points on any given SAT test)
(from Cygus Vanni, Guidance Counselor, Cherry Hill West High School, NJ
Counselor and Teacher Recommendations
Recommendations, like the essay and the interview, are rarely viewed as a “separate” part of the
application, but as something which gives depth and meaning to the other parts of the
application, namely the transcript, extracurricular activities and standardized test scores. An
admissions counselor can do a quick read of an application and make some judgments as to
where a student fits in the pool of potential applicants. Just as students make decisions as to
whether is college is unrealistic, a reach, realistic or a safety, the colleges make these same
judgments about applicants. The transcript provides vital information on how much a student
challenged herself, whether the applicant has particular academic strengths or weaknesses, how
she has performed in high school, whether there were trends (up or down) academically, and
where the student stands in relation to her class. The school profile, or previous experience with
students from that high school, gives indications of the rigors of the high school and the
academic opportunities afforded students. Test scores tell something about the student’s
academic potential. And a listing of extracurricular activities tells much about what interests the
student and what she has been dedicated to outside the classroom.
Recommendations give life to all these things. They let the reader know whether a certain
activity is a passing fancy or a lifelong passion. They explain unusual circumstances and
highlight any outstanding strengths the applicant has. They also give corroboration to the
grades, courses and activities of the student. Ed Custard, former Dean of Admissions at New
College, used to state accurately that as colleges become more selective, they are not just looking
for students who are talented, but distinguished. Recommendations are a major way colleges
find out what truly distinguish students.
I have done workshops for teachers on writing recommendation letters for students and below
are some guidelines I have given them:
A few less obvious points about college recommendations:
Keep the writing in the present tense about qualities of the student. You may write “She
did a project for me.” But instead of saying “she was motivated” write “she is
motivated”. It leaves a stronger, though subtle, message.
Avoid the term ‘seemed’. Again, instead of “she seemed motivated” write “she is
Spend some time adding at least one thing in every recommendation that you could only
say about that student. If you can do it descriptively, that’s great. If not, use a specific
example of what the student did to illustrate your point.
Always try to discuss a specific, finest example of the student’s work in your
Think about capturing the essence of the student rather than describing him.
Remember that teacher recommendations are read negatively. By that, I mean that the
lack of description of some quality will be assumed to be negative. A recommendation
that talks solely about a student’s ability will be read that the student is not highly
motivated (and visa versa). Save overt negative comments for the most egregious of
If you are really stuck on a recommendation, think of even one instance that you thought
the student showed some positive behavior, performance or potential. Use that as an
example of what the student is capable of.
Before writing a recommendation, jot down those qualities that most distinguish that
student. When done reading what you have written, look over the list and make sure that
you have not just described but also illustrated those qualities.
Do not focus too much on character in the writing of an academic recommendation.
“Nice”, sweet”, “charming” “fun” and “polite” are terms, if over-used, give the
appearance that the student lacks academic substance.
Don’t be afraid to say no to a student who you don’t feel you can adequately support,
particularly if you have strong reservations about the student’s character, integrity and
Alter sentence structure to make sure you do not begin too many sentences with the
student’s name.
Be careful about the use of physical description of the student. That a student is
beautiful, stunning, handsome or “an Adonis” is irrelevant to a description of a student’s
character and performance.
Never write anything for which you could be sued. State facts as facts and opinion as
opinion. Don’t write about anything negative that you don’t know to be true. Never
discuss a student’s disability without first getting written permission from the student’s
Avoid innuendo at all costs. If you do not feel you can be direct about something, don’t
write it.
Try to strike a theme in your recommendation that will create a lasting impression on the
reader. Begin with that theme, support it throughout the recommendation, and conclude
by re-iterating it.
Here are a few more teacher recommendations suggestions (stolen from Sarah McGinty -Myers):
Start fast
Be specific
Consider academic and personal factors
Connect to the rest of the application
More Tips
Reveal yourself/your expertise in the letter
Stick to one page
Think about learning behaviors
Tell, don’t sell
Things to Avoid
Pure praise
An activities list
A recommendation for The Andersons
"She’s a very nice young lady"
Getting Help
Ask student for a "resume" and a paragraph about how/why they chose Alma Mater U.
Ask student for recollections of their best work in your class
Ask for stamped envelopes and the deadline for each letter
Consider establishing a recommendation-writing/essay-support day
And lastly, a few from pieces of advice from Cigus Vanni:
Know your subject and your target audience…
Learn and acquire as much information and insight as you can about the student for
whom you are writing and the college(s) to which s/he is applying. Ask your students to provide
this through personal contact and use “brag sheets” (in which students and/or parents provide
written information to a counselor) only when necessary. Understand as best you can the ethos,
the atmosphere and the cultural footprints of the college(s) to which your student may apply but
Do NOT foist yourself off as an expert on the college(s) to which your student may apply…
Sentences such as “Drew is the perfect match for Rockford” or “Rockford was designed
with Drew in mind” are judgments that you are making. Leave this to the professional
admissions officers to decide. You are not a recruiter for a college. Certainly you may and
should cite reasons why the “match” between student and institution strikes you as appropriate—
but omit the extremes and the superlatives. In fact, it is far better to
Be certain that your letter refers to SPECIFIC qualities, attainments, personal anecdotes and
concrete examples…
Vague references and second-party citations do not read well with college admissions
officers. It’s perfectly OK to mention what a teacher may have told you about a specific
student—but the bulk of the letter should not go outside first person references. Personal
connections with a student read well, and these need not be related to academic development or
scholastic potential. It’s fine to describe informal interactions with the student and to develop a
sense of her/his personality. It is neither necessary nor desirable to write to “impress” a college
admissions officer, so
Be careful to avoid writing an English paper or composing an exercise in sesquipedalian prose…
It’s not how “well” you write that counts—its how effectively you can communicate.
College admissions officers are not grading your letter—they’re trying to discover what you
know about the student in question and whether s/he would be an appropriate admit to their
school. It is certainly important to attend to grammar and usage, but it is neither necessary nor
desirable to produce a publishable document. If form trumps function, there is a strong chance
that the letter will become void of meaningful content and rather dry. Thus, it is better to
Be sincere, authentic, passionate and real
Your students will be better served by an earnest letter that doesn’t endeavor to present
them as “perfect” and that helps them “come alive” in an admissions office. This is what you
would tell a student writing an essay to a college, wouldn’t you? “Let the admissions office see
you come alive!” Well, that’s our job as well in writing college recommendations
Look at the letter of recommendation as a way to unfold your student and provide a
developmental perspective…
The chief difference outside of subject matter between a teacher recommendation and a
counselor recommendation is that of perspective. Teacher letters are snapshots, individual
photographs (occasionally a page of pictures) taken at a given time in a particular context.
Counselor letters are mini-albums, micro-yearbooks if you will, that relate growth and
development in students over time and among contexts. Showing your pride over a student who
overcomes substantial learning difficulties in ninth grade and now shines as a senior—what a
great way to present a student! Informing the college of the choices (even those not so great)
that your student made in his/her growth process—and now being able to endorse her/him as s/he
becomes a more well defined individual. Teachers rarely have students for more than a year.
Under ideal circumstances, you may know a student for four years—and what a valuable
perspective to provide
Avoid making comparisons to other students who have applied to the college(s) in question or
who presently attend same…
If ever such information would be shared, it should be done so privately with a college
admissions officer with whom you have developed trust and rapport over the years. Unless such
a context has been nourished, any comparisons would be both unfair and specious. Each student
swims individually in an applicant pool and there is no need to reference another student in your
Unless you have created a form universally acceptable to admissions offices, complete the
information asked of you by each college…
Yes, it can be annoying providing duplicate information—how many times must we write
in our high school code each year? There is a reason why colleges design their forms the way
they do—they have done the research on office procedures designed to manage application flow
while supporting individual reading of applications. If the student for whom you have written
has incomplete information, it may give that school an opportunity to deny him/her. Not all
colleges can call you to provide missing data, and they are certainly going to be unhappy if
repeated instances of missing information occur
Feel free to be clever (but never cute), original and spontaneous—but always remember the letter
is about the student and NOT about you…
Never lose sight of the fact that a counselor letter of recommendation is offered on behalf
of the student—and not as a vehicle of self-gratification or illustration of wit on the part of the
Always, always, always save a copy of every letter you write—but take great pains to be sure
that your letters do not read like copies of one another…
Sure, it’s tempting to offer fairly standard letters or to “borrow” from one rec to
another—but this does not serve either your student or you. All selective colleges read and use
meaningfully letters of recommendation—and that’s your incentive for being certain you do your
best for your students
It is important for students to make the job easiest for both the counselor and teachers to write
effective recommendations. The two are somewhat different. Most selective colleges require a
counselor recommendation but a relatively small percentage require teacher recommendations.
Thus counselor recommendations should give an overall view of the academic and social
strengths of the student while the teacher recommendation should give a picture of that teacher’s
experiences with the student, focusing mostly on the academic qualities of the student.
There are a few abiding principles in regards to teacher recommendations:
Junior year teachers of full-year academic courses are usually the best choice. Senior
year teachers are fine if a student is not applying early to college. Sophomore or
freshman year teachers should only be used if the student had that same teacher again
later on. Using teachers one had as an underclassman gives the appearance that no
upper-class teachers would give a strong recommendation. The same is true of teachers
of half-year courses or courses such as art or music (unless the student is seeking a
professional degree).
Use teachers who know the student best and who seem to appreciate best what he has to
offer. Students frequently choose teachers who give the best grades or from courses that
sound the most impressive. The student should think what that specific teacher would
most likely write.
Choose teachers who write the most specific and thorough comments on school papers or
projects- they are likely to do the same for the teacher recommendation.
Choose teachers who can write about the academic areas that the student cares most
about and has the strongest talents in.
Save papers and projects, particularly during the junior year, and return the best to
teachers so they can refer to them in their recommendation letters. As mentioned
previously, recommendation letters are always stronger if they cite specific examples of a
student’s work.
Except in rare instances, only students seeking technical careers (or when required by a
particular college) should seek recommendation letters from math teachers. Many may
take umbrage with this, but most math teachers do not write things which truly
distinguish students. Often they say things like the student regularly volunteers to do
problems at the blackboard or completes homework. Few seem to accurately capture that
a student has an agile mind or creative problem solving ability.
Students should give teachers plenty of notice that you may be using them for teacher
recommendations, usually prior to the end of the junior year. This gives teachers the
opportunity to prepare recommendation letters over the summer (if they choose to).
Generally the best recommendation writers are also the most popular and giving them
recommendation forms with no prior notice until a few weeks before the deadline is
likely to result in a rushed and less developed recommendation letter.
Students should be direct about asking the teacher if he/she can write a strong
recommendation for the student. Teachers will often reluctantly agree to write a letter
even if they feel they cannot write a strong one. Students should give them an ‘out’ in
this case.
Students should only ask one or two teachers (depending on what the colleges require) to
write recommendation letters. Teachers generally write one letter which is sent to all the
colleges to which the student applies. Unless specific subject areas are required by a
college, it is abusive to have different teachers write recommendation letters for different
Students should always provide the appropriate forms (with the ‘student area’ thoroughly
filled out!) and addresses stamped envelopes for teachers. It is also an excellent idea for
students to put the application deadline clearly on the outside of each envelope. The
students should provide a cover letter to the teacher, letting him/her know anything
specific or unusual about the colleges being applied to or the academic program being
considered. They should also thank the teacher in advance for taking the time and energy
to write the recommendation and offering to provide any further information the writer
may need.
Students need to check, tactfully, near the deadline whether the teacher recommendations
have been sent. If the answer is no, the student, a day before the deadline, should remind
the teacher of the deadline. A couple of weeks later, the student should write a thank you
note to the teacher and check with the college to make sure the teacher recommendations
arrived and the application is complete.
There are some slightly different things that need to be done for the counselor
Students need to get to know your counselor! They should stop in, without their parents,
to just chat. The counselor needs to write a recommendation that distinguishes the
student. This is pretty tough if they barely know the student
Students should write an autobiographical statement for the counselor. It should
highlight how the student is distinguished from her peers. Some things to consider
adding: What would her best friend say about her? What awards or honors did she
receive? What does she spend the most time doing outside of school? What does she
plan to do for her future? What influenced or affected her most? What are her values
and interests? What is most important to her? What does she most enjoy doing? What
are her hopes, wishes and dreams? What are things in her life that have had a major
impact on her, either positively or negatively? She might also want to include a resume
of activities over the past few years.
Parents are encouraged to write something for the counselor about their child. Don’t be
afraid to brag. Tell what you feel truly sets your child apart.
If there is a special talent, give the counselor a chance to observe it.
Occasionally, a student wants to add additional recommendations from people who know
him extremely well, such as an employer, pastor or coach. I would limit this to ONE only. If
your child wants to make sure that the college is aware of the feelings of more than one
person, have the recommender send a letter to the counselor who can include that person’s
comments in their letter of recommendation.
Additional Letters of Recommendation: From NACAC E-list
Personally, I think one or at the most two additional recommendations could be added, IF
they would add something significant about the applicant that the college would not
otherwise learn.
Two points I'd have: 1. The record I've seen is 20 recommendations. I'd say 18 said "he's
a great guy" and not much else. Bottom line with him: he stayed on the waitlist and none
of those letters changed a vote in committee. 2. I tell people that a file gets a finite
amount of time in committee. A quantity of information takes away from the time for
thoughtful consideration of any individual piece.
Have you heard the adage: The thicker the file, the thicker the student? One extra, well
placed, well connected recommendation can help. 15 will not. And generally it's a well
placed phone call more than a letter.
For what it’s worth, I just responded to a student who asked a similar question. This is
how I responded: Based on conversations I have had with college admissions counselors,
they are most interested in getting recommendations from individuals who know you and
can speak in the first person about the qualities and characteristics that you possess which
make you a good candidate(which for you is a long list indeed!). They want to know
what you are like as a student (teacher recommendation), and an overall view of you
(counselor recommendation). Sometimes students have circumstances whereby an
employer, or someone who has overseen volunteer work can also write a great
recommendation that speaks to character, work ethic, etc.I do not know if this person has
any influence in the admissions office - but if she does, it would probably be most
effective for her to contact the admissions offices behind the scenes. You have a limited
number of recommendations that you will want to submit. I am not sure if this person
can offer the information that the college admissions officers are really looking for. I am
sure she can write you a great letter of recommendation, but I think if she is unable to
support it through direct interactions, its value will be lost with the college representative.
Too much of this name dropping-esque behavior will make them appear to be
pandering/sucking up. Not a good thing. The kid is either the college’s material or he
isn’t…No amount of connections will really change that, despite what people think.
I advise clients that it is okay to send in one additional letter of recommendation with a
few stipulations. It should not be another academic letter, but instead someone who can
speak to the student’s qualities as displayed outside of the classroom. For example, a
coach, scout leader, employer, club advisor, community service advisor. I also tell them
that a letter from the President is not going to make a difference if all George can say is
that I know the applicant’s mother and I am sure she has done a fine job raising this child
and therefore would be a fine addition to your university. Furthermore, if the additional
recommender does not have personal, in-depth knowledge of the applicant, the letter is
more likely to hurt the chance for admission because I have yet to meet an admissions
officer that does not frown on this type of pandering. I am sure that you will hear the
same from the college side, and hopefully this will provide ample ammunition to
discourage this family from making a mistake.
If the parents know someone who really has the clout and wants to use it on behalf of
their kid, that person will know how to exercise his/her influence, and it’s usually by
phone. Otherwise, recommendations from well-connected people are less than helpful
(and often annoying) unless the recommender had something specific and unique to say
about the applicant, and then the person doesn’t need to be famous or connected to
support the applicant. If it’s the usual "comes from a great family", "I know the parents
well", etc., it’s a waste of time. I remember receiving a letter once from a well-known
author who wrote that he’d never met the applicant, couldn’t say anything helpful but
wrote in order to be able to honestly say to the parents that he’d written. We chuckled
and appreciated the honesty, but a letter from the applicant’s summer job supervisor
would have been far more helpful.
I used to see so many political figures write letters of recommendation for kids they had
never met. That told me that their parents had made a donation to their last campaign.
Messages from celebrities are crap. They aren't applying for admission, some unknown
young person is. I would rather have a letter from the manager at a super market who can
tell me how dependable, honest and supportive a student might be that that has worked
for her/him. We are looking for insights, not rhetoric. We appreciate any description of
the human side. That a letter might imply that: "I don't really know this kid, but, genetics
being what they are, her/his parents are wonderful...doesn't make a sale...
My friends at highly selective schools call what they are doing a "campaign”. When I
worked at a fairly competitive graduate school, we occasionally had students doing what
you describe. I recall several instances of it working to their disadvantage and not one
occasion when it helped. The same is true at most institutions. The recommendations
which carry weight come from teachers and others who have worked closely with a
student and are thus able to make meaningful judgments about his/her motivation, raw
intelligence, academic skills, professional potential, etc. Nobody much cares what the
friend-of-the-family politician, celebrity, or captain of industry has to say.
Your comment that more will hurt rather than help is well taken. The extra
recommendations may be perceived as trying to distract us from the student's part of the
application. 25 years ago when I first started in the profession I was first told of the
principle "the thicker the file the thicker the kid". I don't think that has changed.
Many parents and kids can't seem to understand that admissions people are real people
and feel just as they would if bombarded. They can't understand that it's not a matter of
adding up the number of letters. My strategy is to invite them to turn things around.
imagine you're sitting at home. The dishes are done. The kids are either in bed or doing
their homework. Just like yesterday, you have a hundred folders to get through before
tomorrow's 8:00 a.m. admissions committee meeting. Folder -everything: application,
transcript and school profile, essays, activities, test scores, school recommendation,
teacher recommendations, interview report, any correspondence, notes from other
readers. It's now 10:30 p.m. The next file is #67: Name of Kid. You open his file and
facing you is a stack of letters from people who have nothing substantive to add. Some
will admit they don't know him personally or at least very well. Are you thrilled? Will
Name of Kid get your vote?
What these parents are communication, ultimately and not so subliminally is: "you're not
good enough to do this on your own." And you're completely right. These extraneous
letters do nothing.
I typically will stop reading letters of recommendation after the second or third.
Additional letters of recommendation past that rarely have much to add.
The view that letters might grease the wheels of admission is one of those admission
myths that are hard to kill. When I was in college, one of the guys in my dorm applied to
the Wharton School MBA program and got a letter from Prince Rainier of Monaco, a
friend of his father’s. He thought it might help because “his wife is from Philadelphia.”
It didn’t help. My rule of thumb is that it’s not who signs the letter, but what the letter
says. I know a number of Admission Deans who keep a file of letters written by
celebrities. They almost never influence a decision. Any letter beyond what is requested
should be included only if it includes information contained nowhere else in the student’s
folder. Otherwise it’s a colossal waste of time.
What I tell them is that ONE additional note from a person who has a legitimate VIP
connection to the school AND knows the student well is all that is recommended.
Anything else and they are in danger of seeming like they are stuffing the ballot box or
appearing like Lady MacBeth (I think they do protest too much.) They are also assuming
their child will not get in on her own merits, and they need to stop giving her that
message no matter how much they want to see certain "yes's".
FERPA and the Confidentiality of Recommendation Letters
The Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley
Amendment, describes the process by which student records are stored, viewed, transmitted
and changed. Parents, and adult students, have the right to view and amend student records.
Private notes, either by the high school counselor or a college admissions counselor, as long
as they not transmitted to others or kept with the student’s permanent record or college
admissions file, are not generally open to inspection or amendment. Students do have a right
to see the admissions file where they are admitted and enroll.
Some college applications and/or recommendation forms, have a space to sign a waiver of
access to these records. This is one of the few times a minor can sign a document that has
legal meaning. Once a student signs this form, the college can deny access to students who
wish to see counselor or teacher recommendations. Though I am a strong advocate of not
giving up ones rights, I urge students to sign this waiver for two reasons. One, it gives more
credibility to the recommendation for the college knows that it will not be seen by the
student. Secondly, most colleges, once a student is admitted (denied students do not have the
ability to see their records), purge the file of all recommendation letters. Thus the likely
hood of ever seeing that recommendation is small anyway.
A much less clear picture emerges in the disclosure of disciplinary records. State laws and
school policies frequently prevent or limit the dissemination of this information. It is also
unclear what disciplinary information is relevant to the college admissions process. What is
clear is that most colleges, if they know that a student or high school was not forthcoming
about a student’s disciplinary history, reserve the right to reverse an admissions decision.
My general advise is that major disciplinary infractions that occur in the last two years of
high school (particularly those that result in suspension or expulsion) should be
communicated to the colleges one seeks to attend.
The College Essay
The college essay is one of the most intimidating parts of the college application process.
Students feel that they have to write like Hemmingway must be able to enlighten the reader with
amazing, life altering experiences. I used to work in college admissions at Bard College, a
highly selective college where two of the most popular majors were creative writing and English
literature. One would expect to read essays from applicants that were creative, interesting, well
written and memorable. The far majority were none of these. Most were readable but less than
interesting, clearly not memorable and demonstrated no more than an average writing ability.
I had one student at Montclair High School who had outstanding credentials but was merely an
average (to be generous) writer. He shared with me his first draft of an essay about being this
upper middle class, Jewish kid who never played competitive basketball at a camp with innercity kids. His first draft was poor. It was ponderous and gave no life to the story. I gave him a
few suggestions and he returned a few days later with another draft. This was marginally better.
This continued for weeks, with each draft improved but not what I would describe as terribly
interesting to read. One day, a representative from the University of Chicago, who I knew and
respected, came to visit our high school. I showed him the final draft and his response was: “It’s
serviceable.” The student did indeed get admitted to and attended Harvard and has since, with
William Bowen, recently written a seminal book on post-secondary education: Equity and
Access in Higher Education.
The point is that if a student has outstanding writing skills, the essay is one place to show case
these skills and, all other things being equal, this is likely to help a student in the college
admissions process. But the essay is just one of many parts of the college admissions process.
The best essays effectively communicate how well an applicant thinks, how well they write and
who they are. Yet these qualities are also communicated through other parts of the application,
particularly the teacher and counselor recommendations. As mentioned earlier, the most
important that the essay corroborate what is communicated in other parts of the application. If it
is clear that student is creative, then the reader would expect a creative essay. The same might
be true if the student was intellectual, funny, serious or kind. The essay should be a reflection of
who the student is, not an attempt to write what one feels the admissions committee wants to
hear. I often describe the essay as a window into the student.
Does the topic matter? University of Virginia did a study on this and found out that the answer
is no. Of the 657 applicants who had written about religious beliefs, 228 or 35% were offered
admissions, almost identical to UVA’s overall admission rate. Of those who discussed cloning,
347, 33% were admitted. “Contrary to a colleague’s speculation that essays on religious beliefs
or cloning were ‘the kiss of death’,” the author noted, “writing about these topics seemed to
make no difference to the chance of admission. Of the 126 students who wrote about
Shakespeare, 31% were offered admission. Similarly, 31% of the applicants who wrote about
Orwell, 33% of those who wrote about Faulkner or Ayn Rand and 35% who wrote about
William Golding were accepted. We are more interested in form, style and careful reflection or
what we sometimes refer to as quality of thought. The data I collected seem to support this
Ellen, a student I had this year, was applying early decision to one of the most selective liberal
arts colleges in the nation. It was a week before the deadline, a rainy October Sunday evening. I
had just finished writing her recommendation letter, the eighth of the day, writing that her that
matched what I envisioned a successful astronaut to have: self-assurance, intelligence,
resourcefulness and seriousness of purpose. I remembered that she asked me to read her essay
just before I planned to go to bed. After reading it, I actually called her at home, telling her that
she should not use this essay. By trying to write what she felt the admissions office wanted to
here, she lost her own voice. She told me she had been working for months on this essay, even
hiring an independent counselor to help her. She asked me what she could do to improve this
essay and my only thoughts were: burn it. That essay follows below:
The Inside Track
There have been countless times when I have had to defend the sport of track. Those that
question it do not understand how we can possibly run around an oval and get joy out of such a
simple activity. They see it as boring and simple running and nothing more. However, those
involved on the team see it in a completely different light. We see it as motivation to work hard, a
place to create a goal to strive for, and an outlet from stress. Track gets our hearts beating, our
adrenaline pumping, and minds racing with competitive spirit.
In several ways, I feel that people view me the same way. On the surface, track may seem like
just running, but there is more to it for those who take the time to find out. Likewise, I may seem
like a quiet, academic, athletic girl, but there is certainly more to me than that as well.
I am also a girl who enjoys hot chocolate with ice cream in it—which is really good, adds the
creamy factor, cools it off, and adds flavoring if one chooses. I’m a girl who attempts to speak
Spanish with my friends (even if the only response is a puzzled look), loves the satisfaction from
getting out a knot, hates shopping, watches “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?,” loves to go hiking—
especially when it’s challenging, and was a girl scout for several years. I love the sound of rain
and thunderstorms, like working with and teaching little children, enjoy baking homemade
chocolate chip cookies, blink a million times when anything comes at my face, keep the house
key attached to the cell phone, cannot stand when people litter, lived in Costa Rica for a month,
and has donated a foot of hair to Locks of Love twice.
Maybe I am quiet, academic and athletic—but what really means the most to me is when
a friend trusts me with her problems, thoughts, and feelings. Sitting in front of my house in my
friend’s car, letting her spill her innermost concerns and dilemmas, I feel good about being
there. Knowing that I helped someone through a rough time and gave him or her a reason to
smile is what I enjoy most. When a person confides in me, I feel like I have significance in their
life. Somehow, I learn from it also, as their story becomes a part of my life.
While it’s nice to be described as a girl with fast legs and good grades, it’s more
important to me for someone to go beyond the surface and see that there is much more to me. I
believe that it is a true honor when someone thinks of me as a kind, considerate person who is
always there for her friends.
She told me that she wrote a new essay and asked me to read it. I read it and was relieved that
she had produced a perfectly serviceable essay, one that was unlikely to hurt her chance of
admission into her early decision college. It was genuine yet a bit distant. This second essay is
“Do you realize what this means?? You are a freshman, varsity, sprinter, at Montclair High
School, and you are white! How great!”
When I was told this by an upper-classman team member, my freshman year, it made me
realize a lot of things. Mainly, I realized that I was in a privileged situation—one that not many
people are fortunate enough to be in. My high school is unique with 52% minority students, and
on the track team, as a Caucasian sprinter, I become the minority in a team of mainly Black
At track, comments concerning race, like the one above, were always light-hearted. Race
never really mattered, and no one took offense. Performance on the track was all that was
valued because the stopwatch isn’t racist and track is about speed and working towards a
common athletic goal.
For the winter and spring seasons of both my junior and senior year, I was named girls
track captain. As a leader on the team, a major part of my job is to motivate others and establish
respect. With that, how we treat each other on a day-to-day basis is important. Team unity is a
must, and that unity needs to stretch across any racial boundaries. Unfortunately, this diverse
environment is not in existence everywhere. Not enough people are immersed into situations
where diversity is present. Although American society as a whole is very diverse, communities
and individuals are still not always willing to step out of their “comfort zone” to create diversity
and change.
The composition of my track team provides a great learning environment. From
participating in track, I am able to take away a new comfort level and a deeper understanding of
others. This perspective has also carried over to my family in helping them to accept all of my
friends, and most importantly, my African American boyfriend. Over the past year and a half,
our relationship has taught me that embracing our different cultures truly enriches our lives.
Because we were both track captains last year, it was always important for us to set an example
for our teams; and that meant always standing up for what is right and understanding the
importance or unimportance of the color of one’s skin. The composition of the team has allowed
me to develop close friendships within a new circle. Our laughs, teamwork, and common goals
have transcended across any racial, socio-economic, and religious differences. This experience
has helped me to both accept and cooperate well with others, which will hopefully translate to
future situations.
It is easy to miss the potential to expand one’s mind and culture by not understanding
how our differences can help us grow. Instead, at track practice and meets a good learning
experience for both sides is evident and everyone is able to carry over skills learned on the track.
I’ve learned not to judge people, to give everyone a fair chance, and always look further than
skin deep. The only race that should matter is the one that involves running.
The day before the deadline, Ellen asked me to read a short essay that was required for this
particular college. She said she wrote only one draft and it took her less than an hour to write.
This was, in my opinion, her best essay. Her example of her mom cutting off the hands of the
cowboy figurines was precious. I could just picture the looks of horror on the faces of the kids
as they opened their goody bags. The essay flowed naturally, giving me a sense of something
that was really important and meaningful to Ellen and, in doing so, giving me a sense of who she
was. This third essay follows:
Living under a rock: No survival guide required.
When my brother was four and wanted to have a “Wild West Cowboy” birthday party,
my parents happily complied. They even bought little plastic cowboy figurines to give away as
favors. However, the figurines were missing something…my mom had meticulously cut off every
gun that the small cowboys held. While I was growing up, I never watched Power Rangers,
wasn’t allowed to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and when I did watch TV, I was basically
restricted to Channel Thirteen—the educational PBS, Public Television Network. My house was
free of GI Joes and never saw a Playstation 2 video game system.
Some might consider this a sheltered environment, while others would see it as a
protective one. My parents were very secure in their beliefs regarding what children should be
introduced to during childhood. While other kids may have been talking about the latest number
of people they had killed to move on in a level of Duke Nukem, I was content watching Mister
Roger’s Neighborhood and using my imagination to come up with my own peaceful game.
