To get into America’s top colleges, you need to demonstrate interest, which is a fancy way of saying, you need to flirt with colleges. Yet, when is just as important as how.
Picture it. You are all alone in your bedroom at 11:47 p.m. on a Tuesday night.
By day you are an overloaded high school senior year who feels dominated by IB or AP course assignments, juggling the responsibilities that come with leading four time-sucking extracurricular activities, and cramming to get an 800 on your fourth SAT Subject Test.
Unlike your classmates who could best be described as one or more of the following —
- Ivy League legacies
- Recruitable athletes
- Paying unscrupulous New York, LA, or Palm Beach consultants to write their applications for them
- Paying dastardly ‘doctors’ to write faux concussion, migraine, or Crohn’s Disease sick notes for them in order to secure very real SAT or ACT extended time testing accommodations
- Underrepresented minorities who, ironically, also happen to be children of doctors, lawyers, bankers, bureaucrats, or other assorted white collar professionals
- Full-pay international students
- Completely disinterested in college (and, as a result, probably far smarter than you give them credit for)
— you are going to have to actually earn your way into an Ivy on your own! So, you find yourself staring at your computer screen at nearly midnight and into the abyss that is the Common Application filled with various application supplements that you have yet to complete.
By night, you must shift into truly high gear. You need inspiration. You are tapped out from doing summersaults throughout high school but you can’t afford to get tired now when there are so few spots at America’s ‘top’ colleges for students who actually have to earn their way into them on their own – with their own wits and moxie. Your fate will depend on your wisdom and your will – and whether or not a lot of legacies et al. are applying to your first choice college this year.
You have to work for at least two more hours to draft essays if your final essay drafts will ever be of the quality that they need to be to get you in. You turn to YouTube for a song or a soundtrack to pump you up; yet, most of the tracks that pop up aren’t capable of taking you to the level that you need to be at in order to pump out what you need to pump out tonight – and every night – between now and November 1, the date when you aim to submit all of your college applications to your one Early Decision, five Early Action, two Priority, and two Rolling admission colleges.
You turn to Google to find inspiration and you type in, “College Application Completion Playlists” or “Motivational Songs” or “EDM Motivation” or some other search query that gets you to this blessed page where you find yourself right now.
Without further ado, here they are – the top 20+ tracks to have playing in the background as you complete your college applications, especially the essays, if you are serious about doing all that you can do to get in by virtue of your work ethic alone:
21. T-Pain – Best Love Song ft. Chris Brown
You really do need to consider your college application supplemental essays as individualized ‘love songs’ to each college on your list. If you write a generic love note or song to a potential love interest, he or she is not going to take your seriously, and the same goes with colleges getting a generic supplement from you. This track underscores the point that you are in the love song writing business until you are finished each and every app that has supplemental writing.
20. Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now
That feeling you get either when your writer’s block clears or you realize the sun is rising and school starts in two hours.
19. Alex Gaudino feat. Crystal Waters – Destination Calabria
Because, let’s face it, even if you put in 200% effort over the coming nights, the “destination [is] unknown” and you very well may end up at Michigan or Wisconsin.
18. Ida Corr vs Fedde Le Grand Let Me Think About It (Extended)
What the heck is your favorite word and why? Come on UVA! “Let me think about it.”
17. Better Off Alone
No. You won’t be better off alone. The very thought of a gap year “alone” scares/inspires you to complete a better application during the dead of night. Plus, you can’t afford a gap year to find yourself like Malia or your lax-playing buddies.
16. Gina G Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit
This one’s good because it reminds you that one day this will all be over. You can do it! “Just a little bit” more.
15. Viola Wills – If You Could Read My Mind
Why can’t the admissions officers “just read my mind” instead of forcing me to communicate well in 650 words or fewer? After all, you’ve likely endured an extremely poor education in English throughout your K-12 career due to too many English teachers being focused on serving up critical theory rather than traditional literary analysis, strong writing instruction, or any sort of celebration of the best works of Western Civilization. By the way, there are a lot of versions of this song, but we chose this one because Viola Wills put her soul into it – just like you will need to put your soul into your apps.
