Georgia Tech Admission BlogFocus on AdmissionRick Clark
(I have edited out some of the Georgia Tech discussion for the sake of brevity.)
It is Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and pouring rain.
There are two ways I can view this fact:
2. The rain is going to wash away all this God-forsaken pollen that has been caked all over our cars and porch and wreaking havoc on my allergies. No soccer game means no driving, no waiting around for the match to start, and more family and free time today. Also, I love running right after the rain, and sometimes heading out in the middle of it when nobody else is on the streets.
Ultimately, our perspective, and where we focus, is a decision. In March and April, college admission is full of decisions. Admit, deny, waitlist decisions coming out from colleges. And as a student or family, receiving that information, coupling it with financial aid and scholarship details, and making big decisions yourself.
Focus on Admission
A few years ago, my friend and colleague Akil Bello coined the phrase “highly rejective” colleges. I appreciate the reframing from “selective” and think it’s helpful to students in understanding the reality of supply and demand in higher education.
For the same reason, I am an advocate of universities highlighting both the percentage of applicants they admit and deny, in hopes of encouraging students to consider a balanced list of schools to visit or apply to.
Focus on Admission
As a student, you have a similar choice:
2. You can focus on admission. If you are a senior reading this, you have college choices and options. And be reminded, my friends, that was the goal from the outset. I am urging you to focus on the YES’.
You can read back over those letters of admission that celebrate your accomplishments and welcome you into their communities. You can go to your mailbox or inbox and see invitations to admitted student programs or offers to visit campus and connect with other students.
You can celebrate the hard work you have put in to get to this point and consider the innumerable and fantastically unknowable future opportunities you will discover at the college you select. None of that changes the fact that one (or a few schools denied you), but I am hopeful you will “highly reject” that vantage point, and instead FOCUS ON ADMISSION!
Congratulations! Your future is bright-- even if you happen to be reading this on what is (or simply feels like) a cold, dark, or rainy morning.
Bucknell University, located in central Pennsylvania, selected approximately 63% of it's incoming class from ED1 and ED2, the vast majority coming from ED1. Thus, Bucknell is following the trend we are observing more often in the past few years. ED means you are walking away from any hope of merit aid, so you can see why it is so popular with universities. With an overall admit rate of 32%, according to Jill Medina on a webinar today, Bucknell is becoming more and more selective. Some majors are more difficult to be admitted into than others: psychology had a surprising low admit rate of 13.6%, while computer science and engineering was at 23.7%. The Freeman College of Management saw an admit rate of 22.7%. A student must have taken pre-calculus to be considered competitive, don't think for a second that AP Statistics is going to be an acceptable replacement. Bucknell has D1 sports, a robust Greek scene, and guarantees housing for all four years. Students must self-nominate for merit aid.
The UCs have started releasing their admissions decisions and there are a lot of very upset seniors in California right now. It is absolutely critical that you do something academic this summer. The minimum is taking one community college class, however I recommend taking two if you really want to attend a UC. This semester and summer are your last opportunities to make yourself competitive for admission to the UCs.
The UCs look at 13 factors. PLEASE READ THESE OVER AND SEE HOW MANY OF THEM APPLY TO YOU:
1. Academic grade point average in all completed A-G courses, including additional points for completed UC-certified honors courses.
2. Number of, content of and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum A-G requirements.
3. Number of and performance in UC-approved honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Higher Level and transferable college courses.
4. Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of your high school class at the end of your junior year (Eligible in the Local Context, or ELC).
5. Quality of your senior-year program as measured by the type and number of academic courses in progress or planned.
6. Quality of your academic performance relative to the educational opportunities available in your high school.
7. Outstanding performance in one or more specific subject areas.
8. Outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.
9. Recent, marked improvement in academic performance as demonstrated by academic GPA and the quality of coursework completed or in progress.
10. Special talents, achievements and awards in a particular field, such as visual and performing arts, communication or athletic endeavors; special skills, such as demonstrated written and oral proficiency in other languages; special interests, such as intensive study and exploration of other cultures; experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service or significant participation in student government; or other significant experiences or achievements that demonstrate the student's promise for contributing to the intellectual vitality of a campus.
11. Completion of special projects undertaken in the context of your high school curriculum or in conjunction with special school events, projects or programs.
12. Academic accomplishments in light of your life experiences and special circumstances, including but not limited to: disabilities, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, disadvantaged social or educational environment, difficult personal and family situations or circumstances, refugee status or veteran status.
