College results are pretty much in for the Class of 2016 and can serve as a guide for Class of 2017 and beyond. Here are three big lessons learned.
Lesson 1: “Target” schools are not “Safe” schools. Just because your child has grades and standardized test scores in the middle or upper middle of the range published by the college, it doesn’t mean that your chances of admission are necessarily good or above average.
Why? Because the admissions decision is predicated on 20-25 factors. Grades and scores are only two. Yes, they are important, but probably not as important as you think. Tens of thousands, if not more, kids got blindsided this year by getting denied from colleges they expected to get into.
Lesson 2: Getting into college is NOT a meritocracy. If you’ve heard about valedictorians and salutatorians being denied at every IVY they apply to, while those with lesser grades and scores who do not “deserve” (an interesting word) to get in, get in, there’s a simple explanation: this process is not designed to be “fair.”
In other words, just because your academic record demonstrates that you have the ability to do the work at a certain college, you are not guaranteed a spot there, even if you think this is “unfair.”
Lesson 3. Applying to college is fundamentally a marketing exercise. I know, I know, this is icky, it nauseates even me. But just because you and I don’t like the facts does not mean that they aren’t true.
Colleges are looking for certain types of students who will advance their institutional agendas. It would be great if their agenda overlapped yours, but that’s not always the case. A kid with superior academic credentials is one type of desireable student, but, truthfully, at most competitive colleges, these types of kids are a dime a dozen.
Who are they looking for? International students (who pay full price – coincidence?), underrepresented minorities, athletes (not intramural athletes!), legacies, ultra affluent (“development” cases). A former Duke admissions officer estimated that these types of special categories comprise 2/3 to 80% of the class of most competitive colleges.
If you do not fall into a special category, your “real” admissions rate is a fraction of whatever percentage the college publishes. You need to answer the question admissions officer want to know but will never ask directly, Why should we take YOU compared to 5,000 other competitor-applicants with the same grades and scores?
If you have the same grades and scores, and do the same cancer walks and belong the same honor societies (membership: everyone) as all of your peers, you’re failiing that one question test.
I could go on and on, but my fingers are cramping up.
I’m going to be talking about all this stuff, plus updates on how to get financial aid and scholarships, over the next few weeks, including tonight in Roslyn. Each workshop is free. If you are the parent of a Class of 2017 or 2018 college-bound kid, I recommend you attend to get the facts about what it takes to get in, and get money, from college today. I am scaling back these workshops.
Also, we have workshops coming up in Greenlawn, Merrick and Syosset.
Please do a friend or family member a solid and forward this email to them, assuming you think they can “handle the truth!” 🙂
In the meantime, I’ll be bracing my inbox for hatemail.
Your College Planning Guru Of Harsh Reality
P.S. You will not get this information from your guidance counselor or financial advisor, promise. Frankly, you may not like what you hear from me, either. But you should learn the truth now, before it’s too late to do anything about it.