Now that I’m older, and can look back critically on how I was raised, I believe my
parents did a good job. While I wasn’t blinded to the times, I was exposed to what I needed to
see, as my parents guided my childhood to focus on the more positive, beneficial aspects of life. I
believe a lot of my good morals today were developed by my parents’ conscious effort to stress
good values and a nonviolent mindset. Today, I find that I am against violent acts and war and I
try to be kind to everyone. I also am especially aware of how others are feeling and how my
actions affect them. On my high school soccer team, I am even affectionately known as the “team
mother” because of my caring nature and tendency to always look out for others.
A few close friends have made fun of me, saying that I lived under a rock, but I don’t see
that to be true. I am fully aware of what goes on in the world today, and was never shielded from
reality. Just because my parents cut out unnecessary violence from my childhood, I don’t see that
as any loss on my part. I grew up accepting the fact that hostility and hatred aren't necessary,
and, I believe I have grown into the person I am today as a result.
Although my pop culture knowledge may be lacking at times—I even had to ask a friend
for the name of a video game to use in this essay—I wouldn’t change how I was raised even if I
could. Whereas some people might believe that I missed out on things while growing up, I’d
disagree. There is enough violence that inundates us daily to make up for anything that I might
have “missed out on” as a child. I feel that I was lucky enough to have a break from the cruelty
and cynicism that surrounds us while I still could, and I thank my parents and their strong values
for that.
Below are a series of essay recommendations I have collected from colleagues:
College Essay Recommendations
Use their own voice, but don't try too hard to be funny and don't write about the first time
they got drunk!
Make sure the essay is about you and tells the admissions people things they could never
learn by looking at your transcript or test scores.
Do not allow others to be involved in the writing process (other than proof reading). It
will be obvious if the applicant does not write the essay.
To the extent possible (as perhaps limited / dictated by prescribed topic(s), the student
should write about something /someone that he or she cares about.
Proofread, proofread, and proofread!
Allow plenty of time to write a first draft, proof multiple times for edits, and finalize
essay (don't even THINK about waiting until the night before the deadline!)
Take the time to carefully edit the name(s) of colleges in each version, if applicable (i.e.
"...that's why I want to attend XXX University...")
I think the two most important pieces of information about essays are:
-write about something very salient in one's life; don't write [on] a topic that "sounds
-write in a style that also reflects who you are; don't try to write in a style that is not
comfortable and is not telling of a personal side
Do not write about your summer trip to a foreign country or any other event that you
know five of your friends could write about.
Your essay is really the only piece of your application over which you have total control.
Make it the best thing you've ever written. The strength (or weakness) of your essay sets
the tone for how the rest of your application is read. If your essay is weak, everything
else in the file will seem to lack pizzazz but if your essay is amazing it may make the
weaker parts of your application look a little better.
Make sure the essay could only be written by you. You must present a personal
perspective that allows colleges to view an aspect of you that is not reflected elsewhere in
your application.
The opening sentence needs to "grab" the reader. Colleges read so many essays that an
imaginative opening will get their attention.
Often my students write about highly personal issues that they would not be comfortable
sharing with the community at large. For example, one student wrote about her
relationship with her disabled twin and it included feelings that were ambivalent, to say
the least. Younger students could have easily misinterpreted it. I always ask permission
of my seniors before I share a personal essay.
When writing about an experience, issue, or person important to you, be sure to focus on
"why"---we don't want a travelogue of your trip to France, or a description of what
comprises an oboe solo, etc. we want to know about your reactions to the experience or
person's influence.
If you are not known for your humor, do not use your college essay as your first attempt
to be funny.
The content needs to be personal and you need to say it with passion!
When I worked at Wesleyan, I was impressed by essays that were engaging, intellectually
discussed a topic, and depending on the application, discussed their applications’
strengths and weaknesses.
All in all, most essays are good and a few are bad (the ones who try to be too creative, or
too brainy and fail) and others are superb.
A superb essay only helps a mediocre application if:
1. it places context to the student's achievements, background, weaknesses
2. it maturely discusses his/her and desires
3. it allows the reader to gain new information about the candidate that is not presented
anywhere else in the application.
There is no right topic to write about. On the other hand, there are wrong approaches.
Having the quarterback talk about his passion about winning the game is cliché. I would
be more impressed if he talked about his academic passion. Having a student write about
a death in the family is acceptable but if that student uses that as a scapegoat for a poor
academic record, that doesn't show maturity.
Lastly, those essays that revealed an intellectual epiphany are rare—but impressive. Very
few students have them in high school, and for those who [that] find their intellectual
passion while in class, doing a science project or writing a play, and somehow tie it to
their collegiate goals, will impress any sound admissions counselor.
All in all, be yourself. I want to hear a student's unique voice.
"I always tell students that it is what you learn after you know it all that counts." ~ Harry
S Truman ~
While college admission officers may claim that quality of the application essay carries x
amount of weight in the decision, I believe that an excellent essay sways readers to fight
in committee for admitting an applicant and a poor essay kills support for an otherwise
promising applicant.
Although in my experience, giving general advice about writing essays has less impact
than discussing with individuals my reactions to their drafts, two concepts strike me as
being worth consideration:
1. No subject is inherently a good choice or a bad choice for an essay, so a student
given an option to choose a topic should put aside what she thinks that an
admission committee wants to hear and write as well as she can about something
she knows well and cares about.
2. Good writing is lean, progressive, imaginative, grounded in specifics, energized
by apt verbs, and respectful of the reader's intelligence -- telling a story, for
instance, in a way that reveals rather than claims that the writer has learned or
matured through some situation or circumstance.
I give my students this list of do's and don'ts:
Do: go for depth rather than breadth, answer the question, write about something you
care about, use the essay (to explain a problem, illustrate an interest, etc.), be sincere, be
interesting, proofread
Don't: write a glorified list or a travelogue, or blame others for your situation (my history
teacher didn't like me)
I am a high school counselor but had an admissions counselor say the following: When
you have an essay idea, it's like you're looking through a camera with a wide angle lens.
Now you need to put on the zoom lens and focus on just one part of your idea. ExampleDon't talk about your day at the fair. Talk about that roller coaster ride or that sticky
cotton candy that coated your fingers and tongue! The idea, of course, is being to get the
kids to focus on a specific idea not a generality.
I would tell them to be themselves. If they are not humorous, don't write a humorous
Clear, concise, insightful.
Share something about yourself that you feel is a special part of who you are and what
you would like to accomplish at college, in your career, in your community and/or in
your lifetime.
Too often, college bound students get caught up in what they perceive to be the essay
game. My simple advice....
Be yourself. Say what you wish to say...not what you think admission officers want to
Be honest about who you are and what you think when writing the essay.
Remember schools are trying to make sure you are going to be a GOOD fit at their
institution. Believe it or not we want you to succeed and that is why there is an
admission review. We don't want to set anyone up for failure.
1. Own it
2. Keep it short
3. Make one point well
4. Do not use a thesaurus
5. Like it
I would urge you to stay away from the "be unique" trap. Instead, it is important that
students be themselves. Many get too hung up on gimmicks and forget that they will
write best and impress most when they are writing about something they care about,
regardless of topic.
Some other quick pieces of advice that I'm sure you've already covered: Show the essay
to someone, preferably an English teacher, to catch the minor syntax errors you do not
catch because you know what you meant to say. For example, a fresh pair of eyes will
hopefully see that you wrote "fiend" when you should have written "friend." You will be
able to change those errors but if the reader starts offering all sorts of unsolicited advice
about what he or she thinks we want to hear thank him or her politely and don't change a
thing if you don't want to. The essay needs to be a reflection of you and the most boring
(and unhelpful) essays for admissions committee members to read are those in which
students are just stating what they think we want to hear.
The rest of your application tells an admission committee some things about you based
upon other people's interpretation (grades, test scores, recommendations). Either directly
or indirectly, the essay is a way for YOU to tell the committee about you.
Be yourself, write your own essay, use your own voice and have a little fun with it. It is
not a book report. Remember, someone is going to be reading yours, along side 80 - 100
THAT day and the same for the next 12 weeks.
The essay can take virtually any format (autobiographical, topical fictional, etc.) but
should communicate three things: how well you think, how well you write and who you
You should limit your topic as much as possible. If writing an autobiographical essay,
you may want to consider writing about one moment in time.
Illustrate rather than describe your feelings and experiences.
Write one good essay rather than a number of weaker ones, if possible.
Rewrite and edit as many times as is necessary to produce a solid piece.
Read other students’ essays and use the skills developed in critiquing others’ essays to
judge your own. It can be more useful to read weak essays than stronger ones.
Have others read and proofread your essays.
Type it.
It is very difficult to write good essays about the three D’s: Death, Divorce and Disaster.
If you choose one of these topics, remember that you should focus less on the events that
occurred than on how they affected you. Another exceedingly common topic is the
foreign travel experience.
Avoid writing about anything money can buy.
If you are comfortable, do not be afraid to use humor or be daring. But don’t feel an
obligation to do either if they do not come natural to you.
Use the essay topic as a metaphor. Do not dwell on specific experiences but on your
perception of and reaction to those experiences. An essay should not be used to describe
what you’ve done but to communicate who you are.
Some Interview Tips
Compiled by Cigus Vanni from Cherry Hill High School West in NJ:
Few aspects of the admissions process evoke the confusion, the anguish and the
misunderstanding generated by THE COLLEGE INTERVIEW. To comprehend what a
college interview truly signifies, ponder the following points:
 Recognize that the college interview is NEVER the most important or critical
feature of the college admissions process. Scholastic performance, standardized
test scores, meaningful involvement in activities, recommendations from teachers and
counselors—all surpass the interview in admission consideration. No amount of
personal appeal or polished “sell” will transform an average, diffident student into an
attractive admission candidate at a selective college
 Appreciate the fact that no one is a greater expert on you than you yourself (yes,
YOU). You can articulate what is important about yourself better than anyone. You
are the one most well acquainted with your history, your achievements and your
dreams. Regardless of what educational level an interviewer has attained or the
“prestige” level of the college s/he represents, you are the most knowing about
yourself. Be comfortable to be yourself
 Dissuade yourself of the idea that you must “perform” in an interview. Sincerity
and earnest engagement are desirable in your exchange with your interviewer. There
is no “personality type” or “lifestyle” synonymous with a successful interview—and
besides, give your interviewer credit for being able to discern if you’re being a phony.
You won’t score extra points for being wildly extroverted—nor will you be
“penalized” if your personality is more quiet and subdued
 Be prepared to answer the following questions:
Who are you? What are your accomplishments, the activities and the people
most important to you? What and who made you into the person you are today?
What interests you? What are your passions?
Where are you going? What are your goals? What are your dreams? How do
you see yourself developing over the next five/ten years? What do you depict
when you visualize your life as a professional? What course of study will you
pursue? What major?
Why this school? What is it about the confluence of your goals, your interests,
your talents and your personal style that brings you to consider this college?
What do you know about this college that tells you it would be a good match for
you? How will this college help you reach your goals?
 Be certain that you are knowledgeable enough about the college to ask
meaningful questions. Do your homework! Be prepared! Don’t ask about factual
data that could easily be found with a cursory glance in some college handbook.
Recall that an interview is a two-way means of communication and take advantage of
the opportunity presented—which does not mean trying to develop questions that are
so arcane that you will bewilder your interviewer (“How many Olympic synchronized
swimming medalists has ____ produced?”). Assure that s/he knows that you have
carefully and thoughtfully considered your options for college—and that your
presence in this interview means you have already decided that you could be happy at
this school
 Dress appropriately and comfortably. There is no merit in taking extreme
positions in fashion. Glamour and slovenliness should both be avoided—no need to
rent a tux nor to make a statement by under dressing. Women should not feel
compelled to wear skirts when pants would be just fine (men of course should feel
welcome to wear skirts to an interview anytime). However, female applicants, if
wearing a skirt is an everyday event for you and you’re comfortable with it, go right
ahead. Can you wear shorts? Sure—as long as they’re decent and you wear a
collared shirt (like a polo) with ‘em. Try to avoid wearing school colors to impress
your interviewer—that would be filed under “trying too hard”
 Feel free to bring a brief resume with you—and attend diligently to any
information which you are asked to complete. The interview is not the appropriate
setting for submission of an application or perusal of a bulky file. Many colleges and
universities ask you to fill out a one-page information sheet that you should do
carefully even if you have brought along a resume (the interviewer’s visual cues are
used to the college’s own sheet). It’s perfectly OK but not necessary to bring along
an unofficial copy of your high school transcript for your interviewer
 Remember your manners. Introduce your father and mother to your interviewer.
Pretend you actually like your younger sibling and introduce her/him, too. Be
attentive to the receptionist in the admissions office. And be sure to obtain the
business card of the person who interviews you so you can send them a thank-you
note once you return home. Not only is this a courteous thing to do—it gives them
one more reminder of who you are
Extracurricular/ Activity
Most applications have a space for listing what you do outside the classroom. There are a few
abiding principles when communicating this information:
Make sure that the reader can easily understand the nature of what you may be involved in.
Acronyms (TEAM, SPARK, etc.) are not useful nor are organizations whose name does not
accurately describe what the organization does (Kids for Kids, for example)
Colleges want to know about those activities that have a length and breadth of involvement
and those that engage you and you have a passion for. Students should list those first and
describe your extent of involvement.
There is not a checklist of activities that are a must for each application. It is not necessary
to make sure you play on a sport, play a musical instrument, do community service and
belong to a world languages club.
Creating or joining clubs or activities just to put on a college resume is transparent. Students
should do what you truly enjoy and feel strongly about. Being President of the Latin Club
can mean leading two of three meetings a year or could mean intense leadership in Latin
competitions and programs. Make sure the college is aware of the difference. One shot
activities, such as Special Olympics volunteering or participating in a walk or run to raise
money carry much less weight than long term commitments such as weekly tutoring.
Employment, athletics or long-term volunteer work says much about a student’s ability to
commit and follow through, characteristics that are attractive to colleges.
Artistic students should demonstrate their talents, through photos of artwork, videos of dance
or drama performances, best examples or poetry or prose. For students seeking a Bachelor of
Fine Arts, these requirements are spelled out in detail in the admissions material. At BA
programs, the admissions office will frequently send these items to the art department for
Athletes fall into two categories: those that plan on playing in college and who have the
ability to do so and those who do not. For those who plan on playing in college, see the
chapter on college athletics. For others, it is still a demonstration of dedication and
Don’t be afraid to attach a resume if necessary, but be sure to still complete the activity
section of the application.
Being a “well-rounded student” is not a huge plus to most colleges; it is an expectation. The
more preferable situation is where a student is well rounded yet also has one or two strong
and intense passions.
It is always a plus to have experience in a stated career goal, doing such things as scientific
research, volunteering at a hospital, doing an internship at an accounting firm or volunteering
with school children.
Any accomplishment, from playing bridge or chess to competing in horse shows to baking, is
more impressive if the student receives recognition. The higher the recognition, local, state,
national, international, the more impressive.
Extracurricular activities should corroborate strengths, talents and interests seen in other
parts of the application. If teachers and counselors highly praise a students writing and the
student states they want to major in creative writing in college, it is best to be able to show
writing done outside of classroom assignments.
It is obvious when activities are done to make one appear a better college candidate. That
student who lives on a Native American reservation building houses the summer before the
senior year will not do much to impress a college admissions officer. If that same student
was a camp counselor for the past two summers and really enjoyed it, it would be more
impressive for that student to continue to be a camp counselor.
Students should do what they enjoy, have talent in and have had a long-term commitment to.
This does NOT mean that parents should start pushing for kids to find that passion in the
seventh grade and mold every aspect of it to make sure it appears impressive. It does mean
that parents should nurture and support what a child truly enjoys or wants to try.
Learning and Physically Disabled Students and College Admissions
There is one major thing for learning disabled students to take into consideration when looking at
post-secondary options: the protections, accommodations and services required by secondary
schools will not necessarily be available after high school. Students in the public school system
in America are under the protection of IDEIA, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act
that mandates that all children will receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). No
matter how costly or extensive, children have the right to have their educational needs met in the
least restrictive atmosphere possible. Students in public school, if necessary, may have one-toone aides, be sent out-of-district to extremely expensive specialized schools or have their school
build special facilities to meet their needs.
Students with disabilities can be protected through two different laws: IDEIA and Section 504
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). IDEIA generally covers students with chronic
and relatively to extremely severe disabilities. ADA covers students with impairment of one of
more life functions. The major difference between these two levels of protection is the IDEIA
provides for services and accommodations whereas Section 504 provides for just
accommodations. Students under IDEIA have an Individualized Educational Plan worked out
annually by the Child Study Team. The needs of the student identified by the IEP must be met,
no matter the cost or inconvenience. Schools usually have varying special education programs
and staff specifically to meet the needs of students classified under IDEIA: in-class support,
resource room, inclusion, etc. Most students in IDEIA have some educational modification to
meet their needs.
Students protected under a 504 plan generally do not have educational modifications, i.e. their
schedule is the same as it would be without the 504 plan but they are allowed to have
modifications to meet their needs within the classroom. A student with Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD) may be given extra time for tests or a seat in the front of the classroom; a
student with severe asthma may be excused from the school’s attendance policy. A major
difference between IDEIA and 504 is cost and finances: IDEIA mandates that the school
provide services no matter what the cost. Section 504 only allows for modifications not costly
IDEIA ends at high school. There are colleges that provide for services for learning disabled
students, but the parents generally pay for those costs. Colleges are not required to meet the
needs of all students who apply, they only need to provide “reasonable accommodations” to
students they knowingly admit with learning or other disabilities. The key here is “knowingly”.
If a student self-discloses a disability in the pre-admissions process and the college admits that
student, the college must meet the reasonable accommodations of the student. Reasonable, in
this case, means accommodations that will not alter the educational mission of the institution.
It is up to the student whether to self-disclose a disability. Students should understand that
disclosing a disability may cause a them to be denied to a college. This may seem to be
discrimination but, according to the law, colleges are not required to admit students whose need
they cannot meet, particularly if the costs of meeting those needs would create an undue hardship
on the college or the services provided that student would not be congruent with the mission of
the college. A college may require a foreign language for graduation and feel that was an
essential part of its educational mission. If a student documented prior to being admitted that
they had a disability that prevented them from completing a foreign language, that student can be
denied. One college’s decision to deny a hearing impaired student was upheld by the courts.
The college argued successfully that the cost of installing both visual and auditory fire alarms in
every building on campus (they only had auditory alarms in place) would be prohibitively
expensive and would take significant funds away from the educational needs of the other
students on campus.
If a student self-discloses a disability and is admitted, the college is required to provide
reasonable accommodations to that student. But the college may charge the parents extra for any
additional services that may be required. If they do not self-disclose, they may still be provided
accommodations and services by the college, but the college is under no obligation to do so.
This describes the legal aspects of college admissions for disabled students, but the process can
be much more complex than understanding these issues. Perhaps most difficult to ascertain is
the difference between what colleges say they provide and what they actually provide. Some
colleges that advertise that they have services for learning disabled students provide them
reluctantly, with great inconvenience or at a high extra cost and some colleges that do not
advertise services for LD students actually provided all the services and accommodations
willingly on an informal basis. A recent article in the New York Times stated that a well known
university was now requiring students to get students to get new testing and provide new
documentation annually to the college in order to continue to receive accommodations. This is a
very expensive and onerous requirement gave many learning disabled students the impression
that accommodations were being provided quite reluctantly.
The K and W Guide to Colleges for Learning Disabled Students by Mary Beth Kravets and Imy
Wax is perhaps the best informational guide on the subject. It tells students whether colleges
accommodate disabilities, whether they have special staff dedicated to providing support
services for LD students and what documentation may be necessary to provide in the preadmissions process. Some colleges, it explains, admit students through the regular admissions
office while others have a special staff that do all LD student admissions.
Nothing compares to visiting a college, meeting with the professors, LD staff, admissions
officers and students. View the facilities and ask about the specific services provided for
students. Talk to professors and ask them about their willingness to meet needs for LD students.
Ask to meet with students who are presently getting services at the college. Ask them about how
difficult or fair the admissions process was, what services are actually provided and how easy it
is to get them, whether professors are willing to accommodate needs, whether tutoring is
provided and at what cost, etc. Services that are provided which students feel are inconsistent,
frequently unavailable, extremely costly or provided reluctantly are sometimes worse than no
services at all.
A major issue for students who have disabilities is receiving accommodations for standardized
testing (ACT or SAT). These accommodations may include anything from a reader, a word
processor or large block testing materials. By for the most frequent accommodation is extended
time for testing. This is perceived by many parents as an “edge” in college admissions and some
have attempted to get extra time for students who “don’t test well” who may not have a
documented disability. I can’t count the number of times I have received private testing results
with the conclusion that the student has a particular disability requiring extended time not at all
supported by the testing results.
When one looks at cognitive and achievement testing, you look for “scatter” among the subtests,
i.e. signs that learning requiring a certain modality, hearing, spatial organization, memorization,
etc., are impaired while others are not. Frequently I would receive reports “documenting” an
auditory impairment while tests that required auditory skills showed no different results than
those that did not. A student whose sub-test scores are all low do not have a disability- they
merely have low ability. The growth of this cottage industry of psychologists, psychiatrists and
learning disability experts to assist students in receiving extended time on testing has muddied
the waters on who most needs services and has, in my opinion, hurt students who are most in
need of accommodations.
The College Board, who runs the SAT program, decided to no longer “flag” (designate) testing
results that were achieved with extended time. They decided to increase the documentation
required for receiving extended time testing, closely matching the requirements already in place
by the ACT. Sometimes this resulted in students being denied accommodations while at other
times, counselors report, it provided an extra and onerous hurdle.
I had one student who had Cerebral Palsy. The College Board kept on rejecting my requests for
extended time, sending the forms back again and again requiring additional information, often
with just a box checked saying further documentation was required with no explanation. I
finally got through to someone in Disability Services who said that I had to provide results of
tests of physical limitations. I told her that physical limitations were quite apparent from the
disease and that no such testing was done since the student was two. I finally got through to the
Director of Disability Services who agreed that the requested documentation was ridiculous and
modified what the family needed to provide. Not all disabled students have parents or
counselors willing to be as tenacious as we needed to be to have these disabilities
The major point here is that students with disabilities and their parents have to be active in the
college search process. They have to consider at the beginning of the process what services and
accommodations are absolutely necessary, decide whether it is best to self-disclose a disability in
the process and research which schools will be best able to meet the students needs. It is
essential to begin the process of applying for extended time at least six months prior to the first
PSAT or PACT the student takes. Each course of action frequently has some degree of risk
associated with it and it is essential to be aware of those risks and be prepared to accept them
should they come about.
Ellen Dietrich, Director of College Counseling at the Woodlynde School provided some of the
following information:
There are three types of college support programs: Structured, Coordinated and Basic Service
programs. Structured programs are comprehensive in nature and provide students with
significant amounts of support. Students are often required to participated in specific
components of the program. Schools may charge a program participations fee. Some may also
require a separate admissions process. Services may include:
Staff trained in Learning Disabilities
Special Orientation Programs
Curriculum Modifications
Assistance with Advocacy
Academic Monitoring and Counseling
Some examples of colleges with Structured Programs include Curry College, American
University, University of Arizona, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Hofstra University,
Muskingum College, Marist College, Davis and Elkins College, University of Vermont and
Barry University. In some cases, admission to the Learning Disabled program may override
a denial from the college.
Coordinated programs provide students with moderate levels of support. Such programs
often have a learning disabilities specialist (at least part-time) who assist students in
coordinating academic adjustments. Services may include
Learning Strategies Instruction
Assistance with Advocacy
Some colleges with coordinated services include Albright College, University of Delaware,
Regis University, Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis, Widener
University, Brown University and Georgetown University.
Basic Service programs provide the minimum amount of support necessary in order to
comply with the law. Any colleges that receive federal funds (even in accepting student loan
payments) must provide basic services.
Structures programs work best for students who need close monitoring and high levels of
support. Coordinated programs work best for students who want to be mainstreamed but
know they will need support. Basic service programs work best for highly motivated and
independent students.
Some services available to students may include:
Adaptive Technology Lab
Extended time on tests and quizzes
Exams administered in a distraction free room
Alternative testing formats (such as oral exams)
Early registration and reduced course load
Books on tape and enlarged handouts
Use of a tape recorder to record lectures
Talking calculators
Spell checkers
Note-taking services
Advocacy Seminars
Learning Disability support group
College Counseling Check List for Students with Special Needs20
Are admissions criteria for students with special needs the same as for other students?
Are there any special assessments required?
Is diagnostic testing available?
College Counseling Sourcebook, 2nd Edition, 2005 The College Board
Is there a dedicated summer orientation for students with special needs?
Is documentation required for demonstrating special needs?
Academic supports
Is the process for accessing special needs clear and easy to follow?
Is there a fee for supports?
Is tutoring available?
Is remediation in basic skills available?
Are study skills courses available?
Auxiliary aids: Does the school provide:
Calculators?, laptop computers, Personal desktop computers, scan-and-read programs, screen
enlarging programs, screen readers, speech recognition programs, spelling\grammar
Auxiliary Services: Does the school provide:
Advocates, alternate exam arrangements, low cost duplicating, mentors, note-takers, priority
registration, readers, scribes?
Student’s supports: Does the school provide:
Career counseling, career placement, internship programs, individual counseling, small group
counseling, student organizations for special-needs students?
Athletics and College Admissions
There is perhaps nothing that can have a greater effect on college admissions that having the
ability to play college athletics. Michelle Hernandez, In A is for Admissions took some of the
veil off the connection between athletics and admissions by giving the formula for the Academic
Index, a formula used by the Ivy League to determine minimum academic expectations for
athletes. Students in the Ivy League need to have a minimum AI in order for the admissions
office to consider an athlete for admissions. What many find surprising is that students who are
recruited athletes are not just marginally weaker statistically, but significantly so. 21 Some
colleges of the Ivy League require teams to have a team AI in addition to an individual cutoff, so
admitting one student with a low AI necessitates admitting another with a higher AI. For
football, teams are given admit slots in AI bands (say 10 students from 171 to 180, 10 from 181
to 190, etc.). Colleges in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (many of the so
called “Little Ivies”) agree to a limited number of athletic slots in admissions.
See Appendix XX for more on the Academic Index. In addition, the NCAA has minimum standards for playing
Division I or II athletics (See Appendix X)
In two seminal books on athletics and college admissions, The Game of Life and The Name of
the Game, William T. Bowen studied the effects of athletics on college admissions and came to
the following conclusions:
At selective liberal arts colleges, one third of the men and one fifth of the women were
recruited athletes. At the Ivies, one quarter of the men and 15 per cent of the women were
At the New England Small Athletic Conference, 43 per cent of male students and 32 per cent
of females students were athletes. 24% of males and 17 % of women were recruited, much
higher percentages than at scholarship schools.
There has been a dramatic rise in the number of women being recruited for athletics over the
last 20 years
Recruited athletes had a substantial advantage in admissions, much greater than other
targeted groups (legacies, under-represented minorities, etc.)
Recruited athletes at these schools have a 48 percent greater chance of being admitted.
Minority students and legacies have a range of 18 to 24 per cent.
This advantage is much greater now than in 1989 which was much greater than in 1976, the
years of these studies. This is most pronounced in the Ivy League, where students were 4
times more likely to be admitted.
Athletes had much lower SAT scores than their classmates, most pronounced in football,
basketball and hockey, with average scores more than 100 points less than the student body
at large.
Recruitment of athletes had no marked effect of the socioeconomic composition or the racial
diversity of the schools.
Despite lower SAT’s , the graduation rate of athletes in highly selective schools was high and
comparable to non-athletes.
College grades and rank-in-class was low for athletes and has deteriorated over time. In
1989, only 16% finished in the top third and 58% were in the bottom third. At the Ivy
League, 81% of recruited athletes were in the bottom third of the class. This is not related to
the time demands of the sport.
Other groups with high time commitments (such as musicians) to not demonstrate this
underperformance. Nor do legacies. Under-represented minorities have shown a steady
increase in performance over the years while athlete’s performance has declined.
Male athletes were most likely to go into the social sciences and to not earn an advanced
degree. They are more likely to go into business and finance and less likely to become
scientists, engineers, academics, lawyers or doctors.
Male athletes consistently earned more money than their classmates!
Women athletes in 1976 were more likely than classmates to be doctors and lawyers and
enjoyed a sizable earnings advantage over their classmates. In 1989, they were no more
likely to earn advanced degrees and did not enjoy any earnings advantage.
Conclusions: Athletics play a major role in admissions at all colleges, but it has the
greatest effect at the most selective colleges. In addition, athletes significantly affect the
social and academic lives of these institutions.
