A New College Admissions Landscape: What High School Juniors Need to Know

A New College Admissions Landscape: What High School Juniors Need to Know

This week is decision time for many Ivies and highly selective colleges and universities!  COVID-19 has closed down many K-12 school districts around the world for the rest of the school year.  If you’ve been following the directions of well-known books and/or chats, by now you must realize that your current college admissions “playbook” or plan may be ineffectual.  What will high school juniors need to do as they continue their admissions journey and prepare for their senior year?

1. Plan, plan and plan.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else” – Yogi Berra

As the world around you changes daily, you will need to formulate a new plan, create a timeline and meet your goals.  Deadlines are a crucial aspect of the college admissions process.

2. Make a balanced preliminary college list. Start your search by familiarizing yourself with many different colleges and universities and facilitate your research on the different options that are available. Visit the websites of the schools you are considering.

3. “Visit” colleges. Start to “visit” campuses. Review college websites, take a virtual tour, and learn more about student life by reading the student blogs linked there.

4. Begin to consider letters of recommendation. It’s not who is writing or what they are writing. It’s how they are writing about you in a meaningful way.  Choose your recommenders wisely.

5. Standardized Tests. Plan your SAT and/or ACT timelines. Even though standardized tests are cancelled through June you should still plan for the future!

6. Grades. Colleges view grades with the utmost importance. Remember, your grades should come first.  Colleges look at junior year grades to understand the academic abilities of a student.  Junior year grades are the last full year of grades for admissions committees to look at in determining a student’s acceptance.  A recent survey by the National Association for College Admission Counselors (NACAC) found that admissions officers gave “considerable importance” to grades in students’ college-prep classes.  Even though your school is now providing online courses, take them seriously.  From my discussions with admissions officers at several of the Ivies and highly competitive colleges, they will be closely reviewing your performance in these courses.

7. For BS/MD applicants. For many students, their internships and research projects have been cancelled.  From my discussion with BS/MD program admissions officers, they “will be seeking bright students who, in these unprecedented times, show a commitment to the BS/MD track and want to be a doctor”.

8. Seek expert admissions advice. With the disruption in school schedules and so many schools closed, the challenge for high school guidance or college counselors to provide students with adequate college counseling has dramatically increased.  In many private as well as public high schools, remote/online learning does not apply to college counseling, leaving many students to navigate the college admissions process on their own in a competitive admissions environment fraught with minefields.  High school juniors and their parents need valuable advice from experts who understand the competitive admission process, as well as those who have long-standing professional relationships with college admissions officers.

My recent conversations with admissions officers have been informative and valuable.  As an admissions officer stated; “The current COVID-19 pandemic will NOT negatively impact how we review applications this fall”.  Another mentioned to me, “We still want students who are involved, academically motivated, who have demonstrated success and are willing to contribute to the future vibrancy of our campus community.”

 

 

Dr_Paul_Lowe_Ivy_League_Admissions_Expert_Advicekey-to-success_admissions_success_Dr_Paul_Lowe_Admissions_Expert_Independent_Educational_Consultant

Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty? – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.

Coronavirus Effect on College Admissions: What You Need to Know

coronovirus effect on college admissions what you need to know Dr Paul Lowe

“To see the world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower;

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.”

     – William Blake

Understanding facts of any situation is essential to one’s ability to analyze that situation for a positive outcome.  So before getting into the ramifications of “the coronavirus” in college admissions, we’ll look at the pertinent facts.  Let’s first define the name of the virus:  The new virus is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2.  The disease caused by the new virus has been designated COVID -19 (COrona VIrus Disease 19 – because the year it emerged was 2019).  It’s known to infect humans causing respiratory tract illness (upper respiratory, as well as lower respiratory illness which could be fatal), and to date there is no vaccine to protect people from COVID-19.

This virus has not been seen in humans before and scientists are still learning specifics about the disease.  It has been found to be highly contagious, spreading by small droplets and contact, and is potentially particularly virulent in certain demographics.  Thus, the reactions we see in the news regarding the attempts to control the spread the disease.  We find ourselves in a place where the world is attempting to slow the spread of the disease as scientists attempt to develop vaccines and treatments.  Current efforts in effect in the United States and other parts of the world are an attempt to control community spread.  Because of these attempts, educational institutions and facilities have taken drastic steps in order to help control of the spread.

Current effects:

  • Public high schools as well as private high schools are closed, making it difficult for students to meet with guidance counselors for college planning.
  • For students applying to BSMD programs, it’s a whole NEW competitive admissions environment!
  • Colleges are cancelling in-person classes and shifting to online platforms or learning management systems.
  • Students are being asked to leave campuses and dormitories are being closed.  Some colleges have already cancelled or postponed graduation ceremonies.
  • Many colleges have moved classes online and some have directed students not to return after spring break.
  • Most institutions have barred staff from college-related travel as the coronavirus spreads.
  • May 1, the national deposit deadline for applicants, has been pushed back by a month.
  • SAT’s (Scholastic Assessment Tests) are cancelled through May.
  • National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) has made the decision to cancel all Spring National College Fairs.
  • International high school students who wish to study in the U.S. are facing numerous challenges regarding school closures, cancellation of testing dates, and more. The biggest impact may be on students’ abilities to get a visa for the fall semester because of delays in visa interviews or border closures.
  • TOEFL testing dates have been canceled or postponed in several countries.

