College Counselor’s Corner: Early Action Deferrals, Revised ACT Extended Times

It’s a beautiful Friday, reminding us that summer is almost here. In Junior Seminar, we finished our trimester with a discussion of college issues, the Common Application and the ZeeMee app. On the college front, it seems that coping is this week’s theme.

UNC: Sparking a Refreshing Change
Every year, I dread the news that a student has been deferred in an Early round. More often than not, the news will not be good after the admissions office goes through the regular admissions pool. In a refreshing change, UNC notified counselors this week that it was eliminating deferrals altogether in the Early Action round. Instead, it will offer admission, deny the candidate or offer a place on the wait list:

“We’re making this change because we want to be honest with unsuccessful early-action applicants about their eventual chances of earning admission and because we want to minimize the worry and disappointment we cause them. Over the last ten years, as the number of early-action applications has grown steadily, the number of deferred early-action applicants who’ve earned admission in March has fallen just as steadily. Many students are applying early, being deferred, and then being offered places on our waiting list. In effect, we’re asking them to wait twice . . . We realize that our new practice will be unusual among schools like ours. But we hope it will give students who don’t want to wait for an answer beyond January the chance to move on gracefully towards schools that will be able to give them better news. And for those who do want to wait, we hope the new practice will give them a clearer sense of their chances and our timetable, which could extend into June.”

UNC: helping students cope

Just as more colleges are allowing self-reporting of standardized test scores, I think this movement is here to stay.

More to Help Students Cope
At Colleges . . .
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that “with an influx of students classified as disabled, schools move to accommodate their needs.” According to the article, mental health issues were particularly prevalent at small private colleges, usually resulting in extended time and in some cases private spaces in which to take exams. It mentioned Pomona College, which reported that 22 percent of its students were classified as disabled, and other Hudson favorites such as Oberlin, Hampshire, Amherst and Smith. The article also cited high percentages of disabled students at liberal arts colleges (Pitzer, Vassar, Reed, Mount Holyoke and Haverford), elite colleges (Stanford, Brown, Yale, Columbia) and large public research universities (Vermont, UMass Amherst, Arkansas).

Stress at Pomona?

The Journal interviewed administrators at Oberlin who claimed that “the extra time allows students to use various strategies to reduce stress levels so they can overcome their disabilities . . . Without them, many wouldn’t graduate.” They also spoke with students without accommodations and professors who felt uncomfortable with the issue.

. . . and on standardized tests
For those of you whose students receive extended time, ACT has recently announced big changes to their extended time testing policies, While previous time-and-a-half test takers were permitted to self-pace throughout all four sections, the new section-by section time limits for time-and-a-half ACT testing will be as follows:

National Extended Time

Standard Time


70 min.

45 min.


90 min.

60 min.


55 min.

35 min.


55 min.

35 min.

As ACT stated in a news release, “Whereas past students might have spent only 50 minutes on English and 110 minutes on Math, or 75 minutes on Math and 70 minutes on Reading, our next wave of extended time testers will need to watch the clock for ACT mandated time limits, just like their standard time classmates.” Maybe some students who had once opted for the ACT may change over to the SAT.

In an online forum to which I belong, a parent posted that her son had taken the ACT three times and still had a lower-than-targeted composite score, which she attributed to his Science section. (The ACT has an overall composite and reports scores for four components: English, Math, Reading and Science.) The parent wanted advice on whether he should retake the test or move to the SAT. She explained that the student had taken only the ACT after a diagnostic.

Here’s the deal: The student should’ve tried both the SAT and ACT in the spring and repeated the better of the two. The diagnostics are helpful, but not everything. The Science section can bring many students down! Also, no student should take a standardized test more than three times. The student has likely plateaued and should use try the SAT in August.

Higher Ed: Shakeup or Shakeout
Sometime last year, I mentioned a startup called MissionU that was providing a new model for higher education: career-oriented and completed in only a year. Its students wouldn’t be responsible for any tuition but instead would pay 15 percent of their income for a period of three years after landing a job. Yet a year later, MissionU is shuttering the business and selling off its assets, according to an article in Education Dive. Apparently, most of the initial crop of 30 students did get great jobs, as has its founder, Adam Braun, who sold the firm. The site is still up and running. Don’t sign up!

Enjoy the unofficial start of summer. If you want to meet, get in touch soon.

2018-05-25T11:55:30+00:00 May 25th, 2018|
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