13. Location of your secondary school
Here are the GPAs at each UC for 2022. Every year the UCs become more selective, so expect these numbers to go up. Remember these are capped GPAs because the UCs only allow eight semesters of Honors or AP grade bumps.
Santa Cruz: 3.94-4.25
THE UCS ARE VERY GPA DRIVEN. TO HAVE A CHANCE OF ADMISSION YOU NEED TO EXCEED THE LOWEST GPA LISTED FOR THE SCHOOL TO WHICH YOU ARE APPLYING.
Please be ready to discuss this at our next meeting if you have any UCs on your college list.
Georgia Tech Admission Blog
The Two Most Important Letters in College Admission
I loved watching Family Feud when I was a kid. The need to think quickly on the first showdown, the spontaneous family dynamics, and playing along at home with anyone who would join me. Over it’s 40+ year history, guests and gimmicks and hosts and networks have changed, and there have been some dark, quiet years when the show was scrapped, but today it is as lively and fun as ever.
If you have never watched the show…who are you? And what kind of incomplete life have you been living? Scratch that- if you have never watched Family Feud, you can check it out on ABC, Hulu, download the Feud Live app or view some priceless clips on YouTube.
As a quick refresher, the game starts with a prompt: “We asked 100 people (insert a random prompt here).” The contestants attempt to name something that they believe would receive the most mentions.
Let’s give it a shot.
“We asked 100 people what the most important letters in college admission are…”
In this case, I think the “number one answer on the board” would be GPA. Trying to think like the majority my next response would be SAT and ACT. The odds are those three would account for 70%+ of the answers.
But if you changed the initial prompt to: “We asked 100 admission officers what the most important letters in college admission are…” the number one answer on the board would undoubtedly be —IPs. Internet Protocol address? Uhh…no. IPs are Institutional Priorities.
IPs, Institutional Priorities.
The outward-facing Mission and Vision Statements schools publish on their sites are lofty, well-crafted, broad and aspirational. Institutional Priorities connect to mission, but they are more functional, specific, and quantifiable. As an admission dean/director, IPs influence the entire funnel – from prospects to enrolling students.
Prospects/Recruitment: In recent years, as an example, many states and regions of the country have been losing population. They know that to achieve the most basic of all IPs– a certain class size– they need to grow their college’s brand beyond their geographic area, create new markets, and bolster enrollment from feeder schools or cities. This is one reason you see so many regional recruiters from the Midwest and Northeast living in Atlanta, Dallas, California, etc. Why do some colleges consistently visit some states twice a year and yet have not physically been to others in decades? Number one answer on the board—IPs.
A new Provost is hired at Sample College. She looks at the undergraduate enrollment and sees that in recent years the population has been becoming increasingly female- a general trend in higher education. While ten years ago, the school was 55% women, it is now over 60%. In the Provost’s interviews, discussions with faculty, and conversations with employers, she’s learned that re-establishing more gender equity is a goal. Voila. An IP is born and you can bet in her first few conversations with her admission dean, she is asking for a list of actions for how they will accomplish this institutional priority.
Suddenly, Sam gets a postcard in the mail from Sample College, while his fraternal twin Samantha does not—even though she competed Sample’s sample online interest form and cheers for the Sample Salmons every Saturday.
Marketing: Let’s say Example University (Home of the Fighting Ex’s) adds a Nursing major and hires a new ambitious business school dean charged with significantly growing the B school. You can bet EU is investing in publications, digital marketing campaigns, texts, social media efforts, and other resources to achieve those goals. Why do you think you’ve started seeing “Example Means Business” pop ups on your screen and feed lately? Do I think Example should put a picture of a kid in a suit and briefcase having his blood drawn? No. But trust- Instagram takeovers will show plenty of pictures of EKG machines and stock market graphs in the year ahead.
Admission deans have been hired and fired based on their ability to meet specific institutional priorities: raise our standardized test score average, decrease our admit rate, eat into the market share of our biggest rival. As I said before, IPs are functional, specific, and quantifiable. On average, I get one or two job postings for admission/enrollment jobs each week. IPs are a significant piece of those job profile summaries.
Admission Decisions. At the beginning of the year, all admission deans are given a target number of students to enroll: 500, 5000, etc. Right on the heels of that information are subgoals…the numbers within the numbers…the IPs.
My alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill, is legislated to enroll 82% of its students from North Carolina. Since the majority of applicants don’t hail from the Old North State, it is absolutely easier to get into UNC form Concord, NC than Concord, NH. This is true at Georgia Tech as well. Our Georgia admit rate this year will be four times that of non-Peach Staters.
If you are a senior awaiting an admission decision from a more selective school, this means your test score, GPA, number of AP courses, or any other purely academic metric is not going to be the entire basis for your admission decision. Yes, holistic admission means more than the academic numbers, but it also means other numbers play in, i.e. IPs. This is what admission deans mean when they say they are looking to “select” or “shape” a class. If Admissions was a language on Google Translate, “shaping a class” would convert to “IPs drive our process.”
How do you know what a particular school’s institutional priorities are?
When I bring up IPs on panels or in conversation, the first question is always, “How do I know what a school’s IPs are? ” At that point, I shift from the most important letters to the most commonly used phrase in college admission… It Depends.
Sometimes these will be overtly stated in webinars or presentations. A few years ago, I was on a panel in Denver with a dean from the northeast and he literally said, “We are trying to increase the number of students from Colorado. Why do you think I’m here?”
Sometimes you will see IPs reflected on websites. If a school is using a sliding scale that correlates amount of financial aid dollars (i.e. scholarship/merit money) with test scores, it is clear increasing their SAT/ACT average is a goal.
Sometimes you can just ask. Now, if the response is they want Chemistry majors from Nebraska, their response may not help, but admission officers welcome questions in virtual sessions or while you are on campus. “What are your goals for the next class?” “What are you trying to grow or improve here?” Put your own spin on it, but just know you can absolutely ask this type of question.
Sometimes you won’t know. If an enrollment manager has been instructed to reduce the discount rate, enroll fewer students from your state, or decrease the number of students with first and last names that both start with M…Well, sorry Matthew Martin, you’ll just be left to think it was the fact that you didn’t take AP World Geography.
If you are a junior, obviously I’m telling you to move to Nebraska and indicate Chemistry as an intended major. Secondly, spend copious amounts of time analyzing the last decade of Common Data Sets for the colleges you are considering in order to determine their strategies and trends. No- please don’t go down those speculative rabbit holes. All of what I’ve said over the years holds- your job is to understand your goals, your interests, and your priorities, and apply to colleges where you would be excited to attend. I could write another few thousands words about this, but since I already wrote a book and blog for the last seven years, I’ll let my body of work stand.
If you are a senior, many colleges will release decisions in March. If you are denied from a selective college, my hope is you won’t question your academic ability or lose sleep trying to figure out what was “wrong” with you or what you “could or should have done differently.” IPs mean admission decisions do not translate to “We don’t think you are smart” or “You could not be successful here.”
I didn’t ask 100 admission deans what words they would use to describe students they were forced to deny based on supply and demand and IPs, but here are my top three answers:
You won’t see all of that in deny letters. You won’t really hear the voice of the dean/director whose signature is in your portal. But even in disappointment, my hope is you will know all of this is true. Instead of second guessing or dwelling on things outside of your control, focus on the places you are admitted. They clearly saw the same match and fit you did when you applied. They probably did not use the words “Institutional Priority” in their letter, but you are one. And that is something to celebrate and be excited about.
University of Nevada, Reno is receiving more attention these days as it offers an affordable option for California students. UNR offers WUE to students with a 3.25 GPA or better. From the financial aid website:
WUE is a non-disbursable scholarship and is awarded in the form of a tuition discount. WUE tuition is calculated at a rate of 150% of the Nevada resident fee. A California student with a 3.25 or better will pay about $11,500 in tuition, bring total COA to under $40,000. UNR has a Carnegie RI Reseach classification, and undergraduates are able to get hands-on research opportunities. It offers a wide variety of majors, from engineering to nursing to fashion design. UNR has a mandatory one week course called the Nevada Fit program, that seeks to help students learn to branch out and work collaboratively, a much-needed support after COVID:
NevadaFIT informationAugust19-24, 2023
NevadaFIT is a required, one-credit academic program that kicks off the fall semester for first-year students. It is designed to help students successfully transition from high school to college and provides realistic exposure to the style, pace, intensity, and rigor of college courses. After completing NevadaFIT, students are better prepared for their first semester of college.
Housing is not guaranteed, so students are encouraged to make a housing deposit even before they have committed to the university. UNR is remaining test optional for the foreseeable future.
Masland Educational Consulting