Deciding whether or not to apply for early admissions can be challenging. Should you commit to a single school through Early Decision?
Most of the Ivies will release regular admissions news this Thursday, March 28. Brown, Columbia, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale will let nervous seniors know that day. (Cornell, Dartmouth, and Harvard will release in early April.) There were, needless to say, a number of high school seniors pacing in their dreams this past weekend.
Last year, these most selective universities accepted less than 10 percent, collectively, of the students who applied to them. Of the 242,621 applications submitted to the eight schools in the Ivy League, only 23,374 were successful, with the lowest percentage for acceptances at Harvard, scraping at a low 5.9% for overall acceptances, and an even lower 4.2% for regular decision acceptances. If only six out of a hundred kids get in, I sure hope those applicants have a favored runner-up.
If they could see her now, I think that college admissions committee might change its collective mind. It should change its mind. Poise in the face of defeat is a quality that speaks of great character, and great character should be valued in undergrads. I am profoundly proud of Emily today, and in awe of how collected she is only 24 hours after the worst rejection of her young life.
Emily did not get in to her first-choice college, where she applied early decision. It was, by a large margin, the college of her dreams. But she is not whining today. She had herself a good cry the night she heard, ate some ice cream and gummy bears, and watched a couple episodes of bad TV shows on Hulu. Today, her dream is spent, and she is a little older. But now, she is re-directing.
With the courage of a champion, she has set her cross-hairs on Plan B. If Plan A is not to be, how can she refine the remaining options? Does she need to reconsider the rest of her list? Add some choices? One of the traps of the early decision path is that you do have to commit to one school, one hope, before it commits to you. So, some measure of devastation is predictable, utterly foreseeable. And, because you have set your heart on the one, you have naturally turned your attention away from the others. Now, she must picture herself on a different campus, or assortment of campuses; a mental starting-over. But she is there. She is doing it.
Emily is not alone in her experience. We are watching her peers fall like soldiers in a bad Civil War movie — cut down in the combat of college admissions. They thought they would have a statistical advantage going for the Early Decision admission, but it looks like it’s shaping up to be a brutal year. And as the sad news from some travels, it crosses paths with the happy news of others. I hear them say, “It’s really unfair that [Ellen] got into ABC University… [Drew] really wants to go there, and she doesn’t, but she took his seat.” It is almost impossible for them to resist taking it personally, when really, it isn’t. It is all so arbitrary, but standing in the midst of it all, it doesn’t feel that way to them.
Other letters will come. (By email! Did you know that?) Other choices will emerge. Emily will go to college, and grow where she is planted. That is her nature. Still, it is hard to watch the disappointment on her face, knowing that she had every little detail of her life at her first choice college worked out. I have faith in her ability to recover from this, and know that it may even make her stronger. But like all challenges in life, the lesson to be learned on the other side of the effort can remain out of focus until you are through it. I am hopeful, even confident, that if she just hangs in there a little while longer, she will see the value of this event. And we will be here, cheering her on all the way.
After months of weighing the merits of anxious applicants, April is the month for colleges to feel what it’s like to nervously hope for a “yes.”
In April, Johns Hopkins sent out acceptance letters to 3,032 applicants, or 20.5 percent of all those who applied — its lowest-ever acceptance rate. But come fall 2011, most of those students won’t end up strolling across Decker Quad.
Hopkins’ yield — the number of accepted students who end up enrolling — has traditionally been solidly, well, average. In 2009, it was 31 percent, putting it in the neighborhood of Northwestern, Tufts, and other schools that are often considered to be second-choice options for those who’d really like to end up in the Ivy League. (Harvard’s yield that year was 77 percent.)
This year, Hopkins seems to be sparing no expense when it comes to wooing accepted students (and their parents). And no wonder. In order to end up with an incoming freshman class of 1245 — the University’s goal, according to the admissions office — Hopkins will have to convince 41 percent of its acceptees that they really, really want to be Blue Jays. (The 518 early decision acceptances, who have already agreed to enroll, make this a little less daunting.) That means making the University look brighter, shinier, and generally more desirable to prospective students than ever before.
To aid in the wooing, the university launched the Spring Open House and Overnight Program (SOHOP), an elaborately choreographed series of events that seems intended to convince prospective students that life at Hopkins is chock full of a capella concerts, outdoor movies, and “video game jams.” And for the first time, the first big overnight program for admitted students was held at the same time as Hopkins’ Spring Fair, possibly the only time the student body can be counted on to cut loose en masse.
Presumably any student Hopkins admitted should be smart enough to realize that not every weekend will feature fried food and free concerts on the quad; still, by aggressively presenting the school as a hub of spontaneous social activity instead of the library-centric stress fest it more honestly resembles, the school might be setting itself up to have higher yields, but more dissatisfied freshmen.