Checking in with Diana

When I first spoke with Diana just two months ago, she was frustrated and demoralized because she really didn’t know how to get started with college applications or who to go to for help. Things aren’t free an easy, but they’re certainly looking better: she’s applied to eight colleges and has an acceptance. Read her short-but-full interview below.

Meet the Class gets updated each month from September to May. Each installment features an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.

Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. Names may be changed to protect privacy. 

Diana ATTENDS A Public HIGH SCHOOL IN Texas

When we last spoke you were working to send off several applications by November 1. How did that go? Where have you applied? Have you heard anything back from anyone? How does it feel to have some applications out the door?

I sent most of my applications off before the 1st. It felt REALLY good. I applied to University of Oklahoma, UT Austin, UT Dallas, UT San Antonio, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and University of North Texas. I heard back from Baylor: I officially was accepted and have been awarded with scholarship money.

You were also in a bit of a deadlock when it came to the FAFSA and financial aid. Has there been any progress on that front?

My FAFSA has been started. I’ll probably finish it in the very near future.

At least some, if not all, your applications require an essay. Would you mind sharing with us what essay prompt(s) you've answered, and give a brief summary of your response(s)? Is that type of writing easy for you, or was it a lot of work? Or both?

I used the Common App essay prompt about something that has shaped me into who I am. I wrote about being sexually harassed, which was difficult to relive, but it ended up being a good essay. It was hard for me to write just because I’m not good at personal narrative writing, but I had other people read and edit for me so they helped me improve and fine tune it.

How's school going, both in terms of classes and your extracurriculars? How are you holding up?

Extracurriculars are good, work is good, I’ve been keeping up and staying organized.

Let's look at you college list. As of last month, it was:

University of Oklahoma (top choice)

Baylor

Texas A&M University

Texas Tech University

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Arlington

Are there any changes to that?

That’s all.

Thanks for reading! If you have college admissions questions for Diana, leave a comment or email me. You can find other Meet the Class responses here. Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.

Apply with Sanity doesn’t have ads or annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t share user data, sell user data, or even track personal data. It doesn’t do anything to “monetize” you. You’re nothing but a reader to me, and that means everything to me.

Photo by Angela Elisabeth.

Apply with Sanity is a registered trademark of Apply with Sanity, LLC. All rights reserved.

Checking in with Katie

If I’m counting correctly, Katie has applied to 12 colleges already, and has got acceptances from four of them. She’s also working furiously to finish her audition videos and wrap a school play. Did you know there’s basically a Common Application for theater auditions? I didn’t. Read about that and more as Katie reports on her October.

Meet the Class gets updated each month from September to May. Each installment features an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.

Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. Names may be changed to protect privacy. 

Katie ATTENDS A Private Christian HIGH SCHOOL IN Ohio

You were planning on sending one application in by October 15th and four by November 1st. Did you make those deadlines? Have you heard back from anyone yet? How does it feel to have some applications out the door?

The school I had an October 15th deadline with I actually decided to not apply to because their auditions dates wouldn't have worked for me, and I wasn't able to send in a digital audition. I made all the November 1 deadlines except for Indiana University Bloomington. My test scores didn't get there in time, but it seems like that is not the end of the world. Thus far, I have applied to Minnesota State Mankato, Rider, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota State, Columbia College, Temple, University of Utah, Roosevelt, Indiana University, University of Hartford, and Western Michigan. I have heard back from four of those: Minnesota State Mankato (accepted into university), North Dakota State (accepted into university), University of Minnesota Twin Cities (accepted into College of Liberal Arts), and Columbia College (accepted into musical theatre BA, honors program, and received their largest scholarship). This has been an extremely stressful month, but I have gotten so many applications done and that has been amazing.

What other deadlines do you have for November? What are you working on right now in terms of college applications?

I have a University of South Dakota application due November 15, a Ball State Application and Honors Application due November 16, and a Penn State application due November 30. Then, I have 3 prescreens due on December 1.

You also mentioned prescreens, which are audition tapes. I've got no experience with those, so can you tell me a bit about them? How long is the final edit of a prescreen, and how much time goes into preparation and production? Do you have one main recording you can send to all the programs, or does each have its own requirements that means recording a lot of tapes? Are you able to share with me what monologues/scenes you've done for auditions?

