College Counselor’s Corner: What’s New in the New Year?

Happy New Year!

A new year—a time to refresh. What, not in your household? If you find yourself fearing the new year because it includes your child and the college process, try to relax. Remember that more knowledge helps fuel good planning while reducing stress.

It’s Still All About Applying Early

Last month, many students heard from their Early Decision, Early Action or Single-Choice Early Action colleges. As projected, applying Early proved to be immensely popular. Particularly for elite colleges, acceptance rates declined as the applicant pool grew.

The Ivy League, which we all know is just a sports conference, reported ED acceptance rates ranging from a high at Dartmouth (24.9%) to a low at Harvard (14.5%). Other popular colleges were no exception. At Lehigh, which fills about half its class with Early applicants, volume was up 10 percent. Georgetown, which reported historic volumes, accepted only 12% in the Early Action round.

Sure, Harvard tells Business Insider that there’s no difference between applying Early or Regular. But as reported, “there’s a stark disconnect between early and regular decision rates.” While many argue that Early programs put some students needing to compare offers of financial aid at a disadvantage, those programs are not going away.

For those who did get in Early, what made the difference? We know that getting in depends in part on what a university seeks in a given year, but it’s also a function of differentiation. Colleges, particularly elite colleges, want a candidate who stands out from the pack, beyond stellar grades and test scores. When it came to the Personal Essay, the best of my students’ essays spoke to their interests and stories in a unique and engaging way. As usual, STEM students differentiated themselves the best when they wrote about activities unrelated to science or academics.

Another differentiator: ZeeMee. Whenever I have an applicant to a ZeeMee partner such as Tulane, I insist that the students use the ZeeMee App and paste their link into the supplement. This year, I really believe it helped.

Students interested in Tulane should include a ZeeMee.

Can students differentiate themselves in the interview process? Maybe. Does the interview “count”? Maybe not. Last week, the Atlantic published “The Futility of College Interviews,” a subject this blog has previously addressed. Author Haley Glatter correctly points out that “optional” interviews at elite schools can’t possibly be optional, and while job interviews can make or break a candidate, sometimes the interview is just informational. Glatter writes, “Interviews can in turn be the source of yet another perceived power imbalance between the haves and have-nots when trying to get into college . . . Even if the interviews don’t actually have a vast impact on admissions decisions, it remains true that some students get the chance to show another side of themselves while others are left behind due to no fault of their own.”

Yet students using ZeeMee can avoid being left behind. ZeeMee’s co-founder Adam Metcalf tells me that students will be able to engage with students on campus in 2018: “We are excited to have more and more campus influencers on the app around the country that are showcasing what life is like on campus through fresh, authentic video. Just as we brought the student story to the colleges over the last three years, we truly want to bring the college story to our students in a new way to help them discover their best fit.”

What’s on your mind for 2018?

Help! My student has been deferred!
Deferrals and waitlists are realities of the process. They’re disheartening, especially if your student has friends that did get admitted in the Early round or if they had a clear first choice. There’s a clear way your student can communicate with admissions after these decisions are rendered.

Help! My student might not get in anywhere?
While I have often heard that question, it really doesn’t happen. Every year, there is a list published in the spring that includes colleges that are still looking for students.

In the meantime, there are great colleges with later deadlines, including Haverford (1/15/18), Rochester (1/5/18), Richmond (1/15/18), Davidson (1/5/18), Michigan (2/1/18) and Wisconsin (2/1/18). Students should be aware that these colleges have already accepted, deferred and waitlisted students, but getting in that app now is better than not trying at all.

It’s not too late to apply to Wisconsin, 34-24 winner over Miami in the Orange Bowl.

Help! My student will be applying to college in 2018.
It’s really going to be fine. But you need a plan now. That’s why I’m scheduling your meetings, some of which were put off as a result of the winter storm.

Hot Colleges

It’s Cold. So Go South?
Last month, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Southern colleges with top outcomes (i.e., debt, graduate salaries). The top-ranked private university was no surprise: Duke, which also came in fifth on the Journal’s national list. Meanwhile, UNC Chapel Hill topped the list of North Carolina’s public colleges. UVA was highest ranking in Virginia. As I’ve often mentioned, the public research universities limit out-of-state students, making entry difficult.

Beautiful Duke tops the lists for outcomes.

Local Colleges

Stevens invites students to apply for Trading Day, which may be a newly appreciated career to parents affected by tax changes. See link for more on selecting a team and applying.

Financial Aid

Recently, the New York Times published an opinion piece on “The 8 Most Confusing Things About FAFSA.” Interesting advice by author Charlie Javice, creator of an online platform to simplify the process, includes:

  • When asked where the student is applying, put down any four colleges to which they’ve applied and also include a public college or university.

  • Children of divorce should indicate the parent with the lowest income as the custodial parent.

  • Students estranged from their families should file as independent students.

  • When asked for bank balance, applicants should use the lowest day of the month.

  • Students shouldn’t hesitate to appeal their financial aid packages.


Next week, we will send the PSAT score report home. Students can see me to pick up their actual exam booklet. In fact, test prep will be addressed in the first of four Hudson Seminars.

Tuesday, January 27: Testing Post-PSAT in a High-Stakes Environment

Tuesday, February 27: Mapping and Financing Your Student’s College Future

Tuesday, March 27: College Night for Hudson Families

Tuesday, April 17: Social Media and Your Student’s College Future

All sessions will be held in the theater at 7:00 pm.

This year, make it a point to not stress unnecessarily about the college process.  Email me to schedule a call or meeting

Contact Me
Nina Berler
(201) 859-3665 ext. 119
2018-01-08T16:44:37+00:00 January 8th, 2018|
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