A colleague sent a link to this article in the NY Post about some high schools instituting guidelines about how seniors should announce their college acceptances and choice.
To quote the article, “In an attempt to ease the blow of a student’s first big rejection, New York prep schools are instituting dress codes and Facebook guidelines barring excited seniors from broadcasting their acceptance to top-tier colleges because it would hurt their classmates’ feelings.”
The article goes on to say that they have asked students not to wear college apparel until after May 1, which is the universal date for accepting college admission.
OK, I am not in favor of any one at any age that gloats but this is too much. First of all, we can’t and we shouldn’t protect kids from every negative thing that happens. We need to teach resilience and convey that they are strong enough for disappointments and adversity that will surely come to everyone at some point in their lives. And second, I am pretty sure that most kids, or at least those who are interested in knowing other people’s business, already know who got in and where. This reminds me of when my children were young and playing T-Ball. The coaches didn’t want anyone to feel bad so they didn’t count the runs. Some kids were oblivious and for the ones to whom this mattered, they counted the runs on their own. They knew who won and who didn’t even if the games were called a tie.
I agree that it is perfectly reasonable to teach students how to convey one’s own good news in a polite manner that doesn’t trample on others’ feelings. No one wants to hear “I got in to Wedontwant U! In your face!” But is a student “run(ing) around yelling, ‘I got in! I got in!’” really that out of line?
There comes a point when every teen has to realize that there are times when everyone doesn’t come out on top. Certainly by the end of senior year students should be prepared to accept their own college acceptances and rejections and to hear others’ decisions too. Some admissions decision may come as a surprise and some may be expected. But we can’t protect them from reality, no matter how well intentioned.
A few weeks ago, I read about a community college in California that was considering charging more for the most popular—and therefore harder to get in to—classes. The article from The Atlantic indicates that these popular classes are the ones required for graduation and to be able to transfer. Santa Monica College has 34,000 students and since 2008 the state has reduced the money they receive which required the college to offer fewer classes. According to this article:
“This week, the school announced that it would begin offering more expensive versions of its most popular courses during the summer in order to accommodate students who can’t take them during the school year. The classes will be offered at cost, since the college is providing them without any subsidy from the state. The price works out to $180 a credit — not a huge sum, but still five-times what students pay now.”
Although it is understandable that the college wants to make these courses available and in a way they can afford, this is very disturbing. The students who can afford this will be the ones who are able to take advantage of the summer option.
This week, the NY Times reported that Santa Monica College has decided to hold off on this two-tiered system.
Following a week of student protests and a request from the chancellor of the California community college system to hold off, Santa Monica College has canceled its plan to offer certain popular courses at higher prices this summer.
That solves the problem of unfairness— that those who can afford the classes get them—but it doesn’t address the underlying problem of not enough classes to graduate on time.
Jay Mathews of The Washington Post posed this question to his readers today. Would they rather get their admissions decisions by mail –the old fashioned way– or by logging on to a website to find out their fate?
Although I really like the idea of knowing an exact day and time to log on and getting an answer instantly, my vote is for the mail. Why? I think there is less of a chance of a college making a mistake.
On March 8 of last year I posted a blog about an admissions error at Christopher Newport University in Virginia where they sent out 2000 emails congratulating students on their acceptance, only to have to take back their good wishes a few hours later. That was not an isolated case and I listed several other examples.
Then on March 18 I posted about another mistake that had just happened, this one closer to home, at the University of Delaware.
This January, Vassar College informed 76 students that they had been accepted early decision, but in fact they had not. A letter from the president of Vassar to alumni explained the error and then said “Each of those students was informed of the error and received our deepest apologies.” They also had their application fee refunded.
Hearing that you are admitted and then having a college say, “Sorry, we goofed, you really were rejected” is devastating. It is March and in the next few weeks, students will be receiving their admissions decisions. I really hope we don’t have a repeat of those headlines, but I won’t be very surprised if we do.
My vote–snail mail. And, my advice is after you receive the news online, wait at least a day to make sure there were no mistakes before you tell anyone outside of your immediate family.
Jay Mathews, education writer for The Washington Post, has written an article about how many AP classes a student ought to take. After initially writing in an article that students do not need to overload on AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) classes, he decided to solicit some opinions on the number of these classes a student should take and the reasons behind the number.
So, how many AP courses should a student take? My advice is that if students are looking to apply to the most competitive colleges, they should take as many as they can, but balance the decision using other factors. Don’t take an AP class if you won’t be able to get a good grade– at least a B, and don’t take so many AP classes that you are risking your sanity. Another thing to keep in mind is that colleges want to see that students do something with their spare time. If you are so overloaded with AP classes that you have no time for outside activities, it will be counterproductive. Again, the key is balance.