So pretty much a prescreen is a video you send to a college. They review these videos, then they pick out the people that they would like to see in person for an audition. Most of the schools I am applying to are one monologue (normally contemporary), two songs (an uptempo and a ballad), and a dance video. Each of those components is about 90 seconds. Everything has to be memorized, so I have to learn them all first, which I have already done. Then, I have to send sheet music to my accompanist, so I can have a recording of my music. Then, I have to get all dolled up like I am going to an audition and shoot quite a few takes of each thing. This year they created a thing called the common musical theatre prescreen, so quite a few schools are a part of that which has two different configurations of songs and two for monologues. So, in theory, if you only applied to common prescreen schools you would only have to make about 5 videos and then a dance video for each school. A few of my schools are not common prescreen schools, so they have totally different requirements. I will share my monologue that I am using for every school I am auditioning for. It is from a popular play that was on Broadway a few years ago called Indecent, which is based upon the creation of Gods of Vengence, which is a play from the 1920s featuring lesbian lovers. I actually had one super clean cut of this monologue, but it didn't fit the requirements because I didn't pay enough attention. I currently have no prescreen videos done, so that is a bit stressful.

How did the school play go for you? Is it finished? Do you have any more school productions this semester?

The show opens in less than two weeks. It has been a really stressful experience. I am not planning on being another show until the audition season is over because it has been a bit overwhelming lately.

What else is going on in school right now? I know you're preparing for Model UN in December. Any other big projects? How are your classes going?

I am taking all semester based classes this year, and my semester ends in December. I have quite a few finals to prepare for since most of my classes are having two separate finals. I haven't started really preparing for these, but I know they are coming up soon. I have a choice concert in a few weeks, and then, another a few weeks after that. Model UN has been great thus far. I have barely been able to make it to any practices because of my schedule, but I am excited to have our first conference in a month. I also think I will be at an extra crisis league conference this month, which should be a nice to get back in the swing. My classes have been great. All of my college professors this semester have been amazing. I hope I get this lucky next semester.

I know last month you were very, very, very busy. How are you holding up?

I am very busy. I have been getting home late and have quite the course load this semester, so that's been fun. I am probably sleeping about half the amount I used to. I am hoping after applications are finally all in things will let up a bit on the nightly grind. I also have prescreens that are looming over me, but I simply don't have the time to do them right now because I don't really have large chunks of time.

Let's go over the list. As of last month, it was:

Penn State (top choice)

University of Hartford (top choice)

Ball State University

Central Washington University

Columbia College Chicago

Indiana University Bloomington (applied?)

Minnesota State Mankato

Montclaire State

North Dakota State

Roosevelt University

Temple University (applied?)

University of Central Missouri

University of Minnesota Duluth

University of Minnesota Twin Cities (applied?)

University of Oklahoma

University of Rhode Island

University of South Dakota

University of the Arts

Western Michigan (applied?)

Wichita State (applied?)

Are there any changes to that?

I am applying to Rider University. It was a school I really liked, but eliminated before this whole process started. I got a fee waiver, so I sent in an application. I'm so glad I did too because it is becoming one of my top schools. I am no longer applying to Rhode Island or Wichita State.

Thanks for reading! If you have college admissions questions for Katie, leave a comment or email me. You can find other Meet the Class responses here. Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.

Apply with Sanity doesn’t have ads or annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t share user data, sell user data, or even track personal data. It doesn’t do anything to “monetize” you. You’re nothing but a reader to me, and that means everything to me.

Photo by Angela Elisabeth.

Apply with Sanity is a registered trademark of Apply with Sanity, LLC. All rights reserved.

Checking in with Jenna

Jenna’s admissions experience is really great to read, because it reminds us how many bright, successful students have a story that’s quite different than the ones we tell ourselves over and over about how college applications work. By early November, she’s already applied to at least nine colleges—and been accepted to at least two! She has a preferred major, but she knows it’s likely to change. She wants to write a great essay, but has also gone quite a way into the process without having one finished. Jenna is just one of hundreds of thousands of college-bound seniors who are working hard and are aiming high, but aren’t agonizing over the one perfect application to the one perfect super-selective school because they think it will give them a perfect life. Cheers to Jenna!

Meet the Class gets updated each month from September to May. Each installment features an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.

Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar. Names may be changed to protect privacy. 