14. Lighthouse Family – High
“When you are close to tears remember, someday it will all be over, one day we’re going to get so high!” Enough said, but don’t do drugs, even if it’s legal.
13. Don’t Stop Believin’
Don’t stop believin’ that you will get in…unless you are honest and of Asian heritage, in which case, just stop believing because the Ivies value ‘diversity,’ which is code for ‘they have more Asians than they currently wish to accept.’ Your only hope is the Supreme Court.
12. The Jacksons – Can You Feel It [Audio HQ] HD
Can you feel the acceptance notifications coming your way?
11. Cass Elliot – Make Your Own Kind of Music (HQ)
Because, really, you do need to be true to who you are and utterly unique if you are going to have any chance of getting into Harvard, Princeton, or Yale without any of the characteristics mentioned in that bulleted list above.
10. One Day More! – Les Misérables – 10th Anniversary Concert
Only play this one on October 31 – or the day before you know you will be finished your dastardly applications once and for all.
9. Michael Ball, Alfie Boe – He Lives In You (From “The Lion King” / Lyric Video)
Indeed, you must, “have faith” and “he does live in you!” You need to draw on generations of your ancestors to find strength. After all, if they could get through famines, wars, living without an iPhone, you can complete a few college applications.
8. Avicii – Levels
You need a good feeling or two right about now.
7. Jason Derulo – “Want To Want Me” (Official Video)
“It’s too hard to sleep…” Please, Columbia and Brown, I just “want you to want me”…despite you preferring well-connected social justice activists and loaded legacies…or better yet, those who check both of those boxes. :-/
6. Deorro x Chris Brown – Five More Hours (Official Video)
Whether you are up against the deadline on November 1 with just five more hours to go or “you are just getting started,” this one works.
5. P!nk – So What (Official Music Video)
“So, what?” Even if I have to go to Emory, “I’m still a rockstar!”
4. Bob Seger – Hollywood Nights (Lyrics)
At least you can comfort yourself knowing that you are not Aunt Becky or a Desperate Housewife out in “Hollywood” bribing the powers that be at USC for the honor of living in Compton for four years.
3. Let It Be (Remastered 2009)
Try your best and all, but maybe it’s time to just “let it be” and settle for Barrett Honors College at ASU?
2. Eric Prydz – Call On Me (Official Music Video) [HD]
1. Kygo & Whitney Houston – Higher Love (Official Video)
Okay, it’s a complete visual knockoff of Eric Prydz’s song above, but the vocals are pure – early Whitney Houston – and the accompaniment is rock solid and by Kygo. And it’s 2019, so it’s current combined with classic. Not to mention the lyrics are perfect for ascending to the ‘higher’ level that you to need to reach in order to at least get into Cornell or Dartmouth.
P.S.: As you wait for your admissions decisions, or as an alternate to some of the options above, how about playing a one-hour constant loop of “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco?
P.P.S.: Do realize that the above list is completely subjective and somewhat satirical – just like the crazy college admissions process at America’s most selective colleges; therefore, I apologize in advance if your favorite songs didn’t make the cut, if you don’t get in where you want, and/or if you are offended. Life’s unfair like that. Just remember that if you don’t get in, you need to sing this one last song out loud whenever your friends – and frienemies – get into their top choices:
You will survive!
John O. Gaines, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Vanderbilt University, announced some interesting tidbits of information that should be of interest to students and others who want to learn more about the selectivity of Vanderbilt’s overall Early Decision first-year student admissions process for its Class of 2023. The highlights include:
- The middle fifty percent of students accepted into Vanderbilt’s Class of 2023 via ED I and ED II who reported their SAT scores had SAT Evidence Based Reading and Writing scores of between 710 and 760.
- Meanwhile, The middle fifty percent of students accepted into Vanderbilt’s Class of 2023 via ED I and ED II who reported their SAT scores had SAT Math scores of between 770 and 800.
- Of those students accepted to Vanderbilt’s Class of 2023 ED I or ED II who reported their ACT scores, the middle fifty percent had ACT composite scores of between 33 and 35.