Why AP classes? Because the colleges will tell potential applicants that they are looking for students who have “challenged themselves and taken the most rigorous courses their high school offers”. Nothing says rigor as loudly as AP (or IB) classes. That being said, colleges will interpret a student’s transcript within the context of her high school. If the high school offers four AP classes and the student took all four, then she has taken the most rigorous curriculum the school offers. If the school offers 20 and the student took two, then she did not.
Is there a correct number? No. This is an individual decision that a student comes to with the advice of his parents and an Independent Educational Consultant or Guidance Counselor based on many factors such as the courses offered and the student’s strengths as well as his or her college ambitions and possibly choice of major.
I have some students who take none, some who take a few and some who take many. In fact, I had two students last year that each had taken 14 AP classes by the time they graduated high school. Like almost everything else in admissions, the answer to the question “how many APs?” is “it depends”.
As an Independent Educational Consultant, I am often asked about what the colleges are really looking for. “Does not having community service hurt my son in admissions?” “Will one poor grade kill my daughter’s chances?” “How many extra-curricular activities do I need?”
The answers to these questions and more will be discussed at a seminar I am hosting, “The GPA Game”. This is a fun and interactive exercise designed to give students and parents an understanding of how the colleges interpret applications.
I did not invent this game; I came across it several years ago when it was being discussed on the listserve for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), an association of which I am a member. I have hosted this game before and it is always enjoyable.
I am hosting this event on Sunday, March 4 at 1:00 PM at the Greater New Haven Jewish Community Center, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge.
Families with high school aged children–parents and students–are welcome to attend this free seminar. I will moderate the GPA Game and explain it and follow with a Question and Answer session.
If you would like to come, click on this link for more information. Space is limited, so please let me know that you are planning to attend.
Racial preference in admissions is a delicate subject and it has been in the news recently.
On Feb. 17 The NY Times “The Choice” blog ran this headline, “Discrimination Investigations End at Princeton and Harvard”. “The Education Department said that the original complaints were received last August, and that both had recently been withdrawn. The Office for Civil Rights closed its case against Harvard on Feb. 15, and removed the complaint accusations from an existing compliance review at Princeton.” The article goes on to explain that in each case, an Asian-American student complained that he or she had been rejected because of race.
Harvard denied discrimination and cited the fact that they only admitted 6.3% of the applicants for the incoming class as the most likely reason the student was not admitted.
Today I read in The Chronicle of Higher Education that the United States Supreme Court was going to take up the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, regarding race-conscious admissions.
Admission to the Ivy League and many other highly sought after colleges and universities, like the flagship University of Texas at Austin, is extremely selective — we all understand that. However, the devil does seem to be in the details. Any group that is perceived to have an advantage causes others to feel like they have been unfairly kept out. This sentiment holds true for any seemingly advantaged group– recruited athletes, underrepresented minorities, legacy students, etc.
Colleges in the US don’t use a straight up meritocracy formula– where it would be a certain criteria such as GPA or test scores that determined eligibility. In addition to those factors they also take into account a lot of intangible qualities and together they are evaluated and a decision is made. I always tell my students that if the college doesn’t accept you it doesn’t automatically mean you weren’t qualified or couldn’t have done the work and been successful. Sometimes there is no good reason a student was denied. Colleges also very rarely will tell a student why he was not admitted. The usual answer is “this was a very completive year and we had X number of applications”. Not being forthcoming about the process also tends to fan the flames and make people feel that something unfair must be happening behind the closed door of admissions.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if major changes in the law are coming.
Last Friday I was in Washington, DC to see some of my students in that area and tour American University. I have toured both Georgetown and George Washington University twice but I had not had the chance to see American. I always tell my students that nothing substitutes for a college visit and that held true for me as well.
I attended a very interesting information session as well as had a meeting with an admissions counselor to learn what is new. Quite a few things, it turns out. She filled me in on two new programs that students will complete in three years. She stressed that these were 8 semester programs and there was no cost savings, but for students who were anxious to get out and start working, it was a hit. The programs are The Three Year Cohort in Public Health and the Global Scholars Program. You can find out more about these on their website, www.american.edu.
I also learned some interesting things, like American in ranked #1 on the Green Honor Roll and they are #6 for Most Diverse. 87% of their students participate in at least one internship and some do more.
I also learned the etymology of the word WONK. I have heard people referred to as Wonks and read about political wonks many times but now I know. Wonk is DC slang and it is KNOW spelled backwards. It stands for smart +passionate +focused +engaged.
I saw happy and engaged students and had a lovely day on their campus.