Jenna ATTENDS A Public HIGH SCHOOL IN Michigan

When we last spoke you had sent off two applications and had already been accepted to Wayne State University. Congratulations! You also said you were pushing to get some applications out by November 1st. Where all have you applied this month?

As of this month I have applied to Michigan Tech. University, Cleary University, Oakland University, Northern Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University and University of Michigan Dearborn as of which I also got accepted late October so that's fun. Also, on November 9th here in Michigan they're having an event that's similar to a college fair. So at the place there will be a ton of college admission officers from schools all around Michigan and you can be admitted to up to 5 colleges that day. Between 8:30-10am we drop off our transcripts and other requirements. Each school has slightly different requirements on what to bring with you that day and then you come back between 2-3:30 and you'll know on the spot whether you got in or not. Its super nerve-racking to think about if you got in or not during those few hours but I'm glad an opportunity like this has arisen.

You were also really focused on Homecoming, which you were helping to plan and execute. Has it happened yet? If so, how did it go? If not, how are preparations?

Our homecoming game was October 18th and the dance was the 19th. All went really well and smoothly but stressful at the same time. I actually found out I was on homecoming court about two weeks prior to the game and it was super cool to be nominated but made it a little more stressful to scramble and find a dress and all of that while trying to finalize other details for the dance. On the day of the game, everything fell right into place which was super relieving and so after that everyone could pretty much relax and enjoy the parade, game and dance.

I assume at least some, if not all, your applications require an essay. Would you mind sharing with us what essay prompt(s) you've answered, and give a brief summary of your response(s)?

At this moment I actually haven't started writing any essays or even looked at any yet. Everywhere I applied has had no application fee or essay requirement. I will admit I will try to avoid writing an essay if I can although I know it’s inevitable. I applied to those colleges first because I could do it quickly since all of this was in the middle of homecoming so I didn't exactly have a ton of free time. When I write an essay, I want to be able to take my time to write something that I’ve thought about thoroughly. I don't want to rush writing the essays and my work comes out sloppy, unorganized and brief. So that's why I decided to apply after November 1st to colleges that require an essay.

Last month you were feeling pretty confident and grounded when it came to college applications. That's wonderful--and rare. Are you still feeling the same?

I am feeling a bit of the heat again now in the college process. Deadlines are coming up quickly and it’s just now processing that I still have a million things to do. Also the fact whether I will or won't get into a college is really stressful and what kind of scholarships they're willing to give me. I know when I took the SAT and ACT I didn't do as well as I would've liked so I have to retake at least the SAT some time in December and update my scores to colleges and hopefully get better scholarships.

Let's look at you college list. As of last month, it was:

Stanford (top choice)

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

University of Michigan Dearborn

Henry Ford Community College

Michigan State

Central Michigan University (applied)

Madonna University

Wayne State University (accepted!)

Do you have any changes to that?

As for my college list I actually do have some changes.

1. Central Michigan University

2. Eastern Michigan University

3. Michigan State University

4. University of Michigan Ann Arbor

5. University of Michigan Dearborn

6. Wayne state

7. Madonna

8. Henry Ford Community college

I've changed the order, because lately I've been a bit interested in Biomedical and I haven't seen a ton of schools offer that as a major. But also what’s important to me is how many and what kind of other majors the school has. You know things change and people switch majors and if I figure out Biomedical isn’t for me, I have other options and variety. Plus I've spoken to some admissions counselors from different schools on the list and learned new interesting information about almost every single one, which is why I changed my order.

Thanks for reading! If you have college admissions questions for Jenna, leave a comment or email me. You can find Jenna’s past interviews and other Meet the Class responses here. Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.

Apply with Sanity doesn’t have ads or annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t share user data, sell user data, or even track personal data. It doesn’t do anything to “monetize” you. You’re nothing but a reader to me, and that means everything to me.

Photo by Angela Elisabeth.

Apply with Sanity is a registered trademark of Apply with Sanity, LLC. All rights reserved.

A story about plagiarism

There are a few things I know about plagiarism in high school. It's rampant. High schools tend to be pretty lax about it—it's seen more as a teaching opportunity than a reason to destroy someone's yet-to-begin career. Teachers warn that colleges are much more strict and you better learn your lesson or there will be dire consequences.

