Mar 30, 2020

Colleges still welcoming applications for fall 2020

Penn State is still accepting applications for fall 2020.

In an upside-down world in which we’re learning to expect the unexpected, a number of high school seniors are second-guessing college lists they made last fall. Some want to be closer to home and some suddenly see value in considering schools with more reasonable tuitions or those with more generous scholarship opportunities.

By the end of March, the college admissions cycle would usually be winding down. But that doesn’t seem to be the case this year, as students with lots of time to reflect are thinking deeply about where they want to be next fall and under what terms.

And for students who want to explore other options, there are literally hundreds of colleges across the country ready, willing and more than happy to consider additional applications for fall 2020. It’s no secret that most enrollment models are out the window, and colleges are looking for ways to remain flexible and attract a solid class of undergrads. And by virtue of some admissions policy changes forced by the Department of Justice, students are now freer to shop than ever before.

In fact, a substantial number of wonderful schools located on stunningly beautiful campuses will consider applications from prospective undergrads well into August. And some of these schools still have scholarships to offer.

And note there are quite a few more that have extended their deadlines without publishing the fact or changing information contained on application platforms or websites. Watch your email for notifications if you happen to be on the right mailing lists or have expressed any interest in these colleges.

But don’t delay. Even those colleges with “rolling” admissions eventually fill their seats. And if you need financial support, be aware that scholarships are often allocated on a first come, first serve basis or until the money runs out.

Still, if you’re looking or thinking about submitting additional applications, here are a few insider tips to jumpstart your research long before NACAC’s “space available” list comes out shortly after May 1:
  1. Common Application member institutions still open to new applicants may be found by going to the Common App website. Click on the College Search tab. Indicate that you’re looking for Fall 2020 and complete the deadline box according to your interest. If you happen to be looking for colleges with deadlines on or after March 30, 2020, you will be rewarded with a list of 563 institutions.
  2. The Universal College Application makes the search even easier. Simply go to go to this link and find colleges and universities still accepting new applications.  And as a public service, the list includes some that are not UCA members!
  3. The Coalition for Colleges has prepared a list of member college deadlines: (if the link doesn’t work, go to the Coalition Help Center, click on MyCoalition Counselor, Applying to College and 2019-2020 Coalition College First Year Application Deadlines). Twenty-three Coalition members have deadlines on or after March 30.
  4. Using the College Board’s Big Future search engine, start by using the Type of School filter and select “4-year,” “private” and “public” (this eliminates for-profit institutions). Scan through the other filters and select your preferences for size, location, majors, etc. Click on “Close and see results.” Once results appear, go to the dropdown box labeled “Sort by:” (upper right) and click on “Application Deadline.” Caution: The list starts with “01-Jan,” goes through the calendar year. At this point, you’d want to start reviewing the colleges with early April deadlines, starting on about page 14. Schools with “no deadline” are listed at the end. It’s a little confusing, and the information is only as good as what colleges tell the College Board.
Once you have a “starter” list of schools that may still be accepting applications, verify deadlines by visiting individual websites.

But if websites are unclear or you find conflicting information as to the current status of the process, contact admissions offices directly and simply ask.

You might be surprised to find many are more than happy to hear from you!

Feb 25, 2020

No recommendations, no essays and sometimes no test scores

Central Florida requires no essays or recommendations.
Several years ago, the Common App announced that colleges would no longer be forced to conduct ‘holistic’ reviews of applicants to be members of the Common Application organization. On the simplest level, this was interpreted to mean that members would not have to require recommendations or untimed writing samples (essays) as part of the application process.

The change was enthusiastically greeted by colleges that never required these elements to begin with and wanted to join the Common App, as well as by those institutions that never really considered either the essays or recommendations anyway.  This was especially true of those that offered students very simple alternate applications without either element. 

And for some admissions offices, these requirements were considered unnecessary impediments to attracting large numbers of applications.  For others, the requirements didn’t seem to add much in the way of useful information, which could predict who would be most successful on their campuses.

In fact, the bottom line for everyone—highly selective and not-too-select institutions—is that grades and strength of curriculum are the most important factors in the admissions decision. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has consistently come to the same conclusion in their annual State of College Admission reports, as has the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) in its annual survey of IECs.  This holds true even though there is an acknowledgement that grades can be manipulated, inflated and are often subjective evaluations of student performance.

With new Common App membership requirements in place, a number of colleges and universities immediately took advantage of the moment to drop requirements.  Others simply expanded their application network and joined the Common App. As a result, there are Common App members that have stripped down their application requirements to the point of no essays, no recommendations, and sometimes no test scores.

According to the 2019-20 Common App requirement grid, out of 888 Common App members, about 45% do not require personal statements—the basic Common App essay. And just under 50% require no letters of recommendation (counselor or teacher).

And taking these all together, 327 Common App members require no personal statements, no teacher recommendations, and no counselor recommendations.  Among these are
  • Arizona State University, AZ
  • Christian Brothers University, TN
  • College of Charleston, SC
  • DePaul University, IL
  • Duquesne University, PA
  • Frostburg State University, MD
  • George Mason University, VA
  • Johnson and Wales University (NC, CO, FL, RI)
  • Kent State University, OH
  • Ohio Northern University, OH
  • Old Dominion University, VA
  • Ole Miss—The University of Mississippi, MS
  • Ripon College, WI
  • Roanoke College, VA 
  • University of Arizona, AZ
  • University of Iowa, IA
  • University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, MN
  • University of Pittsburgh, PA
  • University of Utah, UT
  • Valparaiso University, IN
  • West Virginia University, WV
  • Westminster College (MO, PA and UT)
By the way, 196 Common App members require no personal statements, no college-specific supplements, no counselor recommendations and no teacher recommendations—seven in Virginia!

And if you cross-reference this list with the very impressive list of test-optional/test-flexible institutions maintained by FairTest, you’ll find that a few of these schools also don’t require test scores.

So what is the takeaway?  Grades absolutely rule, and transcripts considered together with high school profiles are critical elements of the college admissions process.  In fact, for a fair number of institutions, they are the only criteria used for admissions.