- No statistics were given regarding GPA averages of accepted students, which is not surprising because GPA scales different from school to school and some schools are ditching GPAs all together. A significant percentage of high schools also do not rank students, and an even greater percentage of high school counselors severely guesstimate students’ ranks in their counselor evaluation reports to colleges; yet, that didn’t stop Vanderbilt from reporting that of those students accepted ED I or ED II this admissions cycle who attend high schools willing to give a decile rankings for their students, ninety-seven percent of accepted students were in the top ten percent of their graduating classes.
- Overall, Vanderbilt’s average ED acceptance rate for its Class of 2023 was 19.8 percent.
In recent years, Vanderbilt has filled more than fifty percent of its first-year classes with students accepted Early Decision. Also in recent years, Vanderbilt has become a college that has an ED acceptance rate that is at least twice as high as its Regular Decision acceptance rate. With that in mind, it would not be surprising to see Vanderbilt announce later this spring that its Regular Decision acceptance rate has fallen to seven percent or below. We’ll keep you updated.
In closing, we know we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all, but what’s up with colleges combining their Early Decision I and Early Decision II admissions statistics for public dissemination? What we didn’t learn today is how students accepted to Vanderbilt ED I compared to students accepted to Vanderbilt ED II. If Mr. Gaines would like to fill us in on how Vandy’s ED I admits compared to Vandy’s ED II admits, he is respectfully invited to contact us here, and we will happily and thankfully share his response with our loyal audience.
In the interim, congratulations to Vanderbilt and to those students accepted to Vanderbilt ED I and ED II during this admissions cycle.
Ronné P. Turner, Washington University in St. Louis’ Vice Provost of Admissions & Financial Aid, informed counselors on Thursday, February 13, 2019 that inclusive of the university’s two Early Decision rounds and its QuestBridge rounds during this admissions cycle, the selective private Missouri university, “reviewed over 3,000 applications – a 70 percent increase from years past.”
For more clarity and context, last year during its one Early Decision round of admission, Wash U. reviewed 1,850 applications.
Wash U. has been selective for a long time, but this was the first year that Wash U. offered ED II. With the university accepting 250 students on Thursday when its ED II decisions were released, Wash U. anticipates that 60 percent of its first-year class – the Class of 2023 – will be populated by students who were accepted before Regular Decision. Last year only 40 percent of students enrolling in the university’s Class of 2022 were accepted ED. Turner did not provide any specific breakout information regarding Questbridge applications or acceptances.
This year, as in past years, students who applied Regular Decision will get their decisions by April 1, 2019.
Interestingly, despite being a hyper-selective university with an overall acceptance rate in the mid teens, some of those students accepted to Wash U. so far in this year’s admissions cycle will be required to attend the university’s First-Year Summer Academic Program from June 8, 2019 through July 13, 2019. According to Turner, “this is solely to help with the transition from high school to college. Their admission is contingent upon attendance/successful completion of this five-week program.” The First-Year Summer Academic Program “gives a select group of students the opportunity to ensure their readiness for STEM and pre-med coursework as well as to improve their critical reading, writing, and study skills. Students attending FSAP may be among the first in their family to attend college or coming from high schools with limited AP/IB offerings,” according to the university.
Once upon a time, refined Early Decision and Early Action etiquette dictated that by December 15 colleges would inform such applicants of their admission, deferral, or rejection. My how times have changed!
While the likes of Penn, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Wash U., and Yale got on with it last week, some big names are keeping their powder dry to seemingly the last moment. University of Michigan and Boston College are notorious in recent years for December 18 or later admissions notifications to their Early Action applicants; yet, this year, two more colleges seem to believe the maxim that they should, “save the best for last.”
The two notable stragglers this December are Case Western Reserve University and Tulane University.
In Case’s case, Robert R. McCullough, the university’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, announced Monday, “We expect to send applicants an email providing a link to the secure webpage with their admission status on Wednesday, Dec. 19. We will begin sending these email notifications around 8 p.m. EST. Students who have applied for financial aid will also be able to see their financial aid package online at that time.” Just two years ago Case’s Early Action notifications came out a whole week earlier in December. That was before Case Western introduced Early Decision I and II into the mix and with it gone are the days of earlier Early notifications.