But how often do we hear about someone suffering dire consequences from cheating in college? Rarely. The "things will be more strict in college" threat seems about as empty as the "this will go on your permanent record" threat. How exactly do colleges treat plagiarism? The answer isn't simple. It depends on the circumstances, the school, and the professor. It's very subjective and case-by-case. And it’s usually dealt with very quietly.

So here's a story about an actual case of plagiarism and the consequences. It's by no means the only way that plagiarism gets treated, but I think it's fairly typical.

I was a graduate student in the English department of a university in the early 2000s. My fellowship, which paid for tuition, required me to be a Teaching Assistant to a writing professor for two semesters my first year and that I teach a class of Rhetoric 1301 (more commonly known as "Freshman Comp") for two semesters my second year. I used the basic syllabus and major assignments that my supervising professor asked me to use. It required four major papers over the semester.

When I assigned the last essay of the semester—about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" and the movie The Matrix—one of my students got really excited. He told me that he'd had the same assignment as a senior in high school; he told me that he already knew pretty much everything about the topic; he told me that I was going to be so impressed with his essay.

But I wasn't impressed. I could tell by the end of the first page that the voice of this essay was very different than his other essays, and I could tell by a just a few seconds on Google that he had copied almost all his essay, word for word, from a website. When I passed back the essays with grades, his had a printout of the website pages stapled to it and a note to come see my at my office as soon as possible. At this point it wasn't emotional, and he wasn't necessarily in trouble. I wanted to hear what he had to say, and to understand how someone so cocky about his expertise two weeks earlier literally had nothing original to say. 

But what he did next really pissed me off. He used the "wrong draft" excuse. He brought in another draft of his essay, this time with all the copied parts (almost all of it) in quotation marks with citations. He explained that he accidentally submitted the wrong draft, the one before he put in the proper citations, and that he hoped I'd take his "actual essay." The "wrong draft" excuse is such a total piece of crap. Please don’t ever use the “wrong draft” excuse. For one, nobody believes you. It's as lame and laughable as "my dog ate my homework." And what if it's actually true? If it's actually true, then it basically means that your writing process is to plagiarize a paper and then go back and put in citations so it's not technically plagiarized. Not much better. I explained this to the student. Even the new draft, if I accepted it, would get no credit, because it demonstrated no thought or analysis. I told him I was disappointed in the excuse and would get back to him.

I knew that I wanted to give this guy an F for the class. It wasn't just the essay, but his bragging before-hand and the dishonest excuse afterward. But I knew that I was being emotional, and I also knew that I was just a grad student and not a "real" professor. I didn't want to get myself into trouble by over-reacting. So I called up the chair of the writing department, explained my situation, and offered to send over all the documentation. She said I didn't need to bother with that. It was my class, and I was free to handle it as I saw fit. I had four options:

1. If I thought that the problem was one of not understanding the assignment or not understanding plagiarism, I could let him re-write the essay after more instruction. I may or may not, as I thought appropriate, place a penalty on the grade.

(I'd actually done this the semester before. I had an international student who struggled with English and with academic work. He came to see me regularly during office hours for help. And when his second essay had plagiarized sentences, we had a conversation--MLA Handbook with us--about why this is unacceptable and how to do it better. He was embarrassed, apologetic, and grateful. He turned in another, non-plagiarized draft and I deducted a letter grade as a penalty. No problem.)

2. I could give him a F for the essay. He could appeal this decision with the department chair if he wanted. He might also end up passing the class if his other grades were high enough.

3. I could give him an F for the entire class, no matter the grades on his other essays. He could also appeal this decision

4. I could refer him to the Student Judiciary Committee. It's a group of students—a jury of your peers—who confidentially listen to both sides and make a decision that cannot be appealed except under very specific conditions. The Student Judiciary Committee tends to be tougher than professors, more inclined to suspend or expel. But it's a more objective group, and one that has training.

I couldn't take the first option. I didn't believe that this was a case of not understanding, and I didn't think he needed another chance—he'd already blown it with his "wrong draft" excuse.

I didn't want to take the last option, the Student Judiciary. It would require more work from me, submitting the documentation and possibly submitting answers to questions. I was trying to finish up my thesis, and I didn't want to waste any more of my time on a cheater. Am I proud of that selfish reason for avoiding the jury-based process? Not really. Do I feel bad about it? Not at all.