A Few Important Items for Athletes to Take into Consideration:
You must hope for the best but plan for the worst. At the best, athletics can open up many doors
to that would not be open to non-athletes and even, in rare instances, lead to an athletic
scholarship. Yet there are two great pitfalls to consider. One is that, despite continuing
encouragement from the coach, an offer of admissions never comes. Coaches frequently are
recruiting many more students than they can get through admissions, assuming that many
recruits will choose to attend elsewhere. Not until the coach has a definitive answer on who will
apply, who will attend if admitted and who is going to be admitted will she stop recruiting
student-athletes. There are a number of things that have an impact of the coach’s recruiting
practices: what is the number of spots that the admissions office will allocate for the team? What
are the minimum qualifications for the athletes? What openings does the coach have? I advise
all student athletes to go to the web site for the team and look at the composition and
performance of the previous year’s team. How many seniors are graduating in your position or
event? How many underclassmen play (or run, swim, etc.) where you do? Coaches need only so
many 126-pound wrestlers, quarterbacks, defensive linemen or goalies. Some coaches will take
risks in admissions, hoping that they can get a free pass by not identifying a student as an
admissions recruit, believing that the student will get by admissions without the coach’s help.
The loser here can often be the student athlete who would have been a sure bet with the coach’s
help who ends up not being admitted at all.
High school athletes also often misinterpret the level of interest of a coach. If a student writes a
coach and gets a letter of interest from the coach in return, this is not a sign that the student is
being recruited. This is usually simply a courtesy. As one college coach told me, being
recruited means at least two contacts from the coach. Like in dating, it is pretty easy to ascertain
the level of coach’s interest. If the coach is not contacting you, she does not have an interest in
you. And if the coach was calling and writing regularly and suddenly stopped contacting you, it
generally means that she has gotten the athletes she needs and is not interested in you anymore.
You have to realize that except at the very highest levels, were almost all the top recruits are
known to the coaches, few coaches are familiar with student athletes who are interested in
playing for them. One parent told me that she visited a lower level college lacrosse coach and
saw a huge box in his office filled with VCR tapes and DVD that were never watched. It wasn’t
until she and her child got on the coach’s radar that he viewed his video and began recruiting
him. He was eventually admitted and played on that college’s varsity team. The point here is
that most coaches do not have the ability to adequately research each athlete who shows interest
and it the student should make sure they get themselves known and recognized.
It is particularly difficult to advise student athletes on course scheduling issues. For non-athletes
looking at competitive colleges, it is essential to do very well in a very demanding schedule to be
considered for admission. Reducing the demands of the junior or senior schedule can be the first
thing that selective colleges use to deny students. Yet for athletes, it is more important to have
strong grades than an overly demanding schedule. I coached an All-American wrestler who took
Honors Physics and Calculus as a senior and did poorly in them. Some Ivy League and highly
competitive colleges told him that the D’s he got in these courses prevented him from being
admitted and that he should consider a post-graduate year. They told him that if he had gotten
B’s in a less demanding schedule, he would have been recruited and admitted. There is a risk
though in athletes reducing the demands of their schedule. If the student is injured or not
recruited, they will be in a worse position in admissions and might have a number of colleges
deny them that might otherwise have considered them
You can never under estimate the impact of injury on ones future. One All American lacrosse
player in my school was a clear Division I scholarship athlete until, boom, he needed
reconstructive knee surgery just prior to his senior year. He had not researched or even
considered schools other schools that those that were recruiting him. I advised his family that
there might be Division III colleges that would be willing to take a risk on him but that Division
I schools, at least the ones he was considering, were out. It is necessary for athletes to consider
all possibilities and alternatives when going through the recruiting process.
There is one thing that many high school students do not realize but many college athletes learn
the hard way: a great recruiter does not make a great coach. As a matter of fact, in my
experience, just the opposite is true. Some coaches seem to have intense interest in every aspect
of the student athlete’s life. They call and e-mail regularly, showing an intense interest in how
the prospect is doing athletically and academically. Yet once the student begins playing sports,
the coach seems to lose interest in the student’s well being. He starts pressuring the athlete to
play injured and sacrifice all for the team.
There is one obvious step that many prospective athletes never do: ask the present team
members what is it like to play on the team and play for this coach. Is it fun? Does the coach
care about them? Does the coach make athletes play with injuries?
Athletic Time Line
Fall -- Junior year
 Keep up your grades; this is important throughout junior year
 Step up your off season conditioning
 Select your target colleges; start with about 20 at this point
o College parameters are variable and non-variable
 variable include size of student population, geographical location, costs,
 non-variable include SAT scores, GPA, playing ability (your coaches can
define this), athlete's size and strength
o If you have no idea where to start, pick one or two colleges, and if you fit their
academic profile, check their website to see who they play against; their
competitors may have similar profiles that you fit as well
 Cross reference your target 20 colleges against the list of D1, D2, and D3 lax schools to see
how many schools in your original 20 have teams with your sport
 Play multiple sports; college coaches feel that athletes who play multiple sports show
athleticism and commitment to athletics
Winter -- Junior year
 In January, start planning to order game tapes(in sports where applicable) which can be
o colleges normally want full game tapes (where applicable); frequently coaches will
only consider you for the team if they can see your complete game (offensive,
defensive, degree of hustle, reaction after making a mistake); coaches are looking
for a complete player who hustles throughout, doesn't play out of control, and who
has good sportsmanship and teamwork
o you may also want to consider having your own made; professional tapes can be
pricey; to cut costs, consider sharing the expense with a teammate; also check to
see if you could hire a TV production student or a competent non-professional to
film the games
o some coaches who have seen you play the previous season or in a summer camp
may not require a tape
 Talk to the coaches about good recruiting camps to attend;
 Keep up your grades
 Start to shorten your list of target colleges to 10 schools
o try to visit as many schools as possible to see which ones you feel most comfortable
o have a serious talk w/ parents about any financial constraints (private vs. state
university costs, etc.); many sport’s scholarships are not necessarily as large or
available as scholarships for other sports, e.g., football
o check to see makeup of current teams; how many seniors are on the team and will
be leaving?
Spring -- Junior year
 Keep up your grades
 Send letters of interest to coaches. Include vital information. For sports like swimming
and track, this is mostly statistical information, such as events competed in and personal
bests in those events. In team sports, you should include position played, any awards or
honors, playing time on varsity, etc. For certain sports, such as football, the coach will
want to know our speed and size.
 You may want to have a separate athletic resume with the above information sent with you
letter of interest. Make sure you give information on how to contact your present coach,
including phone numbers (ask you coach how best for a college coach to contact him), email address and mailing address.
 Have 10-15 copies of game tapes (where applicable) made; be sure to label them on the
outside with your name, number and color of jersey
End of Junior Year
 Apply on line for the NCAA clearinghouse at; the fee is currently
$35; normally you can't go on visits until you are cleared w/ the NCAA if you are trying to
be recruited as an athlete; they tend to be slow and you usually can't play D1 in college
without this clearance
 E-mail coaches from your list of schools before you go to any summer camps; tell them
which camp you'll be attending, and that you hope you will gave a chance to meet them
 Narrow your list to 2-3 colleges that you want your coach's help in
contacting; talk to him about your chances of getting in, and whether the schools are good
fits for you
 After July 1, colleges can talk to you directly and try to recruit you; letters of interest are
nice to receive, but unless they are calling you, you are not a top recruit for them; Division
1 (D1) and very competitive D3 schools tend to call top recruits on July 1; other D3
programs send letters or call recruits, but may wait until the dust settles from D1 recruiting
 Start sending out copies of your game tapes to your top 10+ choices; after sending the
tapes, send an unofficial transcript of your grades (get this from the guidance office) and
your SAT scores
 Plan on spending a weekend at each school in which you are truly interested, whether or
not you are invited by a coach (check out the social scene, academic support and other
factors of importance to you)
Fall -- Senior year
 Before applying early decision:
o have your coach speak to the prospective college coach
o ask your guidance counselor to check with the college admissions office and make
sure that the story from the admissions office matches the story from the college
o understand that while applying early decision allows you to get notification from
the college well in advance of the usual notification date, acceptance from that
college is binding; if you are accepted, you must withdraw all other pending
o prior to applying early decision, you may want to have a "likely letter" in hand (if
the school issues them); likely letters are only issued to athletes the colleges are
very serious about; applying early decision should be considered only if you are
being heavily recruited and directed to do so by the college coach
o be sure you have asked the college coach any and all questions you have prior to
applying early decision
 Give your coach:
o stamped, addressed envelopes to send a written evaluation to the college coach(es)
o names, addresses, phone numbers (school, home cell) and e-mail addresses of your
top choices
Follow up with coaches to whom you sent tapes and/or resumes; many times they have no
office staff, so may not look at your tape unless you remind them; use e-mail and telephone
Give college coach(es) the name, address, phone numbers (school, home, cell) and e-mail
address of your high school coach
Ask the college coach where you fit on the recruiting list; understand that if a coach wants
you, he can't admit you, only the admissions office can
Once you've narrowed your choices, court the coach
o convince him he wants you through letters, e-mails etc.; try to go for a practice or
attend a game
o see if you like the other athletes on the team, and if they like you
o after a visit, be sure to send a follow up thank you e-mail or letter
 If you are fortunate enough to have been recruited and offered a scholarship, there are
certain specific procedures to be followed which are covered in the National Letter of
Intent website,
o pay attention to the initial and final signing dates, which vary sport to sport and
many times include a fall date and a spring date:
Arts Admissions
Students interested in the fine and/or performing arts have two possible options in choosing a
college. They may elect to go to a school with a professional degree, most commonly a Bachelor
of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Music (BM) degree or pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree.
BFA or BM degrees are offered in conservatory programs or specialty schools. Most of the
course work (up to 75%) is in art or music, auditions or portfolios are required and career
choices are sometimes limited to teaching or practicing that particular craft. Many colleges offer
BA degrees in music, dance, fine arts, acting, etc. where only about one-quarter of the course
work is in the arts and the degree may provide more career opportunities in areas outside of the
arts. Students choosing a BFA or BM degree should know that arts are the only career they
could conceive doing. Barbara Eliot, Dean of Enrollment Management at The University of the
Arts in Philadelphia, states that kids who should pursue a BFA career might say such things as:
“I’ve been drawing all my life. I can spend hours on a project”.”
“Creating a painting makes me feel proud in a way that no A+ could.”
“What I realize is that I love music and that’s it.”
“When I slip into the skin of a character, it’s more than make believe. I find out so much
more about myself…and others.”
“Art is more than a career. It is a way of life.”
Art is involved in a huge part of our economy. Much of what we see as cultural markers in
business and industry, from Starbucks and Jet Blue to IPOD’s and Target, are the products of
designers and artists. Every ad, package and product you see have been created by artists.
When choosing a college, one must decide on the type of learning environment. These include
liberal arts colleges, specialized colleges, conservatories or technical schools. Within the
specialized options, there is frequently a need to choose sub-specialties. For dance majors, they
may have to, for instance, choose to major in ballet, modern or jazz dance. Actors may have to
choose between dramatic theatre and musical theatre.
Students planning for a career in the arts should plan on a process that begins earlier and ends
later than the standard college planning process. Students may need to begin planning for an
audition or portfolio in the junior year. They can view the web sites of colleges they are
considering to see the portfolio and audition requirements. Students may want to visit
to view the National Portfolio Days where they can get an assessment of their portfolios.
Because of the variety of portfolio review and audition dates and requirements, the admissions
calendar may be quite different than that for non-artists.
Students who desire to pursue architecture are another case altogether. A Bachelor of
architecture is frequently a 5-year program. Some schools, such as Washington University, do
not begin architecture work until the junior year of college and culminate in a Masters Degree in
Architecture. Architecture students have portfolio requirements which are quite different from
fine artists. They usually need to show drawings and models which demonstrate both technical
and artistic skills.
Ethical and Legal Issues
Most of the rules in college admissions depend on honorable behavior on the part of applicants
and colleges rather than the force of law. The system is dependent that those applying to college,
as well as those assisting them, and those who recruit and select students abide by Standards and
Principals of Good Practice (SPGP).
The SPGP is the sets of rules promulgated by the National Association of College Admission
Counseling and has been in existence since the 1930’s. When Yale and Stanford devised a new
admissions plan in 2002, Single Choice Early Action, which was at adds with the rules of the
SPGP, it caused a crisis in NACAC. They could either enforce a rule that few felt was vital and
potentially lose important members of the organization (Yale, Stanford and Harvard) or not
enforce the rules and appear to cave in on their values. This resulted in the creation of the
Admissions Standards Steering Committee to re-write and reorganize the rules of college
admissions. I was fortunate to be able to be a member of this committee and be involved in the
process of creating this new document. The result was a clearer and more consistent document
that membership felt that they could stand behind.
The one rule that has endured most steadfastly through these changes is that students have until
May 1 to decide where they will attend. This is probably the one rule of college admissions
where most violations of the SPGP are reported. Colleges are required to honestly portray what
they offer and high schools must be honest on how they describe their academic program and
how they communicate student strengths. Other vital provisions involve the confidentiality of
student information. The full text of the SPGP is below.
Students are expected to be honest in the process as well. They are expected to not submit more
than one binding early decision application and, if admitted early decision, to withdraw all other
applications. They are expected to be the author of their college essays, though it is accepted
that others read their essays and give advice on editing. They are also expected to answer all
questions, including those about disciplinary infractions, honestly.
The main law that affects the college admissions process is the Federal Rights and Privacy Act
(FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA allows adult students or the parents
of minor students to inspect and amend school records. It also has a number of provisions that
deal with the transmission of information about disciplinary infractions and with the
confidentiality of letters of recommendation.
FERPA allows, but does not require, high schools to communicate to other high schools or
colleges where a student seeks to enroll information about a student’s discipline record. The
issue is sometimes not as clear as it would seem. There are a number of situations which are
problematic. These might include:
Offenses which occur outside of school
“Sealed” convictions of minors
Offenses that might be affected by a disability
State laws or school policy which restrict the transmission of this information.
High schools may be restricted from transmitting information about misbehavior, so many ask
students to provide this information. This issue came to public consciousness when it was
discovered that a student at Harvard has killed her mother with a candlestick yet not informed
Harvard of this. Harvard withdrew her admission because she had not been honest in her
My advice is that students should be forthcoming with colleges about disciplinary infractions.
My experience is that college admissions personnel treat this information fairly. I do not believe
it is worth the risk of having admission withdrawn at a later date for not being honest.
The other major part of FERPA that affects the college admissions process is one that deals with
the confidentiality of letters of recommendation. Many applications give an option for students
to waive their right to see letters of recommendation. Some high schools also give students the
option to sign a waiver of access. There are two important things about this waiver. For one, it
can be signed by a minor and it is legally binding. Second, it is a blanket waiver. Once a student
signs a waiver, it applies to all recommendations to all colleges.
I recommend that students always sign this waiver. It gives the college the confidence that what
is written about the student is honest. On a more practical level, there is almost no chance that a
student will be able to see a letter of recommendation even if they do not sign this waiver.
Colleges are only required to show their files to students who are admitted and enroll. Yet
almost every college purges letters of recommendation once decisions are made. Colleges may
not require students to sign a waiver of access from students who apply but those who write the
letters may ask for it before agreeing to write a letter.
Students also often wonder whether they should answer the question: “where else are you
applying.” There is only one appropriate answer to this question: “undecided”. Colleges
usually ask this information to get a sense of who their competition is. I cannot envision a
situation where answering this question would serve a student. If the other colleges are more
competitive, it may give the impression that the student is using the college as a safety school. If
the colleges are less competitive, it can leave the impression that this student is not as worthy.
National Association of College Admission Counseling’s Standards and Principles of Good
Core Values
Core Values represent statements of the association’s vision and beliefs and are the purview of
the Board of Directors.
We believe our work in counseling, admission and enrollment management is professional only
to the extent that we subscribe to and practice ethical behavior, as stated in our Member
Conventions. We are responsible for the integrity of our actions and, insofar as we can affect
them, the actions of our member institutions and organizations.
We believe the effectiveness of our profession, college counseling, admission and enrollment
management is enhanced when we work together to promote and protect students and their best
We believe our profession, college counseling, admission and enrollment management is based
upon trust, mutual respect and honesty, with one another and with students.
We believe in and are committed to educating students, their families, the public, fellow
education professionals, and ourselves about the transition to and within postsecondary
Fairness and Equity
We believe our members have a responsibility to treat one another and students in a
fundamentally fair and equitable manner.
Social Responsibility
We believe we have a duty to serve students responsibly, by safeguarding their rights and their
access to and within postsecondary education.
Member Conventions
All members of NACAC agree to abide by the following:
1. Members will make protecting the best interests of all students a primary concern in the
admission process.
2. Members will evaluate students on the basis of their individual qualifications and strive for
inclusion of all members of society in the admission process
3. Members will provide accurate admission and financial aid information to students,
empowering all participants in the process to act responsibly.
4. Members will honor students’ decisions regarding where they apply and choose to enroll.
5. Members will be ethical and respectful in their counseling, recruiting and enrollment
6. Members will strive to provide equal access for qualified students through education about
financial aid processes and institutional financial aid policies.
7. Members will abide by local, state and federal laws regarding the treatment of students and
confidential information.
8. Members will support a common set of admission-related definitions and deadlines.
9. Members will support and enforce the Statement of Principles of Good Practice.
I. All Members—Mandatory Practices
A. Promotion and Recruitment
Members agree that they will:
1. Accurately represent and promote their schools, institutions, organizations, and services;
2. Not use disparaging comparisons of secondary or postsecondary institutions;
3. Not offer or accept any reward or remuneration from a secondary school, college, university,
agency, or organization for placement or recruitment of students;
4. be responsible for compliance with applicable laws and regulations with respect to the
students’ rights to privacy.
B. Admission, Financial Aid and Testing Policies and Procedures
Members agree that they will:
1. Not publicly announce the amount of need-based aid awarded to any student without his/her
2. Not guarantee admission or specific college placement or make guarantees of any financial aid
or scholarship awards prior to an application being submitted, except when pre-existing criteria
are stated in official publications;
3. Not make unethical or unprofessional requests of other admission counseling professionals;
4. Send and receive information about candidates in confidence;
5. Consider transcripts official only when transmitted in a confidential manner, from the
secondary or postsecondary institution(s) attended by the applicant;
6. Not use minimum test scores as the sole criterion for admission and/or advising;
7. Be responsible for ensuring the accurate representation and promotion of their institutions in
recruitment materials, presentations, and scholarship materials;
8. Provide, in a timely manner, accurate, legible and complete transcripts for transfer students for
admission or scholarships;
9. Counsel students to abide by the application requirements and restrictions when they file;
10. Permit pending Early Action, Restrictive Early Action and Early Decision candidates to
initiate any Regular or Rolling Decision applications.
II. Postsecondary Members—Mandatory Practices
A. Promotion and Recruitment
Postsecondary members agree that they will:
1. State clearly the requirements for the first-year and transfer admission and enrollment
processes, including secondary school preparation, standardized testing, financial aid, housing
and notification deadlines, and refund procedures;
2. Not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled, registered, have initiated deferred admission,
or have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions unless the
students initiate inquiries themselves or unless cooperation is sought from institutions that
provide transfer programs.
B. Admission, Financial Aid and Testing Policies and Procedures
Postsecondary members agree that they will:
1. Accept full responsibility for admission and financial aid decisions and for proper notification
of those decisions to candidates;
2. Not require candidates or the secondary schools to indicate the order of the candidates’ college
or university preferences, except under Early Decision plans;
3. Permit first-year candidates for fall admission to choose, without penalty, among offers of
admission and financial aid until May 1. (Candidates admitted under an
Early Decision program are a recognized exception to this provision);
4. Not offer exclusive incentives that provide opportunities for students applying or admitted
Early Decision that are not available to students admitted under other admission options;
5. Work with their institutions’ senior administrative officers to ensure that financial aid and
scholarship offers and housing options are not used to manipulate commitments prior to May 1;
6. Establish wait list procedures that ensure that no student on any wait list is asked for a deposit
in order to remain on the wait list or for a commitment to enroll prior to receiving an official
written offer of admission;
7. State the specific relationship among admission and financial aid practices and policies;
8. Notify accepted aid applicants of financial aid decisions before the enrollment confirmation
deadline, assuming all requested application forms are received on time;
9. Clearly state policies on renewal of financial aid that will typically include a review of
students’ current financial circumstances;
10. Not knowingly offer financial aid packages to students who are committed to attend other
institutions, unless the students initiate such inquiries. Athletic scholarships, which adhere to
nationally-established signing periods, are a recognized exception to this provision;
11. Initially report on all first-year admitted or enrolled students, including special subgroups in
the reporting of test scores. If data on subgroup populations are also provided, clear explanations
of who is included in the subgroup population will be made.
III. Counseling Members—Mandatory Practices
A. Promotion and Recruitment
Counseling members agree that they will:
1. Establish a policy for the release of students’ names and other confidential information
consistent with applicable laws and regulations.
B. Admission, Financial Aid and Testing Policies and Procedures
Counseling members agree that they will:
1. Provide colleges and universities with a description of the school’s marking system that, if
available, will provide some indication of grade distribution that may include the rank in class
and/or grade point average;
2. Provide, as permissible by law, accurate descriptions of the candidates’ personal qualities that
are relevant to the admission process;
3. Sign only one pending Early Decision or restricted Early Action agreement, when applicable,
for any student;
4. Follow, when applicable, the process used by the candidates’ high schools for filing college
5. Not reveal, unless authorized, candidates’ college or university preferences;
6. Work with school officials and other relevant individuals to keep test results confidential as
governed by law and local regulations;
7. Report on all students within a distinct class (e.g., freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior)
and subgroups, including non-native speakers, in the reporting of standardized test scores.
How do I Afford to Pay for College?
When most parents of high school age children attended college, it was considerably more
affordable. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, college costs rose less than the cost of inflation.
Starting in the 1980’s, colleges began charging, year after year, cost increase which were much
higher than the rate of inflation. This trend did not subside until the beginning of the 21st
century. Federal budget deficits have also resulted in less money coming to the states from the
federal government. Costs of public colleges have also been rising much higher than the rate of
inflation. The result is that the cost of college, relative to average income, has risen dramatically
in the last two decades. Fewer and fewer colleges are meeting the full financial need of students
leaving daunting bills for college.
The best way to make sure college is affordable is to begin college savings accounts when a
child is young. The compounding of interest on savings makes savings accounts which begin
when a child is young much more effective than those begun when a child enters high school.
The two main savings vehicles, which both grow tax free, are an Education IRA and 529
accounts. The advantage of the IRA is that it can be invested in almost any way you want, but
there are limits on how much can be invested and what income you must have to be eligible.
Virtually anyone can open a 529 account and the maximum amount that can be invested is very
high. But they must be invested in the plans of a chosen state. One need not invest in their own
state plan. Anyone may open a 529 account for another person as long as the money is used for
educational purposes.
There is much written about the financial aid process and I will not repeat all of it here. Perhaps
the most important figure to know is the “expected family contribution”. There is a federal
formula which computes a federal EFC. This figure is computed off the data from the FAFSA
form and does not include the value of home equity. Colleges frequently compute their own
EFC using data from the CSS Profile (which does include home equity), the FAFSA or their own
forms. Generally, colleges and the government award financial aid when the cost of the college
is greater than the EFC.
There are some basic things that all those applying for financial aid should know about the EFC.
As of now, about one third of all savings in the student’s name will be expected to be used for
college. Only about six percent of parent assets are expected to be spent for college. When more
than one student is in college, the EFC is divided by the number of students in college.
Most private colleges will give grants and loans to students from their own resources to help
defray college costs. Most public colleges will only give students aid provided by the federal or
state government. Both public and private colleges frequently give students merit based
scholarships which are not affected by a student’s financial need.
There are legitimate ways one can allocate finances to minimize a student’s EFC. Parents who
set up savings accounts in their own names rather than their children’s will have a lower
assessed EFC. Life insurance and retirement accounts do not get computed in the EFC. If a
parent feels that they are underinsured or have insufficient retirement savings, they use money
from sources which may be computed in the EFC, including investments, savings and housing
equity, to purchase a whole life policy or to increase ones retirement savings. A whole life
policy generally has a cash value which can be drawn upon if financial emergencies arrive.
Money from most IRA’s and other retirement accounts can similarly be used for educational
expenses without the 10% penalty, those this may have negative consequences. I recommend
that you contact a licensed financial planner before taking any of these steps. You should also be
aware that any transfer of assets should occur no later than 11/2 years before a child enters
There are specific ways to reduce college costs. The easiest is to choose a less expensive
college. In-state public universities usually cost between $10,000 and $20,000. Going to a
public college out of state can add $7-10,000 to this cost and the cost of private colleges can
exceed $50,000. Though much has been made of the availability of outside scholarships, they
rarely cover a substantial part of college costs.
It is important to have an open discussion with your child, as uncomfortable as this may be,
about the expense of college. If there are financial limitations, be honest and straightforward. It
is also reasonable for children to bear some of the loans for college. The maximum students can
take out in loans themselves is about $14.000 in Stafford Loans. But a parent can borrow up to
the full cost of college in a PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) loan. Parents can
ask for adult students to co-sign this loan. Once the loan is paid off for six months or more, it
can be assigned to the student.
This year the Congress passed legislation which has an effect on financial aid. Included in the
provisions are:
529 savings plans. In the present formula for financial aid, there are two types of plans,
a "prepaid" which gives you credits toward future college tuition and a plan that offers
mutual funds. In the present system, the prepaid plan, according to Janet Bryant Quinn
writing in Newsweek, "costs parents a lot in financial aid. Starting July 1, 2006, both
plans will be on equal footing...529 plans in held in a child's name will get the same
federal treatment in the financial aid calculation as plans held in the parent's name." It is
important to realize that private colleges may set different rules for granting their own
Pell Grants. These grants for low income students are being added to: up to an extra
$750 for first year students who completed a "rigorous high school curriculum", up to
$1300 more for students who earn a 3.0 average or higher and up to $4000 for juniors
and seniors if they major in math, science, engineering or certain world languages and
maintain a 3.0 average
Stafford Loans: These loans, starting July 1, will change from 5.3 per cent variable rate
loans to 6.8 per cent fixed rate loans. Plus Loans will rise from 6.1 percent to 8.5 per
cent and will now be open the first time to graduate students. Maximum Stafford Loans
(known as Guaranteed Student Loans in "our day") will go up to $3500 for freshmen (up
$875), $4500 for sophomores (up $1000) and $12,500 for graduate students (up $2000).
Debt consolidation: If you have children now in colleges or who are recent graduates,
they may consolidate several student loans into one with a single fixed rate. Because
rates are going up July 1, it would be a good idea to consolidate before rates go up.
For International Students: Applying for a U.S. Student Visa
Students from outside of the United States experience much of the same college search and
application processes if they decide to study at a U.S. college. But international students must
not only be accepted to a U.S. college; they must also obtain permission from the U.S.
government to live and study in the United States. Although the process is relatively
straightforward, getting that permission requires good planning and preparation. Read on for the
basics of applying for a U.S. student visa.
The College Admission Process
Before you can apply for a visa, you must know what college you'll be attending. So, much like
students living in the United States, international students must research their college options,
apply to several colleges, and be accepted to at least one of them. Unlike U.S. students,
international students must also prove to the college of their choice that they can pay all college
fees and living expenses while studying in the United States. Some financial and merit aid may
be available to international students, depending on the colleges they choose, but they still must
have well-thought-out, documented financial plans for their years in the United States.
Once you've been accepted and the college is satisfied that you can support yourself, the college
will send you an I-20 form. This form documents that you have been offered admission to the
college and that the college is satisfied that you can afford to study there. It also gives you a
"report date," or the date when you're expected to arrive at the college to begin classes.
The I-20 is one of the main documents you'll need to apply for a student visa.
Documents and More Documents
Once you receive your I-20 from the college, it's time to put together the other documents you'll
need to apply for the visa. Students who plan on attending a 4-year or 2-year academic program
should apply for the F-1 visa.
You need five main documents to apply for a visa:
Form I-20, which you receive from the college.
Form OF-156 (the visa application itself), which you can get from the local U.S. embassy
or consulate at no charge.
A passport that is valid for at least the next six months (preferably longer).
A passport-sized photo of yourself.
A receipt that shows payment of the visa processing fee. How you pay the fee differs in
each country, so make sure to check with your local U.S. embassy or consulate for
details. In some countries, you may not be able to pay the fee at the consulate.
Although these documents are the only official ones needed to apply, you also need to gather
documentation to support certain aspects of your visa application.
The Big Three Questions
Your visa application, supporting documentation, and your interview with a consular officer (see
below) must work together to answer the following questions:
Are you a real student?
Do you intend to return to your home country after college?
Do you have enough money to support yourself while in the United States (without
getting a job, which is illegal for nonimmigrant students)?
Remember, by U.S. law, it is the consular officer's job to find reasons to deny your visa. The
officers are required to assume that you're trying to immigrate to the United States permanently.
It's your job to prove differently.
The documents needed to answer these questions may be different depending on your country
and your situation, but they may include any or all of the following:
Your academic record to date.
Copies of scores from any standardized tests you've taken (SAT, TOEFL, GRE, etc.).
Letters of admission and financial aid awards from your U.S. college.
Financial documents, such as your and your family's bank statements, tax documents
showing your/your family's income, and statements from any investments that you plan
to use to finance you education.
Documents showing any scholarships or financial help from other sources (college
financial aid, governmental or organizational grants, outside scholarships).
Business registration or licenses and other documents if you or your family owns a
Evidence that you intend to return to your home country, such as a statement from an
employer that you'll be considered for a job or have been offered a job after you complete
your U.S. study; evidence that you own assets in your home country; anything else that
shows that you have strong ties to your home country.
