Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Making the Most of the College Visit

Here are a few tips to help make the most of the upcoming Great Schlep. Some of you will be jetting around the country, trying to cover as much ground as possible. Some will be wearing headphones in the back seat of the car while mom or dad or both navigate and try to hijack your decision-making process! Still others will hop aboard a train and check out some spots on their own. However you plan to scout out the schools on your list, try to keep the following in mind:

  • Hopefully you have made a reservation at each school you want to visit. Tours and info sessions fill up quickly during break weeks. If there is no more room, ask in admissions if there is a self-guided tour and a map. Scan the printed material available in the admissions office for anything that may be pertinent to your interests. 
  • Take a couple pics with your smartphone. If you are visiting a lot of schools, you might have trouble differentiating one from another when you get home so a shot in front of the admissions office might jog your memory after you leave. Don't post on FB unless you are prepared to tell everyone where you are applying. 
  • Ask your mom or dad to bring an accordion style folder for all your printed matter. If you are chatting about schools with your parents on the drive, its nice to have something to look at if there is no cell service where you are. 
  • If you have a chance to meet with an admissions officer, not in a formal interview, ask for a business card and have a few questions ready to ask. Send a brief thank you for his or her time the next day. This "show of interest" can make a difference if your application goes to committee.
  • If you are offered a chance to interview and its not your top choice, and you haven't interviewed anywhere else yet, do it! You might be nervous about your first college interview, but remember they want to learn about you, so you don't have to know everything about the school before you have one. 
  • If you do have an interview planned (many schools do not offer juniors the chance to interview but some do) try to prepare a resume to bring with you so they can scan it and ask you questions. A resume should include ECs, any awards or significant achievements, sports, performing or fine arts interests and anything else that might set you apart and make for a good conversation. 
  • If you are trying to play a sport, and aren't being actively recruited, you can email the coach and ask if he has a few moments to chat. It can't hurt and it might help.
  • Don't dress like a slob and if you attend an info session, mute your phone and keep it tucked away. If you want to take notes, use a pen and paper!
Look around on your tours. Do you see kids that look like you? Do the kids seem happy and engaged, even if it's getting close to finals? Eat in the dining hall if you can, or at least walk through, and see if there are a lot of kids sitting alone or lots of big groups. You can get a good feeling about what life is like at any given school simply by sitting on a bench for 15 minutes and watching the students go about their days. And lastly be patient with your parents! They are deeply invested in this process and probably paying for some or all of it, so be nice!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yield Protection Has Nothing To Do With Bonds!

In admissions parlance, yield protection means a few different things. When an admissions committee  practices yield protection, what are they really doing and how can an applicant avoid becoming a victim of this mysterious practice?  Simply put, yield means how many accepted applicants actually enroll.  It can also mean different things to different schools. The tippy-tops don't worry too much about yield protection because they are pretty sure at least 80% of the students they accept will attend. Less competitive schools may be more concerned about yield as they don't want to end up with too many students or too few. Too few students attending means going to the waiting list to fill the class, and too many enrolled students can mean housing problems and lack of seats in intro courses. But yield protection can also mean something else.

Everyone has heard stories of the amazing applicant with a 2400/36, perfect GPA, the most rigorous curriculum, published research and a debut performance at Carnegie Hall getting denied from the latest hot school. Is it because the admissions committee is pretty sure that student isn't going to attend because his or her stats are markedly above the middle 50% of the applicant pool? Its entirely possible, especially if that student is a "stealth" applicant, meaning there has been no contact between that student and the school prior to the receipt of the application.  An admissions committee may perceive that application as one that a student just "lobbed in", in a panic after an ED denial or deferral. Yield protection means that the committee needs to decide whether to accept that student with the awesome stats who probably won't attend, or the ED deferral whose stats are a shade below the middle 50% but fully intends to enroll? If a school cares about yield, they will accept the deferred ED applicant who will attend even if it means they wont get the boost from the higher stats of the panicked stealth applicant in their accepted students stats. That ED deferral would be one more student who is accepted and enrolled-good for the yield statistics. Schools that are traditionally less competitive in a peer group of schools probably have lower yields because a lower percentage of accepted students actually enroll.

What can students do to assure they are not victims of yield protection? Show every school you care, deeply, even if you can't get there to sign the visitor's log, and even if its your super duper back-up school.  There are lots of ways to do this; some can be done even without leaving your house! For more tips on showing interest and how not to be thrown in the stealth pile, get in touch at athenaadvisors@optimum.net