Despite these drastic changes, it should be understood that colleges and universities plan to continue their missions to provide the best education possible for their students.  Furthermore, even in the face of a pandemic, college admissions will continue.  Based on my experience, extensive historical research, along with emails and Skype discussions with admissions officers, the college admissions process is continuing.  High school seniors are and will still be receiving decisions throughout March and early April.

Many of my clients have emailed us to request additional advice in this environment of online classes, extended school vacations and online test assessments.  We advise our clients accordingly as they continue their college admission preparation.  For many students (and parents), there is uncertainty, anxiety and fear as they shift to distance learning.  Evaluation of scholastic achievements through distance learning is not a novel experience for college admissions personnel or my firm.  We have advised and continue to advise international as well as U.S. home-schooled clients.  I can assure you, with certainty, that there are unique opportunities, educational benefits and admissions advantages to online learning.  All of our home-schooled clients have been admitted to their top-choices colleges, including the Ivies and highly selective colleges and universities.

For our current clients, we continue to develop new strategies.

  • For high school seniors, no senioritis – schools can still rescind your decisions, so even with online courses, you must continue to do well.
  • For juniors, most in their third quarter or beginning their third trimester, with regard to your college admissions profile, you must still develop ways to stand out.

In addition to home consultations, we have always complemented our personalized service by communicating with our clients remotely via Skype or Zoom.  COVID-19 has not disrupted our long-standing routine.   For our international as well as U.S. families, it’s business as usual.  We continue to communicate remotely.

This new situation makes high school students and their parents anxious or unnerved.  The reality still exists that you are still COMPETING with other students for those coveted spots at Ivies and highly selective colleges and universities.

For our part, we will continue to use our experience, admissions strategies and analytics to review all the nuances and consequences of COVID-19 in the college admissions process.  Given the ever-changing nature of the conditions surrounding the virus, we prepare our clients for all possible scenarios.  We focus on positive results and outcomes.  We continue, as we always have, to plan for the unexpected.  We use our team’s diverse background and collective effort to navigate uncertainties.  We problem-search as well as problem-solve.

We advise our clients that COVID-19 has not stopped college admissions, especially to the Ivies and highly competitive college and universities.  Understanding that school closures may impact college counseling and support (at public as well as private boarding and day high schools) during the application process, we have implemented more college counseling support services to help our students.  By doing all of the above, students will be successfully prepared for the college admissions process as we overcome the COVID-19.

Dr_Paul_Lowe_Ivy_League_Admissions_Expert_Advicekey-to-success_admissions_success_Dr_Paul_Lowe_Admissions_Expert_Independent_Educational_Consultant

Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty? – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.

 

Private School Admissions: My Child Was Not Accepted

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You were certain that your son would be accepted.  He had excellent grades.  He played on a great sports team. His SSAT scores were off the charts. You made sure that his school principal knew him. The Math and English teacher recommendations were amazing (you even had a parent of a student at your target school write a recommendation). You thought that your top-choice school board member’s recommendation would help. You thought that you wrote excellent parent statements and thought that his student statements were great.  The campus visit and the admissions interview, in your opinion, were also great.

However, when you gazed at your cell phone you discovered, to your surprise, that the school(s) didn’t accept your child.  WHAT HAPPENED? Where did you go wrong? What do you do now?

As a private school admissions advisor, I am now receiving calls and emails from anxious and nervous parents who thought they did everything right.

If your child was REJECTED (or WAIT-LISTED, which means that “we love your child, but we don’t have spot available today, tomorrow or perhaps NEVER”), what can you do at this stage in the process?  SOMETHING WASN’T RIGHT!

From my observation, there are six crucial potential missteps during the private school application process: (1) Parents assume that it’s all about connections.  (2) Parents and students don’t prepare enough for the interviews.  (3) Parents start too late in the admissions planning process.  (4) Parents assume that their skill sets and/or titles give them an admissions edge.  (5) Parents and students listen to incorrect advice from chat rooms, online communities and friends.  (6) Parents make the mistake of retaining an inexperienced educational consultant who is not versed in the admissions policies, diplomacy and politics of top boarding school admissions or does not even continually visit schools and know directors of admissions.

What’s my recommendation: You should now hire an expert who understands the off-waitlist process as well as the reapplication process.  It’s important to know, especially for top and elite day and boarding schools, that admissions officers review all the data, appreciate transparency and are experts in their fields.

Many parents also believe that private school admissions officers/committees focus primarily on tangible factors that are measurable and quantifiable.  The reality is that admissions officers’ emotions, feelings and value judgement play a significant role in admissions decisions.

When I work with my clients, I ensure that they are protected from the uncertainties and the unexpected in admissions. I physically visit schools and actively interact with school admissions personnel, senior administrators and therefore help my clients avoid the irrevocable mistakes that cause rejections or being placed on the “permanent” waitlist.