So I had to choose between an F on the paper or an F for the class. I chose the F for the whole class. Because for me it wasn't just the essay—it was the follow-up. When he didn't get away with his first dishonest approach, he tried a second dishonest one. That, to me, warranted a stronger punishment.

When I told him my decision, he screamed and called me an asshole and slammed my office door. But that was the end. The department chair told me after the end of the semester that he didn't appeal the decision—and that the F meant he lost his scholarship and left the school. 

So his one case of cheating ended up having the same effect as expelling him from school. That's the way it works sometimes. Most schools have similar options to the ones given to me. And those options are probably used more often than we think. We rarely hear about people caught cheating, but remember that it's almost always a confidential situation. We usually only know when the person caught talks about it.

Thanks for reading! Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.

Apply with Sanity doesn’t have ads or annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t share user data, sell user data, or even track personal data. It doesn’t do anything to “monetize” you. You’re nothing but a reader to me, and that means everything to me.

Photo by Zoe Herring.

Apply with Sanity is a registered trademark of Apply with Sanity, LLC. All rights reserved.

A revised plan to change college admissions

Two years ago I explained how I would re-shape the college admissions process if I had some sort of magical power to decide how everything would run. You can read that original post here. I still strongly believe in the basic parameters of what I wrote: a two-cycle system, where everyone is encouraged to apply early to up to—but no more than—three colleges, and then a much later round to fill in the spots that weren’t taken in the earlier round. It would push students and schools to act earlier, but the limit of three would also allow both students and schools to work more efficiently.

Two years of working with student clients has me thinking that maybe I wasn’t being realistic in my timing. Maybe an October 1st deadline, even if you’re only applying to three, is a little too aggressive.

But on top of that, colleges this year did actually make some big changes to the system, and I want to revise my plan taking those into account also.

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling, or NACAC, is the primary professional organization for college admissions, both on the college side but also high school counselors and independent consultants. It’s the NACAC ethics guidelines that actually determine some of the common deadlines—no application deadlines before October 1st, final decisions due no earlier than May 1st, things like that.

Under pressure from the US Department of Justice to encourage more competition, NACAC made two big changes to their ethics rules that affect applications. Before, schools were not allowed to offer enticements to apply Early Decision. They could advertise that the “odds” were better, but not offer better housing or different financial incentives. That rule is now gone.

Also, schools were not allowed to keep actively recruiting students after May 1st. They could only deal with students who had signed up to be on the waiting list. That’s gone, too. Colleges can keep working to enroll any student, even if they didn’t sign up to be on the waiting list. Even after May 1st. Even as transfer students into the school year.

So, with all this in mind, here is my revised plan to single-handedly fix the whole system. It’s not going to happen, I know, but I hope some universities will at least think about why it might be good for everyone.

Virtually all schools would have Early Action applications due on December 1st, and every student who applied would have to commit to only applying EA at no more than three schools. I would eliminate binding, one-school-only Early Decision, but schools would be able to offer all the enticements and deals they want to their EA applicants. It would also be important for students to have their FAFSA sent out by December 1st. Colleges would get their acceptance letters and financial aid offers out by February 1st, and students would have until March 1st to make their decision. That’s a two months earlier than the current May 1st deadline for decisions, but remember that students would be deciding amongst three offers at most.

Then, after March 1st, any colleges that still have openings and any students that haven't found their place (or didn't make the December 1st deadline) can have another spring round. They could set a second deadline as soon or as late as they want, or they could work on a rolling admissions process. It would be pretty open and flexible. There’s no longer any reason to maintain a May 1st deadline. 

This would be challenging to colleges. They would need to move fast to process all those early applications and get financial aid offers out. They would also have a lot less time for marketing to the students they accept to get those students to commit. However, admissions personnel would have a lot fewer applications to read. They wouldn't be spending nearly as much time working through applications for students who have no real expectation of attending but only applied out of a "why not?" attitude. Because students would only apply to three or fewer, all December applicants would show demonstrated interest, and if December 1st becomes the norm then all the top students will be part of that early round. There would be a lot fewer EA applicants deferred to the next round, because the next round would be too late for a lot of people. A lot of universities would have most--if not all--of their seats filled by the end of the January.

Sure, students could get another acceptance in the spring round and pull out of their spot, but not a whole lot of seniors are going to say "I have an acceptance and financial aid offer from one of my top three schools, but I'm going to put myself through another round of admissions…just in case." Senioritis would work in the school's favor for once.