If you're not sure what documents you should bring, talk to your high-school counselor, the
college contact for international students, or someone at the U.S. consulate.
The Interview
All visa applicants must have an interview with an officer at their country's U.S. embassy or
consulate. You must schedule the interview no sooner than 90 days before the report date on
your I-20. Different consulates may schedule interviews differently, so check with the consulate
ahead of time.
Also, U.S. embassies and consulates in some countries are very busy and may have a long
waiting list for visa interviews. It's a good idea to check with the consulate early in the college
application process, even before you receive an I-20, just in case your consulate has a waiting
period. Some countries may have a months-long waiting period; others may be able to schedule
interviews fairly quickly.
During this interview, consular officers will ask you a variety of questions about your plans for
your education, finances and career after college. Again, they are looking for any reason to
believe that you're not a real student, that you may be planning to stay in the United States
illegally, or that you won't be able to support yourself financially in the United States.
The best way to succeed in your interview is to arrive well prepared. Think through your answers
to some of the following questions:
Why do you want to study in the United States?
Why did you choose this college?
Why did you choose this major? What jobs does this major prepare you for?
How will studying in the United States prepare you for a job here at home?
What have you been involved in that shows your commitment to your home country?
How will you pay for the college fees and living expenses in the United States?
(Remember, students with F-1 visas are not allowed to get jobs in the United States
except under special circumstances. So you cannot plan on any job income to pay for
your studies or expenses at colleges.)
Other questions about the United States, your educational plans, your career plans, and your
finances. You may wish to practice your answers with a counselor or friend. Be polite, and
make your answers short and to the point. Most interviews are less than 5 minutes, so short
answers are best.
The Future of Student Visas
Since the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the student visa process has
been scrutinized by the media (several of the hijackers had visas to study in U.S. flight schools).
It's too early to tell, however, if the student visa application process will be affected.
"At this time we cannot tell what will happen," says Hamilton Gregg, director of guidance at the
Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan. "Things are definitely up in the air, and I am sure that the
visa officers will be working very closely to determine that:
The student is in fact a student and can verify that that is true.
The student has no ties to the U.S. and will return to his/her home country after his/her education
in the U.S. is completed.
If the student has had military training that it is with his/her home country's military.
There will be, I am sure, more scrutiny of students coming from countries that have ties to
unfriendly countries.
Again, these are guesses. More will be revealed in due time."
For More Information
This is only an overview of what international students can expect from the U.S. visa application
process. For more detailed information and help, talk to your high-school counselor or the
advisor to international students at your college. In addition, the U.S. State Department has
placed quite a bit of information on their Web site ( ).
If you have questions about the visa process, it's best to call your local U.S. embassy or consulate
directly, or to check their Web site for information. You can find a list of links to U.S. consulates
all over the world at: It may seem intimidating to call the
consulate, but it's the best way to get good information about the visa process in your country.
Focus on Financial Aid: Terminology and Words to Know
Part I. The Application Process
FAFSA-Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A detailed form that is the first step in
applying for federal aid, offered by the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA is available
from colleges, high school guidance counselors, public libraries, and on the Internet. Only one
FAFSA needs to be completed each year, even if you are considering several different colleges.
You may be able to use the FAFSA to apply for state and college aid as well. Contact your state
agency and financial aid administrator to find out whether you can use the FAFSA to apply for
state and college aid, and to learn what types of aid may be available to you.
The FAFSA is available in two formats: paper and electronic. If you complete a paper FAFSA,
you will mail it directly to the application processor listed on the FAFSA. If the school you plan
to attend participates in the Department of Education's electronic application system, you can
give your completed FAFSA directly to the school. The school enters your FAFSA information
into its computer system and electronically transmits the data for you to the Department of
You can also apply electronically for federal student aid by using FAFSA on the Web. You can
complete the application online, at The site also contains useful information
about the electronic process and what to expect after completing it.
CSS Financial Aid PROFILE-A supplemental need analysis document used by some colleges
and private scholarship programs to award their non-federal aid funds. Early in your senior year,
participating colleges may ask you to file a PROFILE so that a predetermination can be made of
your financial aid eligibility at that school. The PROFILE does not replace the FAFSA-you must
still file a FAFSA in order to be considered for federal student aid. You should file a PROFILE
only for those colleges and programs that request it. PROFILE registration forms, which are
processed by the College Scholarship Service (CSS), are generally available from high schools
or colleges. Financial Aid Package-Describes the total amount of aid that a student receives. A
package generally consists of several parts: grants/scholarships, loans and jobs. Grants and
scholarships are considered "gift aid." Loans and jobs are considered "self help."
Part II. Types of Financial Aid
Grants and Scholarships-Money given to a student that carries no stipulation of repayment is
known as a scholarship or a grant. Scholarships and grants can originate from the federal or state
government, private sources or the college itself. Grant eligibility tends to be based on need;
when need is high, the grant aid tends to be high as well. Scholarship eligibility is often based on
financial need, academic achievement, particular talents or skills, or a combination of one or
more of these factors. In some cases, the terms "grant" and "scholarship" are used
Loans-Any program described as a loan requires repayment, usually with interest, to the source
of the funding. Loans often come from the institution or private lender. Generally, the greater the
financial need, the larger the loan. A variety of repayment options are usually available, and
sometimes permit payment to be deferred while the borrower is enrolled in school. The time
frame for loan repayment can be as little as two to three years, or as long as twenty years. Many
banks and lending institutions now make special loan programs available to help parents finance
their student's education. These loans are not based on financial need, but can help stretch the
family's budget over the years of schooling. Loans may be referred to as "self-help" aid.
Jobs-On- and/or off-campus employment for hourly wages during the academic year. In some
cases, the jobs are designed to complement the student's field of study. Jobs may also be called
"self-help" aid.
Part III. Federal Student Aid Programs
Eligibility for federal student aid programs, except the Federal PLUS loan and unsubsidized
Federal Stafford Loan, which we'll describe later, is primarily based on financial need. Families
demonstrate need for federal student aid by completing and filing the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available from colleges, high school guidance counselors, public
libraries, and/or the Internet.
Federal Pell Grant-The largest single aid program. Grants are awarded to students
demonstrating high financial need and are not required to be repaid. Using FAFSA data,
financial need is determined according to the Federal Methodology, a formula established by
Congress to assess the family's ability to contribute to the student's educational costs. For each
eligible student, the Department of Education forwards funds to the school, which are then
delivered to the student's account at the school, or are paid directly to the student. The maximum
award varies annually, according to the level of federal funding. For 2003-2004, the maximum
Pell Grant is $4,050.
Federal Perkins Loan (formerly National Direct Student Loan)-A federally funded campusbased loan that is administered by the college aid office. Students do not apply separately for the
Federal Perkins Loan-it is awarded to eligible students as part of an aid package at the college. A
five percent interest rate is charged annually after completion of studies, and a grace period is
specified in the promissory note. The maximum Federal Perkins Loan that most colleges can
award to an undergraduate is $4,000 per year. In order to distribute limited funds to as many
students as possible, most schools make awards that are smaller than the maximum.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)-A federal campus-based
grant awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need. Like Federal Perkins
Loan, students do not apply separately for FSEOG-it is awarded to eligible students as part of the
aid package at the college. The maximum Federal SEOG that most colleges can award is $4,000
per year. However, due to extremely limited funding in this program, awards are frequently
smaller than this amount.
Federal Work-Study (FWS)-A part-time work program awarding on- or off-campus jobs to
students who demonstrate financial need. FWS positions are primarily funded by the
government, but are also partially funded by the institution. FWS is awarded to eligible students
by the college as part of the student's financial aid package. The maximum FWS award is based
on the student's financial need, the number of hours the student is able to work, and the amount
of FWS funding available at the institution.
Federal Family Education Loan Program-This term encompasses two separate loan programs:
a student loan known as the Federal Stafford Loan; and a parent loan known as a Federal PLUS
Loan. A FAFSA must be filed for Federal Stafford Loan consideration.
Federal Stafford Loan-A long-term, low interest rate loan administered by the Department of
Education through private commercial lending agencies (banks, credit unions, etc.). The
maximum amount a dependent borrower can receive is $2,625 for the first year of study; $3,500
for the second year of study; and $5,500 for third year and beyond, with a limit of $23,000 for an
undergraduate education. The interest rate to first-time borrowers is variable, but will not exceed
8.25 percent. Students can borrow Federal Stafford Loan funds regardless of financial need.
However, if financial need is demonstrated, the federal government may subsidize (i.e., pay to
the lender) part or all of the interest while the student is in-school and during grace and
deferment periods. If the student does not demonstrate financial need, part or all of the loan will
be unsubsidized-that is, the student, rather than the federal government, is responsible for the
interest during in-school, grace and deferment periods. An additional cost of borrowing is an
origination fee up to 3 percent and an insurance premium up to 1 percent that are deducted from
the loan.
Federal PLUS Loan-A long-term, variable interest rate federal loan that is capped currently at 9
percent and is available to the parents of dependent students. Like Federal Stafford Loans,
Federal PLUS loans are administered by the Department of Education through private
commercial lending agencies. There is no set limit on the amount of Federal PLUS funds that a
parent may borrow; however, the maximum loan cannot exceed the student's portion of the cost
of education minus any other aid the student receives. Federal PLUS loans are not subsidized,
and eligibility is not based on financial need. Repayment usually begins immediately after the
entire loan is disbursed. Federal PLUS Loans, like Federal Stafford Loans, have a maximum 3
percent origination fee and 1 percent insurance premium that are deducted from the loan.
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program-A program almost identical to the Federal
Family Education Loan Program, except that the federal government is the lender and the funds
are delivered directly to the school. If the college the student plans to attend participates in the
Federal Direct Loan Programs, he or she will apply for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan and/or a
Federal Direct PLUS Loan, rather than a Federal Stafford or Federal PLUS Loan. Federal Direct
Stafford Loan applicants must file a FAFSA, and if eligible, must complete a promissory note
provided by the college. Federal Direct PLUS Loan applicants must complete an application
available at the college. Part V. Institutional Aid
Institutional Scholarships and Grants-Non-federal gift aid programs administered by the
college. Institutional grants are generally based on financial need. Institutional scholarships are
often awarded based on particular abilities or skills in areas such as athletics, music or academic
achievement. These scholarships are often renewable for each college year, usually contingent
on the student continuing to engage in the activity that prompted the award, or, in the case of
academic achievement, maintaining a certain grade point average. Unfortunately, there are
relatively few scholarship awards available through institutions. In many instances, it is the
college that controls the scholarship process, inviting only certain students to become candidates.
Institutional Loans-Non-federal loan programs administered by the college. These loans usually
bear low-interest rates and have favorable repayment terms. In many cases, loan payments are
deferred while the student is enrolled in school. Colleges have individual application
requirements for institutional loans. Applicants should contact the college to learn the types of
loans that are available, the criteria that must be met to qualify, and the terms and conditions of
the available loans.
Institutional Student Employment-On- or off-campus employment programs, similar to the
Federal Work-Study program. These positions may be awarded based on financial need, the
student's job qualifications or a combination of the two. In some cases, these positions may be
related to the student's field of study. The financial aid office should be contacted to learn what
types of student employment are available through the school.
Part IV. State Aid Programs
Various states have different financial aid programs for residents of their own states. To
determine the programs available in your state, consult your guidance office or email the
department of education in your state.
Part V. Private Aid Sources
Private Scholarships-Non-federal scholarships that originate outside of the college, and
generally require the student to file a separate application. Although academic standing or
financial need may be conditions for some private scholarships, these funds may also be awarded
based on such qualifiers as field of study, religious affiliation, ethnic background, leadership
skills, place of residence, or other criteria. Because these scholarships are from private funding
sources, the criteria can reflect whatever qualities their benefactors wish to reward or encourage.
You should seek out and apply for as many of these awards as you can. High schools, Dollars for
Scholars, churches, local businesses, and civic service organizations frequently have scholarship
programs. So may the company where a parent works. Information about private awards,
including how to apply for these funds, is usually available at the high school or local library.
Private Loans-Like private scholarships, private loans originate outside of the college and
usually require a separate application. Some private loans are awarded based on the same factors
as private scholarships. Others, particularly those offered through commercial lenders, are
approved according to the family's ability to repay the loan. Non-federal loans through
commercial lenders are often available only to the student's parents. Amounts, interest rates and
repayment terms, and application procedures vary according to the individual loan program.
Before considering a private loan, students should be certain they understand their rights and
responsibilities under the loan program, including how interest is assessed, when repayment
begins, and what repayment options are available.
Some suggested, inexpensive sources of information about financial aid:
Cash for College. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
(NASFAA), 1129 20th Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC. Available online, at
Do It-Afford It. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, 1129
20th Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. Available online, at
(click on "Parents and Students").
Pay for College. A College Scholarship Service publication available in your guidance
office. Or write College Scholarship Service, The College Board, 45 Columbus Ave.,
New York, New York 10023. (click on "Pay for College").
Need a Lift? The American Legion, National Emblem Sales, P.O. Box 1050,
Indianapolis, IN 46206. $3.95 prepaid.
The Student Guide: Five Federal Financial Aid Programs. Distributed through college
financial aid offices or high school guidance offices, or single copies are available by writing to
Student Financial Aid Programs, P.O. Box 84, Washington, DC 20202. Or call 800/4-FEDAID.
Also available online, at
Words to Know
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): The form to apply for financial aid from
the U.S. federal government, including both federal loans and grants. All colleges require this
Stafford Loan: Loans that are subsidized by the federal government, which means that you
don't have to begin paying the back until six months after you graduate from college.
Pell Grant: A need-based grant given by the federal government. You don't have to pay this
Institutional grant: A need-based grant given by the college you attend.
Merit scholarship: A scholarship most often given by the college you attend, which is awarded
based on academic or other qualifications, not on financial need.
Work-study: A program subsidized by the federal government in which the government helps a
college pay you to work on campus.
Financial aid package: The combination of grants, loans, and work-study that a college offers
you to help pay for college costs.
Family contribution: The amount of money you and your family can contribute to paying for
your education, determined by analysis of the FAFSA, Profile, and/or an institutional financial
aid form.
Demonstrated need: The difference between the cost of attending a college (tuition and room
and board) and the family contribution. A college that says it meets "full need" is referring to
demonstrated need
10 Things College Financial Aid Offices Won't Tell You
By David Weliver
January 14, 2004
1. "You waited until April? Sorry, we gave your money away."
At first glance, the amount of financial aid available to students seems like a gold mine.
According to education testing and information organization The College Board, students
received over $105 billion in aid last year for undergraduate and graduate study; more than $70
billion came from the federal government alone. Problem is, you'll need a treasure map to find
your share. The bewildering aid-application process stumps thousands of families each year,
leaving many to pay more tuition than they have to.
Lots of students miss out on aid because of the confusing deadlines for the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (Fafsa), which everybody must complete to be considered for government
grants and subsidized loans. The forms, which are available from colleges and at
www.fafsa.ed.gov1, are reviewed first by the government and then by your student's prospective
school. While the deadline on the form is June 30, many schools' individual aid deadlines —
listed in the colleges' materials but not on the Fafsa forms — are as early as February.
If you're the parent of a high school senior, keep a list of all the schools' different deadlines. To
play it safe, though, apply for aid as soon as any admissions applications are in the mail — as in
now. "Families need to submit their financial aid info as soon as they can after Jan. 1 preceding
the student's freshman year," says Barry Simmons, aid director at Virginia Tech. While the forms
typically ask for the previous year's tax information — a common reason parents postpone
applying until April — it's completely legit to estimate tax figures based on last year's return and
update them later.
2. "Your error, your problem."
If you fail to fill in some key parts of your Fafsa, the central processor will reject your form,
sending it back to you and not to the prospective schools, resulting in a potentially costly delay.
One error that parents make: putting their income and tax information in the student section or
vice versa, which can't be fixed by the machine scanning the form. As a safeguard, Ohio State
aid director Tally Hart recommends using the online form at; it will alert you if you
leave questions blank and can even recognize some obvious errors, such as household income of
$50,000 combined with a $5 million mortgage. Of course, there are many circumstances that
can't be fully explained on a Fafsa form — say, if a family member was recently laid off. In that
case, officers recommend writing a letter to the aid office stating your family's financial situation
and mailing it at the same time as your Fafsa. Just make sure the letter goes directly to the
college. Too many people "send a letter with the Fafsa [to the government office], and it's just
destroyed," says Mark Lindenmeyer, aid director at Loyola College in Maryland.
3. "Our low tuition rate means less financial aid."
Many parents who haven't saved enough for college tell their gifted high school seniors not to
consider pricey private schools. Ironically, those colleges may actually be the more affordable
alternative. "The more expensive and prestigious the school," says Bedford, Mass., financial
planner Tom Brooks, "the more likely it is well endowed and can meet 100% of need," thanks to
alumni donation campaigns. "You might be sending your kid to a state school that [for you] costs
more than a Harvard or an MIT or a Stanford."
To estimate how likely it is that your preferred schools will give you substantial aid, check a few
statistics with the colleges themselves or using the annual "America's Best Colleges" survey in
U.S. News & World Report, available at for $12.95. Look for two figures: the
percentage of undergraduates receiving grants meeting financial need, and the college's average
discount, which is the percentage of a student's total costs — including tuition, room and board,
and books — covered by grants. If they're both 50% or better, you can feel assured that your
needs will be fairly met.
4. "You'll pay dearly for early decision."
Early decision is a big temptation at elite colleges: Students can apply months before other
applicants, as long as they promise to attend if admitted. In most cases, the college offers these
applicants a better chance of acceptance. But when it comes to getting aid, early decision can
backfire. Why? Your commitment to attend if accepted means you have less leverage. "If you
went to an auto dealership and threw yourself across the hood of a car and told them you would
do anything to have that car, you're not in a very good negotiating position," says Linda P.
Taylor, a certified college planning specialist in Agoura Hills, Calif.
If aid is your top priority, you're better off skipping early decision. Especially if your kid's SAT
scores and GPA are above the college median, and she excels in extracurricular activities. If she
applies in the spring and gets admitted, she'll have a better shot at negotiating a rich aid package.
5. "We don't buy your pauper act."
Every year parents are tempted to cheat the aid system by trying to look poorer on paper — by
going on a spending spree, perhaps. There are, however, some perfectly acceptable ways to
adjust your assets to maximize your aid potential. Step one is to trim any assets held in the
child's name — in particular, custodial accounts (UGMAs or UTMAs), up to 35% of which the
aid system will say should go toward next year's tuition. For assets in the parents' names, the rate
is a much lower 5.65%. "Technically, parents can't touch UGMAs except for the benefit of the
child, above and beyond food and clothing," says Tom Brooks. But "you can use the UGMA to
pay for things like summer camp, tutoring, school trips or a car [for the kid], thus diminishing
the account."
But if you're looking to sock away some free-floating cash in your name, you could give up to
$11,000 each — any more will trigger the gift tax— to grandparents or other relatives outside
your household, who could then help pay tuition bills; aid officers can't touch their assets. If your
kid is a few years from college, be sure to contribute the maximum to 401(k)s or IRAs. Colleges
won't expect you to tap retirement savings to pay your share of tuition.
6. "We'll judge you by your house . . . and your car."
Fortunately for homeowners, the value of your house doesn't get considered in most aid
formulas. On the flip side, if you're paying a fat mortgage or sky-high property taxes to live in an
elite suburb, colleges likely won't be too sympathetic.
Here's why: To determine aid, colleges calculate your expected family contribution from your
adjusted gross income and assets. They usually don't consider what your real disposable income
is or how cash-strapped you might be after paying your stack of bills. "A moderately highearning family spending most of its income on housing and other necessities may find that their
expected family contribution is difficult or impossible to meet," says Roger Dooley, co-owner of
Web site CollegeConfidential.com2.
All is not lost, however. While most colleges do not automatically factor in regional cost-ofliving discrepancies, some may if you ask. When writing or speaking to an aid officer during the
application process, emphasize "involuntary" costs like taxes over voluntary ones like your
mortgage, Dooley suggests. Your car is normally considered an involuntary expense, but elite
schools sometimes ask what cars you own and when you bought them. If they're too new and too
swank, they may be considered voluntary expenses.
7. "We'll let you borrow more than you can afford."
Vickie Hampton, an associate professor of financial planning at Texas Tech University, knows
that being well educated can make you poor. A colleague of hers, she says, racked up more than
$100,000 in debt while earning a Ph.D. in English. "There's very little probability of her paying
that off in her lifetime!" Hampton says.
The predicament isn't unique, as more students take on excessive debt to finance degrees that
lead to jobs in relatively low-paying fields. Unfortunately, college financial aid offices rarely
discourage these decisions. While there are statutory limits on certain government loans — based
on lifetime borrowing caps — there are fewer limits on loans from private lenders such as Sallie
Mae, KeyBank or Citibank, three of the biggest players.
If your student must borrow, exhaust federal programs first. Perkins loans or subsidized Stafford
loans — both of which you may be offered after filing a Fafsa — are best; their 5 and 3.42%
rates, respectively, blow others out of the water, and interest doesn't accrue until the borrower
leaves school. The Perkins, which you pay back directly to your school, is the slightly more
flexible of the two, offering longer grace periods. Beware of unsubsidized Stafford loans, which
your college may offer if your family doesn't qualify for subsidized loans. Although these loans
have similar low rates, interest will accrue from the moment the loan is made, even though
payments aren't yet required. While parents may also consider a federal Parent Loan for
Undergraduate Students (PLUS) — which currently carries a 4.22% rate and has a rate ceiling of
9% — a home equity line may be a better bet, as it offers more generous tax benefits. Find more
information on government loans at www.studentaid.ed.gov3.
8. "Outside scholarships help us, not you."
Sure, you're proud of the five scholarships your high school senior won from community groups
such as the Lions Club and a local church, but don't be relieved. Unless you weren't counting on
any financial aid at all, those scholarships won't make a dent in how much you have to pay.
"Many parents mistakenly think their cost will be diminished and then are disappointed to learn
that it will actually be the grant [from the school] that is diminished, thus saving the college
money and not the family," says Anne Macleod Weeks, director of college guidance at the
Oldfields School in Glencoe, Md. Federal guidelines mandate that outside scholarship money be
considered a resource in meeting financial need. This means you can't use the scholarship dollars
toward your expected family contribution, and the college gets to reduce the amount of aid
coming your way.
Even so, applying for outside awards can help you, especially if you're looking at an aid package
that features more loans than grants. Ask your college if it can reduce the loans first, says Jim
Eddy, aid director at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. "Secondly, it [can] reduce workstudy." In that case, a few scholarships could still save thousands of dollars in interest and let
your student study more and flip burgers less.
9. "We won't 'negotiate,' but we will 'review.'"
College financial aid guides have long urged parents to negotiate with aid offices, often
suggesting you bring a better aid offer from a "competing" school to shame them into giving you
more money. Tread lightly. Many aid directors hate this tactic. Some schools have strict nonegotiation policies, while others are only a little more approachable. "There's certainly no harm
in asking a college to review an aid decision," says Loyola's Lindenmeyer. But "we do not
negotiate, and we do not match other colleges."
So how do you request a "review"? When contacting your aid office to discuss your child's aid
package, start by avoiding such words as "negotiate" or "bargain," says Virginia Tech's
Simmons, and don't throw another school's aid award in an officer's face. Instead, thank the
officer for his hard work and the school's generosity, then follow up by expressing doubt at being
able to meet your family's contribution. If you haven't already done so in writing, explain any
special circumstances you have, such as recent unemployment, a death in the family or medical
bills. Then, directly but politely, ask if there's anything the aid office can do to help.
Once you've established a rapport with the officer, try casually mentioning that you have a
competing offer and where else your student has been admitted. At the very least, aid officers
may refer you to outside borrowing opportunities or payment plans. Whatever the response, don't
push it. Remember, you'll be relying on this person's award decisions for the next three years.
10. "Thought freshman year was expensive? Wait till senior year."
Your kid just got her award letter and scored a fat four-year grant covering most of her tuition,
with a small loan for the rest. You're set, right?
Not necessarily. Two problems get in the way. First, the amount of federally subsidized loans a
student can borrow increases slightly each year; as a result, your college may expand the loans it
offers in subsequent years and downsize grants. Second, many parents and students assume that
four-year merit-based awards will keep pace with tuition hikes. "Very few schools are that
generous," warns Willamette's Eddy. Nationwide, the average private school price tag jumped
6% from last year, with the average cost for resident students now just over $29,500. Assuming a
steady 6% annual price increase and a constant $25,000 in aid each year, the $4,500 contribution
you made toward your student's freshman year could grow to $10,135 by senior year.
If your child receives merit-based aid, ask whether the college can adjust it for tuition inflation.
Regardless, make sure your scholar keeps hitting the books. A mediocre GPA can end a merit
scholarship faster than roommates can devour a midnight pizza.
1[ ]
2[ ]
3[ ]
I end with a quote from David Brooks, a columnist from the New York Times from the OP Ed
page on March 30, 2004:
“You are being judged according to criteria that you would never use to judge another person
and which will never again be applied to you once you leave higher education. For example,
college are taking a hard look at your SAT scores. But if at any moment in your later life you so
much as mention your SAT scores in conversation, you will be considered a total jerk. If at age
40 you are still proud of your scores, you may want to contemplate a major life makeover. …
There are a lot of lively, smart young people in this country and you will find them at whatever
school you go to. The students in the really elite schools may have more social confidence, but
students at less prestigious schools may learn not to let their lives be guided by other people’s
status rules – a lesson that is worth the tuition all by ITSELF.
As for the quality of education, that’s a matter of your actually wanting to learn and being
fortunate enough to meet a professor who electrifies your interest in a subject. That can happen
at any school because good teachers are spread around too. So remember, the letters you get
over the next few weeks [of acceptance or denial] don’t determine anything. Picking a college is
like picking a spouse. You don’t pick the ‘top-ranked’ one, because that has no meaning. You
pick the one with the personality and character that complements your own.”
Appendix I, from the Reed College Web Site:
All Disciplines Biological Sciences
Harvey Mudd Calif. Inst. of Tech.
Calif. Inst. of
Univ. of Chicago
Bryn Mawr
College of
Bryn Mawr
Harvey Mudd
Univ. of
Univ. of the Sciences
Texas Lutheran Haverford
in Philadelphia
Bryn Mawr
Political Science
Univ. of Chicago
St. John's
Univ.of the
St. John's
Physical Sciences
Harvey Mudd
Calif. Inst. of Tech.
N.M. Institute of
Univ. of Chicago
U.S. Coast Guard
Univ. of
Math & Computer Sciences &
Calif. Inst. of
Calif. Inst. of Tech.
Harvey Mudd
Harvey Mudd
Univ. of
Univ. of Chicago
Carnegie Mellon
St. John's
Bryn Mawr
Area and Ethnic
Great Lakes
Univ. of
Social Sciences
Calif. Inst. of Tech. Swarthmore
Harvey Mudd
N.M. Institute of
Univ. of Chicago
Univ. of
St. John's Coll
San Francisco
Cons. of Music
St. John's
St. John's
Bryn Mawr
Harris-Stowe State Wilson
Univ. of
Hawaii at Hilo
Univ. of
Simon's Rock
College of Bard
Sarah Lawrence Bryn Mawr
College of the
Medical Sciences
Univ. of Sciences in Philadelphia
Albany College of Pharmacy
U.C., San Francisco
Ohio Northern
Univ. of Texas Health Science Center
Mount Holyoke
Source: Weighted Baccalaureate Origins Study, Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.
This shows baccalaureate origins of people granted Ph.D.s from 1992 to 2001. The listing shows
the top 10 institutions in the nation ranked by percentage of graduates who go on to earn a
Ph.D. in selected disciplines.
Appendix II: Lauren Pope’s list from his book and web site: Colleges that Change Lives:
Colleges that Change Kids’ lives
Agnes Scott College
Allegheny College
Antioch College
Austin College
Beloit College
Birmingham-Southern College
Centre College
Clark University
College of Wooster
Cornell College
Denison University
Earlham College
Eckerd College
Emory and Henry College
Goucher College
Guilford College
Hampshire College
Hendrix College
Hiram College
Hope College
Juniata College
Kalamazoo College
Knox College
Lawrence University
Lynchburg College
Marlboro College
McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College)
Millsaps College
Ohio Wesleyan University
Reed College
Rhodes College
Southwestern University
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College
St. John’s College
St. Olaf College
The Evergreen State College
Ursinus College
Wabash College
Wheaton College
Whitman College
Appendix III: Comments from students who completed their first year of college:
- That it didn't matter how late I scheduled my first class I'd sleep right through it
- That I would change so much and barely realize it
- That you can love a lot of people in a lot of different ways
- That college kids throw airplanes, too
- That if you wear polyester everyone will ask you why you’re so dressed up
- That every clock on campus shows a different time
- That if you were smart in high school - so what?
- That I would go to a party the night before a final
- That chem labs require more time than all my other classes put together
- That you can know everything and yet fail a test
- That you can know nothing and ace a test
- That I could get used to almost anything I found out about my roomie
- That home is a great place to visit
- That most of my education would be obtained outside my classes
- That friendship is more than getting drunk together
- That I would be one of those people my parents warned me about
- That free food served at 10:00 is gone by 9:50
- That Sunday is a figment of the world's imagination
- That psychology is really biology, biology is really chemistry, chemistry is really
physics, and physics is really math.
