May 24, 2009

Senioritis Alert!!

Based on subject line alone, I can see the eyes glazing. Little trash bins are opening all over greater Oakton, as the following email lecture snaps deleted from those few college mailboxes still being checked by high school seniors.

"Geesh, Ms. G, I was smart enough to make it this far. Trust me, I'm not going to blow my college future in the last month of high school."

I want to believe it, but when I hear seniors boast that all those stories about revoked admissions are myths used to scare students into behavioral compliance, I get worried. Frankly, it's much more likely that you'll come down with a disabling case of senioritis than the much trendier swine flu virus. In fact, I see it on my suburban cul-de-sac where decidedly naive high school students gather both before and after school to indulge in behaviors I don't even want to know about. While underclassmen might be sensitive to the requirements of future college applications and wisely avoid embarrassing situations, it seems that seniors are somewhat less than cautious when it comes to courting potential suspensions or other reportable high school violations. Oh, and they don't seem to care as much about getting those "college bound" grades anymore. After all, slips in academic performance are to be expected. Or are they?

Colleges most emphatically say no. In a report recently released by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), some 37% of all responding colleges revoked at least one offer of admission during the most recent year surveyed. Of those revoked, almost 69% were as a result of badly eroded grades and 25% were rescinded based on disciplinary issues:

If statistics don't move you, perhaps a few anecdotes will:

In fact, USA Today goes on to suggest that because of peculiarities in this year's admissions, students accepted to public colleges and universities may be at even greater risk of intense scrutiny as schools attempt to thin out the ranks of accepted freshmen:

I know that the majority of you will finish your senior year in good order and that some will even experience record-breaking GPA's. This warning is not for you. For those who haven't quite gotten around to turning in your last 5 English assignments, please come home from the beach now....

P.S. Parents should note that the NACAC report also extends a subtle warning to you as well: 2.3% of the revoked admissions were because of double deposits. Yes, they do find out.

May 13, 2009

Misc. College Visits

As many of you already know, some colleges and universities hit the road this time of year to begin a recruitment process that actually gets into full swing in the fall. Short of actually visiting a campus, these presentations offer an opportunity for you to get basic information about a school as well as to make yourself known to area representatives who might just be reading your application some time in the future. Although most of the college "fairs" are finished for the year, one of the most interesting group presentations from the Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) organization will take place in two area locations this weekend:

Each program begins with a panel discussion on college search activities and concludes with a college fair during which you may meet with admissions representatives from each of the CTCL colleges and universities. I strongly encourage interested sophomores and juniors to attend one of these events. Other presentations in which you might be interested include:

Those of you who have used my strategy for showing early "demonstrated interest" may already know about these visits and/or may be aware of some additional presentations taking place in the area. Again, I encourage you to attend these gatherings as time allows.

May 11, 2009

Space Available

Despite what you may have heard about how the current economic climate is affecting fall 2009 admissions, at least 258 colleges and universities still have space available for qualified freshman and/or transfer students. AND nearly all also have financial aid to offer, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC):

The survey asked member 4-year colleges and universities about the availability of space, institutional financial aid, and housing as of May 1, 2009. Approximately 29% of the respondents are public colleges and 71% are private. Interestingly, almost 97% report still having housing space available!

Survey results are available today and will remain posted throughout the summer. Colleges are asked by NACAC to update their listings as the number of openings at their institutions changes.

Although this survey may be of greatest interest to seniors still weighing their options, I am sending this link to underclassmen to reassure you that even well after May 1st in any given year, schools still have room for qualified students. These numbers are not all that unusual, and they are posted every year. In fact, there are high school seniors who continue their college search well into the summer prior to enrolling because these options exist!

May 5, 2009

2009-10 Common Application

The 2009-10 Common Application and Common App Online system will not be released until July 1, 2009. You can get a sneak peak, however, at some of the upcoming changes in the form and format on the CommonApp website. Yellow highlighting indicates changes to the paper and online applications, and pink highlighting indicates new "dropdown menu" choices which will be available only online:

I recommend taking a closer look at the changes in the Secondary School Report form, particularly the increased interest in school participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) program. The answer to the new question concerning the total number of AP courses available will give colleges an idea of how much you have taken advantage of the AP offerings at your school. As we may have already discussed, AP scores are taking on a larger role in college admissions. Interestingly, I see that the authors of the Common Application have largely elected to steer clear of issues involving the new Score Choice program. We'll see how this plays out in further clarifications from the College Board as well as from individual colleges and universities.

Finally, please note the subtle change in the language pertaining to disciplinary history. You now must report violations that took place at any educational institution attended since the 9th grade. I guess some students were taking the former language a little too literally and neglected to report all infractions. This is a huge issue for schools as well as applicants and argues for good behavior throughout high school!