This would also be challenging to students. Most of them would have to start their application process much earlier than is the norm, being done before the middle of their senior year. They would also have to be much more critical in their choices. It's common to apply to more than ten schools, so narrowing it down to three at the outset would be a hard process for many seniors. 

The advantage is that most students would be completely finished by March 1st, instead of May 1st. The spring of 12th grade is way more stressful for a lot of students than the fall. There's more work in the fall getting the applications filled out and submitted, but too many seniors delay the really hard decisions until spring. They just apply to a bunch of schools and “see what happens.” That's why, as a 12th grade AP Literature teacher, I always had a lot more student absences in the spring than the fall. Students were going on more college visits and working furiously to get scholarships once they finally saw their financial aid offers.

And for students not finished by March 1st, there would still be the spring admissions season. Universities would have clear ideas about how many and what kind of students they still need, and students could apply to as many of these openings as they want--not just three from the early round. 

Both students and universities would need to get started sooner, with a heavy focus on 11th grade instead of thinking of university admissions as mostly a 12th grade thing. But I think that would be a good change. Parents and families would also need to be able to complete the FAFSA sooner. Now that FAFSA allows "prior-prior year" data, and allows you to upload data directly from the IRS, this shouldn’t necessarily be difficult. 

One of the best effects of my two-cycle plan is that it would drastically alter college rankings and reputation. Right now universities get more publicity and prestige for rejecting applicants than for accepting them. "Elite" and "Selective" are practically synonymous, so schools are rewarded for attracting lots of applications just so they can turn them down. This isn't efficient for anyone. If most students only applied to three schools, there could be a great leveling-out of acceptance rates. Students could more easily choose schools for qualities other than selectivity and the fake prestige that comes from it, and schools could be ranked highly for serving their students rather than rejecting their applicants.

My system isn't going to get implemented any time soon, but--assuming you're not a current senior--you can still take advantage of the basic ideas:

Start your college search earlier; don't wait until your senior year.

Do your research ahead of time and apply to 4-8 schools instead of 10-20.

Apply before the earliest non-binding deadline for all the schools.

Talk to your family about money as soon as possible and have your FAFSA ready to go.

You can't make the system good and efficient for everyone, but you can decide to make it better and more efficient for you. And that's probably good enough.

Thanks for reading! Please send this to someone who would like to read it, or share it on your social networks.

Apply with Sanity doesn’t have ads or annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t share user data, sell user data, or even track personal data. It doesn’t do anything to “monetize” you. You’re nothing but a reader to me, and that means everything to me.

Photo by Angela Elisabeth.

Apply with Sanity is a registered trademark of Apply with Sanity, LLC. All rights reserved.

Three things parents should stop saying to their children

Three things parents should stop saying to their children

I’m a big believer in not telling other people what to do or what not to do. There’s so much variety of experience and circumstances out there, so many exceptions to every rule. I’m not great at saying Do This or Don’t Do That.

But today I want to strongly suggest that parents of college-bound students stop saying three very common things parents say to their kids about paying for college. In fact, they’re the three most common messages I hear parents give. I’m also going to suggest some other things to say instead.

Three Quick Questions with Centre College

Three Quick Questions with Centre College

For Three Quick Questions, I send the same three questions to admissions representatives at colleges all over the country (the subject line of the e-mail is “Three quick questions”), and then I hope to hear back from them. When I do, I’ll post them on Apply with Sanity. It’s that simple.

(See all the past Three Quick Questions posts here.)

The three questions are meant to probe some of the things that make a school unique but that aren’t easily captured as a stat to go in a book or web search.

Today’s response is from Lauren Samuelson, admissions counselor at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Three Quick Questions with St. John's College

Three Quick Questions with St. John's College

For Three Quick Questions, I send the same three questions to admissions representatives at colleges all over the country (the subject line of the e-mail is “Three quick questions”), and then I hope to hear back from them. When I do, I’ll post them on Apply with Sanity. It’s that simple.

(See all the past Three Quick Questions posts by clicking on the “Three Quick Questions” tag at the bottom of the post.

The three questions are meant to probe some of the things that make a school unique but that aren’t easily captured as a stat to go in a book or web search.

Today’s response is from Caroline Randall, Director of Admissions at St. John’s College.