- That I really wouldn't be with that high school (boy/girl) friend for the rest of my life
- That dorms can be both your lifeline and personal hell at the same time
- That beer would play an intricate role in my future
- That ramen and spaghetti would be my life
- How much I would miss my washer and dryer at home
"I wish I had known about the Common App earlier."
I wish I had listened to you! (this was because of changes that had been made since the older
sibling applied over 5 or 6 years before!)
I wish I had read all of the material you gave me and sent me throughout the year.
I wish I had talked to my son more about other things this past year, now he is leaving and I don't
know the young man he has become.
Probably the one we get from kids the most is "If I had ever known that freshman grades
(If I hear any of the better ones, like, "I wish I'd helped my kid focus on what truly matters
instead of being so hung up on getting him into an Ivy," I'll let you know. But at this point I'd
just have to make that one up! No one has actually said it yet!)
Don't forget the perennial, "I wish I had known to start the process earlier." Also I hear from
parents "I wish I had known that there were people like you (counselors) who help with the
I wish I wouldn't have pushed my son so hard."
"I wish we would have listened to his counselor."
"I wish I would have relaxed and taken a softer approach to this whole process."
I wish I had known that the kids party 'till 4 a.m. in the dorm on
Monday nights, Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights .... This came from a straight-arrow student,
who doesn't drink or smoke. He wants out of that school, because it's the wrong mix.
I wish I had known that I the engineering program course load conflicts with baseball practice.
Student could not go out for baseball team because courses were only given during practice.
Appendix IV: Early Entrance College Programs:
Early Entrance College Programs
Many colleges, when approached individually, will allow the young student to
take a course or two. Others will allow the young student to become matriculated,
often based on their SAT or ACT scores and previous academic achievement. But
some schools have specialized programs designed for young students at least 2
years before high school graduation. These programs are listed here...
Advanced Academy of Georgia West Georgia University, West Georgia, Georgia USA
High school juniors and seniors enroll fulltime in State University of West Georgia
Honors College while concurrently completing high school graduation requirements
Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, Alaska USA
The Early Honors Program is both an alternative to the senior year in high school and a
challenging springboard into college...
Bard High School Early College Bard College, New York City, New York USA
Enables highly motivated students to move in four years from ninth grade through the
first two years of college, earning the associate of arts (A.A.) degree as well as a high
school diploma...
Boston University Academy Boston, Massachusetts USA
A co-educational day school for students in grades 8 through 12, Boston University
Academy offers an educational program that combines a classical curriculum with a
rigorous approach to the intellectual and cultural challenges of contemporary life
California State University, Los Angeles, Early Entry Program (EEP) Los Angeles, California
"Why College So Young?" A parent's testimonial on CSULA's EEP
The Clarkson School Potsdam, New York USA
Clarkson School Bridging Year is an early entrance 1-year residential program for 12th
grade students
Early College at Guilford (ECG) Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina USA
for students from Guilford County, NC
Youth Should Never Be A Barrier To Learning. A number of programs exist that turn
early college into a reality for more of today's talented youth...
Early Experience University of Denver, Denver, Colorado USA
For high school students interested in taking college courses for both high school and
college credit
Early Honors (EH) Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska USA
Your last year of high school can be your first year of college...
Florida Atlantic University High School Boca Raton, Florida
Intensive dual enrollment public high school on the university campus. Highly selective
program offers high school students (grades 9-12) the opportunity to earn high school
credits and university course hours, at the same time at no cost to parents or guardians...
Georgia Academy of Mathematics, Engineering, and Science (GAMES) Middle Georgia
College, Cochran, Georgia USA
For high school juniors or seniors with a special interest in mathematics, engineering,
science, and allied health fields; students who complete the 2-year program are given an
associate's degree and a high school diploma
Get Out Of Jail Free Comprehensive list of part-time college and early college programs for
gifted students...
Mary Baldwin College, The Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) Staunton, Virginia
Young, academically talented women begin their college education 1 to 4 years early
within a community of their peers, at any point after completing 8th grade, though one
year of high school experience is frequently recommended
The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing Northwest Missouri State
University, Maryville, MO, USA
Applicants must be currently enrolled in the tenth grade or equivalent, who will have
completed Geometry and Algebra II by the end of the sophomore year; two-year program
of college coursework, simultaneously earning college credits and a high school diploma
National Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (NAASE) University of Iowa, Iowa, USA
Early entrance program for who have completed course work equivalent to the junior
year; Academy students are accepted automatically as freshmen into The University of
Iowa Honors Program
Residential Honors Program (RHP) University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California,
1-year early-entrance program; students earn a high school diploma while concurrently
enrolled in USC classes
Shimer College Early Entrant Program Waukegan, Illinois USA
Shimer's experience of fifty years demonstrates that the serious student who enters
college after the 11th, and in some cases after the 10th grade handles college life
Simon's Rock College of Bard Great Barrington, Massachusetts USA
Most applicants are 14 to 16 years old, and have completed 9th grade; earn either an
Associate in Arts degree after 2 years, or a Bachelor of Arts degree after 4 years
How Much High School Is Enough? Some Students Benefit by Leaving After 10th
Grade, Some Educators Contend by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Staff Writer
Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (TALH) Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas,
two-year residential honors program that allows juniors and seniors in high school to
complete their last two years of high school credits and their first two years of college
requirements concurrently
Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Residential program for high school-aged Texas students who are gifted in math and
science and have completed 10th grade; upon completion students receive a special high
school diploma and are classified as college juniors
Total enrollment in all degree-granting institutions, by sex, age, and attendance status, with high
alternative projections: Selected years, fall 1993 to fall 2013 from NCES National Center for
Education Statistics
Note the numbers for full- and part-time college enrollment, current and projected, for
men and women 14 to 17 years old...
University of Washington Transition / Early Entrance Program Seattle, Washington USA
The Transition School for students no more than l4 years old, and Early Entrance
Program for full-time university students who are "graduates" of the Transition School
All Rivers Lead to the Sea: A Follow-up Study of Gifted Young Adults (Adobe
Acrobat file, click here to download Adobe Reader)
Appendix V: SAT Subject Tests:
American University
Amherst College
Babson College
Bard College
Barnard College
Bates College
Beloit College
Bennington College
Boston College
Boston University
Bowdoin College
Brandeis University
Subject Tests
Brown University
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
California Institute of Technology
Carleton College
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Claremont McKenna
Colby College
Colgate University
College of the Holy Cross
College of William and Mary
Colorado College
Columbia University
Connecticut College
Cooper Union
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Davidson College
Duke University
Emory University
Franklin Olin College of Engineering
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Goucher College
Hamilton College
Hampden-Sydney College
Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges
Harvey Mudd College
Haverford College
Hollins University
Ithaca College
Johns Hopkins University
Kenyon College
Lafayette College
Lehigh University
Macalester College
Massachussetts Institute of Technology
McGill University
Middlebury College
Mills College
Mount Holyoke College
New York University
Northwestern University
Oberlin College
Occidental College
Pomona College
Princeton University
Providence College
Reed College
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rice University
Scripps College
Skidmore College
Smith College
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
Trinity College (CT)
Tufts University
Tulane University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Merced
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Delaware
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Texas, Austin
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Whitman College
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University
If an ACT score is submitted, Subject Tests may not be required.
Appendix VI: List of Lists: From responses on the NACAC E-list:
Accelerated Dental Program
Adelphi University with Tufts University
Boston University
Case Western Reserve
Case Western Reserve University
Moravian (with Temple)
St. John's (with Columbia)
Stevens Institute of Technology
Tufts University
U Iowa
U Missouri--Kansas City
U Nebraska--Omaha
U Penn
U Texas--Austin
University of Minnesota
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of the Pacific
Virginia Commonwealth University
Wilkes University with Temple University
Acoustical Engineering (Audio Engineering Society) (New England Institute of Technology) (to do a search)
American U.
Belmont U. (Nashville)
College of Santa Fe
Five Towns College
Lebannon Valley
Loyola (New Orleans)
Loyola Marymount
Miami (FL)
Middle Tennessee State
Ohio U.
St. Mary's (Winona, MN)
Stevens Inst. of Technology (NJ)
Texas State-San Marcos
Trinity (Connecticut)
U. of Hartford
U. of New Haven
U. of Rochester
Union (New York)
Virginia Tech
Air Traffic Control
College of Aeronautic
Community College of Beaver County
Daniel Webster College
Dowling College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Hampton University
Inter American University of Puerto Rico
Miami-Dade Community College
Middle Tennessee State University
Minneapolis Community & Technical
Mt. San Antonio College
Purdue University
University of Alaska Anchorage
University of North Dakota
Art Therapy
Art Inst of Chicago
College of New Jersey
College of New Rochelle
College of Santa Fe
Lesley College
Loyola Marymount California
Loyola University of New Orleans
Millikin U
Mount Mary College, Wisconsin
Nazareth College
Seton Hill College
Spring Hill College
Springfield College
St. Thomas Aquinas
U of Indianapolis
U of the Pacific
U of Wisconsin - Superior
Asperger's –College for
Albion C
Clark U
Elon University
Guilford College (several mentioned this one)
Goucher College
Harvey Mudd
Landmark College (2 mentions)
Mitchell College CT
Moravian C
Muskingum (several of you suggested this)
Northeastern U
Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas
Southern Illinois-contact Roger Pugh
U Arizona
U Central Florida (Orlando)
U Denver
U Illinois-Champaign
U Mass-Boston
U Montevallo-Alabama
U Ozarks
U Puget Sound
U Rochester
Westminster C-MO
Wilkes University
Worcester Poly
Aviation Science
Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus
Averett University
Bowling Green State University
Central Washington University
Daniel Webster College
Dowling College
Florida Institute of Technology
Jacksonville University
Kent State
LeTourneau University
Lewis University (IL)
Lynn University
Metropolitan State (Denver)
Ohio University
Parks College of St. Louis University
Purdue University
Southern Illinois University
University of Alabama
University of Cincinnati
University of Minnesota—Crookston
University of Nebraska—Omaha
University of North Dakota
Vaughn College of Aeronautics
Webster University
Western Michigan University
Westminster College (UT)
Automotive Engineering
ASU-Polytech campus
E. Tenn State
Kettering University (formerly GMI-General Motors Institute), MI
McPherson College
Mercer, GA
Michigan Tech
New England Institute of Tech
Northwood, MI
Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport
Pittsburg State (Kansas)
Rochester Inst Tech
SUNY Morrisville
U of Cincinnati
UNC Charlotte
Western Washington U.
Automotive: other
Alfred State, NY
Greenville Tech, GA
Lawrence Inst of Tech, MI
Northwood (FL, TX, MI),
Southern Illinois
SUNY Canton College of Tech
SUNY Farmingdale
SUNY Morrisville
Vermont Tech
Vincennes, IN
U. of Arizona
BFA/BA Joint programs
Art Center College of Design and Occidental College and California
Art Institute of Boston and Lesley University
Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University
Institute of Technology
Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University
Massachusetts College of Art and Wentworth Institute of Technology,
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and Marquette University
Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Macalester College
Pacific Northwest College of Art and Reed College and Portland State
Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and University of Pennsylvania
Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University
School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Roosevelt University
School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University
School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Wheaton
Simmons College, Emmanuel College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy,
Wheelock College
Auburn University
Ball State
College of the Atlantic
College of the Atlantic
Colorado State University
Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology
Eckerd College, FL
Florida State
Lake Superior State University
Lesley University
Miami University
NC State
Sterling College
SUNY- New Paltz
Univ. of Tennessee
University of Florida
University of MN.
University of Wisconsin
Block Scheduling (one course at a time)
Colorado College
Cornell College (Iowa)
Evergreen State (Washington)
Salem Teiko (West Virginia)
Tusculum (Tennessee)
Brain and Cognitive Science
Behavioral Neuroscience, Psychobiology/Biopsychology
U. of Arizona
Carleton C.
Carleton U. (Ottawa, Canada)
Dalhousie U.
University of Denver
Indiana U.
Johns Hopkins
Knox College
Lawrence U.
Lebanon Valley College
Lehigh U.
U. of Louisiana, Lafayette
Occidental College
Ohio Wesleyan U.
U. of Oregon
U. Pennsylvania
St. Lawrence U
U. of Rochester
College of Saint Rose
Trinity (CT)
Wagner College
Washington College
Wheaton College (MA
C+/B- students
Alfred (NY)
Allegheny (PA)
Assumption College in Worcester , Massachusetts
Berry (GA)
Birmingham-Southern (AL)
Brookville , New York
Bryant College in Smithfield, RI
Castleton State College
Catholic (DC)
Cedar Crest (PA)
Centenary College
Champlain College (VT)
Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH
College of Mt. St. Vincent (NY)
College of Santa Fe (NM)
College of Wooster (OH)
Creighton (NE)
Curry College in Milton, MA
Davis & Elkins (WV)
Denver (CO)
DeSales (PA)
Eckerd (FL)
Elmira (NY)
Elon (NC)
Endicott College, Beverly, MA
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Franklin Pierce in NH
Frostburg State, Frostburg, Maryland
Goucher (MD)
Green Mountain College in VT
Guilford (NC)
Hampden Sydney (VA)
Hartwick (NY)
Hiram (OH)
Hobart (NY)
Hood College in Frederick , Maryland
Jacksonville (FL)
Johnson State
Juniata (PA)
Keene State (NH)
Lasell College
Long Island University: C. W. Post Campus in
Loyola (LA)
Lynchburg (VA)
McDaniel College in Westminster, MD.
Mercer (GA)
Merrimack (MA)
Millsaps (MS)
Mount Olive College
New England College
Niagara University (NY)
Nichols College
Oglethorpe (GA)
Oxford at Emory (GA)
Pace University in New York , New York
Pine Manor College,
Presbyterian (NC)
Providence (RI)(?)
Rider University in Lawrenceville , New Jersey
Roanoke (VA)
Roger Williams University in Bristol , Rhode Island
Sacred Heart (CT)
Salve Regina (RI)
Santa Clara (CA)
Spring Hill (AL)
St. Andrews in Laurinburg, NC
St. Anselm
St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure , New
St. Lawrence (NY)
St. Michael's
St. Michael's (VT)
St. Peter's College (NJ)
Stetson (FL)
Tampa (FL)
The State University of New York at Cobleskill
Transylvania (KY)
Trinity (TX)
University of Hartford (CT)
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
University of Maine in Orono , Maine
University of New England in Biddeford , Maine
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Johnstown ,
Washington College (MD)
Western New England (MA)
Widener (PA)
Wilkes University (PA)
Career search
Explore, PLAN, Discover--all through ACT
Holland's Self Directed Search
Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory (through College Board)
Child Development program developmentally disabled children
Univ. of Arizona
U.C. - Riverside
U.C. - San Diego
Cal Lutheran
Cal State - L.A.
Cal State - Northridge
Chapman Univ.
DePaul Univ.
Eastern Washington Univ.
Loyola Marymount
Mercyhurst College
Mt. St. Mary's
Old Dominion Univ.
Univ. of Oregon
Pacific Lutheran Univ.
Simmons College
Southwest Texas State Univ.
Syracuse Univ.
Conservative Colleges
Air Force Academy
Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
Birmingham Southern
Boston College
Brigham Young
California Lutheran
Claremont McKenna
Florida Southern
Grove City
Gustavus Adolphus
Holy Cross
Holy Names
Miami (OH)
Naval Academy
North Carolina (Chapel Hill)
Notre Dame
Patrick Henry (VA start-up, fundamentalist)
Salve Regina
Southern Methodist
St. Anselms
St. Lawrence
St. Olaf
Sweet Briar
Texas A&M
Trinity (CT)
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
Washington and Lee
West Point
Wheaton (IL)
William Smith
William and Mary
Construction Management Programs
Alfred State University
Arizona State University
Bowling Green State University
East Carolina
Florida A & M
Florida International
Georgia Southern
Louisiana State University
Michigan State University Ferris State
Middle Tennessee State
Mississippi State
Murray State University
North Dakota State University
Northeast Louisiana University
Northern Arizona University
Oklahoma State
PA College of Technology (Williamsport)
Roger Williams
Southeast Missouri State
SUNY Morrisville
U of Arkansas (Little Rock)
U of Denver
U of Florida
U of Houston
U of Maryland Eastern Shore Campus
U of North Florida
U of the District of Columbia
U of Washington
U of West Florida
University of Houston
Utah Valley State
Utah Valley State University
Virginia Tech
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Western Michigan University
California College of Arts and Crafts
East Carolina U.
Kutztown U.
Ohio Wesleyan
U. New Hampshire
U. of Vermont,
U. of Vermont,
Univ. of the Arts-Philadelphia,
Virginia Commonwealth,
Western Carolina U.
Creative writing
Bennington College
Carnegie Mellon.
Colby, ME
Colorado State University
Connecticut College
Eugene Lang College
Flagler College
Moravian College
Roger Williams University
Salisbury University
Sarah Lawrence
Taylor University - Fort Wayne (IN)
U Miami
University of New Hampshire
University Wisconsin Madison
Wake Forest
Washington College
Wheaton College (MA)
Culinary arts schools, Four-year
Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, NY
Johnson and Wales, Providence, RI
Kendall, Evanston, IL
Lexington Womens College, Chicago
Paul Smith's College, NY
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Drama summer programs
Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, MI.
Carnegie-Mellon (PA)-intense, 6 weeks
Syracuse University (NY).
American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) San Francisco.
BU School of theatre
Chatauqua Institute
London Academy of Performing Arts (Shakespeare - actors)
Summer Theatre Directory - summer stock.
Northwestern's National high School Institute
North Carolina School of the Arts
Savannah School of Art and Design - Georgia
Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts - Colorado -
OxBridge Academic
American Conservatory Theater (ACT)
Boston University, School of Theater Arts
Carnegie-Mellon Summer Program
Chautauqua Institute
Circle in the Square Theater School New York
Summer Theater Directory" Theater Directories, PO, Box 519, Dorset, VT 05251 802-867-2223
"Back Stage"
Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NY or Calif
The Peterson's Professional degree Programs in the Visual and
Dramatics magazine
Carol Everett, Performing Arts College Guide (Arco, 1992).
The Directory of Theater Training Programs Theater Works, Inc. PO Box 519 Dorset, Vermont
05251 802-867-2223
Performing Arts Major's College Guide (3rd edition) Dance, Drama, Music
by Carole J. Everett Arco, Thomson Learning.
Career Opportunities in Theater by Shelly Field.
England- Studying in
American Intercontinental
American International University
British American College
British American College London
Regent's College
Richmond College in London
Richmond U. (the
[email protected]
St. Louis U.
The American International University in London
U. of Aberdeen).
U. of St. Andrews
University Richmond,
Webster U. in St. Louis
Webster University
Equine Business
Becker College
Cazenovia College
Colorado State University
Cornell University (breeding, nutrition, sciences)
Delaware Valley College, Doylestown, PA
Franklin & Marshall (animal behavior & ethology)
Hollins College
Johnson and Wales,
Lake Erie College (Ohio),
Midway College, Lexington, KY
Mount Ida College in Newton, MA
Ohio University , Athens
Otterbein College (Ohio).
Post University,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Saint Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC
SUNY Cobleskill
Sweet Briar College
The University of Louisville
University of Findlay, OH
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Maine
University of Maryland
University of South Carolina ~ Aiken.
University of Vermont
Virginia Intermont,
William Woods University
Wilson College, PA
Environmental engineering -solar energy work:
Bard College
College of the Atlantic
Hampshire College
Northland College
Oregon Institute of Technology(Oregon Renewable Energy Center)
Sterling College (2 year)
Unity College
Vermont Technical College
Exercise Physiology or Exercise Science Programs
Arizona State University
Barry University
Jacksonville University
The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN
Transylvania U in Lexington, KY
University of Miami
University of Utah
Family Housing
Berea CollegeWright State Univ
Guilford College
Hamilton College
Michigan State Univ.
Northern Illinois University
Northern Michigan Univ.
Northwest College
St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana
St. Paul's College in Farmville
Univ. of Maine in University Park
University of Southern Maine
Wilson College
Film production major- lib arts colleges
Asbury College KY
Brandeis(appears to be mostly film studies, with only 4 courses
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hampshire College (MA)
introducing techniques).
Loyola Marymount (CAlif)
Lynn Univ FL
Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan
Sarah Lawrence
Southern Illinois University in Carbondale
Univ Miami FL
Univ of Iowa
University of Tulsa
5-year BA/MBA
Binghamton University
Bryant College
Dalhousie (Canada)
Dominican University, River Forest
Drexel University
Fairfield University
Iona College
Millsaps College
Philadelphia Univ
Salve Regina
Spring Hill
St. Bonaventure
St Lawrence
St Leo
Texas Tech
U Maine
Univ of Judaism
Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Wilkes University
Fly-In Programs for Students of Color
All Service Academies
Claremont McKenna College
Colorado College
Connecticut College (not sure)
Cornell - Native American
Dartmouth - Native American
Hamilton College
Illinois Wesleyan U
Mt Holyoke
Oberlin - Oberlin Scholars Program
Trinity College
U of Chicago
U of Denver
Washington University
Washington & Jefferson
Golf course architecture
Coastal Carolina University
Edinburgh College of Art- Scotland,
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill
Univ. of Arkansas at Fayetteville
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Penn State - Main Campus
Hearing impaired- accommodating
Adelphi University
Arizona State
Arizona, U of
Brigham Young
Cal State Northridge
Connecticut, U of
Davidson (North Carolina)
Denver, CC of
Edinborough (Pa.)
Flagler College
Front Range CC (CO)
Gallaudet University
Lenoir-Rhyne (NC)
MacMurray College-Jacksonville
Maryville (Tenn)
Mt Aloysius Coll (PA)
Muhlenberg College (PA)
New Hampshire, U of
Notre Dame
Oregon, U of
Puget Sound
Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)
Southern Idaho, College of
Tennessee, U of
University of Michigan
Vermont, U of
Virginia Commonwealth
Washington. U of
Horseback riding/competing
Asbury College
Averett College
Boston U.
Bowling Green State
Bucknell University
Cal Poly Pomona
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal State Fresno
Cazenovia College
Centenary College
Centre College
Clark University
Colorado State
Connecticut College
Delaware Valley College
Drew University
Erskine College
Hobart-William Smith
Hollins College
Houghton College
Illinois Wesleyan
James Madison University
Johnson and Wales
Lake Erie College
Loyola New Orleans
Mary Washington
Miami University of Ohio
Midway College
Mt. Holyoke
New York Institute of Technology
Northern Arizona
Northwestern University
Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (2 yr degree)
Ohio Wesleyan
Otterbein College
Randolph-Macon Women's College
Seton Hill
Sewanee, University of the South
Southern Illinois University
Southern Methodist
St. Andrews
St. Lawrence
Stephens College
Stonehill College
SUNY Binghamton
SUNY Cobbleskill
Sweet Briar
Texas State University
Truman State University
U Mass
U of Vermont
UC Davis
University of Findlay
University of New Hampshire
University of Northern Michigan
Virginia Intermont College
Washington College
William and Mary
William Woods College
Wilson College
Central Florida
Conrad Hilton Hotel School (U-Houston)
Florida International
Florida State
Michigan State Denver
Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona University
Paul Smiths College
Penn State
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rosen College
UMass- Amherst
University of Delaware
UN-Las Vegas
Washington State
Wisconsin (Stout)
ACPHA (Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Management)
IEP diplomas accepted
Warren Wilson College (NC)
NY Institute of Technology - VIP Program
Leslie College - Threshold Program
Riverview School
College Internship Program
Chapel Haven
Vista Vocational and Life Skills Center
Allen Institute
Industrial Design
Carleton U (In Ottawa, CAN)
Cooper Union
Iowa State
Milwaukee Inst. Art and Design
Parsons + New School (combined degree)
Pratt Institute
RISD + Brown (combine studies in design and science/engr)
Texas State-San Marcos
U Kansas
U Illinois - Urbana and Chicago
U Michigan
U Wisconsin-Stout
U Miami
U Louisiana/Lafayette
Wentworth College of Technology
Ireland programs
Trinity College, Dublin (Has a program for Us students)
University at Cork, County Cork
Irish Studies:
Boston College
Catholic University, Washington, DC
Fairfield University
King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
Loyola University, Chicago
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Stonehill College
Stonehill College, MA
Trinity University, Dublin
U Mass Boston, Stonehill, MA
University College Cork, Cork,
University College, Dublin
University of Aberdeen,
University of Arizona
University of Missouri at St. Louis
University of Notre Dame-
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Jazz Studies
Belmont University in Nashville;
Bennington College
Bowling Green State University;
Brevard College
Cal St-Fullerton
California State University, Bakersfield
Carnegie Mellon University;
Columbia College, Chicago;
DePaul University in Chicago
Drexel University; PA;
Eastman (NY)
Eastman School of Music;
Florida International
George Mason University
Indiana University;
Jacksonville U
Kent State
Lawrence University
Loyola New Orleans
Manhattanville College, Purchase NY;
Moravian College
Naropa University
New School University
New York University
North Carolina at Greensboro
North Central College in Illinois
Oberlin College;
Peabody Institute of Music;
Portland State University;
Seton Hill University
SUNY Stony Brook
Syracuse University;
The Cleveland Institute of Music;
The University of Idaho
The University of Iowa
U Indiana
U Miami
U of Denver
Univ. of North Texas
University of Cincinnati
University of Hartford, CT;
University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
University of Memphis
University of Michigan;
University of New Haven (CT);
University of New Orleans
University of Northern Colorado;
University of Puget Sound
University of the Pacific
William Paterson U.
