So, as in the past few years, the schools with the lowest admit rates were even more selective this year. ED/EA/REA/SCEA acceptance stats dropped again for the Ivies, Stanford, UChicago and their peers. Those with slightly less competitive admissions also saw increases in their numbers of ED/EA applicants, and lower admit rates. Overall, the top 50 or so schools all saw increases in the number of applications, even those that had seen slight declines last year. As predicted, admissions are not getting any easier at the higher ranked schools and are getting even more competitive at the less competitive schools.
The Common App was a major headache for hundreds of thousands of students. I received many panicked phone calls, texts and emails asking me why PDFs were blank, why the Common App was crashing or not recognizing previously used login info, and that Naviance was not showing any recommendations or transcripts had been requested or sent! I spent hours sitting with students as they filled out the Common App, if only to assure them they were doing it right. I suggested filling everything out and setting the alarm for 4 AM to submit, hoping that less traffic on the site would enable proper submission. Almost every school that had an ED/EA/SCEA/REA deadline extended it for a week or more in recognition of the problems students were having. Many also extended their RD deadlines, aware that there is even more traffic the days before 1/1/14. Let's hope that Eric Furda, UPenn's Dean of Admissions and the incoming President of the Common App will sort out these issues before the next admissions round!
Here are the lessons learned from this round of applications:
- Do NOT wait until the night before the deadline to submit your Common App!
- Start thinking about and drafting your essay in August before you are overwhelmed by the start of school
- Finish your junior year with the best grades you can muster!
- Ask your favorite teachers, or those for whom you have produced great work, if they will write you a letter of recommendation BEFORE the end of the year, instead of in September, so they have time over the summer to think about how they can highlight what makes you an outstanding applicant.
- If your standardized testing outcomes are disappointing, check out www.fairtest.org and see how many great schools do not require SATs or ACTs.
- Take advantage of your counselor's relative free time now and make an appointment to review your plans for next year. Remember they will be writing a recommendation for you too!
- Start visiting if you haven't already! Make a list of your possible schools and do some day trips and plan an overnight or two.
- Create a list of your ECs so you have something to work from when completing the Common App next fall. It goes live on 8/1!