Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
During the last two college admissions cycles, test-optional policies resulted in many colleges receiving record numbers of applications from many more fully-qualified candidates than they could possibly admit. This, in turn, has led to historically low admissions rates and more than a few disappointed students who were rejected from their top-choice colleges.
These trends are leaving students and families feeling pessimistic and confused by what appears to be the randomness of current college admission decisions, since many students who were rejected or waitlisted from some colleges appear to have similar stats (GPA, course rigor, leadership, etc.) as those who were accepted. While a college's institutional needs are considered foremost when admitting an incoming class, colleges are also hyper-focused on protecting their yield rate. A college's yield rate is determined by dividing the number of students who ultimately commit to a college by the number of students who were offered admission to that college. Simply put, colleges want to know that if they offer you admission, you are likely to accept and attend their university. If your stats are higher than their averages, they might assume you will get into and likely attend a more competitive university.
Today, more than ever before, it is important for students to demonstrate interest to the colleges they are applying to, so that the colleges feel confident there is a good chance they will attend if offered a spot in their freshman class.
How can you show your commitment to attending a college during the admissions process? Here are some suggestions:
Now is the perfect time for high school juniors to start finalizing their college lists, thinking about an application strategy, and demonstrating interest in the colleges they will be applying to in the fall. For personalized assistance with any part of the college search and application process, please contact UFit College Consulting.
Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
Have you been waitlisted at one or more of your top-choice colleges? If so, you are not alone. This college application season, we are seeing longer waitlists as colleges try to predict yield rates in an unprecedented time. Colleges appear to be resorting to longer waitlists due to a significant increase in applications caused by test optional policies, growth in the number of colleges joining the Common Application platform, and a general uptick in the average number of applications submitted by students. Many students are feeling pressure to cast a wider net due to the lack of predictability in college admissions. Not only did many colleges receive a record number of applications, but they are still confronting an influx of gap-year students from the previous two admissions cycles, and don’t want to end up with the housing shortages that many colleges encountered last year because they underestimated the number of incoming freshmen who committed to their schools.
If you were waitlisted this year from one or several of your top choices, don’t lose hope. Although frustrating, being waitlisted indicates that the college considered you to be a good fit for their community, but needs to see how their incoming class will ultimately take shape to make a final determination on your candidacy. It is not a rejection, so there is still a chance you could be accepted.
Commit to a college you have been accepted to.
Since most colleges do not move students off their waitlists until after college decision day, which is typically May 1 or May 2, you should absolutely commit to attending a college that has offered you admission, before their deadline. There is always a likelihood that colleges will start movement on their waitlists before May 1, but students should make sure that if that does not happen, they have secured a spot at a school where they have been admitted.
Get excited about the college you are committing to because a waitlist option may not work out. Next, you need to assess whether you want to remain on a waitlist.
Decide if you will opt in to the waitlist.
You should consider all of your acceptances to determine if you truly want to invest your time and emotions by remaining on a waitlist. Many students prefer to commit to a school that they have been accepted to, so that they can start getting excited about their college years and start building friendships and connections with that college, instead of adding the stress of being on a waitlist.
Remaining on the waitlist means that, if accepted, you will be faced with changing your college choice later in the spring or summer, perhaps after having invested a significant amount of time in the college where you have accepted admission. Students need to evaluate whether changing their decision would be worth it, depending on their academic goals and finances, especially if financial aid is involved in the decision.
Therefore, it is very important for students to reflect on why they would want to stay on a waitlist. Perhaps the college that has waitlisted them provides a greater breadth of academics, or it has a particular location that is more appealing, or the college has greater proximity to close family, etc. All of these factors need to be considered and weighed.
If you have decided to stay on the waitlist, make sure you remain visible.
How to write a letter of continued interest.
By communicating with your regional admissions officer, you are reiterating your interest in the school. Here are some suggestions for when and how you should correspond with your regional admissions officer after a waitlist decision:
If you would like help with crafting a letter of continued Interest, or general guidance as you make your college and waitlist decisions, please reach out to our certified college counselors at UFit College Consulting.
Don’t Wait Until the 11th Hour (or Grade)! Middle School is the Perfect Time to Help Your Kids Explore their Interests
Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
You don't have to be the parent of the most competitive student to start thinking about laying the groundwork for high school activities while your child is still in middle school. Helping your child find ways to explore their interests early on will give them a head start down the college planning runway and ensure they are ready to take off when senior year comes along.