UPDATE 12/19/18 @ 7:20 EST: McCullough needs more time! On December 19 in the evening he announced, “Unfortunately, we find that we need a little more time to be absolutely sure applicants’ decisions, scholarships and financial aid packages are correct. We are therefore rescheduling decision release for Early Action and Early Decision admission until 8 p.m. Eastern Thursday, December 20.” He also expressed “regret” for holding students in suspense for another day but wanted to ensure the decisions they receive are accurate.”
Tulane will let Early Action applicants to the New Orleans university know of their admissions decisions on Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Jeff Schiffman, Tulane’s Director of Admission shared, “I think it is also worth mentioning that Tulane saw a 14% increase in applications this year. Bottom line, we could fill up multiple freshman classes with students who are academically qualified to attend Tulane. We could fill up multiple freshman classes just with students who would be great fits here and genuinely want to be at Tulane. The problem is we can’t admit all of them.”
To Shiffman’s credit – and Tulane’s – the university notified its Early Decision applicants regarding their admissions decisions refreshingly fast. Tulane’s ED admission letters left Tulane’s Office of Admission on November 16 and were made available online at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on November 19. Talk about a nice Thanksgiving present! More universities should try to turn around admissions decisions in fewer than three weeks (Tulane’s Early Decision application deadline was November 1)!
Tulane, back in the day, released its Early Action notifications in November, but that was before they got into the ED I and ED II business recently.
So, seniors dreaming of a Case Western or Tulane acceptance letter this Christmas, hold on just a bit longer.
Attention ED/EA Applicants (and Parents)!
Many of you are just days away from learning whether or not you have earned early action or early decision admission to your top choice college or university.
If you get in, celebrate and congratulate yourself (and all those who have supported you) for such a terrific achievement.
If you don’t get in, don’t flip out! It is human nature to become quite sad when one does not get what one wants. This is understandable. Please remember that your school-based college counselor should be there for you to strategize best next steps should you get news from colleges in the coming days that you don’t want to hear. If your school-based college counselor is unable or unwilling to discuss the implications of an EA or ED deferral or rejection, contact us.
We all handle disappointment differently, so some of you who are deferred or rejected may scream, cry, or stay in bed all day, while others may simply go for a run, workout at the gym, or eat a lot of ice cream.
While you can react in any of the above ways in the moments and hours immediately following bad news, I suggest that you reengage with the college admissions process quickly in order to increase your chances of getting acceptance letters both from any college that defers you early and any colleges you have applied to (or will apply to) regular decision.
Make sure to finish up your applications strong before your regular decision college application deadlines. Make sure to request that your transcripts be sent to regular decision colleges if you have not already done so (if you don’t remember how to do this, speak to your school-based college counselor right away, as each will have different procedures in place regarding how and when you must request transcripts/letters of recommendation be sent to colleges on your list). And make sure to have CollegeBoard and/or ACT, Inc. send your test scores promptly.
In order to help you reach your college admissions potential, if you have not done so before, now would be a wise time to send your essays, resume, short answer responses, or overall applications to us to review so that we may provide constructive feedback. This will help resolve any objective or subjective weaknesses in your writing before regular decision deadlines. Yet, please make sure to send content for review no later than December 20 to ensure that the we will be able to get you comments/edits before all January 1 deadlines.
If the college at which you have been deferred is still your top choice, you can and should also write a formal letter via email to the admissions officer for that college who covers your region. Please share such a letter with your school-based college counselor and/or us before sending it so that together we can make sure that you are doing all that you can to get in regular decision. What should be included in this deferral response letter? Please watch this quick video to find out.
I wish you all the best of luck whether you expect to hear from colleges this month or later in 2019.
Eric J. Furda, University of Pennsylvania’s Dean of Admissions, provided high school counselors with a June update today, and in it he shared Penn’s three acceptance rates for the just-concluded admissions cycle.
Penn’s overall acceptance rate for this year’s roughly 44,500 applicants was a hair above 8 percent. Yet, this number tells only a small part of the story. Over fifty percent of Penn’s Class of 2022 was accepted Early Decision, and Penn’s Early Decision Acceptance rate this cycle was 18.5 percent. This meant that Penn’s third and final acceptance rate, it’s Regular Decision acceptance rate, was a paltry 6 percent.