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Dr. Lowe’s Private School Visits: Other independent educational consultants may depend on telephonic interviews, group speed meetings in central locations, or simply read literature and review websites and repeat it to families.  As an admissions expert, I physically visit schools and actively interact with school admissions personnel, senior administrators and students. My clients are, therefore, placed in the most appropriate school for their (and their parents’) happiness.  My approach ensures that your child will be placed in the best and most appropriate top-choice school.  By understanding, analyzing and researching a specific school’s atmosphere, vibe, rhythm, tone, color, experience, culture diversity and mission, my team and I can clearly articulate what differentiates one school from another to consumers/families.

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe.

Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group’s  Boarding School Admissions Consultants, an affiliate of Private School Admissions Advisors.  Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive concierge-type admissions advisory services for U.S. and international students who are interested in applying to top U.S. boarding schools.  Dr. Lowe helps U.S. and international students gain admissions into top U.S. boarding schools even after they have been wait-listed and rejected.  Dr. Lowe and his team of admissions advisors also visit prestigious and elite private schools, where they have the unique opportunity of interacting one-on-one with heads of schools, directors of admissions and senior admissions personnel.   

College Admissions Officers Are Checking Applicants’ Social Media Profiles

So you thought that your Instagram, tweet or Facebook Youtube, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch were safe?  Think again!  What about the posts of your friends?

According to a recent Kaplan Test survey that polled nearly 300 college admissions officers, 36% of them looked at applicants’ social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to learn more about the applicant.  When my team and I visit schools and have discussions with admissions they do admit that they review applicants’ social media platforms.

So, do colleges look at social media? Yes. In fact, what students post on social media can greatly affect not only acceptance odds but they can get acceptances revoked if unsuitable and offensive materials are found. When Harvard discovered offensive material being posted to a group chat by incoming freshman, it rescinded acceptance  letters to 10 accepted applicants!

Because Ivy League and highly selective colleges and universities receive so many qualified applications, they’re typically looking at social media to see if it tips the scales in anyone’s favor.  So be careful!

So the question you need to ask is does my social media profile affect college decision outcomes?  What do you think?

We provide a social media review and analysis (SMRA) for our clients.

“Year after year, I hear the horror stories from parents whose kids got in nowhere because they thought the college admissions race was just about grades, SAT scores, their perceived  ‘unique’ applications, generic essays and perfect connections.” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr_Paul_Lowe_Ivy_League_Admissions_Expert_Advice        key-to-success_admissions_success_Dr_Paul_Lowe_Admissions_Expert_Independent_Educational_Consultant

Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty? – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   Its medical school admissions affiliate: Medical School Admissions Advisors. The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.

Regular Decision Notification Dates: 2020

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It’s March 2020! That means that high school seniors will begin to discover, after all their hard work, where they will be accepted, wait-listed or rejected.

Based on our research and discussions with directors/deans of admissions and admissions officers, many colleges  regular admission decisions ready throughout March  and early April and it will be another highly competitive year!

Here are regular decision notification dates (and approximate times) for Ivy League and highly selective colleges and universities:

  • Barnard College:  Late March
  • Boston College:  March 19, 2020
  • Boston University: March 20, 2020
  • Bucknell University:  April 1
  • Brown University:  March 26, 2020
  • Carnegie Mellon University:  No later than April 15
  • Columbia University:  March 26, 2020
  • Cornell University:  March 26, 2020
  • Dartmouth University:  March 26, 2020
  • Duke University:  April 1, 2020
  • Georgetown University:  April 1, 2020
  • Georgia Institute of Technology:  March 14, 2020
  • Hamilton College:  March 19, 2020
  • Harvard University:  March 26, 2020
  • Johns Hopkins University:  March 13, 2020
  • Lehigh University:  Late March
  • MIT:  March 14, 2020 (Pi Day)
  • New York University:  April 1, 2020
  • Northwestern University: Late March
  • Princeton University: March 26, 2020
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: March 7, 2020
  • Stanford University:  April 1, 2020
  • Swarthmore College: By April 1, 2020
  • Tufts University:  By April 1, 2020
  • University of Chicago:  March 13, 2020
  • University of Michigan: Late March
  • University of Notre Dame:  Late March
  • University of Pennsylvania:  March 26, 2020
  • University of Virginia:  April 1, 2020
  • Vanderbilt University:  April 1, 2020
  • Vassar College:  Late March
  • Villanova University:  Late March
  • Wesleyan University:  Late March
  • Yale University:  March 26, 2020

Please bookmark this blog. We will update decision dates as soon as we hear from schools!

“Year after year, I hear the horror stories from parents whose kids got in nowhere because they thought the college admissions race was just about grades, SAT scores, their perceived  ‘unique’ applications, generic essays and perfect connections.” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr_Paul_Lowe_Ivy_League_Admissions_Expert_Advice        key-to-success_admissions_success_Dr_Paul_Lowe_Admissions_Expert_Independent_Educational_Consultant

Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty? – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   Its medical school admissions affiliate: Medical School Admissions Advisors. The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.