Three Quick Questions with Wabash College

Three Quick Questions with Wabash College

For Three Quick Questions, I send the same three questions to admissions representatives at colleges all over the country (the subject line of the e-mail is “Three quick questions”), and then I hope to hear back from them. When I do, I’ll post them on Apply with Sanity. It’s that simple.

(See all the past Three Quick Questions posts by clicking on the “Three Quick Questions” tag at the bottom of the post.

The three questions are meant to probe some of the things that make a school unique but that aren’t easily captured as a stat to go in a book or web search.

Today’s response is from Caitlin Ebbinghaus, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Wabash College.

Writing about your unique circumstances

Writing about your unique circumstances

When colleges ask about your special circumstances, and not all of them ask, it's not about feeling sorry. It's about understanding what kind of resilience you have and how you got it. Nobody makes it out of high school and into college without friction and resilience, so it's okay to think about your own. There are plenty of ways to think about your special challenges.

Survey Results

Survey Results

I put up an online survey for students about college admissions last month, and I’d like to report on the results. There’s nothing at all scientific about this survey: I only got 126 responses, and most of those were from a high school where I made a presentation…including time to take the survey. Percentages are rounded. I didn’t do any statistical analysis.

Still, I think the answers are quite illuminating, especially since the seniors who responded were a diverse crowd of college-bound, successful high school students.

The most significant overall theme I see is that local reigns supreme. Even for these students (at a college prep magnet school for gifted students) who have access to information and representatives from all over the nation, most of their attention is in state. Almost every school named was in Texas, a well-known “elite” university, or—in the case of Rice—both. Here at the details.

Three Quick Questions with Denison University

Three Quick Questions with Denison University

For Three Quick Questions, I send the same three questions to admissions representatives at colleges all over the country (the subject line of the e-mail is “Three quick questions”), and then I hope to hear back from them. When I do, I’ll post them on Apply with Sanity. It’s that simple.

The three questions are meant to probe some of the things that make a school unique but that aren’t easily captured as a stat to go in a book or web search.

Today’s response is from Nick Radner, Admissions Counselor at Denison University.

Applying Early Decision

Applying Early Decision

As I’ve been talking to clients and other 12th-grade students lately, Early Decision keeps coming up. Whether or not to apply E.D. is a difficult choice for a lot of people. While I’m generally more “pro-E.D.” than a lot of other advisors, that enthusiasm is tempered with a number of reservations. So let’s go over some of the reasons to apply Early Decision, and also some of the reasons not to.

Introducing Three Quick Questions

Introducing Three Quick Questions

There’s a new feature coming to Apply with Sanity called Three Quick Questions. I send the same three questions to admissions representatives at colleges all over the country (the subject line of the e-mail is “Three quick questions”), and then I hope to hear back from them. When I do, I’ll post them on Apply with Sanity. It’s that simple.

I sent out a test batch of 10, just to see if I got any responses. One came back almost immediately, so I’m considering that an initial success. Let’s hope more come in soon.

The three questions are meant to probe some of the things that make a school unique and that aren’t easily captured as a stat to go in a book or web search.

Here’s the first response from Conner Green, Assistant Director of Admission at Ohio Wesleyan University.

What to think of college rankings

What to think of college rankings

Most college admissions counselors, at least publicly, will tell you that the rankings are worthless, that they’re one of the main villains ruining college, and that the world would be better off without the rankings. I don’t do this. Honestly, I’m glad that the rankings are out there. There are several things that rankings are good for.

Rethinking Legacy

Rethinking Legacy

I’m on the record as being fine with Legacy. I ran a blog post two years ago called “What’s wrong with Legacy admissions?” and I still stand by it. In fact, I’d like to reiterate why I’m not as bothered by Legacy as the New York Times editorial board. It’s not that I think it’s a perfect policy that needs to be defended at all costs; I’m just not nearly as bothered by it as the Times.

Please take a quick college admissions survey

Around this time last year, I gave a short survey to a group of high school seniors I was talking with. Their answers were insightful and helped our discussion.

This year, I’d like to open up the survey to all high school students.

Please click here to take the survey. It should only take about five minutes, and it’s completely anonymous.

I’ll add parent and educator surveys soon, but for now this one is only for high school students. I’ll share the responses in October.

Thanks! Please send this to someone who would like to take the survey, or share it on your social networks.

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Photo by Zoe Herring.

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