College Counselor’s Corner: Out Like a Lion

Dear Parents,

March goes out like a lamb. March Madness ends in March. High school seniors now know their options for college…

April Fool!

This application cycle again proved that nothing is final, except maybe the Final Four.

Final Four Fun Facts

Interesting non-sports trivia about the Final Four:

South Carolina Gamecocks. This university system having 40 percent out-of-state students refers to itself as USC. So does USC, home of the Trojans! But the University of South Carolina was founded in 1801, while the California-based USC opened in 1880.

Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga encourages applicants to interview if their GPA is below 3.2 and their standardized test scores are low (e.g., ACT below 23). Now, that’s unusual, sort of the opposite of what we’d expect.

These lucky ducks went to an introDUCKtion.

Oregon Ducks. Its orientation for accepted students is called an introDUCKtion.

UNC Tar Heels. On its website, UNC claims, “Tuition and fees at Carolina are among the lowest nationwide.” Interesting! UNC charges out-of-staters $53,000.

Ask the Washington Post

Late last week, Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post addressed myths about college admissions. She tackled some sensitive issues including:

  • Course selection. I often tell students that college admissions officers look for rigor, but not at the expense of the rest of their courses. Strauss states, “ . . in my experience covering education, selective schools usually don’t like grades below a B, and struggling in more than one tough class is not seen as a plus. So unless students can keep their grades in higher-level courses at or over the B range, it probably makes more sense to take regular classes.”
  • Activities. Students need to pursue their passions, but just a few are fine. Strauss comments, “The best way to impress admissions counselors, as always, is to authentically pursue what interests you.”
  • Junior Seminar students working on essay topic selection.

    The personal essay. In Junior Seminar, students are learning that the personal essay is an important component of the application that must be unique to the writer. Strauss adds, “In fact, essays can be decisive when it comes to students whom admissions counselors are on the fence about. A student with borderline grades and test scores could secure a spot in the freshman class with an insightful, well-crafted essay, or be rejected because of a lousy one — or when it’s clear to counselors that an adult, not a student, has written it. And a poorly constructed essay, or one marred by punctuation and grammatical errors, can sour even a great application.” We’re taking a very deliberate approach in Junior Seminar, starting with breaking down the questions, evaluating options, and coming up with a student’s message.

Getting Over “Rejection”

Top students who are not offered admission have not been rejected; there’s just not enough room for them in the freshman class. But we also need to know how to communicate with those who don’t get in. A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal published “How to Help When College Rejection Letters Land.” The article draws on the experiences of a students at an elite girls’ school in Los Angeles who were turned down by places like Oxford and Yale. Relevant quotes include:

  • “She was crushed when she didn’t get into Yale, but remembers her parents’ comforting message, the most important being it wasn’t about her, or anything she did or didn’t do. It was more that Yale wasn’t the right place for her particular talents.”

  • “. . . not getting into the “best school” in terms of rankings can lead to choices and experiences that are rewarding in the long run, something she herself discovered.”

Planning the Next Steps

Waitlists. There is a clear way to communicate interest to the college admissions officer. I am here to help your student format and edit such communication.

Appeals. Most colleges do not allow appeals, but there are some exceptions. If a student can appeal, it’s recommended to bring recent information that can justify asking a college to reconsider.

Accepted Student Days. Urge your student to attend. Meet-ups are a sure way to get to know the campus and peers and help in decision-making.

Over the next few days, you’ll probably hear about the student who was accepted to all eight Ivy League colleges. Dismiss it entirely. Why would anybody apply to eight colleges that are so very different? Did they think about the programs in those colleges? Don’t they know how different the curriculum requirements are from school to school? Could they possibly be happy in such different settings?

For some parents, March has been more than they could handle. If you have questions, please email me. Otherwise, College Counselor’s Corner will be back in April.


Nina Berler

College Counselor

The Hudson School

(201) 659-8335 x119

2017-04-03T13:12:23+00:00 April 3rd, 2017|
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