Eighth grade is the perfect time to start thinking about areas where your child has demonstrated aptitude, interest, and talent. Throughout middle school, parents can help their children explore different activities to find areas that spark their interests and bring them joy. Have them consider activities inside and outside of their middle school. Encourage them to join a sports team, play a musical instrument, try out for the school play, join a religious youth group, take art or robotics classes, volunteer at an animal shelter, or prepare meals for the homeless, etc. The goal is to let them experience new things and find out what truly excites them.
Once they get to high school, they will then have a better idea of which areas they want to become further involved in through the expanded high school offerings. Ideally, your kids will be participating in high school extracurriculars for true interest and passion and not just to have something to put on their college applications. Exploring interests early will be genuinely additive to your child's experience in high school and will inform their core and elective class selections and help them decide what they want to study further in college.
Academics will always play an important role in college admissions, and a student’s profile can be further enhanced by their genuine interest and demonstrable growth in extracurricular activities. While it is good for students to do some further exploration of multiple activities early in high school, college admissions officers like to see continuity, longevity, growth, and leadership in at least a couple of extracurricular activities.
How can parents help their middle-schoolers find their passion? Here are some tips:
Early exploration, experience, and planning will result in an organically competitive applicant profile for colleges by the time students are ready to apply.
At UFit College Consulting, we work with middle school and high school students to help them find their passions. We provide valuable guidance regarding activities that are aligned with their interests and strengths, giving them a sufficient runway to demonstrate a growth trajectory in these areas. For students who may not have a clear idea of what they want to pursue, we help them find their areas of interest and develop a concrete plan.
Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
As parents, we want our kids to go to college and find their passions that they can convert into a meaningful career, preferably one that earns them a decent salary and allows them to be independent. No parent wants their young adult returning from college with a degree that only affords them a room in the basement of their family home. Without sounding too clinical and practical, how can parents guide their children to find a major in college that fulfills them and provides a decent return on their college education?
High school is a great time to explore academic interests outside of the core high school graduation requirements. Students should consider enrolling in electives offered by their high school and use their summers to discover fields that might interest them. For example, a student who wants to explore a more niche area of study in weather science could take courses in meteorology, seismic science, climate change, etc., at a local college, attend seminars or workshops hosted by organizations specializing in these fields, or sign up for an online class. Students can also gain real-life experience through job-shadowing and internships. Students interested in law or medicine can find opportunities at local hospitals or legal-aid clinics, where they can volunteer their time and learn from professionals. If they are interested in politics, perhaps they can take a course in public policy or volunteer to work with a local politician. The idea here is to show students the practical application of their interests in the real world.
Most students don't get much time in high school to truly reflect on what they would like to pursue as a major or career. They don't understand what a job in a particular field entails. They don't necessarily even know about the abundance of configurations and combinations of majors and minors that they can pair up and study in college to reach their ideal future job or career. You may be asking, “How can they possibly be expected to know what career they want at 17 years old?” We are not suggesting your teenagers pick a major or career and carve it in stone. Rather, we suggest they take the time to explore as many options as possible, and reflect on what they care about and might want to do in the future. This way they will be more likely to start their college studies in the right neighborhood, even if they change their mind about the specific house a few times.
In addition to exploring different subjects and careers in high school, there are many personality tests and questionnaires in the form of multiple-choice questions that purport to help your student find a career that is suited to them. In reality, this format does not allow students to really reflect about themselves; they simply fill-in bubbles from a stated list of options. These questionnaires result in a generic, computer-generated conclusion based on weights assigned to the questions answered. In our opinion, this is not a valuable way to gauge your teenager's interests or personality.
At UFIT College Consulting, we have created a proprietary questionnaire with open-ended questions that delve deeply into a student's personality, strengths, and passions. It is an exercise in self-reflection that provides better insight into a student's mind. The consultants at UFit analyze these answers and prepare a document that showcases the various majors a student can pursue and the careers they can choose to realize their life goals. This exercise equally benefits students who have specific interests and those who are undecided. It also helps illuminate areas they can explore through classes, volunteer work, and internships and informs a student's potential college list and application strategy while creating a strong college application that tells a cohesive story with greater clarity, particularly if the student is applying to a particular major or department within a college. For parents, it provides relief knowing that their students have some foundational direction that they can build upon to create a successful college experience.