Junior Colleges with Dormitories
Concordia College
Calhoun Community College
James H Faulkner State Community College
Community College Gadsden State
Community College Northwest-Shoals
Community College of the Air Force
Community College Southern Union State
Community College Walker College Snead State Community College
Community College-Muscle Shoals Bevill State
Marion Military Institute Jefferson Davis
Prince William Sound Community College
University of Alaska Southeast
University of Alaska-Anchorage College of Career & Voc Ed
Yavapai College
Arizona Western College
Dine College
Cochise College
Central Arizona College
Eastern Arizona College
Northland Pioneer College
Arkansas State University- Beebe
Southern Arkansas University- Technical
Shorter College
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
Bakersfield College (Bakersfield,)
Brooks College (Long Beach, private)
Butte College (Orville)
Chabot College
College of the Redwoods (Eureka)
College of the Siskiyous (Weed)
Columbia College (Columbia)
D-Q University (Davis)
Feather River College (Quincy)
Kings River CC (Reedly)
Lassen College (Susanville)
Marymount (Palos Verdes) (private)
Menlo College (Atherton, private)
Reedley College
San Diego Mesa (nr. San Diego State)
Santa Rosa JC (Santa Rosa)
Santa Barbara City College (limited)
Shasta College (Reading)
Sierra College (Rocklin)
Taft College (Taft)
West Hills College (Coalinga)
Youba College (Maryville)
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Trinidad State Junior College
Colorado Mountain College
Otero Junior College
Lamar Community College
Northeastern Junior College
Mitchell College, New London
Briarwood College
Hillyer College at the University of Hartord
Palm Beach Community College
Lake City Community College
Florida College
South Florida Community College
Chipola Junior College
International Fine Arts College
Middle Georgia College
Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College
Andrew College
Truett-McConnell College
North Georgia Technical Institute
Georgia Military College
Bauder College
South Georgia College
Gordon College
Young Harris College
Maui Community College
North Idaho College
College of Southern Idaho
Boise State University College of Technology Ricks College
Lexington Inst of Hospitality Careers
Springfield College in Illinois
Lincoln College
Vincennes University
Holy Cross College
Iowa Valley Community College District
Northwest Iowa Community College
Western Iowa Tech Community College
Iowa Western Community College
Indian Hills Community College
Southeastern Community College
Waldorf College
American Institute of Business
North Iowa Area Community College
Southwestern Community College
Iowa Lakes Community College
Iowa Central Community College
Barton County Community College
Hesston College
Cowley County Community College
Central College
Independence Community College
Fort Scott Community College
Garden City Community College
Hutchinson Community College
Cloud County Community College
Haskell Indian Nations Univ
Neosho County Community College
Dodge City Community College
Coffeyville Community College
Washburn University-School of Applied Studies Seward County Community College Labette
Community College Highland Community College Butler County Community College Pratt
Community College Allen County Community College Colby Community College
St Catharine College
Western Kentucky University
Lexington Community College
Hazard Community College
Southern Maine Technical College
Eastern Maine Technical College
Central Maine Technical College
Washington County Technical College
Northern Maine Technical College
Central Maine Medical Center School of Nursing
Garrett Community College
Baltimore International College
Allegheny College
Newbury College
Bay State College
Fisher College
Dean College
Becker College, Worcester and Leicester
North Central Michigan College
Alpena Community College
Bay Mills Community College
Suomi College
Northwestern Michigan College
Bay de Noc Community College
Bethany Lutheran College
Laurentian Community and Technical College District Mesabi Community College Rainy River
Community College
Meridian Community College
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
Northwest Mississippi Community College
Wood College
Hinds Community College
Southwest Mississippi Community College
Itawamba Community College
East Mississippi Community College
Mary Holmes College
Holmes Community College
Pearl River Community College
Coahoma Community College
Mississippi Delta Community College
Jones County Junior College
East Central Community College
Pearl River Community College- Forrest County Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Northeast Mississippi Community College
North Central Missouri College
Cottey College
Crowder College
Wentworth Military Academy
Southwest Missouri State University
Moberly Area Community College
Kemper Military School and College
Miles Community College
Dawson Community College
College of Technology- University of Montana
Central Community College
McCook Community College
Northeast Community College
Southeast Community College
Western Community College Area
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture-U of Nebraska
Deep Springs College
New Hampshire
New Hampshire Technical Institute
White Pines College
Hesser College
McIntosh College
New Jersey
Berkeley College
New Mexico
New Mexico Military Institute
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute Northern
New Mexico Community College Institute of American Indian Arts
Eastern New Mexico University Roswell
New Mexico Junior College New Mexico State University- Dona Ana
New York
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology Mater Dei College
Paul Smith's College
SUNY Agricultural & Technical College-Morrisville
SUNY College of Technology- Delhi
SUNY College of Technology- Alfred
Berkley College
SUNY College of Technology - Farmingdale
SUNY College of Technology- Canton
Mohawk Valley Community College
Fashion Institute of Technology
Sage Junior College of Albany
College of Aeronautics
Clinton CC
Finger Lakes CC
Genesee CC
Herkimer CC
Mohawk Valley CC
Monroe CC
North Country CC
Onondaga CC
Sullivan County CC
Tompkins-Cortland CC
North Carolina
Stanly Community College
Saint Mary's College
Louisburg College
North Dakota
University of North Dakota- Lake Region
University of North Dakota- Williston
North Dakota State University- Bottineau United Tribes Technical College
North Dakota State College of Science
Bismarck State College
University of Akron-Community and Technical College
Rio Grande Community College
Kettering College of Medical Arts
University of ToledoCommunity and Technical College Ohio State University-Ag Technical Institute
University of Cincinnati- University College
Mercy College of Northwest Ohio
Northwestern College Hocking Technical College
Northern Oklahoma College
Rogers State College
Eastern Oklahoma State College
Carl Albert State College
Bacone College
Oklahoma State University- Okmulgee
Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College
Murray State College
Southwestern Oklahoma State University-Sayre
Southwestern Oregon Community College
Treasure Valley Community College
Central Oregon Community College
Columbia Gorge Community College
Harcum College
Central Pennsylvania Business School
Thaddeus Stevens State School of Technology Northampton County Area Community College
Valley Forge Military College
Manor College
South Carolina
Denmark Technical College
Spartanburg Methodist College
Hiwassee College
John A Gupton College
Martin Methodist College
Trinity Valley Community College
Amarillo College
Southwest Texas Junior College
Laredo Community College
Bee County College
Angelina College
Grayson County Junior College
South Plains College
Tyler Junior College
Odessa College
Jacksonville College
Frank Phillips College
Temple College
Blinn College
Southwestern Christian College
Lon Morris College
Hill College
Central Texas College
Western Texas College
Ranger Junior College
Northeast Texas Community College
Miss Wade's Fashion Merchandising College
Howard County Junior College
District North Central Texas College
Panola College
Navarro College
Wharton County Junior College
Texas State Technical CollegeWaco/Marshall Texas State Technical CollegeHarlingen Paris Junior College
Clarendon College
Kilgore College
Vernon Regional Junior College
Cisco Junior College
Weatherford College
College of Eastern Utah
Dixie College
Latter-Day Saints Business College
Snow College
Landmark College
Sterling College
Vermont Technical College
Southern Virginia College
Community Hospital College of Health Sciences
Yakima Valley Community College
Big Bend Community College
Peninsula College
Art Institute of Seattle
Edmonds Community College
Wenatchee Valley College
West Virginia
Potomac State College
Shepherd College-Community College Division
Fairmont State College
West Virginia Institute of Technology
Glenville State College- Community & Technical College
Marshall University Community and Technical College
West Virginia State College- Community & Technical College
Northcentral Technical College
Western Wisconsin Technical College
Eastern Wyoming College
Laramie County Community College
Western Wyoming Community College
Central Wyoming College
Sheridan College
Northwest College
Casper College
Kosher Kitchens
Arizona State
Boston U
Farleigh Dickinson
George Washington
Ohio State
U Conn
U Maryland
U Michigan
U Pennsylvania
Union (NY)
University of Delaware
University of Hartford
University of Judaism
Wash U.
Landscape Architecture
Alfred State College
Auburn University
Ball State University
Cal Poly Pomona
Colorado State – Fort Collins
Iowa State University
Kansas State
Louisiana State University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Penn State
Philadelphia University
Purdue University
Rutgers University
Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
UMass – Amherst
University of Arkansas
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Idaho
University of Illinois
University of Maryland
University of Minnesota
University of Nebraska
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
University of Wisconsin – Madison
West Virginia University
LD/weak student:
2+2 Programs in VT
College of the Siskiyous-CA
Concordia College-NY
Curry College-MA
CW Post-NY
Dean College-MA
Johnson & Whales-RI
Landmark College-VT
Lincoln College-IL
Long Island U-NY
Louisburg College-NC
Lynn U-FL/NY (Allen Institute will be it's new name when the NY campus moves
Mass. Maritime-MA
Mitchell College-CT
Mount Ida-MA
Rio Grande U-OH
Shawnee State-OH
Southern Vermont College
Springfield College-MA
St. Thomas Acquinas-NY
Thompson School at UNH
U of Hartford-CT
U. Bridgeport-CT
U. Cincinnati-College of Applied Sciences
Warren Wilson College-NC
LD programs and/or proactive support structures
Curry College (PALS Program)
George Mason University (New Century College)
Landmark College
Lynn University
Northern Arizona University
University of Arizona (SALT program)
University of Hartford (Hillyer College)
West Virginia Wesleyan College
Western New England College
LD programs
American (DC)
Beacon (FL)
Curry (MA)
Dean (MA)
Landmark (VT) 2 year
Lynn (FL)
Mitchell (CT)
U. Arizona - SALT Program (AZ)
U. Denver (CO)
Westminster (MO)
Also suggested:
Adelphi (NY)
Allen Institute - Center for Innovative Learning (CT)
Beloit (WI)
Boston U. (MA)
Brenau University - Learning Center (GA) women's college
Clarke U. (MA)
Concordia (MN)
Earlham (IN)
Eastern New Mexico University (NM)
Endicott (MA)
Fairleigh Dickinson (NJ)
Guilford (NC)
Harvey Mudd (CA)
Hofstra (NY)
Johnson & Wales (RI)
Long Island University - C.W. Post Campus (NY)
Lesley U. - Thershold Program (MA)
Lincoln College (IL)
Louisburg College (NC) 2 year
Manhattanville (NY)
Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MA)
Mercyhurst (PA)
Mount Ida (MA)
Muskingum (OH)
New Mexico State University (NM)
Northeastern U (MA)
Oberlin (OH)
Rider (NJ)
Springfiled (MA)
Saint Thomas Acquinas (NY)
Shawnee State (OH)
Southern Vermont (VT)
U. Bridgeport (CT)
U. Conn (CT)
U. Hartford (CT)
U. Iowa (IA)
U. New Hampshire - Thompson School (NH) 2 year
U. Rhode Island (RI)
U. Toledo (OH)
Warren Wilson (NC)
West Virginia Wesleyan (WV)
Widener (PA)
Boston College
Carleton College
Carleton University (Canada)
Lawrence (WI),
Miami University (OH)
Reed College,
U Mass Amherst
University of Oregon
University of Rochester
University of Southern Maine
Cal Arts
Columbia College in Chicago
DePaul in Chicago
King's College
Marymount Manhattan College
Savannah College of Art and Design
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
The College of Santa Fe
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, England
Wagner College
Marching Bands
Boston College
Boston University
College of the Holy Cross
CSU Fresno
Gettysburg College
Holly Cross (Mass)
James Madison
Lehigh University
Miami University (Ohio)
Michigan State
Moravian College
New Hampshire
Norwich University - Vermont
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Ohio University
Penn State
Sacred Heart University - CT
St. Joseph's (Indiana)
Stanford University
UC Davis
U-Mass (Amherst)
University of Delaware
University of Michigan
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
University of Washington
Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech
Website listing college marching bands throughout the country:
Marine Science
Jacksonville University
Old Dominion University
UNC - Wilmington
College of Charleston
Coastal Carolina University
Texas A&M at Galveston and Corpus Christi
University of South Carolina at Columbia
California State University system
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
University of West Florida
West Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Institute of Tech in Melbourne
Eckerd College
University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau
Hawaii Pacific U.
Univ. of Rhode Island
Stockton State in New Jersey
Mock Trial Programs
Boston College
Lewis U
Rhodes College
U. of Chicago (offers an undergraduate BA in Law, Letters, and Society)
U. of Iowa
U. of Michigan
U. of Redlands
U. of Richmond
Multimedia schools:
Bradley U.
Cerro Coso (Calif.)
DePaul Univ.
DigiPen (Washington)
Ex'pression Center for New Media (Calif.)
Full Sail (Fla.)
George Mason
Loyola Marymount
Sierra Nevada College
So. Illinois Univ.
U of Oregon
Music and/or music technology.
American University
Art Institute of Seattle
Arts, University of
Ball State - IN
Bellarmine University - KY
Belmont in Nashville
Berklee School of Music
Boston University
Cal State - Chico
Cal State - Dominguez Hills
Carnegie Mellon
Centenary College - NJ
Cleveland Institute of Music
Cogswell College - California
College of Santa Fe - NM
College of St Rose - NY
Columbia College in Chicago
Connecticut, U of
DePaul University - Chicago
Delaware, U. of
Denver, U. of
Duquesne University
Elmhurst College
Emerson College
Evergreen State
Expression Center of New Media - Emeryville, CA
Five Towns
Full Sail
Indian University (very competitive, need Calc and Physics in HS)
Jacksonville University - FL
Kent State
LaGrange College
Lebanon Valley - PA
Los Angeles Recording Workshop
Loyola - New Orleans
Loyola Marymount in LA
Massachusetts Communication College (aka Mass Comm)
Memphis State
Mercy College - NY
Middle Tennessee State University
MusicTech in Minneapolis, MN affiliated with Augsburg College
NC State
New England College of Broadcasting
New Haven
Northeastern University
Northern Illinois
Northern Virginia Community College Loudon Campus
Ohio University
Peabody - in conjunction with Johns Hopkins
Point Park - PA
SAE (School of Audio Engineering)
Sarah Lawrence
Sound Master Recording Engineering School - Hollywood, CA
South Carolina
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Southwest Texas State University
SUNY Fredonia
Syracuse University
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (
U of Massachusetts - Lowell
U of Oregon
U of Puget Sound
University of California - Santa Barbara
University of Louisiana - Lafayette
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of New Haven - CT
University of North Carolina - Asheville
William Patterson (4-year program)
Musical theater and /or gospel choir.
Allegheny College
Binghamton University
Boston College
Cal State Fullerton
Carnegie Mellon
Catawba College
Catholic University
Cental College- IA
College of William and Mary
Drake University
Elmhurst College
Elon University
Franklin Pierce College
Furman University
George Mason University
Illinois Wesleyan
Indiana University
Jacksonville University
James Madison University
Loras Dubuque
Luther Decora
Mary Washington College
Mercyhurst College
Ohio Wesleyan
Penn State
Purchase College(SUNY)
Rhodes College
Simpson Indianola
St. Mary's- Moraga
St. Olaf's College
Trinity College-CT
UC Riverside
University of Evansville
University of Notre Dame de Namur
University of Redlands
University of Rochester-Eastman School of Music
Wilkes University
Musical Theatre programs
Adelphi Univ
American Univ
Baldwin Wallace
Bethel Coll
Boston Conservatory
Boston University
Bowling Green State University (OH)
Bradley Univ
Cal Arts
Cal State Fullerton
Carnegie Mellon
Catholic University
Cincinnati Conser. of Music
College of Santa Fe
College of Wooster
Columbia College(IL)
George Mason
Indiana University
Jacksonville U
Johns Hopkins--Peabody Conservatory
Kent State University (OH)
MA College of Liberal Arts
Manhattan School of Music
Marymount Manhattan
Missouri State
Montclair State
Ohio State
Ohio U
Oklahoma City University
Penn State
Point Park
Rockford College
Roosevelt Univ
Russell Sage
Sarah Lawrence
Savannah College of Art and Design
Southern Ill. University - Carbondale
Southwestern University
St. Olaf
Stephens College
SUNY Fredonia (NY)
SUNY Purchase
Trinity, CT
U Buffalo
U Cincinnati
U Hartford
U Michigan
U of Cincinnati
U of Miami
U of Southern Maine
U of the Arts
U Oklahoma
University of Michigan
University of the Arts
Wagner Coll.
Webster University
Westminster Choir College (part of Rider University)
Wright State University
Ball State U, IN
Boston University
Cornell University
George Mason
Georgia Tech
Illinois Institute of Tech
Johns Hopkins University
Northern Illinois University
Penn State
Rice University
U Illinois - Urbana Champaign
UC Berkeley
Union College
Observatories- Schools with
Agnes Scott College in Atlanta
Air Force Academy.
Alfred University of New York State
Augustana College - Rock Island IL
Boston University
Colgate University - Hamilton NY
Colorado College
Connecticut College has an astrophysics major
DePauw University.
Earlham College - Richmond IN
George Mason
Grinnell College in Iowa
Guilford College
Lewis and Clark
Northwestern University - Evanston IL
Pomona College
Smith College
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
Trinity College, San Antonio, TX
UC Berkeley
University of Arizona in Tucson
University of Chicago - Chicago IL
University of CO - Boulder CO
University of Hawaii at Hilo
University of Michigan
University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM
University of Oregon.
University of Puget Sound
University of Toledo
University of Texas at Austin. They have the McDonald Observatory.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Valparaiso University
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University in Connecticut
Performing Arts
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Manhattan and Hollywood campus')
Boston University
California Institute for the Arts (Founded by Walt Disney)
Carnegie Mellon
Catholic University
College of Santa Fe
Columbia College
Drew Univ.
Fordam (Lincoln Center Campus)
Guthrie Theatre Actors Training Program , University of Minnesota
James Madison
Julliard School
Marymount Manhattan
Mason Gross College of Rutgers
Millikin Univ.
National Council for Drama Training, (NCDT)-United Kingdom
New York Film Academy
NYU (Tisch School of the Arts)
North Carolina School for the Arts
Pace Univ.
Roosevelt Univ.
Southern Methodist Univ.
Southwestern College
St. Olaf
Strasberg Theatre Institute
SUNY Purchase
Univ. of Cincinatti
Univ. of Hartford
Univ. of Iowa
Univ. of Miami
Univ. of Michigan
Univ. of Rochester
Univ. of Southern California
Wagner (mostly musical theater)
Washington & Jefferson
PG year
Hargrove Military Academy in Chatham VA
Kent Hill
Kimball Union,
Northfield Mt. Hermon
Phelps School in Malvern, PA
Salisbury School
Trinity Pawling and Berkshire School
PG for LD
Berkshire School, Sheffield, MA (413) 229-1253
Brandon Hall School, Atlanta, GA - resid. only for & mostly boys Brehm Preparatory School, Carbondale, IL (618) 457-0371
Brenau Academy, Gainesville, GA - girls only - (770) 534-6140
Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, NH (800) 842-9961 or (603) 569-7200
Bridgton Academy, North Bridgton ME (207) - post-graduate boys only Chapel Hill – Chauncy Hall School, Waltham, MA (781) 894-2644
Cheshire Academy, Cheshire, CT (203) 272-5396
Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA (978) 827-7300
Darrow School, New Lebanon, NY (518) 794-6006
Fryeburg Academy, Fryeburg, ME (207) 935-2001
Gould Academy, Bethel, ME (207) 824-7700
Grier School, Tyrone, PA - girls only - (814) 684-3000
Hebron Academy, Hebron, ME (888) 432-7664 or (207) 966-2100 X 225
Kents Hill School, Kents Hill, ME (207) 685-4914
Kildonan School, Amenia, NY (914) 373-8111
Knox School, St. James, NY (516) 584-5500
La Lumiere School, La Porte, IN (219) 326-7450
Landmark School, Prides Crossing, MA (978) 927-4440
Maine Central Institute, Pittsfield, ME (207) 487-3355
Maplebrook School, Amenia, NY (914) 373-9511
Marvelwood School, Kent, CT (860) 927-0047
Missouri Military Academy, Mexico, MO - boys only - (888) 564-6662,
New Hampton School, New Hampton, NH (603) 744-5401
Perkiomen School, Pennsburg, PA (215) 679-9511
Pine Ridge School, Williston, VT (802) 434-2161
Riverview School, Cape Cod, MA - GROW Program (508) 888-0489
Saint Thomas More School, Oakdale, CT (860) 859-1900
Solebury School, New Hope, PA (215) 862-5261
South Kent School, South Kent, CT - boys only - (860) 927-3539
St. Johnsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury, VT (802) 748-8171
The Ethel Walker School, Simsbury, CT - girls only - (860) 658-4467
The Gow School, South Wales, NY - boys only - (800) 274-0138 or (716)
The Hun School, Blairstown, NJ (800) 462-5247 or (908) 362-7982
The Oxford Academy, Westbrook, CT - boys only - (860) 399-6247
The Phelps School, Malvern, PA - boys only - (610) 644-1754
The Vanguard School, Lake Wales, FL (941) 676-8297
Tilton School, Tilton, NH (603) 286-1733
Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY - boys only - (914) 855-4825
Vermont Academy, Saxton’s River, VT (800) 560-1876 or (802) 869-6200
West Nottingham Academy, Colora, MD (410) 658-5556 X 209
White Mountain School, Bethlehem, NH (800) 545-7813 or (603)
Winchendon School, Winchendon, MA (800) 622-1119
Pharm D guaranteed admit programs
Albany College - Albany
Butler - Indianapolis
Drake - Des Moines
Duquesne - Pittsburgh
Northeastern University Boston
Saint Louis College of Pharmacy-St. Louis
U of Connecticut - Storrs
U of Missouri - Kansas City
U of Rhode Island - Kingston
University of the Pacific Stockton
University of the Sciences - Philadelphia
Wilkes University - Wilkes-Barre
Xavier - New Orleans
Photography – Lesser known schools
Bradley (IL)
Cazenovia (NY)
College of Sante Fe (NM)
Kent State (OH)
Mills (CA)
Naropa (CO) - multiple courses in Photo in visual arts program
Ohio U (OH)
Purchase (NY)
Salve Regina (RI)
Scripps (CA)
Shepherd U
U of Houston (TX)
U of Oregon (OR)
Virginia Commonwealth (VA)
Abilene Christian Univ.(Texas)
Ball State Univ. (Indiana)
Bard College
Boston University
Hampshire College
Indiana University
Kent State University ( Ohio)
New York University- Tish School of the Arts
The Gallation School
Northeast Louisiana Univ.
Ohio Univ.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Southern Illinois Univ. -Carbondale
St. Andrew's College ( Laurenburg, NC)
Syracuse Univ.
Virginia Common Univ. ( Richmond)
Western Kentucky Univ.
Winona State Univ. ( Minnesota)
UK Colleges go to :
Croydon College
Swansea Institute of Higher Ed.
Univ. of Central Lancashire
Univ. of Sunderland
Valley Univ.
Physically challenged Students
Carnegie Mellon U
Dartmouth College
Edinboro U of Pennsylvania
Hofstra U
Lynn U
Marist College
Radford U
Southern Illinois U-Carbondale
Southwest Missouri State U
St. Andrews Presbyterian College
U of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
U of Delaware
U of Houston
U of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
U of Miami
U of the South
U of Southern California
Western Connecticut State U
Willamette U
Wright State U
George Washington
Harvey Mudd
Lafayette College
Old Dominion
U of Illinois
U of Maryland, College Park
U of Rochester
U of Tulsa
Washington College
Cal Tech
Carnegie Mellon
Case Western Reserve
Conneticut College
Daniel Webster - NH
George Mason
Harvey Mudd
John Hopkins
Northern Michigan University
Oakland (MI) Community College
Rensselaer Polytechnic
Rose Hulman
South Dakota School of MInes
U of Central Florida
U. Illinois, Urbana
U. Iowa
U of Maryland
U of Massachussetts
U. Michigan
U. Rochester
U of Utah
U of Washington
UC Berkeley
Worcester Polytech Institute
Sailing programs
College of Charleston
Connecticut College
Holy Cross
Mass. Maritime Academy
Old Dominion
Roger Williams
Salve Regina
St. Mary's, Maryland(3 mentions)
Texas A&M Galveston
College of Santa Fe
Kenyon (for creative writing)
North Carolina School of the Arts
U of Miami
Snowboarding Teams
Alaska Pacific University
Albertson College
Clark College
Green Mountain College
Montana State - both Bozeman and Billings
Montana Tech
Northern Michigan University
Sierra Nevada College
University of Alaska
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Idaho
University of Montana
Whitman College
Sports management
Arizona State University
Cazenovia College
Central Florida
College of Charleston
East Carolina
Florida State
High Point
Ithaca College
Miami (FL)
Miami (OH)
NC State
Niagara University
Ohio University
Old Dominion
Seton Hall
Shepherd University
Springfield College, MA
Texas A & M
U Mass at Amhert
U. of Georgia
U. of Kansas
U. of Oregon
U. of South Carlina
U. of Tampa
Valparaiso University (IA)
Western Carolina
State schools have small living/learning or residential college
Arizona State
Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Long Beach
George Mason University
Indiana U
Miami of Ohio
Michigan State
Millersville University
Northern Illinois
Ohio State
San Diego State
South West Texas State
Texas Tech
UC Santa Cruz and San Diego
University of Arizona
University of Colorado-Boulder
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Georgia
University of Hawaii-Manoa
University of Illinois--Urbana Champagne
University of Iowa
University of Louisiana
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
University of Oregon
University of Vermont
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Washington State
Western Washington University
7-year Medicine Programs Combined college/MD programs
University of Alabama, Univ. of S. Alabama;
Calif: UC Riverside, UCLA, UCSD, USC;
Conn: UConn;
D.C.: George Washington Univ.; Howard Univ.;
Florida: U Florida, U Miami;
Illinois: Finch/Chicago/IIT, Northwestern, U Illinois at Chicago;
Mass: Boston U;
Mich: Michigan State;
Miss: U Missouri (Columbia and Kansas City);
NJ:Univ of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers;
NY: Brooklyn College/SUNY Downstate, NYU, Rennselaer, Siena College,
CUNY, SUNY StonyBrook, SUNY Upstate, Union COllege, U Rochester;
Ohio: Case Western Reserve, Northeastern Ohio Universities, Ohio
U Cincinnati
Penn: Lehigh, Penn State
RI: Brown
Tenn: E Tenn State, Fisk
Tex: Rice, Texas A&M
Vir: E Virginia Med School, Virginia Commonwealth
Wisc: U Wisc
7-year med:
Boston U
Brown U
Case Western Reserve U
Creighton U
Drexel U
East Tennessee State U
Fisk U with Meharry Medical College
Gannon U with Medical College of Penn
George Washington U
Hahnemann U with Medical College of Penn - 6 year program
Howard U
Illinois Institute of Technology with Chicago Medical School
Johns Hopkins U
Lehigh U with Medical College of Penn
Louisiana State U - New Orleans and Shreveport
Miami U (FL) - 6 and 7 year programs
Michigan State U
Missouri U - Columbia and Kansas City
New York U
Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine - 6 year program
Northwestern U
Ohio State U
Old Dominion U with Eastern Virginia Medical School
Penn Sate U with Jefferson Medical
Rensselaer with Albany Medical College - 6 year program
Rice U with Baylor College of Medicine
Rochester U
Siena College with Albany Medical College
Sophie Davis School with CUNY
SUNY - Brooklyn College and Stonybrook
Tulane U
U California Riverside and U Southern California with UCLA
U of Alabama
U of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
U of Pittsburgh
U of S. Alabama
Union College with Albany Medical College
Villanova U with Medical College of Penn
Virginia Commonwealth U - Richmond
Washington U - St. Louis
Wisconsin U - Madison
Sound Recording
American University
Art Institute of Seattle
Arts, University of
Ball State - IN
Bellarmine University - KY
Belmont in Nashville
Berklee School of Music
Boston University
Cal State - Chico
Cal State - Dominguez Hills
Carnegie Mellon
Centenary College - NJ
Cleveland Institute of Music
Cogswell College - California
College of Santa Fe - NM
College of St Rose - NY
Columbia College in Chicago
Connecticut, U of
DePaul University - Chicago
Duquesne University
Elmhurst College
Emerson College
Evergreen State
Expression Center of New Media - Emeryville, CA
Five Towns
Full Sail
Indian University (very competitive, need Calc and Physics in HS)
Jacksonville University - FL
Kent State
LaGrange College
Lebanon Valley - PA
Los Angeles Recording Workshop
Loyola - New Orleans
Loyola Marymount in LA
Massachusetts Communication College (aka Mass Comm)
Memphis State
Mercy College - NY
Middle Tennessee State University
MusicTech in Minneapolis, MN affiliated with Augsburg College
NC State
New England College of Broadcasting
New Haven
Northeastern University
Northern Illinois
Northern Virginia Community College Loudon Campus
Ohio University
Peabody - in conjunction with Johns Hopkins
Point Park - PA
SAE (School of Audio Engineering)
Sarah Lawrence
Shenandoah Univ.
Sound Master Recording Engineering School - Hollywood, CA
South Carolina
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Southwest Texas State University
SUNY Fredonia
Syracuse University
The Liberpool Institute for Performing Arts (
U of Massachusetts - Lowell
U of Oregon
U of Puget Sound
University of California - Santa Barbara
University of Hartford
University of Louisiana - Lafayette
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of New Haven - CT
University of North Carolina – Ashville
University of Rochester
University of the Arts - Philadelphia
William Patterson (4-year program)
Sound and Recording Technology: 2-year programs
Art Institute in Seattle, Washington (1-800-275-2471, [email protected])
Cogswell College in California
Expression Center for New Media in Emeryville, CA (510-654-2934)
Five Towns College in Long Island (Dix Hills, LI, NY)
Full Sail, Orlando, FL
Massachussetts Communication College)
Northern Virginia Community College, Loudon Campus (
University of New Haven, West Haven, CT
University of the Arts in Philadelphia
William Patterson in New Jersey (4 year program)
Space science or planetary geology.
Arizona State
Brown University
Cornell University
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Rice University of Arizona
University of
Washington University in St. Louis
York University in Toronto
summer space camp at University of Alabama.
Special Education Students, Schools for
Allen Institute Center for Innovative Learning Hebron, CT
Berkshire Internship Center
Boston U.
Brenau University's Learning Center NMSU
Clarke U.
College Living experience in Davie, FL
Community College close to home
Curry College
Fairleigh Dickinson
Harvey Mudd
Ithaca College
Lasell Lesley U. Thershold Program
Louisburg College
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
New Life Styles
Northeastern U
Northern Arizona University
Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX - .
U. Conn
U. New Hampshire
U. of Denver
Univ. of Delaware
University of Puget Sound
West Virginia Wesleyan
Sports Broadcasting
Arizona State
California U. (Penn.)
George Mason
George Washington
Indiana U.
Iowa State
Murray State
Ohio U.,
Penn State,
St. Bonaventure
Texas Christian
U. Alabama
U. Central Florida
U. Dayton
U. Florida
U. Georgia
U. Iowa
U. Lousiana at Lafayette
U. Maryland
U. Miami
U. Miami,
U. Montana
U. Oregon
U. South Florida
U. Tampa
U. Texas
U. Wisconsin
UNC - Chapel Hill
Sports Management/ Marketing
American University
Barry U
Bay St. C.
Belmont Abbey
Bowling Green, OH
Buena Vista Univ
Castleton State, VT
Colby-Sawyer, NH
College of Saint Rose, NY
College of NJ
Elon C.
Flagler College, FL
Florida Southern
Florida State
Franklin Pierce Col, NH
Guilford College, NC
Indiana State
Indiana University
Ithaca College, NY
James Madison (VA)
Lasalle C.
Lock Haven, PA
Lynchburg, VA
Lynn, FL
Marshall University (Va)
Mercyhurst College
Miami (Oh)
Mount Olive College, NC
Niagra C.
Nichols (MA) Bus Admin
Northeastern, MA
Ohio Univ
Pfeiffer Univ, NC
Point Park C.
Quincy C.
Radford University (VA)
Robert Morris College, PA
Sacred Heart University, CT
Saint Leo Univ, FL
Saint Mary's Col, CA
Samford C.
Seton Hill C.
Shepherd College
.Slippery Rock, PA
Southeast Missouri State U
Southern New Hampshire
Springfield College
Stetson, FL
SUNY Oneonta
Temple, PA
Thomas College, ME
Tiffin Univ
Tulane, LA
U of Delaware
U of IL at Urbana-Champaign
U of Iowa
U of Memphis, TN
U of Miami
U of Michigan (Kinesiology)
U of Oregon
U. Central Florida
U. Delaware
U. Denver
U. Tampa
UMass – Amherst
Univ of Georgia
Univ of Oregon
Univ of Pittsburg, Bradford Campus
Univ. of Iowa
University of New England (Me)
University of the Pacific (Ca)
Valparaiso (Mn)
Wagner C.
