The National Association for College Admissions Counseling, or NACAC, released its annual “State of College Admissions” report. The report is based on a survey of over 2,200 high school counselors and almost 500 college admissions officers. You can read the full report here. It’s worth at least browsing and checking out the charts. Here are my top take-aways for smart, ambitious college-bound high school students.
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. (Remember, E.D. is the “binding” early application process. You can read more about it, including why schools even offer E.D., here.)
Not all universities offer an Early Decision option, and each one might have its own fun little stipulations and rules. But the basic idea of Early Decision is that you turn in your application early, you get a decision from the school early, and if you get accepted you agree to go there and withdraw any other applications you may have also sent. This requirement that you enroll if you're accepted is why Early Decision is usually referred to as "binding." Early Decision is often confused with Early Action, which I'll write about separately next week. But for today, remember that Early Decision is exactly what it sounds like: you decide early that you really want to go this school; they decide early if they're going to accept you; if they do, then it's decided--early--that you will definitely go there.
I spend my time reading and thinking about college admissions from a certain viewpoint--high school students. I rarely think about parents' perspectives or colleges' perspectives. I help out with the demand part of the equation. But what about the supply side? If I could advise colleges to make their search for top-notch students more efficient and effective, what would I tell them? How would I design the college admissions game?
If I could magically change the whole system, I would basically make it a two-cycle year.
Back in December I had a phone conversation with Christine Bowman, the Dean of Admission and Enrollment Services at Southwestern University. [See full disclosure below.] I originally reached out to her to ask about admissions essays and how they're analyzed, but over an hour we talked about a number of things. Here are the three main ideas that came up.