Hopefully you didn’t have to apply for undergraduate admission to Johns Hopkins this year. If you did, you were in good company; the school once again had record-breaking application numbers (20,613!) vying for a very small number of spots (the freshman class will hopefully total 1,300). Some more stats on those who made the cut below:
Halleluiah! Grace got into college! It is not her first choice school, but it is an excellent option that delivers peace of mind. I can’t tell if she is happy or just relieved. My reaction to her news held both of those emotions.
So, it will be easier to settle into the long winter of waiting now. Like a hunter with a catch already in his pouch, she is no longer desperate. She knows she will not go hungry. But what does it mean for the rest of the process?
The days when college decisions came in a nice, fat envelope are long gone; these days, life-changing information comes virtually — which means that it can be accessed anywhere, anytime. And that can have dramatic consequences.
As it turns out, we learned nothing last year. I was hoping we would have gained some insights from having watched our oldest trudge through Senior year, trying to figure out where to apply, how to position herself, which side to feature, to get into the school of her choice. Unfortunately, it seems, we are just a year older. No wiser.
“Getting In,” our column on college admissions, continues with writer Elizabeth Frederick moving on to child number two. Will she be wiser the second time around?? -The Eds
When I think of Grace, it is sometimes an image of the round-cheeked, silken pre-schooler dressed in sequins, tutus, boas, and plastic kitten heels. Sometimes, it is the middle school Grace of drawstring, dotty shorts and a team t-shirt. Or the Grace of fuzzy pajamas wearing her old, purple glasses. I think of the child with the invisible friend, who defended her from her dominant older sister, and of her remarkable capacity for deep, infectious belly laughter. I think of her snuggled warm under a blanket, lost in a good book about a princess. Until recently, I have not had to think of her as Grace, the independent. Grace, the college student. Grace, the one who will leave.
Discussion of the fairness of affirmative action in college admissions has resurfaced now that arguments over the practice are being heard by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas. Now, if you’re a white college applicant — or the parent of one — it’s hard not to bristle at the possibility, however unlikely, that your application would be rejected on the basis of race. But it may interest you to learn that affirmative action is only one of several paths to preferential treatment in the admissions process. And all others tend to favor whites.
Yesterday, we told you about the high-achieving student who applied to ten schools — both reaches and safeties — and didn’t get into a single one. With odds like that, the only solution is to apply to even more schools, right? Well, actually, no.
The average college student today will apply to more than nine schools, a figure that “seems much too high,” at least according to one admissions counselor writing in the New York Times. Jordanna Suriani argues that seniors apply to ten-plus schools haven’t thought enough about what they want, or they’re caught up in what she calls “the admissions game.” And now that most colleges accept the common application, it’s easy enough for students to put themselves in the running for large numbers of schools. But when students start hedging their bets and applying to schools that they’re not even interested because they’re panicked after reading too many stories about declining acceptance rates, they’re really only harming themselves.
It’s the private school version of a horror story, no chainsaws or severed hands necessary: the student, in the top five of the graduating class at one of Baltimore’s best private schools, was well-liked by all, spent afternoons practicing music and summers building schools in Latin America. Basically, the student did everything right. The student applied to ten colleges, a reasonable mix of safeties and reaches. And (cue the screeching soundtrack), come May, the student was rejected by every single one of them.
Call it “the curse of the well-rounded white girl” or a plain old demographic shift; in any case, Baltimore parents are saying it’s real, and they aren’t sure how to react. Do schools need to be doing more? Should parents start caring less? When parents start marching into headmasters’ offices to protest what they see as an alarming trend – Baltimore private school students losing ground in the race for slots at elite colleges – is their concern warranted?
My nephew was so excited to be admitted to the University of Maryland Honors College. It is a rigorous academic program, with selective admission, and delivers high quality education affordably. Kiplinger’s ranked University of Maryland number eight in the country for top-value public colleges this year, and the Honors College is its elite program for “students with exceptional academic talents.” So, like any bright, accomplished high school senior with all the stars aligned, his response to his good fortune was to stop going to school. I’m only exaggerating a little.
Today is May 1st – the date that college-bound kids (and their parents) have to put money down on the college of their choice. These kids have been thinking about where they are going to go to college for somewhere between 18 months and 18 years. It’s no surprise for most of them that the moment of truth has arrived. Now, what will they do?
There are lots of good reasons for choosing a college: academic rigor, geographic desirability, size of undergraduate programs, access to graduate programs, diversity, etc. But let’s say your child was accepted at a bunch of great schools that have different things going for them. How should he or she evaluate which is best? We received an email from our daughter’s college of choice yesterday telling us how to evaluate. And even if our daughter hadn’t already committed to this school, both practically and emotionally, I hope the email would have tipped the scale for her.