If you would like your student to fill out this questionnaire and/or receive help finding specific ways to explore their interests, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Admissions Jargon Explained
UFit College Consulting
It’s August, which means the kids are getting ready to go back to school and, if you are the parent of a high school junior or senior, you are going to start hearing a lot about the college admissions process. As with many other industries, the college industry uses many buzzwords that can be unfamiliar and confusing to anyone who is a newbie to this process. To help make things a little easier, we will outline some of the most common college admissions buzzwords and explain what they mean. We will start with the multiple ways students can choose to submit their college applications.
When many of us parents applied to college, there was a single deadline for submitting applications and admission decisions were mailed out on a given date or on a rolling basis. If you are like us, you probably remember checking the mailbox daily and hoping to find a fat envelope which meant good news. Today, most colleges offer a variety of application deadlines to students and a subsequent variety of decision notification dates. Understanding all of these options as well as their acronyms will be the focus of this blog.
ED stands for Early Decision (the binding one). Applying to a school early decision or ED means that if your student submits their application for their top-choice college by the ED deadline, they will receive an admission decision by the middle to the end of December. This is a binding decision, meaning if your student is offered admission, they must attend. Therefore, we only advise students to apply ED if there is one college -- from their curated list of colleges -- that they want to attend more than any of the others on their list. For some competitive colleges, applying ED can increase your student’s chances of admission a great deal, but they can only apply ED to one school. If your student gets admitted during the ED round, all other EA applications or rolling admission decisions have to be withdrawn.
EA stands for Early Action. Some schools do not have an ED option, but they may have the non-binding early action option. If a student applies to a school early action, they must submit their application by the EA deadline and, in exchange, they will hear back from the college earlier than those who did not submit the application by the EA deadline. Students are not limited on the number of colleges they can apply to early action. Usually, students can apply EA to public schools and some private colleges along with an application to an ED school.
SCEA stands for Single Choice Early Action. It is also commonly called Restricted Early Action. Only a handful of very selective colleges offer this option, and while SCEA is a non-binding agreement, there are varying rules regarding what other colleges you can also apply to in the early cycle. The advantage of applying to a top-choice college SCEA is that you will receive your admissions decision in December rather than March, while also signaling your strong commitment to the school. However, the opportunity cost here is that your student will likely not be able to submit an early application to any other private colleges. This choice is great for someone who has an extremely competitive application profile. Deadline for applying SCEA is typically November 1st. If you are accepted in December, you still have until May to make your final decision.
RD stands for Regular Decision. All colleges have a general application deadline that is the latest date students can apply. This is the regular decision deadline. Applying to a college regular decision is non-binding, and students can apply to as many schools as they want. They will just receive their decisions later than if they had applied ED or EA. January 1st is a common deadline for regular decision applications, but the date varies from college to college.
Rolling Admissions: Some schools process applications as they receive them and send out admissions decisions on a rolling basis. Some rolling admissions schools get back to students as quickly as within a week or two. The earlier a student submits their application to a rolling admissions school, the earlier they will hear back.
ED I and ED II (both are binding). Recently, some colleges have added an ED II application option. To explain the difference between ED I and ED II, imagine that your student has applied to their top-choice school ED I but is rejected when admissions decisions come out in December. They would then have the option of applying ED II to a different school that offers this option, which is ideal if they have a clear second choice. Like all ED decisions, an ED II decision is binding. If your student is accepted by the school they apply to ED II, the same rules apply; they must attend that school. ED II deadlines are usually in early January (shortly after ED I decisions come out). If your student has already applied to their second-choice school early action or regular decision, they can change their application to ED II at any college that has this option. Similar to applying ED I, applying ED II can make it easier to get into some schools because you are committing to attend that school, if accepted.
Having so many application options can be both a blessing and curse for students (and parents) today. The terminology can be confusing and looking up all the options offered by each school on your student’s college list can be time consuming. However, being strategic about how and when to apply to each school can help yield the best possible outcome for your student - being accepted to one or more of their top-choice colleges!
If you and your student need help navigating this complicated territory and creating an application strategy, please reach out to UFit College Consulting. Our certified college consultants would be happy to guide you.