West Chester, PA
Western New England College
Widener Univ, PA
Xavier U. OH
Studio Art BA
Connecticut College
Southern Connecticut
Southwestern University
St. Olaf
Trinity College
University of Iowa
Wagner College
Structural Engineering.
Cal State Fresno - Fresno, CA
Clarkson University - Potsdam, NY
George Washington University - DC
Johnson & Wales - Providence, RI
Ohio State University - Columbus, OH
Old Dominion University - VA
Penn State University - Harrisburg Capitol College (Structural
Engineering Technology)
Purdue University - IN
University of California, Davis
University of California, San Diego
University of Southern California
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, WI
Summer academic program -specific emphasis on writing skills
Dean College
Curry College
Landmark College
Boston University
Salisbury School of Reading and Writing
Wolfeboro Camp School
University of Iowa Summer Writing Program)
Project Advance at York University
Camp Kodiak, Ontario
Sheila Morrison School - summer academic program Utopia,Ontario
Carleton College
Cornell University
Summer Architecture/Engineering
Carnegie Mellon
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal Poly--San Luis Obispo
California College of the Arts
Catholic U.
Cooper Union
Florida State
New York Institute of Technology
Parsons School of Design
Pratt Institute
Southern Illinois
Syracuse University
U Notre Dame
U Texas, Austin
University of Miami
University of Southern California
Washington U.
Textile design
Middlesex Univ in London
U Mass, Dartmouth
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
Art Institute in Houston and in Dallas
Brescia (in Ontario, Canada)
Edinboro (in Penn)
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT in New York City)
U Kansas
UNC, Greensboro
Memphis College of Art
Monterrey Peninsula College
Moore College of Art
Philadelphia University
U Tennessee
Tyler (Temple’s Ambler Branch, PA)
Savannah College of Art & Design
3-2 Engineering
Austin College
Affiliated with:
University of Texas at Dallas
Texas A&M College Station
Washington University (St Louis)
Columbia University.
University of Richmond
Columbia University
George Washington University
Virginia Tech
Russell Sage College
With Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
with Manhattan College
Affiliated with:
Cal Tech
Washington University
U of Washington
Clark University
Columbia University, NY; Washington
University, St. Louis; or Worcester Polytechnic Institute,
University of Kentucky.
Eckerd College
Ohio Wesleyan with Caltech, and Wash U in St. Louis
Niagara University with the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and the University of Detroit Mercy.
Hood College with George Washington University.
Franklin and Marshall
Whitworth College
Rhodes College with Wash U UT Memphis
Russell Sage College with Rensselaer.
Santa Clara University
California State University in Fresno
Schreiner University.
Westminster College of Salt Lake City
with Washington University in St. Louis and University of Southern California.
Puget Sound
Fairfield University
Columbia University with the following schools:
Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Albertson College, Caldwell, ID
Albion College, Albion, MI
Alfred University, Alfred, NY
Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
Arcadia University, Glenside, PA
Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD
Austin College, Sherman, TX
Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, OH
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Barnard College, New York, NY
Bates College, Lewiston, ME
Beirut University College, Beirut, Lebanon
Beloit College, Beloit, WI
Bethany College, Bethany, WV
Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, AL
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Carleton College, Northfield, MN
Carroll College, Helena, MT
Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA
Centre College, Danville, KY
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA
Clark University, Worcester, MA
Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
College of Notre Dame, Baltimore, MD
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
Columbia College, New York, NY
Davidson College, Davidson, NC
Denison University, Granville, OH
DePauw University, Greencastle, IN
Dillard University, New Orleans, LO
Doane College, Crete, NE
Drew University, Madison, NJ
Earlham College, Richmond, IN
Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT
Fordham University, Bronx, NY
Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY
Hastings College, Hastings, NE
Hendrix College, Conway, AR
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL
Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA
Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina, KS
Knox College, Galeburg, IL
Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR
Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
MacMurray College, Jacksonville, IL
Marietta College, Marietta, OH
Miami University, Oxford, OH
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
Millsaps College, Jackson, MI
Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA
Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE
Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA
Pitzer College, Claremont, CA
Providence College, Providence, RI
Queens College, Flushing, NY
Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA
Reed College, Portland, OR
Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
School of General Studies, Columbia University, New York, NY
Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA
Simon's Rock College of Bard, Great Barrington, MA
Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
State University of New York, Fredonia, NY
State University of New York, Geneseo, NY
State University of New York, Binghamton, NY
Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA
University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
University of Richmond, Richmond, VA
University of the South, Sewanee, TN
University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, VI
Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA
Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN
Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA
Wells College, Aurora, NY
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA
Whitworth College, Spokane, WA
Willamette University, Salem, OR
William Jewell College, Liberty, MO
Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC
Yeshiva University, New York, NY
York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA
Washington University in St. Louis with the following schools:
Adrian College (MI)
Albertson College of Idaho (ID)
Allegheny College (PA)
Augustana College (IL)
Augustana College (SD)
Austin College (TX)
Baker University (KS)
Baldwin-Wallace College (OH)
Bard College (NY)
Bates College (ME)
Beloit College (WI)
Berea College (KY)
Bethany College (WV)
Bethel College (MN)
Birmingham Southern College (AL)
Blackburn College (IL)
Buena Vista University (IA)
Capital University (OH)
Carleton College (MN)
Centenary College (LA)
Central College (IA)
Centre College (KY)
Clark University (MA)
Colgate University (NY)
Colorado College (CO)
Connecticut College (CT)
Cornell College (IA)
Davidson College (NC)
DePauw University (IN)
Denison University (OH)
Doane College (NE)
Drake University (IA)
Drew University (NJ)
Drury University (MO)
Eckerd College (FL)
Elon University (NC)
Eureka College (IL)
Florida Southern College (FL)
Fontbonne University (MO)
Franklin & Marshall College (PA)
George Fox University (OR)
Gettysburg College (PA)
Goshen College (IN)
Greenville College (IL)
Grinnell College (IA)
Hamilton University (NY)
Hamline University (MN)
Hastings College (NE)
Hawaii Pacific University (HI)
Hendrix College (AR)
Hiram College (OH)
Hobart & Wm Smith Colleges (NY)
Hollins University (VA)
Houghton College (NY)
Illinois College (IL)
Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)
Jacksonville University (FL)
Juniata College (PA)
Kalamazoo College (MI)
Kenyon College (OH)
Knox College (IL)
Lake Forest College (IL)
Lawrence University (WI)
Lewis & Clark College (OR)
Loyola University of Chicago (IL)
Luther College (IA)
MacMurray College (IL)
Macalester College (MN)
Manchester College (IN)
Maryville College (TN)
Maryville University (MO)
Miami University (OH)
Middlebury College (VT)
Millikin University (IL)
Millsaps College (MS)
Monmouth College (IL)
Moravian College (PA)
Muhlenberg College (PA)
Nebraska Wesleyan University (NE)
North Central College (IL)
Northland College (WI)
Northwestern College (IA)
Oberlin College (OH)
Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)
Otterbein College (OH)
Our Lady of the Lake University (TX)
Pacific Lutheran University (WA)
Pacific University (OR)
Pepperdine University (CA)
Pomona College (CA)
Principia College (IL)
Providence College (RI)
Puget Sound, University of (WA)
Quincy University (IL)
Randolph-Macon Woman's College (VA)
Regis University (CO)
Rhodes College (TN)
Rockford College (IL)
Rollins College (FL)
Samford University (AL)
Simon's Rock College of Bard (MA)
Simpson College (IA)
Sioux Falls, University of (SD)
Sewanee: The University of the South (TN)
Southwestern College (KS)
Southwestern University (TX)
St. Catherine, College of (MN)
St. Lawrence University (NY)
St. Louis University (MO)
St. Mary's College of CA (CA)
St. Olaf College (MN)
St. Thomas, University of (MN)
Sweet Briar College (VA)
Tougaloo College (MS)
Transylvania University (KY)
Ursinus College (PA)
Virgin Islands, University of (VI)
Wabash College (IN)
Warren Wilson College (NC)
Washington & Jefferson College (PA)
Waynesburg College (PA)
Webster University (MO)
Westminster College (MO)
Westminster College (UT)
Whitman College (WA)
Whittier College (CA)
Whitworth College (WA)
Willamette University (OR)
William and Mary, College of (VA)
William Jewell College (MO)
Wittenberg University (OH)
Wooster, College of (OH)
Video games
DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington
The Arts Institutes International in San Francisco
Georgia Tech
Loyola of New Orleans
Bradley in Ill.
CDIS in Vancouver (
Expression Center for the New Media SanFrancisco
Westwood Institute of Technology
Full Sail.
U Mass Amherst
Wheelchair friendly
Agnes Scott College
Arizona State University
Augsburg College
Bradley University
Butler University
Edinboro University
George Washington
Gordon College
Hofstra University
Pitzer College
Seattle University
Simmons College
St. Andrew's Presbyterian College
Stonehill College
UC Berkeley
Vassar College
Whitman College
Wright State U
Women’s Rugby
Allegheny College
Amherst Coll.
Arizona State U
Binghampton U
Boston Coll.
Bucknell U
Clark University
Dartmouth Coll.
Gettysburg College
Loch Haven
Mt. Holyoke
Naval Academy
UOhio Wesleyan
Penn State
Princeton U.
Providence Coll.
Radford U. (VA)
Saint Mary’s College of California
Salisbury University
Susquehanna University
Temple U.
UC Santa Barbara
Univ. of Connecticut
University of Idaho
University of New Hampshire
Univ. of Vermont
University of Wyoming
Williams Coll.
Appendix VII
Colleges attended by CEOs hired at Fortune 1000 firms in 2004, 2005
Acuity Brands
Amica Mutual
Avery Dennison Scarborough
Chad Deaton
Baker Hughes
Beckman Coulter
Charles Schwab
Chiquita Brands
CMS Energy
CUNA Mutual
College degree received from
University of Michigan
University of Bonn and Cologne
University of Cal-Davis
University of Wisconsin, Superior
Providence College
Tufts University; MBA University of
Hiram College; MBA University of
University of Wyoming
Loyola University
Valparaiso University; MBA Lake
Forest Graduate School of
Scott Garrett Management
California State University at Los
James Bell Angeles
University of Nebraska
Southern Illinois University
Wilderotter Holy Cross
David Joos Iowa State University
Neville Isdell University of Cape Town
University of British Columbia
University of South Carolina
Lehigh University; MBA Harvard
Robert Wood University of Michigan
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Jeff Post
Dell Computer
Dow Chemical
Dun &
Fannie Mae
Great Lakes
Kettering University; M.B.A. from
the Wharton School of Finance at the
University of Pennsylvania.
Williams College; Law degree
Brigham Young University
Oklahoma State University
University of Queensland, Brisbane,
St. Francis College; MBA University
of Pennsylvania's Wharton School
St. Olaf College; MBA Kellogg
Graduate School of Management at
Ward Klein Northwestern University
Daniel Mudd University of Virginia
The University of Akron
Elden Smith Whittier College
University of Delaware
University of Northern Iowa; MBA
Stan Askren from Washington University
University of Rochester
IMS Health
Michigan State
University of San Francisco; MBA
from the University of California,
Paul Otellini Berkeley
University of Colorado; Masters
University of Colorado
ITT Industries
University of Cincinnati
J. C. Penney
DePaul University in Chicago
Iona College
Pharmaceuticals Markison
University of Houston
Kmart Holding Lewis
University of Virginia; T.C. Williams
School of Law at the University of
Financial Group Chandler
Landstar System Gerkens
Lockheed Martin Stevens
Louisiana-Pacific Frost
Lowe's s
Lubrizol n
Adelphi University
Slippery Rock
Louisiana State University; MBA
Northwestern State University of
University of North CarolinaCharlotte
Texas A&M University
Yonsei University, Korea; MBA
from the University of Chicago, and
a doctorate in Business
Chong Sup Administration from Nova
Southeastern University
University of Iowa; Masters,
Mutual of
Daniel Neary University of Iowa
The New York Janet
Salve Regina College
Times Co.
Cornell University; American
Graduate School of International
Rose-Hulman Institute of
Owens-Illinois McCracken Technology
University of Arizona
Peabody Energy Boyce
Binghamton University, State
University of New York; University
Peter Altabef of Chicago Law School
Perot Systems
PETCO Animal
James Myers John Carroll University
Peter Darbee Dartmouth; MBA Dartmouth
Lehigh University; MBA Harvard
University of Texas, U.S. Naval
Progress Energy McGehee
Pacific Coast Baptist College in San
Edmondson Dimas, Calif.
Sara Lee
University of Arizona.
Sempra Energy Felsinger
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute;
Masters MIT
University of Texas at Austin
Siebel Systems
Southwest Gas
Ohio University; MBA Drexel
LaSalle University; MBA LaSalle
University of Cincinnati
Gary Kelly University of Texas
Jeffrey Shaw University of Utah
Ohio State University; MBA Georgia
Roy Krause State
Christopher University of Notre Dame; DePaul
University Law School
MacMillan Davidson College
Bangalore University; Masters Indian
Institute of Technology in Mumbai
Krish Prabhu (Bombay)
Montana Tech of The University of
Texas Industries Mel Brekhus Montana
Templeton Union College
University of Hawaii; Union
Dick Parsons University's Albany Law School
Southeast Missouri State University;
John Wilder MBA University of Texas
Rutgers University
United States
John Surma Pennsylvania State University
US Airways
U.S. Naval Academy
University of Michigan; Masters
James Mellor University of Michigan
University of Saint Thomas; Masters
of Management degree from The J.L.
Kellogg School of Management at
Northwestern University.
Drexel; MBA Lehigh
University of Massachusetts at
Lowell; Master's degree in business
administration from Michigan State
Robert Iger Ithaca
Walt Disney
Louisiana State University; Law
degree University of California in
Los Angeles.
Indiana University
Jeff Fettig
Peter Lynch Nichols College
Source: Burson-Marsteller and USA TODAY research
Appendix VIII: resources for those considering taking a year off before attending college:
Post-Graduate Options
General Web sites: <> <> <> <> <>
Consultants <> <> <>
Invest Yourself published by the Commission on Voluntary Service and
Time Out by Robert Gilpin and Caroline Fitzgibbons (currently out of print but check local
Taking Time Off by Hall and Lieber
Summer Opportunities for Teenagers by Peterson's
Taking Time Off by Gail Reardon
The Day I Became An Autodidact by Kendall Hailey
But What If I Don't Want to Go to College? A Guide to Success Through Alternative Education,
by Harlow G. Unger.
Specific Programs and Web sites: <> <> <>
209 <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
Appendix IX NCAA Recruiting Rules:22
Standardized tests used by many colleges for admissions purposes. You must take the ACT or
SAT and meet the scores outlined on page 7.
To be eligible to play college sports, you must maintain your amateur status. To review NCAA
rules go online to
An individual who supports a particular college’s athletics program by donating money to the
college or by promoting the college’s athletics program.
The organization responsible for certifying your academic eligibility for practice, competition
and financial aid for Division I and Division II
A contact occurs any time a coach has any face-toface contact with you or your parents off the
college’s campus and says more than hello. A contact also occurs if a coach has any contact with
you or your parents at your high school or where you are competing or practicing.
Contact period
During this time, a college coach may have inperson contact with you and/or your parents on or
off the college’s campus. The coach may also watch you play or visit your high school. You and
your parents may visit a college campus and the coach may write and telephone you during this
Core courses
Courses that are academic, college preparatory and that meet high-school graduation
requirements in one of the following areas:
English, mathematics, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, nondoctrinal
religion or philosophy. See page 8 for more information.
Dead period
The college coach may not have any in-person contact with your or your parents at any time in
the dead period.
The coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time..
An evaluation is an activity by a coach to evaluate your academic or athletics ability. This would
include visiting your high school or watching you practice or compete anywhere..
Evaluation period
The college coach may watch you play or visit your high school, but cannot have any in-person
conversations with you and your parents off the college’s campus. You and your parents can
visit a college campus during this period. A coach may write and telephone you or your parents
during this time..
Financial aid
Money you receive from the college or from another source, such as outside loans or grants.
Financial aid may be athletically related
or based on something else, such as academic achievement or financial need. Also referred to as
a scholarship.
From the NCAA Web Site
General Educational Development test. The GED may take the place of high-school graduation
under certain conditions. If you have the GED, you must still have the required number of core
courses, the required grade-point average and the required ACT or SAT score.
Grade-point average
Your NCAA grade-point average is calculated by using grades in your core courses only. See
page 8 for an explanation of the core grade-point average calculation.
An individual who is recruited out of high school, but who delays enrollment in college for a
term or terms.
Home school
An individual who does not attend a traditional high school. A student who has been educated at
home must register with the clearinghouse like any other student.
List of approved core courses
This list contains all core courses taught at your high school. For
the clearinghouse to use courses from your transcript, the course must be on your high-school’s
list of approved core courses. See page 8 for instructions on how to find your high-school’s list.
National Collegiate Athletic Association. The national governing
body for more than 1,200 colleges, universities, conferences and organizations.
National Letter of Intent. A legal, binding contract in which the prospective student-athlete
agrees to attend that college for one academic year. In return, the college agrees to provide the
individual with athletics financial aid for one academic year. For more information, go to
An individual who hasn’t met the academic requirements outlined on pages 6 and 7. A
nonqualifier can’t practice, compete or receive institutional financial aid for one academic year
and has three seasons of competition in Division I.
Official visit
Any visit to a college campus by you and your parents paid for by the college. Any visit to a
college campus by you and your parents paid for by the college. The college may pay the
following expenses:
• Your transportation to and from the college;
• Room and meals (three per day) for your and your parents while you are visiting the college;
• Reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home
athletics contest.
• Before a college may invite you on an official visit, you will have to provide the college with a
copy of your high-school transcript (Division I only) and SAT, ACT, PACT, PSAT or
PLAN score.
Prospective student-athlete. You become a “prospective
student-athlete” when:
• You start ninth-grade classes; or
• Before your ninth-grade year, a college gives you, your
relatives or your friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not provide to
students generally.
Quiet period. The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents
off the college’s campus. The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this
period. You and your parents may visit a college campus during this time. A coach may write or
telephone you or your parents during this time.
Partial qualifier
A term used in Division II only. An individual who has met part of the academic requirements. A
partial qualifier may practice on campus and receive institutional financial aid, but can’t compete
for one academic year. See page 7 for more information.
Personal Identification Number. When you register with the clearinghouse, you pick your own
four-digit PIN. This PIN will allow you to check your eligibility online or by phone. Make sure
you remember what PIN you picked. For high schools, each school selects its own five-digit PIN
that allows high-school personnel to access specific information through the clearinghouse Web
Prospective student-athlete
An individual who has started classes for the ninth grade. Sometimes called a prospect, this is a
person who would like to participate in college sports. Also known as a “recruit.” You become a
“prospective student-athlete” when:
• You start ninth-grade classes; or
• Before your ninth-grade year, a college gives you, your
relatives or your friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not provide to
students generally
An individual who has met the academic requirements to play athletics.. A qualifier may
practice, compete and receive institutional financial aid.
Quiet period
The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college’s
campus. The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this period. You and
your parents may visit a college campus during
An individual who is recruited by a college is someone who has been called by a coach more
than once, someone who has been contacted by a coach off campus, or someone who has
received an official visit from a college.
College coaches will try to get you to come to their college. When the coach calls you, sends you
written materials, comes to watch you practice or play or contacts you in person, that is referred
to as recruiting. Coaches must follow certain recruiting rules.
An individual who does not play in ANY college game or scrimmage, in a given academic year.
If you play in even one second of one game as a college athlete, you can’t be a redshirt.
An individual who is recruited to attend a particular college to play on one of its athletics teams
or a student who reports for practice at a college.
Unofficial visit
Any visit by you and your parents to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The only
expense you may receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a home athletics
contest. You may make as many unofficial visits as you like and may take those visits at any
time. The only time
you cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period.
A process to set aside the academic rules because of specific, extraordinary circumstances that
prevented you from meeting the rules. A waiver must be filed by the college on your behalf.
An individual who does not receive athletics institutional financialaid (scholarship), but who is a
member of a college athletics team.
What requirements do I need to be able to practice, play and get a
scholarship at a Division I or Division II school?
You need to complete the following:
Graduate from high school;
Complete a minimum of 14* core courses;
Present a minimum grade-point average (GPA) in those
14* core courses; and
Present a qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT
* In Division I, the minimum number of core courses is 16 for
students who enter a Division I school August 1, 2008, and
If you enroll in a Division I college in 2008 or later and want to participate in athletics or receive
an athletics scholarship, you must meet all NCAA requirements:
16 Required Core Courses
• Four years of English;
• Three years of mathematics (algebra I or higher level);
• Two years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your
high school);
• One extra year of English, mathematics or natural/physical science;
• Two years of social science; and
• Four years of extra courses (from any category above, or
foreign language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy)
You will be a nonqualifier if you do not meet the academic requirements listed above. As a
nonqualifier, you:
• May not participate in athletics competition or practice during your first year in college;
• May receive financial aid based only on need (not athleticsbased, financial aid) in your first
year in college; and
• May play only three seasons (to earn a fourth season you must graduate before your fifth year
of college).
NCAA Division I Eligibility Chart
3.550 & above
Appendix X: College Web Sites
Admissions Advice
Adv in Education
All About College
Any College
BA-MD Programs
Black Excel
Business Colleges
Campus Dirt
Campus Tours
Canada Colleges
Canada Colleges
Careers and Colleges
Catholic Colleges
CB Net
Center for Stud Opp
Christ Coll Mentor
Chronicle Higher Ed
Coll. Optional SAT
College Board
College Confidential
College Comparisons
College Data
College Directory
College Info
College is Possible
College Majors
College Navigator
College Net
College News
College Night
College Plan
College Prep 101
College Preview
College Prowler
College Rankings
College Results
College Solutions
College Supplement
College Summit
College Tool Kit
College Trends
College Visits
College View
College Week Live
College Zapps
Comm Coll Info
Common Application
Coun Intern Schools
Coun Intern Exchan
Degree Search
Dir Accred Prog
Early College
ECampus Tours
Education Info
Education Internat'l
Educ On-line Search
Education Planning
Education Statistics
Engineering info
Engineering Schools
Go College
Higher Ed. Info Cent
Higher Ed Accred
Higher Ed Watch
Hispanic Coll Info
Hispanic Student Info
Hist. Black Colleges
Independent Colleges
Independent Colleges
Improving Educ
Inq. Liberal Arts
Inside Higher Ed
International Coll.
Ireland Colleges
Jesuit Colleges
Jour Blacks High Ed
Learn More
My College Guide
My College Options
My Game Plan
Native Am Edu
NJ Transfer
Quest Bridge
Resident Learn Comm
School Finder Canad
Schools in the USA
Student Engagement
Studying Abroad
Super College
Talbots College Site
Tribal Colleges
Universal Application
US College Rankings
Walking Tour Videos
Work Colleges
Yahoo Education Site
You University
Admissions Tests
Number 2
Power Prep
Practice Tests
SAT Optional
Test Gear
The Princeton Review
Campus Crime Stats
Education Conserv
Greek Pages
Guidance Resources
Make College Count
Preparing Your Child
Summer Fun
Summer Programs
Worst Essays
Financial Aid and Scholarships
College Fund Comp
College Scholarships
Econ Div Colleges
FA Estimator
FA Letter
Fed Fin Aid Info
Financial Aid Resources
Grants, Etc.
Hispanic Scholarship
Hispanic Scholarships
Indep 529 plans
Intern Stud FA
Jack Kent Cooke
Loan Info
Nellie Mae
NJ Finan Aid Info
Saving for College
Scholar Stuff
Scholarship Coach
Scholarship Page
Scholarship Scams
Student FA Guide
Aptitude, Interest, Career
Bureau of Labor Stat
Campbell Career Surv
Career Cruising
Career Mag.
Career Overview
Career Schools
Careers and Colleges
Do What You Are
Global Quest
Interests Assessment
Learn Adven Abroad
Life Colors
Mpegasus Career Info
My Majors
My Road
Next Stop
People Patterns
Personality Test
Personality Type
Personality Types
Similar Minds
Vocational Schools
Year Off
Camphill (volunteer)
City Year
Gap Year
Interim Programs
Intern'l Voluntering
Outdoor Lead. School
Outward Bound
Semester at Sea
Serv. Conserv. Assn
Taking Time Off
NCAA Clearinghous
Appendix XI: Trends in Higher Education
William T. Bowen has written two books on trends in education over the last couple of decades:
The Shape of the River (on affirmative action) and Equity and Access in Higher Education.
Below are some of the findings and conclusions of these two seminal works:
The Shape of the River
At highly selective colleges, graduation rates for under-represented minority students was not
significantly lower than those of other students
Graduation rates were not greatly effected by entering SAT scores by either African
American or White students at highly selective colleges
The Black-White differential in earnings substantially declines with more education.
The percentage of African American students from highly selective colleges attaining law
and medical degrees was higher than White students.
Conclusions: The recruitment and admission of underrepresented minority students has had
a positive impact on the students admitted.
Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education
Two biggest trends in college are the increased enrollment of women in all levels of higher
education and the increased enrollment of foreign students at the doctoral level.
In 1950, only 6% of adults had a 4-year college degree. In 2002, that number increased to
From 1970 to 2001, the percentage of degrees offered to women in medicine went from 9 to
43 percent. In law, 7 to 47% and in business, 4 to 41%. In 2002, 51% of all doctorates went
to women.
Virtually all the growth in PhD.’s in the last 30 years has been to students on foreign visas.
The number of doctorates to US citizens declined by 5% during that time with the steepest
declines in physical sciences and engineering.
Since 1990, bachelor’s degrees in engineering in the US have declined by 8% and in
mathematics by 20%
The achievement gap is not narrowing since 1990. In 2000, 74% of White students and 80%
of Asian students scored at or above a basic math level. The rate for African Americans is
31% and for Hispanics, 44%.
There is a dramatic growth in PhD’s being earned outside the US. In 2000, 78% were earned
outside the US. China went form 234 doctoral degrees in 1985 to 12,465 in 2001.
The role of income and family background in determining postsecondary training choices has
increased over time, though there is some evidence that it is beginning to lessen in the recent
Schools attended by poor children had a very high percentage of poor children. The average
school attended by a poor child in America had over 50% of the students receive free or
reduced Salaries of teachers were 28% lower in schools with high poverty rates and there
was a much higher faculty turnover rate.
Black and Hispanic students were 10 times more likely as Whites to attend elementary
schools with over 75% of the student body receiving free/reduced lunch.
Students from the top income quartile were 6 times more likely to take and score well on the
SAT’s than those in the bottom quartile.
33 percent of high achieving students from low income (<$20,000) applied to COFHE (a
group of the most highly selective colleges) colleges. 71% of those in the highest income
(>$90,000) did.
44% of students in the lowest income group received bachelor degrees. 78% in the highest
quartile did.
The percentage of students entering the most selective colleges with low incomes or who are
first generation is very small
Women’s colleges enroll a much higher percentage (15.7% to 9.3%) of low income students.
Recruited athletes were LESS likely than others to be in the lowest income group.
Students from low SES groups disperse through majors just as the rest of the population
Though students in the lower SES are more likely to be in the bottom third of the class, it is
not nearly as pronounced as athletes, 2/3 to ¾ of whom are in the bottom third of the class.
Low SES students do not under-perform in relation to their peers
Eliminating race sensitive admissions at highly selective colleges would increase the
admissions rate for White students by less than 2% (25 to 26.5%).
Applicants from low SES groups, whether defined by income or parental education, get no
break in the admissions process- They fare no better or worse. Getting into the pool of
credible applicants, though, is strongly affected by race, income and parental education.
The high percentage of minority and poor students being educated in schools that have very
high percentages of poor students and limited resources will limit the ability of these groups
to achieve at the level or higher income students.
Even high achieving students from these schools did not apply to highly selective colleges
nearly as likely as students with similar achievements from predominantly White or high
SES (socio-economic status) schools.
Once lower SES or minority students enter highly selective colleges (no small task), they
perform as well as their peers.
There greatest trends in higher education are the dramatic increase of women in all levels of
higher education and the dramatic increase in the number of foreign students earning PhD’s.
This past year, though, was the first year in the past 50 years that there was a decrease in the
number of foreign students studying in the US. This is attributable to both post 9/11
difficulties in obtaining educational visas and the growth of PhD programs outside the US.
Appendix XII: National Survey of Student Engagement: 20 schools that create a campus culture
that fosters student success
Alverno College (Wis.)
California State University at Monterey Bay
The Evergreen State College
Fayetteville State University (N.C.)
George Mason University (Va.)
Gonzaga University (Wash.)
Longwood University (Va.)
Macalester College (Minn.)
Miami University (Ohio)
Sewanee — University of the South (Tenn.)
Sweet Briar College (Va.)
University of Kansas (Kan.)
University of Maine-Farmington
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of Texas-El Paso
Ursinus College (Pa.)
Wabash College (Ind.)
Wheaton College (Mass.)
Winston-Salem State University (N.C.)
Wofford College (S.C.)