In terms of ratios, this year’s numbers track well with Penn’s proclivity for having an Early Decision acceptance rate that weighs in at roughly three times as size (percentage-wise) as its Regular Decision acceptance rate (18.5:6).
Furda also shared information on the importance Penn places on fit it its applicants while also informing counselors that last year, 46 percent of Penn undergrads received financial aid. The average aid award last year was an impressive $50,348.
Julie Shimabukuro, Director of Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis has announced some major changes to the first-year application process for admission to the selective Gateway City university.
Washington University in St. Louis “will be implementing a supplemental essay in addition to the Common Application or Coalition Application essay. This will allow students to further express their interest in their academic area of choice.” wrote Shimabukuro in an email to high school counselors.
While that sounds all well and good, this news is clearly aimed at separating serious applicants (those who will surely claim to bleed Wash U. red and green) to the university from those just using the school as a great school that requires no extra work, which many high-achieving students have been doing for years because Washington University in St. Louis had no supplemental essay writing requirement beyond what many high-acheving students were already completing for other Common App and Coalition App colleges to which they were applying.
Shimabukuro went on to add that the new essay will also be used as the merit-based scholarship essay for scholarships offered by Washington University’s undergrad divisions.
It’s worth noting that applications for the John B. Ervin, Annika Rodriguez, and Danforth Scholars programs will continue to be awarded through a separate processes, which include more essay writing.
On top of this big news, Shimabukuro added the more curious news that Washington University in St. Louis will also add an Early Decision II application deadline for the first time this upcoming admissions cycle.
This means that Wash U.’s new deadline schedule is as follows for those students hoping to matriculate in Fall 2019:
|Application Deadlines||Scholarship & Financial Assistance Deadlines|
|Early Decision I – Nov. 1, 2018||Need-based Financial Assistance (ED) – Nov. 15, 2018|
|Early Decision II – Jan. 2, 2019||Need-based Financial Assistance (EDII) – Jan. 15, 2019|
|Regular Decision – Jan. 2, 2019||Need-based Financial Assistance (RD) – Feb. 1, 2019|
|Merit Scholarships – Jan. 2, 2019|
Washington University in St. Louis is clearly trying to shake things up, but no reason was given for why EDII is being implemented. It will be interesting to see if Wash U. proactively communicates the acceptance rates for both of their ED rounds this time next year. The university has been one of the most successful users of ED as a means of loading up its classes early each admissions cycle.
Following up on its probe of certain American colleges for their admissions practices relating to Affirmative Action, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Early Decision application data sharing between colleges that offer the binding form of admission.
We will continue monitoring this important story and share updates as we receive them.
Villanova University will release its Regular Decision admissions notifications on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Yet, before it does, the suburban Philadelphia university has shared with high school counselors important bits of information about its Class of 2022 applicant pool.
According to Michael M. Gaynor, Villanova’s director of undergraduate admission, Villanova received 22,727 applications for the 1,670 spots the university has allotted for first-year students entering this fall. 22,727 first-year applications represents a 7.65% increase in first-year applications from last year’s previous high.
In addition, Villanova began offering an Early Decision application option to students who applied this past fall. In its inaugural year, 24% of Villanova’s entering class will be admitted through the university’s new Early Decision program.
Villanova also still offers non-binding Early Action, and 12,677 Early Action applications were submitted this past fall.
As a result of its new differentiated admission options, Villanova’s overall acceptance rate has fallen to 28.8%. Last year, when the university only offered Early Action and Regular Decision, Villanova’s overall acceptance rate was 34.9%, and during the previous admission cycle, it was 43.2%. Long story short, Villanova has now joined many other colleges in using Early Decision to reduce its overall acceptance rate.
Of those students accepted, the middle 50% earned weighted high school GPAs on a traditional 4.00 scale between 4.10 and 4.48. Note that such GPAs are not final GPAs, but rather cumulative GPAs students’ earned at the time of their application submissions. Also, of those students accepted, the middle 50% SAT score range fell between 1380 and 1490 and the middle 50% score range on the ACT was between 32 and 34.
Finally, Gaynor notes that some Villanova majors are harder to get into than others. In particular, the most competitive programs were Biology, Business, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, and Nursing.