College Check List (Make a separate sheet for each college in a loose-leaf binder)
College Name_________________________________________
Testing Requirements:
College Address_______________________________________
______SAT I
SAT Subject Tests
Phone #
Web Site
Requested Information: Date____________________
______From Web Site
______By Mail _____At College Fair _________________
_____At High School Visit (Date______) Other______________________________________
College Visit to High School: Date________ Attended: _____Yes _____No
Name of College Representative _________________________________________
E-mail Address of Representative_________________________________________
Date of Visit to College____________________________
Majors/ Programs of Interest______________________________________________________
Essay Topic ___________________________________________________________________
Application Parts: Date Application Sent____________
Date Scores Sent______________
Date transcript requested____________________ Date Transcript Sent____________________
Teacher Recommendations: *Thank you note
1. Name____________________ Date Requested_____________ TY* Note Date_______
2. Name____________________ Date Requested_____________ TY* Note Date________
Financial Aid: Date CSS Profile Filed____________ Date FAFSA filed __________________
Appendix XIV: Colleges Not to Overlook
From Edward T. Custard, Educational Consultant, CollegeMasters
Colleges Students Should Be Sure Not To Overlook
The key to success in the college admissions process has less to do with the effort that students
put in to the applications that they fill out than it does with picking the right places to which to
apply in the first place. Matchmaking is what this game is all about, and as a result, students and
their families can ill afford to limit their options to the familiar. While some of the following
colleges and universities are quite well known in general, each has features of which students
may not be readily aware. All are, for wide-ranging reasons, well worth taking a closer look.
Albertson College of Idaho
Caldwell, ID
Albertson is a very strong private liberal arts college that also offers a very popular
business administration program and a minor in leadership studies. It boasts very small
classes, close faculty contact, and is a great place to prep for life in the real world; it’s
produced seven Rhodes Scholars, and Pulitzer prize and Academy Award winners.
Alfred University
Alfred, NY
Alfred U. is home to the New York State School of Ceramics, which is the strongest of
its kind in the nation, and one of the best in the world. While the University is private and
has a high price tag, the ceramics school is a public division and offers tuition that is far
lower. Academic programs are first-rate regardless of which division one studies within.
It’s relatively remote small town setting on New York State’s Southern Tier makes it
popular among east coast outdoorsy types.
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio
CWRU is a place with a very potent combination: a relatively small undergraduate
enrollment and a high-tech research environment. Students are afforded great research
opportunities, but with them come a heavy workload. Recent construction projects on
campus include a new library to which students award raves, and a brand new home for
Case Western’s management school. The Browns are back in the NFL, and the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame has helped to upgrade Cleveland’s image as a worthwhile place to go.
Champlain College
Burlington, VT
Champlain is primarily a two-year college, with a small number of bachelor’s degree
programs. It’s got some great facilities, including an innovative new facility that integrates the
library with computer labs and the College’s information services department. Co-op programs
are available for students desiring practical career experience. The campus is just outside
Burlington, a great college town that also hosts the University of Vermont.
The Claremont Colleges – Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College,
Pomona College, Scripps College
Claremont, CA
The Claremont Colleges are a cooperative endeavor between five physically adjacent
colleges near Los Angeles that share access to their courses, campuses and facilities with all
students. Each college fulfills a different role, and has it’s own distinct personality. Claremont
McKenna concentrates on the social sciences and humanities, and boasts top-notch faculty and
demanding academic programs. Harvey Mudd focuses on engineering, math, and the sciences in
a very rigorous curriculum, and is perhaps best known for its institutional sense of humor.
(Admissions literature is often labeled “junk mail from Harvey Mudd.”) Pitzer boasts the most
liberal of liberal arts students at these five schools, and affords greater academic flexibility than
its sisters. Pomona is perhaps best-known of the five, and boasts a national student body and a
demanding academic program that includes a lengthy core curriculum and comprehensive exam
or senior project in order to graduate. Scripps is a women’s college with very small classes and a
very traditional approach to the liberal arts.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA
While most people have heard of Georgia Tech, not everyone realizes that it’s a public
university. As a result, Tech offers one of the best tuition deals to be found among tech
schools. With an extensive fiber-optic network that is one of the best in the country,
Georgia Tech is on the cutting edge of cyberspace; one successful current undergraduate
Internet entrepreneur recently made a donation of $15 million for the improvement of lab
facilities. The downtown campus also got a big boost from the construction of $315
million worth of housing and athletic facilities for the 1996 Olympics.
Macalester College
St. Paul, MN
Macalester seems to offer all the best features found at liberal arts colleges in one place; a
beautiful campus, top tier academic programs and study abroad opportunities, nationallycompetitive Division III athletic teams, students who regularly pull down more than their fair
share of prestigious scholarships and fellowships for graduate study, and great financial aid. The
College has a super endowment for a place of its size, and spends it generously on programs that
directly benefit its students across the board.
McGill University
Montreal, Canada
Americans often refer to McGill as “the Harvard of Canada.” While in truth there are a
few more rigorous universities north of the border, none of them are in the heart of downtown
Montreal, the largest French speaking city after Paris, and one of North America’s great
undiscovered college towns. The University teaches in English, and offers academic excellence
across a wide range of disciplines. The student body is remarkably diverse—much more so than
at most US universities—and counts student representation from over 140 countries. American
students are very much sought after by Canadian universities, and due to the current exchange
rate on the Canadian dollar we effectively get more than one year free!
New College
Sarasota, FL
One of the best deals in US higher education can be found on the shores of Sarasota Bay
off the Gulf of Mexico, at 600-student New College. Once private but now the Honors
College of the State University System of Florida, the College offers one of the nation’s
most rigorous academic programs—at public prices. Degree programs, while based in the
traditional liberal arts, are all self-designed in consultation with faculty and require a
senior thesis and formal defense in order to graduate. The College has constructed eleven
new buildings over the past ten years; as a result, it boasts what must be the best facilities
of any college of its size in the nation. It’s fantastic prep for those aspiring to grad school.
Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey
Piscataway, NJ
Perhaps because so many native New Jerseyans choose to leave the state for college,
Rutgers is less of a household word than it should be—even though it’s the alma mater of Ally
McBeal’s Calista Flockhart. The University is particularly strong in engineering, nursing, the
performing arts, and social sciences; eighteen undergraduate colleges provide dozens of other
quality options. Big East athletics add to the appeal; though many would be happier if the
football team were competitive, the women’s basketball team is a national power. The student
body is remarkably diverse.
Seattle University
Seattle, WA
Seattle U. is best represented by the unique opportunity it offers—to attend a small,
academically solid urban university whose extremely successful campus revitalization
has served to greatly influence and energize the surrounding neighborhood. The
University’s Jesuit heritage and philosophy toward education is a big draw for students;
its new $5 million chapel has become a major tourist draw as well. While lots of students
are native to the Pacific Northwest, there’s a significant international presence that adds
to the diverse flavor of the campus.
Southwestern University
Georgetown, TX
Twenty-five or so miles north of Austin sits one of the better-kept secrets in higher
education, Southwestern U. This academically impressive little school offers terrific business
programs and solid liberal arts combined with a highly regarded faculty and small classes. It has
a great track record for internship experiences and career success. Socially, the Greek system is
predominant—but students can choose to get away from it all for a while on the campus golf
University of Maryland – Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD
Out of nowhere has sprung the very impressive University of Maryland – Baltimore
County. Though largely a commuter school at present (about a quarter of the students live on
campus), construction is proceeding fast apace on all sorts of facilities for residential, social, and
academic activity. UMBC is particularly strong in computer science—especially computer
graphics and information systems—and the health professions. Though its athletic teams are
quite competitive, it’s chess in which UMBC makes its claim to fame. The University is 3-time
national collegiate chess champions over the past few years, and offers full scholarships for their
best chess players.
University of the South
Sewanee, TN
The University of the South, better known as Sewanee, offers a highly traditional
“classical” academic environment on one of America’s safest college campuses. Situated on a
10,000-acre campus on the top of its very own mountain, the University embraces a strict honor
code which students diligently uphold. By choice and tradition rather than by administrative rule
students dress neatly for class, with honor students, or “gownsmen,” donning academic robes
along with their professors. This small, remarkable university has produced twenty-three Rhodes
Xavier University of Louisiana
New Orleans, LA
Xavier University of Louisiana is the only predominantly black Catholic university in the
Western Hemisphere. Although it is largely a commuter school with only a third of its students
living on campus, there’s a great draw for students seeking careers in science-related
professions: Xavier is the leading school in the nation in the number of African-American
students awarded degrees in the sciences, and in the placement of African-American students
into pharmacy and medical schools. Twenty-five percent of all African-American pharmacists in
the nation are Xavier grads.
Edward T. Custard has over 23 years of experience in college admission and counseling.
He is a certified educational planner (CEP) and partner with CollegeMasters, an educational
consulting firm with offices in New York, Arizona, and New Mexico. A former college
admissions director, Ed has authored and/or edited four college guides, including the best-selling
Random House/Princeton Review Guide to the Best Colleges.
To this list, I would add:
Allegheny College
Carleton College
Clark University
Drew University
Grinnell College
Miami University of Ohio
Reed College
SUNY at Binghamton
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rochester
Appendix XV: College Master’s© Time-line and Check list
Junior Year
Register to take the PSAT.
Take the PSAT in October.
Gather game tapes. (Winter/Spring athletes)
Schedule spring college planning meeting with your school counselor.
Create a folder to hold all of your college planning materials.
Talk with your parent(s) about your thoughts and plans for college.
Develop a personal inventory for your college search.
Register and prepare for the May and/or June SAT I/SAT II exams.
Meet with college admission officers who visit your school.
Take the SAT in May and/or June.
Attend the New York City National College Fair.
Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse. (Athletes only)
Consider enrollment in a summer program for high school students.
Request admissions materials from any colleges you’re considering.
Read through accumulated college admissions literature.
Talk to students in your area who attend colleges you are considering.
Start college visits.
Work on shortening your list of colleges to between 6 and 15.
Start SAT test prep for the senior-year October SAT (Summer)
Timeline for the College Application Process- Senior Year.
• Meet with your high school guidance counselor.
Go over your summer progress in the college search and review your current high school
transcript for accuracy. Review the calendar of tasks for the remainder of the application
process. Set a target date for finalizing college choices.
Phone or email application requests to colleges that are new to your list.
Register and start test prep for the October and/or November SAT.
SAT II subject exams are also offered on these test dates if you need to take them.
Approach teachers in your core academic courses for recommendations.
Do this as far in advance of deadlines as possible—you’ll be more likely to get a
thoughtful, well prepared recommendation when you give them ample lead time.
Arrange Fall college visits.
Many colleges have special visit programs for minority students that include covering
travel costs—inquire early to participate.
• Take the October SAT
Attend a college fair at your school or in the area.
October and November provide the last chances to speak with admission officers in
person before you apply. Large regional college fairs are held this month and include
hundreds of colleges and universities in attendance. Check dates with you high school
Meet with admission officers who visit your high school from colleges in which you
have an interest. These opportunities may also occur in November.
Continue visiting colleges.
Finalize college choices
By the end of October you should be close to finalizing your list of colleges to between
six to eight schools where you intend on applying.
Get started on the paperwork.
As soon as it becomes clear that you will definitely apply to a particular college, begin to
prepare responses to assigned essay questions or topics and gather any other materials
you may need to submit. If you’re planning on applying Early Decision or Early
Action to your first choice college, make this the priority.
• Take the November SAT.
Register for the December SAT I/SAT II exams if you plan to take one or both.
Choose your final list of colleges if you haven’t already done so.
Early Decision and Early Action application deadlines are this month.
If you’re applying through one of these plans give that application top priority.
Get Rolling Admission applications done.
Rolling admission apps—where the sooner you apply, the sooner you get a decision—are
with few exceptions usually more concise and require less work than the rest. Get these
out of the way early and you’ll get an early response.
Set a target of Thanksgiving for the completion of all other applications.
Getting everything in before the holiday season helps to avoid being a part of the huge
influx of paper that flows into admission offices after New Year’s Day.
• Take the December SAT.
Early Decision and Early Action applicants are notified of decisions.
Begin preparing financial aid forms; gather working materials.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the college’s own financial
aid forms are typically due in January. Attend one of the many financial aid workshops
that are held throughout the city during December and January with your parent(s).
Talk with students from your area who attend the colleges on your list.
Many will be home for the holidays; take advantage of the opportunity.
• Prepare and submit the FAFSA and institutional financial aid applications.
All financial aid applications should be completed as soon as possible during this month.
Do not wait until after your family files current income tax returns—colleges can update
their calculations later with a copy of this year’s return.
Many colleges have regular application deadlines of January 2 or 15.
• Regular application deadlines for most colleges are February 1 or 15.
Final deadlines for institutional financial aid applications.
These are best handled earlier in January, but there’s still an opportunity to get financial
aid if you act fast.
• Regular admissions decisions begin to be released this month.
Financial aid awards typically arrive with admission offers or within two weeks.
Meet with your high school counselor.
As admission decisions arrive discuss options and review financial aid offers.
• Final regular admissions notifications are sent by April 15.
If you are wait-listed and wish to stay on the list, contact the college.
Speak with an admission officer in order to submit additional supporting credentials,
have an interview, or supply anything else that the admissions committee might find
helpful in their continued review of your candidacy.
Review and compare financial aid packages.
Look carefully to determine exactly how much you will have to pay to attend each
college that has admitted you. Don’t forget to include both the amount you are expected
to pay and the total amount of any loans that you will have to take.
Attend receptions and campus visit programs for admitted students.
Be certain to meet with a financial aid officer if you have any questions or problems with
the financial aid package you’ve been offered.
Assess the quality of the contact you’ve had with the colleges on your list.
If you have been treated poorly, there is no reason to believe that it will be better once
you're enrolled—and then you'll be paying big dollars for the privilege.
Commit to attend the college you prefer.
May 1st is by tradition the official national reply date for students to accept offers of
admission. Your enrollment form and cash deposit hold your spot in the class.
Re-assess Wait List Colleges.
If you have been wait-listed at one of your top choices and have not received a final
decision by mid-May, it’s time to re-assess your chances for admission.
• Finish strong in high school.
Avoid Senioritis. Many top colleges will not hesitate to withdraw admission offers or place
students on academic probation for the first semester if their academic performance has declined
significantly in the last term of high school
Appendix XVI: Carnegie Foundation Survey- 10,000 faculty at 306 institutions
• Should teaching be a primary concern for the promotion of faculty?
62% All Faculty
21% Research University
41% PhD Granting University
76% Liberal Arts College
• Do your interests lie primarily in research or teaching? (per cent saying teaching)
70% All Faculty
33% Research University
55% PhD Granting University
83% Liberal Arts College
Does the pressure to publish reduce the quality of teaching at your university (per cent
saying yes)
35% All Faculty
53% Research University
54% PhD Granting University
22% Liberal Arts College
Has the balance of importance among teaching, research and service at your institution
shifted in recent years?
5% To teaching and away from service
26% To research away from teaching and service
17% To teaching and service
39% No Change
Appendix XVII: College Master’s © College Visit Guidelines:
College Visit Guidelines/Points To Ponder
Things one should definitely do (or not) when visiting a college campus:
1. Don’t visit on a Friday afternoon, a weekend, the summer, or during a campus break or
holiday if at all possible. Don’t visit Boston in September or April (warm) or Florida in
December or January (cool/mild). All of these approaches will give you a skewed picture
of campus life; do so only if you have no choice.
2. Explore a bit on your own before visiting the admissions office; this gives you an
objective point of view free of admission office spin.
3. Visit the admissions office and go through their formal process for prospective students.
You’ll need to get the official word on the application process and the current picture on
the selectivity level of candidate evaluation. It’s also important to give them an
opportunity to meet you, even if only for a group information session. Schedule a
personal interview in advance if the college offers them. Also plan to take a formal tour,
even if you’ve already looked around. Don’t just drop in no matter what—calling ahead
is often the only way the college will have a record that you’ve been there, and this is
often a consideration in candidate review.
4. Talk to students who don’t work for the admissions office. Often students who work with
admissions are paid employees or get perks such as single rooms or tuition rebates in
exchange for talking with prospective students and parents in person, in writing, or on the
telephone, and for leading tours. They are usually very enthusiastic about their
experience at the college and are rarely anyone but very good students.
5. Sit in on classes. Contact admissions in advance about this—they often have pre-arranged
opportunities with faculty in a wide variety of academic areas to allow students to sit in
on freshman-level courses. If you don’t sit in on at least one, you’ve skipped the most
important part of your on-campus evaluation—the quality of the academic experience—
and perhaps given up the opportunity to talk outside of class with a faculty member.
6. Eat in a campus dining hall. Be sure to have at least one meal in a main dining facility. If
you plan on residing at the college, you’ll be eating 15 to 20 meals there; it’s important
that the offerings are to your liking (or at least digestible!). This is also an opportunity to
talk with students who don’t work for admissions.
7. Stay overnight on campus in a dormitory if you can. Most colleges have some type of
overnight program; call admissions regarding availability
The following suggestions are intended to provide some guidelines for compiling an effective
visit report/campus assessment. Examples are provided to help visitors to focus their thoughts
around representative issues; they should be regarded as such, rather than as definitive within a
given category.
Initial impressions:
(Think of your experience in getting to the campus, and comment upon the
neighboring vicinity. Ex: How easy is it to get to the campus? Is there any “there”
Campus Look:
(What are your initial impressions of its appearance upon arrival? Ex: Is it well
kept, easy to get around? Is there lots of construction taking place? If so, what
(What is your initial sense of the environment that one encounters upon
arrival on campus? Ex: Describe the campus atmosphere, energy (or lack thereof),
sense of community. Does it feel safe?)
(Ex: Do they look happy? Busy? Engaged with one another?
Comfortable? Are they friendly and approachable?)
Useful information gleaned in the course of your visit:
(What is most noteworthy of what you learned about the academic
program here during your visit? Ex: Unusual offerings, exceptional strengths,
changes—the new and the gone. Note the level of demand in evidence.)
(What is most noteworthy of what you learned about the students here
during your visit? Ex: What are they happiest about? Least happy or upset about?
Are they engaged in learning, or passively meandering their way to the Bachelor’s
degree? Are they who you expected to encounter here? Why or why not? Where
do they go from here?)
College Life/Environment:
(What is most noteworthy of what you learned about student life outside
of academics during your visit to campus? Ex: Common/popular pursuits and
activities; unusual offerings, exceptional strengths, new developments; campus
safety information.
What do the campus and its environs have to offer?)
Admission and Financial Aid:
(What is new and of significance to prospective students regarding admission
policies/approaches, financial aid offerings/awards, and undergraduate recruitment?)
Post-visit thoughts and impressions:
(Did what you saw and learned on your visit mesh with the sense of the college that you
had prior to visiting? If not, how was it different? How would you sum up the college in a
brief comment? What type of student/person could you see making a good match with
this place? What would you say to others regarding this college/university as an option?)
Appendix XVIII College Master’s © Tips on Preparing for College
College Prep Steps to Take Throughout High School
(especially important for freshmen and sophomores but significant for all)
Course Selection
• Pursue a college-preparatory curriculum in school, emphasizing "the five solids" English, math, social sciences, natural sciences, and foreign languages.
College admission committees expect to see four full years of courses from within these
subjects—twenty solid academic courses, which goes beyond the standard expectation
for high school graduation. (If you don’t have four years of each individual subject—for
example, if you don’t have four years of a foreign language substitute another course
from within the other four subject areas, such as another history or English course.)
Always choose the toughest courses available in which you feel that you can do well—B
or better. If you’re an outstanding student and honors and Advanced Placement courses
are available and appropriate, take them. If you attempt a course that is too difficult for
you and seem destined to failure, switch to a less challenging course in the same subject
if possible in order to maintain at least a B.
• After evaluating the courses that you’ve taken in high school, college admission officers
look closely at the grades you’ve gotten in your “solid” academic courses as described
above. Obviously, the higher the grades you get the better it is in their eyes.
Consistency across the board and within each individual subject is also very important.
Grades that go down and up, down and up, or just straight down work against you in the
admission process. If you find it difficult to get consistently high grades an upward trend
where your grades get continually and progressively better is the next best thing. If your
grades go down because of personal problems or family difficulties, work hard to raise
them back up as soon as possible.
Keep working hard straight through until graduation—the college you choose to attend
will also get your final grades, and admission officers do review that transcript for any
poor or failing grades. This can affect your admission or place you on academic
probation at the start of your college career!
Reading, writing, study skills
Getting in to college is only part of the deal—you need to work hard for another four years in
order to graduate and get your degree! The typical college requires far more reading, writing, and
studying than anything you’ve been required to do in high school. The time to prepare is now,
while you’re still in high school. Not only will this help your chances for admission and success
in college, it will make you a better student in high school right away.
Read as often as possible. The daily newspaper is a great place to start, and will help you
stay on top of current events. Tabloids like the Daily News or the Post are an OK source
of news briefs and sports info, while papers like the New York Times and Wall Street
Journal cover the news and specialized subjects like business in a more in-depth fashion
closer to the approach that college professors will take in class discussion. Start with any
of them and work your way up to reading material that digs deeper in to the issues that
interest and affect you. This can mean magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and US
News or books that deal specifically with current events, history, or biography. The
important thing is that you get in to the habit of reading on a daily and ongoing basis.
Your vocabulary and school performance will improve and you’ll also be more aware of
what has happened, is happening, or might happen around you.
Use what you’ve learned in English and other classes to help you recognize good writing
and weak writing, in terms of both the story or argument the writer lays out and the
vocabulary, grammar and structure through which s/he does it. Has s/he done a good job
of telling the tale that was intended to be told or of defending the position taken on an
issue? Is it clear and easy to understand?
Write more yourself, even beyond what is required for school. Keep a personal journal in
which you write daily, write poetry, stories, or song verses, letters to relatives or
friends—anything that requires you to put pen to paper and organize your thoughts on the
If you are a junior in high school this year, you’ll be among the first to take the new SAT
with the added writing section. This test will include multiple-choice questions that ask
you to recognize various aspects of sound writing as well as an actual written essay
section, and be scored as a third section of the test. The new SAT I will have a maximum
score of 2400.
Learn to write formally. College-level writing requires use of proper grammar and
structure, and a well-organized, systematic presentation of thoughts. Keep in mind that
while you may do a lot of it—even as part of this program—email, instant messaging,
web logs, or other such forms of writing are not good preparation for the kind of writing
you’ll have to do in college unless you use proper structure and grammar. Learning to
write well takes practice.
Good study skills are also something that you have to develop, personalize, and make a
habit. And they’re critical to success in college. While in high school, work on
establishing the fundamentals: good note-taking in class, a quiet place to study at home or
nearby, a regular time that you set aside daily for studying, and a systematic approach
toward your use of the time you’ve set aside. (For example: reading/outlining first,
written assignments next, test review last.) If you find this difficult to do on your own,
consider gathering some classmates in to a small study group that meets regularly.
Extracurricular activities and work
All highly selective admission committees and many other colleges and universities look very
closely at the personal side of candidates when considering whether to offer them admission.
This includes a close look at several different ways in which students might use their time
outside of class. While commitment and excellence on an individual level is rewarded in the
admission process, most institutions are also concerned with how an individual functions within
a group or team. A combination of personal and group involvements outside of class often
provides the best means for admission officers to get a sense of what makes a particular
applicant tick. These activities can take place at home, at school, and in the community.
Get involved in clubs, sports, or organizations in school or outside that deal with things
you really like to do. Stay involved straight on through to graduation—colleges like to
see evidence of dedication and persistence.
If there is no currently-existing club or group at school that does things that you like, look
for others who share your interests and together speak with a teacher about sponsoring a
new group.
Community involvement can include church youth groups, volunteer work or community
service activities, tutoring, clean-up, or anything else that contributes to the betterment of
your neighborhood. There are lots of opportunities for this type of involvement, and it
has the added bonus of helping you get to know your community and neighbors even
If you’ve got significant time commitments at home or with a job, don’t feel as if you’re
at a disadvantage in the college admission process because you can’t play sports or join
clubs. All colleges regard work and commitments in support of your family as key
examples of responsibility and maturity, important character traits in successful college
Appendix XIX: The Academic Index from
How to calculate it; what it means
If you’re a high school football player receiving letters from Ivy League football programs, then
you should know what the Ivy League’s Academic Index (A.I.) is, and how to calculate it. Ivy
League recruiters typically will not explain this.
The information presented here was drawn from conversations with coaches and from various
books available at most public libraries. Two important books on this subject are: "Playing the
Game," by Chris Lincoln (Nomad Press); and "A is for Admission" by Michele A. Hernandez
(Warner Books).
The Academic Index: What it is
The Academic Index is a measure that Ivy League coaches use to determine a player's
recruitability. Approximately two-thirds of it is based on your standardized test score (SAT or
ACT); the other third is based on your class rank (or GPA, if your school does not provide class
The original purpose of the Academic Index was to provide Ivy League schools with a
standardized method for admitting athletes (Ivy League schools, however, now use the
Academic Index for non-athletes, too). The important point to understand is that all Ivy League
sports programs must abide by rules surrounding the index. Therefore, if your Academic Index is
below the minimum level, you must raise it, or you cannot be admitted.
Also, be aware that Ivy League schools may send recruiting letters to you before they have
calculated your index. According to the book, "Playing the Game," Ivy football programs
typically start their recruiting processes by sending mass mailings to all of the 13,000-plus high
schools in the U.S. They then follow up with hundreds or even thousands of letters to potential
recruits across the country. Thus, recruiting letters by themselves are not a guarantee that you
meet a certain school's minimum A.I. requirements.
Lastly, be aware that the index shown here is the same rough approximation used by Ivy League
coaches. The real Academic Index used by Ivy admissions offices involves the use of the SAT 2
exam, which most athletes have not taken. Therefore, coaches use the following approximation
to get a rough idea of your eligibility:
Academic Index = (SAT score /10) + (CRS)
To use the formula, follow these three steps:
Step 1. If you’ve taken the SAT, divide your cumulative score by 10. A 1300, for example,
becomes a 130. This is your test score quotient.
Step 1-A. If you have taken the ACT rather than the SAT, go to Table 1 (see the link below) and
convert your ACT score to an SAT. Then divide it by 10. This is your test score quotient.
Step 2. Get your Converted Rank Score (CRS) from Table 2 (see the links below). Make sure
you use the table that’s right for the size of your graduating class.
Step 3. Add the CRS to the test score quotient. The sum of the two numbers is your Academic
The Academic Index: What it means
There’s only one universal truth about the Academic Index: If you have an A.I. below 171, you
cannot be admitted to an Ivy League school as an athlete. The Ivy League is unforgiving on this
point, no matter how good the athlete.
For those at or above 171, the meaning of the Academic Index varies from school to school.
To precisely determine an athlete’s recruitability, the Ivy League segments all A.I.s above 171
into four “bands.” Bands at each school are defined by the statistical make-up of the school's
current freshman class. In each school, therefore, the numbers associated with the bands differ.
The universal rules that define the bands are as follows (if you're an Ivy League recruit, bear
with this description; you should be able to understand it):
High band: This bands starts with the school's mean Academic Index, and ranges down to one
standard deviation below the mean. ("Standard deviation" is defined as measure of the range of
variation within a group. Typically, 68% of all data points fall within one standard deviation;
95% fall within two. In the case of the Ivy League Academic Index, one standard deviation
reportedly varies from 12-16 points per school.)
Medium band: Goes from one standard deviation to two standard deviations below the mean.
Low band: Goes from two standard deviations to two-and-a-half standard deviations below the
Low-Low band: Ranges from two-and-a-half standard deviations down to the minimum A.I. of
Using this system, an Ivy League school with a mean Academic Index of 210 and a standard
deviation of 14 would have its bands defined as follows:
High: 197-210
Med: 183-196
Low: 176-182
Low-Low: 171-175
Ivy League schools rarely, if ever, publish their mean A.I.s. It is assumed, however, that
Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (in that order) have the three highest mean figures, probably at or
around 220. According to the book, "Playing the Game," Dartmouth usually falls fourth at
approximately 212, followed (in order) by Columbia, Pennsylvania, Brown, and Cornell.
Under the rules of the system, no school can admit more than 30 football players per year.
Moreover, the schools must specifically show that prescribed numbers of recruited players fall
into the bands as follows:
High band: 8 players
Med. band: 13 players
Low band: 7 players
Low-Low: 2 players
In general, however, the following is also true about the meaning of your A.I.:
1. The lower your band, the better you must be as an athlete.
2. Students who fall in the “low-low” band need to be exceptional athletes (all-state caliber
players who are being recruited by Michigan or Ohio State, for example).
3. Students with A.I.s above 220 stand a better chance of being recruited, and needn’t be AllState caliber players. In fact, some Ivies have been known to pad their teams’ Academic Indices
by recruiting football players with 1550 SAT scores and virtually no chance of ever seeing game
4. In football, offensive linemen are often recruited in the medium and high bands. Low-low
bands are most often reserved for impact players: quarterbacks, running backs, and wide
5. Ivy admissions are tough, even for recruited athletes. All Ivy League schools start with a pool
of more than a thousand players, and then whittle that pool down to 30. A typical “low-low,”
therefore, will be in the top quarter of his high school class, with a 27 on the ACT (1220 SAT),
and will be a first-team all-stater or even a high school All-American caliber player. A typical
“high” might still be an all-conference caliber player with a 33+ ACT (1460+ SAT) and a top
5% ranking.
Finally, remember that the formula presented here is a rough approximation used by coaches. Ivy
admissions officers typically want prospective students to take the SAT 2 exam before
calculating their “real” Academic Index.
(Converted Rank Score at link above for this article)

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